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All Dogs Go To Heaven Don't They?: Biblical Reflections On Christian Universalism and Ultimate Reconciliation Paperback – December 21, 2011
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For instance the very popular book "The Shack" is nothing more than a well written fictional story that promotes this false concept. It has recently come to light that the author of "The Shack", Paul Young, believes in the concept of Universalism/Ultimate Reconciliation. Yes, books such as "The Shack" may make us feel good about ourselves and allow us to engage in the false belief that even our loved ones, who have rejected Jesus, will one day be with us in Heaven; but we must compare what these books teach directly to God's word.
Such is the case with Maurice Smith's book "All Dogs Go to Heaven Don't They?" Smith, a seminary graduate and former pastor, goes straight to God's word and shows the fallacy of the arguements of those, like Paul Young ("The Shack"), who would attempt to teach otherwise. Whether you are looking for a well researched book which shows the error of Universalism/Reconciliation or if you just want an easy to read book that gives you the information you need; this book is for you. The book is very well written in an engaging style. The canine illustrations are very well done and give a light tone to what could otherwise be a very dry subject. Smith does a great job of making this subject easy to understand and process.
I would encourage everyone to get a copy of this book. If you are one who believes in Universalism/Ultimate Reconciliation, read this book and see if your beliefs can withstand muster when compared to God's word. If you are one who rejects this belief, then read this book so that you can be prepard to offer a defense to those you come in contact with who may be leaning in that direction. Finally, if you are currently sitting on the fence on this subject, you should read this book so that you can have all the information you need to make an informed decision; not one based on emotion.
Unlike many in the house church movement, Smith has taught in seminary and it shows in a positive way in "All Dogs Go to Heaven ... Don't They?" He also knows how to connect with everyday people. His wife, Gale, supplied the dog cartoons that give a more casual tone to the book.
Smith actually deals with three related forms of theological error - Universalism, Ultimate Reconciliation and Annihilationism. Ultimate Reconciliation is a currently fashionable form of Universalism, which teaches God will keep sinners in Hell until they repent. A popular form of the Annihilation theory says God will keep sinners in Hell until it ceases to exist at the New Creation; at that point, so says the theory, they will be destroyed. Many of Smith's arguments apply to all three theories.
One of the most helpful concepts for me in the book is that Universalism is often built on a philosophical basis. For example, someone says they cannot imagine God would allow a person to burn in Hell for all eternity. They are basing their belief on their imagination, not on what the scripture actually says.
Some Universalists base their arguments on obscure "meanings" of the Greek that are not generally recognized. Smith does a number of word studies to show how meanings shift and settles on the meanings the words had in the first century. He even looks at how they were used by secular writers, leaving no room for speculation. And he questions why many Universalists would say "eternal" means forever when it modifies "life," but not forever when it modifies "punishment" in the same sentence.
I also enjoyed Smith's journey into church history. He solidly proves the great majority of early Christian writers opposed Universalism.
And then there are the words of Jesus Himself. As Smith puts it, "Was Jesus right or wrong?" Some of Jesus' teachings were "hard" doctrines, the kind that does not appeal to the flesh. We either rely on faith that He was right or listen to Beelzebub, the "theologian extraordinaire."
"All Dogs Go to Heaven ... Don't They?" can be read in different ways. The scholar can check out extensive footnotes for additional information. The casual reader can skip to the chapter summaries and enjoy the illustrations. Smith also includes study questions/assignments that reinforce the lessons.
The issue of Universalism will keep coming up as it has for thousands of years. Smith's book gives believers even greater reason to respect Biblical truth and doubters a reason to doubt their doubts.
(This review was based on a pre-publication version of the book.)