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Universalism is a theological and philosophical concept with universal application or applicability. A community that calls itself universalist may emphasize the universal principles of most religions and accept other religions in an inclusive manner, believing in a universal reconciliation between humanity and the divine. For example, some forms of Abrahamic religions claim the universal value of their doctrine and moral principles, and feel inclusive.
Christian Universalism is focused around the idea of universal reconciliation, also known as universal salvation — the doctrine that every human soul will ultimately be reconciled to God because of divine love and mercy.
A belief in one fundamental truth is also another important tenet. The living truth is seen as more far-reaching than national, cultural, or religious boundaries or interpretations of that one truth, as the Rig Veda states, “Truth is one; sages call it by various names.” 
Unitarian Universalism emphasizes that religion is an universal human quality and focuses on the universal principles of most religions. It accepts all religions in an inclusive manner.
- 1 Philosophy
- 2 Religion
- 3 Critics
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 Sources
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
In certain religions, universalism is the quality ascribed to an entity whose existence is consistent throughout the universe.
Moral universalism (also called moral objectivism or universal morality) is the meta-ethical position that some system of ethics, or a universal ethic, applies universally, that is, for "all similarly situated individuals", regardless of culture, race, sex, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, or any other distinguishing feature. Moral universalism is opposed to moral nihilism and moral relativism. However, not all forms of moral universalism are absolutist, nor are they necessarily value monist; many forms of universalism, such as utilitarianism, are non-absolutist, and some forms, such as that of Isaiah Berlin, may be value pluralist.
In Bahá'í belief, a single God has sent all the historic founders of the world religions in a process of progressive revelation, as a result, 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 and none are syncretic.
Within this universal view, 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, colour or religion. 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. Operating on a worldwide basis this cooperative view of the peoples and nations of the planet culminates in a vision of the practicality of the progression in world affairs towards, and the inevitability of, world peace.
The fundamental idea of Christian Universalism is universal reconciliation – that all humans will eventually be saved, and eventually enter Heaven in God's kingdom, through the grace and work of Jesus Christ. Christian Universalism teaches that an eternal Hell does not exist and was not what Jesus taught, they point to historical evidence which shows that some of the early church fathers were universalists and attribute the beginning of the idea of hell as eternal to mistranslation and as a later creation of the Catholic Church.
Universalists cite numerous Biblical passages which reference the salvation of all beings, they also argue that an eternal hell is both unjust, and against the nature and attributes of a loving God.
The remaining beliefs of Christian Universalism are compatible with Christianity in general:
- God is the loving Parent of all people, see Love of God.
- Jesus Christ reveals the nature and character of God and is the spiritual leader of humankind, see New Covenant.
- Humankind is created with an immortal soul which death does not end—or a mortal soul that shall be resurrected and/or preserved by God—and which God will not wholly destroy.
- Sin has negative consequences for the sinner either in this life or the afterlife, however, all of God's punishments for sin are corrective and remedial and none of them will last forever, or result in the permanent destruction of a soul. Some Christian Universalists believe in the idea of Purgatorial Hell, a temporary place of purification, that some must undergo before the inevitable entrance, of all, into Heaven.
In 1899 the Universalist General Convention, later called the Universalist Church of America, adopted the Five Principles: the belief in God, Jesus Christ, the immortality of the human soul, the reality of sin and universal reconciliation.
Universalist writers such as George T. Knight have claimed that Universalism was a widely held view among theologians in Early Christianity, including important figures such as Origen and Clement of Alexandria. Origen and Clement both taught the existence of a non-eternal Hell. Hell was remedial in that it was a place one went to purge one's sins before entering Heaven.
The first undisputed documented appearance of Christian Universalist ideas was in 17th-century England and 18th-century Europe and colonial America. Gerrard Winstanley (England, 1648), Richard Coppin (England, 1652), Jane Leade (England, 1697), and George de Benneville (France and America, 18th century) taught that God would grant all human beings salvation. People teaching this doctrine in America became known as Universalist Church of America.
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Universalist theology is grounded in history, scripture and assumptions about the nature of God. Thomas Whittemore wrote the book "100 Scriptural Proofs that Jesus Christ Will Save All Mankind" quoting both from the Old and New Testament verses which support the Universalist viewpoint.
Some Bible verses he cites and are cited by other Christian Universalists are:
- 1 Corinthians 15:22
- "For as in Adam ALL die, so also in Christ shall ALL be made alive." (ESV; emphasis added)
- 2 Peter 3:9
- "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." (ESV; emphasis added)
- 1 Timothy 2:3–6
- "This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for ALL men — the testimony given in its proper time." (NIV; emphasis added)
- 1 John 2:2
- "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." (NIV)
- 1 Timothy 4:10
- "For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe." (ESV; emphasis added)
- Romans 11:32
- "For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all." (NIV)
This Greek word is the origin of the modern English word aeon, which refers to a period of time or an epoch.
