About Me

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Robin Parry is the husband of but one wife (Carol) and the father of the two most beautiful girls in the universe (Hannah and Jessica). He also has a lovely cat called Monty (who has only three legs). Living in the city of Worcester, UK, he works as an Editor for Wipf and Stock — a US-based theological publisher. Robin was a Sixth Form College teacher for 11 years and has worked in publishing since 2001 (2001–2010 for Paternoster and 2010– for W&S).

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The Heresy of Hell

I am currently preparing a snazzy new, annotated edition of Rev. Thomas Allin's 1885 classic, Universalism Asserted. Anyway, I just wanted to float one of Allin's objections to hell past your discerning gaze and see what you think of it.

Allin is very concerned with being true to the catholic faith of orthodox Christianity and perhaps his chief concern with hell is that it is, in his view, incompatible with orthodoxy!

At first blush that claim seems absurd, given that most orthodox Christians since the sixth century at least have affirmed eternal hell! So a little clarification is in order. Allin does not mean that those who affirm hell are unorthodox. Rather, his point is that eternal hell is a cuckoo in the nest that is a live threat to the rest of the chicks.

Perhaps an illustration: if hell continues to all eternity then sinners continue in their resistance to God for all eternity, sin continues forever, evil continues forever. As such, we end up with an everlasting cosmic dualism in which good and evil are co-eternal. Even if God can imprison sin in an eternal chamber in some corner of creation, he has not undone and defeated it, but merely contained it. But such an idea threatens to undermine some central Christian convictions about God and evil.

Allin also argues that a hell from which there is no ultimate restoration—whether that be eternal torment or annihilation—would undermine the doctrine of God (his love, his justice, his goodness, his omnipotence), the victory of Christ, the power of the atonement, and so on and so forth.

Of course, those who believe in hell also affirm God's love and justice, omnipotence, the atonement, divine victory, etc. But, Allin's point is that when they do so they either have to add in qualifications that serve to undermine the very beliefs that they affirm or they have to simply ignore the contradictions in their belief set and talk out of both sides of their mouth at the same time.

Given the oft-heard, though incorrect, assertion that universalism is heretical, what is interesting is that the heart of Allin's case, though he does not put it in these words, is that in order to maintain a consistent and healthy Christian orthodoxy one ought to jettison belief in eternal hell. Hell, in other words, is bad for orthodoxy.

Who said Anglicans were wishy-washy!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Rev. Thomas Allin, Anglican Universalist

I am currently preparing a lovely new edition of Thomas Allin's classic text, Universalism Asserted (1st ed., 1888).

Thomas Allin (1838–1909) was an Anglican clergyman from the west of Ireland. In 1877 he moved with his wife, Emily, to Weston-super-Mare on the Somerset coast—not too far from where I live. It was there that he wrote and published his impressive defense of universalism.

In preparing this new edition I have been struck again by how theologically astute Allin was. His work is a model of good Anglican theologizing, organized around the three theological sources of reason, tradition, and Scripture.  And he very carefully weaves the three together into an integrated and impressive case for universalism.

His first section offers some devastating philosophical critiques of the traditional notion of hell and of annihilationism. His second section is a very impressive survey of universalism in Christian history, showing just how prevalent it was among the orthodox of the early centuries. The final section opens with a consideration of how the whole of traditional Christian dogmatics fits together more coherently when set within a universalist framework. It then considers, albeit not with the exegetical rigor one may desire, a wide range of universalist texts, before showing how the so-called hell texts are not supports for the Augustinian tradition on hell at all.

Scholarship has moved forward in all of the areas Allin handles, but the advances, for the most part, are consistent with his basic instincts back in the nineteenth century.

I don't know much about this guy—not even what he looked like—but I'd love to have met him. I think he ranks as one of the great nineteenth-century writers on eschatology.

(More on the new edition in due course—it is a lot of blooming work, so I am not yet sure of the actual schedule, but I am hoping it'll be out this year. It'll be with our Wipf and Stock imprint.)

Monday, 23 February 2015

Freaky McFreaky

Stare at the swirling thing

Then look at the painting

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

On being consumed by your meal

When we eat food we take something from outside out body and incorporate it into our body. What was once something distinct from our body becomes a part of it. However, the Eucharist meal does something very weird and backwards.
"Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf" (1 Cor 10:17)
When Christians share in the Eucharist they eat bread and, of course, it becomes a part of their bodies. But in the process, the bread—the body of Christ—also consumes them. By partaking of the body of Christ they are united to that body and are constituted as part of it. 

