It resides at Keith DeRose’s site. Keith, often referenced by me, is a philosophy professor at Yale. Keith has written publicly for years in defense of Christian Universalism, and he regularly corresponds with me privately on the subject. Rob Bell, at least according to the New York Times, is unlikely to answer many questions on this topic in his forthcoming book:
Judging from an advance copy, the 200-page book is unlikely to assuage Mr. Bell’s critics. In an elliptical style, he throws out probing questions about traditional biblical interpretations, mixing real-life stories with scripture.
Much of the book is a sometimes obscure discussion of the meaning of heaven and hell that tears away at the standard ideas. In his version, heaven is something that begins here on earth, in a life of goodness, and hell seems more a condition than an eternal fate — “the very real consequences we experience when we reject all the good and true and beautiful life that God has for us.”
No such worries with Keith. Keith deals straightforwardly and forthrightly with the biblical passages that affirm universalism, and those that contradict it. No beating around the bush here.
I have taken a brief respite from blogging about the possibility of Christian Universalism as I put the finishing touches on my dissertation (due next Tuesday!). But when I return to this topic, I will be thinking through the biblical witness on this topic, and I’ll use Keith’s manifesto as my ur-source. So if all the Rob Bell brouhaha has gotten you thinking about Universalism, read this paragraph, and click through to the rest of Keith’s writing:
I should be clear at the outset about what I’ll mean — and won’t mean — by “universalism.” As I’ll use it, “universalism” refers to the position that eventually all human beings will be saved and will enjoy everlasting life with Christ. This is compatible with the view that God will punish many people after death, and many universalists accept that there will be divine retribution, although some may not. What universalism does commit one to is that such punishment won’t last forever. Universalism is also incompatible with various views according to which some will be annihilated (after or without first receiving punishment). These views can agree with universalism in that, according to them, punishment isn’t everlasting, but they diverge from universalism in that they believe some will be denied everlasting life. Some universalists intend their position to apply animals, and some to fallen angels or even to Satan himself, but in my hands, it will be intended to apply only to human beings. In short, then, it’s the position that every human being will, eventually at least, make it to the party.
UPDATE: Keith has today posted about the term “all” — as in “all will be saved.”