There is nothing known to exist from the pen of Pantænus, but we learn from Eusebius that his distinguished scholar and teacher was at the head of the Catechetical school in Alexandria as early as A.D. 100-120. Tradition asserts that it was founded by the apostles. 1 Jerome says, "a Marco Evangelista sempher ecclesiastici fuere doctores." It had been up to the time of Pantænus a school of proselytes, but he made it a theological seminary, and so was the real founder of the Catechetical institution.2
Pantænus was a convert from Stoicism, and is described by Clement, Jerome, and others as a man of superior learning and abilities. Clement calls him "that Sicilian bee gathering the spoil of the flowers of the prophetic and apostolic meadow;" "the deepest Gnostic," by which he means "the deepest philosophical Christian, the man who best understood and practiced Scripture." It could not be otherwise than that the teacher of Clement cherished the religious views with which his great disciple was graduated, for of Pantænus, Clement says: "I know what is the weakness of these reflections, if I compare them with the gifted and gracious teaching I was privileged to hear." Some of his writings are alluded to, but though nothing remains, yet in Clement, who was inspired by him, he gave to the church a priceless legacy.
A.D. 189 Pantænus went on a missionary tour to India, and Eusebius says that while there he found the seeds of the Christian faith that had been sown by previous missionaries, and that he brought home with him the Gospel of Matthew, in Hebrew, that had been carried to India by Bartholomew. May it not be that some of the precepts of Buddhism resembling those of Christ, which the best Oriental scholars admit are of later origin than Buddha, were caught from the teachings of early Christian missionaries? Pantænus was martyred A.D. 216.
The Universalism of Clement, Origen and their successors must, beyond question, have been taught by their great predecessor, Pantaenus, and there is every reason to believe that the Alexandrine school had never known any contrary teaching, from its foundation.
At this time Alexandria was the second city in the world, with a population of 600,000; its great library contained from 400,000 to 700,000 volumes; at one time 14,000 students are said to have been assembled; and it was the center of the world's learning, culture, thought; the seekers for truth and knowledge from all regions sought inspiration at its shrines, and it was most of all in its interest to us, not only the radiating center of Christian influence, but its teachers and school made universal salvation the theme of Christian teaching.
"To those old Christians, a being who was not seeking after every single creature, and trying to raise him, could not be a being of absolute righteousness, power, love; could not be a being worthy of respect or admiration, even of philosophic speculation. The Alexandrian Christians expounded and corroborated Christianity, and adapted it to all classes and conditions of men, and made the best, perhaps the only, attempt yet made by man to proclaim a true world-philosophy embracing the whole phenomena of humanity, capable of being understood and appreciated by every human being from the highest to the lowest." The result was, "they were enabled to produce, in the lives of millions, generation after generation, a more immense moral improvement than the world had ever seen before. Their disciples did actually become righteous and good men, just in proportion as they were true to the lessons they learnt. They did for centuries work a distinct and perceptible deliverance on the earth." 3
Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great, 332 B.C., and it speedily became a great city. After two centuries, however, it declined, until B.C. 30 when Augustine made in an imperial city. In 196 A.D. its municipality, which had been lost for two centuries, was restored, from this time on it resumed its old prosperity, which continued until internal dissensions weakened it, and A.D. 640, after a siege of fourteen months, it was taken by the Arabs under Amru, and among other disasters the great library was destroyed. This library contained the precious manuscripts of Origen and multitudes of others that might shed great light on our theme. Abulpharagius relates that John the Grammarian, a famous itinerant philosopher, begged Amru to give him the library. Amru forwarded the request to Omar, who replied that if the books contained the same doctrines as the Koran they were not needed; if contrary to it they ought not to be preserved, and they were therefore ordered to be burnt. Accordingly they were distributed among the 4,000 public baths of the city, where they furnished the fuel for six months!
Alexandria continued to decline until the discovery of the route to the East in 1497 ruined its commerce, and it sank to a population of 6,000. But the opening of the Mahmoudieh canal in 1820 has increased its prosperity, and it is now one of the most important cities of the world. In 1871 it had a population of 219,602. At the time of Christ, and for two hundred years after, Alexandria was at the height of its greatness. From the time of Ptolemy Soter (306-285 B.C.), the books, scholars and learning of the world were centered in this great city. The religions and philosophies of the world met here and created an intense life of thought. Jews, Christians, Pagans were gathered and met in intellectual conflict as nowhere else. It was here that Clement, Origen, and their followers exerted their best influence, and that Christianity preserved its purity for centuries.
