Translated from the original by Costas Balomenos
rigen (185 - 253/254 AD) is undoubtedly one of the greatest men, not only of the Church, but also more widely and certainly is the most fertile writer of the early Church. Has been the main representative of the “Alexandrian School”, as it is called in the Ecclesiastical Letters and acted - in the field of philosophy - at the era when was born Neo-platonism with the work of Plotinus and in the space of religious searches appears Manichaeism, a dualistic philosophical-religious system with intense ascetic tendencies...
Origen develops his doctrinal system mainly in his work “About principles”, which has been rescued entire in Latin from the Roman monk Tirannio Rufinus (340-410 AD) under the name «De Principiis» - in Greek was rescued fragmentarily - and in the “Against Celsus”, that is a response to the eclectic pagan philosopher Celsus (2nd century AD) who was against Christianity. The Latin version of the work “About Principles” should be treated with some reservation, because according to the researchers, Rufinus did more a paraphrase from the Greek, rather than translation, because there has been an admirer of Origen and probably he was interfered in the text to dispense it from perceptions, that he was considered as heretical.
Account should be taken that the work of Origen “On Principles” is the first attempt undertaken by a Christian writer to expose Christianity as a system. Certainly a first try and others attempts to present Christianity as a system, had become by the Christians apologists, but they were partial and they did not cover all individual issues of Christianity. However, because Origen had not completely pledged by the ecclesiastical tradition, his effort, i.e. to afford this a first form at points of Christian teaching, which had not been examined adequately, led him - unfortunately - into erroneous belief and fallacy in these points. This had the result, to condemn him by the fifth (V) Ecumenical Synod of 553 AD, under the Decree of 543 AD, issued by Justinian, at the instigation of theological and ecclesiastical factors. But the huge figure of Origen never ceases to affect the Ecclesiastical letters, despite his conviction, because as he writes the blessed professor of Patrology Stylianos Papadopoulos : “... almost all the theologians, whatever sector they treat, they will find - before those - the «copper-intestine» Origen”. For the position of Origen in the Church, the reader can refer to the excellent treatise of Stylianos Papadopoulos, in the first volume of his Patrology, p. 407-413.
Nevertheless, the desire of Origen be to offer in the teaching of the Church – although he knew that a few of his perceptions will cause problems - so he tries to be based in the given Ecclesiastical teaching, i.e. of the rule of faith and to the Bible. In the interpretation of the Bible, by following the "line" of the "Alexandrian School" and of the Hellenist Jewish philosopher Philon of Alexandria (20 BC - 50 AD) - who was the first he had introduces - mainly uses the allegorical method. This interpretative method had a very important advantage. It was allowing to be transported and be explained the Bible advantageously to the faithful, especially in the difficult and abstruse points, but also had a serious drawback. They allowed to interpret everything of the Bible as they see fit, so they mistakes can be made and misunderstandings that often was leading to heresy.
According to Origen, the Bible has a triple meaning: physical, mental and spiritual. The performer of this, who is illuminated by the Holy Spirit, has the gift to find her deeper meaning. The “simpler” just confine themselves in meaning of the letters and they are not looking for the deeper meaning of the Scriptures, as they are doing the “mature” people. So, for the “simpler”, Christ becoming a physician, for the “mature” is a teacher who reveals sacred mysteries.
For the individual issues of the Christian system, the teaching of Origen is as follows:
1. God is an uninvestigated spirit, the “indeed is”, i.e. the only reality over any substance, fair and virtuous. As to the world, God is the “creator, who holds together, who rules” Against Celsus 3.62. Only God is “unborn”. This applies only to the Father, According to John pleading 2, 10, 75. The creation of the world is understood as eternal energy of God, because the omnipotence and goodness of God can not remain without employment subject.
2. The Word (i.e. Jesus in the prehuman existence) as the Son derives from the Father as an eternal radiation, in a manner spiritual, something akin to the will that exists in man. The Son - Word serves to the Father as an organ of this creative. Because all in God is eternal, so and the birth of the Son is eternal, “always gives birth him” Homily on Jeremiah 9, 4. Therefore, there was not a time when there was not the Son - Logos. The Father and the Son are located between them in relation of unity of their substance, “due concord and agreement and identity of will” Against Celsus 8, 12. But the Son is also an especial “hypostasis” in spite the Father. “One God, therefore, we accept and honor the Father and the Son ... so we have as religion the Father of truth and the Son who is the truth, and who they are two hypostases” Against Celsus 8, 12.
