In defence of Origen and his church

Thomas

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Hi Andrew - I was reading through some recent posts, and thought I should respond to this.

I must take issue, on the other hand, with your statement about the Catholic Church, Thomas. Yes, for 1500 years the papacy may have held more or less to its own prior decisions (contrary to Christ's original teachings)

A sweeping statement, and how do we exlain this Catholic Church which produced and continues to produce teachers, saints and mystics who shine as a beacon for the world, and are acknowledged as such by all, regardless of their own calling? Further, how do you explain the loyalty and adherence of those same?

Origen went to his death at the hands of the "Holy" Catholic Church for daring to uphold Christ's own doctrine regarding this matter.

Origen, in his sixties, was imprisoned during the persecutions of Decius and suffered torture at his hand. His health broke, and although released he died as a result of his suffering.

That he was squelched by the "Church" of the day and the then-pervasive doctrine and acceptance of Rebirth subsequently stamped out of existence (within the average christian's worldview) ... is a sad, sad thing, and something we can still witness all-too-often when ideas are presented that are not popular with the majority. Watch. I maintain that these view are my own - and while I would swear on any layperson's stack of bibles that these notions of Rebirth are true & accurate to the best of my ability to represent them - I also have to consider, what purpose could possibly be served by slighting another to make my point.[/]

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy says:
"Origen was the first truly philosophical thinker to turn his hand not only to a refutation of Gnosticism, but to offer an alternative Christian system that was more rigorous and philosophically respectable than the mythological speculations of the various Gnostic sects."

The idea that Origen taught reincarnation is widely based on "Reincarnation in Christianity" by Geddes MacGregor (Theosophical Publishing House, 1978). As one review said:

The author speculates that Origen’s texts written in support of the belief in reincarnation somehow disappeared or were suppressed. Admitting he has no evidence, MacGregor nonetheless asserts: "I am convinced he taught reincarnation in some form."

Which is a long way from any kind of proof.

It is also far from Origen's understanding of the pre-existence of the soul - and pays no heed to Origen's own refutation of reincarnation and transmigration.

On the other hand we have "Contra Celsus" was a masterwork against the philosopher of that name who attacked Christianity, and likewise Origen's "On First Principles" was written to counter the appropriation and distortion of Christ's teachings at the hands of those who today we loosely call 'the gnostics' - notably Valentinus and Basilides.

Thus I question - is what I post the least bit helpful? And if it is not, then no matter how kind I try to be, and even if I post the truth - what have I accomplished? It is a conundrum, but on good faith I proceed, with the clarification that I am doing my best to distinguish the ideas we're discussing from those who hold them.

I have to say to the first part no, it is not helpful, because it piles error on error, and the second part is the reason why - because the sources you derive your information are themselves ill-founded. Let me offer Origen's own words:

"... so, seeing there are many who think they hold the opinions of Christ, and yet some of these think differently from their predecessors, yet as the teaching of the Church, transmitted in orderly succession from the apostles, and remaining in the Churches to the present day, is still preserved, that alone is to be accepted as truth which differs in no respect from ecclesiastical and apostolical tradition."
Prologue - On First Principles

And in this I stand where Origen stood.

"Now it ought to be known that the holy apostles, in preaching the faith of Christ, delivered themselves with the utmost clearness on certain points which they believed to be necessary to every one, even to those who seemed somewhat dull in the investigation of divine knowledge; leaving, however, the grounds of their statements to be examined into by those who should deserve the excellent gifts of the Spirit, and who, especially by means of the Holy Spirit Himself, should obtain the gift of language, of wisdom, and of knowledge: while on other subjects they merely stated the fact that things were so, keeping silence as to the manner or origin of their existence; clearly in order that the more zealous of their successors, who should be lovers of wisdom, might have a subject of exercise on which to display the fruit of their talents, -- those persons, I mean, who should prepare themselves to be fit and worthy receivers of wisdom."
Prologue - On First Principles

Yes, as I have stated in this forum before, there is a 'Christian esoterism' but there is not, a mode of 'esoteric Christianity' which differs from the apostolic teaching, a point which Origen's own words testify.

