Sunday, June 21, 2009
Two books I recently read have helped shape my rethinking of the traditional evangelical view of salvation. The Inescapable Love of God by Thomas Talbot and The Evangelical Universalist by Gregory MacDonald (a psuedonym) make a near impenetrable case that universal reconciliation was the original intent of the apostle Paul and Jesus. How could the church be teaching exclusivism all these years and never have disclosed this fact? My theory is that traditionalism is so strong in evangelicalism and other conservative Christian movements that any diversion from it is suppressed. For example, how many evangelicals were ever taught that the church fathers Origen, Gregory of Nyassa, and several others were universalists? How many know that universliasts have included such prominent people as President John Adams and George MacDonald (a favorite author of C.S. Lewis)? How many people know that the word "everlasting" in Jesus' famous Sheep and the Goats passage is more accurately translated as "pertaining to an age" and that Jesus wasn't talking about a never-ending punishment but a punishment that pertained to the coming age? How many recognize that Paul made several statements that strongly support universalism including "as in one man, Adam, all sinned, so through one man, Jesus, all will be reconciled?" No, most aren't aware of these facts because they don't fit the traditional view and teachers and Bible commentators are either ignorant of them or are deliberately overlooking them. I bring these details and much more out in one of the chapters in my book, Confessions of a Bible Thumper.