Karl Barth - the Universalist


One of the greatest theologians of the 20th Century, Karl Barth, came to the conclusion that BOTH election and non-election for humanity has been and remains applied to Christ - NOT individuals.

Christ is thus the only elect man by His obedience and the only non-elect man by bearing the sins of all.

For this, Barth was labeled a universalist. (We’re in good company)

Thoughts? Do you understand how Barth could come to this conclusion?


Why yes I do. The typical understanding of election is antichrist. The idea of an overarching decree about an individual human being and determining their fate is straight out of the Islamic playbook. But in either case, Islamic or Christian, the Cross is made superfluous by the understanding. It’s the decree that matters.

Ask a Muslim or a Calvinist what was accomplished at the Cross and neither will have an answer. But the Muslim will have the more consistent view, “Who cares about the Cross, it’s the decree that determines a man’s destiny, not the Cross.”


“I don’t teach it, I don’t not not teach it”
-Karl Barth on universal reconcilliation

You are misreading Barth. Essentially, Barth says that everyone is objectively saved ‘in Christ’. We know that people here on earth have died without subjectively living in Christ. Therefore, while the only election we know absolutely is the election of Christ, as reprobate AND elect, whether or not we have recognized and admitted the reality of our reconciliation is a real concern. Essentially, Barth believed in either double predestination OR universalism, as Barth believed in the absolute freedom of God (this is the most important thing to consider when reading his work, imho). Barth seemed to hope for universalism, based on the nature of Christ, the revelation of God written about in the NT, and yet never confirmed it.

Barth is a great tool to apply to your thinking on universalism, but don’t try to distort his work and try to take him there with you.

If you want, sometime when I get some free time I can start some posts on Church Dogmatics (Haven’t finished this, but has anyone here?) or his commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.


I said he was labeled a universalist. The difference between Objective and Subjective justification is actually a very fine line and doesn’t allow for wrath to exist in either case.