The Smear Campaign
On July 4th, 2018, the website Desiring God published an interview with Michael McClymond entitled “Universalism Distorts the Grace of God.” The interviewer defined universalism as the “theology that says all people will be saved in the end.” Despite the fact that universalism is a controversial label that I tend to avoid because it can be easily misunderstood, I cannot deny that I would be a Christian universalist by this definition. So, the claim that universalism distorts the grace of God caught my eye. Naturally, I was curious to see in what sense they believed this to be the case. I was in for quite a surprise.
First, it is not a biblically-based argument at all. Only one verse is partially quoted: “For God so loved the world” (John 3:16), and it has little, if any, relevance to his claims.
Besides this, McClymond, who wrote a “massive two-volume, 1,400-page work titled The Devil’s Redemption: A New History and Interpretation of Christian Universalism does not seem to know anything about Christian universalism, at least not in the biblical form I have been describing. Perhaps this is simply due to a lack of knowledge, or having researched the wrong sources that encouraged his confirmation bias. At any rate, he neatly summarizes the conclusions of his research into the topic for us, so you can save yourselves 1,400 pages worth of time: his representations of Christian universalism, whether well-intentioned or not, are false and misleading. The claims he makes bear no resemblance to anything that we have discussed in the pages of this website or anything I’ve read from any Christian universalist at all. Instead, they constitute more of a smear campaign that sadly will prevent many people from doing any honest research into the topic for themselves.
We will now examine his claims. Decide for yourself if he is accurately representing the view that we have presented thus far.
Here is a quote of his first claim:
To my surprise, I found that from ancient times onward — beginning with the gnostics of the second and third century, then Jewish and Christian Kabbalah, and then some of the so-called esoteric views in modern esoteric theories — I found that there was a concept of God insisting that he is not independent of the world. God is dependent upon the world. Or God created the world in order to evolve in and through the world.
It’s almost like God was a spirit in need of a body, and the world became his body. God is enriched then through the world. In essence it says, “In the beginning, God is incomplete. By creating the world, he completes himself.” It’s almost like God and the world are married to one another …
This is a view that is unworthy of God.
To my surprise, a person who wrote 1,400 pages on the “error” of Christian universalism begins by referencing non-Christian worldviews (the Gnostics and Jewish Kabbalah, for example) as proofs that Christian universalism distorts God’s grace. I have never read anyone say that God is “dependent upon the world” or that he “created the world in order to evolve in and through the world,” or that “God was a spirit in need of a body, and the world became his body.” Who ever said that “in the beginning, God is incomplete” or that “God and the world are married to one another”? I agree with McClymond that such views are unworthy of God, but I do not see where he is getting these views from.
Like I said, I have read quite a bit on this topic, and I have never seen anyone make the claims that he is attacking. Perhaps someone has, but this can scarcely be touted as representative of Christian universalism, which is founded in clear biblical statements and a very high view of Christ’s work on the cross. McClymond should know this and give an accurate representation that at least acknowledges this fact, rather than present the ideas he does (without citing where he got them). The ideas he presents certainly would make Christian universalism sound very weird, but they are, at best, a misrepresentation of the position. But perhaps misrepresentation is the goal – if you can make the view sound strange enough, people won’t investigate the truth for themselves. A successful smear campaign does not require facts, just skewed perceptions.
McClymond goes on to claim that there are only four rationales for salvation given by universalist thinkers. He says that “when you look at the reason, the rationale, given by the different universalist thinkers for salvation, you end up, in just about every case, undermining the principle of grace.” Before we get into the four “Christian universalist” rationales he proposes, think back on the reasoning we have discussed so far. What are the reasons we have discussed in these pages? Don’t skip the thinking – it is important.
Now, that you have thought about the reasons I have presented for the ultimate salvation of all people, consider the reasons given by McClymond as the only four. You’ll see that his conclusions are, once again, false:
McClymond’s Four Universalist Rationales (directly quoted)
1. McClymond: “There is a universalism that says, ‘I am saved because I am divine.’ That’s the hardcore gnostic idea. We have the divinity within us.”
