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).

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

New online course on universal salvation and Christian theology. Starts April 1

NEWS FLASH: I will be teaching a seven-week online course on "Universal Salvation and Christian Theology" for the newly launched School of Peace Theology.

The course will run from 13:00 to 14:30 EST on the following dates
1 April
8 April
22 April
29 April
6 May
13 May
20 May
The sessions are as follows:

Session 1: Problems with traditional hell:
Exploring some theological, philosophical, pastoral, and biblical difficulties with belief in eternal hell.
Session 2: The hermeneutics of hell and universal salvation:
How do we think in an intelligent Christian way through all knotty issues about hell and universal restoration in Scripture and theology?
Session 3: The Bible and universal restoration:
Outlining a biblical case for universal restoration.
Session 4: But what about the hell texts?
Doesn’t the Bible teach the reality of hell? How might believers in universal redemption try to deal with this thorny problem?
Session 5: Universal restoration in early Christianity:
Rediscovering and assessing a forgotten tradition from the early church.
Session 6: Free Will and Universal Salvation:
Can God guarantee the salvation of all without violating their free will?
[Session 7: Universal restoration and the Christian life:
How might a belief in universal salvation affect our practical, lived, everyday Christian lives? This session may not be taught, but if not, lecture notes will be provided.]
So the ninety-minute sessions will be divided between a forty-five minute talk followed by forty-five minutes of Q&A.

You can find the course here and book online.

It starts soon, so if you are interested ...

Monday, 12 December 2016

Cyril Hovorun's welcome prophetic critique of the church

I am currently editing a fascinating book from Cyril Hovorun, an Eastern Orthodox Christian and a senior lecturer at Sankt Ignatios Academy/Stockholm School of Theology in Sweden.  The book is about the critical distinction, often not made, between the nature of the church and its ecclesial structures. Here is the back cover blurb:
Unity is the categorical imperative of the church. It is not just the church’s bene esse, but its esse. In addition to being a theological concept, unity has become a raison d’ĂȘtre of various structures that the church has established and developed. All of these structures are supposed to serve the end of unity. However, from time to time some of them deviate from their initial purpose and contribute to disunity. This happens because the structures of the church are not a part of its nature and can therefore turn against it. They are like scaffolding, which facilitates the construction and maintenance of a building without actually being part of it. Likewise, ecclesial structures help the church function in accordance with its nature but should not be identified with the church proper. This book considers the evolution of some of these church structures and evaluates their correspondence to their initial rationale. It focuses on particular structures that have developed in the eastern part of the Christian oecumene, such as patriarchates, canonical territory, and autocephaly, all of which are explored in the more general frame of hierarchy and primacy. They were selected because they are most neuralgic in the life of the Orthodox churches today and bear in them the greatest potential to divide.

It is a book informed by a wide and deep knowledge of Christian history, especially Orthodox history. And it is prophetic. Here is a little flavour:
All abuses of the ecclesial structures are encapsulated in ecclesiocentrism. This arch-abuse happens when the church is perceived as possessing a self-sufficient value and autonomy with its own purpose, which is not always compatible with the life of God, the breath of the Spirit, and diakonia to the community and wider society. The ecclesiocentric separation of the church from God leads to its separation from the life of its own people and vice versa. The church then impedes relations between the faithful and God and among the people, instead of facilitating them. An ecclesiocentric church—a church literally “turned in on itself”—loses its relational character and becomes an island isolated from both people and God. This island may be considered holy, yet its holiness turns out on closer examination to be bare, meaningless, and profane. It is like the island of Delos nowadays: not inhabited, with only tourists exploring its scattered ruins. The church can only be freed from ecclesiocentrism when it is not preoccupied with itself, but gives itself fully to God, to God’s people, and to God’s world. The church is faithful to its nature and purpose when it is kenotic, self-emptying. The church is true to itself when it strives to serve and is not content to be served.
Scaffolds of the Church, (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2017), 194.

