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Universalism

An amalgam of several traditions including Gnosticism,* Anabaptism,* and mysticism.* Universalism was created in eighteenth-century America. The first congregation was organized in 1779, and the first creed was adopted in 1790. At first Universalists agreed on little beyond congregational polity and creedlessness, but the Winchester Platform (1803) was more specific in its stress on the perfectibility of man, the ultimate salvation of all men, the varied character of divine revelation, and the humanness of Christ. Prominent early leaders were John Murray,* Elhanan Winchester, and Hosea Ballou.* Many Universalists were also nonresistants. Disagreement over such matters as the reliability of the Scriptures, the nature of Christ, and the credibility of the Winchester document prompted the convention of 1899 to assert, among other things, unitarianism,* perfectionism,* and humanitarianism. By 1942 the group welcomed all humane men, Christian or not. It merged with Unitarians in May 1961, to form the Unitarian-Universalist Association.

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