03 November 2009

40 Synonyms for Universalism

. . . As a student of Universalist history, I find myself intrigued by all the words and phrases that have been used over the years to refer to Universalism or to the doctrine of universal salvation, the primary tenet of Universalism.

I have collected over 100 of these words and phrases but am posting only 40 here. They have been culled from many sources, the most common being 19th-century American books and periodicals published by Universalists. This religion was the fifth largest in the United States in the 1850s and 1860s and the great majority of my research has been around this period.

Unitarian Universalists have a tendency to undercut or even ignore Universalist history for some reason. (I am collecting examples of this tendency and will post them here one day.) And, while Unitarian history does interest me somewhat, there are already plenty of people doing research there, but only a handful of people researching Universalism. As a lifelong Unitarian Universalist I have witnessed countless examples of our faith being referred to solely as Unitarianism, but for myself, I am more inspired by the history and message of Universalism.

General Terms

  • 1. universalism
  • 2. universal salvation
  • 3. universal grace
  • 4. universal holiness and happiness
  • 5. universal reconciliation
  • 6. universal restoration
  • 7. restorationism
  • 8. the larger faith
  • 9. the larger hope
  • 10. the great salvation
  • 11. the better gospel
  • 12. the message of universal joy
  • 13. primitive Christianity
  • 14. liberal Christianity
  • 15. the Abrahamic religion
Terms from Adherents

  • 16. Origenism, the belief that all people will attain heaven, not just a select few. After Origen of Alexandria (185-254), Egyptian theologian, leader of a school of theology at Alexandria 203-254, compiler of the first parallel-text bibles, the Hexapla and Octapla
  • 17. Arminianism and 18. Remonstrantism, the belief that Christ died for all, not some. After the Rev. Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609), Dutch theologian, chair of theology at the University of Leiden 1595-1609, first to espouse the doctrine of free will. His followers were called Remonstrants.
  • 19. Rellyism or Rellyanism, the doctrine of universal salvation. After the Rev. James Relly (1722-1778), Welsh theologian, wrote Union: or a Treatise on Consanguinity and Affinity between Christ and His Church 1759, the first important modern work on universalism
Terms from the Rev. Stephen R. Smith (1788-1850), founder and major fundraiser of Clinton Liberal Institute, 1831, the first nonsectarian school in New York state; first minister to regularly include a question-and-discussion period following his sermon c.1815 (this event was known as a talkback in the 1970s)

  • 20. the free church
  • 21. the better covenant
  • 22. the everlasting gospel
  • 23. the gospel of illimitable grace
  • 24. the message by which captive souls were made free
  • 25. the purification and happiness of the entire human race
Terms from the Rev. Thomas Barns (1749-1816) (later spelled Barnes), primary Universalist preacher in Maine from 1799 to 1816. As a member of the Massachusetts legislature 1807-1814, Barns successfully ended taxation by Congregationalists of Universalists, Methodists, and Baptists in New Gloucester (now Maine) in 1807. He also served as president 1809-1812 of what was to become the Universalist Church of America.

  • 26. the impartial gospel of the Lord Jesus
  • 27. salvation, full, free and sure
  • 28. the gospel hope in the salvation of a whole world
Terms from the Rev. Abraham Norwood (1806-1880), early American Universalist evangelist. He wrote Religious Proscription for Opinion's Sake 1832 and Acts of the Elders, Commonly Called the Book of Abraham 1842, two popular defenses of Universalism which converted many.

  • 29. the Universalean belief
  • 30. the most happifying truth ever presented to man
  • 31. the gospel of universal benevolence and salvation
Terms from the Rev. Thomas Allin (1835-1908), minister in the Church of England. He wrote Universalism Asserted: On Authority of Reason, the Fathers, and Holy Scripture in 1887.

  • 32. the liberation of all souls
  • 33. the restoration of every fallen spirit
  • 34. the final conversion of all evil beings
Miscellaneous Terms

  • 35. that precious faith (from the Rev. Edward Mott Woolley, 1803-1853)
  • 36. the Democracy of Christianity (from the Rev. James Freeman Clarke, 1810-1888, Unitarian)
  • 37. the sublime and heavenly doctrine of universal benevolence (from the Rev. Pitt Morse, 1796-1860)
  • 38. the doctrine of God's universal goodness to his children (from Lucy Barns, 1780-1839, daughter of the Rev. Thomas Barns)
  • 39. finished salvation (from the Rev. James Relly)
Finally, a modern reference remarkable for its candor

  • 40. the black hole of our history (from Nancy Proctor, who, after completing an online course on UU history offered by the Starr King School for Religion, founded by Unitarians, said one of the references filled "what for me is the black hole of our history," referring to Universalism)


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