Wednesday, September 16, 2015

David Bentley Hart on Creation and Universalism

I was rather surprised to discover that David Bentley Hart is a universalist.  In a recent talk at Notre Dame, he laid out his case for universalism in his usual grand rhetorical style.  Universalism is, of course, the idea that eventually human being, and possibly even the demons, will eventually be redeemed and none left to eternal punishment.  It is a minority view to be sure, but it is a perennial question for theologians, not lacking in practical repercussions.  

In my experience, it is not only a minority view, but among traditionalist Christians who reject universalism, it is generally regarded as a pernicious heresy rather than a benign error.  It is frequently conflated with Pluralism (all religions lead to God), and seen as a blatant rejection of Biblical teaching.  Universalism is within the exclusive purview of liberal Protestants, bleeding hearts, left-wing Catholic nuns and other undesirables.  Consider for example, the furor that followed Rob Bell's publication of Love Wins in which he suggested that maybe, possibly, perhaps universalism might turn out to be true at the end of time... maybe.  It wasn't a very substantial book and Bell seems to have taken up free style shark jumping on Oprah's network since then, but at the time it hardly seemed to merit the opprobrium it received.  

Admittedly many, if not most, contemporary universalists are possessed of a merely tenuous relation to the Bible or anything approaching mainstream Christian tradition.  This is why Hart's position is so interesting.  He is emphatically not a bleeding heart, a pluralist or a Liberal Protestant.  He is an Eastern Orthodox Christian, acquainted with the Fathers and modern theologians as well, and an ardent defender of Classical Theism.  

The lecture is below.  I think it is a very important piece.  Hart lays out a profoundly Christ centered, even cross centered case for universalism, and whether one thinks he is right or wrong, his are the arguments that must be met.  


No comments:

Post a Comment