We cite these books as good examples of material on the scriptural and historical case for universalism. There is a variety to choose from to fit your preference, from a focus on theological, biblical, and historical scholarship, to more biographical personal journeys, or a combination. Don’t miss the “Old Classics” at the bottom!
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BOOKS BY CUA MEMBERS:
Christian Universalism: God’s Good News For All People
By Eric Stetson
(2008, Sparkling Bay Books. 144 pages — paperback)
Founder of the Christian Universalist Association, Eric wrote this short introduction to Christian Universalism for a general audience. Eric forcefully argues for the Biblical teaching of universal salvation, responds to the most common objections, and provides a brief history of the CU faith. This book also serves as an overview of Christianity in general from a Universalist perspective, covering major theological themes. Endorsed by ministers from a diversity of denominations and backgrounds.
Destined For Salvation: God’s Promise to Save Everyone
By Kalen Fristad
(2003, Morris Publishing. 170 pages — paperback)
A CUA leader from its founding, Kalen is a United Methodist minister who has traveled back and forth across the United States preaching and presenting the faith of Christian Universalism to groups and churches all over. His book is an easy-to-read introduction to Christian Universalism, covering the major arguments for the salvation of all and refuting belief in eternal damnation.
Raising Hell: Christianity’s Most Controversial Doctrine Put Under Fire
By Julie Ferwerda
(2011, Vagabond Group. 302 pages — kindle and paperback)
An Amazon reviewer was spot on with this tongue-in-cheek critique: “Julie has not been to seminary and therefore her message is rife with the ignorant heresies you would expect from a regular lay person with no formal training.” But in her book, Julie Ferwerda actually shows herself to be an excellent student of the Bible as she lays out her defense of Christian Universalism that sounds like she is talking to you across the dining room table.
Craft Brewed Jesus: How History We Never Knew Taps a Spirituality We Really Need
By Michael Camp
(2016, Wipf & Stock, — kindle and paperback)
A fascinating journey of a group of disillusioned evangelicals and Catholics. When they decide to meet regularly over craft beers to study the historic foundations of their faith, their findings both rock their world and resolve ancient mysteries. They uncover discoveries on how most of the early church fathers fully embraced or were sympathetic to universalism, how historical context helps us see original meaning in the NT, and what the meaning of judgment was according to Jesus (restorative not retributive).
“A truly fascinating account… of a study group on a profound spiritual quest… to understand authentic Christian discipleship in light of the latest historical and biblical scholarship. Even those who disagree with some of the conclusions reached will benefit greatly from the wealth of historical information and from the spiritual insights… Highly recommended.” — Thomas Talbott
A Life Lived and Laid Down for Friends: A Progressive Christology
By Don Erickson
2019, Resource Publications — paperback
A Life Lived and Laid Down for Friends reflects on the iconoclastic life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. From the “riches in the rags” story of the nativity to his compassion-moved sacrifice to save his disciples, this book reflects on Jesus as first and foremost a spiritual teacher who embodied compassion.
Pastor and author Don Erickson shows how the humility embodied by society’s most vulnerable was, for Jesus, the benchmark for inclusion in God’s kingdom. The book also looks at Jesus’ approach to religious pluralism, a reality he experienced in ancient Palestine under Roman rule. It was an approach that evidenced Jesus pointing to expressions of compassion, rather than to mere faith.
Patristic Universalism: An Alternative to the Traditional View of Divine Judgment
By David Burnfield
(2016 Second Edition, David Burnfield, — kindle and paperback)
From the earliest days of the church, there have always been three views on what happens to those who die without knowing Christ…damnation, annihilation, and restoration. Patristic Universalism presents scriptural, philosophical, and historical support for the restoration view and demonstrates why it was the model advocated by some of the earliest and greatest church fathers. Anyone disillusioned with the traditional view that one must get it right in this life or spend eternity in hell will find Patristic Universalism an appealing alternative that remains true to Scripture.
The Inescapable Love of God
By Thomas Talbott
(2014, Second Edition, Cascade Books, 220 pages — kindle and paperback)
In this well-written book, Tom Talbott describes his theological journey on the way to embracing a belief in universal reconciliation, and sets forth a positive case that the New Testament clearly teaches universalism. A significant theme that runs through this book is that, in contrast to Calvinism and Arminianism, according to universalism, God’s love is unlimited and God’s redemptive purposes are unthwarted as well.
“Talbott puts forth the most logical, biblically grounded case for universal reconciliation one might find anywhere. … If someone is looking for the closest thing to a comprehensive explanation of, and case for, biblical universalism, this would be the book to get.” — Alvin C. Grissom
Christianity Without Insanity: For Optimal
By Dr. Boyd C. Purcell, Ph.D.
