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That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation

David Bentley Hart
Published by Yale University Press in 2019

Benjamin B. DeVan teaches at Palm Beach Atlantic University.

In the episode “Honor” for AMC’s series The Walking Dead, teenage protagonist Carl Grimes suffers a fatal wound.1 His family tries to make him comfortable and listen to his last words. Carl recounts a vision beneath a shattered stained glass window with its cross still intact. He foresees a new community where there is no longer war, where mercy prevails, where people live in harmony with each other and the natural world. Its bustling culture features fresh farming, feasting, infrastructure, and music.2

Carl’s family strolls through a garden within a city. They encounter former foes and a friend from a nearby Kingdom. Carl tells his father, Rick, “I know you can’t see it yet, how it could be. But I have…Judith is older, and she’s listening to the songs that I used to before. Alexandria’s bigger. There’s new houses, crops, and people working. Everybody living, helping everybody else live. If you can still be who you were, that’s how it could be.”

Returning to the vision, Carl’s sister Judith greets another figure in the distance whose hands sift soil, planting tomatoes. As the focus sharpens, the gardener’s identity will bemuse, disgust, or shock viewers familiar with the story. The figure bidding Judith a good morning is at the time of Carl’s death their chief adversary, a pragmatic tyrant who builds his empire on other people’s blood and sweat. Carl’s family later sentences this despot to life in prison to observe at a distance the new community that flourishes apart from his way of doing things. Yet Carl’s depiction appears to transform even this worst of oppressors into a citizen who intentionally contributes to, rather than exploits, the community’s people and resources.

Carl’s father Rick buries his son after Carl dies beneath the cross. The final scene picks up where the episode began with a quotation based on James 2:13 and a Muslim hadith: “My mercy prevails over my wrath.”3 Rick rests with a wound in his side while a tree on a hill shelters him. The camera pans out to reveal swinging from its branches a second cross in stained glass. This time the glass is unbroken and faintly flickers a rainbow across Rick’s face.4

Universal Reconciliation

At this stage in the story above, it is not obvious how the combatting factions can reconcile. Yet Carl illustrates the vision of universal reconciliation in Christ. Eastern Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart is one of its twenty-first-century advocates in That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation.

Hart asserts that those who foresaw universal salvation through Jesus were abundant in the early church.5 Augustine dubbed them “the merciful-hearted,” or misericordes (1) who based on 1 Corinthians 3 and other Bible verses thought that Hell was an intense purifying fire but not endless torment. Hart is sure that the misericordes were correct over later dissenting thinkers who were more linguistically distant from the Bible: “If Christianity taken as a whole is indeed an entirely coherent and credible system of belief, then the universalist understanding of its message is the only one possible….I say that without the least hesitation or qualification” (3).

That All Shall Be Saved marshals the Bible, theology, and philosophy against ceaseless Hell. Hart’s book, divided into three parts, argues instead that God will in due time restore all creatures.6 In Part I, Hart maintains that it makes no sense for an omnipotent, omniscient, loving God of justice to create a reality in which any creature’s destiny is torment without end. It does not matter if other Christians counter by assigning people the freedom to sentence themselves, or by supposing that God will save others in their stead, or by alluding to predestination. Hart rebukes Thomists who decree that God sustains the existence of the damned as a “gift” to them so that they can persist in agony (20). Though the unrepentant will face God’s judgment, Hart projects God’s discipline as restorative or pedagogical as opposed to perpetually retributive. Jesus has already objectively borne God’s judgment for sin through his death on the cross.

Hart sees no compelling reason why someone could not alter her or his orientation toward God after death, nor how a finite being could be culpable for crimes warranting a Hell of infinite duration. Difficulties multiply if salvation is never a possibility for the derelict: “The Calvinist account of predestination is unquestionably the most terrifying and severe….[Calvin] proclaims that God hates the damned, and in fact created them to be objects of his hatred” (49-50).

According to Hart, this portrait of God resembles the Roman emperor Domitian, who selected some of his undeserving stewards for honors, then crucified the same stewards (or others) to show off his sovereign prerogative to do so. Hart at the same time avows that no one can merit God’s grace: “This does not mean, however, that grace must be rare in order to be truly gracious….A gift made to everyone is no less a gift, and a gift that is intrinsically precious need not be rare to be an act of the highest generosity” (52).

