Thursday, June 14, 2007

Can a Lutheran be a Universalist? (Part 2)

It seems to me that evangelicals attempting the move toward universalism have a longer, harder road to travel than do Lutherans. With a salvation theology that is either Calvinist or Arminian, evangelicals come to the issue facing major theological obstacles.

Calvinist theology is committed to a limited atonement, thus ruling out any means of salvation for those God did not choose to love. Arminian theology, on the other hand, is committed to man’s ability to choose to love God, placing salvation (or at least the final, most decisive piece of it) in the hands of unreliable people. Under such a system it is simply not plausible that all people would choose God.

Lutherans, on the other hand, have neither of these obstacles to contend with.

Lutherans already embrace a universal atonement. Unlike Calvinist theology, Lutherans believe that God loves everyone, Christ died for all, nobody has been elected or predestined to damnation and God wants all to be saved.

Lutherans also reject the doctrine that man chooses to love God of his own free will. Unlike Arminian theology, they believe repentance, faith and salvation is a gift of God - entirely a work of God’s grace. There is therefore no theological basis to believe God cannot (or does not want to) give this gift to all people.

Without these two theological obstacles, a Lutheran seems well down the road to universalism without even working up a sweat. But there are still two other obstacles in the way.

The first is the traditional teaching of the church. The second is the Biblical text.

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