There was a lengthy discussion in an earlier thread on whether a consistent universalist theology could be developed along Calvinist lines and the general consensus seemed to be that the major point of departure would be limited atonement.
I made a few comments on that thread respecting the question of what we mean by a “limited atonement” and concluded that it is possible to argue for a limited atonement along universalist lines so long as we acknowledge that the limitation is grounded in our relationship to Christ, the source of the atonement, and as mutable as our own changing state of being.
If the atonement is limited to those who are in Christ (IE have entered the Covenant of Grace through faith) then of course many would be outside the scope of the atonement’s efficacy so long as they are also outside of the covenant of grace. But as universalists we would add that eventually everyone will enter into faith with Christ and thereby participate in the benefits of the atonement. Thus the application of atonement which is in fact limited to the faithful will also certainly be universal in its final results.
It seems to me that this question is really just another way of putting the inclusionist vs exclusionist question.
Those who insist that the gospel is exclusivist (only applicable to those who actually come to Christ) will have less trouble with the concept of a limited atonement as outline above than those who are of a more inclusivist mind-set and feel that the atonement applies to everyone whether they come to Christ or not. Thus the UUA which teaches that there is no need to put faith in Christ would not like any kind of limitation to the atonement. But anyone who sees the necessity of faith is by definition an exclusivist.