Our Meetiing

From: Peter S.
Sent on: Friday, June 6, 2008 1:28 AM
I definitely enjoyed our  meeting.  I wanted to include some additional information  why  I lean toward Christian Universalism.

Here's a series of Videos that explain this point of view in further detail:

Here are some quotations  from Origen, one of the leading theologians of the Early Church:

“Stronger than all the evils in the soul is the Word, and the healing power that dwells in Him, and this healing He applies, according to the will of God, to everyman. The consummation of all things is the destruction of evil…to quote Zephaniah: “My determination to gather the nations, that I am assemble the kings, to pour upon them mine indignation, even say all my fierce anger, for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. For then will I turn to the people a pure language that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent”…Consider carefully the promise, that all shall call upon the Name of the Lord, and serve him with one consent.”

“Seeing, then, that such is the end, when all enemies will be subdued to Christ, when death - the last enemy - shall be destroyed, and when the kingdom shall be delivered up by Christ (to whom all things are subject) to God the Father; let us, I say, from such an end as this, contemplate the beginnings of things. For the end is always like the beginning: and, therefore, as there is one end to all things, so ought we to understand that there was one beginning; and as there is one end to many things, so there spring from one beginning many differences and varieties, which again, through the goodness of God, and by subjection to Christ, and through the unity of the Holy Spirit, are recalled to one end, which is like unto the beginning. --Origen, De Principiis, Book I, Chapter 6, Sections 1 and 2, ANF, Vol 4

"...When the Son is said to be subject to the Father, the perfect restoration of the whole of creation is signified, so also, when enemies are said to be subjected to the Son of God, the salvation of the conquered and the restoration of the lost is in that understood to consist." --Origen, De Principiis, Book III, Chapter 5, Section 7, ANF, Vol 4

“We think, indeed, that the goodness of God, through His Christ, may recall all His creatures to one end, even His enemies being conquered and subdued.... for Christ must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet.”

Here are some quotes from Clement of Alexandria, who was in charge of one of the  theological schools of the early  church:

“And how is He Saviour and Lord, if not the Saviour and Lord of all? But He is the Saviour of those who have believed, because of their wishing to know; and the Lord of those who have not believed, till, being enabled to confess him, they obtain the peculiar and appropriate boon which comes by Him.

"..all things are arranged with a view to the salvation of the universe by the Lord of the universe, both generally and particularly. It is then the function of the righteousness of salvation to improve everything as far as practicable. For even minor matters are arranged with a view to the salvation of that which is better, and for an abode suitable for people’s character. Now everything that is virtuous changes for the better; having as the proper cause of change the free choice of knowledge, which the soul has in its own power. But necessary corrections, through the goodness of the great overseeing Judge, both by the attendant angels, and by various acts of anticipative judgment, and by the perfect judgment, compel egregious sinners to repent." --Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, Book 7, Chapter 2, ANF, Vol 2

"1 John 2:2. 'And not only for our sins,'--that is for those of the faithful, - is the Lord the propitiator, does he say, “but also for the whole world.” He, indeed, saves all; but some [He saves], converting them by punishments; others, however, who follow voluntarily [He saves] with dignity of honour; so “that every knee should bow to Him, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth;” that is, angels, men, and souls that before His advent have departed from this temporal life. " --Clement of Alexandria, Commentary on 1 John 2.2, Fragments from the Latin Translation of Cassiodorus, ANF, Vol 2

Didymus, who was revered as the foremost Christian Scholar of the 4th century, had the  following to say:

Didymus argues the final remission of punishment, and universal salvation, in his commentary on I Timothy and I Peter.

Of the Descent of Christ into Hades, he says,--as translated by Ambrose:
"In the liberation of all no one remains a captive; at the time of the Lord's passion, he alone (the devil) was injured, who lost all the captives he was keeping."

"For although the Judge at times inflicts tortures and anguish on those who merit them, yet he who more deeply scans the reasons of things, perceiving the purpose of his goodness, who desires to amend the sinner, confesses him to be good."

