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Christian Universalism
True Biblical Christianity

By Ken Allen, Th.D.

The following article contains ideas, thoughts, and descriptions from various sources including portions adapted from a Sunday School tract first published in the late 1800's.

True Biblical Christianity is a universal religion. Herein is its pre-eminence. It is for man everywhere and in all times. No other religion has so clearly asserted this claim for itself, and no other promises to do so much for mankind. It is true that it has had to make its way against errors, prejudices and corruptions of the world. It has been mixed with human errors, and has been professed, taught, and practiced, in too many instances, by those who have failed to realize clearly the heavenliness of its spirit, and its far reaching, regenerative, and over-coming power.

Its principles are as old as the Christian records. It was prophecied in the Old Testament and revealed in the New Testament. It is the faith that was declared by Jesus, the Apostles, and the Christian church in it's earliest days. It claims the New Testament as the basis of its doctrines. It cites the Gospels, the Apostolic History and the Epistles, Christ, and his first ministers, as authority for its pretensions. It signifies God's unchanging paternal interest in all his children; an interest insuring his just dealing with them for their obedience or disobedience of his beneficent laws, and their final release from sin, and life in righteousness. The Biblical doctrine of faith that embraces this true grace of God in its purest and most complete form is designated by some as "Christian Universalism".

Many people today may understand the term "Universalism", as it relates to religion, as a word that designates the belief that "All religions are equally true, good, and that they all equally will lead to heaven, or to God." This definition of "Universalism" could better be described as "Pluralist Universalism" and could be equated with "secular humanism".

This definition of "Universalism" is NOT to be confused with the original meaning of "Universalism" as it related to Christianity. The original meaning of "Universalism", as it relates to Christianity, could now be better described by using the term "Christian Universalism".

Any true definition of Christian Universalism MUST INCLUDE THE BELIEF that God is all Sovereign, loving, powerful, wise, just, and ultimately rules over everything. It MUST ALSO INCLUDE the belief that salvation is only by faith in God and was finalized by Jesus Christ "who gave Himself a ransom for all" (1 Tim 2:6). The definition of Christian Universalism DOES INCLUDE THE BELIEF that God "will have all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:4).

Also, it should be noted that the term "Christian Universalism" is used in two senses: first, as the name of a single distinctive doctrine; and secondly, as the common name of a whole system of Biblical faith.

1. Christian Universalism as a Single, Distinctive Doctrine

"Christian Universalism", in its simple and proper theological sense, is the doctrine of universal salvation; or in other words, of the final holiness and happiness of all mankind, to be effected by the grace of God, through the ministry of his Son, Jesus Christ.

This is well known to be no novel doctrine in the world. It is as old as Christianity itself, and has been believed and taught by some of the best and most learned men in the Christian Church, and in almost every period of her history. It was the doctrine of the majority of the early Christians for the first five hundred years after Christ. Of the six theological schools known to exist from the second to the fourth centuries, four of them believed and taught the concepts of Christian Universalism, one taught annihilation, and only one taught eternal torment, the school of Rome.You find members of almost every Christian communion, Greek, Romish, Lutheran, Church of England, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Unitarian, Friends, etc., etc., differing widely in many respects, but all agreeing in this one Divine truth, that God loves all men, and will have them to be saved; that Christ gave himself a ransom for all, and that all will ultimately be brought to holiness and happiness.

2. Christian Universalism as a Complete Biblical System of Faith

The term "Christian Universalism," also refers to a complete Biblical System of Faith which holds the Bible as the only sufficient rule of faith and practice. It consists of other doctrines closely related to, and developed from, the single, distintive doctrine of Christian Universalism stated above. This, then, is the second and wider meaning of the term we are considering. If it be asked, then, what Christian Universalism in this large sense is, we reply:

  1. We believe the authenticity, genuineness, and inspiration, of the Holy Scriptures; that both the Old and New Testaments contain the revealed will of God and that the Bible is the only and sufficient rule of faith and practice.

1. The Bible

2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:20-21

  1. We believe the existence of the one living and true God, the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of all worlds, beings, and things. We believe that God is self-existent, independent and eternal; omniscient and omnipresent; infinite in wisdom, goodness and power; in justice, mercy and truth. With Saint Paul we say, "To us there is but one God, even the Father." We believe God to be the universal Father of mankind; the Father of Spirits, our Father in heaven, who loves the whole human family, without exception, even while they are yet sinners, who is kind to the unthankful and to the evil, and who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. In one word, we believe that God is Love.

2. God

Matt. 6:9; Luke 6:35; Rom. 5:8; 1 Cor. 8:6; 1 Tim. 2:4; Heb. 12:9; 1 John 4:8

  1. We believe that to manifest his love for the human race, God sent his Son Jesus Christ into the world, to reveal more perfectly the divine character and purposes, and finally, through death and resurrection, to bring life and immortality to light. We believe that Christ is the brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of his person. We believe that he is appointed by the Father, heir of all things, and is Lord of all, and the he must reign, till he has subdued all things to himself, when he himself will deliver up the kingdom to the Father that God may be all in all. Thus he will save his people from their sins, and be what inspiration proclaims him to be, the Savior of the world. To this end we believe he gave himself a ransom for all, and tasted death for every man, for God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.

