Paul's Passing Thoughts

TANC 2019 Susan Dohse Session 1

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 26, 2019

Transcript/notes for parts 1 and 2: 

Origen: The Man, His Method, and His Message

You know me, know of me, and some probably wish that they knew less of me. My degree is in education, primarily what is called “special education.” The official title connected to my job is Developmental Specialist and I work with parents who have children with documented delays, medical and/or genetic issues. Truth be known, I get to play with babies and toddlers, for play is a child’s work.

When I decide on a topic to research for our conference my selfishness supersedes all other reasons. For two years this man Origen has been a hangnail irritating my mind so in January I purchased 4 books, and last month I borrowed two books from Ohio’s public library system written by him or about him. What I bring to you today is a sharing of the highlights of my gleanings.

Unlike Jerome, a Church Father I loathe, Origin is difficult to dislike. His message of freedom was to give hope where hope was buried beneath chaos, a mystical man who presents himself in love with the LOGOS, the WORD, Jesus. “Apart from Jesus, nothing to him is worthy of being loved.” He announced to his world that there is no true Christian life in separation from the man who was the Christ and from Mary his mother. He uses endearing terms such as “my Jesus” “my Lord,” “my Savior.” His piety was expressed in his concern for orthodoxy. In one of his homilies he says: I quote: “ As for myself, my wish is to be truly a man of the Church, to be called by the name of Christ and not that of any heresiarch( a founder of heresy), to have this name which is blessed all over the earth: I desire to be, and to be called, a Christian, in my works and in my thoughts.” (Introduction: On First Principles)

To understand in part, the man, Origen, briefly addressing his background, family, education, and community will open opportunities for you to have those “Ah, Ha!” and “So, that’s’ why.” moments. Another way to look at Origen is as if we are peeling off the layers of an onion, some dry layers, some thin and translucent ones, until you get to the parts of the onion that are flavorful and the best for use. Hopefully, you won’t say that Susan’s onion did nothing more than make you cry.

((Powerpoint #1, onion)

Alexandria, “next to” rather than “in” Egypt, a spiritual center of an aggressive Hellenism, a city that was an intellectual and commercial center of the ancient world. Alexander the Great founded it in 331 B.C. and it has been thoroughly Greek since. Alexandria, an Eastern Mediterranean empire with Egypt as its chief province.

( Powerpoint #2 map of city)

Modern day Urban city planners take note: Alexandria was a model planned city. A grid of broad streets was laid down on the city’s flat and rectangular site. Two chief avenues intersected at the center of the city where stood Soma, “the Body” a mausoleum containing the remains of Alexander the Great.

( Powerpoint #3 city with harbors)

Engineers assured Alexandria’s continuing commercial prosperity by making it the chief port of Egypt with two sheltered harbors, and on the island of Pharos, a 400-hundred-foot lighthouse that became known as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

(Powerpoint #4 lighthouse)

The Ptolemaic rulers of Alexandria took a small fishing village on the Nile delta and developed it into a great intellectual and cultural center, the greatest city in the ancient world.

Historian Strabo ( 63 BCE-21CE) wrote about the city of Alexandria:
The city has magnificent public precincts and royal palaces which cover a fourth or even a third of the entire area. For just as each of the kings would, from a love of splendor, add some ornament to the public monuments, so he would provide himself at his own expense with a residence in addition to those already standing.

(Powerpoint #5 Library)

The rulers patronized learning to gain prestige. Ptolemy I founded the Museum, an institute for advanced research, and the heart of the Museum was the great library. This library is considered to be the most famous product of Alexandria. Its aim was to collect all the knowledge of the world and house it in a single place. Ptolomy II instituted a practice that required every ship docking at the port to hand over any books on board to be copied out for the collection. The city attracted artists, philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians (like Euclid). Unfortunately, this gold mine of science, history, mathematics, and literature was destroyed. As the city lost control to new governing bodies the Library became a threat to their control. The use waned, and several fires destroyed scrolls and documents. ( Ancient Alexandria, Egypt, by Jocelyn Hitchcock)

The Library, a collect of knowledge from all over the world, became a threat to government control of the people. This was my first “Ah Ha” moment. Knowledge can be a threat to government, and we here all know that knowledge is a threat to the institutional church.

