Biblical Universalism?

Those who know me know that I can in no sense be fairly described as a fan of Charles Hodge. However, I have run across a remarkable passage in his Systematic Theology that I cannot agree with more. As usual, I am happy to be wrong.

Hodge wrote, commenting on Romans 5:18,

All the descendants of Adam, except those of whom it is expressly revealed that they cannot inherit the kingdom of God, are saved. … Not only, however, does the comparison, which the Apostle makes between Adam and Christ, lead to the conclusion that as all are condemned for the sin of the one, so all are saved by the righteousness of the other, those only excepted whom the Scriptures except; but the principle assumed throughout the the whole discussion teaches the same doctrine. That principle is that it is more congenial with the nature of God to bless than to curse, to save rather than to destroy. (Hodge, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1, p. 26)

In short, Hodge declared as a sweeping principle that, in the light of Jesus’ death, all men are to be said to be saved by the death of Christ, save only for those which Scripture excludes from this. It is clear that even Hodge never applied this universal principle consistently and that almost no one took much notice of it. Yet there it stands – the greatest 19th century Old Princeton Calvinists proclaimed that all men are saved except those excluded by Scripture as a broad principle of application. Such a statement invites us to view all men as saved until they publicly and finally exclude themselves.


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