That is . . . very strange!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

A mild gripe about Catholic rhetoric

One issue I come across a lot in copy editing books concerns capping or not capping the word "church." For those of you who care, the rule we follow is this:
The word church is only capped in (a) the names of denominations (e.g., The Church of England), (b) in the names of individual congregations (e.g., St. James' Church), (c) in quotes that cap the word.
So, whether speaking of a local church or the universal church, one does NOT cap the word, unless referring to the name of the church. That is not some universal rule, dropped from heaven. It is simply the rule that we and many other publishers follow.

Now authors often follow an older convention of capping the word "church" when referring to the universal church, and this is usually simple for me to "fix" . . . .

The exception to that rule is in Catholic texts.

The issue there is that many Catholic writes use the word "church" (when referring to the universal church) to mean the same thing as "the Catholic Church." There is often no distinction made in speech and writing between churches in communion with Rome (The Catholic Church) and the universal church; no distinction between small "c" catholic and big "C" Catholic. So the discussion will often progress as though the notion of the universal church is exhausted by the Catholic Church.

For my job as a copy editor this means that one is often unsure whether the "church" in question is the church or the Catholic Church, so one does not know whether or not to uncap the word. My gripe is not over the trivial issue of differing conventions on capping. My gripe is that this small matter draws attention to how this way of talking effectively treats those parts of the church that are not Catholic as if they do not exist. It feels like banishment through being ignored.

I appreciate, but almost certainly not adequately, that this rhetoric is motivated by Catholic ecclesiology and there are principled reasons why Catholics may wish to retain it. (I also know that simply adopting older conventions on capping church would resolve the copy-editing dilemma.) But the broader issue would remain.  How should Catholics talk about the universal church granted the lived reality of the church today. The universal church is a lot bigger than the Catholic Church. I appreciate that Catholic theology has moved a very long way towards thinking helpfully about churches outside the Catholic Church. This is great. My issue is more to do with this particular way of talking, a way that perhaps perpetuates less helpful ways of thinking about non-Catholic churches.

OK, now I'll sit back and await the flack.


Monday, 19 January 2015

A quick response to Peter Leithart's review of "The Biblical Cosmos"

Peter Leithart, one of my academic heroes, wrote a kind review of The Biblical Cosmos on The First Things website here. I am very pleased with the essentially generous assessments he made of the book. On the whole, he was positive, but he raised four "fundamental questions"/objections, and so I at least owe it to him to attempt some kind of brief answer.

I will tackle them in reverse order.

His fourth fundamental question seems to be that he thinks that the opposition I set up between ancient and modern cosmologies is undermined by the amount of relevance I find in ancient cosmologies for the modern world. He seems to be approving of the insights I find in the ancient biblical cosmos; his problem is with the opposition I see.

My response is simply that the opposition and the ongoing relevance operate at different levels.

The opposition I set up operates at the physical cosmographic level. It is between the ancient biblical view (in which the world is flat, with a solid dome above the sky, beyond which is a cosmic chaos ocean; in which the dead live in sheol, beneath the earth; in which heaven is literally above the sky, and so on) and modern scientific views. At a literal level, we simply do not think about the cosmos in those ways any more. To my mind this is simply the case, and I cannot retract that opposition,

The relevance operates at the metaphorical and metaphysical level.

I may simply be missing Peter's point, but I can see no tension or conflict between the opposition and the relevance I defend.

Peter worries that my understanding of science is naive because I give the impression that we have rock-solid science when science is in fact porous and ever-shifting.

My point in the sentence that Peter quotes concerns the structure of scientific explanations. I was not intending to make any claims that modern science has actually uncovered the most basic laws of physics, simply that the nature of its explanations is such that it cannot get beyond such a level in its mode of explanation. I am very well aware that science is incomplete and porous, etc.  Admittedly, in that "problem" sentence I did phrase things in a simplified way, but this was simply to avoid getting bogged down in what I had thought were contextually unnecessary qualifications. As far as I can see, nothing in the book's argument is changed by adding the necessary nuances to that sentence.

I actually say very little about science in the book, but I would say this: that while science is always in flux, it is mind-bogglingly unlikely that it will revise any of its conclusions that have a bearing on my argument. These conclusions being that the earth is not flat, that the earth orbits the sun, and so on. So I cannot see how this question is a "fundamental question." It feels to me like more of a minor nuance. But perhaps I have missed the point of the objection. If so, I apologize.

