Word of the Week: Omniscience

Sunday Martyr Moment: Origen

Foxe's Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book's purpose was fourfold:
  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.
Text from Foxe's Book of Martyrs

The end of the Seventh Persecution, Under Decius, A.D. 249

Origen, the celebrated presbyter and catechist of Alexandria, at the age of sixty-four, was seized, thrown into a loathsome prison, laden with fetters, his feet placed in the stocks, and his legs extended to the utmost for several successive days. He was threatened with fire, and tormented by every lingering means the most infernal imaginations could suggest. During this cruel temporizing, the emperor Decius died, and Gallus, who succeeded him, engaging in a war with the Goths, the Christians met with a respite. In this interim, Origen obtained his enlargement, and, retiring to Tyre, he there remained until his death, which happened when he was in the sixty-ninth year of his age.
Who Was Origen?

A brilliant bible scholar and a man extremely well-versed in Greek philosophies, Origen nonetheless held to a stance of ultimate reconciliation. Seen most recently in Rob Bell's book "Love Wins", this stance is actually one of the first aberrant teachings of the early church. Origen was the most notable proponent of it. GotQuestions explains:

Although the doctrine of ultimate reconciliation has been championed by a variety of individuals down through history, there are two that stand out. The first is Origen of Alexandria (185-254 A.D.). The African theologian, who took an allegorical approach to Scripture and was heavily influenced by Greek philosophy, did not believe in the eternal suffering of sinners in hell. For Origen, all created beings, even demons and the devil, would eventually achieve salvation, no matter how long it took in the current life or in the life to come. He reasoned that because God’s love is so powerful, it will eventually soften even the hardest heart. This thought is echoed by Bell who says, “No one can resist God’s pursuit forever because God’s love will eventually melt even the hardest hearts” (p. 108).

Origen saw the church as the great “school of souls” in which erring pupils are instructed and disciplined, but for those who do not choose God in this life, they would continue their ‘tutelage’ in the next through an atoning and sanctifying process of purging fire. Origen believed that hell cannot be permanent for any soul because God could not abandon any creature. Since God respects human freedom, the process of winning over His created beings may take a long time in some cases, but God’s love, Origen believed, will ultimately triumph. Or as Rob Bell puts it, love wins.

Origen’s restoration of all beings, known as apokatastasis, is the Greek word used in Acts 3:21 for ‘restoration, and can be traced back to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, who stated that “the beginning and end are common.” Origen’s belief in ultimate reconciliation was eventually refuted by Augustine and condemned in 543 A.D. in a council at Constantinople.

There truly is nothing new under the sun, and this 'new' thought that Rob Bell promotes is actually almost two thousand years old and held profound sway over the Christians at the time of Origen.

There is no second chance, no matter how much Origen or Rob Bell wish it were otherwise. The writer of Hebrews plainly states, “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).


  1. You may or may not have seen this:


    In the AP on Sunday no less.

    Jack Kelly thinks we're in chapter 3 of Revelation-- if he's right, it's gotta be toward the end of chapter 3. How much further can we fall?

    1. Hi ANonymous,

      Thanks for the link. I thought the sentence in the article "all bound by their belief in non-belief" to be so ironic. Atheists need more faith in their system than we do ours. Ours has many proofs, but their faith is in what is not evident- the missing link, the big bang theory, evolution...

      I am not a fan of Jack Kelley, as good as he is on some verses, he holds to the Gap Theory, which says that in between Gen 1:1 and 1:2 there was a gap of millions of years, another earth, destruction of the first earth's life, death (how can there have been death before Adam sinned?) , & the angel rebellion. He also leaves room for evolution, because of his adherence to the Gap theory. If a person doesn't believe God said what He says He said in Genesis 1, then the rest of the bible caves in.

      I completely agree with your assessment, how much more can we fall? The Holy Spirit is still present on earth in the church and in His restraining ministry, and yet we see depravity to such a degree that I have sworn off reading even headlines, they are so gross and shocking. Atheist church and Beer church- what next?!


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