Universal Salvation: Eschatology in the Thought of Gregory of Nyssa and Karl Rahner

Universal Salvation: Eschatology in the Thought of Gregory of Nyssa and Karl Rahner

Universal Salvation: Eschatology in the Thought of Gregory of Nyssa and Karl Rahner

Universal Salvation: Eschatology in the Thought of Gregory of Nyssa and Karl Rahner

Synopsis

For nearly two thousand years Paul's suggestion at the end of 1 Corinthians 15 that God will be 'all in all' has appealed to those who hold a 'wider hope' that eventually no person will be lost from God's love. Clearly, such hope for universal salvation is at variance with most Christian tradition, which has emphasized the possibility, or certainty, of eternal hell. However, a minority of Christian thinkers have advocated the idea and it has provoked much debate in the course of the twentieth century. Responding to this interest, Morwenna Ludlow compares and assesses the arguments for universal salvation by Gregory of Nyssa and Karl Rahner - two influential theologians from very different eras who are less well known for their eschatological views. In this book Dr Ludlow gives an assessment of early Christian eschatology and its effect on modern theology by examining some fundamental questions. Does universal salvation constitute a 'second tradition' of eschatology and how has that tradition developed? What can we learn from Patristic writers such as Gregory of Nyssa? How does one approach Christian eschatology in a modern context?

Excerpt

From the analysis in Chapter 1 of the way in which Gregory uses the word ἀπōκατάστασις it was seen that although the primary meaning of the word is restoration to a perfect state, Gregory also uses it in apparently universalistic contexts. In Chapter 2 the examination of the idea that the resurrection will be a restoration of humanity's spiritually and physically perfect state also suggested that Gregory envisaged the perfectibility and perhaps the actual salvation of all human beings. This chapter will assess whether Gregory's eschatology is indeed universalistic and will then ask whether his arguments for universalism are coherent, given the emphasis which he places on human freedom as a defining characteristic of human nature. The challenge is that it is difficult to see how the most recalcitrant of sinners could be saved without a degree of compulsion from God, which would appear to threaten their freedom.

A Evidence for Gregory's Universalism

The most obvious evidence for Gregory's universalism is in several passages where he directly states that all will be saved, or in which he pointedly refers to the salvation of even the most sinful. However, these passages rarely explain the reasons for Gregory's belief in universal salvation, so it is also necessary to look at other passages which place the belief in context, or which deal with the theological presuppositions of the belief.

i Direct Statements

Perhaps the clearest statement of Gregory's universalism is to be found in De anima et resurrectione. Macrina has set herself the task of supporting her claims about the resurrection with scriptural

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