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That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  165 ratings  ·  47 reviews
The great fourth-century church father Basil of Caesarea once observed that, in his time, most Christians believed that hell was not everlasting, and that all would eventually attain salvation. But today, this view is no longer prevalent within Christian communities.
In this momentous book, David Bentley Hart makes the case that nearly two millennia of dogmat
Hardcover, 232 pages
Published September 24th 2019 by Yale University Press
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Sep 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well, I'm like 95% convinced.

Its odd to think that about a decade ago Rob Bell's Love Wins caused a tremendous stir for just suggesting the possibility that all shall be saved. As yet, it doesn't seem Hart's book is stirring up as much. This is certainly because he is a theologians and not a megachurch pastor, so less well-known to the general public. That said, because he is a world-class theologian, he won't be as easy to "farewell" as Bell was for some. Plus, unlike Bell who just
Oct 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Hart is evidently an erudite scholar and facile writer, and he is very lucid in explaining some of the important concepts in classical theism, such as freedom of rational being, the relational nature of personhood, and the transcendence of God. I'm also grateful to Hart for challenging his readers to think more deeply about Christianity -- he has certainly achieved one of his stated goals for writing the book.

However, I’m disappointed by the perfunctory manner in which he treats poin
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
Here is Hart’s defence of universalism delivered with all the bombast that is at once pugnacious and argumentative, and forceful as one might expect from this author.

But there are two great weaknesses: the first is that the treatment of the biblical text is fairly poor and one-sided, largely focused on the apostle Paul’s “big statements“ concerning the extensive nature of God’s purpose and His grace; the second is that the underlying premise is that it ought to contravene our moral sense to bel
Justin Evans
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
It must be nice to be so well known and such a good writer that you just can piss on everyone and they'll cheer you on. This is a fabulous piece of clear thinking about the worst aspects of the Christian tradition. In short, if you want to say:

i) God created everything, He is our Father;
ii) God is love; and
iii) God will send most people to hell for eternal punishment

you should probably take a good long hard look at the definitions of 'father' and 'created' and 'love' and
Very convincing upon a first reading, and I really can't give less than 3 stars given how brilliant most of this book is . . . but when you really dive into the arguments, it becomes clear that Hart is being a bit disingenuous, using his rhetorical power (a friend of mine compared him to Cicero, which is actually fair) to somewhat blind the reader to weaknesses in his reasoning.

Among many other issues, his hand-waving regarding the issue of needing footnotes/endnotes is really troubling insofar
Ross H
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I would not recommend this as someone's first book on the subject of universal salvation; not because it's too difficult, but because Hart's blitheness and hostility to common defenses of the traditional view of hell would likely be offputting to someone who isn't at least half-convinced of his premises.

But, as someone who's read several books on the subject, BOY was that blitheness refreshing, and it lets him take his arguments places that others wouldn't normally go for fear of off
Mj Harding
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Reading Hart is to come to terms with your own ignorance, your own inability to clearly think through the various flawed premises that have for centuries supported an entirely irrational conclusion: Namely that a God that is the ground of all love and kindness, a God who has promised to remake and restore both heaven and earth, a God who promises to make His home with us forever is also the sadistic ringmaster of a Boschian hell where souls, who lived for a finite number of years, now writhe and ...more
Jim Coughenour
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
I haven't enjoyed a book on biblical theology this much since reading Donald Harman Akenson's Saint Saul: A Skeleton Key to the Historical Jesus in 2002. David Bentley Hart, like Akenson, is not only a trenchant scholar but an excellent writer. Passion and intellect, logic and moral commitment, race side by side through arguments that snap and sing. Some readers may be put off by his certainty (I found it bracing and sometimes comical) but as he acknowledges at the start, there is no reason to pull p ...more
Fr. Ted
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not a great fan of Hart's writings in general, I admit it. I'm no where near his level of education or intelligence nor am I personally into or trained in philosophy or the classics to appreciate his writings. Personally, I also think he has a huge ego which he unapologetically allows to get in the way of his arguments. But I did largely appreciate and learn from his arguments in this book. I admit that I agree with his conclusions as well as his criticisms of Christianity, so I was not con ...more
Reid Belew
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Mac Sandlin once wrote in a review of another DBH book that he/his writing was “delightfully pretentious” and I can think of no other description that would be more accurate.

As always, his writing is dense, flowery, and a bit too peacocky sometimes, but more than anything, just a fun. I feel so much smarter than I am after I finally understand what he is saying.

