Top 10 Contemporary Champions of Universalism

Here are the top ten contemporary books promoting Universalism in America.

All is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir, (due October 2011)  by Brennan Manning and John Blasé (Catholic)

Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person who Ever Lived, 2011 by Rob Bell 

Christian Universalism: God’s Good News for All People, 2008 by Eric Stetson (Universalist)

Hope Beyond Hell: The Righteous Purpose of God’s Judgement, 2007 by Gerry Beauchemin

The Gospel of Inclusion: Reaching Beyond Religious Fundamentalism to True Love of God and Self, 2006 by Carlton Pearson (Evangelical)

The Evangelical Universalist:The Biblical Hope that God’s Love Will Save Us All, 2006 by Gregory MacDonald (Evangelical)

If God is Love: Rediscovering Grace in an Ungracious World, 2004 by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland  (Quaker)

Destined for Salvation, 2003 by Kalen Fristad (Methodist)

The Inescapable Love of God, 1999 by Thomas Talbot

The One Purpose of God: An Answer to the Doctrine of Eternal Punishment, 1998 by Jan Bonda (Evangelical)

I know, I know, it’s an impressive list. It’s in chronological order with thumbnails of the book covers, but it’s still lacking.  What’s missing from the list?

There’s not one Unitarian Universalist in the list.  These books on Universalism have been written by Catholics, Quakers, Methodists, and Evangelicals but not one by a Unitarian Universalists.  Eric Stetson is the closest thing to a UU on the list.  Unitarian Universalists have abdicated the throne.  Universalism is the “religion for our time” and yet the religion that wants to claim to be the religion for our time is doing its best to say absolutely nothing of relevance about Universalism.  While these books made splashes and news and even the best seller list, Unitarian Universalism has found a way to not grab its own theology back and become a major voice in this growing chorus.  Why?  Perhaps it has something to do with God.  All of these Universalists discuss God, they go into Christian theology and meet a population of Christian seekers where they are.  The Unitarian Universalist tactic seems to be to ignore any theological discussion that involves a deep wade into theological language or wrestling with the concept of God or having Christianity as a conversation partner.  We are in a kairos moment for one of our traditional theologies and we are not staking a claim to the title of champion.   This doesn’t need to be so.

Here are some relevant and timely Unitarian Universalist attempts to stake our claim to the religion of our time.  All of these people, places and resources are UU affiliated:

News from the Spiritual Underground and other Deep Places by David Owen-O’Quill

Universalist Church Resources by Scott Wells

The Welcome Table by Ron Robinson

Perhaps the Fraters of the Wayside Inn can take up the mantel of Universalism that was once theirs?

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6 thoughts on “Top 10 Contemporary Champions of Universalism

  1. Tony wrote:

    While these books made splashes and news and even the best seller list, Unitarian Universalism has found a way to not grab its own theology back and become a major voice in this growing chorus. Why? Perhaps it has something to do with God. All of these Universalists discuss God, they go into Christian theology and meet a population of Christian seekers where they are. The Unitarian Universalist tactic seems to be to ignore any theological discussion that involves a deep wade into theological language or wrestling with the concept of God or having Christianity as a conversation partner.

    While it’s true that our Unitarian and Universalist historical roots were more theistic and more Christian in the past, that is probably not true for today’s Unitarian Universalism as a whole. It’s been many years since the topic of hellfire and damnation by deity has been a serious concern for Unitarian Universalists.

    Perhaps the “our theology” that you’re talking about is only “ours” in the historical sense? This history may be more relevant to conversations with the wider Christian Universalist conversation than our current theology. Pretending that Unitarian Universalism hasn’t changed since the days of John Murray may be bit disingenuous.

    Finally, I find it puzzling that a deep and meaningful conversation about life must include theological language or talk about the divine to count. I’m not saying that we should ignore this language or Christianity in our conversation but I’m not really sure how “deep” it really is. Since “deepness” is pretty damned subjective, perhaps the really “deep” thoughts about religion are coming from folks like the philosopher Daniel Dennett? Maybe he’s the one who has waded in the deep end and folks like Rob Bell are still in the kiddie pool?

  2. Good list. You’ve got all my favourites including “The Evangelical Universalist” which is the best.
    Only thing I could add is that if you want a very good, simple and short intro to Christian Universalism, I’d recommend:
    “What does the Bible really say about Hell? — Wrestling with the Traditional View”
    by
    Randy Klassen.

  3. Great list. If I could add one it would be a Heretics Guide to Eternity, by Spercer Burke. I think he’s someone who bridges a lot of differing views on faith and the church and the culture.

  4. It’s funny how the Apostle Paul took time to write about men having short hair and women remaining silent in the church but he never talked about Hell. He talked about judgment and punishment for sins but he never used the word Hell. It’s amazing the things we believe our loving God will do to those who reject Him. Does His love & mercy endure forever like the Scriptures teach or not?

    http://www.whatthehellbook.com/2011/10/04/gehenna-the-grave-and-the-invention-of-hell/

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