Further Reading on Universalism, or, GOTT & Universalism

I should have made mention of these other sites and conversations prior to starting this series, but now is better than later. First, anyone interested in the biblical case for universalism need look no further than the excellent site by Keith DeRose, Universalism and the Bible. I recommend his site wholeheartedly. My own series focuses on the theological argument, though of course theology and exegesis cannot be separated. I just happen to have a better grasp of theology than biblical literature and exegesis, so that's where my blog gravitates.

I also need to make sure everyone is aware of the fine group blog, Generous Orthodoxy ThinkTank (GOTT; anyone familiar with German should enjoy the play on words in the title of this post). GOTT has had three recent posts by DeRose on the subject of universalism, and I recommend them highly. They may come into my series near the end. The most recent post is especially interesting, since it focuses on the theological pressure churches give to pastors and other workers who do not feel the freedom to affirm universalism. I hope these posts of mine do not blacklist me. I hope to return to this topic when the series is near its end.


Shane said…

I am quite surprised that you liked the article by DeRose. (He is a very interesting analytic philosopher--I had no idea that he was a Christian, incidentally). The reason is this: DeRose seems to be using the very same method of exegesis that you reject as 'proof-texting'. His understanding of all the texts he produces depends upon reading the word 'all' in the Greek text as the universal quantifier.

As I have said before, I am not opposed to the idea that propositions can be derived from Scripture passages, indeed, have to be so derived, but I am a bit suspicious of DeRose's paper for three reasons. First, his interpetation is based on the english text. To really make a case like his convincing would require some subtle work with the Greek. Second, he seems to devalue the parables of Jesus because they are harder to cast into propositional form (it is purely coincidental, of course, that they happen to contradict his thesis). Third, there might be overriding theological concerns that force us not to read these passages in a univeralist way. The Bible contains passages that Arianism, for example.
You are right that DeRose has a kind of proof-text method. As I said in my prolegomena, no argument for universalism can rest purely on texts from the Bible. Such passages can, however, reinforce and confirm (or disconfirm) what theology tells us. DeRose's paper, in that regard, does help us, in my opinion. Even though he lacks sophistication with the Greek, his argumentation regarding the concepts in Scripture is quite helpful. He is weakest with Jesus' parables, but that's a subject for another time.