Thursday, April 7, 2011

An Evangelical Universalist theodicy?

I've become an occasional contributor at the EFAC (Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion) blog.  For my first post I outlined my concerns about the theodicy presented by Bell (Love Wins) and Parry (The Evangelical Universalist).  (This is the second major problem facing Universalism that I alluded to in a previous post.) However I've been prompted to outline my case against Parry in some more detail.

Although clues about Parry's theodicy could be gleaned from the book overall (it frustratingly lacks an index) he directly address the problem of evil at the beginning of chapter seven.  Parry suggests an Irenaen theodicy, called a "solution by autonomous freedom" by Blocher in Evil and the Cross, is made more preferable by Universalism.  He then goes on to give the example of a mother suffering the death of her daughter.  Parry says traditional theology (of the type Blocher would represent I guess) devalues both the mother's suffering the girl herself but on the other hand;
"Now this problem is easily removed on universalism, because the daughter's suffering and death can also be used by God for her own salvation after death.  Thus God can use the suffering of any person to contribute not simply to the good of others but also to their own good. It is no coincidence that John Hick, one of the chief contemporary exponents of Irenaean theodicies, is a universalist." (page 158)
Parry doesn't commit himself entirely to this theodicy.  Instead he seems to slid in the next passage into what Blocher labels the "solution by universal order."  Parry writes that "God knows how to defeat evil by weaving it into many good and creative plots.  ... So by integrating horrendous evil into one's relationship with God, one confers a positive aspect upon such experience." (page 159)

Although Parry appears approving of both alternatives he seems undecided about which his universalism commits him to; which lead me to describe him in my EFAC blog post as "teetering" between the two options. However, as Blocher points out, neither is ultimately the option presented by Scripture.  The "solution by autonomous" freedom limits God's sovereignty to make space for independent human action. The "solution by universal order" makes evil part of God.  But evil is evil, distinct and morally separate from God.  God is also sovereign, with human responsibility part of the way he works in the world not a separate activity.

30 comments:

Andrew Bowles said...

I've not read Blocher, but does he expand a bit on his 'iron triangle'? The issue I have is that it seems to be a fragile triangle, given that if you press on any of the sides, they break. For instance, you can say 'God is sovereign', but the issue is how sovereignty is defined. The bare assertion avoids the actual issue and only appears to provide a solid premise. Is God sovereign in the sense of pre-determining all events, or in the sense of bringing things to eschatological perfection despite deviations caused by sin and evil? Again, Blocher may speak about how his formula avoids this, but that would be interesting to hear. Without this back-up, Parry and Bell seem to be being held to account merely for trying to unravel the problem that the triangle creates by defining 'sovereignty', 'evil', and 'good' in systematic ways.

Alex Smith said...

Robin Parry, Luke & others are also discussing the original blog post and this one, over on my forum under Tweet: Universalism doesn't have a good or biblical theodicy , unfortunately Rob Bell was not available to comment ;)

Robin Parry said...

Luke

Hello again. I am still a bit confused as to what precisely you find problematic about my view (apart from the fact that it is not taught by Blocher?).

I try to find some insights in Irenaean theodicies. You do not like this because it limits God's sovereignty. Why does it do that? I see no reason why some version of such a theodicy is not compatible with an ultra-strong view of sovereignty. I may be mistaken but you'd need to explain to me why.

I then, a bit more cautiously, try to find insights from Marilyn Adams' reflections on "horrendous evils." You do not like those because they feel like an "appeal to universal order."

I suspect here that you are trying to squeeze Adams into a preconceived typology of theodicies provided by Blocher because the language of "universal order" does not sound to me anything like what Adams is on about.

Anyway, whether that be the case or not, your concern is that this approach makes evil part of God's plan. But that is not the case. Adams is speaking about how God works redemptively in the midst of evil so that "all things can work together for the good of those who love God." She need make no claims that God plans evil for our good — only that he can turn even that which is horrible into an part of the fabric of an ultimately worthwhile life.

Indeed, part of Adams' whole approach is to recognize the truly evil nature of certain evils, what she calls "horrendous evil." So I don't think she is in danger of denying the evilness of evil.

But I am now confused about Blocher's own view. I have not read the book in question but from what you say it sounds like he wants to affirm:

1. That God controls everything that happens

2. That evil is not part of God's plan nor is it used by God within his plan

But this sounds to me like affirminig incompatible propositions.