If one takes offense because I speak plainly about the catholic church, or about mainstream christianity - then I would put it to you, why?

Because it is largely ill-informed.

It is commonly believed, for example, that somewhere in the region of 5 million witches were executed in Europe at the stake by the church.

Scholarship has found that less than 500 were executed in England, and all by hanging with the exception of perhaps 2, and that in over 95% of the cases brought the case was dismissed or returned a verdict of not guilty.

It is a myth, and a myth that has grown with time, but it is not true, and like that utter rubbish 'The Da Vinci Code' enters the collective consciousness and within a short time become 'fact' for most people. An industry has grown up around it.

Origen was not alone. St Maximus suffered for his faith. St Francis was ignored. St Dominic was tested. Meister Eckhart was condemned. Her saints and mystics have suffered at the hands of ignorance, and the church, as a body of people, is not free from the flesh, but I pray for her deliverance as I pray for my own, and I follow their example.

If one can't say anything good, a sage one said, best say nothing at all.

All I ask, Andrew, is that on the basis of the knowledge you now have, you look with a clear eye at the 'first sources' - too many write too much fuelled by their own uncertain or self-serving motives.

I have been told, by 'those who know' and 'esoterists of great distinction' that Jesus was man not God; God not man; neither man nor God, an angel; a Venusian, a Jovian, a Saturnian, a visitor from at least half a dozen different galaxies, a Buddhist, a Daoist, an Egyptian Hierophant, an Avatar, an Atlantean ... if I took on board every well informed and well-meaning opinion...

So I looked for the authentic voice, and the authentic witness.

Thomas
 
Thomas, as always, find your information about Christian theology and history of Christian mysticism so very well informed. What little I know about Theosophy, (I believe that forms the basis for Andrew's post in another thread re Origen to which you replied I believe by creating this thread), and the "New Age" thinkers that have seemingly built upon Balvatsky's notions, is that they tend to attempt to bend all facts to fit their spiritual view and throw in some speculation of varying poportions on top of that. I believe that the vast majority do so for very benign reasons and I see some very important spiritual truths that such a view seems to point toward and for which perhaps such movements initially developed to support. Sort of a compensatory movement for important needs and views that perhaps the institutional churches of the late 1890's and into the 20th c.e. failed to properly address. They seem to have an understandable desire to find The Truth in a universal manner as represented in and by all religions, but tend to intepret those religions' teachings in a way that glosses over differences in such a way that it might appeal logically to others. Perhaps Truth is indeed found in all religions but perhaps in a Mysterious way that is well beyond any form of human logic; that it can't be represented by a set of Univerally agreed upon concepts/beliefs. Beliefs, of course, may always separate one from another, but Love will always be the great unifier.:) Have a good one, Earl
 
Hi Earl -

These things run very deep and have far-reaching consequences.

René Guénon, the late French metaphysician was widely regarded as the foremost esoterist of his day and was himself a member of the Theosophical Society, which he came to believe misrepresented authentic spiritual Tradition, a position he went to great lengths to demonstrate - and this is the problem again with the New Age - it does not represent the truth but distorts it to suit a vision that is tailored to the sentiments rather than to objectivity - it offers people what they want, rather than what they need.

Huston Smith referred to the authentic traditions as the 'winnowed wisdom of the human race' - if you take out of the New Age, Theosophy, etc., that which they have apropriated from authentic tradition, there's nothing of any substantial left - just confusion - nor can you 'pick n mix' the bits you like and leave the bits youy don't - it just doesn't work that way - you're just affirming your own fallibility.

The very real problem (and one of which I have first hand experience) is such organisations deter seekers from the authentic spiritual paths. The era to which you point, the turn of the 20th century, saw a rise in spiritualism/occultism, and whilst table rapping was the rage in Europe and the US, deep elements sought to interfere with political process, whilst others sought more superficial reward by utilising the religious freedoms offered by the US to launch all manner of spiritual scams upon a hungry public.

