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Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved? With a Short Discourse on Hell Paperback – November 1, 1988

4.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press; First American edition (November 1, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898702070
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898702071
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 4.8 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #166,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This is one of my two favorite books written by Hans Urs von Balthasar. The Catholic Church asserts that certain individuals are in Heaven, but never declares a specific individual to be in Hell. In fact, the Church still hopes that in their final moments of life, even the greatest sinners such as Judas Iscariot and Adolph Hitler would have repented of their terrible sins.
In this book, Hans Urs von Balthasar pushes the hope that in their final moments of life, all souls will repent and make their peace with God. He hopes all will be saved, not because all deserve Heaven, but rather because all will come to know the great mercy and forgiveness of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Nevertheless, von Balthasar HOPES for the salvation of all. He does not maintain all will indeed be saved, but rather this is his hope. Several times in the work, von Balthasar reminds the reader that Hell remains a very real possibility, and that man must always keep this possibility before his eyes.
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Format: Paperback
. . .by the late Catholic theologian Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar -- but arguably one of the most important.
Critics have unfairly suggested that Fr. von Balthasar is either denying the existence of a literal hell, or denying that anyone is/has been/will be located there. These critics miss the point entirely.
My (extremely brief) summary of Fr. von Balthasar's argument does not concern the existence of hell but rather of the duty of the Christian, which is to fervently pray and hope that all men ARE eventually saved; that the love of Christ CAN eventually reach and be accepted by all; and that knowing through Holy Writ that some will NOT be saved and will choose against God does not free the Christian from the duty of praying for such persons.
In today's troubling times, von Balthasar's message is of timeless importance. To dare to hope and to dare to pray that the love of God will melt the heart of even the most heinous of sinners is a difficult duty. Indeed, such a reminder is liable to make many people angry. But it is, nevertheless, a reminder which needs to be made.
This book is less technical than much of von Balthasar's work, and thus should be much more widely accessible to the informed layman.
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"We are allowed to hope that no human is eternally damned. This is a founded theological hope, it is not a certitude. Indeed each person must existentially live with the real possibility that he or she might be doomed. The thesis itself is prompted, we believe, by mercy." Balthasar

Hell and Salvation:
The Church's teaching on Hell has been generally avoided by Christian theologians, who believe that the Lord's own desire that everyone be saved 1Tim 2:4. Hans Urs Cardinal von Balthasar is a notable exception of this attitude, who amended Dare We Hope "That All Men Be Saved"? With a Short Discourse on Hell (1988).

Apokatastasis, Restoration of all things:
Since the soul is essentially rational, argued Origen, it will eventually be restored to the divine truth, salvation will follow. The word Origen used to describe this process of universal salvation "restoration of all things," was apokatastasis. Prompted by his idea of the pre-existence of souls, Origen may have come to view the mission of the temporal Church as "a gathering up of all lost, fallen souls into a unity resembling that which subsisted primordially." Origen could not rationalize the standard Christian idea that certain souls will inevitably fail to achieve salvation, and be plunged into eternal torment. Apokatastasis, may be viewed as restoration, the culmination of gathering souls in a unity of faith. "Origen held a firm conviction that not a single rational being will be lost to the darkness of ignorance and sin. Even the most recalcitrant sinner, he argued, will eventually attain salvation." Edward Moore.
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This was a great book which helped me clarify my position on this important doctrine which directly bears on the issue of salvation, eschatology, and the Gospel itself. In this book the notable Catholic theologian Balthasar outlines his position on hell in which he takes issue with much of church tradition, especially Augustine, the Scholastics and Calvin. According to Balthasar their egregious error was their certainity that most or much of humanity was and is damned. How do they know this? Is this the unassailable conclusion received from the Scriptures?

Balthasar argued that it is not. Yes, the Scriptures speak about eternal damnation and Jesus himself gives grave warnings that damnation is a real threat that may befall individuals. It would be improper to try and explain away these passages in scripture with a universalistic picture in mind. Where Balthasar differs from most conservatives (both Protestant and Catholic) is that he also claims that it would be improper to explain away the universalistic texts with an Augustinian view of hell in mind. In the New Testament there are two series of texts which are irreconcilable in one large scale interpretative framework without using one set to undermine what the other is saying. Since the 'hell-fire' texts come more easily to mind to me (and probably many Christians) I will quote below some of the universalistic texts:

"God...desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all." (1st Tim. 2:4)

"[Christ is] the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe." (1st Tim.
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