Hart divides Part II of his discussion into four chapters or “meditations.” The first addresses God’s character as Creator. Hart quotes St. Isaac of Nineveh:

It is not the way of the compassionate Maker to create rational beings in order to deliver them over mercilessly to unending affliction in punishment for things of which he knew even before they were fashioned, aware how they would turn out when He created them—and whom nonetheless he created. (64)

Christians must not simply hope for universal salvation but radically affirm it (66, 102-103, 149).

Hart contends that appealing to human depravity, as Calvinists traditionally do, or supposing that God takes risks by creating beings without knowing whether they will choose salvation, are both logical dead ends. Moreover, a Hell that never ends trivializes Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross by rendering it only partly effective rather than a total rescue of the created order (85). Even if God annihilated the iniquitous, this would be a partial victory for sin and death since some of God’s creatures would remain unreconciled. “Either case—eternal torment, eternal oblivion…[is] never in an absolute sense God’s good working of all things” (87).

Hart’s second meditation on God’s judgment declares on the one hand that some New Testament metaphors describe potential destruction for the body and soul (Matthew 10:28, compare 5:21-22; Mark 9:43-48). He additionally points to descriptions of exclusion via sealed doors at wedding feasts (Matthew 22:1-4, 25:1-13; Luke 14:15-24), and a few images of imprisonment or torture that imply fierce but finite duration (93-94).7 Regarding the “realm of the dead,” Hart distinguishes Sheol (Hebrew) and Hades (Greek) from Gehenna or the Valley of Hinnom outside Jerusalem and its association with the Anglo-Saxon word “Hell.”

On the other hand, Hart insists that straightforward readings of numerous New Testament passages uphold salvation for all creatures. To relieve these tensions, he deduces that the biblical language about Hell employs rhetorical exaggerations:

Ovens are metaphors, and the wheat and chaff, and the angelic harvest, and the barred doors, and the debtor’s prisons; so why do we not also recognize that the deathless worm and the inextinguishable fire…[are] figurative devices within the embrace of an extravagant apocalyptic imagery? (94-95)

Universalist themes in the Bible are purportedly more palpable and plentiful.8 Hart highlights examples from the Greek New Testament and translates them: Romans 5:18-19; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 2 Corinthians 5:14; Romans 11:32; 1 Timothy 2:3-6; Titus 2:11; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Ephesians 1:9-10; Colossians 1:27-28; John 12:32; Hebrews 2:9; John 17:2, 4:42, 12:47; 1 John 4:14; 2 Peter 3:9; possibly Matthew 18:14; Philippians 2:9 (interpreting confession as conversion); Colossians 1:19-20; 1 John 2:2; John 3:17; Luke 6:16; and 1 Timothy 4:10. He at first dismisses Revelation as indecipherable, but then sketches how it supports universal reconciliation when the gates of the New Jerusalem open and invite those outside to wash their robes and drink the water of life for the healing of the rebellious nations (106-111).9

Hart’s second meditation concludes with biblical terminology concerning Hell’s duration. He distinguishes the present age, ’olam ha-zeh, with the age to come, ‘olam ha-ba, but targets his exegesis on the Greek aidios and aionios, often signified as eternal, everlasting, or forever. Aidios and aionios according to Hart convey a variety of nuances such as an aeon, age, epoch, era, extended duration, an indeterminably vast interval, something that abides, or time of another character than what we experience now. Each diverges from chronos (the present age) and atelevtos (endless). Eternal fire might then be an interminable but not a permanent state in the ‘olam ha-ba: “Perhaps, then, just as there is a threshold that must yet be crossed in history between this age and the Age to come…so there is also a still more ultimate threshold to be crossed between that next or higher aeon and the eternal life of God ‘beyond all ages’” (128-129).

Hart’s third meditation, “What Is a Person? A Reflection on the Divine Image,” laments that Christians often distort the glad tidings of God’s love into something dreadful, irrational, and morally horrid. Some have marshalled Romans 9-11 to prescribe everlasting Hell “for even the smallest imagined sin,” as well as for unbaptized or non-elect children (132-133). Hart construes Romans 9-11 in context as portraying “the elect” as the first but not the only fruits in God’s plan of salvation for God’s image bearers. The elect Jacob and his non-elect brother Esau likewise split temporarily in Genesis, then reconcile to the benefit of both. So too will Jesus reconcile every alienated creature with all others and their Creator (136-137).