So it sounds to me like the problems remain with those who deny universalism rather than with those who affirm it.

Luke Isham said...

Andrew,

I say an "iron triangle" (because I'd been thinking about the rectangle like boundaries around Christology laid down at Chalcedon) Blocher says it's more of a cross like T, because in the crucifixion of Jesus these three come together. His arguments for each of these three "assertions" (I prefer summaries!) is too tightly packed for me to unpack in the comments of a blog post. One more thing, you write: The issue I have is that it seems to be a fragile triangle, given that if you press on any of the sides, they break. For me that criticism doesn't make sense it's like saying the case for y is weak because it is disputed.

Robin,

I guess what's problematic is that you argue for the grand (in a large overarching sense) premise that everyone will be saved but don't give an adequate explanation of the theodicy that flows from it. Universalism has ultimate consequences, everyone is saved, so what then is the ultimate place of evil in Universalist scheme of things? While granted there are ambiguities and mysterious on this side of eternity, the ultimate and final claim of universalism requires a more comprehensive and clearer theodicy then the two options you offer. Now, I admit I'm placing them into preconceived (Blocher) categories but this isn't philosophically unusual. For example the secular Norwegian philosopher Lars Svendsen makes a similar reduction (A Philosophy of Evil by Lars Svendsen, 44).

Hmm, maybe Adam's need more critical analysis but the point you seem to draw from that section that I quoted in the post above: "So by integrating horrendous evil into one's relationship with God, one confers a positive aspect upon such experience." (page 159) Seems to make evil worthwhile, tying it into God's good plans for the world.

Regarding Blocher, his three premises, that he sees making up a Scriptural theodicy are to be held in paradoxical tension. The formula laid down by Chalcedon isn't much different in this regard. Being both man and God seems incompatible yet is regarded as Scripturally sound.

Andrew Bowles said...

It's not that I think Blocher's position is weak or disputed, but that I don't think it's a position. Or if the expanded version that you're summarising actually is a theological position, then the triangle doesn't function in the way that you're describing. Just take God's sovereignty. How do you know that you have transgressed that particular boundary? Only if there is a properly defined meaning for sovereignty. And to define it according to a theological system gives away the high ground that Blocher is assuming with the triangle, since it means that it is really about conflicting theologies not a boundary of orthodoxy that the universalists are crossing.

I suspect there is a lurking theological system behind Blocher's articulation of the triangle that is giving it a bit more structural rigidity than appears on the surface. Perhaps one associated with a prominent French Rerformer who had a bit of a spell in Geneva?

Luke Isham said...

Doesn't everyone claim that their particular theology is Scriptural? (Blocher like Calvin is a Frenchman and like Calvin is Reformed although interestingly his argument for the transmission of Orignal Sin is that genetic transmission (realism) makes Federalism possible.) Parry is making the case that Universalism should at least be considered broadly Orthodox if not even a legitimate evangelical option. I'm not sure making a distinction between theological conflict and orthodoxy helps in this particular context. The battle between heresy and Orthodoxy is also a form of theological conflict. But in this particular case while I agree theodicy isn't a tenant of Orthodoxy in the way say Christology is, Universalism doesn't offer an adequate (or ultimately Scriptural) theodicy.

Andrew Bowles said...

The problem with making this a question of orthodoxy is that there is a lack of definition in what you're saying as to what the orthodox view actually is. Blocher's triangle is too vague, as I've said. The reason for mentioning his Calvinism is that I think it feels to you like the triangle helps to decide who's within orthodoxy because you're giving meaning to the terms from a system that you think is orthodox. But almost any theologian could do the same. Again, what does it mean to say that 'God is sovereign'?

I think with this issue we need to look more carefully at core and concrete theological ideas rather than talking at the level of principle and emphasis. Since Irenaeus was mentioned, it is helpful to think about what he did, which was not to focus on 'love' or 'sovereignty' or another abstract concept, but to reflect deeply on the Incarnation of Christ and what it means for how we understand the way that God works in the world. If we affirm that God is good, that is not an abstract principle but comes from particular acts that may in themselves provide stimulus for us to describe specifically the type of goodness that God has. God's sovereignty in Biblical terms is most definitively exercised in the ministry of Jesus, which displays a paradoxical type of sovereignty not at all like the surface connotation of the word.

