THE TRINITARIAN FAITH
THE NEGATIVE ATTRIBUTES
In chapter four of this book I have mentioned under the title "the Knowledge of God," the following points:
1. Human language cannot express the nature of God, but through His infinite love He reveals Himself to us using our human expressions, as if we are His own little children.
2. God is absolutely impossible, has no human motions, and He is not a solid Being. He is a loving Creator, who is eternally taking care of His creatures.
3. According to the words of our Savior "God is a Spirit," and from the words of St. John "God is Light," "it must not be supposed then that God is a body, or in a body, but a simple intellectual nature, admitting of no addition at all. There is in Him no greater or less, no higher or lower, for He is the Monad, the Unit, Mind, the Fountain of all mind."
4. Being incorporeal God is independent of the laws of Space and Time, omniscient, omnipresent.
How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out.
He has in a sense no titles, and His fittest name is He That Is.
5. God is unchangeable. There was a question usually raised: If God is changeless, why do we offer prayers and sacrifices to Him, as if He will change His decisions towards us?
Origen felt bound to answer this question. He tackled this problem in his treatise On Prayer; and answered it by an appeal to the free will enjoyed by mankind in spite of Gods providence and foreknowledge. He justified prayer by appeal to its role in God's dispensation for the universe and the soul. By his prayer, a man reveals his faith and ultimate desire. Origens discussion is in the philosophical tradition, though he uses Scripture to support his case and the argument is twisted to the Christian tradition in which the question was raised.
6. Without divine grace we cannot acknowledge God.
7. God is known through the universe, but the Word of God reveals Him in the Old and New Testament.
Our knowledge of the Divine spreads out on all sides into the inconceivable, but it is rooted in the positive. Before we can know what He is not, we must know what He is.
Origen states that Gods incomprehensibility is in us, not in Him. His dwelling is the thick darkness, because of our disability to acknowledge Him as He is. He Himself is Light; and the more closely we approach Him, the more completely will the darkness melt away into light. In the future when we become one spirit with the Logos, we shall see God face to face; then we will acknowledge Him as the infinite Light who illuminates our understandings. Even now we are not left without some understanding of Him which, imperfect as it may be, is yet true as far as it goes. We see Him dimly revealed in Creation.
"There is none holy like the Lord" (1 Sam. 2:2): However great a mans growth in holiness and his attainments in purity and sincerity, yet none can be as holy as the Lord, because He is the bestower of holiness, while man receives it; He is the fountain of holiness... while man... drinks it; He is the light of holiness while man looks on it.
The Trinitarian Faith
Origen is quite familiar with the terms "triad" (Trias) and "Hypostaseis," and what they denote are always present.
One of the chief characteristics of Origens doctrine is: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are Three Persons (Hypostaseis). He affirms that each of the Three is a distinct Hypostasis, from all eternity, not just as manifested in the "economy," i.e., does not only refer to Their part in salvation history. He is holding to genuine trinitarianism, although he uses philosophy but he is always controlled by his Christian faith. He asserts that the Son and the Holy Spirit are not only powers of the Father, but they are Hypostaseis like the Father.
In acknowledging the Holy Trinity as recognized more perfectly through the incarnation of the Logos and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, he proves his sense of the unique Godhead, that in the New Testament is revealed as Trinity.
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE FATHER, THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT
1. Basil Studer states, "The systematic structure of Origen's theology of the Logos is obviously directed by his interest in the philosophical question of the relation of the One to the Many. But it cannot be overlooked that it is basically a matter for him of a traditional, though newly thought-out vision of the history of salvation. For he has placed the historically understood incarnation at the very heart of his doctrine of the revealing mediatorship of the Logos."
Origen realizes the importance of the oneness of the Son with the Father and Their distinction also. He wishes to avoid both the absolute monarchianism, the risk of denying Christs divinity, and modalism. In spite of his rejection of all modalistic oversimplifications, Origen like the other anti-absolute monarchians is concerned with a full preservation of biblical monotheism.
Origen insists that both terms of the antinomy, the One and the Many, must be equally kept in view...
"for I cannot separate the Son from the Father, the Father from the Son..."
"We call Him Father who is not Son, Him Son who is not Father."
For to ascribe division to an incorporeal substance is the act not only of extreme impiety but of the dullest folly. Hence the generation of the Son is to be regarded as a continuous process: "The Father did not beget His Son and let Him go from Himself, but always begets Him."
The endeavors to render monotheism beyond all doubt at first concern the relation of Father and Son, Origen speaks of a unity of will and action, and in this context employs the comparison with marriage and also with the union of Logos and soul. Similarly he regards the Logos as the image of the Father or as the revelation of divine glory.
Here I repeat what I mentioned concerning the "Discussion with Heraclides." Origen refers to Scripture in order to show in what sense two can be one:
I. Adam and Eve were two but one flesh (Gen. 2:24).
II. He (the just man) who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him (Cor. 6:17).
III. Finally he introduces Christ himself as a witness because He said: "I and My Father are one."
In the first example, the unity consisted of "flesh;" in the second of "spirit;" but in the third of "God." Thus Origen states: "Our Lord and Savior is in His relation to the Father and God of the universe not one flesh, nor one spirit, but what is much higher than flesh and spirit, one God."
Origen presents the union as one of love and action, and also has described it as a substantial union, using the word homoousios (consubstantial, or one and equal in the same essence or ousia). Pamphilus ascribes to him this famous term "Homoousion" of the Nicene Fathers.
2. Origen wishes to indicate the distinction between the Father and the Word. He insists that the Son is other in subsistence than the Father; they are two in respect to Persons. The Father and Son differ from each other in Hypostaseis.
Originally Hypostaseis and ousia were synonyms, the former Stoic and the latter Platonic, meaning real existence or essence. Although Hypostaseis has this original sense in Origen, it is often used in the sense of individual subsistence. The Sons deity is derived from the fountainhead, the Father. The Logos is the archetype because he is always with the Father. Thus Origen understands that the Logos is God by derivation.
3. As the Fathers offspring, the Son participates in His Godhead; He is Son of God by nature, and His nature is one with the Fathers. This generation cannot be compared with any corporeal process. It is like the emergence of will from mind. It is an act of the Father's will, a continuous exercise of will, not a single act for economy.
Origen states that the Son is brought forth from the Father, not by a process of division, but in the same way as the will is brought forth from reason.
Origen asserts that the Logos or the Wisdom was begotten apart from any physical passion, just as the will proceeds from the mind. If He is called the Son of Love (Col. 1:13), then why not, in the same manner, also the Son of Will?
The Only-begotten Son of God is His Wisdom existing substantially... How could anyone believe that God the Father could have existed at any time without begetting Wisdom?... We must believe that Wisdom is without beginning...
He is called the Logos because He is as it were the interpreter of the secrets of the mind of God.
We are forbidden the impiety of supposing that the way in which God the Father beget and sustains His Only-begotten Son is equivalent to the begetting of man by man or animal by animal; there must be a great difference. It is fitting that this should not be so, since nothing can be found in existence, or conceived or imagined, to be compared with God. Thus human thought cannot comprehend how the unbegotten God becomes the Father of the Only-begotten Son.
For it is an eternal and ceaseless generation, as radiance is generated from light.
For He does not become the Son externally, by the adoption of the Spirit, but He is by nature the Son.
He alone is Son by nature, and therefore He is called "Only-begotten."
Caution is needed lest anyone should fall into those absurd fables invented by those who picture for themselves some kind of "promotions," so as to assign parts to the divine nature and to divide the essential being of God the Father. Rather as an act of will proceeds from the mind without cutting a part of the mind or being separated or divided from it; in some such way the Father is to be thought of as "begetting" the Son.