In his fourth meditation, “What is Freedom? A Reflection on the Rational Will” (151-195), Hart expects God to accomplish universal reconciliation not in spite of free will but because of it. Surrendering to God’s glory, love, and beauty is not just one option among others for people who are properly informed. It is the inevitable resolution for any will that is truly rational and free. Even if some prodigals dwell for protracted periods in the far county (Luke 15), Jesus will in one way or another—in this life or the next—draw everyone to himself (John 12:32).

Hart’s final remarks in Part III, “What May Be Believed,” precis parts II and I. He casts the core of his message as the joyful early Christian proclamation calling the lost home to their Father’s house, to the community of love, and to a new way of life. Since Jesus was now Lord of all, he would ultimately yield all things to the Father so that God might be all in all (205-206).

Seven Concessions

I offer seven concessions. First, many want universal reconciliation to be true. C. S. Lewis confessed: “I would pay any price to be able to say truthfully, ‘All will be saved’.”10 Lewis later tipped his hat (or hand) in The Great Divorce by painting a Hart-like vision via Lewis’s guide and teacher George MacDonald.11 G. K. Chesterton, another of Lewis’s literary mentors, opined, “To hope for all souls is imperative, and it is quite tenable that their salvation is inevitable.”12

My former professor Jerry Walls is a leading philosophical champion of unending Hell. Yet Walls replies in a fashion similar to Lewis to universalist scholar Robin Parry: “Although I think Robin Parry is wrong, I hope he is right.”13 Miroslav Volf suggests in his now classic Exclusion & Embrace: “We must affirm divine anger…while at the same time holding on to the hope that in the end, even the flag bearer will desert the army that desires to make war against the Lamb….‘I am not a universalist, but God may be’.”14 “Joy to the World” hymn writer Isaac Watts held that if God elected to empty Hell, then Watts would “add my joys and praises to all the song…such a divine and glorious release of these prisoners.”15

It is hard to conceive of a better denouement to God’s cosmic drama than the repentance and transformation of every sinner, salvation for all creatures.

Second, Hart complains that critics regularly ask him “to answer objections to positions I have never taken” (6). One of these is undoubtedly soteriological pluralism, the ideology that all religious roads, paths, or prophets furnish equally viable vehicles for salvation. In contrast, Hart throughout his book acknowledges Jesus as salvation’s true mediator (Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:3-6). The Buddha, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Moses, Muhammad, and every other human stands in need of God’s grace.

Third, the visions of Hart and others concerning universal reconciliation incorporate Hell and God’s judgment without repudiating the existence of either. They forecast that in the fullness of time, Hell will empty as the rebellious are purged through fire, serve their sentences, come to their senses, and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.16

Fourth, even if in some distant age Hell does end, universalists such as Hart remind us to evade it at all costs. By analogy, it would be foolish not to avert prolonged incarceration, public humiliation, or physical agonies by reasoning that “this, too, shall pass.”

Fifth, universal reconciliation does not make our decisions before death meaningless. Universalists can concur that who we are in this life lays foundations for the next. Even if all journeys culminate in reconciliation, one is wise to avoid Hell’s soul-sluicing delay.

Sixth, belief in universal reconciliation need not necessarily inhibit evangelism any more than other theologies that pronounce predestined results about whom Jesus saves. Jesus calls all Christians to labor as his ambassadors to “rescue the perishing,” in the words of the old hymn (see 2 Corinthians 5).17 Universalists and Augustinians alike can conceive of themselves as God’s instruments, coworkers, and joyful laborers in God’s harvest field. They can delight in trusting Jesus now and in fellowship with the Holy Spirit not only in the next life, but also in this one. Followers of Jesus today can store up for themselves treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-20) and rejoice in their assurance of salvation (1 John 5). Theoretically, universal reconciliation could encourage rather than hamper efforts at discipleship by guaranteeing their ultimate success.

Seventh, universal reconciliation is one way to plot the biblical narrative coherently. To apply David Kelsey’s label, it is a discrimen, an attempt to read the whole Bible and every part in light of what some discern to be its deepest theme, central message, or recurring refrains.18

Proponents of Hell as ongoing torment, as oblivion or annihilation, or as eventually concluding with universal reconciliation might all adhere to the Bible’s authority. They vary in deciding which verses are clearest primary, as well as on how to harmonize thorny passages for their positions. Universalists prioritize plain sense or prima facie readings of verses that seem to predict Jesus saving every creature. How effectually their hermeneutic integrates or counteracts dissenting discrimen will be a crucial factor in determining which scheme is most convincing.

