Universalism

Universalism

Overview
Universalism in its primary meaning refers to religious, theological, and philosophical concepts with universal
Universal (metaphysics)
In metaphysics, a universal is what particular things have in common, namely characteristics or qualities. In other words, universals are repeatable or recurrent entities that can be instantiated or exemplified by many particular things. For example, suppose there are two chairs in a room, each of...

 ("applying to all") application or applicability. Religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 in this context is defined as a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe
Universe
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...

, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral
Moral
A moral is a message conveyed or a lesson to be learned from a story or event. The moral may be left to the hearer, reader or viewer to determine for themselves, or may be explicitly encapsulated in a maxim...

 code governing the conduct of human affairs.
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Universalism in its primary meaning refers to religious, theological, and philosophical concepts with universal
Universal (metaphysics)
In metaphysics, a universal is what particular things have in common, namely characteristics or qualities. In other words, universals are repeatable or recurrent entities that can be instantiated or exemplified by many particular things. For example, suppose there are two chairs in a room, each of...

 ("applying to all") application or applicability. Religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 in this context is defined as a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe
Universe
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...

, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral
Moral
A moral is a message conveyed or a lesson to be learned from a story or event. The moral may be left to the hearer, reader or viewer to determine for themselves, or may be explicitly encapsulated in a maxim...

 code governing the conduct of human affairs. Universalism is a term used to identify particular doctrines considering all people in their formation. Universalism in the religious context claims that religion or religious man (sic) is a universal quality. This can be contrasted with nonuniversalist religions.

In its secondary sense, a church
Christian Church
The Christian Church is the assembly or association of followers of Jesus Christ. The Greek term ἐκκλησία that in its appearances in the New Testament is usually translated as "church" basically means "assembly"...

 or community that calls itself Universalist may emphasize the universal principles of most religions
Cultural universal
A cultural universal , as discussed by George Murdock, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Donald Brown and others, is an element, pattern, trait, or institution that is common to all human cultures worldwide. Taken together, the whole body of cultural universals is known as the human condition...

 and accept other religions in an inclusive manner, believing in a universal reconciliation between humanity and the divine. For example Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions are the monotheistic faiths emphasizing and tracing their common origin to Abraham or recognizing a spiritual tradition identified with him...

 like Judaism, Christianity, and Islam still claim a universal value of their doctrine and moral principles because they feel they are inclusive.

A belief in one common truth is also another important tenet. The living truth is seen as more far-reaching than national, cultural, or religious boundaries.

Christianity


In Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, Universalism can refer to the beliefs that all humans either may or will be saved through Jesus Christ and eventually come to harmony in God's kingdom
Kingdom of God
The Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven is a foundational concept in the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.The term "Kingdom of God" is found in all four canonical gospels and in the Pauline epistles...

. This salvation is expressed as offered both to the Jew, and also to the Gentile
Gentile
The term Gentile refers to non-Israelite peoples or nations in English translations of the Bible....

 . It is opposed to the doctrines of reprobation
Reprobation
Reprobation, in Christian theology, is a corollary to the Calvinistic doctrine of unconditional election which derives that some of mankind are predestined by God for salvation. Therefore, the remainder are left bound to their fallen nature and certain damnation. This same state of unbelief is...

 and double-predestination in Calvinism
Calvinism
Calvinism is a Protestant theological system and an approach to the Christian life...

.

The Greek term apokatastasis came to be related by some to the beliefs of Christian Universalism
Christian Universalism
Christian Universalism is a school of Christian theology which includes the belief in the doctrine of universal reconciliation, the view that all human beings or all fallen creatures will ultimately be restored to right relationship with God....

, but in early Patristic usage is distinct. Additionally the term Catholic
Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 is derived from the Greek word katholikos, which means universal. The Catholic Church is universal in the sense that it embraces individuals "from every race, nation, language, and people", but does not teach Christian Universalism as a sanctioned doctrine.

