Eisegesis Is The Foundation For Universalism

Here is an example of “eisegesis” and not “exegesis.” I will emphasize the text from this Evangelical Universalist book:

What I want to suggest is that we ought to ask how the language of es­chatological punishment, which was adopted from Second Temple Judaism, should be understood when situated within the theological environment of the New Testament. There was no single concept of hell in Second Temple Judaism but a cluster of images and concepts that held in common the claim that God would bring the wicked to account and punish them. Jesus and his followers took and made use of some of the language and images employed in the discourse of the time without endorsing every aspect of Second Temple Jewish beliefs about this fate. In particular, I shall argue that Jesus never ex­plicitly endorsed the claim made by some Jews that the wicked would be tormented forever nor the claim of others that they would be annihilated. My claim is that although Jesus only once mitigated his claims about hell so as to suggest that it was a temporary fate (Mark 9:47-49), there are good rhetorical reasons why he would not have done so normally. I shall argue further that when the language of hell is located within the framework of New Testament theology A REINTERPRETATION OF IT THAT ALLOWS FOR BELIEF IN REDEMPTION FROM HELL IS LEGITIMATED. This is simply a canonical expansion of my strategy for inter­preting the hell passages in Revelation…. Clearly my interpretation is underdetermined by the texts, so I cannot claim that it is obviously the only way to interpret the matter. I AM NOT SO MUCH EXEGETING THE TEXTS AS TRYING TO DRAW OUT THE LOGIC OF NEW TESTAMENT THEOLOGY AS I UN­DERSTAND IT AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR THOSE TEXTS. IN THE PROCESS I MAY BE OFFER­ING WAYS OF READING THE TEXTS THAT GO BEYOND WHAT THEIR AUTHORS HAD IN MIND.

Gregory MacDonald,  The Evangelical Universalist: The Biblical Hope That God’s Love Will Save Us All (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2012), 140.

A stark warning from many a year ago:

“Beware of manufacturing a god of your own: a god who is all mercy but not just, a god who is all love but not holy, a god who has a heaven for everybody but a hell for none, a god who can allow good and bad to be side by side in time, but will make no distinction between good and bad in eternity. Such a god is an idol of your own, as truly an idol as any snake or crocodile in an Egyptian temple. The hands of your own fancy and sentimentality have made him. He is not the God of the Bible, and beside the God of the Bible, there is no God at all. Beware of making selections from your Bible to suit your taste. Dare not to say, ‘I believe this verse, for I like it. I refuse that, for I cannot reconcile it with my views.’ Nay! But O man, who art thou that repliest against God? By what right do you talk in this way? Surely it were better to say over EVERY chapter in the word, ‘Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth.’ Ah! If men would do this, they would never deny the unquenchable fire.”

— J.C. Ryle (1878)

  • ex·e·ge·sis – From the Greek meaning “interpretation,” from ex, “out,” and hegeisthai, “to guide.” Exegesis is a method of attempting to understand a Bible passage. The reader of Scripture studies the word meanings and grammar of the text to discern what… was communicated, drawing the meaning out of the text rather than reading what he wants into the text (isegesis). The Compact Dictionary of Doctrinal Words, 1988
  • ex·e·ge·sis – (Gk., explanation) Critical exposition or explanation of the meaning of a scriptural passage in the context of the whole Bible. Nelson’e New Christian Dictionary 2001