Karl Barth the Arminian?

Okay, that would be a stretch! I’m not claiming that Barth was an Arminian in any classical or historical sense of Arminianism. He was a member, minister and theologian of the Swiss Reformed Church. Much of his theology resonates well with classical Reformed theology. However, in places, he broke decisively with especially “high federal Calvinism” (especially Beza and those who followed him).

I’ve been reading a lot of Barth’s Church Dogmatics lately. I’ve read most of CD before, but for various reasons I’m going back and revisiting portions of it. Whenever I dip into Barth I find some surprises. (I’m tempted to say of Barth and even CD what a medieval bishop of Spain said of Augustine’s works: “Anyone who says he has read all of it is a liar!” When reading the fine print portions of CD it’s so difficult to read all of it. The eyes wander down the page looking for “the main point” and miss so much. It’s kind of like reading the Bible and skimming the “begats” and then claiming you read “the whole Bible.”)

I always find reading Barth and especially CD rewarding which is why I make myself return to it time and again–even when it’s inconvenient and I’d rather be reading something new that I haven’t read before. But, so often, when reading something “new” (in theology) I find myself saying “Oh, Barth said that” or “Barth would reject that.” For me, CD is a kind of baseline in modern theology. It’s not the Bible, of course, but it is by far the best systematic theology ever written. Which is not to say (why do I have to say this?) that I agree with all of it.

It’s always dangerous to cherry pick quotes from Barth to prove a point–about what Barth believed. Here’s why. As soon as you do that, someone else will come at you with “But Barth ALSO said…” which is the opposite of what you quoted or at least the point you were making about Barth’s theology with the quote. Barth wrote so much, even in CD (thirteen huge volumes written over many years!) that you can find almost anything somewhere there.

Recently I was re-reading CD II/2 The Doctrine of God and focusing my attention (or a reason I won’t get into right now) on a very long, fine print excursus (pp. 458-506!) about Judas. The issue at hand is whether Judas was elect or rejected by God. Barth makes some amazing points about that such as that Judas was still counted as one of “The Twelve” even after his betrayal and eventual replacement. Eventually I may write something here about Barth’s view of Judas and his possible salvation in spite of his betrayal of Jesus and suicide.

Toward the end of that excursus about Judas Barth talks about Judas’ representation of all sinful people who reject God. Now, in order to understand the very brief quote I’m going to, you must understand that the consensus of most Barth scholars (in my experience, anyway) is that he did not believe in free will. Some, perhaps most, believe Barth believed God programmed everything that would happen in world history from all eternity. Barth was certainly a strong believer in God’s sovereignty and did play down human free will as unable to resist the will of God (at least to the bitter end).

Here is what Barth says about Judas: “He decisively confirmed that the world of men into which God sent His Son is the kingdom of Satan: the kingdom of misused creaturely freedom; the kingdom of enmity to the will and resistance to the work of its Creator.” (p. 501) Sure, some Calvinists say the same but mean something entirely different from what Arminians mean by it. (This is something Arminians rely on as our theodicy!) But they have to immediately surround it with all kinds of qualifications that kill it with a thousand deaths (e.g., compatibilist free will). I don’t think that’s what Barth does or would do. Given the surrounding context, it seems clear to me that he believed sin and evil and all their consequences stem from creaturely misuse of free will and that God’s will is not being done in and through it.

The excursus in question (about Judas) is contained in a very long section of CD about “The Election of God.” As anyone knows who has studied Barth’s doctrine of election, it’s quite different from the double predestination of high, federal Calvinism. According to Barth (at risk of over simplifying for lack of space and time), Jesus Christ is the “elect and reprobate” (or “elect and rejected”) man and all others are elect in him. He bore the rejection of everyone. (I could cite numerous passages to prove that, but here I am assuming readers have some familiarity with Barth’s doctrine of election, so I’ll just leave it at that.) So, for Barth, there is no dualism of human persons–some elect and some reprobate. There is simply a universality of election.

But what about those who reject the grace of God in Jesus Christ? Is that even possible? On the one hand, Barth says no. Barth says of Judas and every human person that “The possibility of…saying No is taken from him, together with the possibility of again seeking to make Jesus powerless in the face of the superior power of men. … It is man who is now made powerless in face of the overwhelming power of Jesus.” (p. 501) Is that Calvinism or at least inamissable grace (“eternal security”)?

