3 Stars Out Of 5
Torn. Dangerous for the lazy reader. Great for the skeptical researcher willing to challenge his claims.
February 14, 2018
This book should be reserved for those willing to read skeptically with a pen to mark it up and do extra research to challenge his claims. After all, it is an argument for a Christian Universalist leaning view of hell and is not impartial. For some reason reviews in other places stated that the book was the most impartial, but the author jabs at every view but Christian Universalism. The only thing he does do is at least recognize that there are verses against what he believes, but that he does not know how to reconcile it.
He does do an excellent job breaking down the many words for hell in both Greek and Hebrew. That was highly beneficial and brought insights that I hadnt recognized before.
However, his arguments for his position were lacking. He didnt offer any serious counterarguments, which was unfortunate. I was able to quickly come up with arguments against things that he stated throughout. For instance, early in the book he argued that some of the instances of hell were metaphorical, and then later in the book, his belief in universalism hinged on the verse Her gates will never be shut, and he wrote as if he couldnt explain it away, when clearly, in the context, it could be a metaphor for the fact that the city will never have an enemy again, and thus expressing that the city inhabitants will eternally be safe, not that people will be rescued from Hell.
There were even times when he tragically misunderstood a verses context. For instance, he was excited by the fact that a verse in the last chapter of Revelations said, The Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let the one who hears say, Come. And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. He acted as if this was a chronological event in the end times, that occurred in the afterlife, but that verse clearly is part of the closing of Revelations that was speaking of now. This was central to his argument, but it could easily be explained away, yet he never addressed that, which to me felt misleading after going back and studying the verse in context.
I felt like I would get excited over a verse, and then be let down thereafter when I jumped in to study it and realized that his interpretation was incorrect. After all, we all want to see everyone saved. That would be glorious! However, as Christian, we have to see the truth, wherever it leads.
That is why I worry that if someone were to read this that is a young Christian, or unable to jump into the word to study it for themselves, they would be easily swayed by the book. I would therefore only recommend it to the people that want to understand why Christian Universalists believe what they do, but be ready to read it with a skeptical eye!
Am I thankful I read it? Absolutely. There was still a lot of beneficial things in it, and it forced me to seek the truth more fervently, but what made it beneficial is that I used it as a tool to do my own research. It alone would have only confused my beliefs without the extra research. Also, I would say that it is beneficial because it placed in me a hope for a maybe God will save everyone. Even though the facts dont seem to indicate it, that maybe in my heart is good thing.