"The north of Africa was then crowded with rich and populous cities, and formed with Egypt the granary of the world. In no part of the empire had Christianity taken more deep and permanent root. Africa, rather than Rome, was the parent of Latin Christianity. Tertullian was at this period the chief representative of African Christianity, still later Cyprian, and later still Augustine. To us, preoccupied with the modern insignificance of the Egyptian town, it requires an effort of the mind to realize that Alexandria was once the second largest city in the world, and the second greatest patriarchy of the church, the church of Clement, Origen, Athanasius and Cyril. It gives us a kind of mental shock when we recall that the land of Tertullian, Cyprian and Augustine is the modern Tunis and Algiers."
"The seat and center of Christianity during the first three centuries was Alexandria. West of Alexandria the influence of the Latins, Tertullian, Cyprian, Minucius Felix and Augustine prevailed, and their type of Christianity was warped and developed by the influence of Roman law. Maine says that in going from East to West theological speculation passed from Greek metaphysics to Roman law. The genius of Augustine, thus controlled, gave rise to Calvinism. The gloomy and precise Tertullian, the vigorous and austere Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, and Augustine, the gloomiest and most materialistic of theologians, who may almost be said to have invented the hell of the Middle Ages, contributed the forces that later adulterated the genuine Christian faith. Even yet the Greek population of the Eastern church, who read the Greek Gospels as we read the English, are like the Greek fathers of the first ages of the church; they know nothing of the doctrine invented by the Latin theologians." (Stanley's Eastern Church, p.49.)
"In such a city as Alexandria--with its museum, its libraries, its lectures, its schools of philosophy, its splendid synagogue, its avowed atheists, its deep-thinking Oriental mystics--the Gospel would have been powerless if it had been unable to produce teachers who were capable of meeting Pagan philosophers and Jewish Philoists on their own ground. Such thinkers would refuse their attention to men who could not understand their reasonings, sympathize with their perplexities, refute their fundamental arguments, and meet them in the spirit of Christian courtesy. 4 Different instruments are needed for different ends. Where Clement of Rome might have been useless, Clement of Alexandria became deeply influential. Where a Tertullian would only have aroused contempt and indignation, an Origen won leading Pagans to the faith of Christ. From Alexandria came the refutation of Celsus; from Alexandria the defeat of Arius. It was the cradle of Christian theology.5 "There can be no doubt that the wonderful advance of Christianity among the cultivated, during the First and Second Centuries, was made by the remarkable men who founded and maintained the Alexandrian school of Christian thought. While the common people heard gladly the simple story of the Gospel, the world's scholars were attracted and won by the consummate learning and genius of Clement and Origen, and their assistants." "Pagan thinkers would have paid attention to Clement when he spoke of Plato as truly noble and half-inspired; they would have looked on the African father as an ignorant railer, who had nothing better to say of Socrates than that he was 'the Attic buffoon," of Aristotle than 'miserum Aristotelem!' Such arguments as Tertullian's: It is credible because it is absurd, it is certain because it is impossible, would have been regarded as worse than useless in reasoning with philosophers." The Alexandrine Universalists met philosophers and scholars on their own ground and conquered them with their own weapons. Under God, the agency that gave Christianity its standing and wonderful progress during the first three centuries, was the Catechetical school of Alexandria, and the saintly scholars and Christian philosophers who immortalized the famous city that was the scene of their labors. They met and surpassed the apostles of culture, and proved at the very beginning that Christianity is no less the religion of the wise and learned than of the unlettered and simple. The Universalist Church has never sufficiently recalled and celebrated the great labors and marvelous successes of the founders in the primitive years of Christianity.
"Those who are truly called the fathers and founders of the Christian church were not the simpleminded fishermen of Galilee, but men who had received the highest education which could be obtained at the time, that is Greek education. In Alexandria, at the time the very center of the world, it had either to vanquish the world or to vanish. Christianity came no doubt from the small room in the house of Mary, where many were gathered together praying, but as early as the Second Century it became a very different Christianity in the Catechetical school of Alexandria. What Clement had most at heart was not the letter but the spirit, not the historical events, but their deeper meaning in universal history." 6
Muller points out the fact that the Alexandrine "current of Christian thought was never entirely lost, but rose to the surface again and again at the most critical periods in the history of the Christian religion. Unchecked by the Council of Nicæa, A.D. 325, that ancient stream of philosophical and religious thought flows on, and we can hear the distant echoes of Alexandria in the writings of St. Basil (A.D. 329-379), Gregory of Nyssa (A.D. 332-395), Gregory of Nazianzus (A.D. 328-389), as well as in the works of St. Augustine (A.D. 364-430)."