Peter correctly observes that from a phenomenological viewpoint we do in many ways still inhabit a cosmos like that of Scripture. The world feels static and flat to us; the sun seems to orbit the earth, and so on. That is true, but I make this very point in the book on a couple of occasions. So I am not sure that we are even disagreeing about anything here. Perhaps Peter is simply objecting to my stress on the differences between ancient and modern cosmologies. I do stress the differences, but this is simply because the audience for whom I write rarely even notice the differences, and so that is where I have chosen to draw their attention. I am not sure what else to say about that.

The most helpful fundamental question raised concerns whether I am over-confident in thinking I know what ancient Israelites thought about the physical structure of the cosmos. This is a tricky issue. It is the case that there is a lot that we cannot be sure about regarding ancient biblical cosmologies. All we have are the texts that we have and we cannot be sure that they represented the views of everyone. Furthermore, we cannot always decipher the meanings of some of the texts, which can be infuriatingly obscure. Other texts are poetic and it is somewhat unclear how literally to take the imagery. (A point Peter makes well.) It is quite likely, given the historical and cultural gap between the Bible and now, that here and there in the book I have over-interpreted this or that image. Nevertheless, I don't think that things are so unclear that we must simply fall back into a global agnosticism about biblical cosmology. I still think that the overall shape of the world-view is clear enough and is as set forth in the book. I tried to detail the case for it (and my case is not simply mine, but that of the majority of OT scholars, so if I err on this score then so does most everyone else). Thus, while I do think that Leithart offers a helpful and valid warning, I remain convinced that the main building blocks of my presentation are more or less correct. Even if, for instance, the language of pillars or corners was not taken to refer to literal physical pillars, but picks up on the cosmos-as-house idea—and that may very well be—little of substance is changed in the overall picture. I think that the case I make still provides solid grounds for the three-decker cosmos, the flat earth, living stars, and so on.

Essentially, I think that Peter is keen to minimize the gap between biblical and modern views on the physical structure of the cosmos, while I think that it remains pretty wide. But the point of my book is that it is in its very strangeness that the biblical cosmos is so helpful and theologically relevant, so I do not think that the gap I see is a threat to biblical theology.

In the end, I think that on the issues that matter, such as the cosmos-as-temple, Peter and I are rather close to each other. I am grateful to him for taking the time to offer his reflections on the book. I hope that my response has not been needlessly reactionary.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Frank Schaeffer on humility in the face of truth beyond words

Author Talk: Frank Schaeffer from PPLD TV on Vimeo.

There is genuine compassionate wisdom in Frank's words here, even though I do not agree with parts of it, or I might make the case differently.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

"The Biblical Cosmos" video promo

My youngest daughter Jess has very kindly created a short video promo for my latest book, The Biblical Cosmos. Thanks to Ellison for doing the voiceover.

The book is available from Wipf and Stock (for $21.60) or Amazon.com ($23.44)/Amazon.co.uk (£13.22) or anywhere worthy.


You can read a free sample of it here.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Christmas in universalist perspective—an Advent podast

The guys at Nomad Podcast asked if I'd record some thoughts on Christmas from a Christian universalist perspective. Must confess, my first thought was "Yikes! I don't have anything to say!" But then I thought, "well, why not!" So I did it. You can hear the recording here.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Eriugena on God's garments

Following my post on creation as God's garments, here is something from John Scotus Eriugena (823–877).
Indeed, the garment of the Word is visible creation, which preaches Him openly and manifests His beauty to us. The Holy Scriptures have also been made His garment, which contains the mysteries. 
(Commentarius in Sanctum Evangelium secundum Johannem I, xxix)

Eriugena distinguishes between the Incarnation of the Logos (Word) in Jesus, "by which He joined human nature to Himself in a unity of substance" and the quasi-incarnation of the Logos by which He is "rendered thick" and "visible" in both creation and Scripture.

So the Logos is "incarnate"

  • in creation, 
  • in Scripture, 
  • but most supremely in Jesus. 

For Eriugena, in order to stress the uniqueness of Jesus, the word "incarnation" is reserved for the final mode. The other modes are quasi incarnatum. (Eriugena also rightly consider the deification of human beings in the eschaton to be a quasi-incarnation of the Logos.)

Still, again we find this interesting metaphor of God revealed indirectly in the shape of his garments. So the garment image predates Thomas Carlyle. Indeed, I think  that it predates Eriugena, who was commenting on Maximus the Confessor. I'll need to check that out.

Arminians and Calvinists "battle" over Christmas carol

Christian philosopher and Arminian theologian Jerry Walls has rewritten a certain well-known carol to enable Calvinists to sing it without the stress of mental reservations. Here is Jerry's version.

