“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” – Lady Julian of Norwich
Universalism runs like a slender thread through the history of Christian theology. It has always been a minority position and has often been regarded as heresy, but it has been surprisingly resilient. Over the centuries Christian universalism, in one form or another, has been reinvented time and time again.
In this book an international team of scholars examine the diverse universalisms of Christian thinkers from Origen to Moltmann. In the introduction Gregory MacDonald argues that theologies of universal salvation occupy a space between heresy and dogma. Therefore disagreements about whether all will be saved should not be thought of as debates between “the orthodox” and “heretics” but rather as “in-house” debates between Christians.
These studies aim, in the first instance, to hear, understand, and explain the eschatological claims of a range of Christians from the third to the twenty-first centuries, while also offering constructive, critical engagement with those claims. Readily accessible to the general reader, this engaging and informative collection will be of great value to students of theology and religious history.
List of Contributors
1. Introduction: Between Heresy and Dogma / Gregory MacDonald
I. Third to Fifteenth Centuries
2. Apokatastasis: Particularist Universalism in Origen (c.185-c.254) / Tom Greggs
3. The Subjection of All Things in Christ: The Christocentric Universalism of Gregory of Nyssa (331/340-c.395) / Steve Harmon
4. Sin Has Its Place, but All Shall Be Well: The Universalism of Hope in Julian of Norwich (c.1342-c.1416) / Robert Sweetman
II. Seventeenth to Nineteenth Centuries
5. Love Is All and God Is Love: Universalism in Peter Sterry (1613-1672) and Jeremiah White (1630-1707) / Louise Hickman
6. Union with Christ: The Calvinist Universalism of James Relly (1722-1778) / Wayne K. Clymer
7. Between Calvinism and Arminianism: The Evangelical Universalism of Elhanan Winchester (1751-1797) / Robin Parry
8. Salvation-in-Community: The Tentative Universalism of Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) / Murray Rae
9. Postmortem Education: Universal Salvation in Thomas Erskine (1788-1870) / Don Horrocks
10. The Just Mercy of God: Universal Salvation in George MacDonald (1824-1905) / Thomas Talbott
III. Twentieth to Twenty-First Century
11. The Final Sanity Is Complete Sanctity: Universal Holiness in the Soteriology of P.T. Forsyth (1848-1921) / Jason A. Goroncy
12. The Judgment of Love: The Ontological Universalism of Sergius Bulgakov (1871-1944) / Paul Gavrilyuk
13. I Do Teach It, but I also Do Not Teach It: The Universalism of Karl Barth (1886-1968) / Oliver D. Crisp
14. The Totality of Condemnation Fell on Christ: Universal Salvation in Jaques Ellul (1912-1994) / Andrew Goddard
15. In the End, God … : The Christian Universalism of J.A.T. Robinson (1919-1983) / Trevor Hart
16. Christ’s Descent into Hell: The Hopeful Universalism of Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988) / Edward T. Oakes, SJ
17. Hell and the God of Love: Universalism in the Philosophy of John Hick (1922-) / Lindsey Hall
18. The Annihilation of Hell and the Perfection of Freedom: Universal Salvation in the Theology of Jürgen Moltmann (1926-) / Nik Ansell
Endorsements and Reviews
A lively and illuminating collection of essays. Its well-judged blend of theological analysis and historical context makes it accessible to the general reader as well as raising provocative questions for theologians about the place of universalism in Christian tradition. I will certainly use it in my teaching.
Morwenna Ludlow, Lecturer in Patristics, University of Exeter
This is a really fantastic collection. … The riveting theological biographies in chapter after chapter will keep readers tuned in from start to finish to follow the twists and turns that have characterized the quest to understand universal salvation.
Amos Yong, J. Rodman Williams Professor of Theology, Regent University, Virginia Beach
All Shall Be Well is a well written edited piece by Gregory Macdonald, about a range of theologians over the history of the Christian church who have been connected in various ways with universalism … This is a helpful and informative way of allowing the reader to understand the theologian better, so as to appreciate their specific connection and motivation regarding universalism … as a whole, the book proceeds well, and all the contributing authors have done admirably to keep their relevant chapters engaging as well as informative. Anyone interested in learning more about some key figures with regards to universalism, and their respective contributions, would find this a useful read.
Kris Hiuser, in Theological Book Review, Vol 23, No 2
It is set to become the standard collection on universal salvation, and will repay attention from any theologically curious reader. … Universalism should probably be the pious hope of all Christians. No one should write it off unless he or she has first read this book.
Dr Andrew Davison, in Church Times, Issue 2, March 2012
This collection of essays, carefully edited by Gregory MacDonald/Robin Parry, presents various positions on the questions at issue, from Origen to Jürgen Moltmann. Perhaps its greatest strength is that the editor leaves the reader to assess the arguments for and against, giving a good historical overview in the introductory chapter, where universalism is characterized as ‘falling somewhere between heresy and dogma’. … Gregory MacDonald/Robin Parry is evangelical about universal salvation, and this fine collection of essays is guaranteed to stimulate the on-going scholarly debate on the subject.
Brown Neil, Australian Catholic University, in Journal of Religious History, Vol 36 (3)
Readily accessible to the general reader, this engaging and informative collection will be of great value to students of theology and religious history.
Studies in Spirituality, Vol 22
… The belief that all will ultimately end up in the presence of God and hell will be empty has been a minority position in the Christian tradition, and it is probably true that most Christians have considered such a belief to be non-orthodox. As this book demonstrates, however, there have always been Christian voices supporting it; to listen and understand those voices is the goal of this volume. … Eschatology is a fascinating theological discipline; it is also quite demanding. It gives one the opportunity to synthesize the insights from the theology of creation, anthropology, theology of God, and salvation, among others. The authors of the essays in this volume demonstrate their expertise on the views of the theologians they present; their expositions provide the reader with the basic rationale for the universalist position each thinker advocated. … All Shall Be Well is a commendable contribution to the study of apokatastasis …
Martin Madar, Heythrop Journal, Vol 54, Issue 2
The thorough bibliographical material is very helpful for those wanting to investigate the work of particular theologians more extensively.
Mark Smith, in Churchman, Vol 127 (3)
This book achieves something rare in theology, a work that is riveting, occasionally exciting, challenging, and ultimately encouraging for those of us who cannot sit still with dogma, but must engage it, learn it, and endure the joys of its provocation.
Nigel Zimmermann, in The Expository Times, Vol 127, No 4