In regard to Dr. Green’s opening comment to Gregory so far: I wouldn’t answer quite the same as Gregory (or Tom Talbott either). In fact, if I was less lazy, I could probably dig around and find somewhere I’ve already written out a lot on free will and universalism…
Oh well. The search engine tells me the words in the phrase “free will” are too common to be searched for. Anyway.
I can’t say I much like Paidion’s random coin toss analogy (despite agreeing with him that UR and free will are not incompatible), because I don’t consider random coin tosses to be sufficiently analogous to free will. (On the contrary, I consider them to be non-intentionally determinative, but in a random short-term sense rather than a long-term chain of causation sense.)
The problem is that there are a number of different questions and concepts in play here:
1.1.) Can I hope and believe and trust that God will never stop trying to save all sinners from sin? – This I answer robustly yes, as a conclusion from metaphysical logic and from scriptural exegesis both. As far as I’m concerned, this by itself seriously establishes some kind of real universalistic soteriology (compared to Calvinistic and Arminianistic soteriologies.) Nor does it have anything to do one way or another with human free will, pro or con: the topic is about what we can expect from God, not about what we can expect from sinners.
1.2.) Does this mean I don’t believe in God’s free will to do one thing and not another? – Actually, I have a robust but realistic belief in the free will of God. I believe the Persons of God are free to rebel against or abandon each other, for example; but I do not believe God is free to do this and still continue existing. The question can be put another way: do I believe God is free to continue existing while also completely ceasing to exist? Duh, no. But this is no bar to the reality of God. Mutually exclusive contradictions are neither actually nor even potentially real in content. Similarly, I do not believe God is “free” to be essentially love in His fundamental self-existence and also “free” to do anything, including wrath, apart from fulfilling love to and with the object of His action. Non-universalists, in principle (which I have also found always to be true in practice), must by contrast either try to keep both mutually exclusive positions or else deny that God is really essentially love (especially in His fundamental self-existence, which concept rarely occurs to them anyway). I’ve seen non-unis go one or the other of those routes unvaryingly. (C. S. Lewis, I must admit, is a notable partial exception, who resolutely avers that God is still acting to fulfill love to, but not any longer with, hopelessly lost sinners. By which he doesn’t mean that God is no longer present in hell, but only that God stops trying to reconcile with the sinners because they have put themselves permanently and hopelessly beyond His ability to lead back to fellowship with Him. God, on this soteriological plan, still stops acting toward saving some sinners from sin sooner or later.)
2.1.) Do I have metaphysical grounds for believing that God will surely accomplish this goal ? – Metaphysically, so far as I can tell, I would have to answer no. Nor do I have metaphysical grounds for believing He will surely fail to accomplish this goal. This is where human free will first kicks into play; and I wish to point out that Arminianistic theologians who stress free will damnation have a peculiar tendency to turn around and eventually deny that same free will in order to make sure that sooner or later there can be no repentance!–even in cases, like Lewis, where they still affirm that God is still doing His best to love the sinner even in hell. (But there’s no hope in that anymore because the sinner has resolutely locked himself into a position where even God cannot succeed in leading him to repentance anymore.)
2.2.) Do I have scriptural grounds for believing that God will surely accomplish this goal? – Yes, I believe I do. To be fair, non-unis typically answer that we have scriptural grounds for believing that God will surely not save some sinners from sin. This moves to a scriptural debate, which is far beyond the scope of my current comment. But the apparent scriptural affirmation of surety one way or the other is what introduces the concern about the violation (or the degree thereof) of the free will of the sinner. However!–this is not a question or principle restricted to the topic of salvation from sin. If God reveals ahead of time that He will accomplish anything in regard to a person, to what extent (if any) does this mean that human free will is being necessarily ‘violated’?
Got to go for now, so I’ll leave that here for further discussion.