The Evangelical Universalist Forum

What books are our members reading? Post updates freely! {g}


I’m reading the second edition of “The Inescapable Love Of God” and I have to say that I’m quite disappointed. As a philosopher, Thomas Talbot should know that a paradox and contradiction aren’t the same thing. He equates paradox with a contradiction. A contradiction is a direct opposition between statements, conclusions, laws, or principles so that it remains impossible for the statements, conclusions, laws or principles being compared to be true at the same time, in the same location, and in the same context. A paradox on the other hand is something that seems contradictory but has at least the possibility of resolution when examined in all possibly existing time, space, and contextual frames of reference. As a Christian universalist I would recommend “Hope Beyond Hell”. It’s much better. Gerry Beauchemin in “Hope Beyond Hell” talks about the mysterious paradox of God integrating both mercy and justice. This fits well with the fire of God being a purifying fire and not only one that punishes. Indeed, God is driven by love for God is love and He will not turn back until He accomplishes His purposes - The salvation of all.

God works through BOTH mercy AND justice to accomplish His will and it is all driven by His love.


Yes, I haven’t gotten to that yet, Cole, but I’ve always thought of a paradox as a thing hard to understand but which is in fact not contradictory. I looked it up though, and apparently it can mean something that appears to be contradictory but MAY not be contradictory (implying that it also MAY turn out to be contradictory; we don’t yet know.) Just a second. I’m going to search Tom’s book and see if I can find it . . .

Okay, are you talking about this?

Because here it seems Talbott is talking about something that IS false and is calling it a paradox. Still, as I read the other incidences of “paradox” that my search turned up, he does treat this word as a thing that appears to be false but which may and often does turn out to be true. I can see your problem with the above, though. It seems to me that in this instance, he must be using the term “paradox” out of deference to the people whose ideas he’s talking about (because as I say, he uses it more in line with your definition, Cole, later in the text). In other words, perhaps he’s giving them the benefit of the doubt as a courtesy until he can further examine their arguments later in the book.

He’d know better than me. Perhaps we should tag him; maybe he’ll weigh in on this: [tag]tomtalbott[/tag]

Love, Cindy


Thanks for calling this to my attention, Cindy. I should perhaps point out that I did not merely use the term “paradox”; I used the term “logical paradox,” which is not the same thing, given my own usage, as an apparent contradiction. A logical paradox is, in the strictest sense, a set of propositions that entails a contradiction of the form p and not-p. But if someone prefers to use the same term in some other way, perhaps as synonymous with “an apparent contradiction,” that is fine with me. We are all free to define our own terms as we see fit, and a dispute over that is what most philosophers would call a verbal dispute rather than a real one. So if the only criticism I receive is that someone objects to how I define a given term for a given context, then I will be most fortunate indeed!

Thanks again,



Ah, okay. That makes sense to me. :slight_smile: I didn’t know that a “logical paradox” was a term as a whole. Thanks!


Books reading
The Zizum of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage
Whole: A Call to Unity in our Fragmented World by Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins

Books read
Foundations of Christian Faith by Karl Rahner
Son of a Preacher Man by Jay Bakker
Love Wins by Rob Bell
Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell
Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile by Rob Bell
Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connection between Sexuality and Spirituality by Rob Bell
What we Talk about When We Talk about God by Rob Bell
A New Evangelical Manifesto: A Kingdom Vision for the Common Good by David Gushee
Banned Questions about Jesus, Banned Questions about Christians and Banned Questions about the Bible by Christian Piatt
God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines
Why Did Jesus, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi faith world by Brian McLaren
On God’s Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn’t Learned about Serving the Common Good by Jim Wallis
The Gospel of Inclusion and God is not a Christian by Bishop Carlton Pearson
Hope Beyond Hell by Gerry Beauchemin
Christian Universalism: God’s Good News for All People by Eric Stetson
If Grace is True: Why God Will Save Every Person and If God is Love: Rediscovering Grace in a Ungracious World by Phil Gulley and James Mulholland
Following Jesus without Embarrassing God by Tony Campolo
It’s Friday but Sunday’s Comin’ by Tony Campolo
No Man is an Island by Thomas Merton
Faith, Doubt and Other Lines I’ve Crossed by Jay Bakker
Fall to Grace by Jay Bakker
Pastrix by Nadia Bolz Weber
Salvation on the Small Screen by Nadia Bolz Weber


Allsoulesingod. What a list! One thing does strike me though. I reckon more than half your books won’t be found in any of my local Christian Bookshops in Brisbane Australia. There is a sort of censorship going on which seems to preclude many of the topics covered in the books you list. praise God for the Internet and Amazon! We do get American “how to books” by the cartload however in these shops - who buys them?

And dear Pilgrim. The great NTW found wanting - oh dear what is the world coming too?


Taking a little break from theological books with The Taliban Don’t Wave, a biography of a Canadian spec-ops captain in Afghanistan who after his final brief tour in a combat training role for local army forces was arrested and court-martialed for mercy-shooting a highly wounded enemy. But it mostly isn’t about that, it’s about the day to day routine of his final tour, which gave him an opportunity to work with the Afghans themselves a lot more closely. He didn’t write the biography himself, but dictated a lot of it.

