Monday, August 14, 2006

Guest Post - part 1 of 2

Guest post by Gregory MacDonald, author of The Evangelical Universalist. Part 1 of 2.

“I originally wrote The Evangelical Universalist for myself in order to force me to think through the issues of hell and salvation for my own mental health! I was really struggling with the idea that a God who could save everyone that chose to send many people to hell forever. This idea seemed to throw serious doubt upon the love of God. So I pondered, I read and I wrote. The result was The Evangelical Universalist. It was only later that someone suggested that I send it for publication.

An evangelical defence of universalism may sound like an oxymoron and it is certainly a good way to get oneself in to the black books of certain evangelical people and groups. It seemed prudent to me to write under a pseudonym - hence Gregory (as in 'of Nyssa') and MacDonald (as in 'George'). I have reasons for not wanting my identity known (yet).

To give a basic overview of the book the argument runs as follows:

Chapter 1 is an exercise in philosophical theology with the intention is showing that there are no good defences of the traditional notion of hell and that hell thus constitutes a serious problem for Christian theology. A wide range of contemporary and ancient defences of hell are examined and found wanting. In light of this I suggest we re-examine the teaching of Scripture. The bulk of the book seeks to do that.

Chapters 2-4 provide a grand overview of what I call a universalist biblical theology. It is a constructive theological attempt to see the big picture in a way that fits well with a universalist end to the plot. Chapter 2 takes the theology of Colossians as providing a (deutero-?)Pauline theology that is overtly universalist. This provides the big picture. Chapters 3-4 fill in the details of the universalist metanarrative (ch 3 on OT and ch 4 on NT). Various key biblical texts (e.g., Rom 5, 1 Cor 15, Rom 9-11, Phil 2) are discussed at the relevant places in the metaplot. The hope was to move the discussion away from an eternal (and somewhat dull) battle of proof texts towards a vision of the trajectory of the biblical story. The individual texts are treated as part of that bigger plot”
To be continued tomorrow ...

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