"As men, by giving up their sins, are made subject to him (Christ), so too, the higher intelligences, freed by correction from their willful sins, are made subject to him, on the completion of the dispensation ordered for the salvation of all. God desires to destroy evil, therefore evil is (one) of those things liable to destruction. Now that which is of those things liable to destruction will be destroyed."
Gregory of Nyssa had the following to say

He asks: "What is then the scope of St. Paul's argument in this place? That the nature of evil shall one day be wholly exterminated, and divine, immortal goodness embrace within itself all intelligent natures; so that of all who were made by God, not one shall be exiled from his kingdom; when all the mixtures of evil that like a corrupt matter is mingled in things, shall be dissolved, and consumed in the furnace of purifying fire, and everything that had its origin from God shall be restored to its pristine state of purity."

"This is the end of our hope, that nothing shall be left contrary to the good, but that the divine life, penetrating all things, shall absolutely destroy death from existing things, sin having been previously destroyed,"

"For it is evident that God will in truth be 'in all' when there shall be no evil in existence, when every created being is at harmony with itself, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; when every creature shall have been made one body. Now the body of Christ, as I have often said, is the whole of humanity."

On the Psalms, "Neither is sin from eternity, not will it last to eternity. For that which did not always exist shall not last forever."

His language demonstrates the fact that the word aionios did not have the meaning of endless duration in his day. He distinctly says: "Whoever considers the divine power will plainly perceive that it is able at length to restore by means of the aionion purging and atoning sufferings, those who have gone even to this extremity of wickedness." Thus "everlasting" punishment will end in salvation, according to one of the greatest of the fathers of the Fourth Century.

He teaches that "when death approaches to life, and darkness to light, and the corruptible to the incorruptible, the inferior is done away with and reduced to non-existence, and the thing purged is benefited, just as the dross is purged from gold by fire. In the same way in the long circuits of time, when the evil of nature which is now mingled and implanted in them has been taken away, whensoever the restoration to their old condition of the things that now lie in wickedness takes place, there will be a unanimous thanksgiving from the whole creation, both of those who have been punished in the purification and of those who have not at all needed purification.

"I believe that punishment will be administered in proportion to each one's corruptness. Therefore to whom there is much corruption attached, with him it is necessary that the purgatorial time which is to consume it should be great, and of long duration; but to him in whom the wicked disposition has been already in part subjected, a proportionate degree of that sharper and more vehement punishment shall be forgiven. All evil, however, must at length be entirely removed from everything, so that it shall no more exist. For such being the nature of sin that it cannot exist without a corrupt motive, it must of course be perfectly dissolved, and wholly destroyed, so that nothing can remain a receptacle of it, when all motive and influence shall spring from God alone," etc.

Macrina  the Blessed, born in 327 AD, said the following:

"The Word seems to me to lay down the doctrine of the perfect obliteration of wickedness, for if God shall be in all things that are, obviously wickedness shall not be in them."

"For it is necessary that at some time evil should be removed utterly and entirely from the realm of being. For since by its very nature evil cannot exist apart from free choice, when all free choice becomes in the power of God, shall not evil advance to utter annihilation so that no receptacle for it at all shall be left?"

In this conversation in which the sister sustains by far the leading part, the resurrection (anastasis) and the restoration (apokatastasis) are regarded as synonymous, as when Macrina declares that "the resurrection is only the restoration of human nature to its pristine condition."

On Phil. 2:10, Macrina declares. "When the evil has been exterminated in the long cycles of the æons nothing shall be left outside the boundaries of good, but even from them shall be unanimously uttered the confession of the Lordship of Christ."

She said: "The process of healing shall be proportioned to the measure of evil in each of us, and when the evil is purged and blotted out, there shall come in each place to each immortality and life and honor."

In short, the teaching of Christian Universal Salvation was the majority teaching of the church for the first 500 years, and was never opposed until Augustine, and then it was denounced by the Catholic Church as a heresy.

