- Paperback: 319 pages
- Publisher: Eerdmans (March 25, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0802827640
- ISBN-13: 978-0802827647
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 22 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,137,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Universal Salvation?: The Current Debate Paperback – March 25, 2004
See the Best Books of 2018 So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year so far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
"This book sets a high mark both for its quality of argument and for the civility of the arguers, and it is unusual in looking at the question of universal salvation from biblical, theological, and philosophical perspectives. Both those who favor universalism and those, such as myself, who must in the end reject this view will benefit from a careful study of this work."
"A thorough survey of the main lines of debate within the evangelical tradition and a stimulating and rigorous engagement with the challenge of universalism."
"Fascinating, educating, challenging, and inspiring."
Nigel G. Wright
"It is good to have the subject [of universal salvation] placed firmly and creatively on the agenda."
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
"Universal Salvation? The Current Debate is no simple read, but it is enlightening."
"Excellent. . . This book offers a profound yet accessible discussion of the ultimate questions facing man."
From the Back Cover
Foreword by Gabriel Fackre
Will God one day save all people through Christbs atoning work? That is the question at the heart of the debate in this volume -- a debate sure to challenge readers, whatever their current perspective.
Featuring evangelical writers of exceptional insight and sensitivity, "Universal Salvation?" offers a conversation worth everyonebs attention. The volume opens with a rigorous three-part defense of Christian universalism by philosopher Thomas Talbott, who argues that Scripture teaches the ultimate salvation of all people, including those in hell. Gabriel Fackre in his foreword calls Talbottbs work bthe most thoughtfully wrought argument for universalism to date from within the contemporary evangelical community.b The rest of the book gathers incisive responses to Talbott by Christian scholars from different disciplines, who evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of Talbottbs arguments, take his thought in new directions, or explain why they think he is mistaken. Talbott then responds to his critics.
The aim of this volume is not to persuade people that universalism is true but to open up a fairer debate on a controversial subject of continuing importance to theologians and nontheologians alike. By exploring universal salvation from biblical, philosophical, theological, and historical perspectives, the book helps readers think through the issues more carefully than has been possible with resources previously available.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
They wrote in the Introduction to this 2003 book, “many Christians [want] to believe that God will eventually save everybody, but sadly such a universalist belief is not even an option. Or is it? That is the question under the microscope in this volume.” (Pg. xv) They add, ‘This book does not aim or claim to provide the right answers, but rather to provoke INFORMED discussion of an important and neglected area of Christian theology… The intention is, on the one hand, to show that the debate is not closed after the initial responses and, on the other hand, to encourage you, the reader, to make your own response and, hopefully, join in the debate.” (Pg. xxvii)
Most of the space in the book is given to Thomas Talbott [author of The Inescapable Love of God], but responses are given by such authors/theologians as I. Howard Marshall, John Sanders, etc.
In the opening essay, Talbott recalls, “the Western theological tradition seemed to leave me with a choice between an unjust and unloving God, on the one hand, and a defeated God, on the other. But of course this hardly exhausts the logical possibilities; there remains the additional possibility that it is God’s very nature to love… and that he is also wise and resourceful enough to accomplish ALL of his loving purposes in the end… Why not at least examine the pros and cons of universal reconciliation alongside those of limited election and those of a limited victory over sin and death?... Almost from the moment I began to examine the doctrine of universal reconciliation with an open mind, something akin to a paradigm shift in science … took place in my theological outlook… I finally understood why the gospel really is good news… and why it should not be confused with the twisted message of fear that we humans sometimes make it out to be… I now view universal reconciliation… as essential to a proper understanding of salvation… to a Pauline understanding of grace, and essential to the inclusive nature of election.” (Pg. 5-6)
He cites 2 Pet 3:9, 1 Tim 2:4, Ezek 33:11, and Lam 3:22 & 31-33, and observes, “All of these texts seem to suggest that God sincerely wants to achieve the reconciliation of all sinners, and other texts, such as 1 John 2:2, suggest further that Jesus Christ suffered and died precisely in an effort to achieve that end… if the God who seeks to reconcile the entire world to himself… were to fail in the effort, this would seem to represent a tragic defeat of his own redemptive purpose in the world.” (Pg. 9) He admits, however, that texts such as Matt 25:46, 2 Th 1:9, and Rev 21:8 “may seem to imply that at least some persons will be lost forever and thus never reconciled to God.” (Pg. 10)
Of suggestions for how God might render memories of loved ones in Hell not painful, he comments, “According to William Lane Craig among others… God could… simply ‘obliterate’ from their minds ‘any knowledge of lost persons so they experience no pangs of remorse for them.’ Here the suggestion seems to be that God could perform a kind of lobotomy on the redeemed, expunging from their minds every memory of parents and other family members; and I doubt that Craig has any idea how much of a person’s mind this would likely destroy. But in any event, such a view reduces God’s victory over sin and death to a cruel hoax; his hollow ‘victory’ consists … in concealing from the redeemed just how bad things really are.” (Pg. 17)
He suggests, “where is the biblical warrant… for the popular idea that mercy and justice are separate and distinct attributes of God?... Christians sometimes picture God, I fear, almost as if he were a schizophrenic whose justice pushes him in one direction and whose mercy pushes him in another.” (Pg. 32)