The reader of the history of those times cannot help deploring the subsequent substitutions of Latin Augustinianism and its long train of errors and evils from Greek Alexandrianism, nor can the Christian student avoid wishing that the Alexandrine Christians could have been permitted to transmit their beneficent principles uncorrupted. How different would have been the Middle Ages! How far beyond its present condition would be the Christendom of today!
Titus Flavius Clemens, Clemens Alexandrinus, or Clement of Alexandria--born A.D. 150, died A.D. 220--was reared in heathenism. Before his conversion to Christianity he had been thoroughly educated in Hellenic literature and philosophy. It is uncertain whether he was born in Athens of Alexandria. He became a Christian early in his adult years; was presbyter in the church in Alexandria, and in 189 he succeeded Pantænus as president of the celebrated Catechetical school in Alexandria. During the persecution by Septimius Severus in 202 he fled, and was in Jerusalem in 211. He never returned to Alexandria, but died about 220. This is all that is known of his life.
He was the father of the Alexandrine Christian Philosophy, or ancient Philosophical Christianity. Many of his works have perished; the principle ones that survive are his "Exhortation to the Heathen," the "Teacher," or "Pedagogue," and "Stromata," or "Miscellanies," literally "Tapestries," or freely translated "Carpet Bag."7
It is the verdict of scholars that Clement's "Stromata" is the greatest of all the Christian apologies except Origen's. It starts "from the essential affinity between man and God, (and) goes on to show how, in Christianity, we have the complete restoration of the normal relation between the creature and the Creator."
The influence of the Greek philosophers, and especially of Plato, on the Alexandrine fathers, is conceded. 8 Clement held that the true Gnostic was the perfect Christian. The Alexandrine fathers had no hostility to the word Gnostic, properly understood; to them it signified the Christian who brings reason and philosophy to bear on his faith, in contradistinction from the ignorant believer. Irenæus had declared "genuine gnosis," or Gnosticism, to be "the doctrine of the apostles," insisting on "the plenary use of Scripture, admitting neither addition nor curtailment, and the reading of Scripture, and legitimate and diligent preaching, according to the word of God." And Justin had bequeathed to the Alexandrine school the central truth that the Divine Word is in the germ in every human being. This great fact was never lost sight of, but was more and more developed by the three great teachers--Pantænus, Clement and Origen.
The materialistic philosophy of Epicureanism, that happiness is the highest good and can best be procured in a well-regulated enjoyment of the pleasures of life; the Pantheistic system of Stoicism, that one should live within himself, superior to the accidents of time; the logical Aristotelianism, and the Platonism that regarded the universe as the work of a Supreme Spirit, in which man is a permanent individuality possessing a spark of the divinity that would ultimately purify him and elevate him to a higher life; and that virtue would accelerate and sin retard his upward progress--these different systems all had their devotees, but the noblest of all, the Platonic, was most influential with the Alexandrine fathers, though, like Clement, they exercised a wise and rational variety, in adopting the best features of each system. This Clement claimed to do, He says: "And by philosophy I mean not the Stoic, nor the Platonic, nor the Epicurean, nor that of Aristotle; but whatever any of these sects had said that was fit and just, that taught righteousness with a divine and religious knowledge, this I call mixed philosophy."9
Matters of speculation he solved by philosophy, but his theology he derived from the Scriptures. He was not, therefore, a mere philosopher, but one who used philosophy as a help to the interpretation of the religion of Christ. He says; "We wait for no human testimony, but bring proof of what we assert from the Word of the Lord, which is the most trustworthy, or, rather, the only evidence."