The historian and scholar Mangasarian wrote:

“Under the Ptolemies, a line of Greek kings, Alexandria soon sprang into eminence, and, accumulating culture and wealth, became the most powerful metropolis of the Orient. Serving as the port of Europe, it attracted the lucrative trade of India and Arabia. Its markets were enriched with the gorgeous silks and fabrics from the bazaars of the Orient. Wealth brought leisure, and it, in turn, the arts. It became, in time, the home of a wonderful library and schools of philosophy, representing all the phases and the most delicate shades of thought. At one time it was the general belief that “the mantle of Athens had fallen upon the shoulders of Alexandria.”
( Ancient History Encyclopedia, Alexandria, Egypt by Joshua J. Mark)
This was the city of Origen.

(Powerpoint #6 School supplies)

Shawnee’s first day of school was Monday. He left with a backpack full of notebooks, 1 package of loose leaf wide ruled paper, headphones, and three ring binders. This does not count the school supplies we took to the Open House: 1 can of wipes, 2 boxes of tissues, 3 pink erasers, 4 boxes of crayons, 60 #2 pencils, 10 glue sticks, a pack of washable markers, and a partridge in a pear tree; not at all resembling the ancient school system of the Greeks.

For all of us grandparents who jumped rope at recess, this jump rope rhyme can sum up elementary education in Origen’s day.

Oh, no, here comes teacher with a big black stick, not it’s time for arithmetic. One plus one is? Two plus two is? Four plus four is? Now it’s time for spelling. Spell cat. Spell dog. Spell hot. When the jumper spell HOT, the rope is swung as fast as possible until the jumper misses.

The civilization Origen grew up in cared much about education but cared very little about children. The Greeks despised elementary education, which normally began with a child was 7 years old. Why? Because it only taught the rudiments: reading, writing, counting, and doing sums. They did not learn to read and write words until they had memorized every conceivable symbol. They got to sentence only after they had acquired an inventory of two-three syllable words. Doing sums was more difficult because the Greek number system did not contain the numeral zero. (Here comes teacher with a big black stick…) What supplied the motivation to learn? Corporal punishment. Hellenistic elementary education was mechanical and did not place in its curriculum the molding of attitudes and values such as our educational system tries to do. No DARE programs, in school Scouting, or counseling. When children were ready (when they mastered the content) were passed on, and if their parents could afford it, went to grammar and general education. Grammar was the more important of the two and meant the study of Homer, Hesiod, Euripides, and Menader. General education was the study of arithmetic, musical theory, astronomy, and geometry.

A typical grammar lesson in Alexandria would look like this: When studying a book, or a poem, 4 stages of appreciation were emphasized: criticism of the text, reading, exposition, and judgment. Criticism: the class review the manuscript letter by letter to see if they were identical. Reading the text out loud, which was laborious because the Greek system did not have capital letters, or commas, periods, sentence or paragraph breaks. Third stage: exegesis, the final stage of drawing moral lessons from their reading.
The general education curriculum prepared the student for philosophy. Arithmetic taught number theory and a moral value to numbers, numerological theories figured into allegorical interpretations, (i.e. seven is mystically perfect number) ( Origen uses these numerological theories in his interpretations of some portions of Scripture) astronomy expressed an ideal rationality, geometry taught transcendent reality.

This was the public schooling of Origen.

This city , with its culture, and education system was the nursery that fostered, developed, and promoted Origen, (Powerpoint #6 Origen) the person who would do more than anyone else to relate Greek philosophy to the Bible.
The approximate date of Origen’s birth is 185/6 C.E. His family was devoutly Christian, if reading the biographical account of Eusebius ( U-C-B-us)of Caesarea, but according to the Neoplatonist philosopher Porphyry, ( por-free) he was born of pagan parents. Eusebius’ account is said to be the more accurate. His family was likely highly educated, for his father made sure that Origen was schooled not only in biblical studies, but in Hellenistic education as well.