Once in the rhythm of his writing, reading happens much faster. I have read almost every book on universal salvation I could get my ha
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I believe that it was Brad Jersak whom I first heard say that this book marks a turning point in Christian conversations about hell at least insofar as no responsible author will be able to write on the topic without referencing "That All Shall Be Saved". I entirely agree. For my own part, I picked up the book as something of a "hopeful inclusivist" willing (even wanting) to be convinced but also aware enough of that desire that I was rather skeptical of Hart's characteristic claim that his argu ...more
Oct 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interested in studying a superbly, provocatively, logical book? Such is this latest rant by DBH. The four central meditations should become essential reading for students of philosophy and theology.

Admittedly, I actually do not agree with significant arguments proposed by DBH, and (ironically) for reasons that meet his own stated criteria for rational Christian thought (!). Alternatively, I have been convinced of conditional immortality for many years now, and adding to that my firm and unswerv
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
David Bentley Hart is an intellectual giant that must be reckoned with, if one is to deal with major theological questions as a truth-seeker. Agreeing with him is not the measure for whether one is seeking truth, but reading him with an open and engaged mind, I think, is crucial for anyone interested in theology. The question of eschatology must be the most important theological question of all, since it is the culmination of all things, and as such, ultimate. Hart's writing is exceptional, easi ...more
Clark Wilson
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: to-reread
A few words: First, the book makes sense to me, but I am not a theologian of any sort except in the broadest, most trivial sense. (See Staniloae someplace.) Second, according to a church council anathematized Origen's teachings on this topic: "These anathemas condemned his protology of pre-existent souls and his eschatology of universal restoration of all things 'which follows from' his protology." I saw in the book absolutely no protology of any sort. It was all eschatology. Third, because I'm ...more
JD Tyler
Oct 23, 2019 rated it liked it
If you’re looking for an argument for universalism based on Greek Metaphysics, this is the best one you’ll find.

If you’re looking for an exegetically driven argument that incorporates the entire scope of the Biblical witness along with the best of the Christian tradition, I would look elsewhere.

In Toto, this is classic DBH. Provocative, scandalous, entertaining, frustrating, and rather enjoyable—even if you disagree with his argument.
Andrew McNeely
Oct 01, 2019 rated it liked it
DBH is all the rage right now and this book will surely stir the pot. Here, he blasts anyone who stands in his way, clearing a path for the Universalist position. He writes as if he’s an untamed lion on the defense, ready to devour anyone indebted to the Augustinian tradition.

All in all, this book has some high spots and low spots - and it won’t completely persuade one to become a universalist. It would take a much bigger and more in-depth book to do that, and I suspect DBH doesn’t care enough
Ross Van housen
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
While a Universalist myself, I found DBH's analysis harsh and uncharitable reducing any views contrary as self deluded "moral imbicility" (a term he uses frequently). He supports his argument by dismissing gross oversimplifications of concepts of freedom and personhood, and fails to subject his own definitions to such scrutiny. That said I did enjoy his exegetical and historical sections.
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’m not convinced of anything (yet), but this was a really good book. I need to meditate and study more on this subject. Some reviewers are put off by Hart’s “punchy” writing style, but that’s half of why it’s such a good book. He actually has strong opinions. How refreshing.
Stephen Morrison
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very good book. The final meditation was a bit too repetitive and DBH’s language is frequently, unnecessarily obscure, but otherwise well worth reading. His points often reminded me of Schleiermacher’s, but also Moltmann and Barth (though probably was not directly influenced by them).
Kristofer Carlson
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've been fortunate to exist, from time to time, on the pastoral periphery, listening to things pastors discuss amongst themselves but rarely reveal to their parishioners. Some years ago, one such person told me that although doctrine declared the existence and eternity of hell, there nevertheless remains a certain universality to the gospel.
It is with this in mind that I discuss David Bentley Hart’s (DBH) new book, “That All Shall Be Saved.” As DBH notes in his introduction, there are som
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was an amazing theological work that surprised me in how much it has furthered my thinking on the subject of an eternal hell in the Christian theological imagination. I should admit right away that previous to reading this book I already had an inclination towards a “hopeful” universalist view influenced bu the theologian Hans Ur Von Balthasar. I have read more detailed universalist biblical arguments in the past from Thomas Talbott, Rob Bell, etc. along with more ‘free will’ defenses of he ...more
B. Rule
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite Hart's protestations to the contrary, this is primarily a cry of conscience rather than a rigorously reasoned edifice of argument. To be sure, there is plenty of argumentation here, too. Hart lays out admirably succinct accounts of ancient metaphysical thinking regarding God as subsistent source of Being, the identity of God as transcendent Good, and the nature of human free will as necessarily ordered towards that Good rather than the more modern view of freedom as negative liberty. In ...more
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
David argues for "apokatastasis" to be exact. Universalism is a very loose translation, and I would not use it here. This book is as brilliant as any other Hart's work. I give 5/5 for just the sheer brilliance of his work, not particularly for where dogma goes right or wrong, because I'm no expert on this. A very good read. However, a word of caution.
While most of Hart's previous works are usually in line with the commonly accepted positions within the Greek Orthodox milieu, and he does no
Eric Ryniker
Oct 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
A theology professor of mine once encouraged us all to find a thinker or two with whom one can return to time and again. The point was not to find someone with whom you agreed or disagreed but found engaging and invited you to think deeply. David Bentley Hart has grown into this role for me over the past decade or so and the thing I most appreciate about Hart is his total lack of shyness.

