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Synopsis: Can an orthodox Christian, committed to the historic faith of the church and the authority of the Bible, be a universalist? Is it possible to believe that salvation is found only by grace, through faith in Christ, and yet to maintain that in the end all people will be saved? Can one believe passionately in mission if one does not think that anyone will be lost foSynopsis: Can an orthodox Christian, committed to the historic faith of the church and the authority of the Bible, be a universalist? Is it possible to believe that salvation is found only by grace, through faith in Christ, and yet to maintain that in the end all people will be saved? Can one believe passionately in mission if one does not think that anyone will be lost forever? Could universalism be consistent with the teachings of the Bible? Gregory MacDonald argues that the answer is yes to all of these questions. Weaving together philosophical, theological, and biblical considerations, MacDonald seeks to show that being a committed universalist is consistent with the central teachings of the biblical texts and of historic Christian theology. This second edition contains a new preface providing the backstory of the book, two extensive new appendices, a study guide, and a Scripture index. Endorsements: "This passionate and lucid advocacy of an evangelical universalism not only engages with key passages in the context of the overall biblical narrative but also treats clearly the profound theological and philosophical issues to which that narrative gives rise. Readers will find this book an excellent, accessible, and indispensable aid in their own attempts to grapple with what its author describes as 'a hell of a problem.'" --Andrew T. Lincoln Portland Professor in New Testament Studies University of Gloucestershire "I was struck by the persuasiveness of many of Gregory MacDonald's arguments, not least since they rest in an unusually adept interweaving of biblical exegesis with relevant philosophical and theological considerations." --Joel B. Green Professor of New Testament Interpretation Fuller Theological Seminary "With this wonderful book, Gregory MacDonald joins the growing body of evangelical Christians who now accept a doctrine of universal reconciliation. But I know of no one who has set forth an equally clear, thorough, and compelling case for a universalist reading of the Bible as a whole." --Thomas Talbott Emeritus Professor of Philosophy Willamette University "This volume makes a significant contribution to a long-standing theological conundrum that has become a pressing concern in our modern world. For some, it is a dangerous book. But the best books are often the dangerous ones. This is both a dangerous and an important work. For these reasons, it should be read and pondered." --Oliver D. Crisp Professor of Systematic Theology Fuller Theological Seminary Author Biography: Gregory MacDonald is Robin A. Parry, an editor at Wipf and Stock publishers....

Title : The Evangelical Universalist: The Biblical Hope That God's Love Will Save Us All
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ISBN : 9780281068753
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 271 Pages
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The Evangelical Universalist: The Biblical Hope That God's Love Will Save Us All Reviews

  • Elissa Anne
    2019-03-25 01:31

    This is a heavy read for those not theologically inclined. I was most struck by the philosophical arguments against hell and wondered how I ever personally held to the belief that God, whilst strong enough to save all, would deliberately choose not to, simply to respect free will - when that free will is irrational and detrimental to ones own health.The authors theological arguments are also thorough and I feel as though I have a solid grounding for choosing to believe what I wanted to believe all along: that Jesus would leave the 99 to search for the last lost sheep until he brings each and every one home!

  • Joseph Aumentado
    2019-04-20 19:35

    In his paradigm shaking work, Gregory MacDonald (AKA Robin Parry) challenges the traditional view of hell for a kind of universalism that eventually leads to the ultimate reconciliation of the whole world. Bringing careful biblical exegesis and philosophical precision to the debate, MacDonald argues persuasively that universalism, at the very least, is a viable option for evangelicals, and at best, establishes a greater vision of God's love.While not denying the existence of hell, the contrast with tradition lies in how MacDonald understands its duration and purpose. For MacDonald, hell is not the final destination for the unregenerate. Locating his thoughts within the metanarrative of Scripture (so as to avoid proof-texting), MacDonald advocates hope of post-mortem repentance for unbelievers.With this view in mind, hell is not retributive per se, but more so educative. It is meant to elucidate the unbeliever to the true nature of the gospel through a kind of "tough love," ultimately leading to their eventual salvation.The Evangelical Universalist comes against caricatures of God that make Him look more like a petty deity who gets even with sinners in hell, and instead, offers us a picture of God who refuses to give up on His image-bearers.In reading this book, you'll find your thinking challenged, and your view of God deepened.