Andrew Tweedy said...

Hi Luke,

Greetings from another St George's Church!

Over on the Evangelical Universalist forum, a few people commented they don't understand your point. I posted this in an attempt to be helpful:

"I think Luke is saying that if Parry, Bell or any other universalist contenders want to climb in the ring with the heavyweights they need to have a better theodicy. "Go back to the gym you seven stone weaklings!" Whether Luke is right or wrong, it seems odd that he has picked this particular issue, which many people think is one of the weakests aspect of "traditional" or "orthodox" christianity. How can there be a convincing and biblical theodicy which includes hell as traditionally understood? Perhaps Blocher has found one - I haven't read him yet so I don't know.

What I would say to Luke is that, face to face with a grieving widow or parent, I've got a hell of a lot more to offer now than I did when I was stuck with everlasting conscious torment."

You probably won't agree, but thanks anyway for opening up the discussion. Cheers.

Luke Isham said...

Andrew,

I acknowledge that we're talking at a certain level of abstraction and acknowledge that I believe Blocher's solution is Orthodox, however sometimes a particular level of abstraction is appropriate. I think Blocher's three pronged solution is good, because it gives equal weight to each premise. Often a theodicy over-emphasizes God's sovereignty, (Calvinists come to mind) but each premise needs to be upheld and defended with equal vigour. So your only partially right when you say God's sovereignty in Biblical terms is most definitively exercised in the ministry of Jesus, which displays a paradoxical type of sovereignty not at all like the surface connotation of the word. This is because the solution is three pronged, theodicy isn't just about upholding God's sovereignty. Although I agree the solution is paradoxical.

Hello Andrew Tweedy,

Welcome. That's a great summary, although it is Blocher not I who is the serious contender. I think theodicy has sometimes been a neglected area in traditional theology, but that doesn't need to be so. Universalism makes an ultimate claim about salvation, which if true has massive theological consequences, including theodicy and so I'm surprised there hasn't been more universalist thought in this area.

I mean no disrespect but hypothetical situations are cheap, so I won't comment on those particulars. I haven't been on the forum recently, I've been finding it discouraging.

Andrew Tweedy said...

Thanks Luke. Not hypothetical for me; I've had several recent pastoral encounters exactly like this. The theodicy question certainly deserves more attention, not least because it is raised by so many non-christians. I guess universalists haven't given it much attention because we believe we have a satisfactory and thoroughly biblical understanding of the end to the story (Isaiah 25.7-9, Rev 21.3-5 etc). We probably do need to tighten up our understanding of how God gets us there though.

Luke Isham said...

I hope I didn't cause offence.

One of the problems with the theodicy of Universalism as I see it, is that it doesn't account for the existence and place of evil in grand-narrative of the world because ultimately it doesn't matter what you do, but it does (Luke 13:5). There isn't any good news for the victim in hearing that the injustice they've suffered is actually for their long term good.

Alex Smith said...

How do you "account for the existence and place of evil in grand-narrative of the world"?

How do you account for the continued existence of evil for eternity? How is God sovereign and completely victorious if any mind is in rebellion forever?

"There isn't any good news for the victim in hearing that the injustice they've suffered is actually for their long term good." Are you sure about that?

More than that, 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. Romans 5:3-5 ESV

Andrew Tweedy said...

Thanks Luke, no offence taken mate! The existance and place of evil is a big question, but I still think traditional theologies have a bigger problem here than universalism does. At least I can affirm, with scripture, that one day God will wipe away every tear from every eye - and mean it!
Alex raises a good point about the redemptive potential of suffering, although I wouldn't use this in a pastoral situation in the way you suggest, Luke.
Luke 13.5 is in the context of Jesus urging people to change their ways in this life, instead of worrying about who is to blame for tragedies. I don't read perish there as referring to eternal destiny.
I think the biggest problem many people have with universal reconciliation is the idea that God would save both victims and villains. That's a tough one! Jonah and the prodigal's elder brother had problems with it too. But the Bible teaches that God's grace really is that big.

Luke Isham said...

Alex,

Evil is being crushed forever because it's better that it remains separate from God forever rather than become part of Him, otherwise it means that either God is a mixture of good and evil or evil isn't as bad as we think it is.

