As we begin to look at the biblical and historical theology of hell, we move now to one of two alternate theories. One theory is annihilationism and the second, and the one we will begin studying today, is universalism.

Universalism is the belief that eventually all human beings will be saved. Universalism can be distinguished in between hopeful universalism and convinced universalism. Hopeful universalists “find reason in scripture to be hopeful that everyone will be saved but they do not believe that we can be certain of this.” [1] Convinced universalists are actually certain about it.

Hopeful Universalism
In the last three centuries, there have been many well-known theologians who have expressed the hope that all will be saved. They are impressed with the evidence that convinced universalists cite in defense of their position but see it also to be in tension with other passages that indicate that some will be lost.

Theologians that held or hold this position in hopeful universalism include: [2]

  1. Existentialist theologian Soren Kierkegaard
  2. Pietists including Johann Christoph Blumhardt and his son Christoph Friedrich Bumhardt
  3. F. D Maurice lost his teaching position at King’s College London for his universalism
  4. Kart Barth
  5. Emil Brunner
  6. Catholics Hans Urs von Balthasar and Karl Rahner
  7. Reformed theologian Donald Bloesch and pastor Jan Bonda

1. Global Dictionary of Theology: A Resource for the Worldwide Church, 914.
2. Ibid.

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