The influence of Universalism on society and the church
There are many who hold to this concept of all religions being of equal status. “As a Mason his religion must be universal: Christ, Buddha, or Mohammed, the name means little, for he recognizes only the light and not the bearer” (Manly Hall, The Lost Keys of Freemasonry, 65.) This is why they can allow any religious book on their table--they see them all as equals. Masonry can then appeal to all and commit to none.Masonic authority Carl H. Claudy explains Masonry's tolerance of all religions: "Masonry does not specify any God; …she requires merely that you believe in some Deity, give him what name you will . . . any god will do, so he is your ' god.” (reference Little Masonic Library, vol. 4 (Macoy Publishing, 1977), p, 32.)
“Freemasonry is NOT Christianity nor a substitute for it”....”But the religion of Masonry is not sectarian. It admits men of every creed within its hospitable bosom, rejecting none and approving none for his particular faith”...”Masonry, then, is, indeed, a religious institution; and on this ground mainly, if not alone, should the religious Mason defend it” (Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Albert G.Mackey, Revised Edition, 1921, pages 618, 619)
The universalist view is being promoted by many people of influence in and outside the church. Sir John Marks Templeton, founder of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion is a universalist promoting interfaith religious activities, he denies Christ as the only Savior and only way to God. He claims that heaven and hell are states of mind we create here on earth, that truth is relative, and that Christianity is no longer relevant. He states Behind this book is my belief that the basic principles for leading a “sublime life”... may be derived from any religious tradition Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and others as well as Christian.... (John Marks Templeton, Discovering the Laws of Life, 1994 inside front of jacket.)
URI Charter, and the writings of other URI proponents make the long-term goal clear: the “global soul” will be a New Religion for the “new civilization” of the new millennium. “We believe that the wisdom of our religious and spiritual traditions should be shared for the health and well being of all. Therefore, as communities of faith and interdependent people rooted in our faith, we now unite for the sake of peace and healing among religions, peoples and nations, and for the benefit of the earth and all living beings.”
We believe that all religions derive their wisdom from that ultimate Source. Therefore, the world's faith traditions share in common wisdom, which can be obscured by differences in religious concepts and practices. ... The United Religions promotes dialogue. A theology of acceptance will help the world's people explore common ground. Our awareness of unity within religious diversity promotes ever-increasing kinship” (quoted in SCP JOURNAL 22:4-23:1 By Lee Penn.)
Neale Donald Walsch who wrote the bestseller Conversations with God says, “Hitler went to heaven” (Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue, Book 2, Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc., 1997; p. 35) And the reason according to Walsh “There is no hell, so there is no place else for him to go.” (ibid.p. 42)
Victor Kazaniian Jr. an Episcopal priest wrote in Episcopal life Forum, “ We walk side by side, fellow travelers on life's pathways. I speak of being awakened to the wonder and mystery of the world, using words that reflect my window to the divine, the one whom I call my Lord and my God, Jesus, the Risen Christ. You, too, speak of being awakened to the wonder and mystery of the world, using words that reflect your window, to the divine through the teachings of the Buddha, of Baha'u'llah, of Lord Mahavir, of Muhammad, teachings from the Torah, the Guru Granth Sahib and the Vedas. As I hear you speak and as I look into your eyes, I see God. I feel God. I experience God in you, not just a partial reflection of my Christian God, but the creator, the divine spirit in wham we all live and move and have our being. How magnificent is this divine force that it should appear across the Earth like the flowers of a garden in so many different shapes and hues.” “It is not simply so-called “religious fundamentalists” who practice this exclusivism. No, there is a kind of tolerance of difference preached by liberal church folk, which still clings to a Christocentric world view and becomes apparent when we proclaim our faith using language that devalues the faith of others.” “There is no place for religious exclusivism in Christianity. It has been arguably the single greatest source of human misery during the past two millenniums. It must be replaced by an understanding of the interwovenness of all life, of all religious traditions” (Episcopal life Forum p.20, June 1998)
“He [Jesus] meant to establish a world religion that would embrace every soul and synthesize every creed, and his work will not be consummated until he has done just that.” (Rodney R. Romney Pastor of Seattle's First Baptist Church. Romney Journey, p. 31.)
