Do evangelicals have anything to learn from universalists? That’s the question we’ve been exploring for a couple of weeks now. And we’ve been using Karl Barth as our conversation partner along the way. Although we’ve seen that he rejected the label “universalist,” there are good reasons for thinking that Barth’s theology leans pretty strongly in that direction. So that makes him a useful test case for whether evangelicals and universalists can hang out together and have interesting conversations.
In the last post, I argued that there are at least four lessons we can learn from how Barth approaches the question of universalism. And they are important lessons. In this post, however, we need to turn the page and ask where the problems are. A good conversation doesn’t mean that we have to just nod our heads politely at everything the other person has to say. That may be appropriate when the person next to you at the dinner party says something particularly stupid, and you decide that it just isn’t worth the time and effort it would take to explain why. So you let it pass. But a real conversation is one in which both the other person and the topic matter to you. And that kind of conversation requires a more meaningful kind of engagement.