© Artmann Witte

A hopeful universalism

Why we can hope everyone will be saved

Of the various responses to Rob Bell’s Love Wins, two struck me as particularly important. On one side, a number of prominent conservatives opted for splenetic denunciation. For Bell to extol God’s transformative love in prose that both charms and exasperates—well, OK. No harm, no foul. But a gentle nod toward universal salvation? Absolutely not. John Piper’s much-publicized quip on Twitter (“Farewell, Rob Bell”) was probably as much a prediction of Bell’s postmortem standing as an anathematization. On the other side, little more than a bored, smug shrug emanated from mainstream academics and mainline Protestants—so bored it hardly amounted to a shrug, so smug it implied that those still opposing universalism were no more than reactionary Neanderthals. This (non)reaction barely registered, but that’s all the more telling. In certain circles, universalism is no longer the preserve of theological radicals. It’s gone mainstream.

 

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