Article by Gary AmiraultThere is a rise in the teaching of Universalism. What is Universalism? Is Universalism Heresy? According to who? Definition of Universalism
As with many English words, there is often more than one definition. Such is the case with the word "universalism."
The 35th edition of the Webster's Collegiate Dictionary only has one meaning: "Universalism, n Theol. The doctrine that all men will eventually be saved. " Universalist, n & adj."
World Reference.com defines universalism as: A noun: universalism, the theological doctrine that all people will eventually be saved
That is precisely how, we, at Tentmaker Ministries use the term, only with some qualifications. We believe that all men (and women) will eventually be saved ONLY because of the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross, not because of any other way. We do NOT believe all religions lead to heaven
. The way into Heaven is through Jesus Christ alone.
There are many web sites that have articles refuting or exposing "universalism." I have read many of them. Many of them do not know what they are talking about. Some just copy and paste material they have not researched themselves. Others are so brain-washed by fundamentalist or evangelical doctrines it is impossible to bring into their minds even the slightest piece of information that does not line up with what they have already been programmed to believe. Some of main articles on the Internet against the Universalism found in the Bible and the early church appear at Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM, founded by Matt Slick), Don C. Hewey at 1john57, Jack Alnor at Cultlink and Eric Landstrom who has written much on the subject but doesn't have a website as far as I can tell. I mention these because they come up high on the search engines.
I encourage readers to visit those pages, read their arguments and then the material at: Scholar's Corner
See who has all the scholarship, see for yourself who has the backing of the writings of the Hebrew prophets, Jesus and His apostles and the words of the early church leaders. See who uses name-calling and labeling as their primary support of their view. Discover for yourself who can prove their position with reason, revelation and scriptures. I encourage the reader to honestly look at both sides. The reader will not find the same attitude at these sites. The supporters of the "traditional" view do NOT want readers to see the massive evidence in favor of Universalism. Enclosed at the bottom of this article is a list of Scriptures which we believe teach Biblical Universalism--or Christian Universalism--as some call it. There are also links to hundreds of articles and books on this subject at the end of this article. What is Universalism?
There are universalistic beliefs that all religions lead to the same place. We do not
believe that to be true. The "way, the truth and the life" are not in a system of beliefs, whether it includes the basic components of Christianity or not " the ultimate salvation of all mankind depends upon a person " that person is the very Son of God who came to redeem mankind from the curse.New Age Movement
There is a Universalism taught in what is commonly called the "New Age Movement." They speak of a cosmic Christ, an ascended Master, one among many other ascended masters. Among the names given as ascended masters by these various New Age groups are: Sanat Kumara, Jesus, Kuthumi, Lanello, Clara Louise, Kuan, Yin Afra, Igor, Venus, El Morya, Lanto, Paul the Venetian, Serapis Bey, Hilarion, Nada, Saint Germain, and Maha Chohan. This is NOT the universalism of Tentmaker Ministries
, or true Christian universalism. We have nothing to do with the various forms of the New Age Movement. There is only one Name under heaven by which one must be saved as far as Gary Amirault and Tentmaker Ministries goes -- that name is Jesus the Christ (English), Yeshua Ha Machiach (Hebrew), Iesus Christos (Greek). There are no "ascended masters" as far as we are concerned. Everything we believe centers around the Father of Creation, His Son Whom the Father sent to redeem the world and His Holy Spirit, Whom Jesus sent to "lead us into all truth."UUA or Unitarian Association
There is another kind of Universalism connected with the Unitarian Universalist Association. There was a time (early to mid 1800's) when there was a denomination called "Universalist Association." They had hundreds of churches with several hundred thousand members. They were also Christ and Bible centered. This denomination during the late 1800's went liberal. It had financial difficulties and lack of members. Like many other Protestant denominations that were losing members, it merged with another denomination, in this case, the Unitarian denomination which was VERY liberal. Many Bible centered churches within the Universalist Association did not participate with the merger and became independent. Some joined other denominations. Tentmaker Ministries is not associated with this group at all
. The UUA doesn't even consider itself Christian anymore. Clergy or Ministerial Diploma Mills
There are organizations like the "Universal Life Church," the "Universal Ministries," and "Universal Churches" of all kinds teaching all manners of things. Many of them are nothing more than cheap ordination institutions. Twenty-five dollars will make one an ordained minister with them. Tentmaker Ministries is not associated with any of them.Universal Redemption
There is another term which is often confused with the teaching of universalism as prophesied by the Hebrew prophets and confirmed by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah and as preached by the apostles and writers of the New Covenant (Testament) Scriptures, and that is, "universal redemption." Men like John Wesley made much use of that term. By "universal redemption" John Wesley meant that salvation was available to all mankind, but not that everyone would be saved. John Wesley wrote much on this subject because there was another teaching that was being taught which he greatly hated, the teaching of John Calvin who was perpetuating Augustine's doctrine of "limited atonement." John Calvin, as well as Augustine, taught that God foreordained who would be saved and also foreordained who would burn in Hell for all eternity. The "elect" were ordained to go to heaven while the rest of mankind were doomed to eternal torments with no hope of changing their course. Wesley's "universal redemption" doctrine refuted Calvinism and Augustinianism. While John Wesley's "universal redemption" doctrine is certainly more palatable than John Calvin's "limited atonement" and "double predestination" doctrines, it still falls short of God's plan of redemption. Clearly, Jesus came to save the world. If He doesn't save it all, He can't have fulfilled the Law and the Prophets which plainly declare the salvation of all mankind through Jesus Christ, the Son of God.Moral Universalism
There is another concept associated with the word "universalism" that has something to do with "moral universalism." I couldn't really understand what the author of an article under that heading say about it. I'll post a few paragraphs on it as a footnote. It makes no sense to me and it is not the kind of universalism, we, at Tentmaker Ministries teach or support.
This is not what the Universalism at Tentmaker Ministries is all about. We are comfortable with the terms "Biblical Universalism" and "Christian Universalism," in a general sense, but do not belong to any denominations or groups that may be incorporated by such names. The teaching of God's plan to redeem all of mankind has had many labels. The ancient church that spoke Greek called it apocatastasis, that is, the restoration of all things. Some people call it ultimate reconciliation, universal salvation, universal reconciliation, doctrine of Inclusion, universal restoration, the Larger Hope as well as other terms. Silly Name Universal Churches
Because the word "universal" has such a nice all-encompassing sound to it, many people use it as part of their organization's name. Some of the names are rather silly. How about "Universal Church Of Cosmic Uncertainty." There is the "Rational Universal Church," and the "Universal Church of Google," or the "Apotheosis of Google."Universalism From A Biblical Perspective
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 destruction. Universalism Equals Heresy
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, idolatry, that is, it presents a false image of God. So according to this line of thinking, a Christian does not even have to give the time of day to one who they think believes something different from us as regards to important doctrines in the Scriptures. 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) Paul did not teach salvation as deliverance from Hell. Most of the strongest verses proving universal salvation come from Paul's writings.Read full article by Gary Amirault here