I just want a final judgement on one issue. Is Origen a ECF or not? If not, how can I know when I am reading his works what was/is tradition and what was/is not? Are his views a good representation of what the church in his area believe at that time? Have any of his views been specifically refuted? If so, why? :coffeeread:
I understand that there are whole books written on this type of subject,not just Origen obviously, but maybe I can get the spark notes version.
I bring this up because I find it very annoying when you point to someone as authority figure only when the person agrees completely with what you believe to be the revealed truth from the apostles. But if someone points him and says something that is not exactly “tradition”/“Tradition” that is a quote all they have accomplished is pointing out a view that people once held but is not longer valid. If you feel like explaining why this happens, ok, … but I care more about the first paragraph. This is more of just the reasoning behind my question. I thought I would let you know I have an agenda and this is not just a random question.
I understand that that word has a negative connotation, but I do not care. if you do not like the word “agenda” replace it with: reason, goal, ax to grind, ulterior motive, or whatever makes you comfortable. A lot of people have agendas here normally they say it is just a search for knowledge, but when you start talking with them you soon find that that was not really their goal. My motive here is not to start a fight. I will take a collective of what people say and call that what catholic’s believe. I will most likely, unless convinced otherwise, still not like what it. I think that my second paragraph might become a second thread if I feel like it, but I want to actually know what you believe before I try to claim it is right or wrong. That is why I said it annoys me, and I am not saying that I think it is wrong. I like how you concentrated exactly on what I wanted you to ignore.
According to Jimmy Akin’s The Fathers Know Best, “As the concept developed, to qualify as a Church Father an individual eventually had to meet four basic criteria. He had to possess antiquity, orthodoxy, holiness, and approval by the Church. Those who lacked one or more of these qualities were not referred to as ‘Fathers’ but as ‘ecclesiastical (Church) writers.’” (Ch. 2) Even with this test, however, Akin notes, “there is still some ambiguity and arbitrariness regarding who counts as a Father. Origen of Alexandria’s reputation as a theologian was so tarnished by later controversies that he would seem to be disqualified on grounds of unorthodoxy (along with those who shared his views, such as St. John Chrysostom), yet he is sometimes reckoned a Father. . . . Normally one would think [Origen] would not be classified as [a] Father] but as [an] ‘ecclesiastical writer]’.” (id.)
So it appears the answer to your question is generally speaking, no, Origen would not be considered an Early Church Father, but sometimes he is reckoned as such. I think one of the reasons he is often thought of as an ECF is because, as Akin notes, he was “[o]ne of the greatest scholars and biblical exegetes of Christian history.” (Ch. 9) I think he would otherwise be regarded as an ECF if it were not for the fact that “[a]fter his death, some of his ideas were the occasion of great controversies. These included his belief in the pre-existence of souls and his belief that all spirits would eventually be reconciled with God. * Because of the controversies, Origen is not reckoned as a saint.” (id.)
Also, I think it is worth noting what Akin says about the “orthodox” criteria for determining who constitutes an ECF. Because the process of declaring the orthodox faith developed over centuries through, among other things, ecumenical councils, the men of one age cannot be held to the standards of a later age. “For example, one cannot expect the Fathers who wrote before the ecumenical councils of Nicaea I (A.D. 325) and Constantinople I (A.D. 381) to express their faith in the Trinity in the same refined, preceise way as the Fathers who lived after these councils. The terminology needed to do so simply had not yet been worked out in their day. This is also why figures such as St. John Cassian can be both a saint and the apparent originator of Semi-Pelagianism–a view that in his day was not infallibly defined as heretical but which later would be.” (Ch. 2) With the foregoing in mind, since Origen (circa A.D. 185-253) lived before any ecumenical councils had been held, I don’t think we can necessarily say that he held heretical views if those views had not yet been infallibly defined one way or the other. In his day such views would be what we now refer to as “within the realm of permissible opinion” (i.e. an opinion on a matter of faith for which the Church has not yet formally taken a stance/defined).
I know that all of that is probably about as clear as mud, but that is the best I can offer you at this point.*
That was actually quite clear and concise thank you. I think I had heard something to that affect before but not described the same way. Sometimes I have to beat ideas into my brain before they make any sense.
Did he actually say that souls pre-exist or could what he said just be easily interpreted as such? Same for the “love wins” theory? Has the preexistence of souls been refuted or is it just a uncommon view? I don’t hold it I just don’t see a huge problem with it, but I don’t know the intricacies of this view.
I don’t know what exactly his beliefs/teachings were other than what is relayed in The Fathers Know Best. I haven’t independently studied any of his writings.