My response on reading this: “What! Who says that? It is because of God’s divinity—because He is sovereign, willing, and able to save that we will be saved. It is purely by His grace.”
2. McClymond: “There’s another version of universalism: ‘I am saved because I’m human.’”
My response on reading this: “What is this guy talking about? We are saved because Jesus is the Savior of all people as the Bible tells us, not because of anything intrinsic about us. It’s because of His finished work on the cross and His resurrection.”
3. McClymond: “There’s another version of universalism that says, ‘I am saved because I suffer.’”
My response on reading this: “Where is he getting this stuff from? Suffering may take place as discipline (even for Christians as described in Hebrews 12), but that is not what saves us. We are saved by Christ, not by our experiences or sufferings.”
4. McClymond: “The only other version of universalism that’s left to try to preserve grace is just to say, ‘I am saved because God will reverse every choice I made.’ This is the idea that everyone, at the moment they die — even the mass murderer who’s shooting down his victims, and suddenly he’s shot dead — just goes immediately to be with God. God changes their character at the moment of death. That’s sometimes called ultra-universalism because it holds that everyone goes immediately to be with God.”
My response on reading this: “Wow. This whole article completely misrepresents the view that all will be saved by God. Nobody I’ve ever read suggests that we instantaneously have our character changed at the moment of death, so that mass murderers go straight to heaven. This completely ignores the biblical principle that every person will be judged according to what they have done. Judgment does occur in true, biblical Christian universalism. This guy has not discussed biblical Christian universalism at all. I wonder if he’s misrepresenting it on purpose or if he’s just really uninformed. Perhaps this rebuttal will help him to see the truth of the matter.”
He explains, for each of these reasons (which he claims to be the only ones), why they distort God’s grace. You can read the interview for yourself to see why. But I’m not going to waste any time evaluating his explanations (which I tend to agree with) for why those views distort God’s grace, because those are not at all the reasons for believing in universal salvation. If you have been reading this website and paying attention at all, you should notice that none of these rationales even remotely resemble the reasons that have been given for why Jesus’ death and resurrection ultimately restores everyone to a right relationship with God. I have read several books on the topic, carefully examined the writings of the early church fathers, dug deeply into the Bible and into history, and I have never once seen the ideas presented above as rationales for salvation.
In short, McClymond’s representation is actually an astonishing misrepresentation. It is a straw man that is easy to tear down, but in no way represents the view you have been reading about here. Strongly reminiscent of the types of political ads that infest the airwaves come election time, his depiction of Christian universalism seems more like a smear campaign than careful scholarly research. Sadly, however, it is likely that it will work. People will assume that this scholar has thoroughly investigated the topic and is making accurate representations of its lunacy. “Those universalists sound like a bunch of unscriptural nutcases,” they will say, “We’d better not investigate for ourselves to see if these claims are true or else we might get deceived.” And that, unfortunately is usually all that is needed. I know, because I too spent most of my life leaning on the authority of those who claimed biblical expertise and cried "heresy" and "danger" about any view that differed from their own rather than investigating the facts for myself.
The fact of the matter, however, is that the rationale for the ultimate salvation of all people is deeply scriptural and based on a high view of Christ and of God’s power and love as clearly described therein. We have spent a great deal of time detailing this already, so I will simply direct you to look up some of the biblical passages again. Here is a list (albeit an incomplete one) of some of the most important ones: 1 John 2:2, 1 Corinthians 15:20-28, 2 Corinthians 5:14-19, Colossians 1:15-20, Philippians 2:9-11, Romans 14:11, Isaiah 45:23, Romans 10:9, , 1 Timothy 4:9-10, 1 Timothy 2:3-6, John 12:32, Romans 3:22-24, Romans 5:18, Romans 11:32, Luke 3:6, John 1:29, 1 John 4:14, Ephesians 1:7-10, Isaiah 49:6, Daniel 7:13-14, Revelation 5:13, and many more).
