Basic Doctrines of Christian Universalism

True Biblical Christianity is a universal religion. Herein is its pre-eminence. It is for man everywhere and in all times. No other religion has so clearly asserted this claim for itself, and no other promises to do so much for mankind. Its principles are as old as the Christian records. It was prophecied in the Old Testament and revealed in the New Testament. It is the faith that was declared by Jesus, the Apostles, and the Christian church in it's earliest days. It claims the New Testament as the basis of its doctrines. It cites the Gospels, the Apostolic History and the Epistles, Christ, and his first ministers, as authority for its pretensions. It signifies God's unchanging paternal interest in all his children; an interest insuring his just dealing with them for their obedience or disobedience of his beneficent laws, and their final release from sin, and life in righteousness. This faith is also known as "Christian Universalism".

In the following three sections will be found an elucidation of the doctrines of this faith.

In the first section will be found a brief history of the growth of Christian Universalism as a complete Biblical system of faith and an explanation of its doctrines with Biblical references. This section was adapted from a Sunday School tract that was published in the 1800's.

In the second section will be found a table containing the Five Principles of Faith, which are a brief summary of the basic doctrines of this faith, and a consise Profession of Faith which is suitable for use in private or public devotions and services. The first three articles (paragraphs) of this profession are known as the historic "Winchester Profession" which has been used by many churches and individuals since its inception at Winchester, New Hampshire in 1803. A fourth article (paragraph) was appended by some Christian Universalists at a later date and is displayed at the bottom of the table containing the profession. The "Winchester Profession is commended as containing the Five Principles of Faith.

True Biblical Christianity
or "Christian Universalism"

Its Growth into a Complete Biblical System of Faith
and Its Doctrines with Biblical References

It should be observed that we use the word "Universalism" to refer to the more correct term, "Christian Universalism". In this respect, the word "Universalism" is used in two senses: first, as the name of a single distinctive doctrine; and secondly, as the common appellation of a whole system of faith. These different uses of the word must be kept in mind, in order to avoid misapprehensions, into which the learned sometimes carelessly fall. In the following we will endeavor to make it clear.

First, "Christian Universalism", in its simple and proper theological sense, is the doctrine of universal salvation; or in other words, of the final holiness and happiness of all mankind, to be effected by the grace of God, through the ministry of his Son, Jesus Christ.

This is well known to be no novel doctrine in the world. It is as old as Christianity itself, and has been believed and taught by some of the best and most learned men in the Christian Church, and in almost every period of her history. It is remarked by Doederlein, that the more distinguished for learning any one was, in Christian antiquity, the more he cherished and defended the hope, that punishment would ultimately come to an end. And Olshausen, another learned German, says, that Universalism is, without doubt, deeply rooted in noble minds; it is an expression of the longing for perfected harmony in the universe.

Believed as Universalism has been, and still is by men so widely separated by space and time, men of' almost every variety of creed in the Church, and of school in philosophy, we cannot expect to find an agreement among them, except on this and a few connected doctrines. Such a thing would in the nature of the case be impossible. In ancient times, there were orthodox and heretics alike, who believed in the final salvation of all men; and in modern times, we find members of almost every Christian communion, Greek, Romish, Lutheran, Church of England, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Unitarian, Friends, etc., etc., differing widely in many respects, but all agreeing in this one Divine truth, that God loves all men, and will have them to be saved; that Christ gave himself a ransom for all, and that all will ultimately be brought to holiness and happiness.

Origen, while he lived, was a most honored member of the orthodox church, but was voted a heretic two or three centuries after his death, but not because of his belief in universal salvation. Tillotson was an archbishop, and Newton a bishop of the English church; Reinhard and Jung Stilling were evangelical Lutherans; Oberlin, the world-known pastor of Waldbach, was a French Protestant; William Law, the author of the Serious Call, was a mystic; Theophilus Lindsey was a Unitarian; James Relly. a Calvinistic Trinitarian; Dr. Priestly, a believer in Philosophical necessity; and the Germans, Beyer and Bochshammer, advocates of freedom of the will; but all were believers in universal salvation, or the final holiness and happiness of all mankind.

Universalism, in this simple and proper sense, has existed in almost all ages of the Church. As time progressed a complete Biblical system of faith developed, holding to universal salvation, or the final holiness and happiness of all mankind as its distinctive doctrine, and taking its name from this peculiar feature of its faith. This, then, is the second and wider meaning of the term we are considering. In this sense it comprehends the general doctrines maintained as a complete Biblical system of faith by the majority of the Universalists associated with the once existent denomination known as the Universalist Church of America, and also, by many independent Universalist churches and individuals within other denominations. If it be asked, then, what Universalism in this large sense is -- that is, what we as "Christian Universalists", in stating that "Christian Universalism" is a complete Biblical system of faith, believe, we reply:

  1. We believe the authenticity, genuineness, and inspiration, of the Holy Scriptures; that both the Old and New Testaments contain the revealed will of God and that the Bible is the only and sufficient rule of faith and practice.

1. The Bible

2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:20-21

  1. We believe the existence of the one living and true God, the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of all worlds, beings, and things. We believe that God is self-existent, independent and eternal; omniscient and omnipresent; infinite in wisdom, goodness and power; in justice, mercy and truth. With Saint Paul we say, "To us there is but one God, even the Father." We believe God to be the universal Father of mankind; the Father of Spirits, our Father in heaven, who loves the whole human family, without exception, even while they are yet sinners, who is kind to the unthankful and to the evil, and who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. In one word, we believe that God is Love.

