Cover image for The inescapable love of God
The inescapable love of God
Talbott, Thomas.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Salem, Oregon : Universal Publishers, [1999]

Physical Description:
v, 222 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BS680.U55 T35 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



From the Preface: "This set of reflections is neither a textbook nor a piece of scholarly research. It neither summarizes a specific field of study for students nor advances scholarship in some area of research. It is instead (what I would call) a real book, by which I mean that in it I have tried to reach the most demanding audience of all: that of educated non-specialists. The book is in part an intellectual autobiography, in part the elaboration of an argument, and in part an attempt at persuasive writing. In these pages, I have sought to share with others, particularly those who call themselves "Christians," some of my own deepest convictions about the nature of God and the world. I have sought to work out, with some degree of consistency, the idea that the universe really is an expression of love, as some of the mystics from many traditions have always insisted."

Part I chronicles some of Talbott's early theological struggles and how he came to embrace a doctrine of universal reconciliation: the wondrous idea that God's love will inevitably triumph in the end and finally transform every created person. Part II sets forth the positive case for his contention that universalism is a plain and obvious teaching of the New Testament. And finally, Part III explores some of the logical inconsistencies in competing theological systems.

Table of Contents

Part I Some Autobiographical Reflections
1. An Encounter with Western Theologyp. 1
God and Evilp. 3
A Demonic Picture of Godp. 5
2. Religion Without Fearp. 11
The Idea of Universal Reconciliationp. 12
Heresy and Imperial Politicsp. 17
3. A Legacy of Fear and Persecutionp. 23
Theology and the Politics of Terrorp. 25
Moral Progress and the Christian Faithp. 30
The Destructive Power of Fearp. 34
Part II Universal Reconciliation and the New Testament
4. Three Pictures of God in Western Theologyp. 43
The Emergence of Three Different Picturesp. 46
Saving the Appearancesp. 48
Choosing Between the Three Picturesp. 52
5. St. Paul's Universalismp. 55
"Justification and life for all"p. 56
"So all will be made alive in Christ"p. 62
"And through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things"p. 66
"That he may be merciful to all"p. 70
Some Concluding Remarksp. 76
6. Eschatological Punishment: An Interpretation of the New Testament Teachingp. 81
The Parable of the Sheep and the Goatsp. 83
Punishment in the Coming Agep. 86
The Eternal Destruction of the Old Personp. 92
Redemption vs. Annihilationp. 98
Are Some Sins Unforgivable?p. 103
7. God is Lovep. 107
In Search of an Augustinian Interpretationp. 109
Love and the Essence of Divinityp. 113
"I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau"p. 118
Exclusivism: The Perennial Heresyp. 123
Conclusionp. 127
Part III The Logic of Divine Love
8. The Paradox of Exclusivismp. 133
The Logic of Divine Lovep. 133
The Inclusive Nature of Lovep. 136
The Sin of Exclusivismp. 140
9. Punishment, Forgiveness, and Divine Justicep. 143
The Idea of Divine Retributionp. 146
Concerning Guilt and the Question of Desertp. 151
Is God a Retributivist?p. 156
Why Divine Justice Requires Forgivenessp. 161
10. Omnipotence and the Mystery of Evilp. 168
The Limits of Omnipotent Powerp. 170
A Fundamental Mystery: The Creation of Personsp. 171
Human Freedom and the Quantity of Evil in the Worldp. 174
11. God, Freedom, and Human Destinyp. 181
(I) Free Will and the Concept of Damnationp. 184
(II) Irreparable Harm and the Limits of Permissible Freedomp. 189
(III) Free Will and the Misery of Hellp. 195
12. Love's Final Victoryp. 200
Towards a Christian Theology of Sufferingp. 202
Completing the Sufferings of Christp. 206
The Christian Hope for the Futurep. 212