Piecing together information from the culture, historical documents, and biographical fragments left by other Church writers, we can get a sense of Origen’s family life. Origen’s father was prosperous and a thoroughly Hellenized bourgeois, who had the ability both financially, and socially to give Origen a Greek literary education. His father, perhaps named Leonides, was a Greek convert, an ardent Christian, who personally taught his son the Christian Bible at home. The Old Testament was the Septuagint, and what was considered the essential books of the New Testament; the Four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and Paul’s epistles ( II Peter and Jude were not considered canonical by the church.)

In all likelihood, memorization of Scripture was encouraged, and as an adult, Origen was known to be able to recite long passages of Scripture and could associate verses throughout the Bible on the basis of key words as though he had a built-in Strong’s Concordance. ( Origen: The Bible and Philosophy) It was said, “ he was not satisfied with reading the sacred words in a simple and literal manner, but sought something further, and busied himself even at that age, with deeper speculations, troubling his father by his questions as to what could be the inner meaning of the inspired Scripture. (Eusebius Ecclesiastical History, Lawlor and Oulton) Some historians suggest that Leonides, Origen’s father, marveled at his son’s preternatural (extraordinary and exceptional) intelligence and at night would uncover Origen’s breast and kiss it, venerating it as the shrine of a divine spirit. (Lawlor and Oulton)

This was Origen’s home school education.

It is assumed that Leonides led family worship which was the custom of Christians at this time. They prayed three times a day, reciting the Lord’s Prayer, some psalms, and adding their own petitions. When praying they stood with arms outstretched facing east in the direction they expected their risen Lord to appear on the last day. On Wednesdays and Fridays, they fasted.

This was Origen’s home fellowship.

On Sundays and fast days, attendance at the institution church was expected. The Order of Service resembled this: Prayers and hymns, exposition of Scripture by a qualified teacher who read from both Old and New Testaments, immediately following the reading, the qualified teacher expounded on the meaning of the passage in a sermon. On Sundays, the eucharist was celebrated. Unbaptized persons, including most children had to leave the service.

Ah, Ha! Sounds like the order of service that will be printed in a church bulletin and passed out this coming Sunday. The Order of Service has not changed much since Origen was a child. By the way, if there are changes, church division and dismissal of pastors could be on the horizon.

As soon as he was old enough to learn, Origen’s parents probably enrolled him as a “person under instruction” (catechumen). The church insisted that anyone about to be baptized should have a firm grasp of its doctrines and of the obligations of a Christian life. This instructional period could take several years. When thoroughly instructed and able to give an account of the faith, the person under instruction could be baptized and become a full member of the church.
(pps. 25-56 Origen: Trigg)

Baptism as practiced today in most Christian churches is anemic compared to the rite of baptism Origen underwent. Justin Martyr referred to baptism as “enlightenment”, “likening it to the initiatory rites of the pagan mysteries, rites that produced a sudden mystical insight leading to a sense of redemption and rebirth.” Not at all like the study in the book of Acts done by Andy, where he went to great lengths to explain baptism as it took place in the early church.

Easter, the one festival Origen’s church certainly celebrated, was the usual time for baptism. The timing emphasized the baptized person’s identification with the dead and resurrected Christ. Catechumens about to be baptized prepared themselves for baptism by fasting for some days or weeks before Easter, and the rest of the congregation joined them in solidarity. For those who aren’t aware: This is the origin of Lent. On Easter morning they went to a stream of “living” water (flowing). The catechumens were exorcized, they renounced Satan, and they affirmed their faith publicly. Men and women were baptized separately by Deacons. They were baptized in the nude, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Baptismal nudity reinforced the symbolism of new birth. ( By the way, this was not awkward for early Christians because they were used to public baths.) On emerging from the water, they were given a spotless new white garment to wear to remind them of their newly acquired purity and their need to keep it unsullied by sin. If they could keep their “garment” unsullied by sin they could expect to be among the saints clad in white at the resurrection of the dead. Immediately following the baptismal service, the eucharist was given. The neophytes received milk and honey, the food of paradise, along with the bread and wine. The Bishop then conferred on them the gift of the Holy Spirit by anointing and laying on of hands. They were then full members of the church.