2. God

Matt. 6:9; Luke 6:35; Rom. 5:8; 1 Cor. 8:6; 1 Tim. 2:4; Heb. 12:9; 1 John 4:8

  1. We believe that to manifest his love for the human race, God sent his Son Jesus Christ into the world, to reveal more perfectly the divine character and purposes, and finally, through death and resurrection, to bring life and immortality to light. We believe that Christ is the brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of his person. We believe that he is appointed by the Father, heir of all things, and is Lord of all, and the he must reign, till he has subdued all things to himself, when he himself will deliver up the kingdom to the Father that God may be all in all. Thus he will save his people from their sins, and be what inspiration proclaims him to be, the Savior of the world. To this end we believe he gave himself a ransom for all, and tasted death for every man, for God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.

3. Jesus Christ

Matt. 1:21; Acts 10:36; 1 Cor. 15:25, 28; 2 Cor. 5:19; 1 Tim. 2:6; Heb. 1:2-3; Heb. 2:9; 1 John 4:14

  1. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the spirit of God, the spirit of truth, the Comfortor, the guide, who convicts the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment, and whose fruits in the believing soul are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

4. Holy Spirit

John 14:16-17; John 16:7-13; Gal. 5:22-23

  1. We believe in the importance of indespensable necessity of repentance, that is, godly sorrow for sin, and a true reformation of heart and life.

5. Repentence

Acts 3:19; Heb. 11:6

  1. We believe in the new birth, or a change of heart, effected in the soul by a cordial belief of the gospel truth, accompanied by the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit.

6. New Birth

John 3:3; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal 5:22-23

  1. We believe in the importance of good works, not to purchase salvation, or gain the love of God -- for salvation is of grace alone, and God loves even his enemies -- but as the natural fruits of the gospel cordially received, the evidences of indwelling grace, and because they are good and profitable to men.

7. Good Works

Titus 3:8; 1 John 4:19; 5:1:-2

  1. We believe in a just and equitable, and at the same time, a parental administration of the divine government; in which God renders to every man according to his works, so that he that does wrong shall receive for the wrong which he has done, and there is no respect of persons. Beyond this state of rewards and punishments, we believe a state of immortal felicity will be conferred upon the whole human family, as a free gift, by the infinite grace of the Father, through Christ Jesus.

8. Judgment

Ps. 62:12; Rom. 5:12-21; Eph. 2:4-9; Col. 3:25

  1. We believe in the universal resurrection of the dead; for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

9. Resurrection

1 Cor. 15:22

  1. We believe in a life and immortality for the human race beyond the grave, where the mortal shall put on immortality, and where man can die no more, but shall be as the angels, and be children of God.

10. Everlasting Life

Luke 20:36; 1 Cor. 15:23

  1. We believe that, in the fulness of time, God will bring together all things in Christ, when, in the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow, of things in heaven and in earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father; when, as by one man's disobedience, many are made sinners, so, by the obedience of one, shall the same many be made righteous; in one word, when Christ shall have taken away the sin of the world, accomplished the great mission on which he came, done the will of God, seen the fruits of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied, and GOD BE ALL IN ALL.

11. The Consummation

Isa. 53:11; Rom. 5:19; 1 Cor. 15:28; Eph. 1:9-10; Phil. 2:10-11

It cannot be said, perhaps, that "Christian Universalists" are fully agreed, on all points of doctrine, though we believe few or no exceptions could be taken to the above statements. We doubt not there exists as good a degree of harmony, both of faith and feeling, among them as is to be found in any group of equal numbers. They differ in their views of the freedom of the will, some adopting the doctrine of Edwards, and others that of his opposers; and also upon the place and duration of punishment, some believing in limited punishment in the future state, and others not.

Such, in few words, is "Christian Universalism." May the reader impartially read, candidly consider, and, like the Bereans of old, search the Scriptures daily, whether these things be so.

For additional information, read the article What is "Christian Universalism"?.

Also, see the other articles on the Christian Universalism and Related Concepts web page.


The Winchester Profession of Faith
Adopted by the General Convention of Universalists in 1803
The Seal
adopted in 1870.
The Five Principles of Faith
adopted in 1899.

We believe, that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments contain a revelation of the character of God, and of the duty, interest, and final destination of mankind.

We believe there is one God, whose nature is love; revealed in one Lord Jesus Christ, by one Holy Spirit of grace, who will finally restore the whole family of mankind to holiness and happiness.

We believe, that holiness and true happiness are inseparably connected; and that believers ought to maintain order, and practice good works, for these things are good and profitable unto men.

  1. The Universal Fatherhood of God (see note below)
  2. The spiritual authority and leadership of His Son Jesus Christ
  3. The trustworthiness of the Bible as containing a revelation from God
  4. The certainty of just retribution for sin
  5. The final harmony of all souls with God

Note: By creation, God is the Universal Father of all humans, and loves and cares for them with a Father's love.

Below is a
Fourth Article of the Winchester Profession
which was never officially adopted by the General Convention but was added
by some Universalists at a later date

We believe that God, as the moral governor of the universe, will restore righteous and equitable rewards and punishments upon all mankind according to their several characters or deserts; but that all punishment will be remedial, and consequently limited.