Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Evaluating the newest evangelical answer for the dark doctrine of hell
by Bird, Aaron B., Ph.D., Trinity International University, 2013, 413; 3590514
Abstract (Summary)

If God is loving then he would desire the salvation for every human being; and, if God is omnipotent then he has the power to bring about his desire to save every human being. According to traditional evangelical theology, there are some human beings who wind up in everlasting hell. Therefore, either God's love or omnipotence seems to be dubious; or, hell refers to something evangelicals have not typically accepted.

Universalism has never been considered a legitimate interpretive option in evangelical theology, until now. When it comes to understanding biblical texts about hell, a view labeled "evangelical universalism" sets omnipotent love as the interpretive framework. Their answer to the set of propositions about God and hell, they claim, is a clear and significant advantage to the traditional alternatives, in that it can maintain God loves all and is all powerful enough to achieve the end of loving all into salvation.

I set out to investigate the validity of such a claim with a concise method. Following the Introduction, the titles of each chapter, in order, are the following: Describing EU, Evaluating EU's Biblical Claims, Evaluating EU's Broad Theological Claim, A Traditional Alternative to EU. Describing and evaluating EU in these way helped me in my pursuit of answering the main question, namely, is EU true? Description first, then came evaluation; showcasing their most formidable arguments, both biblical and theological, and then entering into dialogue with them. In this investigative process I hoped to learn what these theologians are doing and gain a deeper understanding about the doctrine itself.

I maintained one central thesis throughout the dissertation. I attempt to demonstrate that because EU's arguments from Scripture distort what the biblical authors were trying to communicate they (1) violate the deep grammar of the biblical text that in reality undermines their position and (2) have flawed broad theological arguments. In demonstrating this I showed that the most significant pro-EU arguments are not compelling when subjected to theological scrutiny, that there are reasons to think that EU treatments of arguments in support of the traditional position are problematic, and that overall the EU proponents have not yet offered compelling reasons to abandon the traditional view.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: McCall, Thomas H.
Commitee: Averbeck, Richard, Fields, Bruce L.
School: Trinity International University
Department: Systematic Theology
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 74/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Theology
Keywords: Evangelical universalism, God's love, Hell, Salvation
Publication Number: 3590514
ISBN: 978-1-303-30279-4
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