This is likely why a respected scholar in this field, Ilaria Ramelli (following nearly 15 years of painstaking scholarly research), concludes that the early church fathers who espoused the restoration of all things (apokatastasis in Greek) “grounded their Christian doctrine of apokatastasis first of all in the Bible” (The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis 2013 p. 11) and in the view of Christ as truly the Savior of the world. She expounds on this as follows:
The doctrine of apokatastasis, as is found, from the New Testament to Eriugena, in many Christian texts and Patristic authors, is a Christian doctrine and is grounded in Christ … Indeed, the Christian doctrine of apokatastasis is based on the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ, and on God’s being the supreme Good. It is also founded upon God’s grace, which will “bestow mercy upon all,” and the divine will—which these Patristic authors saw as revealed by Scripture—“that all humans be saved and reach the knowledge of Truth.” They also considered it to be revealed in Scripture, and in particular in a prophecy by St. Paul, that in the telos [end], when all the powers of evil and death will be annihilated and all enemies will submit (for Origen and his followers, in a voluntary submission), “God will be all in all.” The apokatastasis doctrine is historically very far from having been produced by an isolated character, excessively influenced or even “contaminated” by Greek theories, such as Origen has been long considered to be. (Ramelli, The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis 2013, p. 817)
Ramelli rightly concludes that the ultimate salvation of all people in early Christian writings is based on Christ’s incarnation, death, and resurrection, not on any of the four straw men presented in the Desiring God interview. The understanding of Jesus as the actual Savior of the whole world is firmly rooted in Scripture (from which she quotes several times). God’s grace, goodness, and mercy are viewed as greater than most modern churches allow, not in spite of the Bible, but because of it. It was widely believed in the early church for at least 500 years, especially by those who were most knowledgeable of Scripture in its original languages, and was not the result of pagan influence. On this last point, Ramelli clarifies its origins as uniquely Judeo-Christian:
“The doctrine of apokatastasis as the eventual universal salvation is an authentically Christian, or Jewish-Christian, doctrine. Before Christianity, no religion or philosophy had ever maintained it, not even Plato or mystery religions.” (Ibid. p. 819)
Not only this, universal salvation was used to defend the Christian faith against attacks from the most significant heresies that came against the early church:
“In fact, the main Patristic supporters of this theory, Origen and Nyssen, did support it in defence of Christian “orthodoxy,” against those which were regarded as the most dangerous heresies of their times, as I have argued: Origen supported it against “Gnosticism” and Marcionism, and Gregory against “Arianism.” (Ibid. p. 823)
The understanding that all would eventually be saved from sin and death as a result of the complete success of Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection was actually used in apologetics to defend Christianity. In fact, in addition to describing universal restoration to defend orthodoxy against heterodox views of Christian origin, it was also used to defend against the accusations of pagan philosophers. Origen’s Against Celsus, for example, explains the purifying nature of the fire of God to refute Celsus’ accusations that the Christian God was cruel and “coming down like a torturer bearing fire” (Contra Celsum , Book IV, Chapter 13). The scriptural basis for viewing fire as purifying is extremely strong, as we have already seen, but largely ignored by most churches. This is unfortunate, because it would still serve to defend the Christian faith if we were better able to explain such biblical symbols to those who share Celsus’ misgivings and therefore have doubts about God’s character. We could remove this stumbling block by simply being more informed on the full counsel of Scripture and the common meanings of its symbolic language, rather than insisting that the fire of God is only a descriptor of pain and anguish (which is something it never symbolizes as far as I can tell).
The final claim made in the Desiring God interview that is worth addressing demonstrates two key misunderstandings. I think that these misunderstandings are probably quite prevalent, and for this reason, it is important to clear them up. Here is his claim:
Either you hold to ultra-universalism, which empties our moral choices of meaning, or else you suffer to make expiation or atonement for your own sins. In that case, you undermine grace. There isn’t a good answer in terms of universalism.
So, to summarize, McClymond is asserting that there are only two choices if one holds to the belief that all will eventually experience salvation:
1. Ultra-universalism in which our moral choices become meaningless.
2. Atoning for our own sins through suffering.
This is a false dichotomy. Although presented as the only choices, neither of them are true options. And although he claims that “there isn’t a good answer in terms of universalism,” in reality there are very good scriptural answers that refute his claims.