That All Shall Be Saved, Dr. Hart acknowledges in his introductory and closing remarks, will likely convince
Sam Nigro
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Book "That ALL shall be saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation" by David Bentley Hart--The book has the universal absence in religion scholars of the "Statimuum" understanding of Eternity. Remembered must be that Satan promotes willful entropy (non-being) and that "freedom" has been given to choose truth, oneness, good and beauty, but spirit still allows lies, division, evil and ugliness offered by Satan. Eternal destiny basically means that justice will be served and we will get what we d ...more
Thomas Creedy
Oct 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
I enjoyed reading this new book from the legendary David Bentley Hart (henceforth DBH), but was overall underwhelmed. Simply put, whilst attempting to tackle a big question, this book has some big problems. I would argue that That All shall be Saved suffers from bombast and over-done rhetoric, consistent misrepresentation of positions and people the author disagrees with, and a surprising lack of breadth and depth.

A key issue, I would argue, is a rather anaemic portrayal of God – whi
Derek Kubilus
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
A serious, sober take on what we mean when we talk about hell. With his usual clarity and focus (and challenging vocabulary), Hart takes on the "infernalist" view of hell as eternal, conscious torment. He teases out the moral and theological implications of such a view in a way that you can tell he is driven by what he believes is his moral duty to explain why this view is incompatible with ideas about God that most Christians hold very dear.

Is he successful? Well, he got me. I'll be reckoning
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When one reads That All Shall Be Saved by David Bentley Hart, they are getting exactly what they should expect: Brilliant arguments and a brutal offensive mounted against opposing views. This time Hart isn’t defending theism against the New Atheists, but rather defending the Christian idea of God against the contradictory and “morally repugnant” belief in a Hell of eternal conscious torment. Hart’s book will, I believe, be a work that biblical scholars, theologians, and philosophers will have to ...more
Shawn Brace
Nov 08, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was equal parts entertaining, equal parts thought-provoking, and equal parts ludicrous. I’m not sure how else to describe it. Hart is pretty incorrigible and, as one review said of him in this book, seeming like a defeated man who decided to go ad hominem in large parts of the book.

I do, of course, share his conclusions about eternal conscious torment. But I don’t think he goes anywhere close to rebutting annihilationism, and certainly doesn’t adequately argue for universalism. Even h
Tim Olson
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
David Bentley Hart is brilliant, cogent, convincing - and perhaps the most arrogant author you will read. That said, his presentation of a Christian universalism -- or more to the point, an argument against the eternal damnation of souls is well grounded in scripture and Christian thought. Swimming against the current of Augustinian, Thomist, and Calvinist constructs that are quite mainstream, is done with skill and rational argument - strongly dosed with very big words and less than humble rhet ...more
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David Bentley Hart, an Eastern Orthodox scholar of religion and a philosopher, writer, and cultural commentator, is a fellow at the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study. He lives in South Bend, IN.
“Nevertheless, to me the God of Calvinism at its worst (as in those notorious lines in Book III of the Institutes) is simply Domitian made omnipotent. If that were Christianity, it would be too psychologically diseased a creed to take seriously at all, and its adherents would deserve only a somewhat acerbic pity, not respect. If this is one’s religion, then one is simply a diabolist who has gotten the names in the story confused. It is a vision of the faith whose scriptural and philosophical flaws are numerous and crucial, undoubtedly; but those pale in comparison to its far more disturbing moral hideousness. This aspect of orthodox Calvinism is for me unsurpassable evidence for my earlier claim that a mind conditioned to believe that it must believe something incredible is capable of convincing itself to accept just about anything, no matter how repellant to reason (or even good taste). And yet I still insist that, judging from the way Christians actually behave, no one with the exception of a few religious sociopaths really believes any of it as deeply as he or she imagines.” 1 likes
“Really, on the whole, Christians rarely pay particularly close attention to what the Bible actually says, for the simple reason that the texts defy synthesis in a canon of exact doctrines, and yet most Christians rely on doctrinal canons. Theologians are often the most cavalier in their treatment of texts, chiefly because their first loyalty is usually to the grand systems of belief they have devised or adopted; but the Bible is not a system. A very great deal of theological tradition consists therefore in explaining away those aspects of scripture that contradict the finely wrought structure of this or that orthodoxy.” 1 likes
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