Having been baptized, now Origen could participate in the other Christian mystery, the Eucharist. This was celebrated each Sunday. This was an exclusionary event for only baptized Christians of good standing could participate. The Eucharist fostered a strong sense of sharing in a common life. Christians did not want to partake of the bread and wine along with persons who did not meet their doctrinal or moral standards. Denying communion was a powerful instrument for maintaining church discipline. Being denied the fellowship of other Christians was terribly intimidating to anyone who had adopted the church’s beliefs and standards.

This was the Christian Education of Origen.

The root of the process of church discipline, the tyranny, and the intimidation goes back to the early church, not the early church we study in the book of Acts, but the early catholic church. (Origen was born in 185, and you can see how powerful the institutional church had become in under 200 years.) The doctrine, ethical standards, ideals, worship, and organization of the church did not change greatly during Origen’s lifetime. The changes that did occur included a more fixed doctrine, less rigorous ethical standards, less spontaneous worship, and more rigidity in the organized church. These were internal and external controls on the behavior and views of the individual believer. These controls shaped the perceptions and values of the individual believer.

Follow this progression: the organization of the church kept believers in line, provided them stability, and made them part of a universal movement. It demanded a high degree of loyalty. Origen’s life demonstrated that he actively partook in the ambivalence of the early church, remaining devoted, even fanatical.
This was the Christian Education of Origen.

His father was martyred in the persecution of 202 when Origen was seventeen. Origen wrote to his father in prison and encouraged his father to not falter or waver out of concern for his family and to embrace martyrdom. His mother prevented him from following his father in martyrdom by hiding his clothes so he could not leave their home. Even if this account is based on legend, it points to zeal of a young man for the Christian religion. In a later writing, perhaps to Ambrose, entitled An Exhortation to Martyrdom, Origen wrote, “If we wish to save our soul in order to get it back better than a soul, let us lose it by our martyrdom. For if we lose it for Christ’s sake, casting it at His feet in a death for Him, we shall gain possession of true salvation for it.”

After his father’s death, all wealth and possessions were taken from his family by the government. A wealthy Christian Alexandrian woman, who considered herself capable of judging the contents of faith, took him into her household and enabled him to continue his studies until he could support himself and his family as a teacher of grammar.

The second wave of persecution the Alexandrian church found itself without catechism instructors. Because he was a zealous Christian, a professional teacher, son of a martyr, persons wishing to be baptized sought out Origen to provide them instruction. His employment as a grammarian provided him cover. He had to meet prospective Christians at different houses in order to avoid detection. Although he was not arrested, a pagan mob almost lynched him, and some of his students died as martyrs. When the persecution ended, Origen by default, was the principal Christian teacher in Alexandria. He left his job as a grammarian, sold his Greek literary works for a meager stipend that enabled him to subsist as he devoted himself to the Bible. He was only 18 when he became the Headmaster of the Christian Catechetical School at Alexandria. Undeniably he was a brilliant scholar.

His educational resume ( unlike Lori Laughlin’s children) included studying under Ammonius Saccas ( the teacher of Plotinus). At age of 17 he began writing his theological commentary On First Principles. His thoughts were informed by his Greek philosophical education, the notable Jewish Platonist Philo of Alexandria, and the Neopythagorean philosopher, Numenius of Apamea.

