One must acknowledge that Barth consistently denies a systematic doctrine of universalism, or of the apokatastasis-that is, any doctrine which attempts to predict the outcome of God’s actions. However, Barth’s emphasis on the sheer freedom of God’s actions cuts both ways: one cannot limit God by predicting that God cannot fail to save all people; but on the other hand it one cannot limit him by saying that he cannot save all people. Consequently, Barth emphasises that we cannot impose limits on God’s love.

Furthermore, Barth’s rethinking of Calvin’s doctrine of election points in the direction of universalism: put very simply, he sees Christ, not humanity as the object of election, so that while previous doctrines of election to salvation and election to damnation and applied them to two seperate groups of people, Barth applies them both to the one, single person of Christ: Christ died for all, and that all have died in him, whether they know it or not. The expected corallary to this would be that Christ rose for all, and that all will rise in him, but Barth never clearly draws that conclusion. (Universal Salvation? The Current Debate, 214, italics theirs)

Morwenna Ludlow