Arch-bishop of Canterbury, Sir Robert Runcie believes that all religions should try to come to ether into a great ecumenical religion. The only ones not welcome are those who look for the Second Coming. According to Runcie, “...nor can we accept the despair of those who interpret the various crises we face today ...as harbingers of the end of the world. The fatalism inherent in such a philosophy has no part in authentic religious awareness.”
So we must then ignore everything Jesus said for the end of the age.
Former South African archbishop Desmond Tutu participated in the conference and gave a speech on the “Christian” view of God. In a press conference prior to his speech at OSU, Tutu urged leaders of all religions to work together in order to find a new image of God. “No religion can claim to have the whole truth about the mystery [of faith]” he said. The Associated Press said Tutu “urged Christians to embrace other faiths.”
Mother Theresa was on the cutting edge of this wider mercy doctrine. In a film entitled 'Mother Teresa', originally given in its world premiere at the United Nations 40th Anniversary celebration in 1985, she gave a familiar message of religious universalism: 'No colour, no religion, no nationality, should come between us.”
Mother Theresa practiced today’s open Catholicism “I love all religions. ... If people become better Hindus, better Muslims, better Buddhists by our acts of love, then there is something else growing there.” She upheld that there are many ways to God': “All is God--Buddists, Hindus, Christians, etc., all have access to the same God.” (12/4/89 Time, pp. 11, 13) While we can agree to love all religions and people there is a vast difference as accepting them as valid.
Mother Teresa told everyone no matter what their religion: “If in coming face to face with God we accept Him in our lives, then we are converting. We become a better Hindu, a better Muslim, a better Catholic, a better whatever we are. ... What God is in your mind you must accept” (from Mother Teresa: Her People and Her Work, by Desmond Doig, (Harper & Row, 1976), p.156)
Catholic apologist Peter Kreeft is certainly touts the same line when he says, “We can and should investigate and learn from the wisdom in other religions” (Peter Kreeft Ecumenical Jihad p.79). “Allah is not another God...we worship the same God”(Peter Kreeft Ecumenical Jihad p.30). “The same God! The very same God we worship in Christ is the God the Jews-and the Muslims-worship.” (Ibid. p. 160)
All Kreeft is doing is affirming the Catholic Catechism where it states “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day” (pp. 242, 243)
Catholicism has had this view for many years “There are other ways of being united to God besides baptism. Most of the human race has never heard of or cannot believe in Christ or baptism. As the world population increases, Christians become proportionately less. The Christian life begun by baptism is becoming more and more the privilege and responsibility of a few. Most of humanity is united with God in other ways. (Christ Among Us, by Fr. Anthony Wilhelm p.199, 1967, Paulist Press with Archbishop Peter Gerety's Imprimatur). “Many men come to God in this way through other, non-Christian religions ... God lives within many ... unbelievers, though they may oppose him or those who try to work for him.” (ibid p. 200).
The Bible states that the ONLY WAY to heaven is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Universalism teaches that there is not just one way of salvation but many different ways. The Christian inclusivists state salvation is by grace through faith in Christ alone, but they change the meaning to be that His grace extends out to those who do not believe (not needing faith) because he died for them too.
International Church council of the Coalition on Revival states: “We affirm that there is no salvation apart from Christ's atonement for both those who have and have not heard the gospel. We deny that God cannot apply Christ's atonement to those heathen 'who do by nature what the law requires (which is) written on their heart' and to which 'their conscience bears witness' (Rom. 2:14-16), or to anyone he chooses” (Church Council Documents, #9, “The Eternal Fate of Unbelievers,” Article VII).
Yet the Bible says they will be judged by the law, it is death not life, it never says it is salvation. And it only takes one time to sin and be a law breaker. If you keep 612 commandments and miss one you are guilty not of one but all 613. Rom. 2:23 “You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law?
Paul make sit clear Rom. 2:12-13 “For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified.” Jesus made it clear that no one can keep the laws demands.
Paul brings his treatise of the law in relation to Israel to a conclusion by stating unequivocally Rom. 3:9-12 “What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.” v:19-24 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God ,being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Nothing could be clearer.
Paul asks the rhetorical question “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law” (Rom. 3:31). Faith in whom? God, yes; but through Jesus Christ.
“knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified ”(Gal. 2:16).
There are others who are held in high esteem in the church and are used as examples of spirituality that people should know more about. Mother Teresa held that a pagan can sincerely follow his religion of works and be saved by Christ despite himself.
Her concepts of salvation are made clear by these statements, "I love all religions. ... If people become better Hindus, better Muslims, better Buddhists by our acts of love, then there is something else growing there." [On another occasion, she again demonstrated her false gospel that 'there are many ways to God': "All is God--Buddists, Hindus, Christians, etc., all have access to the same God."] (12/4/89 Time, pp. 11, 13)
Loving the people of the religions is what we are told to do, but loving their religions we are not told to do.
In an interview with a Catholic nun, “Sister” Ann, who worked in Kathmandu, Nepal, with “Mother” Teresa's organization Missionaries of Charity. The interview was conducted 11/23/84 at the Pashupati Temple.
Ques: Do you believe if they die believing in Shiva or in Ram [Hindu gods] they will go to heaven?
Answer: Yes, that is their faith. My own faith will lead me to God, ... So if they have believed in their god very strongly, if they have faith, surely they will be saved.
Ques: Today it does not seem that the Catholic Church is trying to convert anymore. I know that John Paul II is saying now that those of other religions are saved. You do not believe they are lost anyway, right?
Answer: No, they are not lost. They are saved according to their faith, you know. If they believe whatever they believe, that is their salvation.
“Mother” Teresa tells Muslims and Jews that they worship the same God that Christians worship. “Mother” Teresa has even said atheists are children of God!
On Conversion: “What we are all trying to do by our work, by serving the people, is to come closer to God. If in coming face to face with God we accept Him in our lives, then we are converting. We become a better Hindu, a better Muslim, a better Catholic, a better whatever we are, and then by being better we come closer an closer to Him. if we accept Him fully in our lives, then that is conversion. What approach would I use? For me, naturally, it would be a Catholic one, for you it may be Hindu, for someone else, Buddhist, according to one's conscience, What God is in your mind you must accept.”(Mother Teresa, Her people and her work Desmond Doig p.136)
No one can deny that “Mother” Teresa did wonderful humanitarian work among the poor and needy, but this is not the Christian message but a Christian work. But can it be considered Christian work if it is divorced from the gospel. It is universalism.
The concept that everyone has the Christ within has always been part of the New age movements core belief system. Robert Schuller's article in the Summer 1986 issue of Possibilities magazine stated that, “The Christ Spirit dwells in every human being, whether the person knows it or not” (p. 12).
So now we are to accept that we are born with Christ instead of with sin. The Bible says the very opposite, Galatians 3:26-28 “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”
Robert Schuller is a universalist who believes that all people are the children of God. That making one aware of there sinful condition is destructive. “We know the things the major faiths can agree on. We try to focus on those without offending those with different viewpoints, or without compromising the integrity of my own Christian commitment” (USA Today, March 23, 1989.) When the Pope visited Los Angeles in 1987” Schuller said: “It's time for Protestants to go to the shepherd [Pope]. Schuller has stated “if he came back in 100 years and found his descendants Muslims, it wouldn't bother him....” This is more than just warming your hands at the enemies fire.
Popular speaker Tony Campolo has written “We want to convince the whole human race that there is a God who established the infinite value of every person, who mystically dwells in each person ...” (A Reasonable Faith: Responding to Secularism, p. 59). “I do not mean that others represent Jesus for us. I mean that Jesus actually is present in each other person” (ibid. p. 192). This disregards the doctrine of sinful humanity needing a spiritual rebirth and from a man who is supposed to be a respected Christian minister.
Robert Schuller has said the very same thing “The Christ spirit dwells in every human being whether the person knows it or not nothing exists except God” (Possibilities, p. 12 Summer 1986, pp. 8-12.) Campolo also said, “Jesus is the only Savior, but not everybody who is being saved by Him is aware that He is the one who is doing the saving.”
