Christian Universalism

"Christian Universalism" is the position that all of mankind will ultimately be saved through Jesus whether or not faith is professed in Him in this life. It claims that God's qualities of love, sovereignty, justice, etc., require that all people be saved and that eternal punishment is a false doctrine. Salvation is not from hell, but from sin.
There are two main camps in Christian Universalism:

  1. Those who teach that the unrepentant will be punished in a future state, and that their punishment will be proportional to the degree of sin committed in the mortal state. They generally hold that the punishment is moral and not physical. There is no hell. They do not maintain that salvation is merited through these sufferings.
  2. Those who teach that all the punishment for sin occurs in this life and that God's discipline in our lives is for the purpose of purifying us, though this purification is not our merit for salvation. In eternity, there will be a loss of reward for those who did not trust in Christ in this lifetime.

Christian Universalists claim to hold many of the tenets of historic Christianity: Trinity, deity of Christ, deity of the Holy Spirit, salvation by grace, etc. As always, it is necessary to inquire and ask what is meant by the terms they use because the diversity that exists in universalist beliefs warrants further examination. Nevertheless, the Christian universalists claim to affirm:

  1. The inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible.
    1. From what I have seen here, they hold to the orthodox position.
  2. There is only one God.
    1. From what I have encountered, most universalists who claim the title "Christian universalists" do not accept the standard doctrine of the Trinity, but lean more towards either Arianism (God is one person, Jesus is created) to modalism (God takes different forms in history). This is, of course, heretical.
  3. Jesus is the Son of the Living God
    1. Many cult groups say the same thing. What they mean by the phrase is what is important. The Christian Universalists tend to say the Son is a manifestation, an image, a representation of God's essence, yet he is not equal to the Father. Therefore, they are denying His true deity. But, not all who claim to be Christian Universalists deny this.
    2. Some hold that Jesus is not God but that He is divine. This is perplexing since divinity is a quality of God, not angels or men.
  4. Jesus' Resurrection
    1. Most Christian Universalists affirm the physical resurrection of Jesus. But, some claim he did not rise from the dead physically, but was assumed into heaven to dwell with God. "The Crucified is living forever with God, as our hope. Resurrection does not mean either a return to life in space and time or a continuation of life in space and time but the assumption into that incomprehensible and comprehensive last and first reality which we call God."1
      1. If, by the above quote, the physical resurrection of Jesus is denied, as it seems it is, then anyone who holds to that position is indeed a non-Christian since it denies one of the essential doctrines of Christianity.
  5. The Holy Spirit is God's presence
    1. There is a surprisingly common denial of the personhood of the Holy Spirit. (Personhood is self-awareness, a will, the ability to speak, etc.). This is a serious error on the part of those who hold to it. But to be fair, many universalists affirm the Holy Spirit as the third person in the Godhead.
  6. There is no salvation without accepting Jesus as Savior
    1. This statement is problematic for two reasons:
      1. Since, to many universalists, Jesus is not truly God by nature, they have an improper object of faith (denying the Trinitarian nature of God and the deity of Christ). Their faith, then, is useless since they have violated the command to worship no other God (Exodus 20) and are worshiping a false god. The Jesus they believe in, is not the real one. This means they are definitely not Christian.
      2. There is a second chance theology at work here where people who have rejected Jesus in this life can come to faith in the next life, even though he has flatly rejected Jesus' sacrificial atonement.
  7. Some Universalists believe...
    1. in consciousness after death, others do not.
    2. in limited punishment of sinners in a type of hell that is not of fire, but of some moral chastising.
    3. that punishment in the afterlife was for a limited period during which the soul was purified and prepared for eternity in the presence of God.

"Christian Universalism" really isn't Christian and it is meshed with many other unorthodox and erroneous teachings. This belief system should be avoided.

  • 1. Quoted from Kung, Hans, "On Being a Christian: Twenty Propositions," "The Christian Challenge," 1979, p. 313-16, as found at, #10.

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.