St. John tells us that "God is Light," (1 John 1:5), and Paul calls the Son "the radiance" of eternal light (Heb. 1:3). Therefore, as light can never be without radiance, how can it be said that there was a time when the Son was not? For that is as much as to say that there was a time when Truth was not, when Wisdom was not, when Life was not.
But we have to apologize for using such phrases as "there was never a time when He was not," for these words have a temporal significance. Yet when they are used of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, they are to be understood as denoting something supra-temporal.
4. The relationship between God, the Father, and his Son, the Word (Logos), is eternal. The Words generation is eternal. It cannot be said that "there was once when He was not."
5. Origen confirms the personality (Hypostasis) of the Holy Spirit.
"The Spirit blows where it wills" (John 3:8). This signifies that the Spirit is a substantial being (ousia). It is not, as some imagine, an activity (energia) of God without individual existence. And the Apostle, after enumerating the gifts of the Spirit, proceeds thus, "And all these things come from the activity of the one same Spirit, distributing to each individually as He wills" (1 Cor. 12:11). If He "wills" and "is active" and "distributes," He is therefore an active substance (ousia) not a mere activity.
He used the words of the book of Acts to prove the same idea: "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us" (Acts 15:21), "The Holy Spirit said" (13:2), and "This is what the Holy Spirit says" (21:10).
6. J.N.D. Kelly says,
The Three, on his analysis, are eternally and really distinct... No doubt he tries to meet the most stringent demands of monotheism by insisting that the fullness of unoriginate Godhead is concentrated in the Father, Who alone is "the fountain-head of deity." "But the Son and the Spirit are also in their degrees divine, possessing, though derivatively, all the characteristics of deity; distinct from the world of creatures, they cooperate with the Father and mediate the divine life flowing from Him. This vision of "the adorable, everlasting Triad," of which he detected an anticipation in the thrice-repeated "holy" of Isaiahs seraphim, was to inspire generations of later Greek theologians.
7. For Origen the whole Trinity is involved in the work of creation in the same way that it is involved in the work of salvation. Through the Trinity the work of creation is co-ordinate with the work of salvation, and creation itself serves the purposes of salvation. It can do so because it has two distinct levels of reality enabling the soul to make a choice between Spirit and matter, and the related values of good and evil. The making of this choice requires the nature of man to be such that it can relate to these two orders, and it is clearly necessary for men to have a two-fold nature corresponding to the two-fold structure of the cosmos.
THE HOLY TRINITY AND SIMPLICITY OF GOD
Usually we are asked, "How can God bring forth a Son?" We answer this question with another question, "Can God not bring forth a Son?"
We cannot accept God as a solid Being unable to bring forth! Every energetic essence has to bring forth something. Fire brings forth light and produces heat, the radioactive elements bring forth nuclear energy and the human mind brings forth wise thoughts. God can never be a solid Being, but He eternally brings forth the Son, for He is the "Light" who bring forth "Light." Truly, a light that brings forth no light is darkness.
It is said that Jesus Christ "Who being the brightness of His glory and the expression image of His person ..." (Heb. 1:3) "...is the image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15), like the Word is the image of the invisible mind.
What else are we to suppose the eternal light is, but God the Father? His splendor (Heb. 1:3) was not present with Him? Light without splendor is unthinkable. But if this is true, there was never a time when the Son was not the Son...
UNITY IN DIVINE WILL
Concerning the unity of the Holy Trinity in the divine will, G. L. Prestige says,
Origen observes that the will of God is present in the will of the Son, and the will of the Son is undeviating from the will of the Father, so that there are no longer two wills but one will, which single will provides the reason for our Lords assertion that, "I and the Father are one." He repeats that the Father and the Son are two "things" (pragmata) in objectivity, but one in consent and harmony and identity of purpose. Athanasius follows Origen in maintaining the position that there is one will which proceeds from the Father and is in the Son, so that from this fact the Son may be seen in the Father and the Father in the Son." He also says: "As God is one in will, so is He one in operation or energy." This doctrine goes back to Athanasius, where it forms part of his proof of the deity of the Holy Spirit. Thus he argues at some length that, since the Father is light and the Son is radiance from the light, the Holy Spirit, being the agent by the reception of whom mankind receives its enlightenment, must be discernible in the Son. When, therefore, we are enlightened by the Spirit, it is Christ who in Him enlightens us, since St. John has said that it is Christ who is the true Light that enlightens every man. Similarly, the Father is the source, and the Son is called the River that flows from the Source, yet the Scripture says that we drink of the Spirit, because in drinking the Spirit we drink Christ. Again, Christ is the true Son, but it is through the Spirit that we are made sons and have received the Spirit of adopted sonship. So he concludes that there is a holy and perfect triad expressed in Father and Son and Holy Spirit, which contains nothing foreign or derived from an external source; its nature is self-consistent and indivisible, and its energy is one, therefore, the Father acts invariably through the Logos in the Holy Spirit. Thus the unity of the Holy Triad is preserved, and so one God is preached in the Church, who is over all and through all and in all, and over all, as Father, arch and source; through all, through the Logos; and in all, in the Holy Spirit."
UNITY IN WORK
Here we are most clearly shown that there is no separation of the Trinity, but that this which is called the "gift of the Spirit" is ministered through the Son and worked by God the Father. And yet "all these work that one and the self-same spirit, dividing to each man as He will".
In the Trinity nothing can be said to be greater or lesser, nor can there be any separate action; the gift of the Spirit is revealed through the Son and works through the Father. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three in person and operation but They are one in essence and life.. Thus, by the unceasing work of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in us and which is carried out through successive stages, we are able to behold the holy and blessed life of the saints.
God the Father bestows on all the gift of existence; and a participation in Christ, in virtue of His being the Logos or Reason, makes them rational. From this it follows that they are worthy of praise or blame, because they are capable alike of virtue and of wickedness. Accordingly there is also available the grace of the Holy Spirit, that those beings who are not holy in essence may be made holy by participating in this grace. When therefore they obtain first of all their existence from God the Father, and secondly their rational nature from the Logos, and thirdly their holiness from the Holy Spirit, they become capable of receiving Christ afresh in his character of the righteousness of God, those, that is, who have been previously sanctified through the Holy Spirit; and such as have been deemed worthy of advancing to this degree through the sanctification of the Holy Spirit obtain in addition the gift of wisdom by the power of the working of Gods Spirit. This is what I think Paul means when he says that "to some is given the word of wisdom, to others the word of knowledge, by the same spirit".
THE ROLE OF THE HOLY TRINITY
The role of the Father is to give being, that of the Son to make the being logikos, this representing as we have seen a mainly supernatural rationality, and that of the Spirit to confer sanctity.
The Fathers action extends to the whole universe,
the Sons is restricted to rational creation,
the Spirits to those who are holy.
Gerald Bostock says, "For Origen the whole Trinity is involved in the work of creation in the same way that it is involved in the work of salvation. Origen believes that just as the Father is the source of all matter and energy, so he gives existence to every being; just as the Son gives form to the physical world, so he gives the power of reason to the soul. and the Spirit who acts as the substance of heaven similarly gives life to those who are saved."
The three Persons (Hypostaseis) have each a role in the imparting of this knowledge. All wisdom comes from God: this Logos is sometimes invested even with technical skill. Through the two other Persons it is always the Father, source of the Trinity, who teaches: He does it through human masters. It is He who gives deep understanding to those who receive that particular grace. But to a certain degree the human master is no longer necessary and the man who has reached the spiritual level is taught directly by God. To understand the Gospels we need the nous that is the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:6) and to have in ourselves the spring of living water which the word of Jesus pours into the soul. The Son is not only the physician who cures the blindness or deafness of the soul so that it can see and hear, he is the Revealer in person who communicates to men the knowledge He has of the Father. The Spirit unveils the spiritual meaning of the Scriptures which He inspired and He acts within the soul. The role of each of the divine Persons in this teaching is not always clearly distinguished. It can be said, however, that the Father is the origin, the Son the minister, the Spirit the medium in which the teaching is produced..