Remember, we’re talking about Judas, the one person who, it would seem, must be reprobate. Barth includes this lengthy excursus about Judas precisely because he is a “test case” of God’s grace and power and human weakness in the face of God’s grace and power. To the bitter end, so it would seem, Judas was an enemy of God. And yet…in this excursus Barth makes absolutely clear that Judas’ betrayal of Jesus and rejection of God’s grace could not possibly nullify his election in Jesus Christ. “The grace of Jesus Christ is too powerful.” (p. 477)

Did/does Judas have free will, then? Or was/is he a puppet in God’s hands, determined for salvation regardless of his own decisions and free actions? On the one hand, Barth says “the concept of election is expressly applied to him.” (p. 504) There can be no doubt that, in these pages of fine print, Barth is saying that Judas, and every other sinner, is elected by God for salvation in Jesus Christ. Yet, in a small but very important statement on pages 504-505 Barth says something rather startling–especially to anyone who thinks Barth is a strict monergist who believed in irresistible grace.

Speaking about those who reject the grace of God in Jesus Christ Barth wrote that “They exist, as described in I Pet. 3:19, like the spirits in prison to whom Christ descended to bring them the kerygma. It is true that they are rejected, spirits in prison, but it is even more true that Christ has entered their prison, that they have become the object of His kerygma, that it is said of them, too: ‘God did not spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all.’ Whatever their future may be, it will take place under the power of the proclamation of this handing-over, in the situation which is not merely kept open by this proclamation, but is kept open in the wholly disparate relationship of the two powers.” (By “the two powers” Barth meant God’s grace and the human person’s free will.)

There seems to be only one reasonable interpretation of this. Barth was thinking of hell something along the lines of C. S. Lewis’ drab city in The Great Divorce. That is, as a painful refuge where people are allowed to escape the fellowship with God bought for them by Jesus on the cross if they insist. But even there, Barth says, they cannot escape entirely. The gospel will be proclaimed to them there also. In other words, God respects their free will but will never give up on them entirely. They are saved, but God will not force them to enjoy their salvation.

Now some Barth scholars will no doubt jump in here and accuse me of over-literalizing Barth. They will say, and I cannot prove them wrong, that in this passage Barth is not talking about hell, as a literal place, but about the sinners’ temporal, this-worldly, existence in denial of the truth about themselves which is that they belong to God. It doesn’t matter to my point. My point is that implicitly, if not explicitly, Barth was affirming free will. The misuse of free will brought about the fall (whether a literal, historical one or a universal, existential one, it doesn’t matter) which was not God’s will (except his permissive will). Sinners’ continuing misuse of free will may keep them from enjoying the benefits of Christ’s atoning life, death and resurrection. God will not force them to experience and live in their own new being in Jesus Christ.

If this sounds familiar, it’s exactly what (I think) Rob Bell was trying to suggest in Love Wins. We had that discussion months ago. Love wins, Barth says, by saving everyone but (!) allowing people to “opt out” and not experience their salvation. They are objectively saved, but subjectively not saved. Free will makes the difference.

This is precisely what classical Arminianism says. Christ died for all, all are included in God’s salvific will and provision in Jesus Christ, but people are allowed to reject it. Where Barth goes beyond classical Arminianism (and Bell, too, so it seems) is in saying that God’s self-proclamation and proffered opportunity for salvation will continue forever–even for those who stubbornly reject Jesus Christ.

Calling Barth an Arminian is quite a stretch, but I think it is safe to say there is significant common ground. Arminius also, like Barth, began the decrees of God with the election of Jesus Christ. Both (apparently) believed in the possibility of universal salvation because of what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross. Both believed God gives people the freedom, free choice, to accept or reject that salvation subjectively.

Perhaps a better way of saying it is that, in significant ways, Barth came down more on the side of Arminianism than Calvinism. He affirmed total depravity and unconditional election, but rejected limited atonement and irresistible grace. And his “unconditional election” is of Jesus Christ first and foremost and others, all, secondarily. Arminians say that conditional, individual election is of those who believe. But, structurally, there is great common ground between Barth and classical Arminianism on some crucial issues.

  • Norman

    The idea of universal salvation beyond this physical life in which Free Will is presently exercised seems to be an inconsequential philosophical exercise practically speaking. Of what real-world use is a theology that is only theoretically applied in the afterlife. One just as well discus how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

  • http://notdarkyet-commentary.blogspot.com/ Charles Kinnaird

    Very interesting post! To your point about no one reading all of Barth and comparison with Augustine — I have noticed how many people from very disparate backgrounds and view points end up quoting Augustine. I see the same can be said of Barth.

