Quaker pastor and author Philip Gulley enjoyed great success from his Harmony book series about a fictional town and its likeable characters. But his latest book, If Grace is True: Why God Will Save Every Person, co-authored with James Mulholland, has many devoted Christian readers questioning his theology and accusing him of heresy. Why? Because both authors have come to the same conclusion separately, believing God will save every person.
If Grace Were True is a challenging book for many Christians, including Quakers. Both authors claim their own personal experience of God’s grace led them to reject the view that God will save some people and others would go to hell. Universalism – the view that all people will be saved, is a reoccurring theme throughout the book.
Many Christian bookstores in Indiana, such as Lifeway Christian Bookstores, Gaither Family Resources, Quaker Hill Bookstore and Lemstone Christian Bookstores to either take his latest book of their shelves or not have it in the first place.
“Lemstone is a franchise that only puts the top 20 percent of all products in our stores,” said Joni Blickendorf, franchise owner of the Carmel Westfield in the Village Park Plaza location in Carmel, IN. “All products go through a screening process in Wheaton, IL and that product was not selected in part due to its theology.” Gaither Family Resources decided not to put the book on the shelf for similar reasons, but continue to sell Gulley’s Harmony Series.
Despite rejection in Christian bookstores, Gulley’s book is doing quite well in secular bookstores such as Borders and Barnes & Nobles as well as through Gulley’s present publisher, Harper San Francisco out of California. Christian bookstores continue to carry his Harmony series of books or will special order them for those interested in reading them.
Gulley’s defense when others reject his book and Universalist theology is that Jesus himself was a Universalist and was concerned with universal concerns.
“He (Jesus) got into trouble for expressing God’s love for all people such as Samaritans, women…clearly what we have is a person who had a high regard for those person and groups, subsets in societies that culture rejected,” said Gulley.
Gulley also states that he is sad that people who need to read his book are rejecting it. Although some in the Quaker community have rejected him and wanted his credentials stripped, he says his own church and local congregation have been very supportive. He has received letters across the United States from those who found comfort in reading his book.
Both Mulholland and Gulley say their present belief stemmed from the result of their experiences in conducting funerals. As they comforted those left behind, they felt God speaking to them and concluded separately that God’s grace is unlimited and unconditional. They state in their book, “If God is a loving Father, his love will persist until every one of his children is reconciled to him.”
Philip Gulley graduated with honors from Christian Theological Seminary. He is a Quaker minister and the best-selling author of Front Porch Tales, Sings and Wonders and Christmas in Harmony.
James Mulholland, author of Praying Like Jesus, is a theologian with ecumenical experience in the American Baptist and United Methodist denominations. He presently pastors a Quaker meeting. He lives in Indianapolis where he is involved in a wide variety of social ministries.
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