Christian universalism

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For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive... For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death... so that God may be all in all. —Paul of Tarsus, I Corinthians 15

Christian universalism is a school of Christian theology focused around the doctrine of universal reconciliation – the view that all human beings will ultimately be saved and restored to a right relationship with God. Christian universalism can also be understood as a synonym for that very view.

See also:
Christian anarchism
Christian pacifism
Unitarian Universalism


God hides nothing. His very work from the beginning is revelation, — a casting aside of veil after veil, a showing unto men of truth after truth. ~ George MacDonald
The mission of the Universalist church has been... first to contravert the one-time prevalent idea of an endless hell. This part of the mission has practically been accomplished... But the second and more important one awaits fulfillment... a fight which shall continue until the real, actual hells, before our very eyes, are destroyed. ~ Henry Clay Ledyard
  • I am a convinced universalist. I believe that in the end all men will be gathered into the love of God.
    • William Barclay, author of the Daily Study Bible, a set of commentaries on the New Testament A Spiritual Autobiography, pg 65–67, William B Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, 1977.
  • Hell exists as a final possibility, but several of the Fathers have none the less believed that in the end all will be reconciled to God. It is heretical to say that all must be saved, for this is to deny free will; but it is legitimate to hope that all may be saved. Until the Last Day comes, we must not despair of anyone’s salvation, but must long and pray for the reconciliation of all without exception. No one must be excluded from our loving intercession. ‘What is a merciful heart?’ asked Isaac the Syrian. ‘It is a heart that burns with love for the whole of creation, for men, for the birds, for the beasts, for the demons, for all creatures.’ Gregory of Nyssa said that Christians may legitimately hope even for the redemption of the Devil.
  • The power that teaches us piety, the word of salvation... comes to many, and subdues to itself all whom it visits: for there is nothing that shall resist it, inasmuch as it is and shall be itself the king of all; although as yet it is hidden, and is not recognised... the Holy Word, the most lovely object of all, who attracts all irresistibly toward Himself by His unutterable beauty... the Saviour of all men, even of the half-dead and the despoiled, the Protector and Physician for all, the Word, that sleepless Keeper of all.
  • Formerly the world, as guilty, was under judgment from the Law; but now the Word has taken on Himself the judgment, and having suffered in the body for all, has bestowed salvation to all. With a view to this has John exclaimed, 'The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.' (John 1:17)
  • After those worthy of restoration to their original state have been saved..., those entirely lawless and those persevering in sin "shall be broken together" (Isa 1:28)... But perhaps even in those whom God benefits, wishing them "to walk in newness of life" (Rom 6:4), He breaks their "old man" (Rom 6:6). That is why "sacrifice to God is a broken spirit" (Psa 51:17). For "the spirit of the world" (1 Cor 2:12) which effects sin is broken, so that "a straight [spirit] will be renewed in the inward parts" of man (Psa 51:10). "The arm of the sinner" is also "broken", that is the active power of sin, in order that "his sin may be sought for and not found." (Psa 10:15). Such is also the pronouncement: "I will kill and I will make alive; I will smite and I will heal" (Deut 32:39). For God will kill him who lives in an evil way, so that after purification of the evil life He may grant him a new one. Therefore the lawless and sinners shall be broken together, so they may cease to be rebellious and disobedient. ... For Paul also said when prophesying to the Thessalonians about "the son of perdition" (2 Thes 2:3): "The Lord Jesus will destroy him with the spirit of His mouth and annihilate [him] by the manifestation of His advent" (2 Thes 2:8). For if the "destruction" is a complete obliteration, how shall he be "annihilated" who no longer exists? But quite clearly it is the falsehood which is in the lawless that will be obliterated utterly "with the spirit of the mouth of Truth" and thus "he shall be annihilated by the manifestation of Christ’s advent". We have already observed many times that vices are utterly obliterated, not the beings themselves in which they occur, as here: "And He will obliterate the way of sinners" (Psa 146:9), and "The way of the impious shall perish." (Psa 1:6)
  • The peace from the Lord is co-extensive with the whole of eternity, being unlimited and boundless. For all shall be subjected to Him and all shall recognise His mastery, and when God shall be all in all, and those making an uproar by their apostasies are silenced, all in peaceful harmony shall praise God with hymns.
    • St. Basil the Great, ibid., Chapter 9, p. 276
  • Whenever the time comes that the tabernacle of our nature is as it were to be fixed up again in the Resurrection, and all the inveterate corruption of sin has vanished from the world, then a universal feast will be kept around the Deity by those who have decorated themselves in the Resurrection; and one and the same banquet will be spread for all, with no differences cutting off any rational creature from an equal participation in it; for those who are now excluded by reason of their sin will at last be admitted within the Holiest places of God's blessedness... The Apostle says the same thing more plainly when he indicates the final accord of the whole Universe with the Good: "That" to Him "every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth: And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philipp 2:10) ... one festival of united voices shall occupy us all; that festival shall be the confession and the recognition of the Being Who truly Is.
