Evangelicals, Lutherans, and Roman Catholics alike all hold to a universal atonement wherein God does not discriminate in His intent concerning the Atonement. The thinking of such denominations is that the death of Christ is the same, potentially, for everybody. We might call this doctrine soteriological egalitarianism.
Of course, in our own culture egalitarianism is the idea both that there should be equality of opportunity and equality of outcome. As such, our cultural egalitarianism is really not about equality but about sameness. In the end everyone must be the same. Discrimination is seen as inherently evil and everybody must be treated the same.
In Evangelical, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic doctrines of hypothetical universalism we find a similar type of egalitarianism. We are told by these folks that Christ died for everybody and therefore everybody has the same equality of opportunity. For these folks it is sin to say that God discriminates in terms of opportunity though it is perfectly acceptable to say that it is man who discriminates in terms of God’s offer. Some men discriminate to accept the equal opportunity and some men don’t. Man can discriminate against God but God is not allowed to discriminate in terms of man. God must provide an atonement that is egalitarian in opportunity or He is not fair.
One wonders if the egalitarianism we see in our culture didn’t first begin with this kind of nonsensical egalitarianism in the Church as the Church turned away from the doctrine of Limited Damnation. If Theology remains the queen of the Sciences one must wonder if soteriological egalitarianism became the gateway through which egalitarianism in economics, politics, gender relations, and sociology came to the fore.
Obviously, in the Atonement God does discriminate. For reasons, known only to Him, God discriminated between the elect and the reprobate. Jacob God loved, but Esau God hated. God did not and does not treat all people the same.
And neither should we. Not all people are equally qualified for different tasks and there is nothing evil in discriminating against people who do not have giftedness or talents in certain areas.
There is nothing unbiblical in insisting that egalitarianism is wrong while discrimination for biblical reasons is right. God discriminated in the intent of the atonement and that discrimination was righteous. When we discriminate based on righteous reasons we are being God like in our actions.
So, insisting that Christ’s death applies equally to everyone may very well be the root of all other egalitarianisms that we are now plagued with. The atonement of Christ is not egalitarian. Everyone is not equal in Christ death. God discriminated for reasons known only to Himself, to have Christ die only for the Elect.
Can it be that Hypothetical Universalism is the mother load from where all other egalitarianism stems? Can it be that it is not a form of theological Marxism to make everyone equal and the same in the intent of the Atonement?
Ideas have consequences and I’m wondering if the teaching of evangelicals in terms of their soteriological egalitarianism wherein God is not allowed to discriminate is the mother spring from which our current egalitarianism water flows. Theology gets into everything. If we are going to be egalitarian in our doctrine of the atonement you can look for that egalitarianism to show in our social order.
Ideas have consequences.