  • Tom
    2019-04-14 01:33

    Being a missionary and teaching missions and Global Perspectives these past couple of years have taken me into an important and ongoing debate over Hell. I find much of the argument against eternal conscious torment rather sentimental and ill-conceived. But MacDonald (a pseudonym) has offered the evangelical community a studied, thoughtful, and objective challenge to the traditional view of hell and for a version of universalism that is not mere sentimentality but, he argues, the conclusion of exegesis. I'm not promoting the view, mind you. I'm just saying that this is where the debate is. Good luck.

  • Bob
    2019-04-12 19:20

    Summary: This book provides the biblical, philosophical and theological arguments for why the view that all will finally be saved is consistent with evangelical theology and also includes additional appendices responding to issues raised since the book’s first edition.One of the most difficult challenges to the Christian faith is the existence of hell, which often calls into question how a loving God could permit eternal punishment. More than this, I know few people who relish the thought of anyone they know, less any human being, being consigned to hell for eternity, whatever one’s idea of hell might be. Gregory MacDonald argues that this is in fact inconsistent with the Christian idea of God’s redemptive purposes and acts as revealed in the scriptures of the Old and New Testament. MacDonald would argue for salvation through Christ alone by grace alone as well as real judgment for the unrepentant, and thus would claim that his position is in fact “evangelical.”First for a few pieces of housekeeping. One is that Gregory MacDonald is a pen name for Robin A. Parry, an editor at Wipf and Stock Publishers. For the sake of this review I will use the name under which the book is published and refer you to the author’s explanation for the use of this name. Second, I should say upfront that I differ with the author in that I would affirm the eternal condemnation of the unrepentant, and continue to hold this view after reading MacDonald’s argument. That said, I would number MacDonald among the more articulate and thoughtful exponents of this view.MacDonald begins with the “problem” of hell and the logical inconsistency of an all-powerful, and all-loving God who has effected a cosmic redemption in Christ of all things, and yet those who do not believe in Christ are eternally damned. He would contend that final universal salvation of all in Christ is the best resolution of this problem. He contends that this may be biblically argued to be the case if it has positive support from scriptures and does not conflict with the explicit teaching of scripture.Turning from logic to scripture, he observes God’s treatment of Israel and the nations in the Old Testament and Christ, Israel, and the nations in the New Testament to show that the metanarrative of scripture is consonant with a vision of universal final salvation. In particular, he gives weight to the “all” passages including Romans 5:12-21, I Corinthians 15:22, Colossians 1:20, and Philippians 2:5-11, arguing that “all” means “all without exception” rather than “all without distinction”.He turns to Revelation, which has some of the most clear descriptions of hell and observes that judgment texts are followed by salvation texts in such a way that he would argue that hell is a real, but temporary judgment followed by the final salvation of all. Lastly, he considers the gospel texts dealing with hell, some of which he observes remain problematic for his view. He writes:“Clearly my interpretation is underdetermined by the texts, so I cannot claim that it is obviously the only way to interpret that matter. I am not so much exegeting the texts as trying to draw out the logic of New Testament theology as I understand it and its implications for those texts. In the process I may be offering ways of reading the texts that go beyond what their authors had in mind. When that is the case, I am seeking to remain true to what they did have in mind, even if I feel compelled by the wider canon of Scripture to say more.” (p. 140)MacDonald then concludes his argument by arguing the advantages of Christian universalism: (a) it makes the problem of evil less difficult, (b) it enables us to hold together important Christian teachings that pull apart with a traditional view of hell, (c) it adds an inspirational dimension to our ecclesiology, worship, and mission, and (d) it has significant pastoral benefits.The book closes with a series of appendices detailing responses to his critics, his thoughts on the contribution of Rob Bell’s Love Wins to the discussion, and his engagement with Calvinist ideas of election and moral formation. Most of these have been added to the second edition of the book.What I appreciated about the book was both the serious attempt to argue a biblical and evangelical case for universalism that sought to be God honoring and evinced a personal humility on the part of the writer. At the same time, I found myself unpersuaded, and it seems appropriate to articulate some of the reasons why I found this so:1.The insistence on logical consistency is a recurring theme of heterodoxy in Christianity, in which orthodoxy often involves holding apparently contradictory truths in tension, such as is the case with the incarnation, the Trinity, divine sovereignty and human free will, and more. That we see both a wideness of God’s mercy and judgment against unrepentant wickedness should not surprise us.2. I found the case he made from scripture an inferential one that went from some statements of apparent universalism to saying what other passages speaking of apparently eternal judgment must really mean. The block quote above is a telling admission of how this approach glosses over texts that are at variance with the inference of universalism, and a kind of a rejection of the evangelical hermeneutic of interpreting scripture by scripture.3. His argument that everlasting judgment being a failure of God’s purposes begs the question of “why hell at all?” Can’t it be argued on his terms that God’s inability to save all within their lifetime on earth is itself a similar failure? And how is it a victory of God for people to believe to escape the protracted consequences of sin in MacDonald’s version of temporary hell?4. I also wonder whether he gives sufficient credence to the hardening of the human heart and the effects of deliberate unrepentance. C.S. Lewis in The Great Divorce explores the scenario of the possibility of post-mortem salvation and the hardened refusal of many to accept this.Yet MacDonald opens a conversation that is important to be had. In truth, many in pastoral counsel to the grieving seem to imply some form of post-mortem salvation for some and others in apologetics cede the possibility of some form of post-mortem salvation for those who have never heard the message of Christ in their lives. How might we intimate the possibility of salvation for some and not allow the ultimate salvation of all?I still think at the end of the day that the safer course is that of Deuteronomy 29:29:“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.”Among the things revealed are the truths of how we might have abounding and everlasting life in Christ, the commission of God’s people to proclaim this truth to the nations, and the warnings of judgment for those who neglect and refuse this truth. While God will do as he wills, I don’t feel at liberty to go beyond the things revealed, even if doing so would relieve certain tensions. Truthfully, I’ve enough on my hands to live faithfully according to what I do know._____________________________________Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

