In yesterday’s post I tried to impress the enormous contribution Origen made to scholarly pursuit, in the early church, but impacting us even to the present day. Macrina Walker in the comments of yesterday’s post said I should have said something of the piety of the man; and I agree, that was oversight on my part.
Today’s post is short, a brief comment regarding the cultural context Origen found himself in, a context he spoke to, and an evaluation of the discussion he engaged in. It lays the foundation for tomorrow’s post which tucks into some of Origen’s more wayward doctrine.
2. In the World not of the World
“If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (Jn 15:19).
2.1. Christian Hellenism vs Hellenised Christianity
Whilst Christianity rejected the Graeco-Roman religion they adopted the Greek language to communicate the Gospel to the educated Greek-speaking world. There was also a degree of adaption of Greek philosophical concepts.
At times during the formation of the early church, whilst the state of doctrine was still in flux (one could argue that this has never adequately stabilised) this adaption of Greek philosophical concepts certainly bordered on synchronistic; “Concurrence of two or more events in time” (Webster 1463:1913).
Pillay and Hofmeyr (18:1991) write, “At times, Christianity was Hellenised rather than Hellenism becoming Christianised… …It was Origen who carried this integration of platonism into Christian theology so far that the Church later condemned some of his main ideas and doctrines.”
The post-modern emergent church today ought to be warned. Origen, desiring to proclaim the Gospel to the Greek intellectuals of his day, in their language and on their terms, sacrificed the apostolic tradition for a platonic deviation. His desire to have a relevant method of reaching his generation impinged on the pure message he’d been tasked to proclaim.