Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 18, 1951

The Unitarian Question -- No. 3

Thomas Allen Robertson, Ontario, California

Unitarians And Universalists

The differences between Unitarianism and Universalism are so few, and their similarities are so many that the casual student might often confuse the two. In the statement furnished to the federal government for the religious census of 1936 by Esther A. Richardson, assistant secretary of the Universalist General Convention, Boston, Massachusetts, it is stated that, "Universalists are not Trinitarians . . . Universalists, as a body, are now practically. Unitarians, so far as the person, nature, and work of Christ are concerned. As to the mode of baptism, both immersion and sprinkling are practiced, but usually .. . the candidate,, whether adult or infant, is baptized by the minister placing his hand, which has been previously dipped in the fount, on the head of the candidate, and repeating the baptismal formula . . . The Lord's Supper is regularly observed, usually four times a year, and all members are expected to participate; but all others who would like thus to show their loyalty to their Master and cultivate Christian graces are cordially invited to join in the memorial."

From the same source we read, "Universalism avers that the sinner ('And no man liveth that sinneth not') cannot escape punishment; but this is remedial, and is meant to vindicate the inflexible righteousness of God and to induce repentance and reformation in His wayward children." Further, "Universalism has been defined as the doctrine or belief that it is the purpose of God through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to save every member of the human race from sin."

It is clear from these quotations, and many others of similar import, that Universalism holds to the idea that all punishment is on earth, and that ultimately every single member of the race shall be saved. It is similar to, or identical with, Unitarianism in this, inasmuch as the Unitarians "hope for the ultimate salvation of all souls, in distinction from the views traditionally taught on these points."

The Bible Teaching

Contrary to this view of Universalists and Unitarians is the simple and straight-forward teaching of the scripture that Christ died for every man (Heb. 2:9), and that it is not the Lord's desire that any should perish. (2 Peter 8:9) But this does not mean that all shall be saved; it only teaches that Christ made salvation possible for all. If man's salvation depended solely on Christ, all would be saved. But salvation is a two-way matter; Christ made it possible, but man must turn the possibility into reality. Man must avail himself of the opportunity Christ provided.

The Bible plainly teaches that some men will be lost because they will not do the things required of them in the plan God ordained. Christ said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark 16:16) Again, "He that believeth not is condemned already." (John 3:18) "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." (Luke 13:14) And Paul declared, 'We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in the body, according to that he bath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men." (2 Cor. 5:10, 11) Referring to the same occasion, Paul speaks of the time "when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power." (2 Thess. 1:7-9)

From these passages certain clear truths are evident: (1) Those who will not believe in Christ shall be lost (John 8:24); (2) those who will not repent of their past sins shall be lost (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30); (8) those who refuse to confess Christ before men shall be lost (Matt. 10:32, 33; Rom. 10:9, 10); (4) those who refuse to be buried with him through baptism into his death shall he lost (Rom. 6:3-7; Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 8:21); and (5) those who do not live as Christ would have them live shall be lost (Col. 3:1-10; 2 Peter 1:5-11).

There can be no mistaking such teaching; there can be no evading of the plain, positive, and undeniable meaning of these passages. Both Universalism and Unitarianism stand clearly condemned by God's word; they are false and dangerous. They represent the philosophies of men rather than the truth of God.