    To the point of Judas’ election vs rejection — one of the ironies, it seems to me, for those who believe that the drama of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was necessary for our salvation is that Judas played a pivotal role in bringing that about. If he was a co-conspirator, he was a co-conspirator in our salvation. I suppose the same can be said of Pontius Pilate and all who took part in the execution: they were all playing a role in our salvation and yet we condemn those who took part in it. And if it is our sins that made Christ’s sacrifice necessary, should Judas be any further from salvation than we are? Then on the other hand, it is a terrible thing to think of people taking part in Christ’s crucifixion. It’s one of those things that gets more confusing the more I think about it.

    • rogereolson

      When Jesus prayed “Father, forgive them…” to whom was he referring? Only the soldiers who actually crucified him? Why would that be the case? It raises some interesting questions as you note.

      • James Petticrew

        I am presuming it will be published by Beacon Hill and having taken many dogmatics courses with Tom I can assure you it won’t be Calvinistic in any way. I suspect he will take a Christological approach. He recently gave some academic lectures on the Holy Trinity and Holiness which I presume contained material which will make it’s way into the final work. I know Tom is pretty critical of the 19 th century American holiness movement and it’s teaching on sanctification so it will probably differ in that area from previosly published theologies. Expect more emphasis on Wesley but as a theological mentor not guru. You can catch Toms lectures here, some great patristic stuff particularly on the atonement

        http://www.livestream.com/ntcmanchester

  • James Petticrew

    Dr Tom Noble of Nazarene Theological Seminary is writing a new systematic theology for the denomination, Tom studied under one of the Torrances at Edinburgh and is very influenced by Barth so this new work might have some interesting new cross over points between Barth and Arminianism

    • rogereolson

      I look forward to reading it. Please let me know when it is published. Do you know who the publisher will be? Beacon Hill, perhaps? I wonder how it will differ from the Nazarene systematic theologies previously written (Wiley, Grider, Dunning)? I hope it’s not Calvinistic in any way. :)

      • James Petticrew

        rogereolson says:
        November 5, 2012 at 1:12 pm
        When Jesus prayed “Father, forgive them…” to whom was he referring? Only the soldiers who actually crucified him? Why would that be the case? It raises some interesting questions as you note.

        Reply
        James Petticrew says:
        November 5, 2012 at 1:31 pm
        Your comment is awaiting moderation.

        I am presuming it will be published by Beacon Hill and having taken many dogmatics courses with Tom I can assure you it won’t be Calvinistic in any way. I suspect he will take a Christological approach. He recently gave some academic lectures on the Holy Trinity and Holiness which I presume contained material which will make it’s way into the final work. I know Tom is pretty critical of the 19 th century American holiness movement and it’s teaching on sanctification so it will probably differ in that area from previosly published theologies. Expect more emphasis on Wesley but as a theological mentor not guru. You can catch Toms lectures here, some great patristic stuff particularly on the atonement

        http://www.livestream.com/ntcmanchester

        Reply

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  • Frank Viola

    Great post, Roger. What’s interesting is that one can find “Arminian statements” in Calvin’s works even and “Reformed statements” in Wesley’s works.

    Those systems aren’t as airtight when it comes to some of the original writings of the movers and shakers of both theologies. I think this is a testament to the fact that Scripture can’t easily be put into any human system. Hints of that truth bleeds out in various places when one reads the best theologians and their writings. So it seems to me, anyway.

    On another note: your statement – “Love wins, Barth says, by saving everyone but (!) allowing people to “opt out” and not experience their salvation” – was this not Clark Pinnock’s view? That all are saved *unless* someone specifically turns their back on and rejects it?

    Thx.

    fv

    Psalm 115:1

    • rogereolson

      I think it was Clark’s view–and that of many other Arminian, progressive evangelicals and “evangelical Calvinists.” Sure, I can find Arminian-sounding statements in Calvin and Calvinist-sounding statements in Wesley, but in both cases they must be interpreted in the wider context of everything else they wrote. I know of some Calvinists who think Charles Wesley, if not John, was a closet Calvinist because of his heavy emphasis on depravity (bondage to sin) and grace in songs like And Can It Be. But they don’t know Arminian theology well or what Wesley meant by poetic references to prevenient grace (e.g., “Thine eye diffused a quicking ray”).