(The title comes from the importance of making sure to wave at the American A-10 Warthogs flying around, because it’s hard for pilots to tell who’s friendly on the ground or not.)


Reading a book called “Predestination” written by a Catholic who defends St. Thomas Aquinas views. St. Thomas is considered to be the Doctor of the Catholic church and it is his views that were held by the majority and for the majority of the Church’s history. St. Thomas holds that God gives sufficient grace for all to be saved but efficacious grace to the elect unto glory. God loves some more than others as He predestines them to glory and passes over the reprobate leaving them in their sins.


I copied that post, and ported the subsequent discussions, to your recent What Is A True Calvinist? thread, Cole.


Thanks Jason!

Just started again the Christian psychologist’s (Richard Beck) book called “The Slavery Of Death”. I never read the whole thing through before but he has some very good points in it. He takes the Eastern Orthodox interpretation of the scriptures that say the fear of death causes sin. According to Beck it’s these fears of death that lead to most of the sin in ones life. I would agree but just add that it’s not only the fear of death but the fear of the future. But death is future so I would agree. I know this from my own experiences in being set free at times from the major sins or seven deadly sins. The A.A. book called “The Twelve Steps And Twelve Traditions” also teaches that the seven deadly sins are rooted and grounded in fear. The book is fantastic so far and I can’t wait to get more into this. :smiley:


How does it differ from the First Edition?


I’ve read most of the 2nd edition now, but it’s been too long since I read the first – I get the feeling there’s more discussion of various things, mostly on the philosophical side (as before), but I can’t point directly to differences. I know what Tom says in his introduction he changed:

Now that I think of it, the change most apparent to me is also the most personally annoying! :laughing: I jumped hard on Dr. McClymond several months ago for grossly misreading Dr. Talbott’s original book to make it seem to say that Tom had said hell is an alternate plan to the cross, when Dr. T had made it abundantly and explicitly clear in just those same pages that there is no alternate plan to the cross. Tom himself agreed I had correctly read the details there, and Dr. McCly had straight-up omitted relevant details which showed Dr. T doing exactly the opposite of what Dr. McCly charged.

Then I got to a similar place in the 2nd edition… and now Dr. T explicitly says hell is an alternate plan to the cross!!! :angry: :angry: :angry: :angry:

Now, Dr. T does kind of end up saying the same thing – hell isn’t really plan B to the cross, but an alternate way of getting people to the cross – but his wording before then is going to cause problems. Whereas the original wording was much clearer about this NOT being an alternative strategy distinct from the cross.

Incidentally, since my complaint there brings up the topic, I had been sure from things he has written since the 1st edition that he’d be going for a much more ultra-u-ish theology where God just heals and reveals, through the resurrection, all the various problems which lead people to sin against God (beyond just having wrong ideas about Him), after which we could fully expect everyone to make the rational choice to repent of their sins and accept Christ etc. without God having to directly punish anyone (even if the healing process was briefly somewhat inconvenient perhaps).

If anyone else was expecting or hoping that – well, he does still have some things to say along that line, but if anything this edition seems more purgatorial (in a directly punitive sense) than the previous edition. I was naturally pleased of course, being a purga-u myself, but surprised; and I figure I ought to warn anyone hoping for a more ultra-universalistic argument that they may be disappointed with this edition at least on that topic.


The Rational Male by Rollo Tomassi is a pretty good book. Can’t say I agree with everything in it though. Anyone heard of it?


I can ask some women if they’ve ever heard of a rational male, but I’m irrationally sure I already know the answer. :wink:


Never heard of it, Nick. Is it a recent book?

I’m reading “Faith without Illusions: following Jesus as a cynic-saint” by Andrew Byers.
Very good so far although he repeatedly misuses the word gauntlet in the introduction, in a way that had the pedant in me writhing. I would definitely recommend it to anyone feeling disillusioned with modern Christianity - with the proviso that I’m only halfway through!

Also finally got a paperback copy of Hope Beyond Hell :smiley: - so much better than the e-reader version, I just cannot get to grips with those for non-fiction.

And in the non-religious category: Just finished “American Gods” (Neil Gaiman, fiction, really quite strange but well-written), halfway through “The Connected Child” (Karyn Purvis, so far so good) and I’m about to start something by Bill Bryson involving 1927, the title of which escapes me.


I like to sometimes relax with a comic book or one of the supermarket tabloids. Does this count as good literature?


Ha ha, I guess so. What comic is your favorite? Mine is Pearls Before Swine.

the book came out in 2013. As a precaution, I would warn women it’s probably a wee bit incendiary.

I can’t wait to read American Gods. I heard it is very interesting and brings a lot of ancient mythology into modern American culture, right?


I like Marvel and DC superheroes, like Spiderman, Superman/Batman and Justice League. I can’t think of a favorite.


“A Paradigm Theory of Existence” (Onto-Theology Vindicated), by Bill Villacella.

Clear, structured and sustained reasoning. It is very hard to write at this level, but MavPhil (B.V) has the chops and more. I’ve girded my loins and may still be found wanting in trying to fully understand this work.

Needless to say, this is great fun, and a welcome challenge.


I just got What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an by Christian writer James R. White, through my local public library.