Friday, 21 October 2016

How readable are different Christian authors?

Here is some research that may be of interest to some of you. It concerns how readable different Christian authors, past and present, are. My thanks to Eric McCarty for the graphic. The methodology behind it can be accessed here.

Friday, 30 September 2016

"Burning Love" (Rethinking Hell talk)

This is a talk I did at the Rethinking Hell conference in 2015 at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Interview with Robin Parry (Atlanta 2015)

This is an interview I recorded in Atlanta in November 2015

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Robin Parry on hope for Israel and the nations

Here is my talk on Israel and the church as firstfruits from "The Forgotten Gospel Conference" at The Sanctuary, Denver (August 2016)

Robin Parry FGC Saturday Night Session from The Sanctuary Denver on Vimeo.

Robin Parry on the gospel-shaped love of God

Here is my talk on God's love from "The Forgotten Gospel" conference at The Sanctuary, Denver (August 2016)

FGC Robin Parry from The Sanctuary Denver on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Zephaniah on the fate of the nations: lost and found

“Therefore wait for me,” declares YHWH, “for the day when I rise up to seize the prey. For my decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out upon them my indignation, all my burning anger; for in the fire of my jealousy all the earth shall be consumed. For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of YHWH and serve him with one accord.”

(Zephaniah 3:8–9 ESV)

How should we understand biblical talk of God consuming people in his fiery wrath? Here Zephaniah offers some interesting fuel for the flames of debate. The nations that are consumed seem to end up worshiping God.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Four Views on Hell is here! Yay

Yay! I have received a copy of Zondervan's new Four Views on Hell. Here you find a respectful but grasping-the-nettle discussion on eschatological punishment. There's
  • An eternal torment guy (Denny Burk)
  • An annihilationist (John Stackhouse)
  • A universalist (Robin Parry)
  • An evangelical purgatory bloke (Jerry Walls)

It is good to find out what all the different contributors had to say about each other (especially what they say about me). And I have to say, it is very interesting—honest.
I especially enjoyed Jerry Walls' interactions with each of the other three.

The original version of the image above can be found here

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

The Forgotten Gospel Conference (August 2016)

I am so excited about the forthcoming "Forgotten Gospel Conference" in Denver, CO. It will be my first ever universalist gathering and there will be some fascinating folk there. (I should say that not all the speakers would feel comfortable calling themselves "universalists," but all would embrace some form of the wider hope.)

I am really looking forward to seeing some of those speakers—Wm. Paul Young and C. Baxter Kruger, Peter Hiett and Brad Jersak. And there are a whole bunch of other interesting folk who'll be there.

I am also looking forward to speaking to the gathering too — it is such a honour to be asked.

You can see the new conference website here

5–7 August 2016
3031 W. 31 Ave
Denver, CO 80211

We hope to celebrate Jesus in light of two ideas. First, that scripture is invaluable. It tells us the truth about God and His plan and who He is. Second, that the Lord will "reconcile  ALL  to Himself . . . making peace by the blood of His cross" (Col. 1:19)

We believe Jesus wins, the Bible tells us so and that this gospel - The Gospel - has been largely forgotten in our modern world. So, for three days we intend to worship the Lord by:

  • Proclaiming the victory of Relentless Love. 
  • Equipping each other to better proclaim Relentless Love.
  • Making new friendships that comprise His body at work in this world 


If you have some level of conviction regarding the authority of Scripture, and are intrigued by the biblical notion that God will “make all things new” (Rev. 21:5), this conference might be for you.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Rethinking Hell interview with Robin on new Four-Views Zondervan book

So the wonderfully gifted Chris Date recently interviewed me about my chapter in the forthcoming Counterpoints book, Four Views on Hell, edited by Preston Spribkle (Zondervan, 2016).

You can hear the whole interview here—Chris is a pretty probing interviewer and asks great questions. I say "urm and urrr and well" rather a lot. The brain does not work quickly enough.

