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If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person (Plus) Paperback – February 2, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Traditionally, many Christian denominations have held fast to the belief that those who confess God's saving grace from sin will be rewarded with eternal life while those who reject this grace will be damned to eternal perdition. Such a belief, according to ministers Gulley and Mulholland, fails miserably to acknowledge the real message of Christianity: that God's gracious arms are wide enough to hold every person, regardless of shortcomings or sins. The authors did notalways feel this way, and their little meditation on Christian universalism is as much autobiographical confession as theological treatise. Using stories from their own lives and ministries, Gulley and Mulholland devote a chapter to each of the words in the sentence "why God will save every person." In a seamless voice, they tell of people's struggles to accept teachings of the church that keep them from closeness with God. They also recall events in their own lives where they stood in the way of God's grace operating in personal relationships. For example, when one of their ministerial friends declared his homosexuality, they realized that - despite their former judgmental stance on homosexuality - this person deserved God's love and grace as much as any other. Salvation, they argue, is simply being freed of every obstacle to intimacy with God. Gulley and Mulholland's stirring manifesto on the central role of universalism in Christianity will provoke traditionalists and encourage new ways of thinking about the nature and purpose of the Christian faith.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gulley, author of the best-selling stories set in fictional Harmony, Indiana, and theologian Mulholland have been friends since they first met at seminary, and they speak as one voice and in the first person--as they take great pains to emphasize: for though they are very different, they have had remarkably similar spiritual experiences. To many people, their book's subtitle and premise that God will save every person, without exception, amount to a controversial stance, to say the least. Some will think theirs is an awfully generous interpretation, and others--those who grew up being assured that some would be saved and most damned--will be appalled. Despite such reactions, including angry outbursts from friend and foe alike, Gulley and Mulholland stick to their guns as they tell their stories and the stories of people they have met with compassion, hope, kindness, and grace--and the lovely conviction of universal salvation. June Sawyers
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Plus
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; Reprint edition (February 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061926086
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061926082
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (143 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Philip Gulley has become the voice of small-town American life. Along with writing Front Porch Tales, Hometown Tales, and For Everything a Season, Gulley is the author of the Harmony series of novels, as well as If Grace Is True and If God Is Love, which are coauthored with James Mulholland.

He hosts "Porch Talk with Phil Gulley" on the Indiana PBS affiliate WFYI television's flagship show Across Indiana.

Gulley lives in Indiana with his wife, Joan, and their sons, Spencer and Sam--in a rambling old house with Gulley's eclectic chair collection (64 at last count) and a welcoming back porch.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

125 of 136 people found the following review helpful By H.E. Pennypacker on February 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I'd like to recommend this book to all grappling with this very difficult subject. No, it is not likely to convince those firmly committed to biblical inerrancy. But it may help those who are deeply disturbed by the implications of the doctrine of hell to see that there are alternative viewpoints held by other no-less deeply committed Christians. Both authors exhibit a wonderful graciousness, courage and compassion in their writing that is truly exemplary of Christian maturity and love.

One reviewer was put off that the book was substantially anecdotal and emotional. While other books key in on more biblical and philosophical argumentations for Universalism (Thomas Talbott and Eric Reitan as examples), I frankly welcome this approach to the discussion as well. In fact, perhaps a significant missing element in conservative articulations of hell as eternal torment is the lack of emotional coherency. To consign any living, feeling human to such an excessively tortuous existence is truly emotionally gut wrenching to say the least, if not down right ghastly. (And don't overlook the implication of the conservative position that those who are destined to fry are not only Hitler and Osama Bin Laden but the friendly next door neighbor or relative who die unsaved as well.) Perhaps our felt emotional responses have important ways to clue us about truth as well as our intellects or our fidelities to orthodox belief. But both authors are in no way guilty of shallow emotive propagandizing in articulating why they came to their Universalistic convictions.

I write this review as once a believer in biblical inerrancy and one who grimly conceded the reality of hell as the destiny for the unsaved after death.
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54 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Dukestreet on February 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
I should say first that I support the Cristocentric universalist view, that every person will be ultimately saved, through the work of Jesus. I give this book three stars, because I felt it was a mixed bag.

There were parts of this book that I loved, namely the authors' ample description of a God whose love never fails, who will succeed in fulfilling his desire that none should perish, that God is never overcome with evil, but overcomes evil with good. I support that view wholeheartedly, even though the authors' exegesis was weak (they do admit that this isn't the purpose of the book).

The authors give experience the highest value over Scripture and conveniently dismiss difficult passages as simply not true--which is too bad, because even though the Holy Spirit does reveal God to us through experience, there really is a solid basis of evidence in Scripture for the salvation of all, even more evidence than for eternal punishment.

When you take into account that 1) OT passages of unquenchable fire always refer to the symbolic judgment of the nation of Israel (not individuals), and 2) that this judgment was always of a limited duration, and 3) that Jesus' references to hell (which were references to the same OT national judgment passages) were aimed at the most religious Jewish leaders (and also representatives of the nation of Israel) instead of individual sinners, and 4) that the term "eternal" as often used in English Bibles as "eternal punishment" is a mis-translation of the Greek (and Hebrew equivalent) of a word meaning "age-during," then many of the problematic Scriptures take on a new light. Are all the difficult Scriptures eliminated?
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Format: Paperback
Philip Gulley and Jim Mulholland have written a compelling pastoral and personal commentary on the love and grace of God. They advocate for Christian universalism: the ancient idea, prevalent among many early Christians, that suffering and death, whether on this earth or in the world to come (Hell), are temporary, and that everyone who has ever lived and will ever live will eventually be saved by God. Their quality of writing, their emphasis on personal experience, their use of anecdote and story, all add up to make an easy and persuasive, or at least stirring and challenging, reading experience.

However, their book was never intended to be an argument reasoned from the Bible, heavy on technical exegesis. Coming from their theologically liberal standpoint, in which they feel little need to find any kind of harmony or even symphony between scripture's universalist and exclusivist passages, its restorationist and Hellish passages, or any other such internal tensions and inconsistencies, this failing on their part is understandable. Those biblical passages which seem to endorse universalism can be harvested; while those which seem not to, can simply be acknowledged and dismissed as human error, without an attempt at explanation for how those passages might fit into God's overall message in scripture.

To be sure, I am not one myself to insist on biblical inerrancy or infallibility - I feel the evidence is against those doctrines, as well as against verbal plenary inspiration. But to not even attempt to show how scripture's exclusivist and Hellish passages fit into God's purpose doesn't sit well even with me. How well will it sit with conservative evangelicals who might otherwise be receptive to the universalist message?
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