The Universalist Heritage and universalism

July 14, 2006

Scott Wells at Boy in the Bands says, in part “But this goes to the point that, though exiting the fellowship of the Unitarian Universalist Association, I’ll still be a Universalist. Or a universalist. Not sure which, yet.”

I was going to reply at his site, but this comment sort of grew.

Having grown up in a liberal Christian tradition which assumed universal salvation without ever formally describing it in terms of a realised theology, I have found the existence of a denomination of Universalists (even if defunct) fascinating and I would hate for that tradition to be lost.

I am increasingly seeing a difference between “I hope God won’t send anyone to hell” and “I believe God will save all”, and to hold to the second in the face of the hostility and laughter of both most Christians and most secular agnostics there needs to be a clear witness and support available.

All of which is a long winded way of saying that the Universalist tradition shouldn’t be allowed to be forgotten because it is the only example I know of universalist theology being proclaimed by a group and not just individual theologians or individual believers in the silence of their own hearts.

Speaking from a place with little to no effective UU presence (I am the only person I know who knows what the UU is and that there is a UU church in my city, and only because I came across American UU bloggers) it seems clear to me that the Universalist tradition is not being upheld by the UU.

The UU does not speak, as far as I can tell, with a common voice on any matter; but even the UU Christian Fellowship do not proclaim the central Universalist message; that although we are imperfect yet we have been saved.

I know of universalist ministers in the Anglican church, in the (Australian) Uniting Church, in pentecostal churches and in the UU. This is good; but their witness is limited by history and organisational structure. Better a Universalist minister than another universalist one.

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7 Responses to “The Universalist Heritage and universalism”

  1. StevenR Says:

    the old Universalist Hertiage lives:
    try the Universalist Herald and it’s website,
    http://www.Universalist-Herald.net
    and the Universalist Convocation meets yearly – next spring in Ohio.

    And the new Universalist Heritage lives too, as there is even the Christian Universalist Connection – a fundalmentist Universalist newsletter and website
    http://www.christian-universalism.com

    From the liberal to conservative theology: Universalist and universalist live on….

  2. demas Says:

    Thanks for those links, Steven. Who are the Universalist Convocation? I haven’t been able to find a url.

    I guess I’m thinking about continuity – if I got together with a bunch of my friends and started a church based on the Winchester Profession, would I be able to sincerely claim to be a continuation of the Universalists? I don’t think so.

    The Unitarian Universalists are the organisational heirs of the Universalist Church heritage; surely there would be something more genuine about a group within the UU claiming to be the continuation of that heritage?

    To rephrase, is there any life left in the Universalist heritage or should it just be consigned to the history books and should universalists start again with new groupings, without a history to claim?

  3. StevenR Says:

    The Universalist Hearld is a definate Universalist heritage connection – founded in 1847 – published regulary since that time (with the exception of a few years in the US Civil War).

    The Universalist Convocation is an annual meeting of Universalists. It has no website of its own, the Universalist Herald staff holds their annual buisness meeting there and often reports on it. – I think the most recent one was the 15th annual or so. The current president is a (i think) 4th generation Universalist whose grandparents were Universalist missionaries in Japan. There are others who attend, who can trace their Universalism family heritage back to the early 1800s. And some pre-merger Universalist clergy attend…

    So, yes there is life remaining….
    I’ve leave it to your own judgement as to how much life…. but this is life remaining.

  4. Cole Wiggins Says:

    Happy to see interest in the Universalist Convocation. We would like to generate more interest and conversation on the Convocation and its work. The more people on this trac and the ideals of the Universalist Convocation can become a great stimulation in creating a better society to the benefit of us all.

    Please take a trial subscription to the Universalist Herald and consider attending a Convocation. The details concerning this Spring’s meeting is on the web site.

  5. Eric Stetson Says:

    I know it’s kind of late to be responding to this article on your blog, since you wrote it 7 months ago, but I thought I should post this. I am in the process of organizing an ecumenical organization called the Universalist Churches Association. This will be a community of faith (churches, ministries, and individuals) representing and proclaiming a coherent theological Christian Universalism. We are essentially trying to resurrect the Universalist Church of America in a new form.

    This organization is brand new — it was founded in January 2007. Several Christian Universalist ministers, evangelists, authors and scholars from a diversity of traditions have already gotten involved. Rev. Kalen Fristad, a Methodist minister, traveling evangelist, and author of the book “Destined For Salvation,” is chairman of our board of directors.

    This is going to be a very serious, significant organization uniting Universalist Christians — or at least we hope and expect that this will prove to be the case, God willing.

    Visit our website: http://www.universalistchurches.org

    If you like what we are doing, please spread the word!

    Eric Stetson
    Executive Director,
    The Universalist Churches Association


  6. […] of their website) so I’m not in any way endorsing them, but I thought I would highlight a post made by Eric Stetson: I am in the process of organizing an ecumenical organization called the […]


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