Over the past 300 years, God has been leading humanity into a new era of truth. In various religious traditions, the Holy Spirit has inspired people to move beyond corrupted beliefs and rediscover the deepest truths of spiritual reality.
This process is the beginning of the “restoration of all things” foretold by the prophets (Acts 3:21). Among the more noteworthy teachers and traditions that have contributed to the ongoing process of the Restoration:
- John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, emphasized the importance of human free will and our calling to work for the perfecting of our souls and our world according to the ideal of the Heavenly Kingdom.
- John Murray and the Universalist Church of America taught that the possibility of salvation is never foreclosed for any soul, but that God relentlessly seeks out and saves the lost through probationary tests designed to reform us, until in the fullness of time, all may be reconciled and restored.
- The Unitarians and Transcendentalists emphasized the goodness and potential in all human souls, and rejected the false dichotomy of Jesus as divine and other humans as mere creatures.
- Joseph Smith and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaimed the divinity of human beings as children of God, the preexistence of our souls before coming to Earth, and our potential to grow up into the fullness of exaltation with Christ; and the LDS Church began teaching that God is not only our Father in Heaven, but also our Heavenly Mother.
- The Baha’i Faith, a universalist offshoot of Islam, declared the coming of age of the human race and the imminent advent of the Kingdom of God on Earth, which will be built by spiritually mature humans ourselves; and that the Kingdom age will be marked by the equality of women and men, the harmony of science and religion, universal education, interfaith reconciliation, and the spread of freedom and democracy around the world.
- The Pentecostal movement witnessed and declared the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, prophecy, and continuing revelation from God in our own time.
- The Latter Rain revival proclaimed the divine sonship of all human beings, according to the pattern of Jesus Christ the Son of God, and the return of Christ through an inspired body of believers as co-heirs and co-workers to build the Kingdom of God on Earth and to accomplish the redemption and restoration of all.
- The New Age and New Thought movements have spoken of many of the same ideas, often using the language of Eastern religions and metaphysical philosophy instead of Abrahamic religious imagery and terminology.
- Liberal spiritual people of various traditions have explored the reality of the Divine Feminine and demanded the full equality of women, including in religious institutions; and furthermore they have fought against racism and other forms of prejudice and discrimination.
- Ken Wilber and Integral theory have presented human history as a process of psycho-spiritual and cultural evolution, culminating in a new era of holistic consciousness that is beginning to emerge today.
- Researchers into near-death experiences and recovered memories of the spirit world have confirmed that our souls preexist birth into the physical world and that our lives on Earth are a learning program with the goal of being perfected in divine attributes.
None of the sources mentioned above have the full picture, and all of them have flaws. But they have all helped to build an inspired foundation for the progress of human spirituality in the 21st century and beyond.
The mission of the Universal Church of the Restoration is to put it all together — the spiritual advancements of the last few centuries — into a religious community that stands for the fullness of the restored Gospel at the threshold of the Kingdom age. All of these teachings are fully compatible with original, authentic Christianity; in fact, many of them were taught in the early church by renowned theologians such as Origen of Alexandria. We believe God’s will is that this worldview should become a prominent expression of the Christian faith today.
About Our Founder
Pastor Eric Stetson is an experienced social entrepreneur in the fields of ministry and charitable nonprofits. He studied Religious Studies and Philosophy at the University of Virginia and was ordained as a minister by Home Missions Church, a network of Charismatic house churches. In 2005, he founded Hope Through Christ, an evangelistic teaching ministry focusing on the unconditional love of God and universal salvation.
In 2007, he assembled a board of directors of twelve spiritual leaders from six denominations and founded the Christian Universalist Association (CUA), an ecumenical organization of individuals, ministries and churches that believe in a universalist view of the Gospel. Under his leadership as executive director, the CUA grew to thousands of members around the world and developed a ministerial training and ordination program.
In the 2010’s, Pastor Eric transitioned his career into information technology and the charity sector. In 2015, he founded the world’s first digital currency to be distributed by a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization as a social dividend to help lift people out of poverty. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of the cryptocurrency, called Manna, was given away to tens of thousands of people in some of the world’s poorest countries, including a refugee camp in Africa. Pastor Eric’s vision also included a children’s savings grant program for impoverished youth and an online social network for targeted direct giving.
In 2020, Eric Stetson felt called to return to religious ministry. He stepped down from the board of Hedge for Humanity, the nonprofit he had founded to oversee the Manna project, so that he could devote his attention to launching the Universal Church of the Restoration. Economic justice and poverty alleviation remain key priorities for Pastor Eric in his understanding of the Gospel, as part of his overall philosophy of respecting human dignity and seeing God in every person.
Eric Stetson is the author of a 2008 book, Christian Universalism: God’s Good News for All People; and the editor of A Lost History of the Baha’i Faith: The Progressive Tradition of Baha’u’llah’s Forgotten Family, an annotated compilation of controversial primary sources from that religion which was published in 2014. He is also the author of a new book to be published in summer 2022, Our Great Nation: The America We’ve Lost and How to Rebuild It Together.
Our Vision for the Church
During the first few months of 2020, Eric Stetson carried on extensive conversations with his friend Colin Mills about ideas for a hypothetical new religious community. What should a Christian church be like in the 21st century? They agreed it should have clear beliefs supported by scripture, but not the outdated and mistaken beliefs of fundamentalism. It should encourage moral virtue and rigorous spiritual discipline, without being authoritarian or discriminatory; it should be open-minded and progressive, but not lukewarm or wishy-washy.
As Pastor Eric wrote in an article called The Missing Institution, what needs to exist is “a widespread religious community with progressive spiritual beliefs and the zeal and commitment found typically in conservative faith traditions.” And as he wrote in an article called The Economic Mission of the Church, “the church’s mission is to bring the teachings of God into the practice of all aspects of life and the social and economic wellbeing of people who pledge allegiance to God’s Kingdom.”
Eric Stetson, Colin Mills, and others they talked to agreed that this church should not remain merely hypothetical. Through such an institution, people today can begin to build the new world that all the great prophets have dreamed of. It is the hope of Pastor Eric and his visionary supporters that the Universal Church of the Restoration will grow to serve mightily in the fulfillment of this calling. We know that God works through many churches, denominations, and religions — and we sincerely hope that God will be working through us. We believe we’re bringing something important to the process.
Over the next century and beyond, humanity will face profound challenges such as global climate change and the rise of potentially liberating or dangerous technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence. The very existence of the human condition as we have known it for thousands of years hangs in the balance. What will the future bring — Apocalypse or renewal? Heaven or hell on earth?
Our church will be working to build a new world where ancient and enduring visions of the Kingdom of Heaven shall be manifested in reality on this planet — a world where we all shall know that every human being is a child of God, and where everyone can be inspired and empowered to live up to their fullest potential.
We invite you to join us!