The book will be out in March (in the USA) and I think in May (in the UK). You can buy it in the places where you normally buy books—because it is a book. Ah yes, a man of wisdom am I.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Edward Feser on whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

There has been a lot of discussion online about the question of whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

To my mind a lot of confusion has swirled around with a bunch of rather naff arguments.

Here is the article that I think best sweeps away the cobwebs of confusion.

It is Edward Feser, "Christians, Muslims, and the Reference of 'God.'"

Highly recommended.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Reading George MacDonald's "Unspoken Sermons"

I know that having borrowed his surname I ought to have read his works, but the truth of the matter is that the only George MacDonald books that I had read until recently were Phantastes and The Wise Woman. It was simply a question of time—not enough of it. However, I have finally got around to reading Lilith and Unspoken Sermons.

MacDonald's Unspoken Sermons was a text I had wanted to read for a long time. What finally helped me to get around to it was the gift of a wonderful new edition of the work that very helpfully breaks it down into daily readings, spread out over a year. The text is the same—with some edits to reduce redundancy—but now one only has to set aside a few minutes per day to get through it. That is do-able.

So I am now a few months into it, and I must confess that I am very surprised (though perhaps I should not have been) at just how profound MacDonald's theology is. The guys is really underrated as a serious spiritual thinker.

I highly recommend this as a great way into MacDonald's thought. It is spiritually uplifting and deeply insightful.

The new edition has been put together by Onesimus, a pseudonym. Here are the details
George MacDonald
Consuming Fire: 
The Inexorable Power of God's Love: 
A Devotional Version of Unspoken Sermons

ISBN: 978-1512145380

424 pages
On Amazon the price is

Here are some endorsements
"A daily devotional featuring the words and spiritual insights of George MacDonald was a wonderful idea, and Consuming Fire, named after MacDonald's great sermon of the same name, may be the perfect introduction to his reflections on God and Christian living.  For those who already know and love these sermons, it will provide them with an opportunity to meditate daily on the spiritual insights contained therein."
Thomas Talbott, author of the critically acclaimed book, The Inescapable Love of God               

 "Pastors often read classic sermons when preparing their own messages. In reading some of the great preachers of the past, I've sometimes thought, 'This guy is brilliant!' But when I came to read the Unspoken Sermons of George MacDonald, the thought that came to me was, 'This guy knows Jesus,' and I saw my need to know Him better. This devotional, Consuming Fire, will give any reader fresh ways to ponder the scripture and the One toward whom the scripture points."
John Kermott, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Sterling, IL

At first glance, Onesimus' notion of a year-long series of meditations on the thought of George MacDonald seemed dubious; should not one simply be directed to read MacDonald himself? After reading the first meditations, however, I became convinced that here was a brilliant introduction to and recommendation of MacDonald. Onesimus gently brings the reader under the spell of George MacDonald, and illustrates for the modern reader why we owe MacDonald for Lewis. 
Lynn E. Mitchell, Jr., Ph.D.,Clinical Professor and Director of Religious Studies, Retired, University of Houston

"C. S. Lewis once remarked that George MacDonald was his master. I think of MacDonald as a modern staretz, someone who enjoyed a profound relationship with God and intimately knew the depths of His love and mercy.  The daily reflections of Consuming Fire are a wonderful way to enter into MacDonald's vision of the Father and the life freely given in Jesus Christ." 
Fr. Alvin Kimel, Eclectic Orthodoxy, a theological blog devoted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Church Fathers, and the Orthodox faith

"In his lifetime, George MacDonald would often give poems or prose for publication to help raise funds for various charities. If my great-great-grandfather were here today, I am convinced that ALS is a cause to which he would have given an entire novel. Lou Gehrig's Disease is a heartbreaking affliction, and organizations such as the ALS Therapy Development Institute deserve all our support to help eradicate it. I very much hope this wonderful devotional, Consuming Fire, will raise both awareness and much needed funds to this end."
Christopher Peter MacDonald, London, England


Thursday, 3 December 2015

Robin's "Rethinking Hell 2015" talk

Someone has just posted my talk from the 2015 Rethinking Hell talk on YouTube.