  • Charles Sr.
    2019-04-20 01:28

    I, thus far, have read only a few books in favor of Christian Universalism as well as a few against it. There are good books in each camp although its difficult to find a book against CU that doesn't strawman the paradigm and resort to dismissive assertions such as saying CU appeals to the emotions, not considering it may be a valid appeal to the conscience.The author of this book is evidently a very humble man who could be much more arrogant and liberal considering the certainty he feels concerning the blessed hope. His arguments are not indisputable, as no one's beliefs are. Many disagree with him for many reasons. Most of which are probably much more emotional than they emotionally dismiss his assertions by labeling his reasoning as emotionally biased. He explains how these people feel like they are standing up for God by defending the doctrine of endless torments. They feel like it is them and God against the world. They are on "God's side." He is not sure if he should applaud their loyalty or pity them. I think he leans slightly toward the latter.This book is very well written and well worth a second read. There are many highlights which I intend to expound on. He does an excellent job at writing a great book about a very sticky subject. Its not a popular thing to go against society's grain but the Bible definitely encourages us to test all things... especially orthodox (correct opinion). I look forward to going back over the different highlights in this book and writing pieces of my own. I have a dream that one day CU will be considered just as valid/acceptable of a paradigm as Calvinism and Arminianism. Indeed, it is the paradigm which mends all the tears the two paradigms above have caused throughout this age of grace. This book is a great one to read if one is genuinely seeking a better understanding of the doctrine's claims. Hope Beyond Hell is a great place to start. This book should be the second to read, not because its not as good but because it is better. This book delves into what Hope Beyond Hell introduces and is an essential stepping stone on the path to discovering God's unfailing love which gives a truely intimate understanding of the peace that surpasses all understanding. No, that last sentence is not "hyperbole."Shalom.