One of the main positive attributes of God which the holy Scripture underlinesis Gods goodness, revealed through His infinite love to rational creatures, especially to man. Origen asserts that man is the dearest friend of God, the subject of his love.
1. God is the Shepherd of all souls. He desires the salvation and glorification, not all of the souls of men but that of rational creatures. This is assured by his doctrine of Apokapastasis.
And as God is a Lover of men and is ready to welcome, at every moment and under any form, the impulse of human souls to better things, even of those souls who make no haste to find the Loges, but like sheep have a weakness and gentleness apart from all accuracy and reason, so He is their Shepherd.
2. God takes care of man through His divine Providence. He enslaves nature and all circumstances on mans behalf. In his comment on the passing of the Red Sea, Origen explains how God enslaves nature on mans behalf, saying:
Notice the goodness of God the Creator. If you obey His will, if you follow His Law, He compels the elements themselves to serve you even against their own nature.
3. God does not want man to be isolated from heaven; He grants him His own-self as a grace.
4. Gods love is revealed through His redeeming work: the incarnation, the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ.
Before speaking of his doctrine of Apokapastasis, divine Providence, grace of God and the redeeming work of Christ in special chapters, I will deal with Origens reply to the following questions:
1. Why it is said that God is jealous (Exod. 20:5; 34:14)?
2. How God does not know the sinners (Matt. 7:23; 25:12).
3. What is the meaning of God anger?
GOD IS LOVE
According to Origen, God in His love needs nothing but the salvation of His creatures.
Origen elaborates on the meaning of "loving," and the fact that "love" refers to God alone in its strict or proper meaning. "And because God is Charity, and the Son likewise, who is of God, is Charity, He requires in us something like Himself; so that through this charity which is in Christ Jesus, we may be allied to God who is Charity, as it were in a sort of blood relationship through this name of charity... it makes no difference whether we speak of having a passion for God, or of loving Him; and I do not think one could be blamed if one called God Passionate Love (Amorem), just as John calls him Charity (Caritatem). Indeed, I remember that one of the saints, by name Ignatius, said of Christ: My Love (Amor) is crucified, and I do not consider him worthy of censure on this account."
GOD IS JEALOUS
Herein, therefore, "God is jealous": if He asks and desires that your soul cling to Him, if He saves you from sin, if He reproves, if He chastises, if He is displeased, if He is angry and adopts as it were, a certain jealousy towards you, recognize that there is hope of salvation for you t.
For "God is jealous" and does not wish that soul which He betrothed to Himself in faith to remain in the defilement of sin, but wishes it immediately to be purified, wishes it swiftly to cast out all its impurities, if it has by chance been snatched away to some. But if the soul continues in sins and says: "We will not hear the voice of the Lord, but we will do what we wish and will burn incense `to the queen of heaven'" (Cf. Jer 7:18), a practice reprobated by the prophet, then it is held over for that judgment of Wisdom: "Since indeed I called and you did not listen, but jeered at my words, therefore, I also will laugh at your ruin" (Prov. 1:24-26), or that judgment which has been placed on those in the Gospel when the Lord says, "Depart from me into the eternal fire which God has prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matt. 25:41) .
LOVER OF THE REPENTANT
(Repentant sinners) who take refuge in... the kindness of God, Who is alone able to benefit them.
DOES GOD KNOW THE SINNER?
In his Commentary on the Psalms, Origen expresses the relation between God and man in terms of knowledge, we say that God knows the righteous and does not know the unrighteous. He does not know the unrighteous because it is not fitting that God should know evil, and therefore sinners are as nothing in the eyes of God. The good, on the contrary, belong to God. He is their way; more accurately, His Son is their way with the result that the Father, who alone shares the knowledge of the Son, knows them in Him.
GOD USES EVIL FOR THE ADVANTAGE OF THE JUST
God did not create evil, nor when others have contrived it does He stop it (although He could do) but uses it for necessary ends. For by means of those in whom is evil, He makes those who are working towards the achievement of goodness famous and praiseworthy. For if evil disappeared there would be nothing to stand over against goodness, and goodness, having no opposite, would not shine out with its greater brightness and proved superiority. For goodness is not goodness unless it is proved and tested.
GOD OF THE IMPOSSIBILITIES
The things that cannot be comprehended by the reason of mortals because they are spiritual and beyond human range and far above our perishable nature, become by the will of God possible of comprehension by the abundant and immeasurable grace of God poured out on men through Jesus Christ, the minister of boundless grace toward us, and through the co-operation of the Spirit.
GODS DWELLING IN THE HEARTS OF MEN
God dwells not in a place or in a land but in the heart...; the pure heart is His abode [quotes 2 Cor 6 16] .
CONCEPT OF GODS ANGER
God being unchanging, eternal, must needs be passionless. Scripture attributes to Him wrath, hatred, repentance, but only in condescension to our infirmities. He is righteous and good, and desires not the death of a sinner. Punishment is not His work, but the necessary consequence of sin. There will come a time in the restitution of all things when it will no longer be possible to speak of the wrath of God. But though Origen cannot think of the Deity as agitated by passions in the narrower sense of the word, by mental disturbance or unreason of any kind, it is clear from the language already cited that he was far from regarding Him as devoid of attributes. "The Father Himself and God of all," he says, "is long-suffering, merciful and pitiful. Has He not then in a sense passions? The Father Himself is not impassable. He has the passion of Love."
Punishment by God does not arise from anger. His punishment of men is not for vengeance, but always disciplinary and remedial. Punishment is thus regarded by Origen as something educational: all suffering teaches a lesson.
Origen shows that punishment actually proceeds from Gods goodness.
If it was not of use toward the conversion of sinners to put them to torment, a merciful and kindly God would never have visited crime with punishment. But like a most indulgent father He "chastens" (Prov. 3: 11) His son to teach him, and like a most far-seeing (providentissimus) master He reproves an unruly pupil with a look of severity, lest the latter, secure of being loved, should perish.
Some of you may be so outraged by the very word "anger" that you condemn it even in God. Our reply will be that the "anger" of God is not so much "anger" as a necessary dispensation.
The speaker (of Ps. 6:1) knows that the "wrath" of God is a means to human health, and is applied to the task of healing the sick, of curing those who have scorned to hear His word...
Everything that comes from God is good, and we deserve our "chastening"...
Everything that comes from God and seems harsh is actually of avail for teaching and healing. God is doctor, father, master - and not severe, but lenient...
When you find people, according to the accounts of Scripture, punished, you should "compare Scripture with Scripture" (cf. 1 Cor. 2:13)... and you will see that what appears the harshest is actually the sweetest.
None of that is understood by the people who slander the God of the Law and cast their accusations at Him regardless of the fact that He was slow even to reprove men.
You will ask how any of it can be expressive of Gods goodness. Well, the words "I will make to live" and "I will heal" (Deut. 32:39), come to my mind.
God sometimes causes suffering - but the doctor too, you know, often does. And when God makes men suffer, it is as a means of restoring them to health. Thus, when He strikes men, what impels Him to do it is his goodness.
What I am going to say may seem paradoxical, but I am going to say it, all the same. What Scripture calls Gods rage works with salvation in view when it administers correction, because it is a good Gods rage; and what it calls his anger is educative because, again, it comes from a Gods goodness if people could take it in without harming themselves. Not unreasonably, God hides all that from those who fear Him, because He does not want them to presume on that abundant kindness of His that bears with men and waits for them (Rom. ii. 4); for if they did, they would be laying up still greater store of anger for themselves.
In one of the homilies on Jeremiah, Origen shows that bodily pain is good in itself.
It is possible for parts of a body to wither and become lifeless. If they do, they will probably be able to bear pains which the parts with more life in them could not stand.