The 19th century theologian Marvin Vincent wrote about the word aion, and the supposed connotations of "eternal" or "temporal":
Aion, transliterated aeon, is a period of longer or shorter duration, having a beginning and an end, and complete in itself. [...] Neither the noun nor the adjective, in themselves, carry the sense of endless or everlasting."
Dr. Ken Vincent writes that "When it (aion) was translated into Latin Vulgate, "aion" became "aeternam" which means "eternal".
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Unity Church, Religious Science, and Divine Science are denominations within the New Thought 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.
Unitarian Universalism (UU) is a theologically liberal religion characterized by 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 result of that search and not a result of obedience to an authoritarian requirement. Unitarian Universalists draw from all major world religions and many different theological sources and have a wide range of beliefs and practices.
While having its origins in Christianity, UU is no longer a Christian church, as of 2006, fewer than about 20% of Unitarian Universalists identified themselves as Christian. Contemporary Unitarian Universalism espouses a pluralist approach to religious belief, whereby members may describe themselves as humanist, agnostic, deist, atheist, pagan, Christian, monotheist, pantheist, polytheist, or assume no label at all.
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) was formed in 1961, a consolidation of the American Unitarian Association, established in 1825, and the Universalist Church of America, established in 1866. It is headquartered in Boston, and serves churches mostly in the United States, the Canadian Unitarian Council became an independent body in 2002.
Universalism is not only a set of values, but a worldview to which any can subscribe if they observe and believe in the universality of the human experience — and that of all sentient life — and work to uphold the principles, ethics, and actions that safeguard these fundamental things.
Indeed, many Universalists may be attracted to the logic of universally applicable principles, 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.
Author David Frawley says that Hinduism has a "background universalism" and it's teachings contain a "universal relevance."  Hinduism is also naturally religiously pluralistic. A well-known Rig Vedic hymn says: "Truth is One, though the sages know it variously." Similarly, in the Bhagavad Gītā (4:11), God, manifesting as an incarnation, states: "As people approach me, so I receive them. All paths lead to me." The Hindu religion has no theological difficulties in accepting degrees of truth in other religions. Hinduism emphasizes that everyone actually worships the same God, whether one knows it or not.
While Hinduism has an openness and tolerance towards other religions, it also has a wide range of diversity within it. There are considered to be six orthodox Hindu schools of philosophy/theology, as well as multiple unorthodox or "hetrodox" traditions called darshanas.
Hindu Universalism, also called Neo-Vedanta and neo-Hinduism, is a modern interpretation of Hinduism which developed in response to western colonialism and orientalism. It denotes the ideology that all religions are true and therefore worthy of toleration and respect.
... an imagined "integral unity" that was probably little more than an "imagined" view of the religious life that pertained only to a cultural elite and that empirically speaking had very little reality "on the ground," as it were, throughout the centuries of cultural development in the South Asian region.
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.
This modernised re-interpretation has become a broad current in Indian culture, extending far beyond the Dashanami Sampradaya, the Advaita Vedanta Sampradaya founded by Adi Shankara. An early exponent of Hindu Universalism was Ram Mohan Roy, who established the Brahmo Samaj. Hindu Universalism was popularised in the 20th century in both India and the west by Vivekananda and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. Veneration for all other religions was articulated by Gandhi:
After long study and experience, I have come to the conclusion that  all religions are true;  all religions have some error in them;  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.
Western orientalists played an important role in this popularisation, regarding Vedanta to be the "central theology of Hinduism". Oriental scholarship portrayed Hinduism as a "single world religion", and denigrated the heterogeneousity of Hindu beliefs and practices as 'distortions' of the basic teachings of Vedanta.[citation not found]
Islam recognizes to a certain extent the validity of the Abrahamic religions, the Quran identifying Jews, Christians, and "Sabi'un" (usually taken as a reference to the Mandaeans) as "people of the Book" (ahl al-kitab). Later Islamic theologians expanded this definition to include Zoroastrians, and later even Hindus, as the early Islamic empire brought many people professing these religions under its dominion, but the Qur'an explicitly identifies only Jews, Christians, and Sabians as People of the Book.[need quotation to verify], [not in citation given], [not in citation given] The relation between Islam and universalism has assumed crucial importance in the context of political Islam or Islamism, particularly in reference to Sayyid Qutb, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, and one of the key contemporary philosophers of Islam.
There are several views within Islam with respect to Universalism. According to the most inclusive teachings, common among the liberal Muslim movements, all monotheistic religions or people of the book have a chance of salvation, for example, Surah 2:62,256 states that:
Verily! Those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians, and Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and do righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve...let there be no compulsion in religion
Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters [mushrikun] wherever ye find them, and take them, and besiege them, and lay in wait in every stratagem of war, but if they repent and establish worship and pay the jizya, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful [...] Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture [i.e. people of the book] as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the jizya readily, being brought low [in submission].