Joy to the chosen! their Lord has come;
Let them receive their King;
Only their hearts prepare him room
For the others cannot sing
For the others cannot sing
For the others, the others cannot sing.

Note to the world: the Sovereign reigns
And men he does employ
Like fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Controls them as his toys
Controls them as his toys
Controls them, controls them as his toys!

So long let sin and sorrows grow
As murderers shall kill;
For he ordaineth everything
By his secret, hidden will
By his secret, hidden will
By his secret, his secret hidden will.

He rules the world by sovereign might
And makes the nations prove
The glories of omnipotence
And wonders of his wrath
And wonders of his wrath
And wonder, and wonder how this is love. 

Ho ho ho.

Jason Huff, a pastor from Greenwood, Indiana, has responded with a Calvinist rewrite for Arminians. Here is Jason's hymn.

Joy to the world . . . the Western world
The rest? Eh . . . not so much.
‘Cause everybody here
Gets several times to hear
But not those in Nepal
Because we dropped the ball
Our free will has stopped God from coming near.

Joy to the ones who get to choose
The Prime Directive states
To interfere
With free will is not dear
In fact, it’s really mean
For God to intervene
Except when we really, really want Him to.

Joy to the world, the choice is yours
God waits and waits and waits
He cannot do a thing
A puppet on a string
Until you make the call
Then He’ll give you it all
Unless you waver, then all bets are off.

Maybe each side has thoughtful points
Perhaps some truth to both
We do not understand
All bits of our God’s plan
Let’s not tie all our fate
To cantankerous debate
Join hands over Christ’s birth and celebrate!

Very funny.

I suggest that we draw from the insights of both and just stick with the universalist version:

Joy to the world! The Lord is come

Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing 

Joy to the world! The Saviour reigns
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods
Rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy 

No more let sins and sorrows grow
Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make
His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found
Far as the curse is found
Far as, far as the curse is found

He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love
And wonders of His love
And wonders and wonders of His love

Friday, 12 December 2014

Creation as the "living garment of God"

“Or what is Nature? Ha! Why do I not name thee God? Art not thou the ‘Garment of the Living God’? O Heavens, is it, in very deed, He, then, that ever speaks through thee; that lives and loves in thee, that lives and loves in me?” 
Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Restartus (New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1893), p. 130.
In “The Knowledge of God the Creator” (Institutes I.V.1), Calvin offers the following comment on Psalm 104:
Therefore the prophet very aptly exclaims that he is "clad with light as with a garment" [Ps. 104: 2 p.]. It is as if he said: Thereafter the Lord began to show himself in the visible splendor of his apparel, ever since in the creation of the universe he brought forth those insignia whereby he shows his glory to us, whenever and wherever we cast our gaze."
Thanks to Thomas Hastings for these quotations (both taken from his excellent study on the twentieth-century Japanese evangelist and social reformer Kagawa Toyohiko—Pickwick, forthcoming). Here is Kagawa himself:
[S]omeone may ask this question: Are God and the universe one? And are God and human beings one? Pantheism takes that stand. But I am not a pantheist. I am an advocate of the Holy Spirit. No, beyond that I am one who rejoices in the Spirit-filled life.  
Is the child living in the womb identical to the mother? Although conceived in the mother, the child is a different person from the mother. The mother transcends the child. Still, the child is living in the mother. And the child comes from the mother. In like manner, the absolute God transcends human beings while embracing human beings, and human beings are created by God. 
We can think of the relation of God and the universe in the same way. The material world is not itself God. But God transcends it, dwells in it, and through it manifests himself. I wonder if it is not most appropriate to think of the material world as the garment of God.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

A Christmas carol rap song (God rest ye merry gentlemen)

I must confess—I think that this is good.
I am a bit of a sucker for rap (must be my name)

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Gregory of Nyssa on 1 Corinthians 15:28

I recently read Gregory of Nyssa's In Illud: Tunc et Ipse Filius. It is a short but fascinating piece on 1 Corinthians 15:28.

“Then the Son will be subjected to him who has subjected all things to himself.”

This was a text that some were using to argue that the Son cannot be equal in divinity to the Father, because he will be subjected to the Father.

Gregory's response, following Origen, is that the Son here is submitting to the Father as a human being; indeed, as the representative human being. As such, his submission to the Father is a submission to God on behalf of all humanity, nay, all creation. Creation submits in Christ's own submission. And so, when creation is subjected in Christ, God will be all in all.

