Did E.W. Kenyon Belive in Universal Salvation?
Kenyon would point out that all that needs to be done for our salvation, healing, deliverance from sin and victory in life has already been done legally.
In an article in Charisma magazine (May 2002) highlights the controversy over Tulsa, Oklahoma, pastor Carlton Pearson's embracing of a doctrine known as the "Gospel of Inclusion." This teaching proclaims that everyone is saved, but just doesn't know it. In the article, Pearson notes that he first started thinking about the inclusive doctrine after reading E.W. Kenyon's writings.
Someone unfamiliar with Kenyon's writings might easily draw
the conclusion that Kenyon believed in Universal Salvation as this
teaching is sometimes called.
So, did Kenyon believe and teach Universal Salvation?
No. He didn't.
Kenyon taught that the Finished Work of Christ paid the price for the sins of the whole world. The merits of Christ's death, burial and resurrection were sufficient for every man woman and child to be saved. But no one can be saved unless they personally repent and receive Christ as their Lord and Savior.
E.W. Kenyon was ordained among the Free Will Baptists. The Free Will Baptists objected to the Calvinist idea that Christ had died only for the elect - those whom the Calvinists believed had been predestined to Salvation. The Free Will Baptists believed in what was known as general atonement, which stated that Christ had died for everyone, but only those who received Him would be saved.
Kenyon believed and taught this perspective throughout his life and ministry. Kenyon's first book, The Father and His Family, which was first published in 1916 while he was president of Bethel Bible Institute, was the foundation for all his later writings. Chapter five of this book is entitled Hell. When Kenyon prepared the second edition in 1937 he added some quotes from other authors at the beginning of each chapter. For the chapter on Hell, Kenyon chose a quote from the famous preacher Henry Ward Beecher. The quote ends, "When I doubt the teaching on Hell, therefore it will be because I doubt the Divinity of Christ." Kenyon did not believe in any type of Universal Salvation.
So where did Carlton Pearson get the impression that Kenyon was teaching this concept? It is possible that Pearson misunderstood Kenyon's teaching on the Legal and Vital sides of Redemption. Kenyon taught, influenced by the apostle Paul, that our redemption unfolds in two distinct aspects: The Legal and the Vital. The Legal side is what Jesus accomplished for us by His death, burial and resurrection. This is sometimes referred to as positional Truth. The Vital side of redemption is what God does in us in the New Birth and Infilling of the Spirit. This is the experiential side of our redemption.
In describing the Legal side of our Redemption, Kenyon would point out that all that needs to be done for our salvation, healing, deliverance from sin and victory in life has already been done legally. It is bought and paid for by the Finished Work of Christ. But none of it is ours until we believe and receive it. So Kenyon might say all men are saved potentially. But he never suggested that all men would be saved experientially because the Bible doesn't teach that they will. In chapter eight of The Father and His Family, entitled How Can God Be Just, Kenyon points out that God has provided a way to be saved from judgment so that Man is without excuse if he doesn't accept God's provision in Christ. God would be perfectly just to confine for Eternity those who reject His offer of Redemption in His Son.
Clearly Carton Pearson failed to grasp Kenyon's full teaching on this point.