(2012, CreateSpace, 222 pages — kindle and paperback)
From Amazon: “Bravo!… this book is well written, crystal clear and pulls no punches. It is a wonderful and at times, sad expose of how literal interpretation of the Bible has lead many to insanity and diminished health and aliveness. As a recovered Catholic… I applaud the message in his book. It provides real life examples of people who live more fully now that they have overcome the image of a fear based God.” — C. Wilger
The Golden Thread: God’s Promise of Universal Salvation
By Ken R. Vincent
(2005, iUniverse. 132 pages — paperback)
Also a scholar of near-death experiences and Zoroastrianism, Ken Vincent here presents a strong argument for universal salvation, not only from the Bible, but also with evidence from mystical experience down through history and from NDEs.
“The most recent Univeralist book that I have found, and also one of the most fascinating – offering some perspectives on Universalism that I have not seen presented by other authors.” — Jeffrey K. Mattheus
Spiritual Terrorism: Spiritual Abuse From The Womb To The Tomb
By Dr. Boyd C. Purcell, Ph.D.
(2008, AuthorHouse. 504 pages — kindle and paperback)
From Amazon: “Spiritual Terrorism is an insightful analysis of the problem of fear-based religion. As a physician, I can validate Dr. Purcell’s understanding of psychopathology. The anxiety which religion, or any other factor, generates has the potential to depress the human immune system, affect every organ, and impair bodily functions.” — Lewis Whaley, D.O., Oncologist
OTHER CONTEMPORARY BOOKS:
That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation
by David Bentley Hart
(2019, Yale University Press — hardcover, audio, kindle)
Orthodox theologian and philosopher David Bentley Hart makes the case that nearly two millennia of dogmatic tradition have misled readers on the crucial matter of universal salvation. On the basis of the earliest Christian writings, theological tradition, scripture, and logic, Hart argues that if God is the good creator of all, he is the savior of all, without fail. And if he is not the savior of all, the Kingdom is only a dream, and creation something considerably worse than a nightmare. But it is not so. There is no such thing as eternal damnation; all will be saved. With great rhetorical power, wit, and emotional range, Hart offers a new perspective on one of Christianity’s most important themes.
By Kevin Miller, Michael Hardin, Thomas Talbott, Julie Ferwerda, Brad Jersak, Robin Parry, Frank Schaeffer, et al
(2017, Kevin Miller Productions, — kindle)
In September 2012, the feature-length documentary Hellbound? was released in theaters across North America. Joining a growing chorus of voices that were questioning the traditional view of hell as a place of eternal conscious torment, the film asked a handful of “burning” questions. Five years later… filmmaker Kevin Miller decided it was time to go back to some of the people who appear in Hellbound? and others he met along the way to get their input on how the debate has shifted and how it’s remained the same. The result is a plethora of voices offering all sorts of perspectives, some highly academic, some polemic, some intensely personal, and all bound to impact how readers think and feel about this issue.
Hope Beyond Hell: The Righteous Purpose of God’s Judgment
By Gerry Beauchemin
(2016, 2010, 2007 Malista Press. 248 pages — kindle and paperback)
Gerry Beauchemin is a conservative evangelical Christian Universalist who wrote this book to lay out all the Biblical evidence for universal salvation in a compelling and convincing way. Especially helpful for Christians who take a rigorous, scripture-based approach to their faith.
The Evangelical Universalist: The Biblical Hope that God Will Save All
By Gregory MacDonald
(2012, Second Edition, Wipf & Stock, — kindle and paperback)
Can an orthodox Christian, committed to the historic faith of the Church and the authority of the Bible, be a universalist? Is it possible to believe that salvation is found only by grace, through faith in Christ, and yet to maintain that in the end all people will be saved? Can one believe passionately in mission if one does not think that anyone will be lost forever? Could universalism be consistent with the teachings of the Bible? This book argues that the answer is ‘yes’ to all of these questions.
“This book makes a significant contribution to a long-standing theological conundrum that has become a pressing concern in our modern world. For some it is a dangerous book. But the best books are often the dangerous ones. …it should be read and pondered.” — Oliver D. Crisp, Professor of Systematic Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary
Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived
By Rob Bell
(2011, Harper One, — kindle and paperback)
In Love Wins, bestselling author, international teacher, and speaker Rob Bell addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith—hell and the afterlife—arguing, would a loving God send people to eternal torment forever? With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial with a hopeful message—eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts right now. And ultimately, Love Wins.