I think that this is exactly right—not simply as a quirky-but-interesting later spin on the text. I think it is what Paul is getting at. 

Given that, it is perhaps not surprising that 1 Corinthians 15:28 was the most commonly appealed to text among the early Christian defenders of apokatastasis

Friday, 28 November 2014

Chernobyl today

Postcards from Pripyat, Chernobyl from Danny Cooke on Vimeo.

This amazing video shows the town of Pripyat, near Chernobyl

"Like the Dawn" by Oh Hellos

This video is a photography project by some YWAM students. I think it is great.

My thanks to Richard Dormandy for pointing me to this

Friday, 14 November 2014

Origen's orthodox Christology

It is often said that there were unhelpful subordinationist elements in Origen's Christology that blossomed in later Arianism. In other words, Origen's Christological legacy was found, in part, among the heretics.

I have long thought that this view was likely based on misunderstanding Origen—that terms he used were later picked up and used differently by some in Christological debates, and those later uses were then read back into Origen.

Anyway, yesterday I read a fascinating article that maintained that far from having subordinationist tendencies, Origen was a strong anti-subordinationist and that a line can be traced from his views into Nicene orthodoxy. His heirs were not the Arians, but defenders of Nicene orthodoxy—Athanasius and the Cappadocians in particular.

Its author even argues that the key creedal term homoousios (of one being with ...)—which was used by Origen of the Son's relation with the Father—may possibly have proposed by Constantine at Nicea on the advice of Eusebius (who got it from Origen). This is, of course, speculation. But it is interesting speculation.

The article is

Ilaria L. E. Ramelli, "Origen's Anti-Subordinationism and Its Heritage in the Nicene and Cappadocian Lines." Vigiliae Christianae 64 (2010) 1–29

Here is the abstract:
Nyssen’s arguments in In Illud: Tunc et Ipse Filius entirely derive from Origen (probably also passing through Marcellus of Ancyra and Eusebius). Origen’s influence, theoretical and exegetical, is evident in every passage, from the argumentative pillars down to the tiniest details of exegesis. Gregory’s close dependence on Origen in his anti-subordinationism, within his polemic against ‘Arianism,’ confirms that Origen was not the forerunner of ‘Arianism,’ as he was depicted in the Origenistic controversy and is often still regarded to be, but the main inspirer of the Cappadocians, especially Nyssen, in what became Trinitarian orthodoxy. Origen inspired Marcellus, who was anti-Arian, Eusebius, who in fact was no ‘Arian,’ Athanasius, the champion of anti-Arianism, and the Cappadocians. I argue extensively that Origen’s Trinitarian heritage is found, not in Arianism, but in Nyssen, Athanasius, Eusebius, and the Nicene-Constantinopolitan line, on the basis of a painstaking analysis of his works (always with attention to their reliability in relation to Greek original, translations, and fragments) and of Pamphilus, Eusebius, Athanasius, and other revealing testimonies, pagan and Christian. The origin of the homoousios formula is also investigated in this connection. Further interesting insights will emerge concerning Eusebius and his first report of what exactly happened at Nicaea.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Rethinking the Tower of Babel with Paul Penley

Looking ahead to ETS in San Diego made me think of the last time it was there (2007), and a paper that I heard on the tower of Babel. It was subsequently published in the ETS journal.

Paul T. Penley, “A Historical Reading of Genesis 11:1–9: The Sumerian Demise and Dispersion under the Ur III Dynasty.” JETS 50.4 (2007) 693–714

I reread the paper yesterday and was again impressed by it. The thesis is not new, but it is worth considering. In a nutshell, Penley is arguing that the Babel story is not some ahistorical primal event but a historical remembrance of cultural events that can be more or less identified. Crazy, huh! In fact, not crazy.

The story, he argues, is a summary of cultural shifts that took place over a period of two millennia! These have been compressed down into a representative story.

Penley’s thesis is that the story begins with an eastward migration in the Tigris-Euphrates basin (Gen 11:2), which matches the Ubaid period in the first half of the fourth millennium BC. This migration led to settlement in Mesopotamia and the development of urban cultures.

The tower was a ziggurat, one of the famous temples of Mesopotamia that were ritual mountains symbolically reaching down into the underworld and up to the heavens. The tower incident in Genesis 11 refers not to a single ziggurat connected with one particular city (e.g., Babylon, Ur, Uruk, Borsippa), but is representative of all the urban centers built around such artificial temple-mountains.

