The quickest way to understand the distinctions between Christian Universalism and Unitarian Universalism, is in terms of their views on pluralism and the concept of universal salvation.

Christian Universalism (CU) is rooted in the belief that all people will ultimately be saved and no one will face eternal damnation. This belief traces back to the early Christian church. The last time this view was widely held was in the America of the 1800s. It was prominently upheld by the Universalist Church of America until the early 20th century. Christian Universalists hold a few core beliefs:

  • The universe’s Creator seeks a personal relationship with every individual.

  • Human beings are living souls that persist beyond physical death.

  • There is a form of justice in the afterlife.

  • Ultimately, everyone will be redeemed from sin and suffering, transformed into the divine image, and become Christ-like.

This perspective emphasizes a specific theological stance focused on the universal salvation through Christ, presenting a coherent and historical Christian belief system. Pluralism, the idea that there are multiple paths to God, is rejected. Only through life, death, and resurrection of Christ, are all reconciled to God.

Unitarian Universalism (UU), on the other hand, emerged from a merger between the Universalist Church of America and the American Unitarian Association in 1961, marking a significant shift towards a pluralistic and interfaith approach. The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) embodies this transition, representing a diverse community where Christians are scarce. Key points about UU include:

  • It does not adhere to a creed or set theological beliefs, which underscores its plurality.

  • Its members come from a broad spectrum of religious backgrounds, including Buddhism, Paganism, Humanism, and others, as well as (a little) Christianity.

  • The focus is on an open-minded exploration of spirituality and humanistic values rather than any specific theological perspective.

While some UUs may align with Christian Universalist beliefs, most do not, reflecting the association’s inclusive but non-dogmatic approach to spirituality. Each UU congregation is unique, shaped by the collective beliefs of its members and minister, which means the Christian message of universal salvation through Jesus Christ is not a central teaching in most UU churches.

In summary, the key difference lies in Christian Universalism’s specific theological commitment to universal salvation through Christ, contrasted against Unitarian Universalism’s pluralistic ethos that welcomes a variety of religious beliefs and practices without endorsing any singular view of salvation or divinity. In other words, UU says it’s fine to be Islamic, Zoroastrian, humanist, Wicca, or whatever—that all are valid paths. CU says those same Islamic, Zoroastrian, humanist, or Wicca, believers will be saved through Christ, despite their errant beliefs, not through their errant beliefs.

The Christian Universalist Association teaches this spiritual perspective, and our teachings are based on a 2000-year history of Christian Universalism.

We invite you to learn more about Universalism from a Christian perspective, and to join our community of faith if you agree with a Christ-centered Universalism.