Blavatsky herself said, when questioned on the subject of Ascended Masters:
"Where you speak of the 'army' of the deluded - and the 'imaginary' Mahatmas of Olcott - you are absolutely and sadly right. Have I not seen the thing for nearly eight years? Have I not struggled and fought against Olcott's ardent and gushing imagination and tried to stop him every day of my life".
(From Blavaskty's Collected Writings, Volume 3).

In the end it does more harm than good.

Thomas
 
Scholarship has found that less than 500 were executed in England, and all by hanging with the exception of perhaps 2, and that in over 95% of the cases brought the case was dismissed or returned a verdict of not guilty.
Do we really think that England had 500 witches that needed killing?? Just because the 5 million number is found to be exagerated the 500 is an atrocity as well as the 10,000 by my math that you admit were at the least inconvenienced and probably had societal scorn which lasted a lifetime....not to mention the methods and efforts used to determine their innocence. Somewhere in there apology or some sign of remorse is appropriate. After all we are talking about a system that bases its organization on forgiveness 7x70...
misrepresented authentic spiritual Tradition
by its very nature change affects and changes tradition...the statement is obvious...the question is which christian theology doesn't misrepresent the teachings of Jesus?
 
The Church is the first to admit she is not perfect (how could she be) and has offered apology and shown remorse for the ills committed in her name. I do not dispute that, nor deny it.

Nevertheless she is right to challenge those who wildly inflate such figures to create a false image by which they might attack the church - as any institution is entitled to do - in the same way we are right to speak out against those historians who wish to play down the extent of the holocaust in their efforts to defend Nazism.

by its very nature change affects and changes tradition ... the statement is obvious ... the question is which christian theology doesn't misrepresent the teachings of Jesus?

Not quite - change effects change only on the outward forms, and only to better communicate the interior and eternaal truths to the times, but it does not alter the content of tradition, it does not modify 'that which is handed down' - in Catholicism, for example, as with the Orthodox, the Creed, which is the foundational statement of Faith, has not changed since the Apostolic era. How we understand God changes and continues to change - but God does not change, nor does the Covenant.

Theology does not form doctrine, it explains it - as Newman said - there are many theologies in the Catholic Church - but the Catechism is not a statement of theology, it is a statement of Faith.

Thomas
 
as with the Orthodox, the Creed, which is the foundational statement of Faith, has not changed since the Apostolic era.
The creed wasn't till 300 eh? When was your Orthodox created..as era ended prior to 100, yes?

The trinity, the divinity of Jesus...those were also decided centuries after the apostolic era as well yes?
Nevertheless she is right to challenge those who wildly inflate such figures to create a false image by which they might attack the church
 
Clement of Rome (writing in the Apostolic Era) wrote 'have we not one God, and one Christ, and one Spirit of grace poured upon us', as well as Barnabas, Ignatius and Hermas, all of whom spoke of 'One God', 'Father of All', 'Almighty' and 'Eternal', and of the Holy Spirit and of the Son as one with the Father.

It is worth noting that the threefold nature of the Godhead was being taught before some of the Gospels were written, and the evidence is there in Scripture, in the foundation of the rubrics of baptism 'in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit'.

Irenaeus, alive in the second century, as was Justin, both speak of a baptismal rite in which is professed 'in the name of the Father and master of all things', of 'Jesus Christ, crucified under Pontius Pilate', 'who was incarnate, died, and rose again', and of 'the Holy Spirit, who foretold by the prophets the whole story of Jesus'.

Thus, although the Creed was not formalised until the fourth century, it was present in nascent form in the Eucharistic and Baptismal rites which had been practiced from the very earliest days - and formed the basic tenets of Christianity taught to the catechumenate prior to baptism and to the Eucharist.

Thomas
 
wil said:
The creed wasn't till 300 eh? When was your Orthodox created..as era ended prior to 100, yes?

The trinity, the divinity of Jesus...those were also decided centuries after the apostolic era as well yes?

Of all things that Christians say of God, the most intrinsic and distinctive is the Trinity. God is three persons.

"Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea;
Holy, holy, holy! merciful and mighty!
God in three persons, blessed Trinity."

No other religion declares a three in one diety. It is offensive to some, and deplorable to others (non Christian). Most Christians themselves are content to treat it as a sublime mystery.