The idea is then transferred to the soul.
Suppose a soul were like a body with limbs so numb that it could not feel anything when it was struck, even if the blow were as hard as it could possibly be. Such a soul would become paralyzed without realizing it, whereas another would be aware of what was happening. Obviously, a man who does not feel the impact of a thing that ought to cause him pain is more seriously ill than one who is aware that something unpleasant is being inflicted on him and hopes he will suffer from it; for ability to suffer is a sign of life.
Therefore, because God is merciful and "wishes all men to be saved" (Cf. 1 Tim. 2:4), he says, "I will visit their crimes with an iron rod and their sins with whips. I will not, however, remove my mercy from them" (Ps. 88:32-33; 2:9). The Lord, therefore, visits and seeks the souls which that most wicked father begot by the persuasion of sin, and says to each of them: "Hear, daughter, and look and incline your ear, and forget your people and the house of your father" (Ps. 44:11). He, therefore, visits you after sin and disturbs you and he visits you with a whip and a rod for the sin which your father the devil submitted to you, that He may avenge that sin "in" your "bosom," that is, while you continue in the body. And thus the avenging of "the sins of the fathers in the bosoms of the sons in the third and fourth generation" is completed (Cf. Jer. 32:18; Exod. 20:5).
This, therefore, is what this passage of Scripture summed up in a few words has taught us that we may know that it is much more serious "to receive sin" and to have it with us and to carry it to Hell than to do punishment in the present age for the thing committed.
If it was not of use towards the conversion of sinners to put them to torment, a merciful and kind God would never have visited crime with punishment. But like a most indulgent father He "chastens" (Prov. 3:11) His son to teach him, and like a most far-seeing master he reproves an unruly pupil with a look of severity, lest the latter, secure of being loved, should perish. Some of you may be so outraged by the very word "anger" as a necessary dispensation. The speaker (of Ps, 6:1) knows that the "wrath" of God is a means to human healthfulness, and is applied to the task of healing the sick, of curing those who have scorned to hear His word... Everything that comes from God and seems harsh is actually of avail for teaching and healing. God is doctor, father, master- and not severe, but lenient... When you find people, according to the accounts of Scripture, punished, you should" compare with Scripture" (cf. 1 Cor. 2:13)... and you will see that what appears the harshest is actually the sweetest.
God is swift to deeds of kindness but slow to punish those who deserve it. Although He could silently administer punishment to those He has condemned and give them no warning, He does no such thing, but even if He condemns He speaks - when speech is opportune to turn from condemnation the man about to be condemned.
In his Homilies on Jeremiah also, Origen faces the problem of God's repentance in the Old Testament. Origen understands repentance to mean "change one's mind," and he argues that since a supposedly wise man inevitably loses face by "repenting," God can hardly "repent" of a plan He has made, especially as He has foreknowledge of the future. He goes on to explain that while God is not like man, He chooses to appear like man in order to educate his children. Just as we talk baby-language to babies - for a baby cannot be expected to understand adult conversation - so we must think God acts with regard to the human race. When you hear of the anger and wrath of God, you must not think that God suffers the emotions of wrath and anger.
It is a matter of verbal usage for the sake of a child. We put on threatening looks, not because we are angry but for the child's good; if we always show our love and never correct the child, it is the worse for him. It is in this way that God is said to be angry, so as to change and better us.
In the Commentary on Romans, he says that because God was just He could not justify the unjust; but because He recognized that man's sin was of entirely his fault, being committed under the tyranny of the devil, He himself sent a Mediator who was able to deal with sin and its cause, convert mankind, and so make the just God "propitious" to men in a way that he could not be to sinners. That this work of reconciliation, which Origen is able to describe in rather qualified propitiation language, was accomplished through the blood of Christ.
When divine providence is woven into human affairs, He assumes the human mind, manner, and diction. When we talk to a two-year-old child we use baby-talk for his sake... Such is the situation you must imagine when God exercises His providence on the human race, especially on the "infants" thereof...
Again, since we repent, God when talking to us says "I repent;" and when He threatens us He does not presume to have knowledge of the future, but threatens us as if He were talking to children... (E.g.) "Speak to the children of Israel-perhaps they will hear and repent" (Jer. 33:21). This "perhaps" does not indicate any uncertainty on Gods part... but is designed to leave open your freedom of choice, and to prevent your saying: "If He foreknew my destruction I must perish: if He foresaw my salvation I must certainly be saved."... You will find thousands of other such statements about God accommodating Himself to man. If you hear of Gods wrath and anger, you must not suppose that wrath and anger are passions in God. They are accommodations in the use of language, in order to correct and improve the child. We too put on a fearful frown for children, not because such is our disposition but as a means of managing them.
He must be reminded that just as when we are talking to very small children we do not aim to speak in the finest language possible to us, but use language fitted to the weakness of our charges, and suit our actions also to what seems useful for the correction and guidance of children as such, even so does the Word of God seem to have disposed the Scriptures, determining what style of narrative is suitable by the capacity of his hearers and their real needs.
The "repentance" of God is actually the change of His providence from one dispensation to another. (Why use the term?...) Because the prophets had to use the more down-to-earth form of expression in speaking of God to the slowest-witted, to give it a chance of being understood... We must not impute to God the mercurial character of the human mind ; for we intend to impute to the essence of divine providence the changes of dispensation it rightly makes when dealing with us.
DIVINE PROVIDENCE AND TEMPTATIONS
Origen looks upon afflictions, like suffering and martyrdom, not as an evil event but as a gift which is granted to some believers by God's Providence. Under the guidance of providence, life is a continual trial by which the wicked man is corrected and the righteous man is granted opportunities of showing his merit. For example Pauls thorn in the flesh is a gift of the divine providence to forestall his pride.
If we are told that certain unpleasant experiences - so-called" evils are inflicted by parents, teachers, and pedagogues (tutors), or by surgeons who use cutlery or the knife for purposes of healing, we say that parents... inflict "evil", but that would not be an accusation against them; in just the same way God is said to inflict such "evils" for purposes of correcting and healing.
And the fact that the temptations that come to us are meant to show us who we are or to make known the secret things in our hearts is established.
At least we must suppose that the present temptation has come about as a testing and trying of our love for God. "For the Lord is tempting you," as it is written in Deuteronomy," to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul"(Deut. 13:3:df.; Matt. 22:37; Deut. 6:5) But when you are tempted, "You shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear Him, and keep His commandments:, especially" you shall hear His voice and cleave to Him, when He takes you from the regions here and associates you with Himself for what the Apostle calls "the increase of God" in Him (Col. 2:19) .
Faith is tested by temptations, and when it conquers one temptation and its faith has been thus proved, it comes to another one; and it passes, as it were, from one stage to another, so, when it proceeds through the different temptations of life and faith one by one, it is said to have stages in which increase in virtues are sought one by one. In this way there is fulfilled what is written, "They will go from virtue to virtue" (Ps. 84:7) until the soul arrives at its goal, namely the highest summit of virtues, and crosses the rivers of God and receives the heritage promised it.
The soul, unless it is somehow salted with constant temptations, immediately becomes feeble and soft. For this reason the saying is established that every sacrifice shall be salted with salt (Lev. 2:13).
The "lilies" (of Song 7:2) are the flowers of the grace of God, which He collected from the midst of the worlds of thorns.
Temptation, as I think, gives a kind of strength and defense to the soul. For temptations are so mingled with virtues that no virtue appears to be seemly or complete without them.
No one comes to the contest of martyrdom without Providence.
God uses martyrdom of His believers as a witness to attract others to the Christian faith.
