Study Finds Fewer Evangelical Universalists than Reported

#1 … -reported/

I know it’s old news but I genuinely wonder how many EUs there are now, given Talbott’s & Parry’s books have made it more prominent?


It would seem that, according to the author of this article, believing that sincere seekers from any religion will be saved makes one a “universalist.” But wouldn’t “Inclusivism” or “Religious Pluralism” more accurately describe this position than “Evangelical Universalism?” Same goes for the position described in this article as well: … ven-bound/.


The categorizing of folks and ideas from polls like this tell me almost nothing really Alex.

Here the author makes what he takes to be an insightful discovery:
–that altering the wording of a question changes the answer!!!
Oh my! Who would have thought!!

He frames the question in terms of those who believe “that eternal life can be obtained through religions other than Christianity.” Which shows how inherently biased he is! Do ANY of us here think this? Our eternal life is by the Grace of God: not the “religion” of “Christianity”.

At the same time I’d bet each one of us here take very seriously the words of John when he says that Jesus is the truth the life and the way; NO MAN comes to the Father but by Me. Yet who of us would presume to limit God’s sphere of activity to those “religions” not explicitly aligned with Christ? For myself, I see many possible and positive responses to Jesus in terms we don’t think of as explicitly “Christian”. Many will come late to the actual introduction of Jesus face to face; and will learn it was He all along who animates them! I think that’s both a prediction and a promise for UR believers.

So when one begins to carefully define terms and beliefs and convictions I find there really are quite a few folks who get pretty close to seeing something like UR as very possible. Though they would never self-identify as an Evangelical Universalist.

I asked a question very closely related to this topic of our own TGB over in Evangelism and hope he will be able to respond as I’m sure he has lots of ideas along these lines…



I agree with Aaron. The article sited by Alex is about inclusive religious pluralism, not evangelical universalism.


They always get our view wrong! But, for all their misunderstanding, I have hope that, once they understand, they’ll agree. Alex, I know you’ve been passing TEU out like mad, but Gene and I haven’t had as much luck getting people to read it. I wonder how much it really is out there? I expect, in the coming years, there will be a lot more of us (and I’m usually a pessimist :laughing: ). I’ve turned into quite the optimist! :smiley:


Hi Amy,
I have to admit I’m a pessimist when it comes to UR being widely accepted–and usually I’m an optimist. :laughing: But there was a good sized universalist movement a hundred or two years ago, and it fizzled and degenerated into the “Unitarian Universalists”.

The pioneers of any ‘movement’ are radical and enthusiastic, their kids take it for granted, and their grandkids are bored with it and go in search of something more exciting. – How’s that for pessimism? :imp:

A lot of people seem to just not really care, many find it threatening to have comfortable traditions challenged, and still more will jump on the wagon–and say, “Ok, then I can just do what I want and know that it’s all going to turn out ok.” Temporary remedial punishment is nothing to be concerned about if you’ve been used to being kept in line by the threat of neverending torture. :cry:

I have no doubt there’s always been an undercurrent of UR in Christianity, but I don’t think it does well as a popular movement. But, who knows?? :smiley: Maybe God has something new in the works!



I think you have me beat! :laughing:

Gene (Auggy) says, when people say this, “Would you be willing to light yourself on fire for an hour? How about a half hour?” I don’t think people consider, that if even temporary, it’s pretty darn painful!

BTW, a few people, even friends of friends, are asking for recommendations for good reading in this new year. Guess what I’ve been recommending to everyone? :laughing:


I remember reading that somewhere here before–that’s a great way to illustrate the fallacy of it. I think similar thoughts every time I burn myself–which I seem to do pretty regularly. :laughing: (Nothing serious–just kitchen stuff or wood stove–clumsy me!)



I agree with both of you. I think the first thing we need to do is to help people understand that EU isn’t pluralism!

Yeah, I agree, but it’s hard to gauge the spread/acceptance of an idea on a large scale any other way :neutral_face:



I totally agree.

I’m glad there are people who get close to UR, but it’s shame they don’t feel comfortable with identifying themselves with EU :frowning:

It’s interesting that Gene’s had more luck with Talbott’s book, whereas I’ve had the opposite experience. I’ve asked Tom & Robin how many books they have sold worldwide to at least give a very partial indicator. I’m trying to be an optimist, particular as I’m hoping Postmillennialism is also true :slight_smile:

Yeah, the UU movement has puzzled me too, when I asked someone that question, they said it was because it was basically Unitarian from the beginning? Which would partially make sense of why it wasn’t adopted by mainstream Christianity.

This isn’t always the case, there a many things passed down from generation to generation. I think it also depends a lot on what and how it’s being taught. More importantly, I’m hoping the Holy Spirit is at work in this movement!

True, these are genuine problems that need to be overcome. I hope the Gospel/HS is more powerful than fear of ECT.

He has promised He will do it, and if Postmillennialism is true, it will be sooner than later :mrgreen:

I hope not :slight_smile:

Thanks that a helpful analogy.

Nice :sunglasses:


Or maybe it just evolved into a movement which transcends doctrinal dogma altogether, a logical progression?


Firstborn, that’s an interesting way to look at it. It is amazing that all of us, that come from different backgrounds, have made our way here.