False Choice #1: Ultra-universalism
First, “ultra-universalism” is not really a biblical option. The Bible is quite clear that our moral choices do matter. If anything, the view I have been presenting makes our moral choices more significant, not less significant. Let me explain.
I have heard a message very similar to the following one countless times:
“Do you know where you’ll go if you die tonight? Say this prayer and ask Jesus into your heart, and you can know without a doubt that you will go to heaven when you die.”
Have you ever heard a similar message?
Although I think these messages are delivered with good intentions, they actually cause our moral choices to lose meaning. It does not matter how you live in such a scenario; you have your ticket to heaven. Jesus, however, does not assure us that we will enter the kingdom of heaven based on our claims of belief nor based on reciting a sinner’s prayer. Obedience matters:
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
It is apparent that those whom Jesus rejects from the kingdom are very religious, and very surprised that they are not waltzing in. They even describe their impressive credentials (prophesying, casting out demons and performing miracles in Jesus’ name). “Of course we will get in,” they think, “look at how religious we have been.” And yet, Jesus rejects them. Why?
The reason is clear: they did not do the will of God, they did not obey. Instead, they did evil.
The inquisitor who “exorcised” demons using sadistic torture devices.
The crusader who raped, pillaged, and murdered on his route to recapture the holy land.
The reformer who burned his enemies at the stake or had dissenting Anabaptists drowned in a river in mockery.
All done in Jesus’ name, or so they claimed. But were they really obeying Jesus? Or were they evildoers?
Our choices matter.
Now, I’m not saying that these people are forever damned because of their choices. God’s love can soften even the hardest heart. But it does seem that those who persist in doing evil, regardless of their religious claims, miss out on the wedding feast. The doors are shut, and there is weeping and regret (see Matthew 25:1-13).
A wedding feast, however, is not the end, but the promise of a new beginning. It is a celebration that by its very nature celebrates what is to come: the marriage. Missing out on the feast does not mean that there is no hope for the future. God is still reconciling the world to himself. Jesus is still the Savior of all people. The gates to the New Jerusalem never shut and Christ and the church continue to beckon to those outside to come and drink the water of life. Ultimately, God will be all in all, even if the wicked devastatingly miss the feast. But, in order to be counted as good and faithful servants, we have to be both good and faithful. Our moral decisions have profound significance.
False Choice #2: Atoning for Our Own Sins
The second false choice presented by McClymond is that people would have to atone for their own sins through suffering if universalism were true. He is right that this would distort grace, but wrong that it is the only alternative to “ultra-universalism.” The key misunderstanding here is the assumption that suffering, or discipline is equivalent to atonement. This, however, is not the reason for experiencing discipline or suffering at all. Instead, suffering produces sanctification. It is a tool that helps us to grow in holiness and refines our character. Consider the following:
1 Peter 4:1-2
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.
1 Peter 4:12-17a
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household …
1 Peter 4:19
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined— and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness . No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it .
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Now, all of these passages are addressed to believers, and all of them encourage believers to see suffering and hardship as character-building discipline. Judgment begins with the house of God, and it is a fiery trial. This obviously contradicts the notion that our suffering atones for sin. It does not. Otherwise, it would have to be the case that believers atone for their sins when they suffer. But this is nonsense. Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). This is why He said “it is finished” immediately before his death (John 19:30). The atonement for sin is absolutely and totally complete. No one ever has to atone for their sin, because this has already been done.
People do, however, need to grow in holiness and discard their sinful ways and mindsets, whether they profess to be Christian or not. Discipline, judgment, and suffering work to accomplish this end of making us all more like Christ. They are, in fact, indicators that we are God’s children and that He is our Father. These facts are asserted to be true for all of us by Acts 17:28 and Malachi 2:10 at the very least. So you see, the claim that post-mortem discipline means that people must suffer to atone for their sins is false. This discipline and chastisement does not take away from Jesus’ complete atonement any more than the fact that Christians still suffer does.
