Yes, universal salvation. In Hans Urs von Balthasar’s book Dare We Hope “That All Men Be Saved”? he answers yes, we may hope that all men are saved. The NOR has upended that hope many times (see: David Watt, “Is Hell Closed Up & Boarded Over?” Feb. 1999; Regis Scanlon, “The Inflated Reputation of Hans Urs von Balthasar,” March 2000; Anne Barbeau Gardiner, “The Dubious Adrienne von Speyr,” Sept. 2002; Frederick W. Marks, “The Broad & Comfortable Road…,” Jul.-Aug. 2004; New Oxford Notes, “The Most Important Question in Life,” Nov. 2004; Abbot Joseph, “Your Final Destination,” Jan. 2006; New Oxford Notes, “Plan A & Plan B,” Sept. 2006).
Now in Communio (Fall 2005), the premier journal for whooping up Balthasar, there is an article by Juan M. Sara called “Descensus ad Inferos, Dawn of Hope: Aspects of the Theology of Holy Saturday in the Trilogy of Hans Urs von Balthasar.” For all intents and purposes, he takes it beyond “hope,” saying confidently that all men are indeed saved. His 31-page article relies on Balthasar (The Glory of the Lord, Theo-Drama, and Theo-Logic) and Balthasar’s sidekick Adrienne von Speyr (who, by the way, delivered private revelations to Balthasar).
Sara quotes Speyr: “The point of hell is not to kill love. The point of hell is to establish the kingdom of love.” Sara says that “hell is the Father’s ‘preserve’….” You see where this is going. Actually, Hell is Satan’s preserve.
Descensus ad Inferos refers to Christ’s descent into Hell on Holy Saturday. Sara says that “Balthasar contemplates how Christ in his descent ‘sees’ the whole sin of the world, separated from the sinner…. and, in so doing, assumes it, takes possession of it, and conquers it.” We went back to Balthasar’s Theo-Drama (Ignatius Press), and there it is: “Hell would be what is finally condemned by God; what is left in it is sin, which has been separated from the sinner by the work of the Cross” (italics added). How lovely! Ignatius Press, which does publish good books, is the principal publisher of Balthasar and Speyr in English.
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