The thoroughly Greek mind of Clement, with his great imagination, vast learning and research, splendid ability, and divine spirit, could scarcely misinterpret or misunderstand the New Testament Scriptures, written as they were in his mother tongue, and it is not difficult to believe with Bunsen, that in this seat and center of Christian culture and Christian learning, he became "the first Christian philosopher of the history of mankind. He believed in a universal plan of a divine education of the human race. This is the grand position occupied by Clemens, the Alexandrian, in the history of the church and of mankind and the key to his doctrine about God and his word, Christ and his spirit, God and man. A profound respect for the piety and holiness of Clemens is as universal in the ancient church as for his learning and eloquence. I rejoice to find that Reinkins, a Roman Catholic, expressed his regret, not to say indignation, that this holy man and writer, the object of the unmixed admiration of the ancient Christian, should have been struck out of the catalogue of saints by Benedict XIV." 10
When Clement wrote Christian doctrine was passing from oral tradition to written definition, and he asserts when setting forth the Christian religion, that he is "reproducing an original, unwritten tradition," which he learned from a disciple of the apostles. This had been communicated by the Lord to the apostles, Peter and James and John and Paul, and handed down from father to son till, at length, Clement set forth accurately in writing, what had been before delivered orally. We can, therefore, scarcely hope to find unadulterated Christianity anywhere out of the New Testament, if not in the writings of Clement. Max Muller (Theosophy or Psychological Religion, Preface, p. xiv) declares that Clement, having been born in the middle of the Second Century, may possibly have known Papias, or some of his friends who knew the apostles, and therefore he was most competent to represent the teachings of Christ. Farrar writes: "There can be no doubt that after the date of the Clementine Recognitions, and unceasingly during the close of the third and during the fourth and following centuries, the abstract idea of endlessness was deliberately faced, and from imperfect acquaintance with the meaning and history of the word aionios it was used by many writers as though it were identical in meaning with aidios or endless." Which is to say that ignorance of the real meaning of the word on the part of those who were not familiar with Greek, subverted the current belief in universal restoration, cherished, as we shall directly show, by Clement and the Alexandrine Christians.
Passages from the works of Clement, only a few of which we quote, will sufficiently establish the fact that he taught universal restoration. "For all things are ordered both universally and in particular by the Lord of the universe, with a view to the salvation of the universe. But needful corrections, by the goodness of the great, overseeing judge, through the attendant angels, through various prior judgments, through the final judgment, compel even those who have become more callous to repent." "So he saves all; but some he converts by penalties, others who follow him of their own will, and in accordance with the worthiness of his honor, that every knee may be bent to him of celestial, terrestrial and infernal things (Phil. 2:10), that is angels, men, and souls who before his advent migrated from this mortal life." "For there are partial corrections (padeiai) which are called chastisements (kolasis), which many of us who have been in transgression incur by falling away from the Lord's people. But as children are chastised by their teacher, or their father, so are we by Providence. But God does not punish (timoria) for punishment (timoria) is retaliation for evil. He chastises, however, for good to those who are chastised collectively and individually." 11
This important passage is very instructive in the light it sheds on the usage of Greek words. The word from which "corrections" is rendered is the same as that in Hebrews 12:9, "correction" "chastening" (paideia); "chastisement" is from kolasis, translated punishment in Matt. 25:46, and "punishment" is timoria, with which Josephus defined punishment, but a word our Lord never employs, and which Clement declares that God never influcts. This agrees with the uniform contention of Universalist scholars.
"The divine nature is not angry but is at the farthest from it, for it is an excellent ruse to frighten in order that we may not sin. Nothing is hated by God." 12 So that even if aionios meant endless duration, Clement would argue that it was used as instruction--to restrain the sinner. It should be said, however, that Clement rarely uses aionion in connection with suffering.
Clement insists that punishment in Hades is remedial and restorative, and that punished souls are cleansed by fire. The fire is spiritual, purifying13 the soul. "God's punishments are saving and disciplinary (in Hades) leading to conversion, and choosing rather the repentance than the death of the sinner, (Ezek. 18:23, 32; 33:11, etc.,) and especially since souls, although darkened by passions, when released from their bodies, are able to perceive more clearly because of their being no longer obstructed by the paltry flesh." 14
He again defines the important word kolasis our Lord uses in
Matt. 25:46, and shows how it differs from the wholly different word timoria used by Josephus and the Greek writers who believed in irremediable suffering. He says: "He (God) chastises the disobedient, for chastisement (kolasis) is for the good and advantage of him who is punished, for it is the amendment of one who resists; I will not grant that he wishes to take vengeance. Vengeance (timoria) is a requital of evil sent for the interest of the avenger. He (God) would not desire to avenge himself on us who teaches us to pray for those who despitefully use us (Matt. 5:44). 15 Therefore the good God punishes for these three causes: First, that he who is punished (paidenomenos) may become better than his former self; then that those who are capable of being saved by examples may be drawn back, being admonished; and thirdly, that he who is injured may not readily be despised, and be apt to receive injury. And there are two methods of correction, the instructive and the punitive, 16 which we have called the disciplinary."
