Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Hoping for the salvation of all

The twentieth-century Swiss theologian and cardinal-designate, Hans Urs von Balthasar, is known for many theological insights and proposals, perhaps the most controversial being his assertion that we should hope for the salvation of all men. This is controversial in the opinion of some because they fear that it tends towards universalism, i.e. the assertion that all men in fact will be saved. Also, some believe that Scripture and Tradition indicate that we know that some people either are or will be damned. I've discussed this in the past on this blog, and it's come up recently at Insight Scoop and Evangelical Catholicism. In short, I see no problem with hoping and praying for the salvation of all, as long as it's made clear that this is not an assertion that we in fact know that all men will be saved. Such has been my position for some time.

Today my confidence in this position was bolstered when I came across the following in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in the context of the discussion of the theological virtue of hope: "In hope, the Church prays for 'all men to be saved' [1 Tim 2:4]" (1821). [For you sticklers, the Latin doesn't really differ: "Spe orat Ecclesia 'omnes homines [...] salvos fieri' (1 Tim 2,4)."

Umm... a pretty strong endorsement of von Balthasar's view, no?

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