I was recently asked by a serious, but still developing, student of Universalism what five books I would recommend. That’s a hard question to answer. While I’ve been reading for a long time on Universalism, the fact is that I’m a very slow reader and it takes forever for me to work something book-length, which is probably why so much of my reading has been from reports, journals and newspapers.
And my have shifted over time. And so many theological universalists writing today start from a different perspective than the liberal tradition of churched Universalism. Or is it just being ornery?
But I would definitely start with these:
- Anne Lee Bressler. Universalist Movement in America, 1770-1880. But it is so blasted expensive. See here for access to the early chapters, and if they’re compelling there’s always the library.
- Stephen Marini. Radical Sects of Revolutionary New England. Supports the ornery thesis.
- Ernest Cassara, ed. Universalism in America. Each time I go back to this, the less I like it but it’s still the best one-volume documentary anthology available.
- George Hunston Williams. American Universalism. Slim, but valuable.
- James Relly. Union. What got John Murray started. I put it up here.
I’ve avoided the works where Unitarians recast Universalism in their own image because it’s so groovy, Kenneth Patton’s manifestos and the drearier institutional tomes. Dear readers, other suggestions? Please state why you recommend.