The English reader of the translations of the Greek fathers is misled by the indiscriminate rendering of different Greek words into "punish." Timoria should always be translated "vengeance," or "torment;" kolasis, "punishment," and paideia "chastisement," or "correction."
"If in this life there are so many ways for purification and repentance, how much more should there be after death! The purification of souls, when separated from the body, will be easier. We can set no limits to the agency of the Redeemer; to redeem, to rescue, to discipline, is his work, and so will he continue to operate after this life." 17
Clement did not deem it well to express himself more fully and frequently respecting this point of doctrine, because he considered it a part of the Gnostic or esoteric knowledge which it might not be well for the unenlightened to hear lest it should result in the injury of the ignorant; hence he says: "As to the rest I am silent and praise the Lord." He "fears to set down in writing what he would not venture to read aloud." He thinks this knowledge not useful for all, and that the fear of hell may keep sinners from sin. And yet he can not resist declaring: "And how is he Savior and Lord and not Savior and Lord of all? But he (Christ) is the Savior of those who have believed, because of their wishing to know, and of those who have not believed he is Lord, until by being brought to confess him they shall receive the proper and well-adapted blessing for themselves which comes by him."
This extension of the day of grace through eternity is also expressed in the "Exhortation to the Heathen" (ix): "For great is the grace of his promise, 'if today we hear his voice.' And that today is lengthened out day by day, while it is called today. And to the end the today and the instruction continue; and then the true today, the never ending day of God, extends over eternity." His reference to the resurrection shows that he regarded it as deliverance from the ills of this state of being. Before the final state of perfection the purifying fire which makes wise will separate errors from the soul; the purgating punishment will heal and cure.
Alexander, Bishop of Jerusalem, wrote to Origen on the death of Clement, says Eusebius, "for we know these blessed fathers who have gone before us and with whom we shall shortly be, I mean Pantænus, truly blessed and my master; and the sacred Clement, who was my master and profitable to me."
This passage would indicate the fraternity of feeling between these three, and seems to show that there was no suspicion of the heresy of the others on the part of Alexander.
Clement distinctly shows that the perversion of the truth so long taught, that the coming of Christ placated the Father, had no place in primitive Christianity. He says: God is good on his own account, and just also on ours, and he is just because he is good, for before he became Creator he was God. He was good. And therefore he wished to be Creator and Father. And the nature of that love was the source of righteousness; the cause too of his lightning up his sun, and sending down his own son. The feeling of anger (if it is proper to call his admonition anger) is full of love to man, God condescending to emotion on man's account, etc. (Paed. I, 10. Strom. I, 27.)
He represents that God is never angry; he hates sin with unlimited hatred, but loves the sinner with illimitable love. His omnipotence is directed by omniscience and can and will overcome all evil and transform it to good. His threats and punishments have but one purpose, and that the good of the punished. Hereafter those who have here remained hardened will be chastened until converted. Man's freedom will never be lost, and ultimately it will be converted in the last and wickedest sinner.
Fire is an emblem of the divine punishments which purify the bad.18 "Punishment is, in its operation, like medicine; it dissolves the hard heart, purges away the filth of uncleanness, and reduces the swellings of pride and haughtiness; thus restoring its subject to a sound and healthful state."
"The Lord is the propitiation, not only for our sins, that is of the faithful, but also for the whole world (I John 2:2); therefore he truly saves all, converting some by punishments, and others by gaining their free will, so that he has the high honor that unto him every knee should bow, angels, men and the souls of those who died before his advent."
