As we reviewed chapter 4 in Titcomb’s book Message to the Nineteenth Century, a friend asked if the Rt. Reverend was a ‘universalist’. My answer was ‘not in any technical sense’. As a Bishop in the Church of England, Titcomb most likely believed in the universal fall of mankind by Adam’s first transgression as well as the universal offer of redemption by Christ who was the propitiation for sins of all men. So, if orthodox Protestantism be universalist in this sense, then so be it– Titcomb was a universalist!
Nonetheless, the term ‘universalist‘ can be (carelessly) thrown about in Identity circles without knowing the more stricter sense of it. Indeed, when I hear the accusation of ‘unversalism’, I immediately think of the Unitarian-Universalist church belief. Of course, Univeral-Unitarian belief resulted in the merger of Unitarians and Universalists in the 19th century. Unitarians tended represent the extreme political-Left of the Protestant church, and still do today.
The following Wikipedia article explains the origin of the movement,
“The term “Christian Universalism” was used in the 1820s by Russell Streeter of the Christian Intelligencer of Portland – a descendant of Adams Streeter who had founded one of the first Universalist Churches on September 14, 1785″.
Apparently, the movement had much to do with the rise of 18th century intellectualism and, likely, so-called scientific ideas. Though more variants may exist than I roughly describe below, Universalism makes common disagreements about Hell, or the Protestant doctrine of a Final Judgement. This distinction breaks down into about two types: 1) Rationalists who reject hell or eternal damnation. 2) Others who see no final condemnation but only a type of purgatory whereupon all men will finally enjoy heaven.
So, to answer my friend at Identity study: “No”. Titcomb was not a universalist. He believed in a final, everlasting damnation for those who died in sin with no profession of faith. Furthermore, while Titcomb rejected universalism (in this particular sense), I’ve known a number of Identity ministries that have adopted the notion of a ‘universal reconciliation’ of mankind. Oddly enough, they belong to several Christian Identity ministries descended from Sheldon Emry (though I don’t believe Mr. Emry taught it himself). So, if the accusation is kept, Universalism is probably more common with modern-day CI rather than British Israel writers.