Origen adopted an austere lifestyle embracing a spirit of asceticism. He went without shoes, possessed only one cloak, fasted regularly, took what little sleep he allowed himself by lying on the floor, never on a couch. (Hist. eccl. VI.iii9) At some point during his teaching career a literal reading of Matthew 19:12 led him to castrate himself. “both to fulfill the Savior’s saying, and also that he might prevent all suspicion of shameful slander on the part of unbelievers ( for young as he was, he used his discourse on divine things with women as well as men)” (Hist. eccl. VI.viii.2).

A look at his educational transcripts (sorry, no fake pictures of his Alexandrian rowing teammates) it could look like this:
Home Schooled by his father in the Scriptures
Christian School – (curriculum- church doctrine, polices, procedures and Christian obligations)) Greek/ Hellenistic philosophical education
Mastered the Hellenistic curriculum of Astronomy, Mathematics, Greek literature
Received instruction in Christian morality from the Church

Until the end of his life he remained devoted to the Church and described as a fanatical Christian.

Origen: His Method and Message


The value of philosophy, according to Clement (who greatly influenced Origen) is a preparation for the deeper Christian mysteries. Philosophy and rhetorical training were the two principal ways to complete an education in Origen’s time. Christians adopted vague philosophical terms such as “The One” or “the idea of the Good” as legitimate ways of speaking of divine reality. In Origen’s time, philosophy was a way of salvation as well as a way of life. He saw Plato and the Bible in profound agreement and molded his understanding of the Christian life.

So, the question arises, was he a philosopher, or was he a churchman? Research authors answer that question this way: Origen was a Christian Platonist. His firm grasp of the philosophical issues of the day show in his writings, for example, in Book IV of First Principles. His commitment to the Christian religion is evident in his essay Exhortation to Martyrdom.

His methods of Biblical study/interpretation reveal that his Alexandrian Hellenism informed his outlook and categories of thought.

Origen, the greatest of all the early Church writers,” the “man of steel” (Powerpoint # 7) in the Church of his day. The methods of modern exegesis were not available to him, and his conception of what he was doing as he interpreted the Bible was quite different from what the modern exegete or biblical theologian thinks he/she is doing.

(Powerpoint #8 triple schema)

He uses what is called a triple schema in two different variations. A) a historical or literal meaning: facts recorded, or the texts of the Law, 2) a moral meaning, which is the application to the soul; and finally 3) a mystical meaning relating to Christ, the church, and all realities of faith. The second variation is a) literal meaning relating to the things of Israel, 2) a mystical meaning relating to the mystery still to be fulfilled ( i.e. Christ and the Church) and 3) a spiritual meaning relating to the soul, the soul as the “spouse of the WORD” in its progress toward full union with God. Allegory and typology were the techniques used within these schemas.

Two examples of his allegorical interpretation of Scripture: the Passover Lamb is a symbol of “holy dogma of the Church of which not one shall be broken.” The second example is the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the garden. This expulsion is the expulsion of human souls from the supersensible ideal world to the material world and the coats of skin God mercifully proved them as our gross, material bodies.

It could be said that Origen used the Bible as a frame on which to hang the various elements of his theology. His Platonizing cast of thought, a sign that he was a Christian thinker in the third century, supplied him with a system to help Christians in the theological reflection. Origen is a Christian Platonist not because he turned Christianity into Platonism, but because he found the Platonic ideas of his day capable of expressing his truth of the Gospel. He made use of Platonism, Stoicism, and popular philosophy as a method for conveying to his contemporaries the intensity and extent of biblical Revelation.

Prayer, exegesis, allegorical interpretation of Scripture, attention to the ecclesiastical canon, the rule of faith, exact philology ( word origins or translations) and search for the spiritual sense are the tools Origen used to create his theological system or “story”.
His theological story can be described like this: “ the rational mind is the protagonist of the drama and the story explains the pilgrimage of the soul from creation to salvation. The setting of this story is within a cosmology that supplies the context for understanding the Christian life.”

