Friday, March 18, 2011

A Sea Change Has Occurred

A sea change has occurred in the evangelical Christian world.

Scot McKnight, the Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies at North Park University, commented in a recent article in Relevant Magazine that Universalism, or at least the prospect of it, is the single most significant issue running through the undercurrent of evangelicalism today.

That observation is certainly being supported by the phenomenal level of interest in Rob Bell's book Love Wins. It is currently number 3 on the list of bestsellers on Articles about it have been written not only in religious periodicals, but even in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and many other secular news outlets. Even Rabbi Brad Herschfield found it significant enough to write about it on the Opinion page of The Washington Post. His comments on the importance of the issue were perceptive: Tell me a person’s beliefs about the afterlife, including the absence of such belief, and I’ll tell you how they function in this life, for better or for worse. . . . Ultimately, it is this last issue which is the most important.

The Baptist Times in the UK thought the issue important enough to include an article by Robin Parry on seven myths about universalism. He observes at the beginning of the article that Overnight, universalism went from being a marginal issue that most evangelicals felt that they could ignore to being the next big debate.

It will be interesting to see how this debate plays out.

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