Let us learn from this passage what great advantage accrues through the Christian persecutions, how great a grace is bestowed, how God becomes the champion of the Christians, how abundantly the Holy Spirit is poured on them. For the grace of God is then most mightily at hand when the savagery of men is stirred up; and then do we have peace with God when are in suffering from men because of the justice of war...Although Moses and Aaron stand high through the achievements of their lives, although in natural attainments they are pre-eminent, nevertheless the glory of God could never have shone on them unless they had come to be persecuted, in tribulation and danger, nay almost at the point of being killed. And you (my hearers), you too, must not suppose that the glory of God can shine upon you if you are idle or asleep.
(Providence) granted increase and boldness of speech to the multitude in spite of the fact that there were countless obstacles to the spread of the teaching of Jesus in the world. But since it was God who wished the Gentiles also to be helped by the teaching of Jesus Christ, every human plot against the Christians has been thwarted, and the more kings and local rulers and peoples everywhere have humiliated them, the more they have grown in numbers and strength.
For God has dealings with souls not with a view to the fifty years, so to speak, of our life here, but to the boundlessness of eternity. For He has made our intellectual nature deathless, akin to Himself, and the rational soul is not, as it were, shut out from healing by being confined to this life.
THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE
In our speech on "the divine providence" according to St. Clement of Alexandria we noticed that the Alexandrian Fathers looked upon philosophy as a divine gift that partially revealed the truth but not with a full view. For some philosophers denied the divine providence, while others believed in it but in a very narrow way. The Alexandrians believed in God's providence in its biblical sense; namely it embraced all creation in general - the universe, the nations, and in particular man, and not absent even from animals. It surpassed time and space, for it involved man even before his creation, i.e., before the time when he was in the Divine Mind, and it still takes care of him on earth throughout all ages and will continue acting beyond the grave, into eternal life, or in the world to come. Divine Providence cares for believers and unbelievers, rational and irrational creatures. This is revealed through Gods self-giving, generosity, tender mercies, kindness and chastening; through the pleasant events, and through the evil, sorrowful ones.
Origen believes that it is only atheism which is destructive and immoral that blinds the inner sight from beholding the providence, which is evident and almost visible.
We confess, as a certain and unshakable dogma, that God cares for mortal things, and that nothing is done apart from His providence in heaven or on earth.
Origen speaks of the superlative transcendence of the life of God to deny that God is extended in physical universe in any material or quasimaterial sense, at the same time he repeatedly clarifies God's immanence to confirm Gods infinite goodness and love for man.
For how do we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28), if His power does not surround and hold together the universe?!
And what is heaven but the throne of God, and the earth His footstool, as the Savior Himself declares, except by His power, which fills the whole universe, both heaven and earth, as the Lord says (Jer. 23:24)?!
GODS PROVIDENCE AND OUR CREATION
We are indebted to the Gracious God for the existence of the universe for mans sake, caring for it continuously on mans behalf, our coming into existence from nothing, and for the special love of God for mankind even before their creation.
Nothing that exists over its existence to itself: You alone have been granted your existence from no other. We all-i.e. the whole creation - did not exist before we were created: our existence is due to the will of the Creator.
The fact that we exist cannot possibly be a reward of our works but is due to the grace of our Creator.
(On "rational beings") whatever goodness existed in their being was there not by nature, but by the beneficence of their Creator... the Creator granted to the minds He had created, the faculty of free and voluntary movement, in order that the good that was in them might become their own, since it was reserved by their own free will.
No one, Jew or Gentile, is devoid of this law, which is in men by nature. It will be found that God gave man all the feelings and all the impulses by which he could strive and progress towards virtue; and besides that He implanted in him the power of reason, by which he might recognize what he ought to do and what to shun. God is found to have bestowed all this on all men alike.
DIVINE PROVIDENCE EMBRACES EVERYTHING
God who loves man takes care of him in all aspects of life; His providence embraces everything even the number of hairs in his head (Matt 10:30; Luke 12:7); therefore we have to acknowledge that all events - even the trivial things - happen not by chance, but by divine providence.
The things that happen to men... do not do so by chance or accident, but for a purpose so carefully calculated, so lofty, that not even the number of the "hairs" of our head" (Matt 10:30) is outside it-and that not only of the saints but (one may say) of all men; this providence extends even to "two sparrows" which are sold for a penny (Matt 10:29) whether "sparrows" is meant spiritually or literally.
To such a degree has Divine providence embraced everything that not even the hairs of our head have excepted being numbered by Him.
DIVINE PROVIDENCE EMBRACES EVEN THE ANIMALS
Providence primarily cares for rational beings, but encompasses irrational animals which also profit from what is designed for man.
For since God clearly rules over the motion of heaven and what is in it and over what is accomplished on earth and sea by His divine skill - the birth, origins, foods, and growth of all different animals and plants - it is foolish to close our eyes and not look to God (cf. Isa. 6:10; Matt 13:15; Acts 28:27) .
GOD'S PROVIDENCE AND HOLY SCRIPTURE
The divine Providence disposed the writing of the holy Scripture for nourishing man with divine wisdom and salvation.
This is our understanding of everything that was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: that through the writings holy Providence was granting superhuman wisdom to mankind, sowing (as it were) oracles of salvation in every writing possible, to show the way to wisdom!...
GOD'S PROVIDENCE AND MAN'S SANCTIFICATION
In His book, R. Cadiou says under the title "God the Friend of Man,"
Nothing is outside the plans of Providence, not even our sins or our efforts at resistance. We can say with the Apostle that all the work of salvation is Gods. God has endowed rational beings with the gift of free will. He imparts His enlightenment to them. He implants in their souls the germs of good and of perfection. Yet all the while He leaves them free to reject His gifts, even while He regulates the circumstances in which the soul lives and breaks down the obstacles the soul encounters. Do we not render honor to the architect who builds a house after many others have offered to build it? Is the leader who has saved a beleaguered city not given a triumph by the grateful citizens? Similarly, without further considering our very small part in the work, we attribute our salvation to the Divine Mercy, through whose goodness and forbearance the work is brought to completion.
GOD'S PROVIDENCE AND MAN'S SANCTIFICATION
"There is none holy like the Lord" : However great is man's growth in holiness and his attainment in purity and sincerity, yet none can be as holy as the Lord, because He is the bestower of holiness, while man receives it; He is the fountain of holiness... while man receives it; He is the fountain of holiness... while man...drinks from it; He is the light of holiness while man looks at it.
Thus the work of the Father, which confers on all existence, is found more glorious and splendid, when each one, through participation in Christ as "Wisdom", "Knowledge", "Sanctification", advances and comes to higher degrees of progress. Likewise when each, through participation in the Holy spirit, has been sanctified and made purer and of higher integrity, and thus is more worthy to receive the grace of wisdom and knowledge, in order that all stains of pollution and ignorance may be removed and that he may receive such advancement in integrity and purity. Hence the life which he received from God may be worthy of God, whose purpose is to make it pure and perfect: that the creature should be as worthy as the Creator. For in this way also shall man, whose Creator wished him to be so, receive from God the power to exist forever and to abide for eternity.
(God) cares for the soul [i.e. the seat of the faculties] of every man, that he may be rational, that he may attain knowledge, that his intelligence may find exercise in (the life of ) the body, that his senses (Heb. 5:14) may be good fettle.
DIVINE PROVIDENCE AND THE REVELATION OF TRUTH
Divine Providence uses every means to reveal the mysteries of God, at first through creation, and through the natural laws God grants to man. He also speaks to us through our daily life, so that we can be in touch with Him. He sent Moses Law, His prophets and finally the "Truth" Himself descended to our world after becoming a Man to reveal Himself to us and to raise our souls, minds and motions to the bosom of the Father, by the work of His Holy Spirit.
The organ of the body which knows God is not the eye (of the body) but the mind, for it sees that which is in the image of the Creator, and it has received by the providence of God the faculty of knowing Him.