Seven Criticisms

My critiques clarify my concessions. Hart’s vision and his communication of it suffer from at least seven impairments. First, a quibble. Future editions of Hart’s book would profit from indexes and user-friendly endnotes or footnotes. Instead, Hart selectively appends four references in paragraph form, along with several related publications (213-214). This will flummox diligent readers who want to confirm or investigate Hart’s sources in detail.

Second, Hart claims that a finite being could not be culpable for crimes war-ranting a Hell of infinite duration and that such a notion is illogical and morally despicable. How fair is it to impose repercussions that go on forever for sins spanning a few years or decades? In reply, if we think about the consequences of our actions even in this life, we find countless examples of choices or activities that occur in barely a moment but have long-term consequences. For example, what if someone murders, assaults, or batters a person, then goes to jail or prison? The murder or battery itself may take a short time, but incurs a penalty of days, weeks, months, years, or a lifetime. The victim is also injured, or if killed remains dead until resurrection day. The consequences of the act last longer than the act itself. The crux is that the period for punishment might dramatically exceed the amount of time sinners took to carry out their actions.

This connects to a third point. Do people in Hell continue to sin, to blaspheme? Do they rile each other up if they interact? If so, their sins could deserve Hell’s equivalent of an extended or compounded prison sentence. If the murderer or batterer further batters or murders in prison, he is a less likely candidate for release. As a philosophical thought experiment, this may help to make some sense of Hell whether it is penultimate or everlasting. William Lane Craig specifies,

Nobody commits an infinite number of sins in the earthly life. But…insofar as the inhabitants of hell continue to hate God and reject him, they continue to sin and so accrue to themselves more guilt…hell is self-perpetuating….Every sin has a finite punishment, but because sin- ning goes on forever, so does the punishment.19

Timothy Keller elaborates this way: “Hell, then, is the trajectory of a soul, living a self-absorbed, self-centered life, going on and on forever….Hell is simply one’s freely chosen identity apart from God on a trajectory into infinity.”20

Fourth, Hart says that we cannot be happy in Heaven if anyone languishes in Hell. John Donne poeticized that no one is an island.21 Hart infers that “either all persons must be saved, or none can be” (155). I adapt philosopher Norman L. Geisler’s rejoinder to this allegation: “If we could not be happy in heaven knowing anyone is in hell, then our happiness is not in our hands but someone else’s.”22 By analogy, we can enjoy Heaven just as we can enjoy eating if others decline food or starve themselves even after we provide them sustenance and invite them to eat. As Paul Copan puts it, “Why should the saints’ celebration stop simply because some refuse to enter the banquet hall?”23 John Sanders submits a second metaphor using Mark 12:18-25. Sanders is troubled that we will not experience marriage in Heaven as we do on earth. God must therefore do something so that “I would not be unhappy in no longer being husband to my wife. Now, if God can accomplish this for me regarding my marriage then why could God not accomplish it in the case of a loved one who permanently turned away from God’s love? I recognize that this might be more difficult but let us not minimize the fact that my identity and happiness are tied to both.”24

A CGI adaptation of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress dramatizes this attitude, splicing it with hope. The film’s title character, “Christian Pilgrim,” grieves separation from his non—or not-yet—believing family while “holding on to the King’s promise that they too may understand and follow, or that I may have peace if they choose not to.” Christian’s hosts Watchful and Charity react to this with gentle perceptiveness: “Be assured, the King is aware of your sorrow and not one tear shed for them is lost. Be at peace, good Christian, and lay your burdens at the feet of your King. For not one hair of your head falls without Him knowing.”25

Even with such confidence, for Hart to resolve in advance that a loving, omniscient, omnipotent God of justice can allow no outcome but universal salvation implies an access to God’s mind and to a range of future possibilities so precise as to eliminate every other prospect. Philosopher Douglas R. Groothuis instead urges trusting God’s wisdom for whatever transpires: “If I were God, I’d be perfect—and therefore I’d act in the very same way he does. We might not understand why he does what he does, but it’s folly to think we’d do things better.”26

Fifth, universal reconciliation gives the impression of undermining free will for sentient creatures, for God, or for both. For atheist Christopher Hitchens, God in line with universalism is worse than any human dictator because, “You can’t defect from North Korea, but at least you can die.”27 Is God obliged to save all people, or are all people obliged to turn to God? Joshua Ryan Butler hints that God consigning the reprobate to Hell until they repent is comparable to a suitor shouting, “Marry me or I’ll lock you in the basement until you learn to love me.”28Butler defends as a more courteous and mature strategy letting the unrequited lover travel her own road.

