Should we emphasize the sovereignty of God at the cost of having to narrow the scope of his love and mercy and the freedom of human beings? Or should we instead emphasize the universal scope of God’s love as well as the freedom of human beings to resist grace at the cost of God’s sovereignty? Questions such as these seem to have been at the core of many theological controversies in the slipstream of the Reformation.
In this article, based on a lecture at the Centre for Baptist History and Heritage at Regent Park College in Oxford in 2011, Robin Parry in detail describes the life and theology of the important Universal Baptist preacher and abolitionist Elhanan Winchester.
“Both Calvinists and Arminians, are right–in many things: and, perhaps, both are under mistakes, in some things: and in nothing do they both mistake more, than in supposing, (as both of them do) that the doctrines of particular and general redemption, are contrary the one to the other”
“One will say, God loves all his creatures without exception, that he is good to all and his tender mercies are over all his works. Another will maintain that all the objects of his love must finally come to the enjoyment of himself; and that his mercy endureth forever and cannot fail. We heartily believe both these testimonies. One will assert that Christ died for all, tasted death for everyone; the other, that Christ shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied, and that all for whom his blood was shed shall be cleansed thereby. All this we steadfastly believe.”
“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” – Julian of Norwich. In this anthology edited by Gregory MacDonald, a variety of scholars present historical examples of the Christian belief in universal salvation.