Universal Reconciliation and the Inclusive Nature of Election

  • Thomas Talbott
  • Published 2012


Christians have traditionally believed that, because they are saved by grace, they can take no credit for their own salvation or even for a virtuous character (where such exists). All credit of this kind goes to God. And understood properly, this doctrine of salvation by grace has three important virtues, among others: It can undermine pride and self-righteous feelings of superiority in the Christian believer; it can encourage the believer to acknowledge his or her solidarity as a sinner with the entire human race, including the most monstrous and deranged criminals; and it can provide the believer with the greatest possible assurance that all will be well in the end. But once one postulates a final and irrevocable division within the human race between the company of the redeemed in heaven, on the one hand, and the hopelessly lost and eternally damned, on the other, an obvious question arises: Given that we all start out equally as sinners, just what accounts for this final division among us? And no appeal to the mysterious counsels of God can conceal the obvious answer: Either the explanation lies in the will of God—that is, in God's freedom to extend his mercy to some and not to others—or it lies in how we humans exercise our own freedom with respect to the mercy that God freely extends to all. The Augusti-nians, as I shall call them, take the first alternative, opting for a doctrine of limited election; and the Arminians, as I shall call them, take the second, opting for a doctrine of conditional election. Christian universalists, by way of contrast, insist that election is neither limited in scope nor conditional in nature; election is, after all, an expression of God's love for the world, the whole world, and God's love is neither limited in scope nor conditional in nature. Against the idea that God's love is limited in scope, the New Testament declares that God at least wills or desires the

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Talbott2012UniversalRA, title={Universal Reconciliation and the Inclusive Nature of Election}, author={Thomas Talbott}, year={2012} }