However, 4th century Christians could not leave it alone, as if it were unfinished business. Within a few years everyone was calling everyone else heretical, for their belief.

Enter Constatine: He could not have Christians going at eachothers' throats when he was depending upon them to help keep his empire together. The crux of the matter fomented with a Pastor called Arius of Alexandria in 318 AD. He, by declaring that Logos (the Word, or Jesus) was not the true God and in fact had a different nature than both God and man. He was a half-God, the First Created Being, but none the less, created.

This of course fit in with the former pagans' way of thinking. Even Gnosticism taught there is on God, who stands alone, and then there are a number of lesser beings, who do God's bidding.

Hence Jesus was a divine hero, instead of equal with God. This thinking split the church.

Nicomedia the political capital, and Alexandria the intellectual capital came to loggerheads, and then the riots began.

In 325 Constatine knew this was absolutely destructive, so he called the First synod. He spoke to the churchmen, reminded them that they must come to an agreement on their division. This he pointed out was worse than war. Then Constatine stepped back, and left the church leaders to fix the "problem".

Of the first order the assembly addressed Arian heresey. and denounced it. Then, they hammered out what we now know of as the Nicene Creed.

Of the 300 bishops that attended the first synod, all but two signed the creed, and they along with Arius were exiled.

This wasn't the end, and for the next 50 years, the "semi-Arians" tried to get the Nicene Creed changed by one word... (homoousios, "the same nature as the Father", for homoiousios, "being like God the Father").

Had the Semi-Arians succeeded in their quest, Christianity would have in fact become another form of paganism. We would have had two gods and a Jesus who was not God, nor man.

Instead we have the "persona" of God. Three in One and One in three. In latin "person" or persona means mask, or as viewed by others.

However it must be pointed out that centuries before the "Nicene Creed" officially came to be, the concept of God being three in one, one in three was believed and practiced, even before the Gospels were written.

v/r

Q
 
So did Constantine really embrace Christianity or mearly merge it with the pagan thinking of the day? Solstice, SUNday, there is such a volume of info out there indicating he was having popularity issues and needed to appease both groups...

When you say the trinity and the divinity of Jesus were disputed puts it mildly, it appears not only were voices raised during the discussion but noses were bloodied in the name of Jesus...and not the first nor the last time obviously. Interesting though tha the arguments occurred not of various religions or sects, but in the court and amongst the bishops that were creating the creeds and orthodoxy for the one religion. The opinions and beliefs were obviously varied despite who in the end agreed to sign.
 
wil said:
So did Constantine really embrace Christianity or mearly merge it with the pagan thinking of the day? Solstice, SUNday, there is such a volume of info out there indicating he was having popularity issues and needed to appease both groups...

When you say the trinity and the divinity of Jesus were disputed puts it mildly, it appears not only were voices raised during the discussion but noses were bloodied in the name of Jesus...and not the first nor the last time obviously. Interesting though tha the arguments occurred not of various religions or sects, but in the court and amongst the bishops that were creating the creeds and orthodoxy for the one religion. The opinions and beliefs were obviously varied despite who in the end agreed to sign.

Neither Constatine, nor his subsequents, could "merge" Christianity with the pagan thinking of the day. Nor did he wish to, though he did want to keep his finger on the "pulse" of Christindom. But by the time of the second assembly in 381, the Arian debators had clarified their definition of "person". It still however failed to take.

v/r

Q
 
So did Constantine really embrace Christianity or mearly merge it with the pagan thinking of the day?

Neither - it would seem he paid little more than lip service to Christianity personally, neverthess, as Quahom stated (and quite nicely, too), he saw Christianity as the only means of holding a fragmenting empire together, and made it the state religion. The actual content of that religion, he left to the bishops. (One might speculate that had not Christendom unified Europe, we would all be Moslem now.)

When you say the trinity and the divinity of Jesus were disputed puts it mildly, it appears not only were voices raised during the discussion but noses were bloodied in the name of Jesus ... and not the first nor the last time obviously.

Do remember that the Christians then, as Christians now, were people, not gods, most of them were not even saints. They also held passionately to their faith, a faith many had witnessed others die for. It is hardly likely that disputes would not get heated.

