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The Evangelical Universalist Kindle Edition
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The author of this book is evidently a very humble man who could be much more arrogant and liberal considering the certainty he feels concerning the blessed hope. His arguments are not indisputable, as no one's beliefs are. Many disagree with him for many reasons. Most of which are probably much more emotional than they emotionally dismiss his assertions by labeling his reasoning as emotionally biased. He explains how these people feel like they are standing up for God by defending the doctrine of endless torments. They feel like it is them and God against the world. They are on "God's side." He is not sure if he should applaud their loyalty or pity them. I think he leans slightly toward the latter.
This book is very well written and well worth a second read. There are many highlights which I intend to expound on. He does an excellent job at writing a great book about a very sticky subject. Its not a popular thing to go against society's grain but the Bible definitely encourages us to test all things... especially orthodox (correct opinion). I look forward to going back over the different highlights in this book and writing pieces of my own. I have a dream that one day CU will be considered just as valid/acceptable of a paradigm as Calvinism and Arminianism. Indeed, it is the paradigm which mends all the tears the two paradigms above have caused throughout this age of grace. This book is a great one to read if one is genuinely seeking a better understanding of the doctrine's claims. Hope Beyond Hell is a great place to start. This book should be the second to read, not because its not as good but because it is better. This book delves into what Hope Beyond Hell introduces and is an essential stepping stone on the path to discovering God's unfailing love which gives a truely intimate understanding of the peace that surpasses all understanding. No, that last sentence is not "hyperbole."
All my previous objections to universalism were addressed, some more satisfactorily than others.
Right from the start I was drawn into the book because Parry at length addresses an issue that I have wondered about but seldom seen addressed in universalist literature: the issue of what type of knowledge God has and its soteriological implications; does God have simple foreknowledge, middle knowledge, or is open theism or determinism true? I think any respectable theodicy must rule out determinism (in a Christian context, Calvinism), but which of the other three is most plausible? While TEU's discussion on divine knowledge was riveting, unfortunately, Parry didn't say (and defend) which theory he subscribes to. He shows that universalism is plausible if one believes in middle knowledge, but not that universalists should believe in middle knowledge.
TEU contains a fair bit more exegesis than other masterpieces in the Christian universalist literature like Talbott's TILOG and Kronen and Reitan's GFV, and that makes it a welcome addition to my growing collection of universalist literature. There is plenty of philosophy in TEU, but its exegesis sets it apart. Insights I particularly enjoyed came from Parry's exegesis of: Old Testament texts that speak of rebel nations coming to restoration after punishment; Revelation, in which the Kings of the Earth are rebels who after punishment come to worship the Lord; and Isaiah 45, in which God swears that every knee will bow to him.
One thing I really liked about TEU is that it is not overly ambitious. Parry does not claim that every prophet was a universalist. In fact, he explicitly says he does not think a lot of the prophets had universalism in mind. This, however, is no problem for universalism, any more than some prophets not having intimate knowledge of the trinity or christology undermines the Trinity or hypostatic union.
I should add that the section in the Appendix on Election is well worth the read. Tracing the concept of election back to the Old Testament, Parry carefully develops an alternative to the Calvinist understanding of election.
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Definitely has me thinking!