Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Book - A Catholic Reading Guide to Universalism

Update Nov 18. Here is a further clarification from Fr. Wild about his book:
"About my two books: 
Since you are interested in my book I want to clarify something with you. I myself am still trying to come to some conclusions about the final fate of those who reject God, or even if it’s possible to do so forever. Historically there are two theological opinions which seek to take the place of hell, understood as unending personal and conscious punishment. One is Universalism, that eventually everyone will be saved. My book A Catholic Reading Guide to Universalism simply seeks to help people understand what this teaching is about. At this point in my studies I am not committed to Universalism. 
The second opinion is called Conditional Immortality. A Guide to this view is the book I am now working on. It holds that immortality is not natural to us and is not in the scriptures. (Our “spirituality” is different from being immortal.) Immortality can only be obtained by a faith relationship to Christ. (But, as the Council teaches, God has many mysterious ways of making this happen for those who have never heard of Christ.)
Conditionalists hold that if people who have been given every opportunity to accept the Father’s will for them refuse, they will not suffer forever “in hell” but will be taken out of existence. God will simply accede to their rejection of his plan for them. This theory considers such a withdrawal of existence as more merciful than hell. They interpret all the words in the scriptures such as death and destruction, etc., as meaning ultimate extinction of life and not endless suffering. This theory, I think, does more justice to the possibility of our making serious choices about our ultimate fate than does Universalism. 
Both books seek to make people more aware of what is being discussed in theology about these issues opinions. They are opinions and not dogmas."
Fr. Bob Wild gave an fascinating talk Thursday night on Universalism (the talk is available at the link). Universalism is the theological opinion that all men will be saved. Or, that we hope that all men will be saved. Fr. Wild has also written a book on the subject called Universalism, A Catholic Reading Guide to Universalism.

I've read the book and thoroughly enjoyed it.

From Amazon:
"This reading guide to some of the philosophical and theological literature on universalism offers practical help in providing informed material on a topic that is often treated in a superficial and unenlightened manner. The reader may be surprised to learn that universalism was the predominant belief in the early centuries, and that it has always been present in the Christian tradition. Spurred on by Von Balthasar's book, Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved? Robert Wild's guide provides current studies that support Von Balthasar's arguments that universalism is a legitimate hope for the Christian. 
"As in balanced spiritual life, everything depends on the knowledge and experience of God's unconditional love and man's proper response to it by devotion. The understanding and acceptance of universal salvation . . . is also made possible by realizing the corresponding dynamics of these same elements. Wild's masterly selection of theological and philosophical literature comprising the two Christian millennia can lead even the most careful theologian to a proper insight regarding this central question of human existence."
--Esteban Deak, author Apokatastasis. The Doctrine of Universal Salvation in Twentieth Century Theology  
"The question of universal salvation is a theological minefield . . . Various theologians have been condemned for taking too large or narrow a view, either providing 'cheap grace' or unduly restricting God's universal offer of salvation. With pastoral wisdom and theological subtlety, Wild offers a wide-ranging and comprehensive panoply of pro and con views and carefully helps readers negotiate this treacherous terrain. His book . . . will be useful to both reasoned scholars and theological novices."--Peter C. Phan, Ignacio Ellacuria Chair of Catholic Social Thought at Georgetown University, Author of Eternity in Time, A Study of Karl Rahner's Eschatology  
"The most common idol we cling to is a God who rewards when we are good, punishes when we are bad. That is not the God of Christ, who longs to gather all his children in an eternal embrace of love, an embrace no sinner ever deserves. Wild's far-reaching pages suggest the salvation of all might be the healthiest 'default' theology: a God who will not rest until everyone made in his own image realizes and appropriates his perfect love."
--Father David Meconi, SJ, Professor of Theology, Saint Louis University, Editor, Homiletic and Pastoral Review  
Robert Wild is a Catholic priest and a member of the Madonna House community in Combermere, Ontario. He has published books and articles extensively in the areas of theology, spirituality, and in the life and teachings of their founder, Catherine de Hueck Doherty. He is the author of Who I Will Be: Is There Joy and Suffering in God?"

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