(Powerpoint #9 Origen’s system)

Origen’s system, if you want to describe his methods as a system, have three cross-sections: first stratum is his heterodox opinions heavily influenced by Platonist philosophy, myths, and traditions. The second stratum can be described as Origen’s attitude. His attitude is described as directional: the upward-climbing Christian is the lowest stage, and thus faith is the starting point of insight, (perfect faith), the third stratum is the rule of faith.

Origen is not content to invoke “the rule of Scripture” or the “apostolic rule” he constantly appeals to the “rule of the Church.” “the faith of the church” “the preaching of the Church” “the doctrine of the Church”.

His Message: ( free will, falling away, freedom to return to God)

Powerpoint # 10 “In the Beginning”

God’s original creation was the spiritual world of rational creatures. These beings have the gift of reason as their principal attribute and are naturally immortal. The creation of the material world came later. What is his proof text: Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This verse applies to the spiritual world, and the rest of the chapter in Genesis refers to the material world. (Philo) God created a limited number of rational creatures. He did not create them good, as God only is good, but possession of a free will to choose the good, and the moral responsibility to do so.

Why not an infinite number of rational creatures? An infinite number would be incomprehensible to God, and therefore the All-knowing God to fail to comprehend anything would be a self-contradiction in the nature of God. Origin learned of this from his teacher Numenius: if matter is infinite, it is unbounded, if unbounded, irrational, if irrational, unknowable, if unknowable, without order.” (Numenius: On the Good)

So, my question is: Is math incomprehensible to God? I was taught that numbers are infinite, there is no true first or last number, and there is even a mathematical symbol for infinity. Hmmmm. So if it’s possible that God has difficulty with Math, then because I am made in His image, that explains why I do too?

(Powerpoint #11 four Major types of rational creatures)

According to Origen, there are four MAJOR types of rational creatures: angels, the powers of wickedness, animating spirits of the heavenly bodies, and human souls. The human of soul of Christ is a rational creature but is a uniquely different case. Origin takes the verse from Paul: thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers to build his case that within these 4 major categories are ranks, each with it proper dignity, and authority. Angels, animated heavenly bodies, and devils were predominate in theological thought in Origin’s time, and Christians, Gnostics, Platonists, and Jews all affirmed their existence and importance.

However, God is not responsible for the graduation of angelic authority, the varying brightness of the stars and the multiplicity of intellectual and physical endowments that characterize the human race. Each rational creature merits its position in the physical and spiritual worlds on the basis of its free and responsible conduct. Drum roll, please…..
Hence, the fall of rational creatures from an original unity with God.

Origin taught then, that because of this fall from the original unity with God, the creation of the material world was necessary.

Those who fell the least far are the angels. Those who fell the farthest are the powers of wickedness. Humans are the “tweens” the in-betweens.

(Powerpoint #11 the ranks of rational creatures)

Angels are the highest of the rational creatures, they direct nations and churches and are guardians of individuals. The higher the rank, the greater importance an angel’s function. Origen claimed that angels of higher rank are assigned to persons of higher intellectual stature, and consequently greater responsibility than are assigned to the common run of folk. And, you had better watch out, persons who fail to behave worthily of their high calling could be divorced by their heavenly guardians and assigned to an angel of lower rank. Angels sharpen our intelligence, enabling us to better perceive the nature and consequence of our actions.

The rational creatures that sinned most grievously and are, the farthest from God are the powers of wickedness. What about us, the humans? Our embodiment in these grossly material bodies is a punishment for sin, BUT they are also the means whereby we can be disciplined and trained for our return to God. So, the material body is a punishment and a remedy for their fall from God. According to Origen, souls were once minds, but they lost their pure intellectual character in the process of their fall away from God. All rational natures directed their attention away from God (except for the soul of Jesus). Why? Neglect, forgetfulness, boredom, and satiety are the words Origen associates with the fall. The Beginning is unstable, but the END is stable. It’s a process of “cooling” from the ardor of the mind’s natural contemplation of God. Origen derived the Greek word psyche meaning soul from a Greek verb psycho meaning to cool. ( Which by the way he may have borrowed from our Gnostic friend Valentinus) The extent of the soul’s fall from God determines the diversity of human capacities and situations. “Jacob have I loved but Esau I hated.” When you read this from the Old Testament account of Jacob and Esau, what say you as to what the meaning of these words? This was Origen’s proof text that souls preexist the bodies they animate. “How could God, whom we know to be just and good, prefer Jacob to Esau even before either was born except on the basis of the relative merits of their preexistent souls?” (Origen: On First Principles)