  • Al
    2019-04-08 02:31

    The title alone suggests that this would be a controversial book in evangelical circles. Originally written under a pseudonym, the author has since revealed his identity as Dr Robin Parry, publishing editor of Paternoster Press and a member of City Church Worcester, part of the Salt and Light network of churches. My initial response to the book is that I hope its central thesis is true - that in the end, all will be saved through faith in Christ, even those who enter hell. By that, I mean that the doctrine of endless punishment has, up to now, been a difficult doctrine for me to live with as I have stood at the gravesides of a growing number of my non-Christian extended family. Such an emotional response does not of course mean that the doctrine of universal reconciliation is true. I do, however, intend to study the book more closely and try and come to a view on its message. Certainly, if nothing else, the book demands that all Bible-believing Christians think carefully about the “universalist” texts in Isaiah, Psalms, Paul’s letters and Revelation, which as MacDonald shows, are routinely read by evangelicals through the filter of the “hell texts” of the synoptic gospels. The author argues that we need to read the texts the other way round (filtering the hell texts through the universalist texts) in order to come to a view that does justice to the character and eternal purpose of God.

  • Rendi Hahn
    2019-03-27 01:16

    Whereas Rob Bell's Love Wins is more of a layman's look at this subject, Gregory MacDonald digs very deeply into the pros, cons, and rationale for a universalist theology. It is a thought provoking but extremely dense read - I don't often read this genre, so the process was a bit of a beating. But it was worth the time and I'm glad I read it.

  • Brian Pannell
    2019-04-17 23:11

    SOOOO much to chew on. I want to believe there is always room for redemption. This helped me start opening my mind to new possibilities in Jesus

  • Nicholas Quient
    2019-04-20 23:10

    The best exegetical and theological case for Christological universalism.

  • Josh Holloway
    2019-04-19 02:21

    Excellent book. Very humbly and thoroughly plots out a defence for Universalism from an evangelical perspective. He deals with every point in a very balanced way, accepting weakenesses in his argument and adressing them. Ultimately he comes to the conclusion that a form of universalism that incorporates temporary divine punishment best accounts for the texts in the Bible that indicate universalist themes, but intergrating them with texts that talk about divine punishment. very well written. Could have been improved with a more in-depth exegesis of some 'hell' passages in the new testament, but this doesn't majorly detract from the argument in general.

  • Caleb
    2019-03-26 19:27

    An extremely compelling Biblical Theology for a theology of Universal Salvation. Some readings of Biblical texts are difficult but no view of eschatology and soteriology is without biblical texts that it is in tension with. Nevertheless MacDonald did a superb job of giving an overall Biblical theology, and not just a reinterpretation of some texts that we privilege over others

  • Jaime Wright
    2019-04-08 22:23

    I am very sympathetic to the argument in this book; however, I dislike his use of analytic philosophy in some of his chapters and appendices.

