Met. Kallistos: “Dare We Hope for the Salvation of All?”

Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) (born 1934) – is an English-born bishop and theologian of the Eastern Orthodox Church.  From 1966 to 2001, Ware was Lecturer of Eastern Orthodox Studies at the University of Oxford. He has authored numerous books and articles pertaining to the Orthodox Christian faith.

 

kallistosware“If the strongest argument in favor of universal salvation is the appeal to divine love, and if the strongest argument on the opposite side is the appeal to human freedom, then we are brought back to the dilemma with which we started: how are we to bring into concord the two principles God is love and Human beings are free? For the time being we cannot do more than hold fast with equal firmness to both principles at once, while admitting that the manner of their ultimate harmonization remains a mystery beyond our present comprehension. What St Paul said about the reconciliation of Christianity and Judaism is applicable also to the final reconciliation of the total creation: “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!” (Rom 11:33).

When I am waiting at Oxford Station for the train to London, sometimes I walk up to the northernmost stretch of the long platform until I reach a notice: “Passengers must not proceed beyond this point. Penalty: £50.” In discussion of the future hope, we need a similar notice: “Theologians must not proceed beyond this point”—Let my readers devise a suitable penalty. Doubtless, Origen’s mistake was that he tried to say too much. It is a fault that I admire rather than execrate, but it was a mistake nonetheless.

Our belief in human freedom means that we have no right to categorically affirm, “All must be saved.” But our faith in God’s love makes us dare to hope that all will be saved.

Is there anybody there? said the traveler,

Knocking on the moonlit door.

Hell exists as a possibility because free will exists. Yet, trusting in the inexhaustible attractiveness of God’s love, we venture to express the hope—it is no more than a hope—that in the end, like Walter de la Mare’s Traveller, we shall find that there is nobody there. Let us leave the last word, then, with St Silouan of Mount Athos: ‘Love could not bear that… We must pray for all’.”

~ From “Dare We Hope for the Salvation of All? Origen, St Gregory of Nyssa and St Isaac the Syrian” 

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