Some of you are wondering what on earth all the fuss is about, and even what a ‘universalist’ is in this context. For most of my Christian experience, people who held universalist views were on the slippery slope to damnation, if not already in free fall into hell. Universalists believe that God’s plan of engagement with the salvation of creation includes the aim to save EVERYONE- not just a selection of (most of) those who said the sinners prayer and so escape the fate of the apostate majority.
I know a lot of folk whose position has shifted on this- who have started to believe that the discussion about what the Bible might have to say about this issue is simply not closed (I have not read the ‘Evangelical Universalist’, but can recommend Brian McLaren’s ‘The last word and the word after that‘ as a great introduction to these issues.)
Some of the heat of this debate is that so much of Evangelical zeal is based on the idea that people all around us are lost- and if we fail in our call to save the lost, then people may go to hell- and it will be our fault. There is a real question as to whether there has ever been a major Christian revival that has not had this kind of engine at the heart of it.
My own position is… rather fluid. But as I have said before, I remain a follower of Jesus. I do not think that all forms of faith are equally valid ways of worshipping the same God.
But I also hope that God is bigger than our narrow categorisation, and that indeed he will find a way to redeem everyone.
But back to Gregory MacDonald.
Recently, Robin Parry revealed that he was the real author.
Robin is (or was) the editorial director of Paternoster, a Christian publishing company. He has now resigned his post, reporting the concern that his stance on universalism might damage the sales of Paternoster products in the USA.
So is this what theological debate is about? The need to use pseudonyms and then lose your job if you think beyond a narrow orthodoxy?