N.T. Wright on universalism

Related to my last post, I came across an old article by N.T. Wright on the lack of biblical support for universalism.  The article is important because many of those who seem to support a type of universalism really like Wright, and it is a very good summary in its own right.  You may read it here:  http://s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-documents/journal-issues/4.2_Wright.pdf.  If that link doesn’t work, go to the Themelios journal homepage at http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/publications and scroll down to Issue 4-2. 

The money quote comes at the end:  “I frequently meet people who tell me that they are ‘universalsists’ in the usual sense while in no way thinking the Bible supports their view.  This position is perfectly clear:  I simply disagree with its view of scripture, of God and of Christ.  What is not even clear is the position of the person who maintains that universalism finds support in the Bible.  It might be more comfortable if it did:  but we are in the business to discover truth.”

Two related issues:  you should read the latest issue of Themelios.  It’s free on the Gospel coalition website, and has numerous book reviews on important books and articles by D.A. Carson on the Internet, Tim Keller on a Christian response to poverty, and Carl Trueman on Ph.D. students in church. 

Also, N.T. Wright is responding to John Piper’s The Future of Justification.  His book is entitled, Justification:  God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision, and will be published in the U.K. in February by SPCK and in the U.S. in July by 2009.  This looks like the first must-read book of the new year.  For a terrific summary on the Piper-Wright dialogue so far, see Brian McLaughlin’s blog at http://triangularchristianity.wordpress.com/2009/01/02/wright-and-piper-on-justificationagain/.

3 Comments

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  1. Bishop Wright staites my opinion quite well.
    As I’ve tried to make clear at my own place and on a lot of other blog conversations, I am as near to a universlist as I can come without surrendering my “orthodox membership card”. Much about it apeals to me. However, it seems that Jesus did not believe it, nor did He teach it, but rather pointed out that many who thought rather well of themselves would find themselves in a bad way. He over and over proclaimed the reality of judgement, and of being “outside” with “wailing and nashing of teeth” “Depart from me, I never knew you” etc.

    I am free to disagree with Jesus, to reject him and prefer my own thought. I cannot do so while proclaiming Him Lord, and pretending to be a follower of Him.

    I am therefore stuck with needing to understand my own view of hope, justice, the sovereinity of God, the perfect efficacy of His will and plan, etc, in such a way that incorporates the teachingss of my master, and does not deny or attempt to refute them. Not an easy task, and I am often left wondering. But that is s it should be.
    I can often claim as my favorite verse, Psalm 139:6 “…
    Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, it is too high, I cannot atain it…”

  2. Mike,
    Thanks for the links, Wright has to be my favorite contemporary theologian so I always enjoy hearing his stance on things.

    Your previous distinction between hope and wish is well taken, and in the sense you laid out I would agree that I wish for everyone’s salvation, not that I hope for it in a way that implies a good deal of expectation that will actually come to pass. Like I said after your last post, and like Sawyer seemed to feel, I’d love to be a universalist but I’m quite sure the Bible does not teach it, so I’m not going to go down that path.

    God’s standards must indeed be the final word here, not ours, but it is still a tough issue to reconcile with things like the compassion and love God shows, and our basic empathy with other people who are just like we are.

  3. Good stuff. Thanks for the heads-up on the the latest issue of Themelios. Lots to read there.

    I’m going to start reviewing Don’t Stop Believing this week.

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