This teaching is simply some very basic information from various extra-biblical (but not non-biblical, or anti-biblical!) resources for those people who believe the biblical concept of apokatastasis (as defined a few paragraphs later). Believe it or not, this lengthy writing really is a simple listing of only about 25 resources, BUT God has asked me to give some historical and contextual background information for most of the resources I’ve listed.
[NOTE: I hope it goes without saying that this is simply my listing of resources I happen to use. Doubtless, there are hundreds of other resources—books, magazines, pamphlets, leaflets, websites, social media sites, blogs, and other written materials—available all over the world; these are simply the ones I have found most helpful in my own quest to better understand God’s great purposes of restoring the fallen creation and all humanity to Himself. Please don’t limit yourself to only this listing of resources in your own quest for better understanding this important biblical subject.]
You see, there are millions (perhaps billions) of people all over the world (mostly young—40 years old and under) interested in God’s restoration of all things, but most of them have no historical background or context in which to understand what God is doing and why. (For instance, if people don’t know much American history, it’s difficult for them to understand many current events in America.) Another example: it’s really not enough to tell people there is no hell (as commonly understood); they also need to understand why we believe the Bible—correctly understood—teaches there is no hell; otherwise they think we really don’t believe the Bible. If people believe something in a vacuum, Satan will often rush to fill the vacuum with false information.
So…let’s kinda begin at the beginning. Please turn to the end of the Bible. Yep, right now—get your Bible and turn to the end. You probably turned to Revelation 22, right? That’s really not the end of the Bible. Yes, that’s the end of the format of the Bible, but the actual, true end of the Bible is 1 Corinthians 15: 28. Actually that’s both the end—and the new beginning—of everything!
Here’s the background and context of that reference. At some time in the future known only to God, Jesus has just put an end to death (both the first death when we die at the end of our mortal lives and the second death, the lake of fire noted in the 20th chapter of Revelation), and has turned his Kingdom over to God the Father. At that time, this reference says God will then become All in all—Everything to everything and everyone. That’s both the true end—and the new beginning—of everything: God (Father, Son, and Spirit) becomes Everything to everything and everyone! God becomes not so much in everything as everything comes to be in God. The Bible teaches in the beginning…was God. It also teaches in the end…is God.
Okay, that’s essentially the biblical teaching about apokastasis (defined as “God’s redemption, restoration, and reconciliation of all things, including all humanity”). In the original Greek language of the Bible, there’s only one reference to apokastasis. It’s Acts 3: 21. Everything else ever written about the subject for the past 2,000 years flows from that reference.
However, there are two other words in the Bible’s original Hebrew and Greek languages that are closely related to apokastasis. There are only 4 places in the Bible where the English phrase “new heavens and new earth” is used—two in the Old Testament, two in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, they are Isaiah 65: 17 and 66: 22; in both instances, the Hebrew word for “new” that is used is chadash, meaning “freshly restored.” The two New Testament references are 2 Peter 3: 13 and Revelation 21: 1; the Greek word used in both those references is kainos, also meaning “freshly restored.” God is not going to destroy the present universe and earth in a fiery conflagration; He is going to freshly restore them. Yes, I know about such biblical references as 2 Peter 3: 10 and 11 that seem to indicate that the universe and earth will be destroyed in a fiery conflagration; such references when carefully examined within their biblical context and correctly understood can be clearly understood otherwise.
The first writings by early followers of Jesus about apokastasis were by writers and teachers for about the first 300 years or so of church history; these were called the “Ante-Nicene Fathers.” “”Ante” means “before,” so Ante-Nicene means before the first major church council was held in the city of Nicea in what is now the nation of Turkey. The Council was called by the Roman Emperor Constantine in 325 A. D. because he wanted the church leaders to work out some doctrinal disputes they were having in the church throughout the Roman Empire.
Before the Council of Nicea, most of the early church leaders were “for” apokastasis; after the Council, many of the church leaders became opposed to the teaching of apokastasis. That’s a very over-simplified version of what really happened, and many writers today use different dates and circumstances—as you’ll see by some of the resources I’ll recommend. But the Council of Nicea was sort of the “watershed” year when much of the controversy about apokastasis began. Generally speaking, it was also when the Church began to be highly institutionalized with special buildings in which to practice religion (instead of worshipping God principally in homes), when a religious leadership hierarchy began to be emphasized and developed, and when rote religion (with its rituals and liturgy) began to replace a personal relationship with God through Jesus.
About 700 years later, the church throughout the Roman Empire divided into the “western church” and the “eastern church”; we still have that division today between what is largely the European church and its “daughter churches” (including Africa, North and South America, and Asia) and the eastern church which is largely the Orthodox churches of what used to be called the Soviet Union—with the Russian Orthodox Church being sort of the “mother” church. Again, those explanations are vastly oversimplified for purposes of this brief teaching about my resources I use to better understand apokatastasis.