Universalist writers such as George T. Knight
George T. Knight (Universalist)
The Rev. George T. Knight, D.D, was an American Universalist teacher at the Crane Theological School, a Universalist seminary at Tufts University.-References:...

 have claimed that Universalism was a widely held view among theologians in Early Christianity
Early Christianity
Early Christianity is generally considered as Christianity before 325. The New Testament's Book of Acts and Epistle to the Galatians records that the first Christian community was centered in Jerusalem and its leaders included James, Peter and John....

 However, some examples, such as Origen
Origen
Origen , or Origen Adamantius, 184/5–253/4, was an early Christian Alexandrian scholar and theologian, and one of the most distinguished writers of the early Church. As early as the fourth century, his orthodoxy was suspect, in part because he believed in the pre-existence of souls...

 and Clement of Alexandria
Clement of Alexandria
Titus Flavius Clemens , known as Clement of Alexandria , was a Christian theologian and the head of the noted Catechetical School of Alexandria. Clement is best remembered as the teacher of Origen...

, used by Knight and other Universalist writers are contested by writers such as Crouzel, Root, Norris, and Itter. Gregory of Nyssa
Gregory of Nyssa
St. Gregory of Nyssa was a Christian bishop and saint. He was a younger brother of Basil the Great and a good friend of Gregory of Nazianzus. His significance has long been recognized in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Catholic and Roman Catholic branches of Christianity...

, another cited example of an early Christian holding Universalist views, is disputed by some Eastern Orthodox writers.

Christian Universalist ideas are first undisputedly documented in 17th-century England and 18th-century Europe and America. Gerrard Winstanley
Gerrard Winstanley
Gerrard Winstanley was an English Protestant religious reformer and political activist during the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell...

 (1648), Richard Coppin
Richard Coppin
Richard Coppin was a seventeenth century English political and religious writer, and prolific radical pamphleteer and preacher.-Late 1640s to late 1650s:...

 (1652), Jane Leade
Jane Leade
Jane Ward Leade was a Christian mystic born in Norfolk, England. Her spiritual visions, recorded in a series of publications, were central in the founding and philosophy of the Philadelphian Society in London at the time.-Early life:...

 (1697), and then George de Benneville
George de Benneville
George de Benneville was born in London in 1703 to aristocratic Huguenot French parents in the court of Queen Anne. While serving as a sailor during his adolescent years, de Benneville traveled around the world and began to question his religion and compare it to other world religions...

 in America, taught that God would grant all human beings salvation. Those in America teaching this became known as the Universalists
Universalist Church of America
The Universalist Church of America was a Christian Universalist religious denomination in the United States . Known from 1866 as the Universalist General Convention, the name was changed to the Universalist Church of America in 1942...

.

Hinduism


Hinduism embraces universalism by conceiving the whole world as a single family that deifies the one truth, and therefore it accepts all forms of beliefs and dismisses labels of distinct religions which would imply a division of identity.
Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 Universalism denotes the ideology that all religions are true and therefore worthy of toleration and respect. Veneration for all other religions was articulated by Gandhi:

"After long study and experience, I have come to the conclusion that [1] all religions are true; [2] all religions have some error in them; [3] all religions are almost as dear to me as my own Hinduism, in as much as all human beings should be as dear to one as one's own close relatives. My own veneration for other faiths is the same as that for my own faith; therefore no thought of conversion is possible." (M. K. Gandhi, All Men Are Brothers: Life and Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi as told in his own words, Paris, UNESCO 1958, p 60.)

Sikhism


In Sikhism
Sikhism
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region, by Guru Nanak Dev and continued to progress with ten successive Sikh Gurus . It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world and one of the fastest-growing...

, all the religions of the world are compared to rivers flowing into a single ocean. Although the Sikh Gurus did not agree with the practices of fasting, idolatry and pilgrimage during their times, they stressed that all religions should be tolerated and considered on equal footing. The Sikh Scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib
Guru Granth Sahib
Sri Guru Granth Sahib , or Adi Granth, is the religious text of Sikhism. It is the final and eternal guru of the Sikhs. It is a voluminous text of 1430 angs, compiled and composed during the period of Sikh gurus, from 1469 to 1708...

 contains the writings of not just the Sikh Gurus themselves, but the writings of several Hindu and Muslim saints, known as the 'Bhagats'. Although Sikhism does not believe that humans are created in God's image, it states that the essence of the One is to be found all throughout its creation. As was said by Yogi Bhajan, the man who is credited with having brought Sikhism to the West:

"If you can't see God in all, you can't see God at all". (Sri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan)


The First Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak said himself:

"There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim".