"The invisible things of God", i.e., the things conceived by the mind, "are understood by the things that are made", and "are clearly seen from the creation of the world" by the process of thought. And [ the disciples of Jesus], in their ascent from the created things of the world, do not halt in the invisible things of God; but after sufficient mental exercise among them to produce understanding, they ascent to the eternal power of God and (quite simply) to His divinity. They know that, out of love to man, God revealed His truth and that which may be known of Himself-and this not only to those devoted to Him, but also to those who knew nothing of pure worship and piety towards Him, but who by God's providence have ascended to the knowledge, and impiously hold down the truth in unrighteousness; and just because of this knowledge... they can no longer plead and excuse before God.
DIVINE PROVIDENCE AND DEMONS
In the early centuries of Christianity as the pagan world was terribly in the hold of demons and evil spirits on men, a question was raised: how do we explain the existence of demons who are ruling the lives of men in a world governed by God's Providence? Origen and other Alexandrian Fathers who experienced the grace of God replied with the following points:
a. Men became sons of Satan (John 8:44) and willingly entered in close relationship with him instead of attaining the adoption to God and receiving unity with Him . It is our own responsibility and not Gods to choose between God or Satan.
b. St. Clement of Alexandria and Origen explain that the demonic order attempts to make man fall, lead him into slavery and to ally him with themselves. The divine providence does not leave us helpless before the demons, for it supports us with the angels for our protection if we accept their actions for our sakes (Heb. 1:14), and to lead believers to the heavenly wedding room if they wish.
c. The Alexandrian fathers explain that in the battle against demons we are not alone, for the battle rises between God Himself and Satan.
For even if the demons were not kindly disposed to them, they could still suffer no harm from them, being under the guardianship of the Supreme God who is kindly-disposed to them because of their piety, and who makes His divine angels stand over those worthy to be guarded that they suffer not from the demons.
We are not under the control of demons but of the God of the universe, through Jesus Christ who brings us to Him. According to the laws of God, no demon has inherited control of the things on the earth; but one may suggest that through their own defiance of the law they divided among themselves those places where there is no knowledge of God and the life according to His will, or where there are many enemies of His divinity. Another suggestion would be that because the demons were fitted to govern and punish the wicked, they were appointed by the Logos that administers the universe, to rule those who have subjected themselves to sin and not to God.
If I belong to the Church, no matter how small I may be, my angel is free to look upon the face of the Father. If I am outside the Church, he does not dare...
Indeed, each of us has an adversary who seeks to draw us into the ranks of his own leader. (Origen states that good angels are more powerful, able to defend us against the adversary).
When a man has received the faith, Christ who has redeemed him by His blood from his evil masters entrusts him, since hereafter he is to believe in God, to a holy angel who, because of his great purity, always sees the face of the Father.
"For He has appointed His angels over you; to keep you in all your ways," Ps. 90:11.... For it is the just who needs the aid of the angels of God, so as not to be overthrown by the devils, and so that his heart will not be pierced by the arrow which flies in the darkness.
The Shepherd (of Hermas) makes the same statement, saying that two angels (one good and the other evil) accompany every single man; and whenever good thoughts come into our mind, it says they are put there by the good angel; but if they are otherwise, it says that is the impulse of the evil angel.
For everyone is influenced by two angels, one of justice and the other of iniquity. If there are good thoughts in our heart, there is no doubt that the angel of the Lord is speaking to us. But if evil things come into our hearts, the angel of the evil one is speaking to us.
There had to be angels who are in charge of holy works, who teach the understanding of the eternal light, the knowledge of the secrets of God and the science of the divine.
(The angels also are evangelists) Now if there are men who are honored with the ministry of evangelists, and if Jesus Himself brings forth tidings of good things, and preaches the Gospel to the poor, surely those messengers who were made spirit by God (Ps. 104:4), those who are flames of fire, ministers of the Father of all, cannot have been excluded from being evangelists also (Luke 2:10:11) .
The apostles have the angels to assist them in the accomplishment of their ministry of preaching, in the completion of the Gospel work.
DIVINE PROVIDENCE AND GODS FATHERHOOD
God reveals His providence in its greatest depth through His Fatherhood to men. God is not in need of men's worship or offerings but of their hearts to lift them up to His glories, to enjoy His eternal love, and practice their sonship to Him.
It is right to examine what is said in the Old Testament quite carefully to see whether any prayer may be found in it calling God "Father". Up till now, though I have looked carefully as I can, I have not found one. I do not mean that God was not called Father or that those who are supposed to have believed in God were not called sons of God; but nowhere have I found, in a prayer, the boldness proclaimed by the Savior in calling God "Father"...
But even if God is called "Father" and those who are begotten by the Logos of Faith in Him are called sons (Deut. 32:6,18,20; Isa. 1:2; Mal. 1:6), the certainty and immutability of sonship cannot be seen in the Old Testament. Indeed, the passages I have listed indicate that those called sons are guilty, since according to the Apostle, "So long as heir is a child, he is no better than a servant, though he is lord of all, but he is under guardians and trustees until the date set by the Father" (Gal. 4:1-2). And "the fullness of time", (Gal. 4:4), is present in the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, when those who wish receive the adoption of sons, as Paul teaches in these words, "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of sonship in which we cry, "Abba, Father" (Rom. 8:15). And in John, "But to all who received him, He gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in His name" (John 1:12). And because of the "Spirit of sonship ", we have learned in the general letter of John, concerning those born of God, that" no one born of God commits sin, for He remains in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God" (1 John 3:9).
DIVINE PROVIDENCE FOR MANKIND, CHURCH AND EVERY PERSON
For the number of souls is, as far as we can see, infinite; and the same is true of their characters, and they have innumerable motions, projects, purposes, and impulses. There is One alone who can manage all these for the best manager, since He knows the fitting times, the appropriate assistance to be given, the ways of training and direction. And He is the God and the Father of the whole universe.
His providence cares for us every day- in public and in private, secretly and openly, even when we know it not.
All things have been created primarily for the benefit of the rational being...God does not care, as Celsus thinks, only for the universe as a whole, but, besides the whole, for every rational being in particular. Yet His providence for the whole never fails. For even if some part of it degenerates because of the sin of the rational being, God sees to (Economies) its purification and to the subsequent turning back of the universe to Himself.
DIVINE PROVIDENCE AND THE GOODNESS OF CREATION
We say that by the providence and wisdom of God all things are so ordered in this world that nothing is wholly useless to God, whether it be evil or good... God did not create evil, nor, when others have contrived it, does He prevent it although He could. But he uses evil for necessary ends. For by means of those in whom is evil, He makes those who are working towards the achievement of goodness famous and praiseworthy. For if evil disappeared there would be nothing to stand over against goodness, and goodness, having no opposite, would not shine out with its greater brightness and proved superiority. Virtue is not virtue if it be untested and unexamined...(Origen compares Joseph and his brethren, the sin of the latter being necessary for the whole story of Exodus to Deuteronomy; Balak; Judas Iscariot - even the devil for if he were suppressed ) this would entail the simultaneous disappearance of our struggle against his wiles, and he who had struggled "lawfully" (2 Tim. 2:5) could no longer expect the crown of victory.
THE CONCEPT OF GRACE
Benjamin Drewery tried to give a definition of Gods grace, through the numerous works of Origen. He says that we may suggest that if Origen had been required to offer a formal definition of grace, he would have responded somewhat as follows:
Grace is the power of God freely, but not unconditionally, placed at mans disposal,
whereby He appropriates through the Holy Spirit the offer of salvation to a new and ultimate life, revealed and enacted in the Scriptures,
by the Incarnate Jesus Christ, and made available by Him to the world.
For Origen, divine Grace means Gods free self-giving, His blessings, His generosity, and His kindness.