    • James Petticrew

      Frank I would be interested in what you consider “Calvinistic” statements in Wesley’s works, he certainly said that he differed very little with Calvin when it came to justification by faith but I think that has more to do with them both standing in the Protestant tradition rather than Wesley specifically agreeing with an aspect of Calvinism. Any specific references in mind ?

  • http://theologyoutofbounds.wordpress.com/ Darren

    Professor Olson: You’ve done a fine job here pointing out the common ground that Arminians ought to find in Barth’s doctrine of election, but without claiming him as a closet Arminian (which I have seen done before)! As a struggling young Arminian reading CD II/2 for the first time, I found it incredibly liberating to realize that, by and large, Barth was transcending the old debates between “free will” and “predestination.” He does so first by prioritizing Jesus Christ as the elected one and the reprobate one; and second by suggesting that even the definitive decision of God for the redemption of creatures is not without the element of the creature’s receptivity to her new state — while, on the other hand, the creature’s rejection of her new state may not finally be decisive.

    What I appreciate so much of the ways in which Barth thinks both with and beyond the tradition here is that the theological categories of “election” and “free will” are, in a sense, cut from salvation — or at least no longer synonymous with it. To be elect in Christ is not necessarily to be “saved” in the sense that we tend to understand it (as a black and white “in or out”). On the other hand, that the creature has a real and true free will does not necessarily mean that she is able to opt out of God’s reconciliation of the world with Himself. Distancing these often-argued loci from salvation itself can be extraordinarily liberating.

  • http://none Henrik Frandsen

    Dear Professor Roger E. Olson,
    In vain I for a long time have tried to communicate with you concerning an Arminian problem. Therefore I am now using this opportunity to reach you:
    First: I do not regard Karl Barth as a genuine Arminian theologian, i.e. from my point of view Barth was too much of a Calvinist to be a real Arminian. But Barth was one the way towards the true Evangelical light.
    Secondly: Today there seems to be a Molinistic Mafia, trying to make Jacob Arminius a Cryopto-Molinist, in spite of evident testimonies by Arminius’ contemporaries, and in spite of the essence of the works by Arminius himself. So, I appeal to you, hoping you shall refute the inventions of this Molinistic Mafia.
    Sincerely yours,
    Henrik Frandsen,
    research-scholar concerning the relationship between Niels Hemmingsen (1513-1600) and Jacob Arminius (ca. 1559-1609)

    • rogereolson

      I have the material you sent me. It’s in a pile of other things people have sent me to read and do something with. I’ll do my best to get to it eventually. I agree with you that Arminius was not consistently a Molinist even though he said some things that can be interpreted that way.

  • http://dkraft5@satx.rr.com Kathy Kraft

    I stumbled on your thoughtful site accidentally; I am no biblical scholar, but would like to share a perception that I have. I consider myself a Christian (plain ol’ Lutheran) & am interested in doctrine as educational not dogmatic. I believe in applying rational thought to the Bible and in so doing do not accept that it is the actual word of God but a compilation of writings of men attempting to explain faith in mere words. For me it teaches the over-arching concept of how Christians should behave in relation to the world. I cannot, however, square my belief in a ‘gentle’ Christianity with the extreme intolerance and frankly hateful rhetoric regarding gays, other religions, choice, and so on that I hear and read daily from fundamentalists. Jesus was a loving, tolerant soul; how has evangelical Christianity become a lightening rod for extremists who are fanatically intolerant of others?

    • rogereolson

      What do you mean by “fanatically intolerant?” Does believing some things are sin and naming them as such make on “fanatically intolerant?”

  • Brian

    This was a really interesting post to read as someone really interested in Karl Barth’s theology. I’ve heard people say (Bruce McCormack) that Barth had some affinities with open theism with his Boethian view of providence. Do you find this to be the case in Barth’s theology?

    • rogereolson

      Barth did talk about God’s “risk” in CD IV/1. But McCormack’s take on this would strongly conflict with those (like Moltmann) who Barth’s was an “epiphany religion” (where revelation is merely the unveiling of timeless realities).

  • http://www.simmondsfam.com/blog/faith/ Peter

    “Love wins, Barth says, by saving everyone but (!) allowing people to ‘opt out’ and not experience their salvation. They are objectively saved, but subjectively not saved. Free will makes the difference.

    This is precisely what classical Arminianism says. Christ died for all, all are included in God’s salvific will and provision in Jesus Christ, but people are allowed to reject it.”