By this, Guru Nanak meant that there is no distinction between religion in God's eyes, whether polytheist, monotheist, pantheist or even atheist, all that one needs to gain salvation is purity of heart, tolerance of all beings, compassion and kindness. Unlike many of the major world religions, Sikhism does not have missionaries, instead it believes humans have the freedom to find their own path to salvation.

Judaism


Judaism teaches that God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 chose the Jewish people to be in a unique covenant with God
Jews as a chosen people
In Judaism, "chosenness" is the belief that the Jews are the Chosen People, chosen to be in a covenant with God. This idea is first found in the Torah and is elaborated on in later books of the Hebrew Bible...

, and one of their beliefs is that Jewish people were charged by the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 with a specific mission — to be a light unto the nations, and to exemplify the covenant with God as described in the Torah to other nations. Not explicitly a Universalist theology, this view, however, does not preclude a belief that God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 also has a relationship with other peoples — rather, Judaism holds that God had entered into a covenant with all humanity as Noachides, and that Jews and non-Jews alike have a relationship with God.

The Jewish Spiritual Leaders Institute (JSLI)
Jewish Spiritual Leaders Institute (JSLI)
Founded in 2010, the Jewish Spiritual Leaders Institute ordains liberal rabbis to meet the needs of the millions of unaffiliated Jews as well as interfaith families. JSLI graduated its first class of rabbis in August 2011....

 believes in a more inclusive version of Jewish Universalism, believing that "God equally chose all nations to be lights unto the world, and we have much to learn and share with each other. We can only accomplish "Tikkun Olam
Tikkun olam
Tikkun olam is a Hebrew phrase that means "repairing the world." In Judaism, the concept of tikkun olam originated in the early rabbinic period...

" by our unconditional acceptance of each other's peaceful doctrines."

Islam



While Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 recognizes to a certain extent the validity of the Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions are the monotheistic faiths emphasizing and tracing their common origin to Abraham or recognizing a spiritual tradition identified with him...

, the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 identifying Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, and "Sabi'un" or "baptists" (usually taken as a reference to the Mandeans and related Mesopotamian groups) as "people of the book
People of the Book
People of the Book is a term used to designate non-Muslim adherents to faiths which have a revealed scripture called, in Arabic, Al-Kitab . The three types of adherents to faiths that the Qur'an mentions as people of the book are the Jews, Sabians and Christians.In Islam, the Muslim scripture, the...

". However, the Ash'ari
Ash'ari
The Ashʿari theology is a school of early Muslim speculative theology founded by the theologian Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari...

 school of Sunni theology holds that those who were not reached by the message of Islam can still be saved by the grace of God.

Zoroastrianism and Manicheanism



Some forms of Zoroastrian and Manichean belief were universalistic in application to all races, but not universalist in the sense of universal salvation.

Bahá'í Faith


In Bahá'í
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

 belief, a single God has sent all the historic founders of the world religions in a process of progressive revelation. The major world religions are seen as divine in origin and are continuous in their purpose. In this view, there is unity among the founders of world religions, but each revelation brings a more advanced set of teachings in human history. Within this universal view, the unity of humanity
Bahá'í Faith and the unity of humanity
The Bahá'í Faith and the unity of humanity is one of the central teachings of the Bahá'í Faith. The Bahá'í teachings state that since all humans have been created in the image of God, God does not make any distinction between people regardless of race or colour. Thus, because all humans have been...

 is one of the central teachings of the Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

. The Bahá'í teachings
Bahá'í teachings
The Bahá'í teachings represent a considerable number of theological, social, and spiritual ideas that were established in the Bahá'í Faith by Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the religion, and clarified by successive leaders including `Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'u'lláh's son, and Shoghi Effendi, `Abdu'l-Bahá's...

 state that since all humans have been created in the image of God, God does not make any distinction between people regardless of race, colour or religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

. Thus, because all humans have been created equal, they all require equal opportunities and treatment. Thus the Bahá'í view promotes the unity of humanity, and that people's vision should be world-embracing and that people should love the whole world rather than just their nation. The teaching, however, does not equal unity with uniformity, but instead the Bahá'í writings advocate for the principle of unity in diversity where the variety in the human race is valued.

