Universalist minister Elhanan Winchester died this day in 1797.
Though less well known than “the father of Universalism” John Murray, Winchester deserves a place in our consciousness because he risked — and lost — a position of privilege and authority to follow a true sense of mission. That is, losing the pastorate of the First Baptist Church, Philadelphia and taking a rump congregation (the Society of Universal Baptists) into exile.
A word about his theology. It was based on God’s promises and so George Williams, when creating a typology of Universalist theology in 1970, described his as “future-oriented Universalism” with a particular focus on future punishment, a focus that would crop up as a deep controversy from time to time for more than a century following.