Razing Hell: Rethinking Everything You’ve Been Taught about God’s Wrath and Judgment
By Sharon L. Baker
(2010, Westminster John Knox Press, — kindle and paperback)
The idea of hell can haunt dreams and disturb sleep. Many wonder at the justice (or injustice) of it all, feeling confounded by a God who deems it necessary to send the majority of humanity to burn there forever. Seventy percent of Americans believe in hell, as do ninety-two percent of those who attend church every week. Clearly, it’s a hot topic. Baker offers readers a safe space to contemplate tough issues as they rethink traditional views of hell. In her candid and inviting style Baker explores and ultimately refutes many traditional views of hell, presenting instead theologically sound ways of thinking that are more consistent with the image of God as a loving creator who desires to liberate us from sin and evil.
Her Gates Will Never Be Shut: Hope, Hell, and the New Jerusalem
By Brad Jersak
(2009, Wipf & Stock, — kindle and paperback)
Everlasting hell and divine judgment, a lake of fire and brimstone–these mainstays of evangelical tradition have come under fire once again in recent decades. Would the God of love revealed by Jesus really consign the vast majority of humankind to a destiny of eternal, conscious torment? Is divine mercy bound by the demands of justice? Jersak endeavors to reconsider what the Bible and the Church have actually said about hell and hope, noting a breadth of real possibilities that undermines every presumption.
“Deeply grounded in evangelical faith…, Jersak probes the meaning of ‘Final Judgment’ in Christian tradition. …In the end the residue of evil will not have the last word; what prevails is the goodness of God’s love. Readers will be greatly instructed by this thoughtful book.” — Walter Brueggemann
The Gospel of Inclusion: Reaching Beyond Religious Fundamentalism to the True Love of God and Self
By Carlton Pearson
(2006, Atria, — kindle and paperback)
Fourth-generation fundamentalist Carlton Pearson, a Christian megastar and host, takes a courageous and controversial stand on religion that proposes a hell-less Christianity and a gospel of inclusion that calls for an end to local and worldwide conflicts and divisions along religious lines. The Gospel of Inclusion explores the exclusionary doctrines in mainstream religion and concludes that according to the evidence of the Bible and irrefutable logic, they cannot be true. His story is also told in the film, Come Sunday.
“I love the spirit of Bishop Carlton Pearson’s book, The Gospel of Inclusion. It arrives to a generation whose fear of deception is often greater than its faith…Bishop Pearson has nailed a thesis to our church door and demanded reformation.” — Dr. Mark Hanby, Mark Hanby Ministries
If Grace is True: Why God Will Save Every Person
By Philip Gulley and James Mulholland
(2003, Harper Collins, — kindle and paperback)
In this controversial bestseller, authors and Quaker ministers Philip Gulley and James Mulholland expand upon their belief in eternal salvation for all through God’s perfect grace. For seekers, for thoughtful Christians, and for the simply curious, Gulley and Mulholland offer a beautiful, timeless message of hope.
The Jerome Conspiracy
By Michael Wood
(2008, iUniverse Books, — paperback)
A fundamental teaching of modern Christianity is the eternal damnation of unbelievers. Most Christians assume this was always a doctrine of the faith. However the historical record proves otherwise. The majority view of the earliest churches in both the East and the West was one of temporary not eternal punishment. This leaves us with two historical puzzles. Why did the vast majority of churches teach temporary punishment in the first place? And what definitive event occurred during the fifth century that caused Christians en masse to suddenly embrace the doctrine of eternal damnation? In The Jerome Conspiracy parable, cryptographer Michael Wood pieces together the historical record to solve both these puzzles.
Universalism: the Prevailing Doctrine of the Christian Church During Its First 500 Years
By J. W. Hanson
(1899, Universalist Publishing House, — kindle, hardcover)
The purpose of this book is to present some of the evidence of the prevalence in the early centuries of the Christian church, of the doctrine of the final holiness of all mankind. The author has endeavored to give the language of the early Christians, rather than to paraphrase their words, or state their sentiments in his own language. He has aimed to present irrefutable proofs that the doctrine of Universal Salvation was the prevalent sentiment of the primitive Christian church.
History of Opinions on the Scriptural Doctrine of Retribution
By Edward Beecher D.D.
(1878, D. Appleton & Company, — kindle, hardcover)
A Congregational minister’s study of Universalism. Amazon Reviewer: “I am so impressed by the depth and equal balance given to all historical varieties of divine punishment that was taught in the early church history and that this book painstakingly reveals in exhausted detail, and in particular to the incredible and majority support for universal restoration that existed in antiquity in the Christian world. I praise God that the truth of this matter can be suppressed, can be hidden, but cannot be destroyed!”