Hart cannot grasp how any properly educated rational creature would shun reconciliation. My inquiry to Hart is how this departs from what the Devil and his angels did when they rebelled against God. The demons believe, yet tremble (James 2:19). Were they not in full knowledge of the truth, unhindered by constraints, awake and aware of their situation?29 The wicked perish “because they refused to love the truth and so be saved” (1 Thessalonians 2:10; compare John 3:19).30 Hart in rebuffing this is reminiscent of Shifu in Kung Fu Panda who cannot fathom how his star pupil, Tai Lung, whom he raised from infancy, could pursue villainy.31

C. S. Lewis cites John Milton’s Paradise Lost to illuminate the state of mind whereby spiteful humans and demons cling to their insurgence: “The choice of every lost soul is expressed in the words ‘Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.’ There is always something they insist on keeping even at the price of misery….You see it easily enough in a spoiled child that would rather miss its play and its supper than say it was sorry and be friends.”32 Philosopher Robert Adams explains the dilemma:

God cannot demonstrate his inclusiveness toward separatists if they refuse to be included…. The persistent separatist thereby forces God to compromise his policy of inclusiveness itself: either he includes the separatist and excludes those with whom the separatist refuses to associate; or he includes the latter and the former separate themselves.33

Sixth, biblical testimonies challenging universal reconciliation are tough to offset. Let us grant that the Greek “terms for eternity” aidios and aionios have various shades of meaning.34 How does Hart answer Augustine on Matthew 25:46: “They are correlative,—on the one hand, punishment eternal, on the other hand, life eternal. And to say in one and the same sense, life eternal shall be endless, punishment eternal shall come to an end, is the height of absurdity. Wherefore, as the eternal life of the saints shall be endless, so too the eternal punishment of those who are doomed to it shall have no end.”35

What are we to make of the urgent pleas in the Bible to turn from sin and to be ready for Jesus to return?36 What about Matthew 10:32-33? And Luke 12:8-10: “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”37 Is the Apostle Paul’s forgiven blasphemy in 1 Timothy 1:13 different from what Jesus presages? Why did Jesus say it would have been better for Judas never to have been born if Judas is finally reconciled?38

Seventh, Hart’s certitude that Hell will cease is discomfiting considering the stakes. The divine drama is still afoot. It is one thing to hope or yearn for universal reconciliation. But Hart has “very small patience for this kind of ‘hopeful universalism’” (66), and the ramifications are literally incalculable if Hart’s version of universalism is off the mark. If doctrinaire universalists are mistaken, they risk bearing the worst sort of false witness imaginable.

We must repudiate strident universalism to whatever extent it numbs sinners to Christ’s call to repent. How does Hart advise the Church to proceed in light of universal reconciliation? As God notified the prophet in Ezekiel 33: “When I say to the wicked…‘you will surely die’ and you do not speak to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.”

Hart’s certitude conveys universal reconciliation as the only credible Christian option.39 Is this merely “rhetorical exaggeration,” or not (94)? So many saints throughout history have understood the Bible as teaching annihilation or that Hell is unrelenting. Hart is rash to dismiss this cloud of witnesses so completely. John Wesley’s counsel is apropos: “Be not so positive, especially with regard to things which are neither easy nor necessary to be determined.”40 And:

I sincerely desire to be better informed….Are you persuaded you see more clearly than me?…Point out to me a better way….May I not request of you, farther, not to give me hard names in order to bring me into the right way? Suppose I was ever so much in the wrong. I doubt this would not set me right. Rather it would make me run so much the farther from you….Nay, perhaps, if you are angry so shall I be too, and then there will be small hopes of finding the truth.41

In conclusion, dogmatic universalists like Hart must confront the dangers of false witness and competing biblical testimony. Moreover, Hart ought to concede that rival claims can also be coherent. As African theologian Mvume Dandela observed: “Dialogue refines not only beliefs themselves but also how beliefs are expressed.”42 Hart’s vision too will benefit from dialogue by examining its implications for proclaiming the Gospel, as well as for life and unity in the Church.