In an address at Prestatyn (UK) in 1988, Campolo again expressed his “Jesus is in everyone” philosophy: “One of the most startling discoveries of my life was the realization that the Jesus that I love, the Jesus who died for me on Calvary, that Jesus, is waiting, mystically and wonderfully, in every person I meet. I find Jesus everywhere. The difference between a Christian and non-Christian is not that Jesus isn't in the non-Christian--the difference is that the Jesus who is within him is a Jesus to whom he will not surrender his life. You say, 'Are you saying that Jesus is present in everybody?' I am only telling you what it says in John 1:9; He is the light that lighteth every man, every woman that cometh into the world. The minute you start saying that God isn't in some people, you're on the verge of Fascism. Why? Erich Fromm saw that. The minute you can look at somebody and say God isn't in him--he is only in Christians--that person is pure demon.”
Has Campolo changed his views over the years? According to a 1/24/97 PBS's television interview with Charlie Rose, not a bit-“I am saying that there is no salvation apart from Jesus, that's my evangelical mindset. However, I'm not convinced that Jesus only lives in Christians” (National Liberty Journal, 8/99).
The occultist Alice Bailey who was ahead of her time in many respects had this to say about the wider road and Christ in all people, “This is the challenge which today confronts the Christian Church. The need is for vision, wisdom and that wide tolerance which will see divinity on every hand and recognize the Christ in every human being.” (Alice Bailey From Bethlehem To Calvary, p. 273, Lucis Publishing Company: New York, 1937)
So why are professing Christians agreeing with her?
Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck is a popular speaker and writer. M. Scott PeckPeople of the Lie and The Road Less Traveled have appeared on a leading “evangelical” magazine’s Book of the Year list. He claims “salvation” is available to people of all religious faiths denying that there is an exclusive way of salvation (Acts 4:12). In 1988, Peck endorsed a “Cosmic New Age Christ” book by Matthew Fox, who is a mystical New Age Catholic priest.
A wider view of grace has always been part of a minority of the church from its inception. Even Billy Graham who has preached the gospel to more people on earth than probably any man in history has said as far back as 1978, in McCall’s magazine: “I used to think that pagans in far-off countries were lost--were going to hell--if they did not have the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached to them. I no longer believe that. ... I believe there are other ways of recognizing the existence of God--through nature, for instance--and plenty of other opportunities, therefore, of saying yes to God.”
This becomes a problem to honestly preach the gospel of Christ being the only way if one holds to this wider view. This doesn’t mean he believes everyone will be saved but he does hold a view that believing in God keeps one from hell. Rom.1 explains to us that one can know there is a God from nature, but this does not mean it is salvation to the individual who believes this. Graham has made other similar statements that have leaned more to universalism, some do not carry any weight in them as they are ambiguous, but then there are statement such as those in “the non-believing world”-they are members of the Body of Christ. (on Robert Schuller's Hour of Power television program, June 8, 1997). Explaining what “God is doing today; He's calling people out of the world for His name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world, or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ because they've been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus, but they know in their hearts that they need something that they don't have, and they turn to the only light that they have, and I think that they are saved, and that they're going to be with us in heaven.”(May 31, 1997 Interview of Billy Graham by Robert Schuller)
Evangelists often have a big heart and want to see people saved, but holding to a view like this lowers the standard the apostles gave; that there is no other name to be saved by. One cannot be saved and not know the name that saved them. I can only come to the conclusion that as Graham continues to preach the gospel, he seems to hold this as his personal opinion.
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations in North America holds the belief that no one will be eternally condemned. They deny the existence of hell, claiming it is unreasonable for a loving God to send people to a place of eternal torment. They believe that we suffer the consequences of sin in this life only. Unitarian Universalism broadens its appeal to those who are looking for a non-judgmental view with a dab of Christianity. They want to have their cake and eat it too.
We can see the universalist view espoused even on G rated TV shows. On the influential program touched by an angel this teaching of universalism is seen as a little girl tells about her goldfish who died and was flushed down the toilet and said it went to heaven. The mother was disturbed by this, Tess the character played by Della Reese on touched by an angel said to her, “that’s all right there’s a lot of ways to heaven.” This too is her personal view, not just the script.