I have not seen it, but I was there and can (more or less) remember it.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

The best book on science and religion I have read! Michael Hanby's "No God, No Science?"

The science and religion discussion is awash with books—the good, the bad, and the ugly. But after a while one can start to get the feeling that many of those books are going over the same old ground again and again.

That is not the case with Michael Hanby's No God, No Science? Theology, Cosmology, and Biology (Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013). This book really has something new and explosive to say. It is far and away the most stimulating and thought-provoking science and religion book I have read.

Rather than summarize it, here is the author himself giving a sixteen-minute overview.

Be warned. The book is VERY long, VERY expensive, and VERY intellectually dense and demanding. But be aware: it is freaking awesome!

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Philosophy begins in wonder

“Wonder signifies that the world is profounder, more all-embracing and mysterious than the logic of everyday reason had taught us to believe. The innermost meaning of wonder is fulfilled in a deepened sense of mystery. It does not end in doubt, but is the awakening of the knowledge that being, qua being, is mysterious and inconceivable.”
Joseph Pieper, Leisure: The Basis of Culture (San Francisco: Ignatius, 2009), 115

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

The problem of the resurrection of the wicked

Here is something I don't quite get. Perhaps someone out there will have some wisdom for me.

The Bible speaks of the resurrection of all the dead at the end of the age, followed by a judgement in which people are divided into two groups: sheep and goats, wheat and weeds, justified and condemned. Here is John 5:28–29 for a classic statement of this:
Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
OK so far.

But the Bible also speaks of our resurrection as fundamentally linked to the resurrection of Jesus. We will be raised because he was raised (a firstfruit of what is to come). Indeed, our resurrection life is a participation in his indestructable resurrection life. And the resurrection of our bodies will be our radical eschatological transformation into pneumatic, glory-filled images of God. It will be the completion of our humanity (Rom 8; 1 Cor 15, etc.).

Here is the problem—the resurrection of the wicked makes no sense if by resurrection we mean what the NT means when it speaks of the resurrection of life. How could a person not united to Christ and not participating in his eschatological life have a resurrection body of the kind Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians 15? It computeth not.

So if we are to speak of a resurrection of the wicked, what kind of body will they have? If not a resurrection body, then what?

Augustine speculates all sorts of things in the City of God about super-dooper fire-proof, eternal bodies, specially built to endure eternal fire in hell. But these bodies sound too close to proper resurrection bodies that differ only in that they are located in the fiery hot place. That won't do. A body like that is a divine gift, granted in Christ. And a body like that is a redeemed body. One who has such a body has a completed human nature. If you fitted into that category you would not be in the fiery hot place in the first place.

So is the 'resurrection' body of the wicked a mortal, perishable body—one that must be cast aside for a proper resurrection body if one is to become a new creation?


Tuesday, 15 September 2015

The Joy and Freedom of Being a Sinner

I was listening earlier today to Nina Simone's 1969 recording of Blind Willie Johnson's 1927 classic, "It's Nobody's Fault But Mine." (I paid attention because, by coincidence, I listened to Eric Bibb's 2010 version yesterday.) Here is the Simone version:

Nobody's fault, but mine.
Nobody's fault, but mine.
And I said if I should die
and my soul becomes lost,
Then I know it's nobody's fault but mine.

Oh I got a father.
I got a father and he can preach
So I said if I should die
and my soul, my soul becomes lost,
Then I know it's nobody's fault but mine.

Oh I got a mother.
I got a mother and she can pray
So I said if I should die
and my soul, my soul becomes lost,
then I know it's nobody's fault but mine.

Oh I got a sister.
I got a sister and she can sing. Oh Yeah.
and I said if I should die
and my soul becomes lost,
then I know it's nobody's fault but mine.