Okay, after the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. and the later division of the worldwide church into the western and eastern Orthodox churches, the western church largely became opposed to the doctrine of apokatastasis, while most of the Orthodox churches continue to follow the teachings of the Ante-Nicene Fathers and believe that apokastasis is still a biblical teaching. Obviously, there are many exceptions to this because I’m generalizing quite a bit. But that’s pretty much the entire world of Jesus’ Church today: about half believe apokatastasis is a horrible false teaching; the other half believes apokatastasis is a true, biblical teaching. Again, I’m greatly oversimplifying and overgeneralizing.
If you’re part of the western church reading this listing, you are very much in the minority if you believe in apokastasis. Look around you: the majority of Jesus’ followers in the western church do not believe that God is going to restore all humanity to Himself. To introduce others to the concept of apokatastasis, you’re “fighting an uphill battle,” but if you allow Holy Spirit to lead and guide you about sharing this concept with others, you will find many people eager to believe that God loves all humanity that much. They are secretly bothered by the concept that much of humanity will be subjected to eternal, conscious torment in an ever-burning hell, and hope that somehow God will restore everyone to a loving relationship with Himself.
With that background, now for some resources:
First, a complete, 37-volume set of the writings of the Ante-Nicene Fathers can be purchased in an e-book edition on Amazon for only $2.99. The set is all in English, translated mostly from the original Greek and Latin languages. But…why bother plowing your way through all those volumes when modern authors (some of which I’ll list below) have already pored through all of them—in the original Greek languages—and have culled out the pertinent and relevant writings about apokatastasis in their own current books?
Next, a female Italian theologian named Ilaria L. E. Ramelli recently spent 7 long years studying just about everything ever written about apokatastasis for her doctoral thesis, and has recently published all her findings in English in a 900+ page book! A friend gave me a copy of the book as a gift; it’s way beyond amazing! I predict it will become THE AUTHORITATIVE BOOK about the subject of apokatastasis for decades to come. Her book is titled The Christian Doctrine of Apokastasis, and can be purchased in book form from Amazon for the low, low price of only $353.00! I don’t think there’ll be a lot of us ordinary people rushing out to purchase a copy…
So…there you have 2 important resources: the Ante-Nicene writings and the deep, theological book by the female Italian theologian.
Now, let’s get to some more current and up-to-date resources. First, there’s a church near downtown Denver, Colorado, known as The Sanctuary. They maintain the complete Gary Amirault Library which was donated to them when Gary died in 2018. It’s like a rare book section of a large city library where you can’t check out books, but you can go there to study them. As you might or might not know, Gary was the founder and maintainer of the tentmaker.org website, which for a number of years has been (and still is) the premiere website for those wishing to do research about apokastasis. Even some magazine articles I wrote over 50 years ago are on tentmaker.org. There are numerous other websites about the subject of apokastasis, but in my opinion tentmaker is the best!
Next, David Bentley Hart is one of the world’s leading theologians; he lives and writes mostly here in USAmerica, and is a member of the Orthodox Church; I think the Greek Orthodox Church, but I’m not certain. He has translated much material of the Ante-Nicene Fathers and has written extensively about their teachings about apokastasis. Recently, David Bentley Hart published his newest book, That All Shall Be Saved. That book and his English translation of the New Testament can both be purchased from Amazon. They are both tremendously useful resources I highly recommend!
Another great resource (that was out-of-print for years, but has just recently been re-published) is titled Is Hell Eternal Or Will God’s Plan Fail? by Charles Pridgeon. It was first published in the 1920’s and is an amazing resource, although some of his points are argumentative and out-of-date. It, too, can be purchased from Amazon. It’s a little hard to read, but is solidly biblically based.
Next, we have Gerry Beauchemin’s 2 books, Hope Beyond Hell and Hope For All. They are both excellent primers (the definition of “primer” is “a book teaching the first principles of any subject.”). I’ve purchased and given away hundreds of Gerry’s books. Gerry is also the founder of the Hope For All Fellowship, a group of like-minded people who gather in various ways for fellowship and encouragement. You can “plug into” Hope For All Fellowship’s weekly meeting on the internet; contact Gerry about how and when to plug into this weekly “internet meeting.” When I first introduce anyone to the subject of apokatastasis, I begin by giving them copies of both Gerry’s books. Hope for All Fellowship’s website address is hopeforallfellowship.com.
After giving them copies of Gerry’s books, if the inquirer wants more information, then I give them a copy of Bob Evely’s book, At The End of the Ages. The fourth book I often give people is George Sarris’s book, Heaven’s Doors: Wider Than You Ever Believed. After that, I just listen to what Holy Spirit may be telling me to say or do for the inquirer.
Another little paperback book is a good one to give to people: All In All by A. E. Knoch is published by Concordant Publishing Concern (PO Box 449, Almont, Michigan 48003) which has published much literature about apokatastasis since the early 1900’s. They have a quarterly pamphlet they’ve published all these years which is chock-full of information about apokastasis; every pamphlet since the very beginning of the 1900’s is still available. They have also published a New Testament known as the Concordant Literal New Testament. Write to them for a complete listing of all their literature; you’ll find more than you could ever read in your entire lifetime. In my opinion, they’re sort of a rigid, authoritative fundamentalist group of Jesus believers, but all their writings are solid. Their website is concordant.org.
