What Is Universalism?

Learn why Universalism is popular, but fatally flawed

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Universalism is a doctrine that teaches all people will be saved.

The main argument for universalism is that a good and loving God would not condemn people to eternal torment in hell. Some universalists believe that after a certain cleansing period, God will free the inhabitants of hell and reconcile them to himself. Others say that after death, people will have another opportunity to choose God. For some who adhere to Universalism, the doctrine also implies that there are many ways to get into heaven.

Universalism applies passages like Acts 3:21 and Colossians 1:20 to mean that God intends to restore all things to their original state of purity through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:18; Hebrews 2:9), so that in the end everyone will be brought into a right relationship with God (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).

But such a view runs counter to the teaching of the Bible that "all who call upon the name of the Lord" will be united to Christ and eternally saved, not all men in general.

Jesus Christ taught that those who reject him as Savior will spend eternity in hell after they die:

Universalism Ignores God's Justice

Universalism focuses exclusively on God's love and mercy and ignores his justice and wrath. It also assumes that God's love depends on what he does for humanity, rather than being a self-existing attribute of God present from eternity, before man was created.

James Fowler, president of Christ in You Ministries, notes, "Desiring to focus on the rosy optimism of the universal perfection of man, sin is, for the most part, an irrelevancy...Sin is minimized and trivialized in all universalistic teaching."

Universalism was taught by Origen (185-254 A.D.) but was declared heresy by the Council of Constantinople in 543 A.D.

It became popular again in the 19th century and is gaining traction in many Christian circles today.

Fowler adds that one reason for the resurgence of universalism is the current attitude that we should not be judgmental of any religion, idea, or person. By refusing to call anything right or wrong, universalists not only cancel the need for Christ's redeeming sacrifice, but also ignore the consequences of unrepented sin.

As a doctrine, universalism does not describe one certain denomination or faith group. The universalist camp includes members of varying doctrinal categories with differing and sometimes contradictory beliefs.


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Also Known As

universal restoration, universal reconciliation, universal restitution, universal salvation.


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Zavada, Jack. "What Is Universalism?" ThoughtCo, Mar. 4, 2018, thoughtco.com/what-is-universalism-700701. Zavada, Jack. (2018, March 4). What Is Universalism? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-universalism-700701 Zavada, Jack. "What Is Universalism?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-universalism-700701 (accessed March 17, 2018).