Foreword by Bradley Jersak
With great joy, I have for a decade followed Fr. Aiden Kimel as he forged a path of inquiry that unveiled answers, advanced an exploration that yielded discovery, and posited a hope that became deep conviction—for me and in many others. His biblical, historical, and philosophical posts have completely convinced me that the apokatastasis panton (the restoration of all things) is not merely a doctrinally tolerable idea—it is, as Kimel says, “the gospel of Christ’s absolute and unconditional love sung in an eschatological key.”
As he has faithfully posted his treasury of findings, I have come to believe without reserve in Christ’s bold claim that through his Passion he will indeed draw all of humanity and the entire cosmos to himself. For that reason, I now see apokatastasis as intrinsic and indispensable to proclaiming the ancient gospel in this fraught and faltering century.
In Destined for Joy, Kimel has gathered a “best of” collection of his insights that, together, paint a vista I cannot unsee, and wouldn’t ever want to!
Even for those who follow Fr. Aiden’s posts regularly, Destined for Joy is well worth reviewing and having on hand as a definitive resource. The book faithfully and creatively reflects the faith of those great saints of the past (Origen, Macrina, Gregory of Nyssa, Isaac of Nineveh, Maximos the Confessor, Silouan the Athonite, and yes, George MacDonald) and the boldest minds of our era (Sergius Bulgakov, Robert W. Jenson, Thomas Talbott, Ilaria Ramelli, David Bentley Hart, John Behr). It also offers essential and sometimes startling corrections, revealing, for example, how the fifth-century anathemas against Origenism—long thought to have decisively condemned universal salvation—were never conciliar or even synodal. Kimel demonstrates that they amount to nothing but an imperial edict that has no doctrinal authority. He has at last firmly closed the door on centuries of misconception, divorced the anathemas from the Fifth Ecumenical Council, and removed them from the Infernalist arsenal.
But by far, his most powerful contribution to me personally (by accumulated ‘convincement’) was guiding me to this very simple question: Does the New Testament foresee the salvation of all or doesn’t it? Clearly, it does. Repeatedly. Unequivocally. And all the “But what about . . . ?” counterpoints fail to address these Scriptures directly. Regardless of the difficulties we have interpreting judgment texts or harmonizing them with ultimate redemption, Christ and his apostles tell us how it all ends: “God will be all and in all.” But nothing. Full stop. Amen and hallelujah!
The issue of ‘the End’ now boils down to these questions for me:
a. Do the Scriptures require a free and willing faith response to Jesus Christ? Yes! Many times.
b. Do the Scriptures forecast a final judgment? Yes! Many times.
c. Do the Scriptures foresee the salvation of all? Yes! Dozens of times.
How can all three of these statements be true without marginalizing any of the pertinent biblical texts? They can only all work if:
a. Death has been defeated so that a free and willing post-mortem response is possible.
It has been.
b. The judgments of God are restorative and penultimate rather than retributive and ultimate.
c. The human will is healed and freed from its delusions so we can freely respond to perfect Love when we see Christ face to face. I call this a ‘freed will’ response.
It will be.
While we can pile Scripture upon Scripture to verify these truths, I repeat, we have Jesus Christ’s overt claim in John’s Gospel: “If I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.”
And we have the End described in expressly inclusive ways . . . every eye shall see him, every knee shall bow, every tongue will confess, God shall be all and in all. What others regard as exclusive conditions to this outcome, apokatastasis enfolds as the necessary means. The Incarnation, the Cross and Resurrection, faith in Christ, restorative judgment according to the first Christians—these are the means by which the foretold glorious, all-inclusive End will surely come about.
I can make these audacious assertions without presumption because whatever warrant our faith needs to embrace them, Destined for Joy offers in abundance.