A man named Michael Phillips recently spent many years translating all of a Scottish Pastor’s writings into “readable” English. The Scottish Pastor was named George McDonald who lived near the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries. He wrote scores of amazing novels about Scotland into which he weaved teachings about apokastasis. You’ve heard about J. R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings) and C. S. Lewis? Both of them regarded George McDonald as their favorite author and mentor. Anyhow, George McDonald’s novels and his sermons are all about apokastasis. If you order any of his materials, make sure they’re translated by Michael Phillips; otherwise, McDonald’s written Scottish brogue is almost impossible to read.
Phillips himself has written some novels; the best one about apokatastasisis is titled Hell and Beyond. It’s part of his trilogy that also includes The Garden At The Edge of Beyond and Heaven and Beyond. Both Gerry Beauchemin and I highly recommend Phillip’s trilogy.
On YouTube, there are some very interesting video presentations by Pastor Don Keathley, entitled The Myth of Hell. Keathley has many other videos, also, on the subject of apokastasis, but the clearest and best teachings are The Myth of Hell he taught to his congregation during Easter season of 2019, so they’re very current. I believe he’s a Pastor in the Dallas, Texas, area. NOTE: Don Keathley has just published a book based on his YouTube messages: The Illusion of Hell available at amazon.com Keathley’s website address is donkeathley.com
In case you’re interested, much of what western believers in Jesus believe today about eternal conscious torment in an ever-burning hell actually came from a famous poem, not from the Bible. An Italian poet named Dante Alighieri wrote a very lengthy poem titled The Inferno in the late 1200’s. The poem sort of “caught on” and spread like wildfire throughout Europe. His poem still influences much of what people believe about hell to this very day. It’s hard reading, but you’ll see what I mean if you take the time to get a paperback copy and read it—in English, of course. Interestingly, most people never read his famous poem right to the end; if they did, they would learn that at the end Dante believed that hell would be emptied out—that people do not remain in Dante’s hell forever!
I’ll mention some of my own material—and then we’re almost done. On this website I have posted about 80+ of my most popular teachings; the teachings specifically related to apokastasis are: Beyond The Far Shores of Time, City of Mystery, Eternal LIFE, Fire!, 4 Views: Who Has the Final Word?, “Good” Good News vs “Bad” Good News, Restoration, Apokatastasis, Apokatastasis Reference Materials, Let There Be Light, and 10 brief teachings, all beginning with the word Hope… All my teachings can be downloaded and printed for free.
On March 6, 2018, God invited me to visit Heaven. I wrote the account of my visit in my most recent book, Heaven: Our Home Sweet Homeland, available from Amazon in softcover, e-book, and hardcover.
Here’s a reference I personally cherish very deeply; in fact, I’ve probably re-read it 10 times or more and I weep with joy almost every time! It’s by John Eldredge, titled All Things New. John Eldredge doesn’t believe fully in apokatastasis, but he really comes close to it in this book.
[NOTE: Eldredge, along with multitudes of others, believes in human “free will,” as he noted in a recent online daily devotional in either January or February 2020. He essentially states that if it weren’t for human free will, he would believe that God will ultimately save every human being. Do humans really have free will? For example, can humans jump over the moon, can humans travel through time, can humans traverse the universe faster than the speed of light, can a human read an animal’s mind, does a finite human really have free will to resist God’s infinite, sovereign, all-powerful will? For example, the Bible teaches in 2 Peter 3: 9 that God’s will is that every human repents and turns to Him. Can a mere, finite human really resist God’s infinite sovereign, all-power-full will for all the ages of time and in eternity? I think not. The entire matter of so-called human free will stands in the way of many earnest people believing in the clear biblical teaching about apokatastasis.]
Then of course, last but not least, there’s The Shack by William Paul Young. As with John Eldredge, Young doesn’t quite believe fully in apokatastasis, but at a recent conference I heard him say: “I’m really close to believing it.”
That’s it. Those are my listing of currently available basic resources (and my comments) for those who want to learn about apokastasis.
Interestingly, I’ve discovered that in my own case and in the cases of many others with whom I have visited about apokatastasis, that once you get even a tiny glimpse of God’s plans and purposes to fully redeem, restore, and reconcile everything and everyone to Himself, then when you go back and read your Bible you will discover anew that from beginning to end it teaches God’s restoration in detail. In fact, as mentioned a few paragraphs above, I’ve written another teaching about that very subject; it’s also posted on this website, titled Restoration. I encourage you to read it also.
Last-minute news flash: January 30, 2020: Gerry Beauchemin just notified me about a website he recently discovered, and has had a conversation with the creator and maintainer of the website; I spent some time a short while ago checking out the website. It’s great! A wonderful resource I’ll be adding to my own resource listing: MercyonAll.org. I encourage you to visit the website and spend a little time there; you can ask to be placed on their e-mail subscription list.
For additional information about this subject, I invite you to read a companion teaching on this website titled Apokatastasis Reference Materials.
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Revised and Updated May 2021