Nobody atones for their own sin, period. But God does not leave us in a state of wickedness forever; His judgment is cathartic, healing, and beneficial. It is painful, but it transforms us. He wounds and then He heals, He kills and then He makes alive (Deuteronomy 32:39, Hosea 6:1, Job 5:18, Isaiah 30:26, 1 Samuel 2:6).
The Biblical Choice: Grace and Cleansing Judgment
The scriptural answer that McClymond neglects to mention is has two complementary parts:
1. God has bestowed his grace freely on all people through Christ, who is a ransom for all. He redeemed us, buying everyone back from the power of sin and death as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. Through Christ, God is reconciling the world to himself—everything and everyone (see 1 Timothy 2:2-6, 1 John 2:2, Colossians 1:20, and many more)
2. God is refining and transforming those He purchased back. He is making us all more like Him. This is a process, often called sanctification. It involves suffering and pain because that is how we learn character, as we saw in the many verses above. I think most people, as they mature, begin to realize this truth about human beings—we do not learn by having everything be easy; we grow because of the hard stuff, the losses, and the trials. God does not give up on unbelievers at the point of death, but continues to pursue their hearts and transform them, so that in the end He becomes “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28).
This is exactly what we would expect from a loving Father, and a loving Father is exactly whom God revealed Himself to be through Christ. Unconditional, self-sacrificial love that never gives up on any of His children, paired with corrective discipline that causes all of His children to develop into people of profound character. It does not get any better than that! Of course it doesn’t. Why should we expect anything less from the omnipotent, all-wise Creator of the universe, our Father in Heaven?
Salvation for All and Grace
Contrary to the brash claim that universal salvation distorts God’s grace, it actually is the only way that grace can truly be grace. To understand why, we must understand what grace is. According to Oxford’s online dictionary , grace is “the free and unmerited favour of God.” In order to be free and unmerited, it must not be earned. Now, whether you claim that good deeds or belief in this life bring salvation—either way, you are earning it through merit. You have to do something, prior to death, to earn the right to experience grace. This, of course, is not actually free or unmerited, since you are obligated to perform some action in order to be saved. Right belief is still an action, or work that depends on you.
Instead, the gift of salvation from sin and death is a true gift, bestowed upon all people. It was given while we were still sinners, prior to our repentance (Romans 5:8). It is not dependent on us at all, and is therefore true grace, unmerited and unconditional. This in no way discounts the importance of believing or receiving this gift by faith as Romans 3:25 explains. We certainly cannot enjoy a free gift until we believe that it exists, and tear open the wrapping paper. But the gift still remains, whether we recognize it or not. God does not revoke this amazing gift at the moment of death, “for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). He is not like a petulant child who throws a tantrum and takes back a gift just because someone does not accept it right away. Such a view is truly unworthy of God. Such a view truly distorts God’s grace. Instead, God has unlimited time, unlimited love, and unlimited power to work with. This is what it means to be God and for Him nothing is impossible to accomplish, not even His desire for “all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4), even “the worst of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:16).
Christian universalism does not distort God’s grace, but this Desiring God interview definitely distorts Christian universalism. But while we are on the topic of distortions of grace, let’s delve into a real one. John Piper, who founded the Desiring God website, is a devoted Calvinist and huge fan of the 18th century Puritan pastor Jonathan Edwards. After being encouraged to “choose one great theologian and apply myself throughout life to understanding and mastering his thought,” Piper chose Edwards. He goes so far as to say that “the theologian I have devoted myself to is Jonathan Edwards” (Piper, A Personal Encounter with Jonathan Edwards). The reason I bring this up is because Edwards’ theology is as awful a distortion of grace as can be imagined. Consider his own words:
“In hell God manifests his being and perfections only in hatred and wrath, and hatred without love” (Edwards 1738, Charity and Its Fruits p. 390).
Here we see the God who is love having none, but instead only hatred. The awfulness of this hatred is compounded by the fact that God has chosen to hate those in hell even before they were born. In Edward’s Calvinist theology, God has only ever loved the elect whom He chose before the world began. He has always hated those who he did not choose, and never loved them. This is not an exaggeration of Edwards’ theology. Consider his words again:
“The saints in glory will know concerning the damned in hell, that God never loved them, but that he hates them, and [that they] will be for ever hated of God” (Edwards 1834, The End of the Wicked Contemplated by the Righteous, section III).
