In Every Knee Should Bow, Steven Harmon explores the manner in which Clement of Alexandria (ca. 160-215 C.E.), Origen (ca. 185-ca. 251 C.E.), and Gregory of Nyssa (331/340-ca. 395 C.E.) appealed to Scripture in developing rationales for their concepts of apokatastasis, the hope that all rational creatures will ultimately be reconciled to God. Harmon argues that these patristic universalists maintained their hope for "a wideness in God's mercy" primarily because they believed this hope was the most coherent reading of the biblical story. Although Hellenistic thought might also have suggested an eschatology in which the end corresponds to the beginning, the eschatologies of these ancient Christian theologians were shaped mainly by the Hebrew story of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation, read through the lenses of the church's experience of God's saving work in the person of Jesus Christ. These early attempts to take seriously the biblical story's affirmations of the divine intention to save all people on the one hand, and of judgment and hell on the other, have a certain timeless relevance. In a context not unlike that of the late antique Christian world, the postmodern church again wrestles with these tensions in the biblical story in the midst of religious pluralism.
Steven R. Harmon's Every Knee Should Bow (revised dissertation, Southwestern Seminary, 1997) makes for a good read. It is concise and clearly written... I will find the book (Every Knee Should Bow) a valuable resource for the analysis of this issue in my class on the history of Christian thought. It will provide a ready reference to key biblical texts, as well as examples of how selected early Christian thinkers employed these texts. It is always enjoyable to lead students to see that ideas they consider radical (such as universal restoration) are not really new.--J. Bradley Chance, William Jewell College "Journal Of The Nabpr "