Who Is Chosen? Thomas Humphries’ New Textbook Explores Four Theological Views On Salvation

One of the central concerns of Christian theology is that of soteriology, questions concerning salvation. Who will be saved? How will they have saved? How many people will be saved? Why will someone not be saved?

The Eschatological Judgment of Christ. Photo of book by Henry Karlson
The Eschatological Judgment of Christ. Photo of book by Henry Karlson

In my recently published book, The Eschatological Judgement of Christ,  I examined the Hans Urs von Balthasar’s take on these questions. Many have misunderstood his position as that of universalism, that because he hoped all would be saved, he believed all would be saved. In reality, his position is much more complex. He believed it is possible that all would be saved, but he also believed, because of human free will, that some would resist salvation and as they do so, they would face the eschatological judgment of Christ and end up among those who are said to be damned.  Balthasar ended up agnostic in regards to the question of whether all or some would be saved, and he believed that this could be the only Christian positions this side of the eschaton. My book serves to introduce and explain Balthasar’s position, correcting the misunderstanding which has been spread about his beliefs.

Cover For Who Is Chosen from Wipf and Stock
Cover For Who Is Chosen from Wipf and Stock

Balthasar certainly is a major figure in modern Christian theology. His eschatological position, however, is one of many possible ones which could be held by a Christian. Historically, many answers have been given, some which have attained greater acceptance than others. For those who have not examined the basic theological contours surrounding these questions, I would recommend Thomas Humphries’s new, short textbook,  Who Is Chosen? In it, he gives the basic positions of four major Christian theologians from Christian history: Origen, St. Augustine, Calvin and Balthasar, explaining how and why they came to the conclusions which they did. The book does not seek to answer the question for the reader as much as introduce the important contours of historical theology, showing the strengths and weaknesses of each of the positions.  Thomas Humphries offers a good, concise, summary of each figure, providing the reader with little to no knowledge about them with enough background to grasp their position as well as offering others basic reminders of the various positions and how they relate to each other.  The work is written for students in mind, but it will be a good resource for anyone wanting insight on each of the four theologians at their fingertips, with enough quotations from primary sources that an interested reader will know where to turn if they want to read more from a particular theologian’s oeuvre.

 

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