According to Edwards, the saints “will rejoice in seeing the justice of God glorified in the sufferings of the damned” because of the realization “that God has no love to them, nor pity for them; but that they are the objects of God’s eternal hatred.” (Ibid. section II).
That is a distortion of God’s grace if there ever was one. To assert that God has always hated and never loved the vast majority of His children, indeed, that he created most people expressly to damn them to eternal suffering, is to slander God’s very character in the worst possible way. In Greek, the word for slander is blasphémeó (βλασφημέω), from which we get the word “blaspheme.” So, in essence, blasphemy is slander or speaking evil against God. I do not see how people can avoid seeing Edward’s claims as blasphemy, unless they have trained themselves to become people that “call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).
The elitist view that God only loves some of us and hates the rest is an epic distortion of God’s grace. It portrays the God who is love as an immoral monster that decided to create countless human beings in order to condemn them to eternal suffering on purpose, for his supposed glory. No madman has ever done, or ever could do worse. No madman could even come close to unending torment for billions. Yet people who claim this worldview have the audacity to claim that the ultimate salvation of all people through self-sacrificial love, by the almighty God of the universe, is a distortion of grace! What utter, blathering nonsense!
The fact is that God is willing and able to save everyone. He is not limited by anyone’s monstrous theology. His grace is truly a free gift for all people that cannot be earned. Through His amazing love and corrective discipline, He will transform us all to be like Him. It is a beautiful plan, executed by a beautiful God, whose love and mercy have no bounds.
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Citations and Notes
Edwards, Jonathan, 1738/1989, Charity and Its Fruits, reprinted in Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 8: Ethical Writings, P. Ramsey (ed.), New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1989.
Edwards, Jonathan, 1834, “The End of the Wicked Contemplated by the Righteous: Or, the Torments of the Wicked in Hell, No Occasion of Grief to the Saints in Heaven,” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards in Two Volumes, Vol. II, E. Hickman (ed.), London: William Ball, 34, Paternoster-Row. [available online in the Christian Classics Ethereal Library]. Note: to find it on CCEL, follow the “available online” link, then click on this icon:
Section 2 and 3 are where these quotes are found here:
Note: I first came across some of these quotes by Jonathan Edwards in the following source, which is a good summary of different views of the afterlife in Christian traditions:
Talbott, Thomas. “Heaven and Hell in Christian Thought.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 17 Feb. 2017, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/heaven-hell/
McClymond, Michael. “Universalism Distorts the Grace of God.” Desiring God, 31 July 2018, www.desiringgod.org/interviews/universalism-distorts-the-grace-of-god . This interview was first published and retrieved on July 4th, 2018
Origen. Contra Celsum (Against Celsus), Book VI. Translated by Frederick Crombie. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 4. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/04164.htm
Piper, John. “A Personal Encounter with Jonathan Edwards.” Desiring God, 31 July 2018, www.desiringgod.org/articles/a-personal-encounter-with-jonathan-edwards . Originally published in The Reformed Journal 28 (11): 13-17 (apparently in 1978).
Ramelli, Ilaria. The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis: a Critical Assessment from the New Testament to Eriugena. Brill, 2013. You can see samples of this book at Google Books here: https://books.google.com/books?id=YfGZAAAAQBAJ&pg=PA11&lpg=PA11&dq=ramelli augustine (at least initially)&source=bl&ots=9LCqSW5XAK&sig=XJyj2ASgK7fSWGWRhX0EPAW_Grk&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiIubeGzqvcAhWLG3wKHeekCLUQ6AEwAnoECAAQAQ#v=onepage&q=ramelli augustine (at least initially)&f=false
Ramelli's work is also cited in multiple places for easier reference, including Aidan Kimel's excellent blog Eclectic Orthodoxy (here for example: https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/the-universalist-hope-in-the-early-church/) and here: http://www.mercyuponall.org/2014/10/03/dr-ilaria-ramelli-the-christian-doctrine-of-apokatastasis/