What is Universalism?   

  • Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines “universalism” as “the doctrine that all men will eventually be saved.” 
  • WorldReference.com defines it as “the theological doctrine that all people will eventually be saved”.
  • For the purposes of discussion on this site, “Universalism” is understood to be “the teaching that ALL people, who have ever lived, will be saved, eventually”.

Are there different types of Universalism?  

  • Yes, there are different types of Universalism, some of which could be considered as Christian, but most of which are better described as non-Christian.
  • It is very important to know the differences between Christian Universalism and the various other types.

What is Christian Universalism?  

  • Simply put, Christian Universalism is the belief that all men and women who have ever lived will eventually be saved because of what Jesus Christ did.
  • Unlike other types of universalism, which say that ALL people will be saved, no matter what they believe, Christian Universalism teaches that ALL people will be saved, eventually, but ONLY because of what Jesus Christ accomplished by His death and resurrection.
  • Unlike other universalists, Christian Universalists believe that ALL people will eventually be saved because every person will eventually accept Jesus Christ as Saviour.
  • Unlike other universalists, who believe that all religions lead to Heaven, Christian Universalists believe that the way into Heaven is through Jesus Christ alone.

Why is it SO important to note the difference between Christian Universalism and other types of Universalism? 

  • Because Christian Universalism is a Christian teaching … whereas most other types of Universalism are not Christian.
  • Christian Universalism teaches that all people will end up in Heaven, eventually, but they will be in Heaven ONLY because of what Jesus Christ has done.  On the other hand, non-Christian Universalism teaches that all people will end up in God’s Presence, no matter what they do, or believe … because God is loving.
  • It is important to note the difference so that people can understand that Christian Universalism is a Christian doctrine, not a heresy (as many Christians, unfortunately, believe).

Is Christian Universalism a heresy?

  • NO, it is not.  Christian Universalism is based on the belief the salvation is by grace alone and in Christ alone.
  • Indeed, there are some theologians who believe that the authentic Christian Church believed in and taught the doctrine of Christian Universalism.

Why would any well-thinking Christian believe in the idea of Christian Universalism?

  • Because it portrays a God that is more loving and merciful (and less sadistic) than the god which the traditional gospel promotes
  • … and because there are many passages in the Bible that support the fact that ALL people will be saved, ultimately.  Consider the following passages:
  • John 3:17 … John 4:42 … John 12:32 … Romans 11:25 … Romans 11:32-33 … 1 Corinthians 15:22 … Colossians 1:20 … 1 Timothy 2:3-6 … Titus 2:11 … 1 John 4:14 … 1 John 2:2 … 1 Timothy 4:10

Why do so many Christians believe that Christian Universalism is a heresy?

  • Because many of them have been so misled by fundamentalist and/or evangelical doctrines that it is almost impossible for them to contemplate a doctrine that does not align with what they have come to believe.
  • For many others, it means they would have to change their beliefs about some other doctrines, such as the Gospel or the teaching on Hell.
  • NOTE:  The excerpt from the Gary Amirault’s article (posted below) will give more insight into the reasons why some people, including some Christians, believe the doctrine of Christian Universalism to be a heresy.

What about Unitarian Universalism? 

  • What we know as Unitarian Universalism is the result of a merger between some members of the Universalist Association (which was, generally speaking, Christ-centred) and Unitarians (which was very liberal). 
  • One result of the merger has been a set of doctrines that have become so liberal that many, if not most, Unitarian Universalists do not consider themselves Christian anymore.
  • Among the misleading and heretical teachings of the Unitarian Universalists is the teaching that all people will be saved, no matter what their religion and with no acknowledgement of Jesus Christ as Saviour.

What about the New Age Movement? 

  • While there is a type of Universalism that is taught in the “New Age Movement,” their teaching about Jesus Christ is very different from what is taught about Christ in Christian Universalism.
  • In the “New Age Movement,” there is mention of a Christ, but as one “master” among many other masters. 
  • In Christian Universalism, on the other hand, Jesus Christ is the ONLY Master … because there is only one name under Heaven by which Man can be saved.  That “one name” is a reference to the “One Person” who reconciled us to God: in English, we refer to Him as Jesus Christ; in Hebrew, He is Yeshua Ha Machiach; in Greek, He is Iesus Christos.

How does Universal Redemption relate to Universalism and Christian Universalism? 

  • Universalism is the belief that all people will be saved, no matter what they believe.
  • Christian Universalism is the belief that all people WILL receive salvation, ultimately, eventually … but ONLY because of what Jesus Christ accomplished.
  • Universal Redemption is the teaching that WHEREAS salvation is available to all mankind, NOT everyone will be saved.
  • John Wesley wrote a lot about universal redemption because he felt a need to counter the idea of “limited atonement”, which was a Augustinian teaching that was being perpetuated by Calvinists.  (According to the teaching of “limited atonement”, God predestined who would be saved, as well as who would burn in Hell for all eternity.) 
  • While Wesley’s “universal redemption” doctrine is more palatable than Calvin’s doctrines of “limited atonement” and “double predestination”, it falls far short of God’s plan of salvation, which was for the “whole world”. 

What are some of the other names that Christian Universalism is known by?

  • The ancient church, which spoke Greek, called it apocatastasis, which means “restoration of all things”. 
  • Some modern theologians and writers call it Universal Salvation, Universal Reconciliation, Ultimate Reconciliation, The Doctrine of Inclusion, Universal Restoration or The Larger Hope, as well as other terms.

Who are some well-known persons who have supported Universalism … or have been favourable to the idea of Universalism? 