Regarding the pre-existence of souls, yes it has been refuted. I’m not exactly sure when/in what document(s) it was refuted, but the Church teaches that the soul is created from nothing by God at the moment of conception. Here is what the CCC has to say on the subject:
[quote=Catechism of the Catholic Church]362 The human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual. The biblical account expresses this reality in symbolic language when it affirms that "then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being."229 Man, whole and entire, is therefore willed by God.
363 In Sacred Scripture the term “soul” often refers to human life or the entire human person.230 But “soul” also refers to the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him,231 that by which he is most especially in God’s image: “soul” signifies the spiritual principle in man.
364 The human body shares in the dignity of “the image of God”: it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul, and it is the whole human person that is intended to become, in the body of Christ, a temple of the Spirit:232
Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity. Through his very bodily condition he sums up in himself the elements of the material world. Through him they are thus brought to their highest perfection and can raise their voice in praise freely given to the Creator. For this reason man may not despise his bodily life. Rather he is obliged to regard his body as good and to hold it in honor since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day. 233
365 The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the “form” of the body:234 i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.
366The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God - it is not “produced” by the parents - and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection.235
The footnote (235) for paragraph 366 references Pope Pius XII’s encyclical, Humani Generis; Pope Paul VI, Solemn Profession of faith: Credo of the People of God § 8; and Lateran Council V (1513). As to what those references actually say, I’m not sure, and don’t have time right now to look them up and find the relevant portions.
You can’t really use ECF quotes as “proof texts” or “gotcha quotes.” The ECF are useful en masse for comprehending how the early church saw various issues, interpreted Scripture and held to Traditions passed on from the apostles. I don’t believe (disclaimer, I’m NOT a scholar or close to one) that anybody claims inspired authority for individual ECF writings. Thus, one oddball ECF quote doesn’t bring down Tradition. If the bulk of the ECF teachings reveal that quote to be oddball, it can usually be discounted.
Scholarship is work, which is probably why there are few of them!
Origen early on was a great defender of the Catholic faith, many of his writings are still quoted by Popes, theologians historians from both religious circles and secular. He moved into a strict disciplinary christian lifestyle which he tried to impose on other Christians, that he fell into heresy and out of communion with the bishop of Rome. In short Origen before he died he repented and died a faithful Catholic in good standing with the Catholic Church. Thus Origen the great Catholic theologian is highly quoted by many learned men throughout the centuries to today. Origen the Heretic is never quoted or his heretical views and hard disciplines are not taught to the faithful.
So there is no problem quoting Origen the faithful or penatent Catholic when he writes. But to quote his heretical views or practice his disciplines are never Catholic. A Catholic priest practices Paul’s disciplines and writings, but he will not practice Saul of Tarsus example of persecuting the Catholic Church.
Granted, I agree with you that scholars work hard to figure this kind of things out. I guess my question that goes along with the first thing you said is that I have come to believe that these theologians or ECFs or whatever you want to call them are not just a representation of their own views. I think where scholarship comes in is to tell us how authoritative and/or influential a person was. I think that what the CC position is can be summed up as only that which was authoritative is now held by the church still. Which is a ok position, but I think it undermines that these people were the recipients of apostolic truths. I understand that not everything that they wrote was apostolic truth, but I do not see why I cannot hold a similar belief as one of them as long as it does not directly contradict something the church teaches infallibly.
[quote=SoMissCatholic]Pope Pius XII’s encyclical, Humani Generis
For these reasons the Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter – for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God. However this must be done in such a way that the reasons for both opinions, that is, those favorable and those unfavorable to evolution, be weighed and judged with the necessary seriousness, moderation and measure, and provided that all are prepared to submit to the judgment of the Church, to whom Christ has given the mission of interpreting authentically the Sacred Scriptures and of defending the dogmas of faithful Some however rashly transgress this liberty of discussion, when they act as if the origin of the human body from preexisting and living matter were already completely certain and proved by the facts which have been discovered up to now and by reasoning on those facts, and as if there were nothing in the sources of divine revelation which demands the greatest moderation and caution in this question.
First, Tradition is not what is found in any one member of the Church, be it an Early Church Father or a current pope. Tradition is what is defined by the Church as such Tradition. This Tradition has grown over time to include insight from many sources, not just one or two people. Tradition has developed and been refined via pope and layperson, but not from any one person.
Second, it doesn’t hold much weight to quote anyone as an expert or ECF to prove a point on Tradition. Just because one can point to so-and-so’s quote or writing when discussing Tradition does not mean that all that person wrote or believed in is to be considered dogma or Tradition. All this does is prove that the quoted words are in line with Tradition.
St. Jerome had some misgivings with Origen. For his views were novel and unaccepted, well in the intent of diffusing of revelation handed by the Apostles . I do not have actual quotes for you, but I recall in one of Jerome’s Letters that he esteems the use of his commentaries on Scripture. In letter 66 he shows his way of dealing with Origen’s works.