Here are some facts about the how it was felt by   the  Early Church:

1. During the First Century the primitive Christians did not dwell on
matters of eschatology, but devoted their attention to apologetics; they
were chiefly anxious to establish the fact of Christ's advent, and of its
blessings to the world. Possibly the question of destiny was an open one,
till Paganism and Judaism introduced erroneous ideas, when the New Testament
doctrine of the apokatastasis was asserted, and universal restoration became
an accepted belief, as stated later by Clement and Origen, A.D. 180-230.

2. The Catacombs give us the views of the unlearned, as Clement and Origen
state the doctrine of scholars and teachers. Not a syllable is found hinting
at the horrors of Augustinianism, but the inscription on every monument
harmonizes with the Universalism of the early fathers.

3. Clement declares that all punishment, however severe, is purificatory;
that even the "torments of the damned" are curative. Origen explains even
Gehenna as signifying limited and curative punishment, and both, as all the
other ancient Universalists, declare that "everlasting" (aionion)
punishment, is consonant with universal salvation.
So that it is no proof that other primitive Christians who are less explicit
as to the final result, taught endless punishment when they employ the same

4. Like our Lord and his Apostles, the primitive Christians avoided the
words with which the Pagans and Jews defined endless punishment aidios or
adialeipton timoria (endless torment), a doctrine the latter believed, and
knew how to describe; but they, the early Christians, called punishment, as
did our Lord, kolasis aionios, discipline, chastisement, of indefinite,
limited duration.

5. The early Christians taught that Christ preached the Gospel to the dead,
and for that purpose descended into Hades. Many held that he released all
who were in ward. This shows that repentance beyond the grave, perpetual
probation, was then accepted, which precludes the modern error that the
soul's destiny is decided at death.

6. Prayers for the dead were universal in the early church, which would be
absurd, if their condition is unalterably fixed at the grave.

7. The idea that false threats were necessary to keep the common people in
check, and that the truth might be held esoterically, prevailed among the
earlier Christians, so that there can be no doubt that many who seem to
teach endless punishment, really held the broader views, as we know the most
did, and preached terrors pedagogically.

8. The first comparatively complete systematic statement of Christian
doctrine ever given to the world was by Clement of Alexandria, A.D. 180, and
universal salvation was one of the tenets.

9. The first complete presentation of Christianity as a system was by Origen
(A.D. 220) and universal salvation was explicitly contained in it.

10. Universal salvation was the prevailing doctrine in Christendom as long
as Greek, the language of the New Testament, was the language of

11. Universalism was generally believed in the best centuries, the first
three, when Christians were most remarkable for simplicity, goodness and
missionary zeal.

12. Universalism was least known when Greek, the language of the New
Testament was least known, and when Latin was the language of the Church in
its darkest, most ignorant, and corrupt ages.

13. Not a writer among those who describe the heresies of the first three
hundred years intimates that Universalism was then a heresy, though it was
believed by many, if not be a majority, and certainly by the greatest of the

14. Not a single creed for five hundred years expresses any idea contrary to
universal restoration, or in favor of endless punishment.

15. With the exception of the arguments of Augustine (A.D. 420), there is
not an argument known to have been framed against Universalism for at least
four hundred years after Christ, by any of the ancient fathers.

16. While the councils that assembled in various parts of Christendom,
anathematized every kind of doctrine supposed to be heretical, no ecumenical
council, for more than five hundred years, condemned Universalism, though it
had been advocated in every century by the principal scholars and most
revered saints.

17. As late as A.D. 400, Jerome says "most people" (plerique). and Augustine
"very many" (quam plurimi), believed in Universalism, notwithstanding that
the tremendous influence of Augustine, and the mighty power of the
semi-pagan secular arm were arrayed against it.

18. The principal ancient Universalists were Christian born and reared, and
were among the most scholarly and saintly of all the ancient saints.