  • When death, and corruption, and darkness, and every other offshoot of evil had grown into the nature of the author of evil, the approach of the Divine power, acting like fire, and making that unnatural accretion to disappear, thus by purgation of the evil becomes a blessing to that nature, though the separation is agonizing... When, after long periods of time, the evil of our nature, which now is mixed up with it and has grown with its growth, has been expelled, and when there has been a restoration of those who are now lying in Sin to their primal state, a harmony of thanksgiving will arise from all creation, as well from those who in the process of the purgation have suffered chastisement, as from those who needed not any purgation at all. These and the like benefits the great mystery of the Divine incarnation bestows... He accomplished all the results before mentioned, freeing both man from evil, and healing even the introducer of evil himself.
  • "When all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him: that God may be all in all." (1 Cor 15:28) ... Are not all things now subject unto Him? ... How, then, will they be brought into subjection? In the way that the Lord Himself has said. "Take My yoke upon you." (Mat 11:29) It is not the fierce that bear the yoke, but the humble and the gentle. This clearly is no base subjection for men, but a glorious one... all things were not made subject before, for they had not yet received the wisdom of God, not yet did they wear the easy yoke of the Word on the neck as it were of their mind. ... Will any one say that Christ is now made subject, because many have believed? Certainly not. For Christ's subjection lies not in a few but in all. ... we divide Christ as long as the human race disagrees. Therefore Christ is not yet made subject, for His members are not yet brought into subjection. But when we have become, not many members, but one spirit, then He also will become subject, in order that through His subjection "God may be all and in all." But as Christ is not yet made subject, so is the work of God not yet perfected; for the Son of God said: "My meat is to do the will of My Father that sent Me, and to finish His work." (John 4:34)
  • What compassionate kindness and abundant goodness belongs to the Creator! ... In love did He bring the world into existence; in love does He guide it during this its temporal existence; in love is He going to bring it to that wondrous transformed state, and in love will the world be swallowed up in the great mystery of Him who has performed all things; in love will the whole course of the governance of creation be finally comprised. And since in the New World the Creator’s love rules over all rational nature, the wonder at His mysteries that will be revealed then will captivate to itself the intellect of all rational beings whom He has created so that they might have delight in Him, whether they be evil or whether they be just. With this design did He bring them into existence, even though they among themselves have made, after their coming into being, this distinction between the just and the wicked. ... The Creator and His love did not change because they underwent change after He had brought them into being... if it were otherwise, He would be subject to change just as created beings are—a shocking idea.
  • Demons will not remain in their demonic state, and sinners will not remain in their sins; rather, He is going to bring them to a single equal state of perfection in relationship to His own Being — to a state in which the holy angels now are, in perfection of love and a passionless mind.
  • I know that many understand this king of Nineveh (Jonah 3:6) to be the devil, who at the end of the world, since no creature that is rational and which was made by God may perish, will come down from his pride and repent and be restored to his former place. To confirm this opinion they also bring forward that example from Daniel where Nabuchadnezzar repented for seven years and was restored to his former kingdom (Daniel 4:30-37).
    • St. Jerome, Commentary on Jonah, transl. by Timothy Michael Hegedus, p. 51
  • I think we in evangelical Christianity have ignored the Sovereignty of God and limited the scope and sweep of His great Love toward all. Scripture says, "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:20)— He died once for all. (Romans 6:10 and 1 Peter 3:18) And contrary to popular opinion, our belief systems and religious presuppositions do not invalidate or reverse the effectiveness or efficiency of the finished work of Calvary. (Romans 3:3).
  • God hides nothing. His very work from the beginning is revelation, — a casting aside of veil after veil, a showing unto men of truth after truth. On and on, from fact to fact divine he advances, until at length in his Son Jesus he unveils his very face. Then begins a fresh unveiling, for the very work of the Father is the work the Son himself has to do, — to reveal. His life was the unveiling of himself, and the unveiling of the Son is still going on, and is that for the sake of which the world exists. When he is unveiled, that is, when we know the Son, we shall know the Father also. The whole of creation, its growth, its history, the gathering total of human existence, is an unveiling of the Father. He is the life, the eternal life, the Only. I see it — ah! believe me — I see it as I cannot say it. From month to month it grows upon me. The lovely home-light, the one essence of peaceful being, is God himself.
