The Hope of Universal Salvation in the Theology of
Hans Urs von Balthasar and Wacław Hryniewicz
By Mariusz Majewskihttp://culture.polishsite.us/mariusz/STB.pdf
The two theologians, Hans Urs von Balthasar and Wacław Hryniewicz in supporting the hope of universal salvation are aware that apocatastasis was condemned by the Magisterium but make clear that hope of universal salvation does not contradict the official teaching...Is it possible that Christ descended into hell to end the punishment of sinners? Von Balthasar clearly understands it as a salvific event...According to Hryniewicz, the New Testament does not provide the definition of aoinios, “eternal”. It may only mean “to exist through the centuries”, “existing through the eons” (Hryniewicz, Dlaczego 168)...Eternity belongs to God alone. It is a sign of his absolute transcendence of all creatures. Only God is the absolute fullness of life without origin and without end. He alone is really eternal. The word “eternal” in relation to creatures may only have a limited and relative meaning (67). Moreover, in Plato’s writings the word aionios means persistence that will finally come to an end. Origen also noticed that aionios can have many meanings. According to him, the word in Sacred Scripture sometimes means something without end (ut unem nesciat), and another times it describes the reality that does not have an end in our world but will have an end in the future world (ut in praesenti quidem saeculo finem non habeat, habeat tamen in futuro) (Hryniewicz, Nadzieja 39).
Therefore, says Hryniewicz, one cannot simply say that the Scriptures teach about “eternal punishment” but one has to get the proper meaning of this statement (Hryniewicz, Nadzieja 39). In Matthew 25:46 the torment (punishment) is called “eternal” and is parallel to “eternal life”. In both cases the same word aionion is used. For that reason, advocates of the traditional teaching about the eternity of hell see in this parallelism the fundamental proof for the existence of eternal hell. Hryniewicz interprets it differently. He states that in this case one should not see parallel symmetric but rather parallel asymmetrical (Hryniewicz, Nadzieja 41). In describing the meaning of the word kolasis, which means “torment”, Hryniewicz says that it may not mean a state that is indeed ultimate and irreversible. The “eternal torment” symbolizes purification. The cursed are to be purified in the fire of contrition. The Greek fathers, who supported the hope of universal salvation, saw the therapeutic sense of the “eternal torment” (Hryniewicz, Nadzieja 38-39).
Hryniewicz summarizes that the eternity of God and the eternity of the life of redeemed cannot be treated on a par with the eternity of the state to which the cursed and the damned have been condemned. He writes in “Can Non-believers Be Redeemed”: It is a state of redemption and therapeutic character… Such a punishment is purposeful only when its therapeutic objective is possible to reach. The other punishment, even only allowed for by God would not be worthy of his love and mercy in relation to people including those lost and “cursed”. The asymmetrical parallel (Mt 25:46) results from the antithesis on which the parable of Jesus is based. It is the antithesis between the blessed (Mt 25:37.46) and the “cursed”, between the good and bad people and in consequence the antithesis between “eternal life” and “eternal punishment”. It says that something of human ultimate destiny is fulfilled already in earthly life. It is a warning. Such is its basic objective. The same adjective, “eternal,” is used in both cases but its meaning is different....