Thomas Talbott, perhaps America’s most well-known Christian universalist, has laid down three observations that, when combined, are — so he contends — incompatible. One of them must be wrong.
In the book, Universal Salvation?: The Current Debate, edited by Robin Parry (aka, Gregory Macdonald) and Christopher Partridge, Talbott’s ideas are both presented — by Talbott — and then subjected to scrutiny by those who agree and disagree. But here are his three observations:
1. God’s redemptive love extends to all human sinners equally in the sense that he sincerely wills or desires the redemption of each one of them.
2. Because no one can finally defeat God’s redemptive love or resist it forever, God will triumph in the end and successfully accomplish the redemption of everyone whose redemption he sincerely wills or desires.
3. Some human sinners will never be redeemed but will instead be separated from God forever.First, a question: Do you believe all three are possible to hold together logically? Yes or no, why or why not?
Talbott contends one cannot believe all three. He contends Calvinists don’t believe #1, Arminians don’t believe #2. He contends that Universalists believe #1 and #2 but not #3, but can’t understand that if they believe what Arminians do believe (#1) and what the Calvinists do believe (#2), how can they be heretics for denying #3? (Jerry Walls, in my estimation, takes this apart in his response in this book, but that is not my point here.)
Second, an observation. For Talbott to believe #2, he must believe (1) that not all humans in this life do believe and that, therefore, (2) some humans come to faith or are redeemed after death. This, to me, is why Marshall’s argument in this book is so vital: if the anchor for this kind of Christian universalism in redemption after death, prove from Scripture that there is redemption after physical death.