How is Origien a heretic?


#1

I’m planning on reading the Church Fathers and early writers this summer. I have heard that Origien was a heretic, but some of his writings are still good. My question is: where did he go wrong? He obviously was good, to an extent. How much (and what) of his stuff is good and how much (and what) is, well, heretical?

Any suggestions on how to get a hold of the Church Fathers would also be appreciated. Thanks.


#2

I am interested in this as well. I had some of his works on my reading list. I guess I had better go back and compare a list of heretics with my reading lists.


#3

Origen believed that since God loved all, all would be saved. He is considered the first Universalist. He believed there would be a harrowing of hell at the second coming. Much of what he wrote is quite good, though he did go a overboard with regard to allegory.


#4

Grace & Peace!

Origen is one of the brightest lights in the firmament of theologians in my book. The trouble is that some of his speculations were taken by some of his followers as doctrine when they cannot be. For instance, the idea of Universal Restoration is not contrary to Christian hope, but to make it doctrine can be seen to remove free choice from the equation–in order to have free choice, we must be allowed to choose damnation. There are ways of understanding the Apocatastasis that do not involve the destruction of free choice, but they must remain speculation.

Also, he was writing at a time when the doctrines regarding the nature of the Trinity and the dual nature were not completely defined. It was later generations (not his own) that condemned his writing for not perfectly conforming to their formulas. That this is so is tragic–true, Origen’s notions are still somewhat unformed, but he is brave in his thought and was, in his day, a staunch defender of orthodoxy as he knew it.

Even his allegorical approach to scripture is commendable. Did he allegorize too much? Maybe. But he saw scripture as a revelation of the Word, akin in some ways to the Incarnation, but a revelation that used words, letters, grammar as flesh and bone. The heart of the revelation was, for him, not found in the literal interpretation of the text. Scripture was an Ocean of Mystery to him, and the skin of the ocean was the literal meaning–the depths of its mystery waited to be plumbed. To read him is to read the work of a caring, brilliant, humble Christian man.

Re: Origen himself being heretical, I don’t think he was ever condemned–some of his teachings (or at least the interpretations of them that we have from his followers) were condemned, but he himself was never labaelled (to my knowledge) a heretic. I believe, for instance, that the Eastern Church looks at Augustine the way the Western Church looks at Origen.

–Mark

Deo Gratias!


#5

I believe he held to the pre-existence of souls before they were placed in human bodies at birth. In other words, we once were all pre existent souls dwelling in heaven with God and God asked us how and when we would live out our earthly lives. When we decided what what body would be for us, God caused the body to come to be in some mother and he implanted our soul. Mormons also hold to the pre existence of souls as well.


#6

Thanks for the help. Any suggestions on where to get them? I have a feeling my local library doesn’t carry the Church Fathers.:stuck_out_tongue:


#7

Thanks for the info! Very helpful. One thing that put him outside the pale of orthodoxy was that he castrated himself in response to today’s Gospel reading: “If your right hand offends thee, cut it off.” That was thought to be somewhat extreme. :oBut he was the most quoted theologian of the Church througout the third Century and beyond. He was brilliant and compelling. Lots of good stuff there.


#8

[quote=PhilNeri]Thanks for the help. Any suggestions on where to get them? I have a feeling my local library doesn’t carry the Church Fathers.
[/quote]

You can read some of Origin’s writings online here (Volume IV). Unfortunately, this library is based on the 39-volume collection, “The Early Fathers” by Philip Scahff (editor). The reason I say “unfortunately” is because you are interested in Origin, and (as the publisher says),

The Ante-Nicene Christian library is meant to comprise translations into English of all the extant works of the Fathers down to the date of the first General Council held at Nice in A.D. 325. The sole provisional exception is that of the more bulky writings of Origen.

So you get Origin’s “less bulky” writings in this collection.


#9

Origen never contradicted defined doctrine during his lifetime. He was not a heretic. As doctrine was developed and defined after his death, a few of Origen’s theological opinions became heretical.

