103 - Fall and Rise: Origen

Origen, greatest of the Greek Church Fathers, sets out a stunning theory of human redemption as he marries philosophical rigor to theological speculation.

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Further Reading: 

Primary texts:

• Celsus, On the True Doctrine: a Discourse Against the Christians, trans. J.R. Hoffman (Oxford: 1987).

• Origen, On First Principles, trans. G.W. Butterworth (Gloucester MA: 1973).

• Origen, Contra Celsum [Against Celsus], trans. H. Chadwick (Cambridge: 1965).

Secondary literature:

• E.A. Clark, The Origenist Controversy (Princeton: 1992).

• H. Crouzel, Origen: The Life and Thought of the First Great Theologian, trans. A.S. Worrall (San Francisco: 1989).

• J. Daniélou, Origène (Paris: 1948).

• M.J. Edwards, Origen Against Plato (Aldershot: 2002).

• C. Kannengiesser and W.L. Peterson, Origen of Alexandria: His World and His Legacy (Notre Dame: 1988).

• J.W. Trigg, Origen (London: 1998).

Origeniana: Series of volumes with collected papers on Origen, now published by Peeters.

Alan Long's picture

Origenal inspiration

Dear Peter,
Popped this onto my website (theunlicensedphilosopher.com) as direct result of your podcasts - is small indication of the sense of understanding you've given me re Christianity.
Many thanks.

Christians sometimes feel they must block their doubts to find faith.
But early Christian thinkers puzzled over the uncertainties, and saw their religion as intellectually superior to the philosophies of ancient Greece.
Why have Christians retreated into blind belief?
Did their leaders ignore the puzzles and tell a simple story because they thought people couldn't accept uncertainty?
And when inconsistencies emerged, did the leaders defend themselves by requiring faith in their stories, and not just faith that Jesus had revealed truth?
And did the dishonest simplification, and its dishonest defence, contribute to the beleaguered intellectual position of the church today?

Brett Watson's picture


Overly simplified Christianity seems to have contributed heavily to the decline of the Church in the West. Its growth in the 3rd world is destined to sputter out too as the 3rd world shrinks with ignorance and povery giving way to the perfect storm of technology, knowledge and critical thinking. In my opinion there are a few things that have to happen to turn the tide.
1. The Church would do well to admit when we are uncertain and refuse to divide over domatic speculation at the expense of the unity we are certain Jesus desires.
2. Embrace all objective truth as God's truth even if it trashes your theology. Truth wins.
3. Unite in visible and practice ways to solve humanities problems.
Not an exhaustive list, but they'd go a long way toward turning things around.