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What is Christian Universalism?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
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  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2016
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Christian Universalism is the belief that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ all persons will eventually be reconciled with God and exist in a state of salvation for eternity. While not considered a tenet of traditional or mainline Christianity, the roots of Christian Universalism reach back into the first centuries of the Christian movement. From time to time, the concept of universal reconciliation has appeared as either a central tenet for an organized Christian denomination or as a belief that is espoused by persons in a wide range of Christian expressions.

Proponents of Christian Universalism trace the origin of the belief back to the canon of the New Testament and the writings of some of the early church fathers. The typical Christian Universalist can identify a number of passages within the scriptural canon that indicate the broad application of the principle of grace to all humankind, due to the work of Christ Jesus. In addition, the believer in Christian Universalism will also point to writings by such early church figures as Origen and Clemens of Alexandria as evidence of the antiquity of the concept of Universalism within the Christian faith.

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The first appearance of Christian Universalism as a defining belief for a group of Christian believers took place in the 18th century. England proved to be a fertile ground for this exciting approach to Christianity, as it stood in direct opposition to the salvation of the elect teachings of John Calvin. The belief was first introduced into the American colonies of the British Empire by Dr. George De Benneville in 1741. However, it was not until the Universalist preacher John Murray reached the colonies in 1770 that the doctrine of universal salvation gained a firm hold in the New World.

By 1785, the first organized group of Christian Universalists appeared with the formation of the General Convention of Universalists of the United States. This organization would later organize into the Universalist Church of America, which grew to be one of the ten most prominent Christian faiths in the USA during the 19th century.

After a period of prosperity, the Universalist Church began to lose members during the 20th Century. As a result, the church chose to unite with the American Unitarian Association in 1961 to form the Unitarian Universalist Association. While some traditional Christian Universalists hold membership in the UUA today, this non-creedal denomination does not promote Christian Universalism as an essential tenet.

In recent years, a move to promote Christian Universalism within existing denominations has emerged. During 2007, the Christian Universalist Association was formed as a communication and support network to allow both laypersons and clergy who believe in Christian Universalism to interact with one another. With no plans to form a new denomination, the Association functions as a means of supplying printed material relevant to Christian Universalism, holding worship conferences centered around the doctrine, and assisting pastors and others who wish to explore the belief in more detail.

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rodgertutt
Post 2

I am a "Christian Biblical Universal Transformationist."

I’m convinced that after we have thought the very best thoughts about God, we can be sure that He is even better than that because He is able to do above what we can even think, Ephesians 3:20. And IMHO I cannot think any higher thoughts than universal transformation.

I believe that after our resurrection from the dead, God will eventually somehow transform every second of everyone's suffering into something better that it happened.

That includes both the unexplained and seemingly unjustifiable suffering that we all experience in varying degrees, as well as what the Bible calls "kolasin aionios" which means age-during corrective chastisement that everyone who needs it will experience.

I believe

that God will eventually fit every unique individual into His master plan in a positive way that necessitates their unique temporary involvement in evil and suffering that will enable God to manifest, and glorify, and magnify the many facets of His character in a way that uniquely involves that person, and everyone else involved in that person’s life too.

Then, after God has finished using evil and suffering for the reasons why He allowed them to temporarily exist, He will eradicate them from existence.

I believe that God has both the ability and the intention to save all fallen creatures from everything from which they need to be saved, and He will not fail to do so.

I believe that God's determination, within the wise counsel of His directive will which is that which must occur, to eventually rid all of creation from suffering, will in every case, overcome the strongest will that is temporarily opposed to God's preceptive will which is what His creatures ought to do.

All evil eventually leads to good, however, God is the only One Who can do this. He created evil (Isaiah 45:7), to provide the contrast for good. When all good is revealed, then evil will be abolished from God’s universe—forever.

I believe the only mistake that I am probably making is in grossly underestimating just how gloriously God will achieve this universal transformation through what Christ accomplished for everyone by His death and resurrection, through the power in the blood of his cross. That is the kind of God that I see in the Bible.

Realizing that he is including everyone without exception, the following quote by Christian universalist Dr. Leslie Weatherhead nicely sums up what I believe. I've had it memorized for many years and love to quote it frequently.

“God’s purposes are so vast and glorious, beyond all guessing now, that when they are achieved and consummated, all our sufferings and sorrows of today, even the agonies that nearly break our faith, the disasters that well nigh overwhelm us, shall, seen from that fair country where God’s age long dreams come true, bulk as little as bulk now the pieces of a broken toy upon a nursery floor, over which, thinking that all our little world was in ruins, we cried ourselves to sleep.”

From Rodger T., Toronto, Canada

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