Recently on the Phil Donahue (2003) program on MSNBC he attacked the issue of Christ being the only way. And had a number of people on one program, 2 Christians, a rabbi and a universalist. On another program a few days later he had Jerry Falwell. He did all he could to discredit the revelation from Christ as the only way to God and heaven showing his liberal agenda. To think people will be ok or even part of the universal body of believers because they live good lives or believe in a God is utter nonsense. Whether one is sincere has good intentions or lives in ignorance of the truth they are following the god of this world, living in their fallen nature and they will not be approved by God at the end unless they receive God’s offer of being pardoned. (Job.26:6-711:7-9; Ps.139:8; Prov.7:27 9:16-18 15:11 27:20; Isa.5:13)
The World council of churches is the only non-Catholic ecumenism used for unity among liberal non-Catholic congregations. “Only the recognition on a worldwide scale of the oneness of creation can provide the critical global consciousness necessary to chart a -new course for a sustainable future”(World Council of Church).
WCC's Seventh General Assembly that took place in Canberra, Australia Korean professor Chung Hyun-Kyung, who exalted pagan concepts of God. Of the Holy Spirit Chung said, “Don't bother the Spirit by calling her all the time. She is working hard with us.” Eighteen times Chung summoned the spirits of the dead who have suffered injustices in the past and claimed that “without hearing the cries of these spirits, we cannot hear the voice of the Holy Spirit.” After calling on the spirits of the dead, Chung said, “I hope the presence of all our ancestors' spirits here with us shall not make you uncomfortable.” She also summoned “the spirit of Earth, Air, and Water.” She claimed the Holy Spirit was the same as the “image of Kwan In,” an Asian goddess of compassion and wisdom. Chung went even further in her blasphemy when she said, “Perhaps this might also be a feminine image of the Christ who is the first born among us, one who goes before and brings others with her.” Chung received a standing ovation from the WCC delegates!
The World Conference President for many years was a Catholic Archbishop from India. The Third World Conference, held in Princeton, in 1978, concluded “with a worship service at [New York's] Saint Patrick's Cathedral, where Cardinal Terence Cooke [was] the host”(Our Sunday Visitor, December 31, 1978. “To members of dozens of religions 'worshiping” together. This has been going on for some time but is now really coming together with the added complications of terrorism and the concern of religions starting wars.
A Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), which meets every two years, held January, 1988, in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The speaker “Mr. Wells said one's religion was not the measure of one's goodness or value as a creature of God. `We all have fallen into sin, into the brokenness of life, every religion and every person. People who say the way to salvation is Jesus Christ alone have to think about it carefully.’ “Cautiously Mr. Wells said he believed God was bigger than our concept through one religion. He knew God was revealed through Jesus Christ but that did not necessarily mean ‘we have it and they don't.’ “People who believe in Jesus Christ are still in the midst of brokenness,' he said, adding that he believed God was working through Buddhism...” (CCA News, January/February, 1988, pages 18-19; Christian Conference of Asia)
The Pope's 1986 gathering for prayer at Assisi proved him to be a universalists as well as a promoter of interfaith. “He welcomed snake worshipers, fire worshipers, spiritists, animists, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and shamans, was supported and attended by representatives of the World Council of Churches and even evangelicals. Represented there were the YWCA and YMCA, the Mennonite World Conference, the Baptist World Alliance (which includes the Southern Baptist Convention), the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Lutheran World Federation.”
This becomes a basic concept to unite different religious systems, certainly no better common ground could be found but Universalism! Because it offers acceptance of all. If one does not claim Christianity, they hold to the validity of all religions believing there is worth and truth in each one. If one claims to be a Christian universalist they use certain Scriptures and ignore others to justify their unbiblical belief. This Universalism refers to the work of Christ as the basis for our salvation but you don’t need to know this and personally believe it. Christs’ work extends to all people regardless who they are and what they practice as their religion. Then the preacher and the missionary are passé, they only need to tell people they are already saved and keep on practicing whatever religion they are holding too.
If everyone is going to be saved, through Islam, Catholicism, Mormonism, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. then no religion sends people to hell and every religion sends them to heaven. If all religions accept the idea of universalism, then all religions are valid (the good ones) and there is no error or falsehood. As universalism teaches each looks at the other as being valid, only a different perspective. Like Rosicrucianism affirms, they are all like petals on a flower, none have the whole truth.
While they may agree with this for their goals of peace and unity, it does not change reality. They know there are differences even though for a time they may overlook them to form a one world religion that encompasses all.