TOPICS ON JUSTICE, ATONEMENT, & THE EXTENT OF SALVATION

Included in this section are essays and articles by a variety of authors on topics relating to God’s justice, the atonement, and the extent of salvation.

Concerning the latter, the position of this website is one of neutrality on the fascinating and controversial conundrum whether ultimately all creation will indeed be reconciled with its Creator, Father, and God. As our two mentors, George MacDonald and C.S. Lewis, themsevles came down on opposite sides of the fence on this intriguing scriptural puzzle, it seems only prudent that we, honoring their work, remain open to the contributions of both men to the ongoing discussion, while not adopting any dogmatic position of our own.

Though in all his written work, George MacDonald never specifically avowed a specific belief in how far God’s salvation might extend, it is fairly uniformly accepted among those familiar with the body of his work that he was of the conviction that the power of Christ’s atonement would indeed be wider than is generally believed by most Christians. Making use of the purifying and redeeming fires of hell to accomplish his eternal purposes, it is generally agreed that MacDonald believed that God would ultimately triumph over sin in the hearts of all mankind. It is reasonable (though perhaps not positively conclusive) to infer this from his work, though, as stated, MacDonald never set such a belief into writing  in specific and unambiguous terms. His desire to avoid controversy outweighed any felt need to become a spokesman for this or any doctrine other than obedience.

MacDonald’s famous protege C.S. Lewis contributed his most well-known statement on the afterlife in his wonderful fantasy, The Great Divorce, in which the residents of hell are allowed to take an excursion by bus to heaven, and given the opportunity to stay if they choose. Adding yet more spice to his tale, Lewis uses George MacDonald himself as one of the narrator’s “guides” to the puzzling conditions he discovers in the afterlife. The narrator, it is clear, is Lewis himself. In the end, however, though admitting to the possibility of repentance after death, Lewis does not endorse the optimism of his spiritual master. In other sources, he states unequivocally his belief that all men will not bow the knee, and will remain obdurate and unrepentant to all eternity. 

If the father of the Inklings (George MacDonald) and the chief Inkling himself (C.S. Lewis), both brilliant men, wise and knowledgeable in the Scriptures, take different positions, it certainly seems logical and reasonable that their spiritual sons and daughters and grandchildren keep open minds, while stopping short of rigid dogmatism. Such at least is the perspective of this website.

No inquiry, however, is to be feared. Indeed, with the legacy of such men as MacDonald and Lewis and many other courageous Christian thinkers to guide us, we relish in the quest for deeper understanding into the high and eternal purposes of our God.

This portion of Behind the Wardrobe will therefore present a miscellany of materials on these topics. They are presented not with the attempt to persuade or convince or evangelize to any particular point of view. They are presented to assist hungry individuals in their personal pilgrimages of scriptural study  into realms that are often not openly discussed in our churches. This reluctance seems to be slowly changing as new publications fan the fires of interest. Yet it will probably always be largely a private quest.

A number of  years ago, we made available through Sunrise Books a small booklet entitled simply Universal Reconciliation: A Brief Selection of Pertinent Quotations. The subtitle read: “A selection of quotations by some Christian individuals of repute who have held to the doctrine of universal reconciliation and a list of scriptures upon which their beliefs are based.”

The small printing of that booklet quickly sold out and it has not been available since. We are, however, making it available again in 8 1/2 x 11 format for interested readers. It can be found in the “Michael Phillips Aisle” of The Bookstore. The Introduction to that volume is reprinted here.

In the selections included here from George MacDonald, recognizing that today’s MacDonald readership is diverse and that there are those who prefer distinct editions of his work, material is presented in both original and edited format. Getting to the essence of George MacDonald’s thought must always be our priority. We believe in utilizing any and all forms to accomplish that purpose so that none are prevented from winning through to the heart of MacDonald’s message.

Now we invite you to explore what may be in God’s heart to accomplish!