  • All the Hebrew Prophets who prophesied of the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ (John 12:32);
  • Paul, the Apostle;
  • John the Apostle (John 4:42);
  • Clement of Alexandria, second head of catechetical school at Alexandria;
  • Origen, greatest scholar of the early church;
  • Athenasius, Archbishop of Alexandria;
  • John Chrysostum;
  • Bishop Gregory of Nyssa;
  • Bishop Gregory of Nazianzus;
  • Macrina, the younger;
  • Sir Isaac Newton;
  • Isaac Watts, hymnist;
  • Immanuel Kant;
  • Anne Bronte;
  • Robert and Elizabeth Browning;
  • Robert Burns;
  • George MacDonald;
  • Alexander Pope;
  • Florence Nightingale;
  • Hans Christian Andersen;
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow;
  • Charles Dickens;
  • Lewis Carroll;
  • Henry Ward Beecher;
  • Hans Denk (Anabaptist leader);
  • Victor Hugo;
  • Canon Wilberforce;
  • Hannah Whitall Smith, Evangelist and Bible teacher;
  • Clara Barton, founder of American Red Cross;
  • Abraham Lincoln;
  • Benjamin Franklin;
  • George Washington;
  • John A. T. Robinson, theologian;
  • William Barclay, theologian and translator;
  • Andrew Murray, Christian writer and intercessor;
  • Karl Barth, a leading European theologian of the 20th century.
  • Charles Schulz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip;
  • There are many more contemporary names that could be added to the above list.
  • There have been many others, over the years, who either saw “universalism” in the Christian Scriptures or were very favourable to the idea of universalism (including a few who would not describe themselves as universalists).
  • For those who may be interested, there is a longer and more comprehensive list of persons who had a favourable view of universalism at the following link: Believers and Supporters of Christian Universalism

Why don’t we hear about more Christians embracing Christian Universalism?

  • Those who believe in universalism of the Biblical variety, generally do not want to build a denomination around the teaching. 
  • It belongs to everyone. 
  • There are those who believe in the salvation of all mankind in every denomination of Christianity. 
  • They do not verbalize it because of the persecution they might receive. But surveys of Christians in main-line denominations prove many of them do NOT believe in Hell even though the teaching of Hell is part of their denomination’s teachings. 
  • Many seminary professors and church leaders personally do not believe in Hell, but they do not make a big issue out of it for fear of losing their position and income.


  • In summary, Christian Universalism comes right out of the mouths of the Hebrew prophets … out of the mouth of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth … out of the mouths of the apostles of Christ, who established as a foundational teaching in the first century AD …
  • During the first few centuries, Christian Universalism was taught by the early church fathers. 
  • That said, by about the time of Augustine, this glorious teaching was downplayed, which some believe pushed the Western world into the Dark Ages. 
  • During that time, those who embraced the Universal Restitution of all things were killed for their beliefs and many of their writings were burned. That is why we find much literature supporting universal salvation in the early church fathers’ writings but not much from about the fifth century to the time of the Reformation.
  • Since the Reformation, however, a lot has been written by Christians who support the teaching of Universal Restoration and they have done so using Scriptures to prove it.  
  • This teaching will NOT sink into the sands of time again … This teaching will expand as the knowledge of the Lord begins to cover the earth … and it is part of the knowledge that will set humanity free from its bondage to corruption.

** The questions and answers on this page are based, in large part, on an article, Refutation, Rebuttal, Exposition and Explanation of Universalism, by Gary Amirault of Tentmaker Ministries. Below is an excerpt from the article:

  • The term “universalism” as far as its Christian relationship is concerned, goes back to the earliest time of Christianity. In the Latin, the word Catholic meant “universal.” The earliest believers in Jesus Christ believed in the salvation of all mankind through Jesus Christ–that is–they were truly Catholic. They believed in the universalism found in the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures. They believed that the Messiah of Israel would save the world. That is what the Bible taught and that is what most of the early believers believed and that is what most of the early Christian leaders taught. The Greek word for the “restoration of all things” is apocastasis.
  • There is a tendency in man to try to label things and people so we don’t have to deal with getting to know people. If we can just put a label on someone, we can reject them without having to go through the normal searching process to find out what another human being is all about. Labels like these are quite convenient in a society where one doesn’t really have enough time. There are those we want to hear from (those who think like us) and those we don’t want to waste time on (those who don’t think like us). So if one is a staunch conservative, if we can pin the label “liberal” on someone, we don’t have to pay as much attention to that person because we “know” they don’t know what they are talking about. As a matter of fact, we may decide to not even give them the time of day. We all do this to some degree. But for many, especially those with strong feelings about something, they do it to their own loss.
  • The term “universalism” has become such a label. The modern traditional church has already deemed universalism to be heresy. If one can stick the label of “universalist” on someone, they don’t have to waste their time getting to know that person and the reasons for their beliefs. There is no need in hearing them out. As a matter of fact, one can even justify their behavior of turning away from someone who espouses universal salvation by quoting a Scripture which has become a favorite among exclusionary types:
  • “But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.” (1 Cor. 5:11, NIV)
  • Most denominations of Christendom consider universalism heresy. They believe the Victorious Gospel of Jesus Christ presents a false image of God. They believe it doesn’t properly represent God’s plan of salvation. So according to people quick to grab 1 Cor. 5:11 for a defense against having to think for themselves, anyone who comes along with something different from what they have already determined is the truth is probably one of those listed in that verse. The problem, however, in this case and this verse is that the one who penned that verse (Paul, the apostle) plainly was a universalist. He did not teach Hell. He did not teach everlasting punishment. The only time the Greek words translated Hell are in Paul’s writings is to declare victory over it. (1 Cor. 15:55, KJV, hades/hell) Paul did not teach salvation as deliverance from Hell. Most of the strongest verses proving universal salvation come from Paul’s writings.

If you’d like to read the article in its entirety, just click here and follow the link.


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