The Anabaptists

In addition to Annbaptist leader Hans Denck who had leanings toward universalism, history bears witness of many Anabaptist groups believing in universal reconciliation, both in Europe and later in American settlements.

The Lutheran Augsburg Confession of faith (1530) confirms this. Article XVII reads:

"Also they teach that at the Consummation of the World Christ will appear for judgment and will raise up all the dead; He will give to the godly and elect eternal life and everlasting joys, but ungodly men and the devils He will condemn to be tormented without end.

They condemn the Anabaptists, who think that there will be an end to the punishments of condemned men and devils.

They condemn also others who are now spreading certain Jewish opinions, that before the resurrection of the dead the godly shall take possession of the kingdom of the world, the ungodly being everywhere suppressed."

J.E. Odgers, in "The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics" writes:

"The first advocates of universal salvation were probably the German Baptists called Dunkers or Tunkers who settled in Germantown, PA as early as 1719...They brought with them Universalist books from German, and among them was "The Everlasting Gospel" attributed to Paul Siegvolk."

in 1715, Alexander Mack, a Bretheren leader also affirmed their belief in the final reconciliation of all, even as he cautioned against preaching it casually to the sinner:

"Therefore that is a much better and more blessed gospel which teaches how to escape the wrath of God, than the gospel which teaches that eternal punishment has an end. Even though this is true, it should not be preached as a gospel to the godless." (European Origins of the Brethren, Donal F. Durnbaugh)

Not all within the large and varied Anabaptist movement believed in ultimate reconciliation. Through time, the doctrine continued to decline into a minority view and in some cases disappear altogether.

Back to Tracing Universalist Thought Index

--Mercy Aiken

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