    Roger, what does “objectively saved” mean, and does classical Arminianism teach this?
    (Although I don’t think I understand Barth’s quotation it reminds me of Greg Boyd saying that when Jesus said on the cross “Father forgive them” at that instant all mankind was forgiven of their sins.)

    • rogereolson

      I do think that is what Barth believed. I have written an article about Barth’s universalism and it (Barth’s universalism) is more complicated than most people think. They say the devil is in the details. Well, for Barth, the complications are in the fine print (e.g., ten plus pages of it in CD II/2 about Judas!) Barth does say that in Jesus Christ all people are forgiven. But, he also allows that many live against that and are not yet fully saved (my words) because they continue to prefer the lie to the truth. I still cannot find anywhere where Barth says right out that eventually hell will be empty (like Moltmann does say).

      • Matt

        How can I get a hold of that article?

        • rogereolson

          It’s being reviewed by a theology journal. I’ll mention it here when (if) it’s published. If no journal accepts it for publication, I’ll post it here.

  • Steve Rogers

    One group says only those whom God chooses are saved. Another group says only those who decide to choose God are saved. One view makes God an arbitrary and cruel sovereign. The other view holds out for the existence of a large group of people who, in defiance of all evidence, will continue to choose contrary to their own well-being. Which, as Talbot has pointed out, is the very definition of mental defect, if not outright insanity and begs the question of how accountable for themselves do we want to make those so impaired? Barth and many others are not satisfied with these options and have made a compelling case for an alternative. In my view, love wins only when all that was “lost” is sought and saved. That would include Judas and me.

    • rogereolson

      My thesis is that Barth operates with two distinct meanings of “salvation.” One is purely objective and everyone is included in it because of Jesus Christ (the elect and only reprobate man). The other is subjective and includes only those who come to know and in some way embrace their election in Jesus Christ. The “excluded,” “rejected” are only those who reject the grace of God. Barth says very little about their eternal destiny but hints that they are the “spirits in prison” to whom Jesus preached the kerygma. But he gives no guarantee that all will accept it and leave to enter fellowship with God. For Barth, I think, as for Lewis, hell is a painful refuge from the love of God and fellowship with God. You raise the question whether a person who decides and acts against his or her own well being is sane. I would argue we know some who do that are.

      • Steve Rogers

        Yes, of course, we all do things in the moment that prove to be contrary to our own self-interest. But, it seems to me an absurd proposition that anyone once freed of the “flesh”, having stood before the judgement seat of the resurrected Christ and heard the kyrygma would then RATIONALLY continue in stubborn rebellion. It is for such persons that the prayer, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” is most applicable and effective. There may be those who hold out longer than others, but as the scripture says, eventually “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

  • http://201 David Rogers

    Barth’s 14 volume CD is available in The Religious Book Club Winter 2013 catalog for $ 130.00. I am debating whether I should get it. I recognize that Barth is indeed the 20th century theologian who must be interacted with, but I am also a busy pastor, but then again I also need to think of lifetime goals in my range of reading (I am 48). Would it be better to get some sort of summary work on Barth’s theology, or should I get the whole thing and work through it before my reasonable demise maybe 40 years away?

    • rogereolson

      My suggestion is to buy it and set a schedule for reading it–only the large print portions. If you skip the fine print you’ll miss some nuances and supporting exegesis but not the main points.There’s no good alternative to reading Barth himself. That is, I know of no good summaries that come close to replacing CD itself. Plan on reading CD over, say, five years. But keep to a schedule and don’t give up when you feel bogged down.

  • Bev Mitchell

    Roger,

    This post is most helpful. The first part of your summary statement re Barth on salvation, “They are objectively saved, but subjectively not saved. Free will makes the difference” is very much like the Thomas Torrance anecdote which I can’t find right now, so will paraphrase. A student asked Torrance, “Dr. Torrance, when were you saved?” To which Torrance replied “The first Easter weekend.” A while back, I told this anecdote to a biblically knowledgeable friend who has had strong, lifelong influences from both Calvinism and Arminianism and he immediately responded, but that’s calvinistic isn’t it? To which I responded, but then what did Christ mean when he said “It is finished!”

    So, two arminian types, both with a good knowledge of Arminianism and Calvinism, react instinctively to this little quip in distinctly different ways. It’s interesting how very patient and discerning we must be with the way others say things.