Continuing in his ascent/descent doctrine, the fall he proposed away from the mind’s natural contemplation of God did not take away from the rational creatures their ability to choose the good, so that it is always possible for them to turn again toward the contemplation of God and re-ascend to their former estate. It is better to look at the ranks of rational creatures not as true ranks, but stages in their progress toward or away from God. Taking Paul’s verses written to the Philippians( Phil. 2:10-11) “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ in Lord, to the glory of God the Father” meant that in the end, all rational creatures will be saved and restored to their original state of contemplative union with God. “for the end is always like the beginning.” ( Origen: On First Principles, translated by Butterworth. P. 53)

This is what Origen refers to as Apokatastasis.

A time will come when all evil shall cease to be and since it has no existence of its own apart from the free will in which it inheres, when every free will shall be turned to God, shall be in God, then evil will have no place to exist. If given enough time, the powers of darkness, and perhaps, even Satan can be restored to the contemplative mind of God. In their free will they must choose good and keep choosing good. Origen proposed that it would take a very long time for Lucifer to be restored because he chooses evil more than he chooses good. This is a process of descending and ascending throughout the two journeys.

Now, John, the mystery of who developed the doctrine of the fall of man is solved. Origen, pious, devout, scholar, the man of steel of theology developed this doctrine, and over time it became one of the foundations of the rule of faith, the ecclesiastical order of the Church, adopted by Augustine, Luther, and Calvin. Remember, It is not “as in Adam we all fall.”

The soul, once fallen is on a pilgrimage, and its destiny is to return to God. It is the soul’s freedom of choice that enabled it to fall in the first place, and it is the same capacity that allows it to choose God again and to move toward Him . This is Origen’s doctrine of descension and ascension. Salvation consists of returning to the original perfection and then to that perfection “by which it remains therein.”

The body is a sign of the fallen state of the soul; the greater the fall, the grosser the body. The body is a punishment that the soul brought upon itself.

The drama of the soul’s struggle to return to God is Origen’s primary interest. His views of martyrdom, prayer, and Scripture merge into one vision: the Christian life is a movement toward perfect knowledge of God and the perfect fellowship with Him through Christ. In his writings he uses three metaphors to articulate his pilgrimage: a) it’s a journey, its growth to maturity, and it’s a warfare against sin and evil.

The journey consists of stages: ( the 42 stages in the book of Numbers and his allegorical interpretation of Israel’s stay in the wilderness) The 42 stages correspond to the 42 generations through which the word of God descended in order to be born of the Virgin. The Savior descended so he can accompany and assist the soul in its journey of ascent to the true promised land. He is the door at every stage. The journey is really two, one in this life by which we progress from virtue to virtue, and one after our death by which we ascend to heaven.

Any Ah Ha! Moments here? Is not this progressive justification?

In a nutshell, I have tried to present three of Origin’s theological doctrines. I feel these three are also the foundational premises of Protestant orthodoxy: free will, the fall, and freedom to return to God (the soul’s descending and ascending back to God or progressive justification). Although laborious, and mind-bending to plow through his writings, or the translations of his works, it was beneficial to me in order to answer “Where did we get that?” I throw down the gauntlet. ((Powerpoint #12 of gloves) Before accepting the traditions of men, the church doctrines, study to find the authenticity and source of what you hold to be true. Is it Scriptural, or is it the private interpretations of men?

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