Frustrations with Origen

In reading God’s Rivals, I became very frustrated with Origen. On the one hand, we have a legitimately brilliant theologian and pastor, a la Bonhoeffer. As McDermott writes, “By night he studied the Bible and by day he prepared his students for martyrdom.” On the other hand, Origen was quite comfortable engaging in wild speculations – for examples, he theorized a Mormon-like pre-existence, where our obedience or disobedience to God resulted in the context of our birth (rich/poor, Christian/nonChristian, etc.). Origen apparently felt that he would throw out these ideas and allow the church to determine which to be true and which to be heretical. He got his wish, unfortunately. In 553 (300 years after his death), he was declared a heretic at the Second Council of Constantinople.

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