And I said if I should die
then I know it's nobody's fault but mine
and I said if I should die
and my soul becomes lost,
then I know it's nobody's fault but mine

I confess that I found this such a breath of fresh air—a liberating song.

Increasingly, we spin identity-creating stories in which we are always the victims. Even if we do bad things it is because of our genes or what happened to us or our circumstances or the government. We are not to blame; we are not guilty. But while many seek to flee from notions of sin and guilt, I find them humanizing. Of course, there are mitigating factors—biological, sociological, and so on. And of course we need to take into account the circumstances. However, when the rubber hits the road, to be told a story in which I am a responsible moral agent with a free (albeit limited) will—that I can sin and be considered guilty for so doing—is to treat me like a human being with dignity. I am not simply an effect; I am an agent.

So weirdly enough, I don't find the idea that I am a person who can be guilty of sin to be oppressive. Blaming myself is not necessarily bad—though, it can be bad in some circumstances—sometimes it is precisely the morally appropriate response. We get over guilt not by always denying it (I am the victim) but by recognizing and acknowledging it (when appropriate) and dealing with it. The gospel provides the story in which we find God dealing with our guilt and locates us in a narrative of reconciliation and forgiveness.

I am an agent with freewill and responsibility—one who is accountable and will be called to account. I am a human being.

Monday, 17 August 2015

An interview with Ilaria Ramelli on universal salvation in the early church

Last week I recorded an interview with Ilaria Ramelli on her work on apokatastasis (the restoration of all things to God) in early Christianity.

Here it is:

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Books I am working on (or may work on)

It seems that I have been consumed with various universalism-related projects of late:
  • the annotated edition of Thoma Allin's Christ Triumphant
  • a longish chapter for a Zondervan Four Views on Hell book, edited by Preston Sprinkle. This is simply an attempt to defend a universalist understanding of hell and to interact with those who have different understandings. The other authors are Denny Burke (eternal conscious torment), John Stackhouse (annihilation), Jerry Walls (Purgatory). We are just about to write the responses to each other. Should be fun.
  • a longish chapter for a Baker book on different types of Christian universalism, edited by David Congdon. Here I am looking at evangelical universalism in particular (as distinct, say, from patristic or Barthian universalisms). I think that the other authors are George Hunsinger, Morwenna Ludlow, Tom Greggs, and Fred Sanders, but my memory may be faulty here.
  • working on a co-authored semi-pop book with Ilaria Ramelli on Christian universalism from the Reformation to the present day. Currently I am in the eighteenth century. This one will take a while, even though it is not an academic texts for specialists. Still—I love history, so it is fascinating research.
I feel like my brain is a tad universalism-focused at the moment. My plan is that once these are done I will move on to other stuff. Perhaps:
  • a book on what I call arboreal theology: theology told through different trees in the biblical story
  • a book on Jesus' baptism
  • A book on Edom in Scripture—a biblical and theological reading. (It is a lot more interesting than you may suspect.) I am just itching to get stuck in to texts again.
  • a book on atonement. (I know everyone is at it, but I feel that one day I need to sit down and work out exactly what my atonement theology looks like.) 
  • A simple hermeneutical guide for appropriating biblical law today if one is a Jewish or gentile Christ-believer. (This has been at the back of my mind for many years.)
Those are the two things that are drawing me—especially the trees to start with, then perhaps Edom. (But who would read a book on Edom?)

However, looking into so much universalist history I keep thinking of new projects there
  • more annotated editons of classic texts (Stonehouse? Relly? Winchester? Jukes?)
  • a biography of John Murray—he's an interesting chap and ought to have one (even if he was a bit quirky)
  • a sequel to "All Shall Be Well" covering another batch of folk (alternatively, covering different traditions: Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, Pietism, etc., etc.)
I guess that will keep me going for a few more years—probably long after I'm dead. Hmmm, I detect a problem there!