That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell & Universal Salvation — David Bentley Hart — Book review

Charles Lincon
2 min readJan 9, 2023

· His book is published 2019. It’s a provocative take that the early church fathers universally believed in apokatastasis — that is to say universal salvation. He says that the notion of eternal hell is based on Augustine’s misreading of the Bible (because Augustine did not know Greek and relied on faulty Latin translations). And so subsequent writers relied a lot on Augustine.

· Bentley does not believe that the Bible is the actual word of God.

o I agree. It is written down by humans.

o But still, the Bible has importance in Christianity.

· Bentley says that universal and eternal damnation seems one of the best reasons to not be a Christian at all.

· Focuses on metaphor in Bible

o And Jesus used metaphor frequently in the Bible. A teacher of metaphor.

· “Even the rejection of God is the search for God.”

o This proposition makes sense in Bentley’s thinking because he defines — or offers a definition of God — that is the all-encompassing energy of the world, the source of love, the source of all knowledge. In this sense, I interpret Bentley as saying God is the universal concept of a Platonic form of the infinite. I don’t mean specifically Plato discussed this notion of God — although perhaps Plato did in The Timaeus (even Bentley cites to the Timaeus). So, if God is this infinite concept, then everything is God. Or at least all that we strive for as humans are God. And so when we partake in knowledge, does that mean we partake in God? This might be somewhat my misreading (Harold Bloom’s concept of misreading?) of Bentley.

· Admits that he writing/wrote a book that may not convince anyone.

· Our moral conscience can’t allow us to call for eternal torment.

· “In the end, we must love the good.”

· This is the author:

o https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Bentley_Hart

o The book does not have a Wikipedia page.

· How I found out about this book:

o I was reading Harold Bloom’s Take Arms Against a Sea of Troubles where Bloom references that universal salvation is the only proper reading of Christianity.

· This book was published by Yale University Press.

o Was Harold Bloom involved?

· “That is to say”

o Perhaps the most common phrase in this book. And I loved it!

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Charles Lincon

Renaissance literature, Shakespeare, Hegelian dialectics, Attic Greek, masters University of Amsterdam.