The biblical hope that God's love will save us all
Not surprisingly, this book has attracted a certain amount of controversy as evangelicals who thought they knew what they believed struggle to come to terms with a new — some would say impossible, but is anything impossible for God? — way of looking at things. Not a review, then, but an interview with the author, who kindly agreed to answer my questions over the ether... but not by webcam! So, without further ado:
Who is your target readership? Are you writing for academics, church leaders or laypeople?
Why Universalism rather than 'Conditional Immortality'?
If you mean, "Why universalism and not annihilationism?" then I would simply say that I think that God will save all people and that this might be tricky if he has annihilated some of them. In other words, my key reason for not being an annihilationist is that I am a universalist and I cannot be both. (That said, I suppose that it might be possible to make a case that God could reconstitute those he has annihilated at some future point - if one can overcome the well worn philosophical problems of temporal gaps and personal identity. If so then it may be possible to believe in literal annihilation and universalism.)
If you then ask, why be a universalist? I'm afraid you'll have to read the book. (See how I turned that into a teaser? Crafty, eh?).
Where on earth (or heaven or hell) did you get your ideas?
If everyone's going to be saved anyway, why bother proclaiming the Gospel?
Why are you using a pseudonym? Is it because you're not convinced by your own arguments? Or because you know how loving [ahem] Evangelicals really are?
I am convinced by most of my arguments (some of them need improving but I am hoping some more capable people might do that on my behalf - I am just one person and I don't have much time these days to develop the case in better ways).
The reason is that I do not wish to undermine the work that God is doing in the churches through my other books. I suspect that if my identity was known then some of those who would be helped by those books would consider them guilty by association and not read them. I do not especially care about people hating me - I think I can live with that so long as I retain some friends - but I do not wish to undermine some messages that are more central to my 'ministry'. So it is, if I read my motives aright, pragmatism in the service of the kingdom. On top of that, the little boy in me does rather enjoy the 'game' of being incognito. It adds spice to life.
Which other books have you written?
Phil Groom, May 2008
Phil Groom is this site's Webmaster and Reviews Editor. He's a freelance blogger, writer and web developer who spent ten years managing the bookshop at London School of Theology alongside eight years writing web reviews for Christian Marketplace magazine before he came to his senses and went independent. You can find him on facebook or follow him on twitter @notbovvered.SPCK | Comments? Feedback? | Order from www.christianbookshops.org