3. Jesus Christ

Matt. 1:21; Acts 10:36; 1 Cor. 15:25, 28; 2 Cor. 5:19; 1 Tim. 2:6; Heb. 1:2-3; Heb. 2:9; 1 John 4:14

  1. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the spirit of God, the spirit of truth, the Comfortor, the guide, who convicts the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment, and whose fruits in the believing soul are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

4. Holy Spirit

John 14:16-17; John 16:7-13; Gal. 5:22-23

  1. We believe in the importance of indespensable necessity of repentance, that is, godly sorrow for sin, and a true reformation of heart and life.

5. Repentence

Acts 3:19; Heb. 11:6

  1. We believe in the new birth, or a change of heart, effected in the soul by a cordial belief of the gospel truth, accompanied by the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit.

6. New Birth

John 3:3; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal 5:22-23

  1. We believe in the importance of good works, not to purchase salvation, or gain the love of God -- for salvation is of grace alone, and God loves even his enemies -- but as the natural fruits of the gospel cordially received, the evidences of indwelling grace, and because they are good and profitable to men.

7. Good Works

Titus 3:8; 1 John 4:19; 5:1:-2

  1. We believe in a just and equitable, and at the same time, a parental administration of the divine government; in which God renders to every man according to his works, so that he that does wrong shall receive for the wrong which he has done, and there is no respect of persons. Beyond this state of rewards and punishments, we believe a state of immortal felicity will be conferred upon the whole human family, as a free gift, by the infinite grace of the Father, through Christ Jesus.

8. Judgment

Ps. 62:12; Rom. 5:12-21; Eph. 2:4-9; Col. 3:25

  1. We believe in the universal resurrection of the dead; for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

9. Resurrection

1 Cor. 15:22

  1. We believe in a life and immortality for the human race beyond the grave, where the mortal shall put on immortality, and where man can die no more, but shall be as the angels, and be children of God.

10. Everlasting Life

Luke 20:36; 1 Cor. 15:23

  1. We believe that, in the fulness of time, God will bring together all things in Christ, when, in the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow, of things in heaven and in earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father; when, as by one man's disobedience, many are made sinners, so, by the obedience of one, shall the same many be made righteous; in one word, when Christ shall have taken away the sin of the world, accomplished the great mission on which he came, done the will of God, seen the fruits of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied, and GOD BE ALL IN ALL.

11. The Consummation

Isa. 53:11; Rom. 5:19; 1 Cor. 15:28; Eph. 1:9-10; Phil. 2:10-11

In summary, there are "Five Basic Principles" contained in Christian Universalism as a complete Biblical system of faith. They are the belief in:

  1. The Universal Fatherhood of God (see note below)
  2. The spiritual authority and leadership of His Son Jesus Christ
  3. The trustworthiness of the Bible as containing a revelation from God
  4. The certainty of just retribution for sin
  5. The final harmony of all souls with God

Note: By creation, God is the Universal Father of all humans, and loves and cares for them with a Father's love.

Below, is a concise Profession of Faith which is suitable for use in private or public devotions and services. The first three articles (paragraphs) of this profession are known as the historic "Winchester Profession" which has been used by many churches and individuals since its inception at Winchester, New Hampshire in 1803. A fourth article (paragraph) was appended by some Christian Universalists at a later date. This profession is commended as containing the "Five Principles of the Christian Universalist Faith."

We believe, that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments contain a revelation of the character of God, and of the duty, interest, and final destination of mankind.

We believe there is one God, whose nature is love; revealed in one Lord Jesus Christ, by one Holy Spirit of grace, who will finally restore the whole family of mankind to holiness and happiness.

We believe, that holiness and true happiness are inseparably connected; and that believers ought to maintain order, and practice good works, for these things are good and profitable unto men.

We believe that God, as the moral governor of the universe, will restore righteous and equitable rewards and punishments upon all mankind according to their several characters or deserts; but that all punishment will be remedial, and consequently limited.

It cannot be said, perhaps, that "Christian Universalists" are fully agreed, on all points of doctrine, though we believe few or no exceptions could be taken to the above statements. We doubt not there exists as good a degree of harmony, both of faith and feeling, among them as is to be found in any group of equal numbers. They differ in their views of the freedom of the will and also upon the place and duration of punishment, some believing in limited punishment in the future state, and others not.

Such, in few words, is "Christian Universalism." May the reader impartially read, candidly consider, and, like the Bereans of old, search the Scriptures daily, whether these things be so.

For additional information, read the article What is "Christian Universalism"?.

Also, see the other articles on the Christian Universalism and Related Concepts web page.