Cite this article
Benjamin B. DeVan, “Shall All Be Saved? David Bentley Hart’s Vision of Universal Reconciliation—An Extended Review”, Christian Scholar’s Review, 50:1 , 85-95


  1. “Honor,” The Walking Dead, Season 8, Episode 9, AMC, February 25, 2018.
  2. Andy Crouch, Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling (Downers Grove, IL: InterVar- sity Press, 2008), 160-174 similarly represents the New Heavens and New Earth.
  3. Tirmidhi, Sunan, V, bab no. 109, hadith, no. 3611; compare Bukhari, Sahih II, kitab (no. 63) al-khalq, bab 1, hadith no. 3022; Muslim, Sahih, IV, kitab (no. 49) al-tawbabab 4, hadith no. 2571, referenced, for example, in Miroslav Volf, Ghazi bin Muhammad, and Melissa Yarrington, A Common Word: Muslims and Christians on Loving God and Neighbor (Grand Rapids, MI: Wil- liam B. Eerdmans, 2010), 106-107.
  4. Genesis 9; Ezekiel 1:28; and Revelation 4:3 and 10:1 associate the rainbow with God’s promise and reign.
  5. For a critical analysis, see Michael J. McClymond, The Devil’s Redemption: A New History of Interpretation of Christian Universalism, 2 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2018); and more sympathetically, Ilaria L. E. Ramelli, The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis: A Critical Assessment from the New Testament to Eriugena (Leiden, NL: Brill, 2013); Ilaria L. E. Ramelli, A Larger Hope? Universal Salvation from Christian Beginnings to Julian of Norwich (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2019).
  6. Matthew 17:11; Mark 9:12; and Acts 3:19-21 speak of Apokatastasis, the restoration of all things. Deuteronomy 30:3; 1 Samuel 2:6; 2 Samuel 16:12; 2 Kings 4:8-5:14, 14:25; 2 Chronicles 34:10; Job 42:10; Psalms 41:3, 51:12, 71:20, 80, 85:4, 126; Isaiah 1:26, 49:6, 61:4; Jeremiah 30-33; Ezekiel 16:53; Zechariah 8; Galatians 6:1; and 1 Peter 5:10 evidence conceptual linguistic parallels.
  7. Hart (94) cites Matthew 18:34; Luke 12:47-48, 59; and (apparently in error) Matthew 5:36.
  8. For example, Keith Giles, Jesus Undefeated: Condemning the False Doctrine of Eternal Torment (Orange, CA: Quoir, 2019), 181-190, lists 76 verses that he connects with universal reconcili- ation in Christ.
  9. See documentation and more details in Bradley Jersak, Her Gates Will Never Be Shut: Hope, Hell, and the New Jerusalem (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2009).
  10. C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: HarperCollins, 1996 [1940]), 120.
  11. C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce: A Dream (New York: HarperCollins, 2001 [1946]), 139-141. Christopher C. McClinch, Reason, Imagination, and Universalism in C. S. Lewis (M.A. Thesis: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2002); and David M. Kelly, The Treatment of Universalism in Anglican Thought from George Macdonald (1924-1905) to C. S. Lewis (1898- 1963) (Ph.D. diss.: The University of Ottawa, 1989), further explore Lewis on universalism.
  12. G. K. Chesterton, Heretics and Orthodoxy: Two Volumes in One, Lexham Classics (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2017 [1908]), 291.
  13. Jerry L. Walls, “A Hell and Purgatory Response,” in Four Views on Hell: Second Edition with New Contributors, ed. Preston Sprinkle (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016), 140.
  14. Miroslav Volf, Exclusion & Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation, revised and updated (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2019), 294.
  15. See in context Isaac Watts, The World to Come: Discourses on the Joys or Sorrows of Departed Souls at Death, and the Glory of Terror of the Resurrection, Volume 1 (Mill-Hill, Near Trenton, NJ: Daniel Fenton, 1811), ix.
  16. Three passages commonly linked to some of these ideas are 1 Corinthians 3; Philippians 2; and 1 Peter 3:18-4:19.
  17. Fanny Crosby, “Rescue the Perishing” (1869), ishing_care_for_the_dying.
  18. David H. Kelsey, Proving Doctrine: The Uses of Scripture in Modern Theology (Philadelphia, PA: Trinity Press International, 1999), esp. 163-167, 193-196.