– Mark L. Chance.


#10

[quote=PhilNeri]where did he go wrong?
[/quote]

False Doctrines Attributed To Origen:

  1. The Pre-Existence Of Souls, its source, the main basics of the “pre-existence of souls,” the pre-existence of souls and the heavenly Church, the soul of Christ.
  2. The Apokatastasis, the word “apokatastisis,” Origen’s denial of this doctrine, biblical basis, scholars’ defense.
  3. The Mode Of the Resurrection, scholars defense, treatise on the resurrection, the destiny of the body, final dissolution or change of bodies, the risen and glorious body, the risen body and the wounds of Christ.
  4. Subordination, objections, Origen and Arianism, Origen and Nestorism.
    **copticchurch.net/topics/patrology/schoolofalex2/
    **

#11

Thanks for all the help. I think I have enough to keep me busy for a while.


#12

I have an additional question with this: Is the following statement made by Origen heretical? Is it a part of his false teaching on Subordination of the Three Persons?

"We consider therefore that there are three hypostases, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; and at the same time we believe nothing to be uncreated but the Father. We therefore, as the more pious and the truer course, admit that all things were made by the Logos, and that the Holy Spirit is the most excellent and the first in order of all that was made by the Father through Christ." Origen, Commentary on John, 2:6 (A.D. 229).

In an email conversation with someone I stated this:

"Marriage and even the physical birthing of a child (the intended result of the "unitive" act of sex) is Sacramental- a sign of the Trinitarian Love that awaits us in Heaven. Trinitarian because the Love of the Father and the Son gives birth to the Holy Spirit just as the parents' love creates a child. In heaven we will sit in this generative state of giving love, receiving love and birthing love perpetually, but it will not be in the merely physical manner we experience through our bodies now, but will be fulfilled to its perfect physical and spiritual state that will "be" heaven. "

This was the persons response:

"You mentioned the Love of the Father and the Son created the Holy Spirit but this is false teaching. In fact, that statement sounds like Modalism- it makes the Holy Spirit out to be created when He is in fact Creator as part of the Godhead, not creation. "

I am a little confused with this reply statement and really want to correct my own errors if this person is right can you help me sift through this?

I was going off of our creed- "I believe in the Holy Spirit...who proceeds from the Father and the Son" and that it is my understanding that the Holy Spirit is the Love between the Father and the Son? Am I off- confused?

In my reply I had listed a few quotes on the relationship of the Trinity one of them was this one from Origen:

"We consider therefore that there are three hypostases, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; and at the same time we believe nothing to be uncreated but the Father. We therefore, as the more pious and the truer course, admit that all things were made by the Logos, and that the Holy Spirit is the most excellent and the first in order of all that was made by the Father through Christ." Origen, Commentary on John, 2:6 (A.D. 229).

The reply I received highlighted this quote:

"One of the commentaries you listed in the email was heretical- as the Origen commentary on John 2:6 suggested thy the Father alone is the only thing "uncreated". That gives me great pause and concern."

Thank you for your time and consideration. It can be so hard to see what is really being said in these types of conversations about faith and doctrine. I just want to be passing along solid information that truly will be true not a pondering or heretical for sure!


#13

[quote="PhilNeri, post:1, topic:25715"]
I'm planning on reading the Church Fathers and early writers this summer. I have heard that Origien was a heretic, but some of his writings are still good. My question is: where did he go wrong? He obviously was good, to an extent. How much (and what) of his stuff is good and how much (and what) is, well, heretical?

Any suggestions on how to get a hold of the Church Fathers would also be appreciated. Thanks.

[/quote]

He was not a "heretic"....some thing were wrong that he held as was pointed out later..but he was not a "heretic"

Here read Pope Benedict XVI:

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2007/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20070425_en.html

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2007/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20070502_en.html

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20100523_pentecoste_en.html


closed #14

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