I used to be a bit of a fundy toward the UUs until I realized some very spiritually mature people participate. When you can find Christ outside of creeds - it’s an awesome thing.

One of the most Christlike people in my life right now is very anti-religion, anti creed, but the fruit is astounding.

AISI - creedal unification/conformity started all the main problems (AKA: unchristlikeness) in Christianity.

But - creedlessness is not very popular. It’s human nature to want perfect, flawless magic books and such. Even though the UUC is growing it has very few members (approx 500,000 worldwide). Still, compared to orthodox UR church membership - it’s huge! I know only one openly EU church in the major city near me( San Antonio) and they’ve hovered at around 250 members since the 70’s. And are bad-mouthed continually by the rest of the “regular” churches.

I persecuted (actually just ridiculed) my own mother years ago when she told me the body of Christ was all her neighbors and all the people she encountered during her day (I had invited her to “church”).

She started out as a CU at 14 years old and has come a long long way since then (she’ll be pushing 80 soon). Bottom line - the older I get the more I see her point of view being the one producing the most kingdom fruit.


That’s interesting, firstborn. Thank you for sharing that.



The problem isn’t creeds; even so-called “creedless” people and groups have creeds, if they have any beliefs at all. They may be very contradictory beliefs, and so the people might not want to think about them too much (and so deny they have creeds at all), but they still have them.

To give a non-UU example: Southern Baptists are supposed to be creedless. It’s one of our special doctrines by which we identify ourselves compared to other denominations, or rather compared to ‘denominations’ at all (because of course we aren’t supposed to be a denomination like those other groups with their man-made creeds imposed by church hierarchy).

Every SB I know would be either highly insulted or highly amused (if they’re self-critical enough to understand why it’s funny, my Mom and some of her cronies among them :smiley: ) if I pointed out that UUs are better at being good Baptists than Southern Baptists. The reason it’s funny is that of course SBs have creeds, and also something like imposition of creedal unity by church hierarchy. I figured that out when I was seven!!–while reading the list of doctrines we accept and profess as Southern Baptists. It’s desperately funny (and sad) to see us pretending otherwise.

The real problem is gnosticism: the belief that we are saved by having right beliefs. When people get that idea, then doctrinal disagreements become quite literally deathmatches where it may be felt that anything is allowable so long as the person attains what is believed (by someone) to be right belief.

That’s the sort of attitude (and belief) that leads Santa Claus to punch the Deacon Arius in the face. (True story apparently. :wink: The original Saint Nicholas, later morphed by legend into Santa Claus, did that during the Nicene debates or afterward.)

Whatever logical nonsense hardcore “creedless” groups like the UUs may have, I do see that they’re correctly trying to avoid the gnostic heresy. I can credit them for that at least. :slight_smile: (They’re certainly better than the SBs, currently, at avoiding that doctrinal heresy! :laughing: :smiley: )


That raised an amusing image in my mind … but I guess the original St Nick probably didn’t wear the red suit and all. :laughing:

Seems to me also that many simply presume that their beliefs are unquestionably true… thus they don’t consider their beliefs ‘creeds’ any more that day and night are creeds–simply facts of life that it wouldn’t occur to any sensible person to question.

To formulate a “creed” means recognizing and defining those things–and making them vulnerable to question.



Myyyyy deacon got run over by a reindeer…! {jingle jingle jingle}
Walking home from our house, Christmas Eve {jingle jingle jingle}
You may say there’s no such thing as a single interpersonal unity of deity
But as for me and Grandma: we believe!!!

(The information which remains over from the Nicene debates indicate that Arius was advocating something he thought was more philosophically sophisticated than the popular belief, represented by the ortho-trins, which he considered hopelessly confused at best. Santa was punching for the populace, not to keep the populace in line. I mention this because otherwise the joke of the song might seem like “me and Grandma” were afraid Santa would punch us.)


Jason, I think you should make a book about Santa gone mad, what not to do at Christmas time or any other time of the year. :smiley: I’ll never look at Santa the same. I liked it better when I associated only happy thoughts to him, not that he is a living person anyway and, I guess, no one is perfect.

People wanting to claim they don’t have a creed reminds me of those that pretend they aren’t a denomination, like Calvary Chapel. They are very particular about what one must believe, even regarding the rapture. Gene and I had a friend that went to their college and was ousted because he wrote a paper about why he didn’t believe in a pre-trib rapture.

Is that what gnosticism is? I can remember one of the books in the bible, where I think, Paul addresses this very problem. I wonder, though, if most Christians would define it this way because clearly most are under the assumption that right beliefs are what save us.

This outlook for me has yielded the most fruit.


No, I think most wouldn’t…I wonder how people react when it’s presented that way?

If salvation by knowledge was the case, exactly how correct does one’s knowledge have to be in order to achieve salvation? What would the base belief level be? And what factors would have to be part of that belief set? I have heard a Calv imply that Arms might not be saved because of their doctrine. (Did Calvin himself believe that?) And of course many feel that way about us and find us “dangerous” because we’re leading others astray–putting their salvation in danger.



By the way, this is just too funny. I told the kids the story and we were joking about it all morning!


I should have said “written creeds reinforced by a hierarchy to insure salvation”.

What’s funny too is the name “Unitarian Universalist”, both terms holdovers from great doctrinal controversies.