GRACE AND REWARD
In his comment on the Pauline words, "Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as a debt..." (Rom 4:4ff), Origen says
None of Gods gifts to humanity is made in payment of a debt, but all of grace... (Pauls) distinction is rightly made:
"wages" is used with reference to sin,
"grace-gift" with reference to God. For Gods gifts are of grace, not like wages which are owed... Reward is something owed, but a work of sheer kindness.
GRACE AND WORKS
God is not in need of our good works, which are in fact a sign of our response to His love, and to our acceptance of His divine grace in our life. It is a good chance for us that God bestows His grace upon us continuously and in abundance.
The grace of prophecy is not idle; no grace-gift is idle in a holy man.
God asks for things from us, not that He has need of anything, but in order that He might graciously give us in return things of His own... God graciously gives us in return good things - with an addition. For to Him who made his one mina into ten (Luke 19:11ff) He gave in return the ten minas, adding to them another that belonged to the man who did not work.
Philo states that these works are practical sacrifices of thanksgiving which must be offered to God and these what we offer in fact are Gods gifts to us. Origen considers that attributing good words to man is guilty of sacrilege.
Everything (says God) that mankind has he receives from Me. Lest therefore anyone should believe that in offering gifts he is conferring some benefit on God, and should stand guilty of sacrilege through the very act that he intended as worship... What can a man offer to God? Just this.. (these) gifts to Me that I have already given.
That the law of faith suffices for justification in the complete absence of any works on our part, is shown by the robber who was crucified along with Jesus and by the sinful woman in Luke (7:37). For her sins were remitted, not because of any work of hers, but from faith... But that after recognition of this, unrighteous behavior can bring to nothing the grace of the One who has justified, (Paul) himself will make clear at a later point. My own view is that even such works as appear good, if done before the coming of faith, cannot justify the agent, because they are not "built on the fair foundation of faith"(1 Cor. 3:11).
He does not say that the faith of the righteous is counted to them for righteousness. If it were, what grace would appear to be counted to the righteous? Righteousness for righteousness? The works which Paul repudiates...are not the works of righteousness which are laid down in the law, but those in which the observers of the law according to the flesh make their glory, i.e. circumcision, the sacrificial rites, the observation of the Sabbath and new moons...if a man is justified by such as these he is not justified freely [Latin, gratis]; for such works are least of all expected from one justified by grace-his care is to watch that the grace he has received does not become of none effect in him (cf. 1 Cor. 15:10). Now there is no danger of this, and no ingratitude to the grace of God, in harnessing to that grace works worthy of it; but a man who receives that grace and then sins becomes guilty of ingratitude to the One who made the grace available for him. But if you have not made the grace of none effect, you will have it multiplied to you, and receive a multitude to graces, as it were for a reward of good works (and quotes 2 Pet 1:2, 1 Pet 4:10).
Since good works are fruits of the work of the divine grace, therefore we must receive these gifts with humility.
(O Lord, my heart is not lifted up): These are the words of a righteous man, endowed with great and wonderful grace-gifts, who does not preen himself on them... but remains humble.
GRACE AND THE WORKS OF THE HOLY TRINITY
We cannot separate the works of every Hypostasis (Person) of the Holy Trinity from the other Hypostaseis in our lives, which in fact are Gods free gifts or abundant grace. Just for our study we make a distinction between the grace of every Hypostasis.
1. The grace of the Father:
I. He created us through the Logos.
II. Free will to all rational creatures is a divine gift.
III. His Fatherhood to us revealed through His Only-Begotten Son.
IV. His continuous divine Providence to all His creatures.
V. He satisfies the needs of our souls with His gifts.
VI. His infinite love is revealed through the redeeming work of His Son.
2. The grace of the Son:
I. A personal relationship with the Only-Begotten Son.
II. His titles reveal His grace.
III. His incarnation as a divine grace.
IV. His crucifixion as a redeeming grace.
V. His resurrection as a divine grace that passes over the grave.
VI. In Him we become children of God.
VII. The spirit of prophecy in the Old and New Testament is a grace of Christ.
VIII. Baptism as a divine grace.
IX. Our Educator and Guide in the Laws of God.
X. Our leader in the spiritual battle; to Him we owe our victory over hostile spiritual powers.
XI. In Him even judgment is seen to come within the range of a merciful God.
3. The grace of the Holy Spirit:
I. The Revealer of the truth; and the Giver of wisdom and knowledge.
II. He grants us adoption to the Father.
III. The Instructor of Prayers.
IV. The source of sanctification and perfection.
I will return to these divine works on our speech of every Hypostasis.
IN THE LIFE OF BELIEVERS
GRACE AS GODS SELF-GIVING
Grace, according to Origen is enjoying God Himself, the Holy Trinity, dwelling and acting in men. Therefore, he did not occupy himself with the concepts of "grace" but rather with having the experience of the unity with God, the Grantor of grace and gifts. Who became a gift for man to own Him in his depth; thus man is raised to His heavens.
This spiritual and biblical understanding led Origen sometimes to use the name of Christ in lieu of His gifts or grace. At other times he used to call Christ "The Kingdom in Person," for he who attains the Kingdom of God, enjoys it not as a thing, but as the Divine Logos who fulfills all mans needs.
In other words, the eschatological attitude did not let the Alexandrians think or enter into a dispute about the conception of grace, but rather they were involved in experiencing "grace" as the enjoyment of the Person of Christ Who fills the inner life and acts within us by His Holy Spirit, to lead us to the Fathers bosom. Christ Himself, the Grace-Giver, grants Himself as a "grace," in order that we may attain Him in us.
(As He became Man), we are now able to receive Him; to receive Him so great and of such nature as He was, if we prepare a place in proportion to Him in our soul.
Christ, who is all virtue, has come, and speaks, and on account of this, the kingdom of God is within His disciples and not here or there.
Grace as Gods self-revelation
But as one cannot be in the Father or with the Father except by ascending from below upwards, and coming first to the divinity of the Son, through which one may be led by the hand and brought to the blessedness of the Father Himself, so the Savior is the inscription "the door."
Since the Father is inseparable from the Son, He is with him who receives the Son.
For there is in the divinity of the Logos some help towards the cure of those who are sick, thus respecting what the Logos says, "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick" Matt. 9:12; others, again, who are pure in soul and body exhibit "the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is manifested by the Scriptures of the prophets" Rom 16:25, and "by the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ" 2 Tim. 1:10, whose "appearing" is manifested to each one of those who are perfect, and enlightens the reason in the true knowledge of things.
God the Logos was sent, indeed, not only as a physician to sinners, but also as a Teacher of divine mysteries to those who are already pure and who sin no more.
We, the eyes of whose souls have been opened by the Logos, and who see the difference between light and darkness, prefer by all means to take our stand "in the light" and will have nothing to do with darkness at all.
Accordingly, if Celsus was to ask us how we think we know God, and how we shall be saved by Him, we would answer that the Logos of God who entered into those who seek Him or who accept Him when He appears, is able to make known and to reveal the Father, Who was not seen (by anyone) before the appearance of the Logos. And Who else is able to save and conduct the soul of man to the God of all things save God the Logos, Who, "being in the beginning with God," became as flesh, that He might be received by those who could not behold Him, inasmuch as He was, the Logos, and was with God, and was God? And discoursing in human form and announcing Himself as flesh, He calls to Himself those who are flesh, that He may in the first place cause them to be transformed according to the Logos that was made flesh, and afterwards may lead them upwards to behold Him as He was before He became flesh; so that they receiving the benefit, and ascending from their great introduction to Him which was according to the flesh, say, "Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer" 2 Cor. 5:16.
...(We believe in) self-revealing God, Who has manifested Himself by Him who by His great power has spread the true principals of holiness among all men throughout the whole world.
The things that cannot be comprehended by the reason of mortals, because they are vast, beyond human range and far above our perishable nature, become by the will of God possible of comprehension by the abundant and immeasurable grace of God poured out on men through Jesus Christ, the Minister of boundless grace toward us, and through the co-operation of the Spirit.