Yi Guan Dao


Yi Guan Dao (loosely translated as "Universal Taoism", "the pervasive truth", or "the consistent path") incorporates elements from Confucianism, Taoism, and Chinese Buddhism, and recognizes the validity of non-Chinese religious traditions such as Christianity and Islam as well. For this reason it is often classified as a syncretistic sect, along with other similar religions in the Way of Former Heaven (Xian Tian Dao) family.

New Thought


Unity
Unity Church
Unity, known informally as Unity Church, is a religious movement within the wider New Thought movement and is best known to many through its Daily Word devotional publication...

, Religious Science
Religious Science
Religious Science, also known as Science of Mind, was established in 1927 by Ernest Holmes and is a spiritual, philosophical and metaphysical religious movement within the New Thought movement. In general, the term "Science of Mind" applies to the teachings, while the term "Religious Science"...

, Divine Science
Divine Science
The Church of Divine Science is a religious movement within the wider New Thought movement. The group was founded originally in San Francisco in the 1880s under Malinda Cramer...

 are denominations within the New Thought
New Thought
New Thought promotes the ideas that "Infinite Intelligence" or "God" is ubiquitous, spirit is the totality of real things, true human selfhood is divine, divine thought is a force for good, sickness originates in the mind, and "right thinking" has a healing effect.Although New Thought is neither...

 movement. Each teaches that there is a common thread of truth at the heart of all religions. New Thought is an ever-evolving belief system which will incorporate Truth where ever it is found, hence the name New Thought. All is God, But God transcends all.

Non-religious Universalism


Universalism is not only a set of values, but a world view. To which any can prescribe if they observe and believe in the universality of the human experience, and that of all sentient life - and work to uphold the principals, ethics, and actions which safeguard these fundamental things.

Indeed many Universalists may be attracted to the logic of universally applicable principals, rather than any belief or dogma. Human unity, solidarity, and the perceived need for a sustainable and socially conscious global order are among the tendencies of Non-religious Universalist thought.

Quotes



See also



  • Ananda Marga
    Ananda Marga
    Ananda Marga, organizationally known as Ananda Marga Pracaraka Samgha , meaning the samgha for the propagation of the marga of ananda , is a social and spiritual movement founded in Jamalpur, Bihar, India in 1955 by Shrii Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar .Ánanda Márga followers describe Ánanda Márga as a...

  • Bahá'í Faith
    Bahá'í Faith
    The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

  • Christianity
    Christianity
    Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

    :
    • Primitive Baptist Universalist
      Primitive Baptist Universalist
      The Primitive Baptist Universalists are Christian Universalist church based primarily in the central Appalachian region of the United States...

    • Swedenborgianism (The New Church
      The New Church
      The New Church is the name for a New religious movement developed from the writings of the Swedish scientist and theologian Emanuel Swedenborg . Swedenborg claimed to have received a new revelation from Jesus Christ through continuous heavenly visions which he experienced over a period of at least...

      )
    • Trinitarian Universalism
      Trinitarian Universalism
      Trinitarian Universalism is a variant of belief in universal salvation, the belief that every person will be saved, that also held the Christian belief in Trinitarianism as opposed to liberal Unitarianism which is more usually associated with Unitarian Universalism...

    • Unitarian Universalism
      Unitarian Universalism
      Unitarian Universalism is a religion characterized by support for a "free and responsible search for truth and meaning". Unitarian Universalists do not share a creed; rather, they are unified by their shared search for spiritual growth and by the understanding that an individual's theology is a...