  • David
    2019-03-29 23:22

    I know it sounds over the top, but I’m not exaggerating when I say THIS IS THE BOOK I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR MY ENTIRE LIFE. I was raised in the traditional Calvinist faith. A core pillar of Calvinism is the idea of ELECTION. Election means we don’t decide whether or not we’re saved. ONLY God decides. God alone elects who gets to go to heaven and who goes to hell. Our fate is PREDESTINED from before our birth. The obvious question that even a child will immediately ask is why wouldn’t God choose EVERYONE for heaven? Our God is a God of PERFECT LOVE. He loves us more than we can even understand. More than a mother can love her child. God’s love is INFINITY. So if God loves us – presumably ALL OF US – that much, and God has the POWER to save all of us, why wouldn’t he then save all of us? If you had six children, and you had the power to save all of their lives from a terrible disease, and you loved each and every one of your children, how many of those children would you decide NOT to save? It may not be hard to accept that Adolf Hitler will suffer eternal torment in hell. But it’s much, much harder to fathom that all of the Jews he exterminated will be suffering in hell right alongside him, for all of eternity. And that their eternal torment, over which they had no say, was decided before their birth. Because GOD CHOSE NOT TO SAVE THEM, AND HE MEANT IT. The claim that God does wish to save all of us IS A VERY HARD PILL FOR CHRISTIANS TO SWALLOW. Personally, it is THE CENTRAL QUESTION of my Christian faith, with which I’ve struggled my ENTIRE LIFE. Parry calls it a “doxological crisis.” As far as I know (and I’ve looked!!), there is NO GOOD ANSWER to this question.Christian universalism therefore presents itself as a burst of fresh air. It is one answer to the question that has riddled my faith from the moment I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior. You CAN be committed to the CORE PRINCIPLES of the Christian faith and still believe. Christian universalism is NOT “new age,” or “pluralism” or in any way “non-Christian.” I believe Jesus is the only way to salvation. I believe in the Trinity, in creation, fall, and redemption, in the inspiration of Scripture, in incarnation, in mission. There is no contradiction. Christian universalism is compatible with all these beliefs.I don’t know if I would yet consider myself a Christian universalist. But I do believe it presents a sound, inspiring, and well-reasoned explanation. Ultimately, it makes the entire story of the Gospel make sense in a way it hadn’t before. Reading this book was just the start of my investigation. While at this point I’m still reserving final judgment, I’m looking forward to learning more.Two Very Important Points:1. Modern evangelical leaders agree that Christian universalism IS COMPATIBLE with core Christian doctrine. Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, arguably the MOST influential contemporary evangelical leader today, has stated you don’t need to believe people are predestined to suffer in hell for all of eternity in order to be a true Christian. The pastor of my own very Calvinist church has stated the same. Parry himself notes that ALL orthodox Christian churches believe universalism can be an acceptable personal opinion, though it may not be taught as dogma. In other words, a Christian universalist is very much a TRUE Christian.2. In my mind, the ONLY obstacle to Christian universalism are certain passages in the Bible. Calvinists believe the Bible does NOT teach universalism, but in fact teaches the very opposite. Parry takes the Bible seriously as the true word of God, and much of his book is devoted to analyzing and interpreting these so called “hell texts.” His view is that with the exception of possibly one or two such verses, the other passages leave open at least the possibility that all people are eventually redeemed. The other problem for traditionalists is that there are also several passages in the Bible that appear to VERY CLEARLY proclaim that all people will eventually be saved. Traditionalists have historically simply ignored or set these particular verses aside. Parry argues that it is no better for traditionalists to ignore universal texts in the Bible than for universalists to ignore the hell texts. If you truly believe the Bible is the word of God, nothing in the Bible can or should be ignored.

  • Ariana Cheng
    2019-04-21 21:28

    Did I go into this book a universalist? No. And after reading it, I'm still not sure if I am. However, I would still wholeheartedly recommend this book to any Christian who is just not satisfied with the traditional depictions of heaven and hell that they learned about growing up and ants to read a well defended alternative explanation. Gregory MacDonald (a pseudonym, he has now come out as Robin Parry) does an excellent job of backing up his claims with Biblical text. He adds credibility by citing various historical, theological and linguistic sources. I appreciated his detailed sociolinguistic exploration of the Bible passages he used to support universalism.As a Christian, why is view of hell important? Eschatology carries huge weight in the Christian circles I grew up in. One's view of hell directly impacts their knowledge of salvation, and in turn pragmatically affects real life issues such as evangelical strategy. To most Christians I know, the entire reason they evangelize is because they believe if you do not know of the gospel, you go to hell. Those people object to universalism, thinking if everyone ends up in heaven, why should we even evangelize? Gregory not only answers this question, but many other questions that traditionalists ask of universalists. He also makes clear the distinction between a Unitarian Universalist and Christian Universalist, which I think is an interesting concept. Overall, MacDonald does an adequate job of proving that being a Christian and being a Universalist are not mutually exclusive. There are many core tenants of Christian theology that do not seem to oppose Universalism, but instead seem to work in harmony with it. After reading this book, I can now say that I am less ignorant and realize that Universalism encompasses a wide range of beliefs. MacDonald's defense of Universalism is not an "all paths lead to God" theology but one in which in Jesus Christ IS the only way to truth and life. He just happens to believe that in the end, Christ will be able to redeem all.

  • Jonathan
    2019-04-08 01:31

    Many who are against Christian Universalism accuse the movement of being weak on theology and intellectual dishonest. This book proves them wrong. MacDonald takes a difficult issue and thoroughly explores the issue from a logical, philosophical and biblical perspective. This book takes no easy ways out. MacDonald explores objections and difficult passages and often builds up the case AGAINST Universalism before offering his explanations for why a Universalist interpretation of those passages is the preferable one. MacDonald always takes the time to evaluate the entire biblical narrative and, aside from simply pointing out passages that provide strong support for Universalism, demonstrates ho the entire biblical narrative points towards the eventual reconciliation of all things.This is a more scholarly book, good for those that already have a good deal of biblical knowledge. Highly recommended.

