Christian Universalism, which positions that all people, not some, are saved through Jesus Christ, is “alive and well” as a belief system in America, a modern Christianity professor has said, calling for it to be opposed.
Michael McClymond, Professor of Modern Christianity at Saint Louis University, told desiringGod.org in an interview posted on Monday that there is a difference between irreligious universalism and the Christian kind.
As he explains in his new book, The Devil’s Redemption: A New History and Interpretation of Christian Universalism, released in June, “full-bore” universalism means that all human beings will be saved at the end, without exception.
“Christian universalism may add something to that that says that all that salvation occurs in and through Christ. Christian universalism, therefore, would be different from an interreligious universalism. There’s plenty of this interreligious universalism in the culture now,” he added.
“It’s the idea that all roads lead to God, and that one need not come through Christ to God. A Christian universalism says, ‘No, it has to be through Christ. Somehow, through Christ all will be saved.'”
The scholar said that there are various strands of Christian universalism in the West, which go about explaining their beliefs from the standpoint of different traditions. Some speak out from a more gnostic-based thinking; while there are is also a website called The Evangelical Universalist Forum.
“It is alive and well,” McClymond said about universalism as a whole.
He revealed that a year and a half ago, he gathered 50 greater St. Louis area pastors to talk about how they would respond to universalism. The church leaders agreed that preaching faithfully is what they would do.
“To put it very briefly, preach the cross. If the cross is preached in its full depth, richness, and integrity, then it shows us God’s holy hatred and opposition for sin, and his profound love that was willing to endure the destructive weight of sin in order for us to be redeemed,” the professor urged.
“If you preach the cross rightly, so many theological issues resolve themselves. I think one of the reasons we have universalism emerging in churches is that we haven’t been preaching the cross. The cross shows us that our salvation did not come cheaply, that it came at a very high price.”
Popular but controversial author William Paul Young, behind the faith-based bestseller The Shack, later turned into a movie in 2017, also recently took aim at the view that those who die without knowing Jesus will be left without salvation.
“Romans itself says that death can’t separate you from the love of God [see Romans 8:31-39, in particular],” Young stated in a June interview, insisting that the verse applies to all people, including those who haven’t accepted Christ.
“And every time the New Testament talks about the issue of judgment, it talks about crisis — the Greek work for judgment — and it’s a crisis. You’re going to enter a crisis — and I don’t think the story is over; I don’t think death is our damnation,” he added.
“I think that Jesus is both our salvation and rightful judge but that judgment is intended for our good, not our harm.”