    He loves light and not darkness, therefore shines, therefore reveals. True, there are infinite gulfs in him, into which our small vision cannot pierce, but they are gulfs of light, and the truths there are invisible only through excess of their own clarity. There is a darkness that comes of effulgence, and the most veiling of all veils is the light. That for which the eye exists is light, but through light no human eye can pierce. — I find myself beyond my depth. I am ever beyond my depth, afloat in an infinite sea; but the depth of the sea knows me, for the ocean of my being is God. — What I would say is this, that the light is not blinding because God would hide, but because the truth is too glorious for our vision. The effulgence of himself God veiled that he might unveil it — in his Son. Inter-universal spaces, icons, eternities — what word of vastness you can find or choose — take unfathomable darkness itself, if you will, to express the infinitude of God, that original splendor existing only to the consciousness of God himself — I say he hides it not, but is revealing it ever, for ever, at all cost of labor, yea of pain to himself. His whole creation is a sacrificing of himself to the being and well-being of his little ones, that, being wrought out at last into partakers of his divine nature, that nature may be revealed in them to their divinest bliss. He brings hidden things out of the light of his own being into the light of ours.
    But see how different we are, — until we learn of him! See the tendency of man to conceal his treasures, to claim even truth as his own by discovery, to hide it and be proud of it, gloating over that which he thinks he has in himself, instead of groaning after the infinite of God! We would be forever heaping together possessions, dragging things into the cave of our finitude, our individual self, not perceiving that the things which pass that dreariest of doors, whatever they may have been, are thenceforth "but straws, small sticks, and dust of the floor." When a man would have a truth in thither as if it were of private interpretation, he drags in only the bag which the truth, remaining outside, has burst and left.
  • [A]ll men are His; some through knowledge, and others not yet so; and some as friends, some as faithful servants, some as servants merely. This is the Teacher, who trains the Gnostic by mysteries, and the believer by good hopes, and the hard of heart by corrective discipline through sensible operation. ... And how is He Saviour and Lord, if not the Saviour and Lord of all? But He is the Saviour of those who have believed, because of their wishing to know; and the Lord of those who have not believed, till, being enabled to confess him, they obtain the peculiar and appropriate boon which comes by Him. ... Therefore, a hater of man, the Saviour can never be; who, for His exceeding love to human flesh, despising not its susceptibility to suffering, but investing Himself with it, came for the common salvation of men ... Nay more, He will never neglect His own work, because man alone of all the other living creatures was in his creation endowed with a conception of God. ... Everything, then, which did not hinder a man's choice from being free, He made and rendered auxiliary to virtue, in order that there might be revealed somehow or other, even to those capable of seeing but dimly, the one only almighty, good God — from eternity to eternity saving by His Son. ... He is in no respect whatever the cause of evil. For all things are arranged with a view to the salvation of the universe by the Lord of the universe, both generally and particularly. It is then the function of the righteousness of salvation to improve everything as far as practicable. For even minor matters are arranged with a view to the salvation of that which is better, and for an abode suitable for people's character. Now everything that is virtuous changes for the better; having as the proper cause of change the free choice of knowledge, which the soul has in its own power. But necessary corrections, through the goodness of the great overseeing Judge, both by the attendant angels, and by various acts of anticipative judgment, and by the perfect judgment, compel egregious sinners to repent.
  • [Jesus says to John the Baptist:] It becomes me to be baptized with this baptism for the present, and afterwards to bestow the baptism of the consubstantial Trinity upon all men. ... Baptize me, who am destined to baptize those who believe in me with water, and with the Spirit, and with fire: with water, capable of washing away the defilement of sins; with the Spirit, capable of making the earthly spiritual; with fire, naturally fitted to consume the thorns of transgressions. (Hebrews 6:8)
  • Come and stand here on our side, that is, on the side of humanity. Let us magnify the Lord together... But perhaps we are not convincing you? Then we will weep for you. Let these men then if they will, follow our way, which is Christ's way; but if they will not, let them go their own. Perhaps in it they will be baptized with Fire, in that last Baptism which is more painful and longer, which devours wood like grass, and consumes the stubble of every evil. (1 Cor 3:12-19)
  • Release the chained shades of the infernal prison, and recall to the upper regions whatever sinks to the lowest depths. Give back Your face, that the world may see the light; give back the day which flees from us at Your death. But returning, O holy conqueror! You altogether filled the heaven! Tartarus lies depressed, nor retains its rights. The ruler of the lower regions, insatiably opening his hollow jaws, who has always been a spoiler, becomes a prey to You. You rescue an innumerable people from the prison of death, and they follow in freedom to the place whither their leader approaches. The fierce monster in alarm vomits forth the multitude whom he had swallowed up, and the Lamb withdraws the sheep from the jaw of the wolf. Hence re-seeking the tomb from the lower regions, having resumed Your flesh, as a warrior You carry back ample trophies to the heavens. Those whom chaos held in punishment he has now restored; and those whom death might seek, a new life holds.
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