  19. William Lane Craig, “Diversity, Evil, and Hell,” in Chad Meister and James K. Dew, eds., God and Evil: The Case for God in a World Filled with Pain (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2013), 233.
  20. Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (New York: Dutton, 2008), 77-78.
  21. John Donne, “Meditation XVI” (1623), an-island-john-donne/.
  22. Norman L. Geisler, The Big Book of Christian Apologetics: An A-Z Guide (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2012), 225.
  23. Paul Copan, Loving Wisdom: A Guide to Philosophy and Christian Faith, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2020), 257. See Matthew 22:1-14 and Luke 14:15-24.
  24. 4John Sanders, “A Freewill Theist’s Response to Talbott’s Universalism,” in Universal Salva- tion? The Current Debate, eds. Robin A. Parry and Christopher Partridge (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2004), 172-173.
  25. The Pilgrim’s Progress, Cat in the Mill Studio, et. al., April 18, 2019, alluding to family spiri- tual conflict in Matthew 10:30, and to eschatological judgment in Luke 12:7.
  26. In Lee Strobel, “When Miracles Don’t Happen: An Interview with Dr. Douglas R. Groot- hius,” The Case for Miracles: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for the Supernatural (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018), 250.
  27. Christopher Hitchens, in Ian Katz, “When Christopher Met Peter,” The Guardian (May 31, 2005), ianhayfestival3.
  28. Joshua Ryan Butler, The Skeletons in God’s Closet: The Mercy of Hell, the Surprise of Judgment, the Hope of Holy War (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2013), 65.
  29. John SandersNo Other Name: An Investigation into the Destiny of the Unevangelized (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1992), 164.
  30. This and subsequent Bible quotations are from the New International Version, https://
  31. Kung Fu Panda, DreamWorks Animation and Paramount Pictures, June 6, 2008.
  32. Lewis, The Great Divorce, 71.
  33. Robert Merrihew Adams, “Christian Liberty,” in Thomas V. Morris, Philosophy and the Christian Faith, Notre Dame Studies in Philosophy Series (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988), 104.
  34. Ilaria Ramelli and David Konstan, Terms for Eternity: Aionios and Aidios in Classical and Christian Texts, Perspectives on Philosophy and Religious Thought 9 (Piscataway, NJ: Gor- gias Press, 2011).
  35. Augustine, The City of God, Book XXI, Chapter 23, in Marcus Dods, ed., The Works of Aure- lius Augustine, Bishop of Hippo: A New Translation, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1881), 451; compare Daniel 12:1-3.
  36. Just three examples of this urgency prior to the bridegroom’s return are the parable of the wedding garment in Matthew 22:1-13, the parable of the virgins in Matthew 25:1-13, and the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:13-20.
  37. Hart mentions but does not deal in depth with blasphemy on pages 117-118 of That All Shall Be Saved.
  38. Matthew 26:24; Mark 14:21; compare Luke 22:22.
  39. Even more vehement are David Bentley Hart, “’Gnosticism’ and Universalism: A Review of ‘The Devil’s Redemption,’” Eclectic Orthodoxy (October 2, 2019), https://afkimel.wordpress. com/2019/10/02/gnosticism-and-universalism-a-review-of-the-devils-redemption/; and Michael McClymond, “David Bentley Hart’s Lonely, Last Stand for Christian Universal- ism: A Review of ‘That All Shall Be Saved’,” The Gospel Coalition (October 2, 2019), https:// bentley-hart/.
  40. John Wesley, “Letter to the Editor,” London Magazine 35 (1 January, 1765), 28, in John Tel- ford, ed., The Letters of John Wesley, A. M., Standard Edition, vol. 5 (London: Epworth Press, 1931), 286.
  41. John Wesley, Preface to Sermons on Several Occasions, §§8-10, in The Works of John Wesley: The Bicentennial Edition, Volume 1: Sermons 1-33, ed. Albert C. Outler (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1984), 107.
  42. Mvume Dandala, ed., “From Africa: Something Old, Something New,” Epworth Review 27 (2000): 77.

Benjamin B. DeVan

Emory University
Benjamin B. DeVan teaches at Palm Beach Atlantic University