Essay on Universalism

Published: 2021/11/23
Number of words: 654

Universalism, the idea that every soul will be saved. Even though Origen of Alexandria wrote about Universalism about the year AD 300, it was until the 18th century that Universalism became an organized movement. Calvinistic theology had its harsher elements alleviated by the Enlightenment, which paved the door for the return of the idea of universal redemption. The Universalists thought it inconceivable that a loving God would design an election system that would provide salvation to a certain subset of people and impose everlasting damnation on the rest. They contended that afterlife punishment was temporary, intended to cleanse the soul for eternity while in the presence of God.

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George De Benneville (1703–93) was an early proponent of Universalism in the United States and is known as the “forerunner” of Universalism in the United States. John Murray, a minister who emigrated from England to the American colonies in the late 1700s, was a major figure in the early Universalist movement. His teachings on universal salvation spread across most of the colonies, but they encountered significant resistance from those who saw universal salvation as promoting immorality[1]. Murray’s Universalism was a milder form of Calvinism. Universalists like Hosea Ballou ended Calvinism at the end of the 18th century. Because of Ballou’s Unitarian interpretation of God, the atonement was understood in terms of God’s boundless and unchanging love for his offspring. In addition, Ballou emphasized the importance of reason in religion. During the 19th century, Universalists and Unitarians shared many beliefs and customs, thus Universalists were often mistaken for Unitarians. Various efforts to bring the two faiths’ national organizations together, which included a convention and a merger, culminating in the 1960 and 1961 creation of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and its merger with the American Unitarian Association (AUA).

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Church polity is Universalist. In addition to being autonomous, each church handles its own affairs but also participates in district or regional groups. The Unitarian Universalist Association is made up of local congregations and districts and aims to represent the continental movement. Each Universalist congregation may select a worship style that it finds inspiring. Liturgical services are not frequent, with the preaching receiving prominent attention. Universalists have varied significantly in issues of religion from the beginning. There were only limited successes in their attempts to create declarations of faith, including one done as late as 1935[2]. While religion, freedom of individual interpretation, tolerance of diversity, agreement on approaches to church and theological issues, and the belief in the inherent dignity of man have been the key elements that have kept the movement together, liberalism, freedom of individual interpretation, tolerance of diversity, agreement on methods of approaching church and theological issues, and the belief in the inherent dignity of man have been important. For the Universalists, using reason and testing religious beliefs in the light of scientific findings are key aspects of religion. Thus, contemporary knowledge is irreconcilable with the supernatural aspects of traditional Christianity. Some regard Jesus to be a wonderful teacher and a positive role model, but they do not believe he is divine. In the 20th century, a more generalized version of Universalism started to develop. Though Universalists stressed their Christian connections, they were investigating universal concepts of religion and in search of new religious alliances.

References

Khader, Serene J. Decolonizing universalism: A transnational feminist ethic. Studies in Feminist Philosophy, 2018.

Enke, Benjamin, Ricardo Rodríguez-Padilla, and Florian Zimmermann. Moral universalism and the structure of ideology. No. w27511. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2020.

[1] Khader, Serene J. Decolonizing universalism: A transnational feminist ethic. Studies in Feminist Philosophy, 2018.

[2] Enke, Benjamin, Ricardo Rodríguez-Padilla, and Florian Zimmermann. Moral universalism and the structure of ideology. No. w27511. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2020.

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