AskDefine | Define universalism

Dictionary Definition

universalism n : the theological doctrine that all people will eventually be saved

User Contributed Dictionary





  1. the theological belief that all souls can attain salvation
  2. the state of being universal
  3. A part of Unitarian Universalism

Extensive Definition

Universalism is a religion and theology that generally holds all persons and creatures are related to God or the divine and will be reconciled to God. A church 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. Other religions may have Universalist theology as one of their tenets and principles, including Christianity, Hinduism, and some of the New Age religions. Universalist beliefs exist within many faiths, and many Universalists practice in a variety of traditions, drawing upon the same universal principles.
The most common principle drawn upon is love. (Sai Baba/Baba Speech): "The spirit present in all of the beings is varily seen as that of mind. They are all full of the essential love. Without love, it is all just a pun, without love you can not be happy !"
Truth is also an important principle to be drawn upon. The living truth is more far-reaching than national, cultural, even faith boundaries.


In Christianity, Universalism refers to the belief that all humans will be saved through Jesus Christ and eventually come to a harmony in God's kingdom. A related doctrine, apokatastasis, is the belief that all mortal beings will be reconciled to God, including Satan and his fallen angels. Universalism was a fairly commonly held view among theologians in early Christianity: In the first five or six centuries of Christianity there were six known theological schools, of which four (Alexandria, Antioch, Cesarea, and Edessa or Nisibis) were Universalist, one (Ephesus) accepted conditional immortality, and one (Carthage or Rome) taught the endless punishment of the lost.. The two major theologians opposing it were Tertullian and Augustine. In later centuries, Universalism has become very much a minority position in the major branches of Christianity, though it has a long history of prominent adherents.


Hindu 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.) In Ananda Marga a branch of Hinduism, Universalism refers to the idea that energy and matter are evolved from cosmic consciousness. Thus, all created beings are of one universal family. This is an expansion of humanism to include everything as family, based on the fundamental truth that the universe is a thought projection from the Supreme.


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. Not explicitly a Universal theology, this view, however, did not preclude others nations from a belief that God also has a relationship with other peoples — rather, Judaism held that God had entered into a covenant with all mankind as Noachides, and that Jews and non-Jews alike have a relationship with God.


Muslims believe that God sent the Holy Qur'an to bring peace and harmony to humanity through Islam (submission to God). Muhammad's worldwide mission was to establish universal peace under the Khilafat. The Khilafat was intended to ensure security of the lives and property of non-Muslims under the dhimmi system, as well as according them certain rights of worship.
Although that system was initially for what Islam defines as the "people of the book" (i.e. Jews and Christians), some Muslims extend this to include Mandeans, Zoroastrians, and Hindus. Other Muslims disagree, and hold that adherents of these faiths cannot be dhimmi.
The Muslim ideal of universal brotherhood is the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) prescribed by Islam. Each year close to three million people from every corner of the globe assemble in Mecca to perform Hajj and worship God. No individual can be identified as a king or pauper because every man is dressed in ihram clothing.

Forms of God

Jesus Christ is said to be the son of God the Father and Mary, who is not considered to be God the Mother but the Mother of God. In Christianity there is no being thought to be female and divine. Allah is thought to be without form, but some think Allah to be male like Jewish and Christian God the Father. Hinduism knows divine motherly beings as well as Great Mother. Girindrasekhar Bose, the founder of Indian Psychoanalytic Society, in his correspondence with Sigmund Freud "pointed to the importance of the maternal deities in his culture. Other Indian psychoanalysts even criticized classical Freudian psychoanalysis for being a product of a 'Father religion or Son religion'."

Further reading

  • Global communication without universal civilization

External links

Opposing Universalism

universalism in German: Universalismus (Religionswissenschaft)
universalism in Spanish: Universalismo
universalism in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Universalismo
universalism in Italian: Universalismo
universalism in Dutch: Universalisme (theologie)
universalism in Japanese: 万人救済主義
universalism in Portuguese: Universalismo
universalism in Finnish: Universalismi
universalism in Chinese: 普救派
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