The interpretation of all of these passages are hotly contested amongst various schools of thought, traditionalist and reform-minded, and branches of Islam, from the reforming Quranism and Ahmadiyya to the ultra-traditionalist Salafi, as is the doctrine of abrogation (naskh) which is used to determine which verses take precedence, based on reconstructed chronology, with later verses superseding earlier ones. The traditional chronology places Surah 9 as the last or second-to-last surah revealed, thus, in traditional exegesis, it gains a large power of abrogation, and verses 9:5,29,73 are held to have abrogated 2:256 The ahadith also play a major role in this, and different schools of thought assign different weightings and rulings of authenticity to different hadith, with the four schools of Sunni thought accepting the Six Authentic Collections, generally along with the Muwatta Imam Malik. Depending on the level of acceptance of rejection of certain traditions, the interpretation of the Koran can be changed immensely, from the Qur'anists and Ahmadiyya who reject the ahadith, to the Salafi, or ahl al-hadith, who hold the entirety of the traditional collections in great reverence.
Traditional Islam views the world as bipartite, consisting of the House of Islam, that is, where people live under the Islamic law; and the House of War, that is, where the people do not live under Islamic law, which must be proselytized using whatever resources available, including, in some traditionalist and conservative interpretations, the use of violence, as holy struggle in the path of Allah, to either convert its inhabitants to Islam, or to rule them under the Shariah (cf. dhimmi); since the abolition of the Caliphate, there has been debate about the proper role of divisions of the world in Islam, and whether the traditional bipartite division is sufficient to meet the needs of the ummah (world community of Muslims) and world moving into the future.
The Ash'ari school of Sunni aqidah (theology) holds that those who had never heard of the message of Islam, by virtue of isolation, can still be saved by the grace of Allah, similar to Karl Rahner's concept of the Anonymous Christian. Sufis generally hold to a much more inclusivist and tolerant view of other faiths and religious systems than other Sunnis and Shi'a Islam.
Judaism teaches that God chose the Jewish people to be in a unique covenant with God, and one of their beliefs is that Jewish people were charged by the Torah 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. This view does not preclude a belief that God 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, as well as being universal in the sense that it is open to all mankind.
An on-line organization, the Jewish Spiritual Leaders Institute founded and led by Steven Blane, who calls himself an "American Jewish Universalist Rabbi", believes in a more inclusive version of Jewish Universalism, stating 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 by our unconditional acceptance of each other's peaceful doctrines."
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In Sikhism, 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, contains the writings of not just the Sikh guru themselves, but the writings of several Hindu and Muslim saints, known as the Bhagats, although Sikhism does not teach that men are created as an image of God, it states that the essence of the One is to be found throughout all of 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:
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 men have the freedom to find their own path to salvation.
In his book The Miracle of Theism: Arguments for and against the Existence of God, the Australian philosopher J. L. Mackie noted that whilst in the past a miracle performed by Jesus had served as proof to Christians that he was the 'one true God', and that a miracle performed by another religion's deity had served as a (contradictory) proof to its own adherents, the universalist approach resulted in any such miracle being accepted as a validation of all religions, a situation that he characterised as "Miracle-workers of the world, unite!"
- Ananda Marga
- Comparative religion
- Hypothetical universalism
- George MacDonald
- Mahatma Gandhi Foundation
- Perennial philosophy
- Religious pluralism
- Universal Sufism
- George T. Knight The Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, 1953, vol. 12, p. 96; retrieved 30/04/09
- Otis Ainsworth Skinner (1807-1861), A Series of Sermons in Defense of the Doctrine of Universal Salvation, Page 209, It is not part of mainline Christian doctrine either Catholic or Protestant. "Repentance is a means by which all men are brought into the enjoyment of religion, and we do not expect any man will be saved while he continues in sin. However, Unitarian Universalism holds a universal salvation, because is, "we expect all men will repent."
- Vedanta Society of Southern California Harmony of Religions
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- Kemerling, Garth (November 12, 2011). "A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names". Philosophy Pages.
According to Immanuel Kant and Richard Mervyn Hare...moral imperatives must be regarded as equally binding on everyone.
- Gowans, Chris (Dec 9, 2008). Edward N. Zalta, ed, ed. "Moral Relativism". The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2012 Edition).
Let us say that moral objectivism maintains that moral judgments are ordinarily true or false in an absolute or universal sense, that some of them are true, and that people sometimes are justified in accepting true moral judgments (and rejecting false ones) on the basis of evidence available to any reasonable and well-informed person.
- Buck, Christopher (1999). Paradise and Paradigm: Key Symbols in Persian Christianity and the Bahá'í Faith. Albany: State University of New York Press. p. 292.
