George MacDonald's Christian universalism within his confessional tradition and today
LE3 .A278 2023
Master of Arts
Acadia Divinity College
Christian universalism is a commonly misunderstood and sometimes caricatured version of theology. Within evangelicalism specifically, universalism is a controversial and potentially divisive issue. George MacDonald, the nineteenth century Christian writer of fantasy and theology, found himself to be a dissenting universalist voice within his evangelical tradition. MacDonald’s theology was both a combination and contradiction of his various contexts. Celtic mysticism, Federal Calvinism, optimistic Romanticism, and utilitarian Victorianism were the streams of cultural and theological thought that informed his vision. Themes that emerged in his theology that shall be highlighted in this thesis are Relationship, Christocentrism and Purification. It shall be argued that with his imaginative style and Biblical foundation MacDonald adhered to the core leitmotifs of evangelicalism despite being precluded from that establishment. MacDonald’s enduring influence shall be considered by engaging with several current scholars who continue to refer to and develop MacDonald’s creative theological proposals. The nature of Judgement, Hell and Love provide interesting examples of ways in which MacDonald’s ideas have endured and expanded through the work of contemporary scholarship. This examination of MacDonald’s universalist theology shall conclude that although he was a dissenting voice within his confessional tradition, he was in fact theologically orthodox and evangelically zealous. Thus, offering us an example of how to occupy divergent theological spaces while maintaining godly character, Biblical veracity and missional sincerity.
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