In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Christian Orthodoxy is a broad stream

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The other day I summed up the question most recently engaging my thoughts this way:

Are these thoughts of you-only-get-one-chance-and-it's-here-on-earth-and-if-you-blow-it's-hell-forever-for-you the only thing that's ever been taught by the Christian church since it's inception?

On that day I looked a bit at what a church father named Origen Adamantus had to say.

In the book entitled The Early Christian Fathers by Henry Bettenson, I found some quotes by another early church father named Titus Flavius Clemens Alexandrius (Clement of Alexandria). I found the information regarding Clement of Alexandria on the site Catholic online to be informative. In around 180, Clement met Pantaenus in Alexandria. Pantaenus taught at the Catechetical School of Alexandria. Clement studied under Pantaenus, and was ordained to the priesthood by Pope Julian before 189. These comments of Clement's especially interested me:

"the goodness of God is proved, and the power of the Lord, to save with justice and equity displayed to those who turn to him, whether here or elsewhere. For the energizing power does not come only on men here; it is operative in all places and at all times."

These statements from him show that Clement was of the thought that individuals can come to God while here on earth or in the afterlife. 

St. Augustine's comments against universalist thought show me that the belief was common in his time. In "All Shall Be Well" Explorations in Universal Salvation and Christian Theology, from Origen to Moltmann by Gregory MacDonald, I found this quote from Augustine:

"In vain, then, that some, very many, moan over the eternal punishment, and perpetual, uninterrupted torments of the lost, and say that they do not believe it shall be so; not, indeed, that they directly oppose themselves to the Holy Scripture, but at the suggestion of their own feelings, they soften down everything that seems hard, and give them a milder turn to statements which they think are rather designed to terrify than to be received as literally true. For, "Has God" they say, "forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up His tender mercies?"

St. Augustine is arguing against the "very many" of faith who were universalists.  He was saying that they do on oppose themselves to the Bible, but that they see it differently than he did.

The example of the beliefs of Clement of Alexandria, and the arguments of St.  Augustine, show me that there were those in the stream of orthodox Christianity from its beginning who held to universalist beliefs.

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