I am a hopeful universalist, or, to put it in slightly more provocative terms, a universalist sympathizer.
What does that mean? It means, as I recited in a prior post, that I’m not a universalist, but I suspect that God might be.*
Hopeful universalists can be contrasted with what we might call dogmatic universalists, who believe and teach the certainty of universal salvation (i.e., the concept that all people will be saved…which usually means that they will eventually be saved, after a period of time in hell).
For the dogmatic universalist, universalism is a matter of theological certainty/necessity. For the hopeful universalist, it is instead a matter of possibility. Hopeful universalism, then, is best characterized as a particular attitude of prayer, rather than a strict academic or theological teaching.
*I adapted that statement from this video of NT Wright, which was the subject of a prior post. Wright, it should be noted, didn’t really adopt this statement (it was made by someone else). However, he used it to point out the flexibility and play that is at issue in the universalism debate.