Tag: Humanity

Living in the Light of the Future: Universal Restoration and Practical Theology—Robin Parry

Robin‘s final talk in our [Hope and Hell conference] series explores perhaps the most significant question of all: “How does a belief in universal salvation influence my life and service in the world—including things like evangelism, counselling, and taking funerals?”

Robin is a pastor as well as a theologian, and he brings a wealth of practical experience to this huge question. Does universal salvation mute the gospel and just make us melt into a kind of uncritical pantheism? Robin argues that universal salvation, far from muting our voice in the world, amplifies our voice, and the many ways through which we can bless the world.

Tony Golsby-Smith, founder of Gospel Conversations

This podcast episode was originally published on PodBean.

The Story of Salvation: A Narrative Theology of Hell—Robin Parry

Photo of Robin Parry giving talk

In this third talk of our Hope and Hell conference, Robin paints a sweeping picture of the story of salvation beginning with creation and ending with the eschaton. He then poses the significant question—which fits best into this picture—hell or universal salvation?

This talk is quite awe-inspiring—not because it advocates universal salvation (which it does) but even more because it stretches our horizons beyond individual redemption into the purpose of the cosmos. In developing his theme, Robin draws heavily on the magnificent Patristic fathers and their grand conception of the irresistible goodness of God. 

Tony Golsby-Smith, founder of Gospel Conversations

This podcast episode was originally published on PodBean.

Common Ground for Christians?

Occasionally I get condemned as a non-Christian heretic because I believe in God’s ultimate, universal restoration and reconciliation—similar to Robin Parry, Tom Talbott, and the Church Fathers Origen and Gregory of Nyssa. Below is a summary of some of my beliefs. What do you think, do we share common ground?

  • God: I believe the eternal Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is the best way to describe the God revealed in the Bible. I believe God is infinitely and perfectly loving, holy, glorious, wise, powerful, knowing, and just. I believe God deserves complete (heart, mind, and body), voluntary, joyful praise and worship from each and every created being.
  • Jesus: I believe in the historical and physical incarnation, life, death, descent, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus of Nazareth—about 2000 years ago. I believe this Jesus was also fully and eternally divine, the Son of God, the Logos, and the promised Messiah. I believe He will return in glory to judge the living and the dead, and that one day every knee will bow and confess allegiance to Him.
  • Holy Spirit: I believe the Holy Spirit works within us to teach, encourage, and to help us bear the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, temperance, and self-control.
  • Bible: I believe the Bible was intentionally created by God and inspired humans. I believe that it has been well preserved, and when correctly translated from its original languages and rightly understood by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it is authoritative in both matters of faith and practice.
  • Humanity: I believe each and every person is irreplaceable—immeasurably valuable—as everyone is created in God’s image. I believe each person is a unique child of God— personally known and cherished by Him forever!
  • Sin: I believe any opposition—physical, mental, or spiritual—to God is a sin. I believe everyone, from Adam onwards, has sinned (except for Jesus). I believe sin taints and affects every aspect of our lives. I believe we need God to free us from our slavery to sin. I believe sin has severe ramifications—including suffering, death, and even outer darkness (God completely hiding his presence from us). However, I believe God will eventually eliminate sin entirely from all beings and therefore from existence eternally.
  • Judgement: I believe God will raise the dead and that Jesus will judge everyone fairly, that no sin will be swept under the carpet—instead, people will experience God’s correction.
  • Salvation: I believe Christ is the atonement for all sins, the only Saviour, that salvation is a gift of grace, received by repentance and faith (with the Spirit’s help), and that it cannot be earned.
  • Missional: I believe God wants us to be actively involved in reconciling people to him, through our love and prayer for others and the proclamation of the Gospel.
  • Early Ecumenical Creeds and Councils: I believe my beliefs comply with the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed, and therefore remains within the bounds of orthodox Christianity. I also have a high regard for the early ecumenical councils, but like most Protestants, I don’t believe they are infallible and disagree with some points (e.g. veneration of icons).

Nicene Creed Wordle

Parry—Christmas for everyone!

There is more to come—there is the fullness. There is coming a day when, as Paul says in Romans 11, the deliverer will come from Zion and “all Israel will be saved.” Not just the current remnant of Messiah-believers, but also those who at the moment reject Jesus. There is a day coming when, as the book of Revelation says, the kings of the earth and all the nations will bring their treasures into the New Jerusalem through its ever-open gates to worship God and the Lamb.

Now we see salvation in part, then we shall see it in full.

So currently we see a division within Israel and the nations between the redeemed and the lost, between the elect according to grace and those who are not, but one day there will be no such division. And then the promises associated with the birth of the Messiah will be filled full, or full-filled.

My second theme can be explained much more simply. Remember that Christmas is also about the incarnation—the Word made flesh, “eternity contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man.” For the Church, the real and complete humanity of Jesus is really important. The Church Fathers said: “that which has not been assumed has not been healed.” What they meant was that Jesus had to be human to heal our humanity. If he had not taken on our human nature then he could not transform it in himself.

Now Jesus is, of course, a particular human being. He is a real, solid, flesh and blood and bone and spit human individual. But more than that, he is a representative person. As the Messiah of Israel, he represents the whole nation of Israel before God. He is Israel-in-miniature. He embodies its story of exile and restoration in his death and resurrection. In the same way, he is the second Adam—the fountainhead of a renewed human race. In his humanity, he represents all humans before God. The story of humanity in its expulsion from Eden and its subjection to death is played out in his crucifixion. But then his resurrection is not simply about himself—it is on our behalf, the behalf of all of us, Jews and Gentiles. The resurrection of Jesus is the resurrection of humanity in him. It is the future of the world inscribed into the risen flesh of the Son of God. And it is here, in this risen and ascended human being that my hope for universal salvation is grounded. How can we know that God will one day deliver all? Because God has already declared his hand in the resurrection. It has been done—so it will come to pass.

And all this promise was wrapped up in the life of a little human baby in a manger in Bethlehem.

That, at least, is something of what may be a little distinctive about a universalist’s understanding of Christmas.


Above is the third part of the Nomad Podcast interview of Robin Parry. The other parts are: Is Christmas really for everyone? and Israel’s Christmas brings ours.

Jesus, Light of the World—Wycliffe Bible Translators