And Frank Robinson, of course
I would just like to say that I am very pleased with how the interview(s) with Dr. Hart turned out. My purpose was not to cover any new ground with Dr. Hart. Rather, what I wanted to produce was a lively conversation (with good sound quality!) which succinctly introduced Dr. Hart's thoughts on Christianity and universal salvation. I also wanted to give more attention to Dr. Hart's translation of the New Testament and its connection to TASBS.
I hope that these interviews will become a widely used introduction to his unparalleled scholarship, not to mention garnering more support for Leaves in the Wind. David Bentley Hart is a godsend for all of us who have been trying to articulate the necessity of a Christian universalist approach. We needed someone with his status and breadth of scholarship to come forward and to make an urgent, modern argument for the biblical, historical, and philosophical case for universal reconciliation. And, Dr. Hart has done just that.
So I have followed your work on this for quite some time. I must admit I find it quite compelling. But I must ask how exactly you see your view relating to Catholicism? Can a Catholic endorse your view? The Catholic tradition, to me, seems on the whole very anti-universalist (Although thankfully the tradition appears to have softened a bit in recent years).
That being said, I really have a hard time seeing how universalism it is not a necessary implication of the metaphysics of classical theism and creation ex nihilo. In short, as even every good Thomist would agree, what God will to happen happens (Feser gets this very wrong as I saw in one interview he did), but according to the way in which God wills it. Therefore, God's willing something to happen does not deprive it being done freely by creatures. Thus, divine action is not a hindrance to creaturely freedom but the very condition for its possibility. (This is why the free will defense of hell is so wrong. Such a defense would only work if God and creatures were related as two discreet entities.) It seems then that if God really wills that all men are saved, it must happen (unfortunately Aquinas has to read I Timothy 2:4 as meaning that God doesn't really will that all men are saved).
I apologize if this is the inappropriate setting to do this, but David Bentley Hart is a big reason why I’m alive today. Stumbling on to his work regarding universalism may have literally kept me from suicide. I merely want to extend my humble gratitude.
I loved it! David Artman's podcast is where I heard about this newsletter! I particularly enjoyed the discussion about how neuro-atypical people have particular trouble with the concept of hell. I can totally see that, I would add artists to that list. People who take in their environment in an unfiltered way.... that explains so much!
David's wife, Amy, was one of my professors at Missouri State and a good friend of mine in the department while I was a graduate student there. She's a first-rate scholar on American Pentecostalism, herself.
Posting this in the off chance you will answer. If Christ has overcome "economies of violence" represented symbolically by Pilot, then what place does law, order, criminal justice and the divine masculine have in the Kingdom of God, if any? That spirit of Mars that vanquishes evil, or names the animals, or orders creation, or punishes wrongdoing, or conquers new frontiers, what is the point of it in the Kingdom? It only serves a temporary end? I hear you critique Christendom and it is richly deserved, but I'm not even sure what "Christian government" would or could even look like if there can be no economies of violence (i.e. functioning criminal justice, etc.)?
David, as a Baltimore fans do you ever get pushback by other Orioles fans when you rank Frank Robinson over Cal as the greatest Oriole?
While I am a universalist, the idea that haunts me and gives me pause is a line of reasoning from the problem of evil. To put it crassly, there are days when I see no guarantee that the God who can allow Auschwitz is not also a God who would allow eternal damnation. So if God would allow that real evil, why not an eternal evil?
The only instinct I have to stave off this creeping doubt is the moral intuition, the gut instinct that if there is a God, he must reconcile all things, for if not, the very idea of God must be genuinely absurd and thus make the concept of eternal damnation an impossibility.
So to me, Auschwitz and hell cannot both logically exist.