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Balthasar on the Christian Hope for Universalism

“Just as God so loved the world that he completely handed over his Son for its sake, so too the one whom God has loved will want to save himself only in conjunction with those who have been created with him, and he will not reject the share of penitential suffering that has been given him for the sake of the whole. He will do so in Christian hope, the hope for the salvation of all men, which is permitted to Christians alone. Thus, the Church is strictly enjoined to pray “for all men” (and as a result of which to see her prayer in this respect as meaningful and effective); and it is “good and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved…, for there is one God and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself over as a ransom for all” (1 Tim 2:1-6), who, raised up on the Cross “will draw all men to himself” (Jn 12:32), because he has recived there a “power over all flesh” (Jn 17:2), in order to be “a Savior of all men” (1 Tim 4:10), “in order to take away the sins of all” (Heb 9:28); “for the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men” (Tit 2:11), which is why the Church “looks to the advantage of all men, in order that they may be saved” (1 Cor 10:33). This is why Paul (Rom 5:15-21) can say that the balance between sin and grace, fear and hope, damnation and redemption, and Adam and Christ has been tilted in favor of grace, and indeed so much that (in relation to redemption) the mountain of sin stands before an inconceivable superabundance of redemption: not only have all been doomed to (the first and the second) death in Adam, while all have been freed from death in Christ, but the sins of all, which assault the innocent one and culminate in God’s murder, have brought an inexhaustible wealth of absolution down upon all. Thus: “God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all” (Rom 11:32).”

–Hans Urs von Balthasar, Love Alone Is Credible (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 97-98.


  1. In view of this topic, you may want to join in the “bloggersation” that recently began on Christianity, salvation, and religious pluralism.

    Thursday, February 21, 2008 at 12:39 pm | Permalink
  2. Rachel wrote:

    Great quote! It never ceases to amaze me how many people think that we shouldn’t hope for universalism…like it’s too good to be true or something. Lots of people think that the Holy Trinity has some sort of hell quota. ;) I’m with Balthasar one this one.

    Thursday, February 21, 2008 at 12:52 pm | Permalink
  3. Halden wrote:

    Yeah, me too Rachel. Might even want to take it a little further!

    Thursday, February 21, 2008 at 12:58 pm | Permalink
  4. Ben wrote:

    I do believe with von B that we should dare to hope that all men be saved, but what then of people who have totally rejected God’s love?

    Thursday, February 21, 2008 at 4:46 pm | Permalink
  5. Hill wrote:

    I think it is possible to hope in the possibility of the salvation of all men while giving due appreciation to the preaching of Christ which seems to suggest rather directly that when that day comes, some will be goats and others sheep. I think the ultimate message that I’ve taken from the most compelling Catholic perspectives on Universalism is that our hope is an aporetic one that can only come on the other side of an deep appreciation of the possibility of eternal alienation from God. Anything less is simply not scriptural.

    Thursday, February 21, 2008 at 8:40 pm | Permalink
  6. Freder1ck wrote:

    For me, hope means exactly this: that when I think of my friends and neighbors I give a damn (as it were) about them. I share what I have found with them. It doesn’t depend on me but I’m willing to announce what I’ve met to them. Anything else (universalism, double predestination, etc) is presumption. God has hoped in me – so who am I to write anybody else off as hopeless?

    Thursday, February 21, 2008 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

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