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Universal Salvation and Freedom of Choice according to Origen of Alexandria

The 3rd century theologian Origen of Alexandria has traditionally been famous for his belief in universal salvation. Yet, Origen is also famous for his insistence on moral autonomy, the fact that God allows each creature to freely choose to move in the direction of good or evil. How can these two beliefs not result in a paradox or logical inconsistency in Origen’s theology, as many contemporary scholars suggest they do? This book explores the intersection between moral autonomy and God’s foreordained universal salvation in Origen’s writings. Origen was, in fact, aware of the apparent contradiction between these two ideas. He nevertheless stipulated that God can achieve universal salvation without violating a soul’s freedom of choice. God accomplishes this through his foreknowledge of future voluntary possibilities, which God then prearranges into a sequence leading to God’s desired outcome.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-3950-3
  • *
Publication Status: In Print
Publication Date: Nov 17,2020
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 226
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-3950-3
$143.00
Your price: $100.10

The 3rd century theologian Origen of Alexandria has traditionally been famous for his belief in universal salvation. Yet, Origen is also famous for his insistence on moral autonomy, the fact that God allows each creature to freely choose to move in the direction of good or evil. How can these two beliefs not result in a paradox or logical inconsistency in Origen’s theology, as many contemporary scholars suggest they do? This book explores the intersection between moral autonomy and God’s foreordained universal salvation in Origen’s writings. Origen was, in fact, aware of the apparent contradiction between these two ideas. He nevertheless stipulated that God can achieve universal salvation without violating a soul’s freedom of choice. God accomplishes this through his foreknowledge of future voluntary possibilities, which God then prearranges into a sequence leading to God’s desired outcome.

The 3rd century theologian Origen of Alexandria has traditionally been famous for his belief in universal salvation. Yet, Origen is also famous for his insistence on moral autonomy, the fact that God allows each creature to freely choose to move in the direction of good or evil. How can these two beliefs not result in a paradox or logical inconsistency in Origen’s theology, as many contemporary scholars suggest they do? This book explores the intersection between moral autonomy and God’s foreordained universal salvation in Origen’s writings. Origen was, in fact, aware of the apparent contradiction between these two ideas. He nevertheless stipulated that God can achieve universal salvation without violating a soul’s freedom of choice. God accomplishes this through his foreknowledge of future voluntary possibilities, which God then prearranges into a sequence leading to God’s desired outcome.

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ContributorBiography

Lee Sytsma

Lee W. Sytsma received his Ph.D in Historical Theology at Marquette University, where he is a regular lecturer. His scholarship focuses on the intersection of divine grace and moral psychology in the pre-Augustinian church. He has also taught courses at Marquette University on the relationship between Christian faith, modern science, and the transhumanism movement. He currently works at Brookfield Christian Reformed Church.

Acknowledgments. vii

Abbreviations. ix

Introduction.. 1

Chapter One. The Context of Origen’s Moral Autonomy Polemics15

Introduction.. 15

Origen’s ‘Gnostic’ Opponents. 15

Early Christian Predestinarians23

Conclusion.. 31

Chapter Two. Origen’s Understanding of Moral Autonomy. 35

Introduction.. 35

Revelation and Philosophy: Origen’s Dual Supports for Moral Autonomy  35

Origen’s General Anthropology: the ‘Tripartite Person’ and the ‘Dual Nature’39

Greek Vocabulary and Expressions of Moral Autonomy. 48

Epictetus vs. Alexander of Aphrodisias. 51

Origen Adopts the Stoic Model of Impression and Assent. 56

Origen’s First Alteration to the Stoic Model of Free Choice: Tripartite Anthropology  60

Origen’s Second Alteration to the Stoic Model of Free Choice: Greater Potential for Moral Progress  65

Conclusion.. 70

Chapter Three. Origen’s Stages of Salvation-History. 73

Introduction.. 73

An Overview of Cosmic History: A Drama of 6 Acts. 74

Conclusion.. 97

Chapter Four. Origen’s Vision of the Apocatastasis99

Introduction.. 99

Origen’s Conflicting Statements Regarding a Final Restoration. 102

The Question of the (Im)Permanency of the Apocatastasis117

Universalism as Teleological Predetermination.. 131

Providence as Saving Grace. 135

Conclusion.. 142

Chapter Five. God’s Providential Arrangement of Future Voluntary Possibilities145

Introduction.. 145

God’s Ordering of Salvation-History. 147

Origen and Language of ‘Necessity’152

God’s Three Types of Foreknowledge. 159

God’s Foreknowledge of Hypothetical Voluntary Possibilities. 166

Synthesis: God Preselects and Prearranges Only the Set of Free Choices That Leads to the Apocatastasis172

Conclusion.. 185

Conclusion.. 187

Bibliography. 195

Critical Editions and Translations. 195

Other Sources. 197

Index  211

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