Rev. Thomas Allin, Anglican Universalist
I am currently preparing a lovely new edition of Thomas Allin's classic text, Universalism Asserted (1st ed., 1888).
Thomas Allin (1838–1909) was an Anglican clergyman from the west of Ireland. In 1877 he moved with his wife, Emily, to Weston-super-Mare on the Somerset coast—not too far from where I live. It was there that he wrote and published his impressive defense of universalism.
In preparing this new edition I have been struck again by how theologically astute Allin was. His work is a model of good Anglican theologizing, organized around the three theological sources of reason, tradition, and Scripture. And he very carefully weaves the three together into an integrated and impressive case for universalism.
His first section offers some devastating philosophical critiques of the traditional notion of hell and of annihilationism. His second section is a very impressive survey of universalism in Christian history, showing just how prevalent it was among the orthodox of the early centuries. The final section opens with a consideration of how the whole of traditional Christian dogmatics fits together more coherently when set within a universalist framework. It then considers, albeit not with the exegetical rigor one may desire, a wide range of universalist texts, before showing how the so-called hell texts are not supports for the Augustinian tradition on hell at all.
Scholarship has moved forward in all of the areas Allin handles, but the advances, for the most part, are consistent with his basic instincts back in the nineteenth century.
I don't know much about this guy—not even what he looked like—but I'd love to have met him. I think he ranks as one of the great nineteenth-century writers on eschatology.