Tracing Universalist Thought Through Church History

The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
Proverbs 4:18

The Didascalia (the Catechetical school of Alexandria)
Pantaenus
Clement of Alexandria
Origen
Athenasius, Archbishop of Alexandria
Didymus, the Blind
Bishop Ambrose
John Chrysostum
Gregory of Nyssa
Macrina, the younger
Basil the Great
Gregory of Nazianzus
Theodore of Mopsuestia (and the Nestorians)
Eusibius
Bishop Diodore
Jerome
Maximus of Turin
Clement of Ireland
John Scotus Erigena
Johann Tauler
Julian of Norwich
John Donne

Jakob Boheme

Gerrard Winstanley
Hans Denck

Jane Leade

The Anabaptists
The Albigenses
The Lollards
Peter Bohler (and the Moravians)

William Law

Sir. Isaac Newton
Johann Kasper Lavater
Victor Hugo
John Donne
Canon Kingsley

Isaac Watts

Marie Huber

Anne Bronte

Oberlin

Immanuel Kant

James Relly

Nathaniel Scarlett
Lord and Lady Byron

Robert and Elizabeth Browning

William King, Archbishop of Dublin

Lewis Carroll
Samuel Johnson

Thomas Hobbes

Elhanan Winchester
George Washington
Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Rush
John Murray
Thomas Potter
Hosea Ballou
Hannah Whitall Smith

Bishop Westcott

Dr. George De Benneville

Florence Nightengale

Clara Barton

John Wesley Hanson
Thomas Allin

James Relly

Abraham Lincoln
Judith Sargent Murray
Rev. Charles A. Pridgeon
Sadhu Sundar Singh
Thomas Whittimore

Canon F.W. Farrar

Hans Christian Anderson
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Henry Ward Beecher
Andrew Jukes
Friedrich Schleiermacher
Canon Wilberforce
John A.T. Robinson
A.E. Knoch
J.W. Hansen
George MacDonald
A.P. Adams
Jacques Ellul
Paul Tillich

Hannah Hurnard

Karl Barth
Ray Prinzing
Hans Urs Von Balthasar
William Barclay
J. Preston Eby
Jurgen Moltmann
Ernest L. Martin

 

Non-Universalists on this Subject

Finis Dake
Robert Ingersoll
G. K. Chesterton
Catherine Marshall
John G. Lake
Andrew Murray
C.S. Lewis
Like a golden thread woven through the Bible, so runs the doctrine of the restoration of all things. While not immediately apparent, once visible, it stands out as a central doctrine of both Old and New Testaments.
In the same way, universalist thought also runs like a stream throughout church history; sometimes flowing strong and clear, other times running mostly underground. The wellspring of this doctrine flows from the apostolic church of the New Testament, and is clearly expressed in Paul's writings. Starting in the first century of Christianity, the doctrine was developed most acutely amongst the native Greek speakers--those who were closest to the heart and times in which the New Testament was written. These early leaders cast a long shadow of influence upon the church, as others carried their torch—but perhaps their greatest influence has been reserved for our day and age.

Just as our forefathers suffered and died martyr's deaths for truths that we take for granted today and that are universally accepted across Christendom, so today cries of heresy continue to arise against truths that we believe future generations of the church will hold to be evident. But so is the pattern of the ongoing Christian reformation!

A criticism that has sometimes been levied against Christian universalism is that it has never been accepted as a biblical doctrine by the majority of the church. While we think that the true measure of a doctrine should be Scripture itself, and not necessarily the majority, we nevertheless recognize the importance of apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists who have been given to the church at large by the Lord Himself. There is much to learn from studying the lives and doctrines of those who have gone before us—and what may be surprising to some, is that there actually have been many respected leaders throughout the history of the church who have grappled with or embraced this idea. Indeed, every true Christian has struggled at some point with the idea of eternal torment for non-believers. However, because Scripture apparently teaches it emphatically and because the majority leadership have declared that ultimate reconciliation is heresy (and some go so far as to say that it is heresy even to study the idea), a typical believer is left with no option but to continue believing in eternal torment.

We hope that this page will help to change that. While we have much information on Tentmaker, proving from the original languages of the Bible that Christian Universalism is a solid biblical and historical doctrine, we hope this page will also be helpful for the person who needs to see others who have also studied or embraced this doctrine. We use the term "Christian Universalism in the article, but this glorious teaching is as old as the first book of the Bible and has been preached under many different names, just to mention a few: Universalism, Larger Hope, Greater Faith, No-Hellers, Ultimate Reconciliation, Universal Salvation, Universal Restitution, Universal Restoration, Doctrine of Inclusion, Glorious Gospel and more. I personally (Gary Amirault, founder of Tentmaker Ministries) have been calling in "The Victorious Gospel of Jesus Christ." I like the ring of that phrase. It is victory centered, Gospel centered and Christ centered. It is positive and bold. I am hoping more people in this message begin to use this term to describe Christ's victorious plan to save all mankind.

Please note that while not every person listed on this page would necessarily call themselves a universalist, all of these are people who grappled with the issue of salvation, redemption, Hell, and the fate of the unsaved. While some leaders merely expressed hope for the possibility of an ultimate reconciliation, or were sympathetic to the idea, others confidently asserted its truth, proving it from Scripture.

We include them on this page, in the hopes that some who have been afraid to study the subject of universal redemption for fear of heresy, will see that many of the great minds of the church have at least been open to the idea--while others have been strongly supportive of the doctrine.

May the boldness of thought represented on these pages encourage others to also think boldly, largely—and scripturally—of our God. Surely there is a great reformation on the horizon of the Christian church, and the doctrine of the restitution of all things is certainly a part of it!

May God bless and open the eyes and ears of all who read these pages.

 

Please note: This page is a work in progress and will be expanded considerably. The biographies are not extensive--rather they are mere brief introductions to these lives. There are many more names that need to be added, including many contemporary Christians. We will contine adding to and expanding this list in the days ahead. For a longer (but much less detailed) list of names, please click here.

These pages are being edited and compiled by Mercy Aiken, Gary Amiraul and others. If you have researched or studied any of these people, and you would like to share your writings and findings with us for use on this page, please contact me

For a longer list of writers, pastors, Bible scholars, humanitarians, statespeople who embraced the message of universalism, also known as Universal Salvation, Ultimate Reconciliation, Universal Restoration, The Larger Hope, The Greater Faith, apokatastatis, the Restoration of All Things, Doctrine of Inclusion, etc. see:

List of famous people embracing Christian Universalism


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What is Christian Universalism?



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