  • Andrew
    2019-03-22 20:30

    Fair treatmentUniversalism has always been a teaching that I rejected without much consideration. So, in the interest of honest debate, I decided to read this book. I am still not convinced, yet this is no failure on the authors part. He presents universalism with its strengths and problems. He is fair to both sides of the issue and level headed in delivery. I got what I wanted - evidence in the debate presented with humility and honesty, not rhetoric or cynical views of tradition. I would highly recommend this book if you are up to a challenging view on hell, salvation, and God's love. All my previous objections to universalism were addressed, some more satisfactorily than others.

  • Naum
    2019-04-09 02:34

    After reading Rob Bell _Love Wins_, where despite all the hoopla about alleged (and unfounded) universalism, wished to give a TRUE universalist argument a read.MacDonald presents a solid biblical case for an "evangelical" universalism. Problem is, I just am not enthused over the arguments coming from either side -- you might paint me with the "heretic" tag, but I just don't see all the fanfare about this -- IMV, it's a debate for the realm of theology-heads, and does not really have anything to do with saying "Yes, Jesus" and living out the good news of the Gospel.

  • Casey Miller
    2019-04-15 01:32

    This was a great and well thought through book. Even if you are pretty sure you won't agree, it is worth reading to understand where people with this viewpoint are coming from (specifically, the viewpoint that the Bible says that God will ultimately save all people from Hell). The second edition has additional material in the back that addresses issues that critics have brought up since writing the book originally. He is a humble guy who is open to criticism and seeks to correct or refine his views in light of valid critiques. I found his argument to be well researched and thorough.

  • Paul
    2019-03-31 00:27

    This book clears the field as the first and last resource anyone should need for a clear, compelling, biblically based argument for the universal salvation of humanity. It's a little dry in places and assumes a level of education that may be daunting for some, but it's well worth the investment for the vision it provides of a God who truly loves the world so much that he restores all of it.

  • Jason Custer
    2019-04-04 00:11

    I give Parry 4 stars, not because I agree with this book. But because he gives a comprehensive account of the issue, and deals with it biblically with great honesty and humility. I think I would really enjoy talking with Parry - even though I disagree.

  • Andy
    2019-04-03 21:13

    A helpful book as I'm trying to grapple with the claims of exclusivity within the Christian tradition. Very heavy on Bible verses and deep analysis - not sure I agree with the approach, but a helpful perspective on the question.

  • Dustin Bagby
    2019-04-21 00:31

    I'm not a convert, but I thought Parry does a fantastic job of bringing together philosophy, theology, and good biblical exegesis in his case for universalism. As opposed to Rob Bell's "Love Wins", this is the book that everyone should be reading!

  • Curt Matzenbacher
    2019-04-08 22:35

    Very dense book, but pitch perfect in its goal. The author also portrays a tone of humility throughout that repeatedly inspired this reader. I consider this to be the definitive guide to a Biblical universalism.

  • Zachary Wilson
    2019-04-10 23:06

    There always room for redemption, even after death. Amen

  • Will
    2019-04-08 22:06

    Reviewed this book here:

  • Naomi
    2019-04-08 21:06

    A close Biblical study of the case for universalism, rooted in humility and genuine engagement with the big questions, good for Biblical study groups and those wrestling christian theology.

  • Hannah C
    2019-04-13 02:19

    Wow. This was dense. In the best way possible, that is. Thoughtful interpretation of Scripture and a compelling case for universalism.

  • Judy
    2019-04-19 20:34

    As with Thomas Talbott's The Inescapable Love of God ... convincing.

  • Wilson Garrett
    2019-04-22 23:12

    Fantastic case for the doctrine of universal reconciliation. Though not systematic, or entirely convincing, it does provide the framework for what MacDonald calls a hopeful universalism.

  • Raborn
    2019-04-01 23:21

    This book is a great companion to "The Inescapable Love of God" by Thomas Talbott. The best biblical case for Christian Universalism that I have seen.