    • http://bartholomusings.wordpress.com Nathan Mladin

      Tom Torrance’s full answer when a member (elder?) of a church (his church?) asked him if and when he was “converted” was: “At the virgin birth and the empty tomb” (you’ll find Torrance referring to the episode in the audio recording of a response to and conversation with Donald Macleod in Edinburgh, at Rutherford House – http://seraphmedia.org.uk/Rutherford/Rutherfordhouseaudio.htm)

  • Joel

    I am immensely interested in this topic. It has always seemed to me that TF Torrance’s reading of Barth and the subsequent contemporary revival of “evangelical Barthianism” (through “evangelical calvinism”, Grace Communion Internation, “Love Wins,” etc.) definitely tend towards Arminianism more than has so far been noted.

    On a slightly different note, professor, I happen to be on my last year of undergrad (philosophy major, history minor at a Florida state college) and am trying to narrow my choices for grad school. I come from a very fundamentalistic pentecostal background, shifted towards mainline liberal for a while and later found my “theological home” in a more moderate, postconservative form of evangelicalism, as you have described (its been hard to find a church home, though – so few moderates). My objective is to teach theology in higher learning institutions. I am supremely interested in systematic and historical theology, classical Arminianism, Barth and the new “barthian renaissance,” and open theism.

    I realize this may not be the ideal forum, but would you be kind enough to dispense some advice in relation to good places to look at? (I was thinking PTS, Duke and Yale…) Is it wiser to pursue an MDiv, if my goal is an academic career, or an MA or MAR before the PhD? Is a PhD in religion preferrable over Theology PhDs at Seminaries and Divinity Schools?

    I could sure use some guidance, and can think of no one better to point me the right way. Thank you in advance!

    • rogereolson

      Well, you could consider graduate studies at a very fine Christian university and seminary I know in Texas! :) You don’t need a M.Div. to pursue Ph.D. work in religion at a university. An M.Div. is probably best if you envision pursuing a Ph.D. or Th.D. at a seminary. If you see yourself teaching theology at a liberal arts college or university of arts and sciences (e.g., in a religion department) a Ph.D. from a university is probably best. If you see yourself teaching theology at a seminary, a Ph.D. or Th.D. from a seminary is probably fine–depending on what seminary it is, of course.

  • http://goodreportministries.com/ Ivan A. Rogers

    Dr. Olson:

    Just a few observations regarding the following statement from your blog article:

    “But what about those who reject the grace of God in Jesus Christ? Is that even possible? On the one hand, Barth says no. Barth says of Judas and every human person that “The possibility of…saying No is taken from him, together with the possibility of again seeking to make Jesus powerless in the face of the superior power of men. …”

    I am of the opinion that it is not possible for anyone to ‘reject the grace of God in Jesus Christ’ even in this life or in the life to come. Here following is a statement from my writings:

    “Consider this: no human being can successfully and ultimately reject the love [grace] of God! God loves every one of us and there is absolutely nothing any of us can do to prevent him from doing so — even if we wanted to. It is not our option to micro-manage God’s love and grace. Now, just so I won’t be misunderstood, permit me to be more direct: God has chosen to love each of us whether we like it or not! He even loves us whether we’re bad or good; whether in this life or after death” (Rom 8:38-39). Statement taken from my ’5-Star’ book, Dropping Hell and Embracing Grace, by Ivan A. Rogers. Available from Amazon.com, and on Kindle.

    Concerning the possibility of ultimate salvation for Judas, check out my book, Judas Iscariot Revisited and Restored. Available from Amazon.com.

    • rogereolson

      But it is still possible to believe, as you do, that God’s love cannot be rejected in the sense of stopped or changed while affirming, as I think Barth does, that persons loved by God can go on living in denial of it and thus be a hell of their own choosing.

      • http://goodreportministries.com/ Ivan A. Rogers

        Dr. Olson:

        You said: “But it is still possible to believe, as you do, that God’s love cannot be rejected in the sense of stopped or changed while affirming, as I think Barth does, that persons loved by God can go on living in denial of it and thus be a hell of their own choosing.”

        I agree with with your above statement, with this proviso: One might deny the love and grace of God in this life and generate a self-imposed hell on earth, but after this life and upon being introduced to that One who said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” all confusion, resistance and denial will melt away instantaneously in the brightness of his Glory.

        • rogereolson

          That’s a nice hope but how do you reconcile it with Jesus’ own words about hell? Is hell an empty threat?

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