19. The most celebrated of the earlier advocates of endless punishment were
heathen born, and led corrupt lives in their youth. Tertullian one of the
first, and Augustine, the greatest of them, confess to having been among the

20. The first advocates of endless punishment, Minucius Felix, Tertullian
and Augustine, were Latins, ignorant of Greek, and less competent to
interpret the meaning of Greek Scriptures than were the Greek scholars.

21. The first advocates of Universalism, after the Apostles, were Greeks, in
whose mother-tongue the New Testament was written. They found their
Universalism in the Greek Bible. Who should be correct, they or the Latins?

22. The Greek Fathers announced the great truth of universal restoration in
an age of darkness, sin and corruption. There was nothing to suggest it to
them in the world's literature or religion. It was wholly contrary to
everything around them. Where else could they have found it, but where they
say they did, in the Gospel?

23. All ecclesiastical historians and the best Biblical critics and scholars
agree to the prevalence of Universalism in the earlier centuries.

24. From the days of Clement of Alexandria to those of Gregory of Nyssa and
Theodore of Mopsuestia (A.D. 180-428) , the great theologians and teachers,
almost without exception, were Universalists. No equal number in the same
centuries were comparable to them for learning and goodness.

25. The first theological school in Christendom, that in Alexandria, taught
Universalism for more than two hundred years.

26. In all Christendom, from A.D. 170 to 430, there were six Christian
schools. Of these four, the only strictly theological schools, taught
Universalism, and but one endless punishment.

27. The three earliest Gnostic sects, the Basilidians, the Carpocratians and
the Valentinians (A.D. 117-132) are condemned by Christian writers, and
their heresies pointed out, but though they taught Universalism, that
doctrine is never condemned by those who oppose them. Irenaeus condemned the
errors of the Carpocratians, but does not reprehend their Universalism,
though he ascribes the doctrine to them.

28. The first defense of Christianity against Infidelity (Origen against
Celsus) puts the defense on Universalistic grounds. Celsus charged the
Christians' God with cruelty, because he punished with fire. Origen replied
that God's fire is curative; that he is a "Consuming Fire," because he
consumes sin and not the sinner.

29. Origen, the chief representative of Universalism in the ancient
centuries, was bitterly opposed and condemned for various heresies by
ignorant and cruel fanatics. He was accused of opposing Episcopacy,
believing in pre-existence, etc., but never was condemned for his
Universalism. The very council that anathematized "Origenism" eulogized
Gregory of Nyssa, who was explicitly a Universalist as was Origen. Lists of
his errors are given by Methodius, Pamphilus and Eusebius, Marcellus,
Eustathius and Jerome, but Universalism is not named by one of his
opponents. Fancy a list of Ballou's errors and his Universalism omitted;
Hippolytus (A.D. 320) names thirty-two known heresies, but Universalism is
not mentioned as among them. Epiphanius, "the hammer of heretics," describes
eighty heresies, but he does not mention universal salvation, though Gregory
of Nyssa, an outspoken Universalist, was, at the time he wrote, the most
conspicuous figure in Christendom.

30. Justinian, a half-pagan emperor, who attempted to have Universalism
officially condemned, lived in the most corrupt epoch of the Christian
centuries. He closed the theological schools, and demanded the condemnation
of Universalism by law; but the doctrine was so prevalent in the church that
the council refused to obey his edict to suppress it. Lecky says the age of
Justinian was "the worst form civilization has assumed."

31. The first clear and definite statement of human destiny by any Christian
writer after the days of the Apostles, includes universal restoration, and
that doctrine was advocated by most of the greatest and best of the
Christian Fathers for the first five hundred years of the Christian Era.

In one word, a careful study of the early history of the Christian religion,
will show that the doctrine of universal restoration was least prevalent in
the darkest, and prevailed most in the most enlightened, of the earliest
centuries--that it was the prevailing doctrine in the Primitive Christian

All this is just some food for thought, to study and pray over.

Remember, Paul said that we know in part, and prophesy in part.  None of us know everything.


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