Christian universalist Robin Parry on Beyond the Box

One of my favorite podcasts, Beyond the Box, just published an interview with interview with Robin Parry on the subject of the Christian universalism movement of today.

Also known under his pseudonym Gregory MacDonald, Parry (blog) was a key figure in bringing a distinctively Christian, non-pluralistic version of the belief that all souls would eventually be reconciled to God through Christ leaps and bounds closer to the mainstream four years ago with the publication of his book, The Evangelical Universalist in 2006–well ahead of the Rob Bell curve. (Side note: I think Robin Parry was in a much better position to make Christian universalism a palatable option for Evangelicals than Rob Bell was: a lot of the good done by Parry seems to have been undone by the furor over the book written by the already controversial and theologically sloppy Bell.)

I never got around to reading it: I was under the impression that Parry was trying to shoehorn prooftexts into universalist arguments from an inerrantist perspective. I realize now that he is much more nuanced than that and is using the term “evangelical” in its rich, historically grounded sense rather than in its common usage of referring to conservative-yet-not-Fundamentalist Christians. I am now a universalist myself, so I might find it more interesting than I once did; the second edition is up for pre-order.

Anyway, I don’t have much to say about this interview, but I did want to point out a few things to look out for that I found worthy of attention:

  • Parry weighing in on his hunch as to what is behind the slow but sure warming of Evangelicals toward Christian universalism
  • Some interesting points about exclusivistic vs. inclusivistic forms of Christian universalism (as opposed to pluralism)
  • Parry’s response to a question about what theological changes have come about subsequent to his embrace of universalism. Short answer: it wasn’t so much that other aspects of his theology changed with his universalism, but the other way around. It was his view on hell that didn’t fit key aspects of his Christian theology. His soteriology finally caught up to his understanding of God: I find this to be quite true for me as well.
  • The discussion about why universalism can legitimately attract both those who laud and those who lament the doctrine of penal substitution

Here’s the link again (direct mp3 link).

Warning: there is some bad Skype audio on Parry’s end.

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