There are two problems with your use of Romans 5:3-5 in this context. 1) It's talking about suffering and not evil. 2) Why would it apply to non-Christians, when Romans was written to Christians?

Andrew T.,

At least I can affirm, with scripture, that one day God will wipe away every tear from every eye - and mean it! You say that as though Universalism doesn't have it's share of verses that it has to qualify and explain away.

Alex raises a good point about the redemptive potential of suffering, But it seems you've always confused evil with suffering. However more seriously are you suggesting all evil is redemptive?

Luke 13.5 is in the context of Jesus urging people to change their ways in this life, instead of worrying about who is to blame for tragedies. I don't read perish there as referring to eternal destiny. Then you've diluted the force of what Jesus is saying. Jesus isn't telling people to be nicer, he's calling on them to turn from destruction to life.

(You mentioned Isaiah 25.7-9 and Rev 21.3-5. With both passages it's fascinating you avoided the context of judgement, in both cases comprehensive and final.)

I think the biggest problem many people have with universal reconciliation is the idea that God would save both victims and villains. You've missed my point. That the act of the villain is actually for the victim's good.

Andrew Bowles said...

Abstraction is valuable if you want to create a philosophically-oriented theodicy or critique of a theodicy. But if you are going to attempt to incorporate Biblical categories, then the Biblical theodicy is rooted in the works of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, not a balancing of principles. We slip into creating 'solutions by universal order' and find it difficult to reconcile divine and human action because we think in impersonal categories about the acts of God. In your critique, Jesus only appears as a teacher of certain principles about judgement not as the content and executor of that judgement.

Luke Isham said...

Given the moral difference between God and evil I would be suspicious of a theodicy that overly-entangles God with evil. In your critique, Jesus only appears as a teacher of certain principles about judgement not as the content and executor of that judgement. I'm not convinced I've done this. Furthermore, those principles are the product of biblical evidence, just as some of the abstract language of Chalcedon is a distillation of Biblical data.

One of the distinctive features of the Trinity is the perfect balance of unity and diversity. I think Universalism as a theological system overemphasizes "unity" while also failing to recognise that evil is an irreconcilable degree of difference.

Andrew Bowles said...

I think we've reached an impasse here. Hopefully I've communicated what I would need to hear to make this kind of critique convincing (from any viewpoint). At the moment it feels underdeveloped.


'I would be suspicious of a theodicy that overly-entangles God with evil.'

Is it okay if God is only moderately entangled with evil? :p

Alex Smith said...

Was there a time when there was no evil? Yes. So it shouldn't surprise you that there can be a time in the future when there is no evil again. ECT denies this by insisting on keeping in locked up (only physically, mentally and spiritually evil is rampant in hell!). On the other hand, EU allows God to completely eradicate it, and that's not by absorbing it. e.g. how can darkness hide in light?? Remember He has eradicated the evil in you, so He can eradicate the evil in someone else, and someone else, etc.

By the way, principles of books written to Christians (& Jews) can often be applied non-Christians too. e.g. 1 Cor 13 says love is patient. I can advise a non-Christian that being patient is good. In the same way, going through suffering can produce character even in non-Christians.

Also you said "There isn't any good news for the victim in hearing that the injustice they've suffered is actually for their long term good." I was simply giving an example of suffering being good in the long term. You didn't specifically mention "evil", so neither did I :)

Anyway, evil & suffering are linked. Would there be any suffering if there was no evil? Do you see evil as the absence of good, or something in it's own right? If it's something in it's own right, who created it? Can Satan actually create anything new? I was under the impression he could only distort, twist and hinder people from doing good?

Alex Smith said...

"I think Universalism as a theological system overemphasizes "unity" while also failing to recognise that evil is an irreconcilable degree of difference." ECT sees God sustaining evildoers forever, whereas EU eradicates evil entirely. So which view is tolerating evil more??

Robin Parry said...

Luke

You ask about evil in my theology. I have always had a soft spot for Augustine's idea that evil is a privation. It is not a "thing," a "substance" but a lack in a thing.

So evil will have no place in the new creation. But, on such a view, the eradication of evil does not require the eradication of any of God's good creation. For God to have to permanently amputate parts of creation in order to remove evil would, it seems to me, amount to a failure on God's part.

