Article Title

An Eschatology of Hope

Document Type

Research Paper


In lieu of an abstract, below is the essay's first paragraph.

"Looking at these two passages from the New Testament, one wonders how—if at all—they can be reconciled. In Paul’s letter to Timothy, we read that God “desires everyone to be saved,” whereas in the Gospel of Matthew we hear the words of Jesus Himself condemning “those at his left” to eternal suffering in Hell. These passages are only a selection of readings from the New Testament which describe the contrasting destinies of humankind; they pose the question as to whether “all,” will be saved, or only “some.” This is indeed a problem; one which countless Christians have articulated—and attempted to solve—throughout Christianity’s history. In far more recent years, Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar has surveyed much of the intellectual history of the Church and has suggested that the judgment of whether “some” or “all” are saved is entirely beyond the reach of theological inquiry. Balthasar argues convincingly that— standing forever under God’s judgment—we have no ability to predict, with certainty, the ultimate outcome of God’s saving act in Jesus Christ. However, Balthasar contends that all Christians have a duty to hope for the salvation of all humankind, in the absence of such certain knowledge. In order to defend Balthasar’s conviction, I will first attempt to articulate the views of the two main opposing schools of thought: those who believe that all will be saved (whom I have dubbed the Universalists) and those who believe that only some will be saved (whom Balthasar named the Infernalists). I will then briefly encapsulate Balthasar’s own Christology and Soteriology in order to illustrate how Balthasar reaches his own via media between these schools. Finally, I will argue that Balthasar’s own take on the “some or all” question avoids many of the pitfalls of the other two positions, and ought to find a welcoming home in contemporary Christian thought."

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