That the foregoing passage from Clement distinctly state the sublime sentiments we have supposed them to express, will fully appear from those who have made the most careful study of his opinions, and whose interpretations are unprejudiced and just. Says one of the most thoughtful of modern writers, the candid Hagenbach:
"The works of Clement, in particular, abound with passages referring to the love and mercy of God. He loves men because they are kindred with God. God's love follows men, seeks them out, as the bird the young that has fallen from its nest." 19
Clement, like Tertullian, denied original depravity, and held that "man now stands in the same relation to the tempter in which Adam stood before the Fall." Clement's doctrine of the Resurrection was like that of Paul; it is not a mere rising from death, but a standing up higher, in a greater fullness of life, and a better life, as the word anastasis properly signifies.
Allen in his valuable work, "Continuity of Christian Thought," epitomizes the teachings of Clement in language that describes the Universalistic contention. "The judgment is not conceived as the final one of the universe in some remote future, but as a present, continuous element in the process of human education. The purpose of the judgment, as of all the divine penalties, is always remedial. Judgment enters into the work of redemption as a constructive factor. God does not teach in order that he may finally judge, but he judges in order that he may teach. The censures, the punishments, the judgments of God are a necessary element of the educational process in the life of humanity, and the motive which underlies them is goodness and love. The idea of life as an education under the immediate superintendence of a Divine instructor who is God himself indwelling in the world, constitutes the central truth in Clement's theology. There is no necessity that God should be reconciled with humanity, for there is no schism in the divine nature between love and justice which needs to be overcome before love can go forth in free and full forgiveness. The idea that justice and love are distinct attributes of God, differing widely in their operation, is regarded by Clement as having its origin in a mistaken conception of their nature. Justice and love are in reality the same attribute, or, to speak from the point of view which distinguishes them, God is most loving when he is most just, and most just when he is most loving.
God works all things up to what is better.
Clement would not tolerate the thought that any soul would continue forever to resist the force of redeeming love. Somehow and somewhere in the long run of ages, that love must prove weightier than sin and death, and vindicate its power in one universal triumph."
One of the best modern statements of the views of the Alexandrine fathers is given by Bigg in Christian Platonists, pp. 75,89,112: Clement regarded the object of kolasis as "threefold; amendment, example, and protection of the weak. Strom. 1:26,168; 4:24,154; 6:12,99. The distinction between kolasis and timoria, Strom. 4:14, 153; Paed. 1:8, 70, the latter is the rendering of evil for evil and this is not the desire of God. Both kolasis and timoria are spoken in Strom. 5:14, 90, but this is not to be pressed, for in Strom. 6:14, 109, the distinction between the words is dropped and both signify purgatorial chastisement. Fear he has handled in the truly Christian spirit. It is not the fear of the slave who hates his master; it is a reverence of a child for its father, of a citizen for the good magistrate. Tertullian, an African and a lawyer, dwells with fierce satisfaction on terrible visions of torment. The cultivated Greek shrinks not only from the idea of retribution which it implies. He is never tired of repeating that justice is but another name for mercy. Chastisement is not to be dreaded but to be embraced." Here or hereafter God's desire is not vengeance but correction. Though Clement's view of man's destiny is called restorationism (apokatastasis) it was "not as the restitution of that which was lost at the Fall, but as the crown and consummation of the destiny of man leading to a righteousness such as Adam never knew, and to heights of glory and power as yet unscaled and undreamed. His books are in many ways the most valuable monument of the early church; the more precious to all intelligent students because he lived, not like Origen, in the full stream of events, but it a quiet backwater where primitive thoughts and habits lingered longer than elsewhere." "Clement had no enemies in life or in death." The great effort of Clement and Origen seems to have been to reconcile the revelation of God in Christ with the older revelation of God in nature.
Says De Pressense: "That which strikes us in Clement is his serenity. We feel that he himself enjoys that deep and abiding peace which he urges the Corinthians to seek. It is impressed on every page he writes, while his thoughts flow on like a broad and quiet stream, never swelling into a full impetuous tide. We feel that this man has a great love for Jesus Christ." Compare, contrast rather, his serenity and peacefulness with the stormy tempestuousness of Tertullian, his "narrow and passionate realism," and we see a demonstration of the power and beauty of the Restorationist faith.
Frederick Denison Maurice declares: 20 "I do not know where we shall look for a purer or a truer man that this Clemens of Alexandria. He seems to me that one of the old fathers whom we should all have reverenced most as a teacher, and loved best as a friend."1 Robertson Hist. Ch., Vol. I, p. 90. Bingham, Vol. III, x, 5; Neander Hist., Ch. ii, 227; Mosheim Com. I, p. 263; Butler's Lives of the Saints VII pp. 55-59.
