The Evangelical Universalist: a Short Response

The Evangelical UniversalistThe Evangelical Universalist by Gregory MacDonald

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The title alone suggests that this would be a controversial book in evangelical circles. Originally written under a pseudonym, the author has since revealed his identity as Dr Robin Parry, publishing editor of Paternoster Press and a member of City Church Worcester, part of the Salt and Light network of churches.

My initial response to the book is that I hope its central thesis is true - that in the end, all will be saved through faith in Christ, even those who enter hell. By that, I mean that the doctrine of endless punishment has, up to now, been a difficult doctrine for me to live with as I have stood at the gravesides of a growing number of my non-Christian extended family.

Such an emotional response does not of course mean that the doctrine of universal reconciliation is true. I do, however, intend to study the book more closely and try and come to a view on its message. Certainly, if nothing else, the book demands that all Bible-believing Christians think carefully about the “universalist” texts in Isaiah, Psalms, Paul’s letters and Revelation, which as MacDonald shows, are routinely read by evangelicals through the filter of the “hell texts” of the synoptic gospels. The author argues that we need to read the texts the other way round (filtering the hell texts through the universalist texts) in order to come to a view that does justice to the character and eternal purpose of God.

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