Guest post: Gregory MacDonald
I am pleased that you have returned to the issue of universalism and are planning to offer a critique of some of my arguments and to propose an alternative. Wonderful! You will be the first person to offer an informed critique of any of the points in the book (the previous criticisms that I have read on the web all came from people who had not read the book so they were less then informed!). I look forward to it although I see you are a master of suspence - making me wait for post 3 to find your critique! I have taken a bet with myself that I can guess what it is - but it's a good Christian bet because I won't end up in debt when I lose it!
Anyway, it is great that you are seeking to iron out the flaws in my argument and so on (this was not intended as sarcasm). Perhaps your alternative will be better than my own and that will be a great help. Andrew Lincoln was not persuaded by my approach to the hell texts - his way of handling them is different.
Or perhaps I am right (I do actually think I am right about hell even if I am not convinced I exegeted every text correctly ... Darn! I'm too honest for my own good!). I guess I ought to point out to your readers that my case for hell as a place from which one can be redeemed is not primarily based on the texts in Paul that you refer to in post 2. They are no more than suggestive. Indeed, if I restricted myself to Paul I am not sure how strong a case I could make. Nevertheless, I can see your methodological reasons for limiting the biblical data set in this way. I also appreciate the methodological reasons for focusing on historical questions before exploring the theological implications. I'll be interested to see how the discussion goes.
I ought to point out that some universalists such as J.A.T. Robinson saw the 'hell' in the hell passages as the end of any person who went there. He would not imagine that the biblical texts could allow a redemption from hell. His way of handling the tension between universal salvation and hell texts differed from my own. Someone ought to reprint his book some day. Whilst I don't agree with it all it does have some good stuff in (it was written before his 'Honest to God' phase).
Author of The Evangelical Universalist (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2006)