Baur remarks; "Alexandria, the birthplace of Gnosticism, is also the birthplace of Christian theology, which in fact in its earliest forms, aimed at being nothing but a Christian Gnosticism. Among the fathers, Clement of Alexandria and Origen stand nearest to the Gnostics. They rank gnosis (knowledge) above pistis (faith), and place the two in such an deep-rooted relation to one another that neither can exist without the other. Thus they adopt the same point of view as the Gnostics. It is their aim, by drawing into their service all that the philosophy of the age could contribute, to interpret Christianity in its historical connection, and to take up its subject-matter into their thinking consciousness." 21
A candid historian observes: "Clemens may, perhaps, be esteemed the most profoundly learned of the fathers of the church. A keen desire for information had prompted him to explore the regions of universal knowledge, to dive into the mysteries of Paganism, and to dwell upon the abtruser doctrines of Holy Writ. His works are richly stored and diversified with illustrations and extracts from the poets and philosophers with whose sentiments he was familiarly acquainted. He lays open the curiosities of history, the secrets of varied superstitions, and the fantasies of speculative wanderers, at the same time that he develops the cast of opinions and peculiarities of discipline which distinguished the members of the Christian state."22
Daille writes: "It is manifest throughout his works that Clement thought all the punishments that God inflicts upon men are remedial. Of this kind he reckons the torments which the damned in hell suffer. Clemens was of the same opinion as his scholar Origen, who everywhere teaches that all the punishments of those in hell are purgatorial, that they are not endless, but will at length cease when the damned are sufficiently purified by the fire." 23
Farrar gives Clement's views, and shows that the great Alexandrian really anticipated substantially the thought for which our church has contended for a century:
"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."
Lamson says that Clement declares: "Punishment, as Plato taught, is remedial, and souls are benefited by it by being amended. Far from being incompatible with God's goodness it is a striking proof of it. For punishment is for the good and benefit of him who is punished. It is the bringing back to righteousness of that which departed from it." 24
It may be stated that neither original sin, depravity, infant guilt and damnation, election, vicarious atonement, and endless punishment as the penalty of human sin, in fact, "none of the individual doctrines or tenets which have so long been the object of dislike and reprehension to the modern theological mind formed any designated part in Greek
theology." 25 They were abhorrent to Clement, Origen, and their associates.
The views held by Clement and taught by his predecessor, Pantænus, and, as seems apparent, by Anathegoras and his predecessors beck to the apostles themselves, and by their successor Origen, and, as will appear on subsequent pages by others down to Didymus, (A.D. 395), the last president of the greatest theological school of the Second and Third Centuries, were substantially those taught by the Universalist church of today, so far as they included the character of God, the nature and final destiny of mankind, the effect of the resurrection, the judgment, the nature and end of punishment, and other related themes. In fact Clement stands on the subject of God's purpose and plan, and man's ultimate destiny, as substantially a representative of the Universalist church of the Nineteenth Century, as well as a type of ancient scholarship.
Chapter 10--Origen - Contents
Spirit of the Word - Covenant Eschatology - Introductory Note - New Stuff
Chapter 10--Origen - Contents
Spirit of the Word - Covenant Eschatology
Chapter 1 - The Earliest Creeds
Chapter 2 - Early Christianity-A Cheerful Religion
Chapter 3 - Origin of Endless Punishment
Chapter 4 - Doctrines of Mitigation and Reserve
Chapter 5 - Two Kindred Topics
Chapter 6 - The Apostles' Immediate Successors
Chapter 7 - The Gnostic Sects
Chapter 8 - The Sibylline Oracles
Chapter 9 - Pantaenus and Clement
Chapter 10 - Origen
Chapter 11 - Origen-Continued
Chapter 12 - The Eulogists of Origen
Chapter 13 - A Third Century Group
Chapter 14 - Minor Authorities
Chapter 15 - Gregory Nazianzen
Chapter 16 - Theodore of Mopsuestia and the Nestorians
Chapter 17 - A Notable Family
Chapter 18 - Additional Authorities
Chapter 19 - The Deterioration of Christian Thought
Chapter 20 - Augustine--Deterioration Continued
Chapter 21 - Unsuccessful Attempts to Suppress Universalism
Chapter 22 - The Eclipse of Universalism
Chapter 23 - Summary of Conclusions