The story tells of the unity of the people and their ambitious building work. This links to the period of the Third Dynasty of Ur in the third millennium BC (c.2110–c.2000 BC). This was a period in which the land was united, great building projects were undertaken, and Sumerian was the common language. In some ways, a golden age.

However, this dynasty met its demise around 1960 BC with serious incursions into Sumer by Amorites from the Arabian desert, soon supplemented by attacks from the East by Elamites. The great unifying Sumerian culture fell, never to rise again. The unifying language was broken up too, with the introduction of new, alien languages. This, Penley sees in the climax of the biblical story with its confusion of languages, the halting of the building project, and the dispersion of the people.

This is not then a story about the origin of different languages in the world. It does not speak of “the whole earth” having one language, but of “the whole land” (eretz) having one language (11:2). This, thinks Penley, is the land of Sinar and the language is Sumerian. The focus is not global but local. Genesis is telling “a theologically charged historical summary of the rise and fall of Sumerian culture in Mesopotamia from the fourth to the third millennium BC” (p. 709).

For the author of Genesis, this was all preparation for the story of Abraham from Ur.

Interesting suggestion.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Was Athanasius a universalist?

When it comes to patristic universalists, everyone points to Origen and Gregory of Nyssa, and some folk point to various precursors and followers of Origen, but not many people seek to enlist St. Athanasius (d. 373). However, in her recent 900-page volume on apokatastasis, Ilaria Ramelli makes a pretty strong case that Athanasius was indeed a universalist.

She notes that he was a supporter and defender both of Origen and of certain of Origen's followers, including Palladius, Theognostus, and St. Anthony. She further demonstrates that Athanasius absorbed a range of theological and exegetical insights from Origen.

Consequently, one should perhaps not be surprised if it turned out that Origen's universalism was also taken on board by the great Anti-Arian saint. And so it appears. Ramelli surveys a range of texts in which Athanasius sees:

  • Christ's incarnation as having a salvific effect on all humanity 
  • Christ death for all as resulting in the salvation of all
  • That what God has called into existence should not perish (on the grounds that then God's work for it would be in vain)
For instance, [all refs in the book]
Flesh was taken up by the Logos to liberate all humans and resurrect all of them from the dead and ransom all of them from sin. 
The Logos became a human being for the sake of our salvation . . . in order to set free all beings in himself, to lead the cosmos to the Father and to pacify all beings in himself, in heaven and on earth.
. . . in himself he has liberated humanity from sin, completely and entirely, and has vivified it from the state of death . . . 
he delivered his own body to death on behalf of all . . . in order bring again to incorruptibility the human beings now doomed to corruption 
That corruption may disappear from all forever, thanks to the resurrection. . . . He has paid for all, in death, all that was owed. . . . He set right their neglectfulness, having rectified all human things by means of his power. 
Creatures, which are his work, should not be reduced to nothing by the deception of the devil. 
[Christ], who through his own power has restored the whole human nature
He handed his own body to death for the sake of all . . . in order to drive back to incorruptibility . . . human beings.
[Christ] has redeemed from death and liberated from hell all humanity.
He died for all . . . to abolish death with his blood . . . he has gained the whole humanity. 
the totality of the people has entered, so that every human be saved. 
He offered the sacrifice for all.
Our Saviour's death has liberated the world. By his wounds all of us have been healed
[In the cross there is] salvation of all humans in all places 
I am most certainly not an Athanasius scholar, but it certainly looks universalist! And given his Origenist sympathies, we'd need some good reasons to think it was not.

Now Athanasius did speak of the eschatological punishment of aionial fire. Presumably this is why people assume that he could not have been a universalist. However, Ramelli argues that Athanasius' use of this concept follows that of Origen. In other words, she argues that he makes a clear distinction between aidios (eternal) and aionios (age-long, or belonging to an age). Thus, future punishment is never spoken of as aidios (eternal), but only ever as aionios (belonging to the age to come). 

She further shows that—like Clement, Origen, and others—Athanasius had a notion of corrective punishment in the age to come. After citing the threat of eternal fire he reveals that its aim is "that these may revive, and those may correct themselves." Those who have been cursed by the Lord can have his mercy and will be inserted anew once they have abandoned their incredulity.

If Athanasius was indeed a universalist, this is not insignificant. It is easy in some quarters to dismiss Origen (often on the basis of misunderstanding him), but one cannot so easily dismiss Athanasius, the great defender of Nicene orthodoxy and the arch-opponent of Arius. If Ramelli is right, then universalism was not as marginal and fringe as it is sometimes claimed.