He interprets Matthew 25:31-46, “if one holds that our failure to perform the required acts of kindness is what WOULD HAVE CONDEMNED US ETERNALLY, had it not been for Christ’s atonement, then one could just as easily hold that eternal punishment is that our fate WOULD HAVE BEEN, had it not been for Christ’s atonement… In no way, however, is a universalist REQUIRED to accept such an interpretation. My whole point is that, given his penchant for parable, riddle, and colourful story… Jesus’ surface meaning is often misleading… and his deeper meaning often the subject of dispute.” (Pg. 45)
I. Howard Marshall notes, “One way of affirming universalism might be by denying the fact of divine judgement, but this route is not a viable option since the event of a final judgment is so clearly present in the New Testament… Why is Jesus’ teaching always couched in terms of final rejection with never a hint that the rejection might not be final if people will only make a post-mortem repentance?” (Pg. 58-59)
Marshall goes on, “acceptance of … hell as destruction rather than as eternal suffering removes one of the arguments for universalism, namely that the alternative makes out God to be a monster and also makes it hard for the saved to be happy in heaven while they know that other people are suffering in hell… I agree that an eternity in which eternal punishment continues alongside eternal bliss in some kind of cosmic dualism is unstable and inherently unsatisfactory. Therefore, the proposal that God will destroy death and hell is helpful… the destruction of death includes the destruction of those who have died.” (Pg. 60-61)
Thomas Johnson says of Matthew 25:31-46, “here we face the problem of whether aionios, ‘eternal,’ refers to a qualitative state (the life or punishment appropriate to the age to come) or quantitative (everlasting in duration). Either or both meanings are possible. There is no reason to assume or read into the passage that some are lost forever. Their punishment in eternity, punishment that all deserve (for all have sinned), may burn away all that keeps them from the full realization of the image of God in which they were created.” (Pg. 83)
Jerry Walls says of Luke 16:19-31, “the point of the parable is that the rich man is not in hell because he lacks compelling evidence. Just like his brothers, he had available to him Moses and the Prophets… He was fully informed in the initial sense of the term … but he was not compelled. In resisting the truth, he failed to form the sort of character that he would have developed had he responded to the truth that he was given.” (Pg. 119)
Eric Reitan suggests, “The sufferings of the damned are not a punishment imposed upon them by an unforgiving God, but are instead the result of their free decision to remain alienated from Go---a decision that God, out of respect for their autonomy, does not override… On this picture, God’s perfect love and mercy are preserved intact, as is the all-sufficiency of Christ’s atonement. Thus… this progressive understanding of [the doctrine of Hell] is preferable to the classical one.” (Pg. 127)
Daniel Strange observes, “Of course, God is perfectly free to have a saving mercy on all if he so desires. However, as I have already stated, I believe there is overwhelming Scriptural evidence to suggest that God does not have a saving mercy at all. My criticism of Talbott here is that his ‘hard’ universalism makes God’s mercy NECESSARY and this is an untenable position both for the doctrine of God and a true understanding of mercy.” (Pg. 157-158) He adds, “Talbott is indeed correct that IF Christ died for everyone THEN everyone will be saved… Talbott is right that IF God decretively willed everyone to be saved THEN all would be saved. However, I believe that when pertaining to salvation … the biblical revelation is particularistic in its vocabulary and that exegetically, systematically, and logically the divine design behind Christ’s cross-work is intended for the elect only. I am convinced of the doctrine of particular redemption!” (Pg. 160-161)
In his rebuttal at the end of the book, Talbott argues, “Consider first Marshall’s claim that we have no hint in the Gospels that Jesus will continue ‘to seek out sinners in the next world until he is completely successful.’ Did not Jesus compare himself to a good shepherd who pursues the one sheep ‘that is lost UNTIL HE FINDS IT’ (Lk 15:4)? This hardly implies that he pursues a lost sheep until it is finally lost forever. So why is this not a hint of the kind that Marshall says does not exist? In one of the very texts that Marshall cites, Jesus declared, ‘Truly I tell you, you will never get out UNTIL you have paid the last penny’ (Mt. 5:25). If the one debt that every sinner owes is repentance… then why is this not a strong suggestion of post-mortem repentance?” (Pg. 257)
This isn’t exactly a balanced presentation of “all views’: it’s more like a fairly detailed explanation of Talbott’s position, with several critical responses, and Talbott given the final word. Be that as it may, this book will be very helpful for those studying Universalism, and particularly Talbott’s version of it.
The articles are clearly written and fairly easy to understand. You do not get lost in a lot of long, poorly constructed sentences or technical jargon. Talbot begins with three propositions - A.) that Scripture teaches that God wills the salvation of all men, not just a few. B.) our omnipotent God does accomplish all that He wills C.) not all men will be saved. Obviously not all three of these can be true, therefore, one of them has to be in error. Only a combination of any two can be correct. But if God wills that all men be saved (A) and not all men are saved (C) - then B is not true. This creates a massive problem with the truth that God is omnipotent and brings all His holy will to pass.
Likewise, if B and C are true (which a Calvinist would vigorously affirm), then A is false. Which creates a problem with the Scripture that states clearly that it is God's will that all men be saved.
Or could it be that we have misunderstood C? Talbot's presentation - which is in sync with other universalist writers - shows us that perhaps we have misunderstood the premise of C as presented in the Scriptures, allowing misconceptions to creep into our understanding of what constitutes hell, God's justice, and the next life.
A very good and worthwhile read if you are looking for answers to this question.