Universal Salvation?: The Current Debate Paperback – 25 Mar 2004
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C. Stephen Evans
"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.""
C. Stephen Evans "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."Murray Rae "A thorough survey of the main lines of debate within the evangelical tradition and a stimulating and rigorous engagement with the challenge of universalism."Youthworker Journal "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."National Review "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.See all Product Description
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The volume's "debate" opens with three chapters (Part I) by Thomas Talbott, a professor of philosophy at Willamette University and an advocate of the universalist position (in effect, Talbott argues that Scripture teaches the ultimate salvation of all people, including those in Hell). His treatment and defense for this position is thorough, reasoned, and responsible. Though Talbott's case for universalism includes arguments from theology and a Pauline interpretation of relevant texts, the strength of his argument is philosophical. His logical treatment of theological thoughts on the subject is exemplary and rigorous. Neither Talbott nor the writers who respond adversarial to his views shy away from claiming the authority of the Bible, or the primacy of Scripture to inform theology, tradition, and reason to put forth their arguments.
The remaining part of the book (parts II to V) consists of rebuttals to Talbott's arguments by other evangelical scholars. The issue at hand receives treatment from biblical responses (I. Howard Marshall and Thomas Johnson), philosophical responses (Jerry Walls and Eric Reitan), theological responses (Daniel Strange and John Sanders), and historical responses (Morwenna Ludlow and David Hilborn & Don Horrocks). In these rebuttal chapters the writers evaluate both the strengths and weaknesses of Talbott's position, but also expand the conversation beyond the parameters of Talbott's original arguments. They provide a case for their own position on the issue of universal salvation. Some chapters bog down in minutia and pedantry, which is always a danger when treating a subject as complex as universal salvation-not to mention the ambiguous textual evidence for it. For those who are "set in their thinking" on the matter, exposure to that reality may prove unsettling-and indeed, these are scholars who are honestly wrestling with the ambiguity-though not silence-of Scripture on this issue of critical concern. But then, as Freud said, "Neurosis is the inability to tolerate ambiguity." Some of the authors fall on one side of the argument or another, and others offer a mediating stance, proof enough that there is room for more dialogue on the issue.
The book closes with a final chapter in which Talbott replies to his "interlocutors." He is responsible, and gracious, in responding to the counter arguments and criticisms of his view from all fronts, theological, textual, historical, and philosophical, but takes full advantage in having the last word on the matter, at least in this volume. This is one of the most thorough and responsible treatments available of the issue of universal salvation-and its related issues-by evangelicals. A solid resource, highly recommended.
Here are a few quotes from the book both Pro & Con:
"For even as many Augustinians are utterly convinced that God's salvific will cannot be defeated forever and many Arminians are utterly convinced that God at least wills the salvation of all human sinners, so I am equally convinced that both claims are true." - Thomas Talbot
"As Reymond notes: 'God loves himself with a holy love and with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength, that he himself is at the centre of his affections, and that the impulse that drives him and the thing he pursues in everthing he does is his own glory.' - Daniel Strange quoting Reymond
"Talbott is indeed correct that if Christ died for everyone then everyone will be saved." - Daniel Strange
"I am convinced of the doctrine of particular redemption!" - Daniel Strange
"In this era of intense ecclesiastical scrutiny of Christian belief -- particularly through instruments such as Inquisition -- it is perhaps not surprising that an unorthodox idea like universalism appeared only in extremist and sectarian groups who rejected the authority of such ecclesiastical powers." - Morwena Ludlow
"If the penalty for human sin has already been paid by Christ, how can justice be an impediment to his mercy and His love? Did Christ's atonement only atone for the sins of some human beings, or some but not all sins? - Eric Reitan
I hope this review helps you as you search out the height and depth of God's love for yourself! Remember, as Paul says in Romans, not even death can separate you from the love of God.
This book on the other hand has been as exercise in logic. I hate to admit that I was a philosophy major. Many Christians seem to dismiss this pursuit as frivilous or unecessary, but this book enabled me to center myself once again. It is balanced, and well written. I would encourage all people of the Christian faith to read this book. It is a teatise that shoud be read by all those who are interested in this debate. Secondly, this book reenforced a core belief of mine that was fostered by an author Wendell Barry. I also enjoyed and was persuaded by a book by the author of "Better Off" that espouse a vision of the world centered around personal interaction and intimate community that I feel is so lacking in the world around me.
I would recommend this book to anyone who has struggled with this topic, even though we may ultimately disagree. I have no interest in persuading you the reader (that is the authors job!), I would simply encourage you to seek!