Clement of Alexandria (c150-215)
Second head of Catechetical School at Alexandria

"[Clement and Origen were] men eminent for their information in every department of literature and science.”-- Socrates Scholasticus c. 380

"Clement, a presbyter of Alexandria, in my judgment the most learned of men…[He has produced] notable volumes full of learning and eloquence using both Scripture and secular literature." -- St. Jerome

"Perhaps nothing in the whole range of early patristic literature is more stimulating to the modern reader than (Clement's) great trilogy of graduated instruction in the Christian life.” –H.B. Swete

"[Clement was] the first systematic teacher of Christian doctrine, the formal champion of liberal culture in the Church." –J. Patrick

"I do not know where we shall look for a purer or truer man than this Clement of Alexandria... He seems to me to be one of the old Fathers whom we should all have reverenced most as a teacher, and loved most as a friend." –Frederick Denison Maurice

"There are very few of the Christian fathers whose fundamental conceptions are better suited to correct the narrowness, the rigidity and the formalism of Latin theology. It is his lofty and wholesome doctrine that man is made in the image of God; that man's will is free; that he is redeemed from sin by a divine education and a corrective discipline; that fear and punishment are but remedial instruments in man's training; that Justice is but another aspect of perfect Love; that the physical world is good and not evil; that Christ is a Living not a Dead Christ; that all mankind from one great brotherhood in him; that salvation is an ethical process, not an external reward; that the atonement was not the pacification of wrath, but the revelation of God's eternal mercy. That judgment is a continuous process, not a single sentence; that God works all things up to what is better; that souls may be purified beyond the grave." –F.W. Farrar commenting on Clement of Alexandria

Titus Flavius Clemens

Like Pantaenus before him, Clement was a convert to the Christian faith—most likely from Athens. He was highly educated and well trained in classical philosophy. Though we know little of his conversion, it is apparent that he possessed a great spiritual hunger. After his conversion, he traveled to Southern Italy, Syria, and Palestine, seeking instruction from the most respected Christian teachers of his day. At last, he reached Alexandria where Pantaenus' lectures attracted him to the extent that he settled there and made the city his second home.

Clement first assisted and then succeeded Pantaenus in the direction of the school, about A.D. 190. Among his prolific writings are the "Exhortation," "The Tutor," and the "Miscellanies," a trilogy representing a graduated initiation into the Christian life (belief, discipline, knowledge) and considered by many to be his finest work. Clement worked to combine the best of pagan Greek and Roman learning & science with the Christian faith. He saw it his task to demonstrate to pagans that Christianity was intellectually respectable and philosophically rigorous, and to Christians that Christianity was not only for the uneducated, but that Christians must no longer "fear philosophy as children fear a scarecrow." He was willing to go far in his affection for the Greek philosophers as to say that "the Law is for the Jew what philosophy is for the Greek, a schoolmaster to bring them to Christ." For Clement, the Greek philosophers understood the truth revealed in God’s creation. God had planted seeds of the Truth in all rational creatures, though these seeds alone were not sufficient to bring them to divine truth. Clement believed the truth was to be found in Scripture, but sometimes it was hidden, and could only be discovered through allegorical interpretation. He did insist, however, that the Scriptures had a literal, historical sense--a primary meaning--that had to be respected. Nevertheless, allegorical reading could find further, "spiritual" meanings containing universal and eternal truths.

Persecution fell upon Egypt in the year 202. The catechumens were pursued with special intent of law, and Clement fled to Cappadocia. There, he took charge of a local church led by his friend and former pupil, Bishop Alexander, as Alexander was imprisoned for Christ’s sake. In this time, Clement faithfully led the church, and drew in new converts. Later, Alexander was to say of him, “I am sending this, my dear brethren, by the hand of the blessed elder Clement, a man whose quality has been amply proved. You have heard of him already and will come to know him better. His presence here, through the providential direction of the Master, strengthened and spread the church of the Lord.”

Clement was in Jerusalem in 211. He never returned to Alexandria, but died about 220.

Some Quotes:

Concerning the souls of men and the restitution of all things, Clement had this to say:

“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

--Mercy Aiken

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