At this point, let us allow a short parenthesis to explain how our Church defines this important term of “hypostasis”. « Hypostasis or person is identical philosophical terms in which our Church formulated the Triadological and Christological doctrine. They declare a special existence, which exists by itself, has self- consciousness and self-identified with freedom. The terms in Christian Dogmatics was used to declare that God is one in the essence, and Triune, i.e. three persons - three hypostases: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The same applies to human nature, which is one and common - all the people involved in it, but the human hypostases – persons are many (so, we are all people, but one is George, an other is Peter, Mary, etc.)». Handbook of Religious, third grades Gymnasium, p. 147, Greece.
But while Origen accepts that the Father and the Son is one substance, he considers the Son one “secondary God”. Professes that the Father and the Son have “an errand” In John pleading 3. 36. The worship through prayer in Jesus Christ only under certain conditions may be done. About wish 15, 122.
3. Only the revelation and not philosophy teaches concerning the Holy Spirit, who sanctifies the Christians and situated below the Son. The relationship between the three persons of the Holy Trinity - in Origen the term trinity occurs often - Origen identifies this with the so-called system of “allegiance” which is known in his Latin version as “SUBORDINATIO”. Although he stresses the eternity of the Son and calls him now “consubstantial”, considers as “self-God” only the Father, while the Son - Logos as a “second God”. According to Origen, the Son-Word is not just “benignant”, as the Father but is an “image of goodness” Against Celsus 5, 39 and On the principles I, 2, 13.
The Holy Spirit, in this system of subordination is less of the Son. Since “the power of the Father is greater than the Son and the Holy Spirit”, so “the power of the Son is more that of the Holy Spirit” On the principles I, 3, 5. And Origen justifies this by arguing, that Jesus was sent first and then the Holy Spirit. Against Celsus I, 64.
4. The effect, which Plato has exert on the Origen's cosmology is conspicuous, since he bases this in the famous teaching of Plato for the “world of Ideas” and the perpetual destruction and regeneration of the world. Argues, therefore, that before the present - known to us - our world, there has been another world, which consisted of perfectly incorporeal spirits. Part of these spirits did misuse of free will, with which had been gifted by God and sustained decline. Origen argues that in the decline of these spirits contributed the saturation that they felt these spirits to eternal vision of God. In this category belong the souls of men. We see therefore that Origen is representing and the cacodox teaching about pre-eternal creation and not for the creation on time as our Church accepts, but also he accepts and the pre-existence of souls.
To the extent of their diversion the spirits received and analogous physicality, more or less materiality. For this reason, and also created the material world for chastisement of these spirits. But the material element is neither true nor eternal, but on the contrary are “non-being”, i.e. is nonexistent and “non-undergoes”, a simple episode in intellectual evolution. This thought of Origen on the material reality reminiscent of the teaching of Hinduism, who he accepts that the material world is an illusion, which he calls “maya”. The material world then was not createdin itself, but as a penitentiary medium, by which is sought the catharsis of souls. Therefore, as derived from zero, it will revert to zero, On the principles II, 3, 2 and the spirits will return to God, the so-called “restoration of all things”.
5. The Son - Word assumed the human nature with true human body and so became Godman. Origen was he who first used the term Godman for the Lord, On the principles II, 6, 3 and Ezekiel III, 3. The union in Christ of the Divine and human nature is organic and complete, Against Celsus II, 9, which is why Origen teaches the truth about the society in Christ of idioms, i.e. the transmission of properties (of idioms) and from both natures of the Lord in one and the same person of divine Logos, as clarified later, On the principles II, 6, 3. As regards the human soul of the Lord we have one more cacodoxy of Origen, because the human soul who hired the Word already pre-existed - like all souls - which was developed together with the Son-Word in the preexistence. Result of all this was the incarnate Logos be comprised from the Word, the soul and the body, Against Celsus I, 66, but only the man dies. The divinity of the Word is not suffering. After the resurrection of the Lord the human was absorbed by the Divine, On the principles II, 6.
Noteworthy is the fact that, Origen used first the term Theotokos for the mother of our Lord. The researchers can not say with certainty whether he created the term first. They speculate that this term was known to Origen from the tradition.
6. Jesus Christ was the teacher and the legislator of mankind and “example of excellent life”, which teaches the faith in God and the Son - Word, as well as in the Law of nature as divine law. By his death has brought the deliverance to the people from the domination of the devil, giving his soul as a anti-ransom (return). He offered to God as another High Priest atoning sacrifice and blotted us from the pollutant of our sins. As the head of the new humanity longer, represents us to the God, and affects the realization to us of society that which was held in his face between the deity and the human nature, Against Celsus 3, 28.