    • Universalist Church of America
      Universalist Church of America
      The Universalist Church of America was a Christian Universalist religious denomination in the United States . Known from 1866 as the Universalist General Convention, the name was changed to the Universalist Church of America in 1942...

    • Universal reconciliation
      Universal reconciliation
      In Christian theology, universal reconciliation is the doctrine that all sinful and alienated human souls—because of divine love and mercy—will ultimately be reconciled to God.Universal salvation may be related to the perception of a problem of Hell, standing opposed to ideas...

    • Religious Society of Friends
      Religious Society of Friends
      The Religious Society of Friends, or Friends Church, is a Christian movement which stresses the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. Members are known as Friends, or popularly as Quakers. It is made of independent organisations, which have split from one another due to doctrinal differences...

    • Schwarzenau Brethren
      Schwarzenau Brethren
      The Schwarzenau Brethren, originated in Germany, the outcome of the Radical Pietist ferment of the late 17th and early 18th century. Hopeful of the imminent return of Christ, the founding Brethren abandoned the established Reformed and Lutheran churches, forming a new church in 1708 when their...

  • Comparative religion
    Comparative religion
    Comparative religion is a field of religious studies that analyzes the similarities and differences of themes, myths, rituals and concepts among the world's religions...

  • Convenientalism
  • Ecumenism
    Ecumenism
    Ecumenism or oecumenism mainly refers to initiatives aimed at greater Christian unity or cooperation. It is used predominantly by and with reference to Christian denominations and Christian Churches separated by doctrine, history, and practice...

  • George MacDonald
    George MacDonald
    George MacDonald was a Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister.Known particularly for his poignant fairy tales and fantasy novels, George MacDonald inspired many authors, such as W. H. Auden, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, E. Nesbit and Madeleine L'Engle. It was C.S...

  • Liberal Catholic Church
    Liberal Catholic Church
    The Liberal Catholic Church is a form of Christianity open to theosophical ideas and even reincarnation. It is not connected to the Roman Catholic Church, which considers it heretical and schismatic...

  • Mahatma Gandhi Foundation
    Mahatma Gandhi Foundation
    Mahatma Gandhi Foundation is located in Mumbai, Republic of India and is headed by Tushar Gandhi, the great-grandson of ‘Bapu’ Mahatma Gandhi...

  • New Thought
    New Thought
    New Thought promotes the ideas that "Infinite Intelligence" or "God" is ubiquitous, spirit is the totality of real things, true human selfhood is divine, divine thought is a force for good, sickness originates in the mind, and "right thinking" has a healing effect.Although New Thought is neither...

  • Omnism
    Omnism
    Omnism or omnitheism is the belief in all religions; those who hold this belief are called omnists . The Oxford English Dictionary quotes as the term's earliest usage the 1839 long poem "Festus" by English poet Philip J. Bailey: "I am an omnist, and believe in all religions"...

  • Perennial philosophy
    Perennial philosophy
    Perennial philosophy is the notion of the universal recurrence of philosophical insight independent of epoch or culture, including universal truths on the nature of reality, humanity or consciousness .-History:The idea of a perennial philosophy has great...

  • Religious pluralism
    Religious pluralism
    Religious pluralism is a loosely defined expression concerning acceptance of various religions, and is used in a number of related ways:* As the name of the worldview according to which one's religion is not the sole and exclusive source of truth, and thus that at least some truths and true values...

  • Subud
    Subud
    Subud is an international spiritual movement that began in Indonesia in the 1920s as a movement founded by Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo. The basis of Subud is a spiritual exercise commonly referred to as the latihan kejiwaan, which was said by Muhammad Subuh to represent guidance from...

  • Universal Sufism
    Universal Sufism
    Universal Sufism is a universalist spiritual movement founded by Hazrat Inayat Khan while traveling throughout the West between 1910 and 1926, based on unity of all people and religions and the presence of spiritual guidance in all people, places and things. It is to some extent influenced by the ...

  • Universe
    Universe
    The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...


Further reading

  • Palmquist, Stephen, "Christianity as the Universal Religion", Chapter Eight in Stephen Palmquist, Kant's Critical Religion (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000).

External links