Interesting though that the arguments occurred not of various religions or sects, but in the court and amongst the bishops that were creating the creeds and orthodoxy for the one religion.

I think it's profoundly interesting, a wonderful human drama. Arius, for example, was not a bad man, but a theologian trying to understand. Even the gnostic Valentinus was just someone trying to make sense of a mystery.

It is human nature after all - Christianity is not unique in that sense.

The opinions and beliefs were obviously varied despite who in the end agreed to sign.

Really? 298 for, 2 against?

If you're looking to dish the dirt, I can probably provide you more than you need. The murder of Hypatia at the hands of a 'Christian' mob was anything but Christian. Likewise the running street battles between Jews and Christians in Rome was something to deplore. Some authorities displayed a despicable mysogeny ... others were motivated by politics, or even by the worst of vices. Murder, mayhem, it's all there. Shall we draw up a list of everything that we can think of that's wrong? It would be a long one, for sure, but all it would prove is what we already know, man is tragically fallible - and free to make his own decisions.

One tends to forget, after 2,000 years, just how 'revolutionary' and 'scandalous' Christianity was, and still is. It dares to declare it is in possession of irrevocable Truth, it simply sweeps all other gods off the board, it knows better than any philosophy, and it manages to put just about everybody's nose out of joint at some time in their lives.

At the same time it preaches a doctrine of love which is staggeringly simple, and which encompasses and enrichens (is that a word?) every facet of human existence; no other doctrine I know holds man in so high a stature and dignity, no other doctrine offers man such an awesome eschatology.

No other doctrine asks so little. No other doctrine offers so much.

The real mystery is why we cannot live it.

Thomas
 
After he ended persecution of Christians didn't he still pay omage to Sol Invictus, the Sun God, and as he sanctioned the church and found them arguing amonst themselves set the council to end it...but after a few years of bickering they had another one...

Councils were 325 and 327...and this great reformer of the church didn't give up Apollo until he thought he was dying and was baptized in 337?

It reminds me of the photo ops of Clinton walking out of church on Sunday's and making sure he waved with the hand that held the bible... I always wondered which one of his handlers was responsible to make sure he had a bible in his hand when he left the limo... I think politicians do what is politically expedient. In 321 making Sunday (not Sonday) a holiday and giving women property rights...When one is want to gain more territory and in that territory persecution of christians is tantamount, by the rule that we still use today 'my enemy's enemy is my friend' bringing them (the christians) on board in his domain automatically gives him a power base wherever they are being persecuted.

The US had similar aliances with Sadam, Osama, Noriega....
 
Hi Wil -

This is my third post in the same vein as the others (3 Mary & Trinity) - in this one you've not taken on board what either I or Quahom have said.

After he ended persecution of Christians didn't he still pay omage to Sol Invictus, the Sun God,[/]

That's what I said.

and as he sanctioned the church and found them arguing amonst themselves set the council to end it ...

He didn't sanction anything. The church needs no outside sanction.

but after a few years of bickering they had another one...

Bickering is your term, and reveals much. After one theological issue was resolved, another emerged, and guess what, they still are. Show me the science that says "that's it, we've said everything there is to say on the subject..."

and this great reformer of the church didn't give up Apollo until he thought he was dying and was baptized in 337?

As Quahom, myself, and all historical documentation states, Constantine was not a church reformer.

I think you know my view by now - Catholic and orthodox - and it's unlikely that anything said here will cave that in. I get the impression you're wedded to your view also, so I suggest we both withdraw, and let someone else have a go. We can both find more productive uses for our time.

Pax,

Thomas
 
I've got no interest in converting anyone or taking anyone from their church...I read I question....all for my understanding. I am trying to take in what you are saying and either combine it with what I read elsewhere or allow it to refute what I read elsewhere.

The information available is all over the table, Covey says seek first to understand, I am trying to understand what others think/believe and compare that with what exists in my mind and referenceable material.
Show me the science that says "that's it, we've said everything there is to say on the subject..."
wow do I ever agree on that one...hence my questioning, seems to me that others have made references to their inability to further discuss items...not I.
 
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