You wonder about the place of evil in the overall scheme of God. Well, on that I am somewhat agnostic. I remain unpersuaded by all theodicies (though I think that all of them may have something helpful to contribute). I don't think universalism per se requires any specific approach to theodicy. My point in the book is simply this—universalism makes theodicy easier (for "all shall be well") than its denial. I do not claim that it offers an explanation for why God allows evil in the meantime—it does not.

But classical theology, it seems to me, also fails to offer a convincing explanation as to why God allows evil (we have that in common) AND ALSO comes close to saying that evil will partly thwart God's purposes. Evil is powerful but it is not THAT powerful. God is bigger.

Robin Parry said...

Re: "One of the distinctive features of the Trinity is the perfect balance
of unity and diversity. I think Universalism as a theological system
overemphasizes 'unity' while also failing to recognise that evil is an
irreconcilable degree of difference."

To me this argument just seems confused.

How do you move from the diversity-in-unity in the Trinity to the irreconcilable diversity of evil within the unity of creation? There is no analogue for that in the Trinity. So one is hardly comparing like with like.

Indeed, I cannot follow the logic of the leap from the need to recognize the place of diversity (which I affirm) to the need to claim that evil cannot be used by God to play any role in his purposes. Surely, if diversity-in-unity is the concern then regognizing that evil is evil (diversity) but can also be used by God to achieve a good end (unity) may strike just the balance you want. Your stance on evil does not balance unity and diversity but simply denies unity.

And does not Scripture itself testify over and over again that God can work through evil to bring about is good purposes. The Cross itself is the supreme instance of this.

Your argument is in danger of implying that evil is a necessary feature of any created universe (including the new creation). If we need evil to add the diversity to the unity then God cannot create without evil. I'm not suggesting that this is your view but the argument you offer may be thought to lean in that direction.

Luke Isham said...

Andrew,

It seems that way, but thanks for the push-back to better articulate the criticism. I think it's partly the format of a blog as opposed to an essay.

Alex,

"There was a time without evil therefore a time in the future without evil." But that argument doesn't work, because you could also say, "There was a time without humans, therefore a time in the future without humans".

Remember He has eradicated the evil in you, so He can eradicate the evil in someone else, and someone else, etc. You've missing the idea of sanctification, the time when someone is justified but God's still working the sin(evil) out of them.

But it's not about the principles of Scripture it's about, 'is this theology written to the Christians the book was addressed to"? If yes then it's applicable to and about them not to and about everyone. (The only way around that is to say everyone is a Christian.)

It's important to distinguish between the consequences of the fall (an evil event) and the Fall itself. Suffering is another word for evil, it's linked and caused by but equal to evil. For example "scars" work in in a similar way, caused by but not equal to evil, for example the scars the risen Lord Jesus bears.

"I think Universalism as a theological system overemphasizes "unity" while also failing to recognise that evil is an irreconcilable degree of difference." ECT sees God sustaining evildoers forever, whereas EU eradicates evil entirely. So which view is tolerating evil more??

Universalism doesn't eradicate evil it makes it part of God and his world because everyone is saved so all evil is part of their path to salvation and therefore a good and God ordained thing (this assumes a more Calvinist-Universalism).

Luke Isham said...

Robin,

Comments about your first post:

1. A comment about the nature of evil. Evil is neither a thing or an absence, it's a twisting of what's already there, which means 'evil' is a moral category, containing both 'sinful' humans and 'fallen' angels.

2. I'm not sure it works to say you can be agnostici about theodicy, both theodicy and Universalism are ultimate categories, they make ultimate claims. It also sounds you give equal weighting to the various theodicies, some are more true than others, it's not a case of multiple equally true theological options.

3. I agree that some of theodicies offered by traditional theology haven't been entirely consistent, making evil (us or the devils) as powerful as God.

Comments about your second post:

1. I thought about writing "and now to mix categories" but didn't in the end because the basic idea of unity-and-diversity which the Trinity expresses interestingly finds it way into this discussion. For example, Evil is a manifestation of difference, otherness: God can recognize it but it's not part of Himself.

2. However in universalism, everyone because of the "union with Christ", humans and devils (the complete category of evil) is united in God. This of course is the direction of Universalism, of course it's not the summary of universalism but it's the direction Universalism takes, overemphasizing unity over diversity. This, I think causes the weakness when it comes to theodicy.

