The Evangelical Universalist
Not so long ago, on my friend Jason Clark’s blog, I came across a book recommendation on universalism. Some of you know that Christian universalism is a question that has engaged me on and off, but I was all the more fascinated to read that the author is writing from an evangelical perspective and as a universalist. As an evangelical myself who has spent a considerable amount of time pondering this issue, I wanted to know more.
The book in question: The Evangelical Universalist, written by Gregory MacDonald (a pseudonym).
Not only that, I was amazed to read recommendations for this book written by excellent scholars such as Andrew T. Lincoln and Joel B. Green. Enough to get my serious attention!
For example, Lincoln writes:
“. . . [T]his passionate and lucid advocacy of an evangelical universalism . . . not only engages with key passages in the context of the overall biblical narrative but also treats clearly the profound theological and philosophical issues to which that narrative gives rise . . . readers . . . will find this book an excellent, accessible and indispensable aid in their own attempts to grapple with what its author describes as ‘a hell of a problem’ . . .”While Green comments:
“. . . I was struck by the persuasiveness of many of Gregory MacDonald's arguments, not least since they rest in an unusually adept interweaving of biblical exegesis with relevant philosophical and theological considerations . . .”‘An immediate must buy’, I thought!
In the following posts (though not necessarily in this order - and my impending holiday in Portugal will slow things up):
1) I shall briefly present to you my own (developing) position on universalism. I am not dogmatic on this, and by no means at the ‘decided for good’ stage. In other words, I am truly open to dialogue. Nevertheless, for what it’s worth, I’ll share some of my thoughts as I’m not a universalist. I just don’t feel the texts of scripture allow me to take that leap. But more on that later (though I note, I have not yet had a chance to read The Evangelical Universalist to convince me otheriwse).
2) Not only that, but, after contacting the author, he has kindly written a wonderfully helpful introduction and overview of his book for you, my readers. This will tell us why he wrote the book and what he hopes to achieve with it, and so on.
3) When I receive my copy in the post I will get my head down to reading it as quickly as possible, because I also hope to publish on Chrisendom a short interview with Gregory about the book. He has already kindly written some very though-provoking words to me, in dialogue with some of my concerns.
I think this is going to be a fascinating series! I’m especially looking forward to reading his treatment of the book of Revelation, which he tells me is perhaps the most detailed attempt to read it in a universalist way.