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1. Adherents of universalism.* Universalists find the doctrine of endless punishment incompatible with belief in a just and loving God. Universalism can be traced at least to Zoroaster.* Universalists became a distinct denomination under leadership of J. Murray* 1785 Oxford, Massachusetts, as Indep. Christian Society commonly called Universalists.

2. H. Ballou* became the recognized theol. leader of Am. universalists at the beginning of the 19th c.; directed them into Unitarianism.*

Profession of belief adopted 1803 Winchester, New Hampshire:

“Article I. 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.

”Article II. We believe that 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.

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

Essential principles of Universalist Faith adopted 1899: “1. The universal fatherhood of God; 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.”

3. Universalists hold that punishment for sin is inevitable, that its purpose is beneficent (namely, to deter from further sin), and that probation does not end with this life, but everyone after death will be able forever to develop upward and Godward. With regard to Christ, universalists are practically Unitarians. Sins are pardoned when the sinner ceases from sin and becomes obedient. Doctrines gen. denied by universalists include vicarious atonement, justification by imputation of Christ's righteousness, original sin, existence of the devil, resurrection of the body, Christ's final coming, the final judgment, efficacy of sacraments, real presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper.

4. In May 1961 the Universalist Ch. of Am., which traced its beginnings to the 1770s and its formal organization to the 1790s, joined the Am. Unitarian Assoc. to form the Unitarian* Universalist Assoc..

See Religious Bodies (US), Bibliography of.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

Internet Version Produced by
The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

Original Editions ©Copyright 1954, 1975, 2000
Concordia Publishing House
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Content Reproduced with Permission

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