3. Valid warning about making evil necessary but the Trinity is a self-sufficient expression of unity and diversity, there is no need for humans, devils or evil.

Alex Smith said...

Ah but I didn't say that There was a time without evil therefore a time in the future without evil., I said, Was there a time when there was no evil? Yes. So it shouldn't surprise you that there can be a time in the future when there is no evil again.. Although now you mention it, that's a good point. God created everything good, therefore, to achieve a complete victory, doesn't He, at the very least, have to get back to that state of good (personally I think He actually goes way further, eradicating evil and making good even better)?

Anyway going back to your rejection of my argument, the bible claims to sin will be no more, whereas it doesn't claim humans will be no more...

You've missing the idea of sanctification, the time when someone is justified but God's still working the sin(evil) out of them.Fair enough, it would've been better to say "God is eradicating evil in you." Where does the evil go? Can God eradicate evil or not? If He can for one person, He can for all...

Suffering is another word for evil did you mean isn't otherwise I'm confused.

Universalism doesn't eradicate evil it makes it part of God and his world because everyone is saved so all evil is part of their path to salvation and therefore a good and God ordained thing (this assumes a more Calvinist-Universalism).How does God eradicate evil in you then? i.e. evil was part of your path to salvation... God can use evil events for good, without making the evil a good thing. e.g. the Cross

Luke Isham said...

God doesn't want to return things to the way things were before creation because he doesn't want to unwind the incarnation.

"Suffering is another word for evil did you mean isn't otherwise I'm confused. Yes, LOL!

God uses evil for his good purposes despite evil. The redeemed won't be in heaven looking back and saying and "now I see that the Holocaust was good", but "I see how God was able to make good come of evil". This is what Blocher meant by the evilness of evil, evil will always be categorised as evil. Evil always must be kept at arm's length not woven into God's plan.

Otherwise, and this is the error of Universalist theodicy, evil becomes good, becomes part of God. This is because events that were once seen as evil are now (in the light of eternity) seen as leading to someone's salvation and therefore good. In a traditional theology some evil is punished in the death of Jesus and some is punished in the unrepentant humans or devils.

Luke Isham said...

You highlighted this question, so I'd better answer it directly.

"Can God eradicate evil or not?" Yes, but in two slightly different ways: Jesus bears some and unrepentant humans bear their share. (I'd rather endure the mystery of predestination than face the horror of evil being part of God.)

Alex Smith said...

God doesn't want to return things to the way things were before creation because he doesn't want to unwind the incarnation. Surely He wants the good/evil ratio of creation restored? e.g. He went from having 100% good creation to, lets say, 25% good (total depravity says everything is twisted but not 100% twisted) 75% evil. Is He going to be happy to just get it back to even 90% good, 10% evil (although with Calvin ruling out postmortem salvation, given most people are currently going to hell, it's going to be hard to get to anything about 50% good with so many in hell!!)??

The redeemed won't be in heaven looking back and saying and "now I see that the Holocaust was good", but "I see how God was able to make good come of evil". I don't think they will see the Holocaust as good either, but I think they will see that despite evil, God was able to make good things happen.

You seem to have missed my key question :) Can God eradicate evil or not?

Alex Smith said...

You commented whilst I was still typing my comment :)

"Can God eradicate evil or not?" Yes, but in two slightly different ways: Jesus bears some and unrepentant humans bear their share. (I'd rather endure the mystery of predestination than face the horror of evil being part of God.) Interesting answer, I'll reply tomorrow after I get some much needed sleep :D

Andrew Bowles said...

Luke, I can't see any difference at all between what you are saying about God bringing good out of evil and what Alex and Robin are saying. I don't think what you're offering is a valid criticism of their position.


Here is Robin:

'And does not Scripture itself testify over and over again that God can work through evil to bring about is good purposes. The Cross itself is the supreme instance of this. '

Here's you:

'God uses evil for his good purposes despite evil.'

This does not appear to be an area where you disagree.

Luke Isham said...

Three things:

1. Thos summaries are about evil along the way so to speak, not it's final state and it's not surprising Robin agreed, given some of our evangelical common ground.
2. However neither of your summaries points to the ultimate place of evil.
3. Although I take the criticism on board that I need to articulate the criticism better.