7. The man can achieve his salvation by faith, by accepting the word of the Gospel, through the baptism and the Eucharist. Με το βάπτισμα ενεργείται άφεση των αμαρτιών. Origen accepts the heritable sin. Each person by acquiring flesh burdened with the pollutant of sin. That is why, as apostolic tradition, applies the infant-baptism already in Origen, In Leviticus 8, 3 and In Romans 5, 9. Besides the absolution of sins by baptism is effected and the transmission of the Holy Spirit.
8. These which are characterized by Origen as heavy (incurable) major sins or “deadly sins” About Wishes 28, 8-10 is and for him, not completely non-eliminative. Only that they can not be forgiven immediately with an energy of grace, as is done with less heavy sins. Should be given forgiveness after long time of repentance and with the imposition of exclusion from the ecclesiastical communion, Against Celsus 3, 51.
The ecclesiastical act of the personal repentance and remission of sins, which is currently in force is not testified by Origen, but this does not mean that completely was absent from its season.
9. For the Divine Eucharist Origen teaches that this occurs through the action of God's Word and with the invocation of the people on the physical elements of bread and wine. Invites the Eucharistic body hallowed gift from which nothing should be lost, Homily on Exodus 13, 3. In some passages gives an allegorical interpretation, in that they refers to the body and blood of Christ. Thus, in his Homily in Numbers 16, 9 says that someone can commune double, in a manner mysterious when we receive the words of Christ which include life. But this second does not is denial of the real presence of Christ in the Divine Eucharist or her replacement as they profess the Protestants historical-dogmatic, but this is another issue, is the life force that contain the words of our Lord and are offered to the faithful when applies them, which is also correct. Origen makes a distinction between the “simple” belief that have the simplest people for the real presence of Christ in the Divine Eucharist, Against Celsus 8, 33 and a more spiritual faith which have been the wisest, In Matthew 89, II, 14. It is more clear and his belief in the character of the atoning sacrifice that has the Divine Eucharist, In Leviticus 13, 13.
10. The free man is saved by faith. But to believe and to exercise love, which in Origen is inseparable with faith, should be acted over him the grace of God which is manifested by the action the Holy Spirit or by the power of God, To Romans 4 , 59. Initially the faith appears as a simple acceptance as “consent”. But then it have to be lifted to “consent of dogmas with speech and wisdom” and not only “with thin faith” Against Celsus I, 13.
The man driven to faith not by need but because of the "sovereign" of this, who is inherent in humans, although “we turn to sin” Against Celsus 3, 66. The sin is “straying from God” and union with the “whore material”, In John XX 16, 134. The cause of sin is the free will, In Romans 5, 12, while faith is the road to virtue. The most ideal way of life for man is this one who carried with the theory, the exercise and virginity.
11. The Church is the city of God. Is another obvious effect of Plato at the thought of Origen. Just in the “ideal Politia” of Plato puts his own Politia, which is none other than the Church. A position that he will follow later the Holy Augustine when he writes his famous “De Civitas Dei”, i.e. "About the Politia of God”. So, the Church according to Origen is the single Politia, which will surround the whole world, when the Son - Word will come with his full sovereignty, Against Celsus 8, 68 - 69 and 4, 22. Its members are “Priests” i.e. they have - by grace - the sacramental sanctity general, but there are in this and priests with special sacramental meaning or they are fitted with special charismas.
12. A particular main point of the teaching of Origen is - without doubt - his opinion on Remedying of all things. According to this, the virtuous people after their death, having gained ethereal body, in the beginning go to heaven and then in heaven. Turning now to the souls of sinners, they go - after death - in a kind of purifying fire, whereby they cleaned and gradually - without excluding the devil - come at a higher grade until cleaned completely and to be resurrected with essential body. So finally are saved and the sinners and God is “everything to all” (all for all). The Resurrection achieves the new coming of the Lord that is known to all of us Second Coming, which follows later the life under “eternal gospel”. But since, and after the advent of the Lord remains the freedom of the will in man, the end of the present creation should not be regarded as absolute. Simply is probably a temporary arrangement of those facts took place during this creation. As well, prior to this world there were and others, so after him will follow and other worlds.
Origen, therefore, denies the eternity of hell.
1.John Kalogirou: History of Doctrines, Volume A
2.Stylianos Papadopoulos : Patrology, Volume A’
2.Stylianos Papadopoulos : Patrology, Volume A’
3. Handbook of Religious, third grade Gymnasium
Writer Christos Pal