What is Christian Universalism?
To study or learn about Christian Universalism, or what we prefer to call Ultimate Restoration, you need not look any further than the Body of Christ itself. It is not a foreign teaching or something smuggled in from outside the walls of orthodoxy. It astonishingly comes from within the Church where we find all the beautiful facets of the perfect Story of the complete work of Christ on the cross.
By our definition Christian Universalism is the belief that Christ’s life, death and resurrection applied to every man, woman and child that ever lived and guaranteed the redemption and restoration of the entire created order. Jesus is believed to be “the exact representation of the Father in bodily form” and is embraced as the absolute way, truth and life for all mankind. All things are from Him, through Him and back to Him. Indeed “In Him we live and move and have our being.” We are assured that “Every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” We believe that “All the ends of the earth will remember and return to the Lord” (Psa 22)
Christian Universalism is the Story that is heard when we consider the voices of all our Christian brethren together. It says God is both all-loving and all-powerful at the same time. It denies the god who is willing but not able (Arminianism) as well as the god who is able but not willing (Calvinism) and embraces a “Gospel Third Way.”
Christian Universalism lays its foundation upon the Trinitarian view of God. We do not define man from the viewpoint of the fall but from that which was before time when mankind was birthed out of the love relationship between the Father, Son and Spirit who included us…before the foundation of the world! (Jn 1, Jn 17) Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, is God’s promise through the power of his Spirit to redeem and restore mankind in His own image (fulfilling the Godhead’s original dream for humanity when they declared: “Let US make man in our image”).
That means we were found in Christ before we were lost in Adam! (Eph 1)
Christian Universalism is not a world view of “all roads lead to God” or one in which it doesn’t matter what you believe since “all will be saved.” It is distinctly Christian because its sole foundation is upon the person and work of Jesus Christ. It resonates through the redemptive Story of God summarized within the historical creeds.
We believe, “The dogma is the drama” (Dorothy Sayers). In other words, Christian Universalism is based on real historical events that reveal the greatest Story of love, romance, adventure and glory ever conceived. Every great epic story written by man turns on its redemptive themes making it the Story beneath every story. It is why we love and are drawn to epic tales such as “The Lord of the Rings,” “Cinderella,” “Braveheart,” and “Titanic.”
But most importantly it is the reality of the historical events that saves us not an assent to a list of doctrines or principles. Unlike other religious paradigms where the “enlightenment” or salvation lie in attaining a path or following the “5 steps,” true Christianity teaches we are saved by the historical events of the Story themselves! These were happenings that took place on our behalf by God through and in Christ and without our permission! The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ inherently altered the universe reversing the curse of Adam beginning the process of making “all things new.” This is why we believe that the Gospel is GOOD NEWS. It is good because it is all about a cosmic rescue by a loving Creator and it is news because it is an announcement based on unalterable events that took place in history. We believe Christian Universalism is recovering the objective nature of the Gospel, revealing it once again as both good and as news.
You may ask, what about all the conditional passages in the Bible threatening judgment and consequences for our sinful choices and unbelief? Christian Universalism does not deny God’s “rectifying justice” for those who choose to take the circuitous route to the Kingdom. There are warnings a-plenty of the serious ramifications for refusing to see the reality of your life in Christ that leads to a process of death and disintegration. Something that is “news” implies that an event has taken place, a change which requires a response. For the Good News to be operative in your life you must deny the old order of things (repent=metanoia or “change of mind”) and embrace God’s new paradigm (free grace). But whether you believe it or not does not change the fact that it is true. God is not a Being who reacts. He doesn’t react to your sin nor to your faith but instead He is the great initiator of first your creation and then your redemption. The Gospel doesn’t come demanding faith but supplying faith (Eph 2:8,9; Gal 2:20).
However, that does not deny the enormous importance of our decision to repent from “hades” (“not to see”) and enter into His truth and light. People have a choice to embrace the Kingdom of God through Christ while on this earth. This is the stage, the arena where we choose whether to self-create our own reality or see ourselves as we really are: image-bearers of God redeemed in Christ! (Eph 1) Many people will not see the truth in this age. But God says that will never trump God’s primary purpose for His creation which is to “reconcile all things to Himself by the blood of His cross” in order that one day He might be all in all. So while consequences for going against the grain of the universe (Love Himself) are sure, we are never without hope. We are to “be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within us.” That is not just a personal hope but one which we are to offer to all mankind.
We believe it has been this claiming of hope for only ourselves that has alienated the world. We are named ‘The Body of Christ’ for a reason! His Body is the means to fulfill His desire which we are told is for “no one to perish and for all to come to repentance.”
“And He put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the Church, which is His Body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Eph 1:22-23
We are also called the “elect”: This implies an office and a job. Genesis 12:3 says our election is for the purpose of being a blessing to ALL the nations on the planet. We are told we are Priests. Priests are mediators between God and man. Jesus our Great High Priest has given us “the ministry of reconciliation.” We pray that the Church will find its identity once again as Priests and Reconcilers for the world!
Christian Universalists believe that when Jesus said He came “to seek and to save that which was lost” and to “destroy the works of the devil,” He did. And when Jesus said “It is finished,” on behalf of all mankind we believe He actually meant it.