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- Smith, Peter (2000). "peace". A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. pp. 266–267. ISBN 1-85168-184-1.
- The Salvation Conspiracy: How Hell Became Eternal
- "Eternal" Punishment (Matthew 25:46) Is NOT Found In The Greek New Testament.
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- The Bible Hell. TentMaker.org. "The immortal soul is not meant, but the life. As though Jesus had said: "Fear Not those who can only kill the body, but rather him, who if he chose could destroy the soul"
- "See section entitled "Five Principles of Faith"". Auburn.edu. Retrieved 2011-11-09.
- "Purgatorial Hell FAQ". StanRock.net. Retrieved 2016-01-19.
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- Tentmaker. "The Fate of the Wicked". tentmaker.org. Tentmaker. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- "Eternal" Punishment (Matthew 25:46) Is NOT Found In The Greek New Testament.
- A look at the word "aionion"
- Vincent, Marvin. "Note on Olethron Aionion (eternal destruction)". Word Studies in the New Testament. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
- (The 4th principle of Unitarian Universalism)UUA.org Seven principles
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- Ford, James Ishmael (2006). Zen Master Who?. Wisdom Publications. p. 187. ISBN 0-86171-509-8.
- Harvard Divinity School: Timeline of Significant Events in the Merger of the Unitarian and Universalist Churches During the 1900s
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- Pluralism and Universalism Within Hinduism "Hindu teachings were also denigrated accordingly and the deeper philosophies of Hinduism were often ignored, especially their universal relevance. For conversion purposes it was easier to define Hinduism in a limited way as a local phenomenon only. Yet the universality of Hindu teachings continued, though few outside of India understood this until recent years, this background universalism of Sanatana Dharma affords Hinduism a synthetic tendency, an ability to incorporate within itself a diversity of views and approaches, including at times those from groups outside of Hinduism or even opposed to Hinduism. Because of this syncretic view, sometimes Hinduism is equated with a blind universalism that accepts without discrimination anything that calls itself religious or spiritual, as if differences of spiritual teachings did not matter in any way. While this may be true of some Hindus, the Hindu tradition also contains a lively tradition of free debate on all aspects of theology, philosophy and metaphysics, showing differences as well as similarities, and not simply equating all teachings as they are. A good example of this is the debates between the dualistic and non-dualistic schools of Vedantic philosophy, but many other examples exist as well, the different sects within Hinduism have always been free to disagree, though each sect has its particular guidelines and there is an overall respect for Dharma."
- Hindu American Foundation "Hinduism Basics"
- Rig Veda 1.164.46
- Page 194 in Eknath Easwaran (2008). Timeless wisdom: Passages for meditation from the world's saints & sages (see article). Tomales, CA: Nilgiri Press. ISBN 1-58638-027-3. Similar to Eknath Easwaran (2007). The Bhagavad Gita, 2nd ed. Tomales, CA: Nilgiri Press, p. 117. ISBN 1586380192 (which substitutes "they" for "people"). Transliteration from Winthrop Sargeant (1984). The Bhagavad Gita. Albany: State University of New York Press, p. 211. ISBN 0-87395-831-4, which translates the same passage as "They who, in whatever way, take refuge in Me, them I reward."
- See Swami Bhaskarananda, Essentials of Hinduism (Viveka Press 2002) ISBN 1-884852-04-1
- Hindu American Foundation Hinduism Basics " It is a richly diverse family of philosophies, traditions, and practices that have been followed primarily throughout Asia for thousands of years."
- "Shat-darshana: The Philosophical Schools of Sanatana Dharma"
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- Larson 2012, p. 313.
- (Rigveda 1:164:46) "Ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti" - Truth is one; sages call it many names
- (Maha Upanishad: Chapter 6, Verse 72) "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam" - The entire world is a one big family
- Badlani, Hiro (2008). Hinduism: Path of the Ancient Wisdom. iUniverse. p. 303. ISBN 978-0-595-70183-4
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- Jonathan Porter Berkey The formation of Islam: religion and society in the Near East 2003 p28 "This is not to say that there was no universalist dimension to Zoroastrian religious life; but what universalism there was derived directly, and to a greater degree than in the case of Rome and Christianity, from the explicit connection between religion and the state."
- Mackie, J. L. (November 1982). The Miracle of Theism: Arguments for and against the Existence of God. Oxford University Press. p. 15. ISBN 978-0198246824.
It is no longer 'The heathen in his blindness…', but rather 'We worship the same god, but under different names and in different ways’. Carried far enough, this modern tendency would allow Christian miracles to support, not undermine, belief in the supernatural achievements of stone-age witch doctors and medicine men, and vice versa, it is as if someone had coined the slogan, Miracle-workers of the world, unite!
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