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Berkouwer on Barth’s Distinction Between Universal Election And Universal Salvation

Some people are impressed by Barth’s distinction between universal election and universal salvation. They defend his position. Some have been influenced by Barth and have become universalists. Berkouwer’s view was that our critique of Barth must begin with looking closely at his teaching concerning universal election.
* By speaking of the idea of the depth-aspect of salvation, Berkouwer distances himself from double predestination.
* In his critique of Barth, Berkouwer distances himself from universal salvation.
* With such a strong emphasis on both grace and faith, Berkouwer guards against any suggestion that, by our faith, we contribute anything to our salvation. It is always God’s free gift, and all the glory belongs to Him.
I think that the distinctive feature of Berkouwer’s teaching is that he emphasizes that everything we say about God’s salvation is said from within the experience of having been saved by grace through faith.
We have heard the Good News - “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). We have been given God’s gracious promise: “Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21). We have taken Jesus at His Word: “he who comes to Me will never be cast out” (John 6:37).
* There is nothing in this joyful declaration of Good News that leaves us wondering whether the idea of double predestination should leave us in doubt about whether the words, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” are really words for ourselves.
* There is nothing in the call to come in faith to Jesus Christ our Saviour which gives us encouragement to think in terms of universal salvation.
* There is nothing in God’s description of each and every one of us as “sinners” which suggests that we could ever save ourselves. We do not come to the Lord Jesus as Pharisees who take pride in our morality and our religion. We come to Him as sinners. We pray, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner”, and we are “justified” (Luke 18: 13-14).

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