Who sees God as Christ sees Him, for He alone "sees"... "the Father" (John 6:46), and even if it is said that the "pure in heart shall see God" Matt 5:8 it will be beyond question by Christ and spiritual; and... that is why the Savior was careful to use the right word and say "no man knows the Father save the Son", not... "See." Again, to those whom He grants to see God, He gives the "Spirit of knowledge" and the "spirit of wisdom", that through the Spirit Himself they may see God (Isa. 11:2). That is why He said "He who has seen me has seen the Father" John 14:9. We shall not be so stupid as to assume that those who speak about the physical body of Jesus saw the Father also; otherwise the scribes, Pharisees, Pilate... and all the crowd that cried "Crucify... Him" will have done so... Many looked on Him, but none is said "to have seen " Him unless he who has recognized that He is the Logos and the Son of God, and that in Him the Father also is at the same time recognized and seen.
GRACE AND OUR PERFECTION
Divine grace grants us perfection in every virtue.
For we must apply not only to wisdom but to every virtue the words of Solomon "For though a man be never so perfect among the children of men, yet if Your wisdom be not with him, he shall be nothing regarded" (Wisdom 9:6). Thus a man perfect in chastity or righteousness or virtue or piety who has not, however, received that chastity [etc.] that comes from the grace of God, will be "nothing regarded."
Hence if we wish to be granted this more perfect virtue, and that it should abound in us, let us first use every means to acquire diligently that which is perfect on human standards; and having done so, let us show our awareness that this is "nothing regarded" without the grace of God, let us "humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God" (I Pet. 5:6), and pray... that the perfection of all the good in us may be given from God, and that He may make us perfect and acceptable to God, as it were His sons.
GRACE OF RENEWAL (DEIFICATION)
Rowan A. Greer says that Origins description of the highest aspect of the Christian life borrows themes from Plato. The goal of the Christian life is to be made divine, as he says,
There is one (kind of food) that stands out above all the others mentioned, "the daily bread for our being" about which we must pray that we be made worthy of it, and that nourished by God the Logos, who was in the beginning with God, we may be made divine.
Here Origen depends upon the earlier Christian tradition and in particular upon Clement of Alexandrias use of the phrase from Platos theaetetus that defines human destiny as "likeness to God as far as possible." Plato also understands this destiny as a flight of the soul to God. In the phaedrus the soul gains wings for its return to heaven, and Origen alludes to the idea when he speaks of the soul returning like an eagle to God. On his speech of the blessedness of the martyrs, he says, "Having cut so great (worldly) bonds, they have made for themselves wings like those of an eagle, and can fly up to the house of Him who is their Lord."
In his "De Principiis" Origen explained the meaning of deification by saying "The aim for which we hope is that so far as it can happen we may be made participants in the divine nature by imitating him, as it is written, "He who says he believes in Christ ought to walk in the same way in which he walked" (cf. 1 John 2:6)."
Jauncey says that grace according to Origen, is not merely enlightenment (grace of baptism), though it is that, but it is also a real participation in the fullness of Christ, a most real union of the divine power, with human choice. Origen says "It is thus that by the unceasing work of Father, Son and Holy Spirit towards us, carried through successive stages of progress, we are able (if it may be so) to behold the holy and blessed life of the saints."
Origen sees "the Spirit as the Source of our regeneration, so that without the Spirit no one can participate in the Father and the Son. Thus, the charity that pours into our hearts by the Holy Spirit makes us partakers in the divine nature." He also says: [The presence of Christ in our souls and the mystery of our union with Him is stressed much more by Origen than by the heirs to his thought."
Now, I present some quotations from Origins writings concerning the role of Gods grace in the continuous renewal of our nature:
For no noble deed has ever been performed amongst us, where the Divine Logos did not visit the souls of those who were capable, although for a little time, of admitting such operations of the Divine Logos.
If a branch cannot bear fruit except if it abides in the vine, it is evident that the disciples also of the Logos, who are the rational branches of the Logos true vine, cannot produce the fruits of virtue unless they abide in the true vine, the Christ of God...
"For the Son of Man has come already, but not in His Glory" (quotes Isa. 53:25). He had to come in this way, that He might "bear our sins" and suffer "on our behalf;" for it was not fitting that the Christ in glory should "bear our sins" and suffer "for us." But, He is coming again in glory after this preliminary preparing of His disciples through that appearing of His which had "no form nor comeliness." He became like them that they might become like Him, "conformed to the image" (Rom. 8:29) of His glory: since at His first coming He became conformed to "the body of our humiliation" (Phil. 3:21), when He "emptied Himself and took the form of a servant," He restores men to the form of God and makes them like unto it.
Thus, knowing that Christ has come, we see that through Him many christs have been made in the world, who like Him, loved righteousness and hated iniquity, and therefore God... anointed them with oil of gladness (Ps. 45:7). But, He, having loved righteousness and hated iniquity more than His companions, did receive the first fruits of this anointing, and as it were, the whole anointing of the oil of gladness. But His companions, each according to his capacity, shared in His anointing. Therefore, since Christ is the Head of the Church, so that Christ and the Church make one body, the oil has gone down from the head to the beard (the symbol of the perfect man) of Aaron, and this oil, going down, reached to the collar of His robe.
The Son in His kindness generously imparted deification to others... who are transformed through Him into gods, as images of the Prototype... the Logos is the Archetype of the many images.
If by participation (in the Logos) we are raised from the dead, and enlightened, and also, it may be, shepherded by Him and ruled over, since He does away with the irrationality and the deadness in us, in as much as He is the Logos and the Resurrection.
Nevertheless, it presents an offering to God even if it is said only "to offer fine wheat flour mixed with oil." For every soul needs the oil of divine mercy and no one can escape the present life unless he has at hand the oil of heavenly mercy.
Grace of adoption to the Father
None of the Old Testament writers addressed God as "Father"], perhaps because they did not know the Father; they prayed to Him as God and Lord, awaiting the One Who pours out the Spirit of adoption, not less on them than on those who believe in God through Him after His appearing. Unless indeed Christ did appear to the eye of their minds, and they did gain, being perfected, the spirit of adoption, but did not venture to speak or write of God as Father openly and to all, lest they might anticipate the grace that through Jesus was poured out on all the world, as He called all men to adoption.
The devil was formerly our father, before God became our Father, perhaps indeed the devil still is;...if "everyone that commits sin is born of the devil" we are born of the devil, so to speak, as often as we sin. Such perpetual birth from the devil is as wretched as perpetual birth from God is blessed; and not that I do not say that the righteous man has been born once and for all of God, but that he is so born on every occasion that God gives him birth for some good action. (This perpetual rebirth is true even of Christ) for Christ is the "effulgence" of "glory," and such effulgence is not generated once only but as often as the light creates it... Our Savior is the "Wisdom of God", and the wisdom is the "effulgence of eternal light" (Wis. 7:26). If then the Savior is always being born... from the Father, so too are you, if you have the spirit of adoption (Rom. 8:15), and God is always begetting you in every deed and thought you have; and this begetting makes you a perpetually re-born son of God in Christ Jesus.
I think that non can address God as "Father" unless he has been filled with the "spirit of adoption" (Rom. 8:15), and that such a son may address his Father as "Father" to honor Him with regard to the commandment (Mt. 5:44), "Love your enemies... that you may be sons of your Father...". Again everyone who "does righteousness" (1 John. 2:29) is born of God, so born, with the "seed of God in him" (John 3:9). Because he "can sin no more," he may say "Father... Again, one is born of God not from corruptible seed but through the living and abiding Logos of God, as it is written: "As many as received Him, them He gave the right to become children of God... who were born not of blood... but of God" (John. 1:12f). The point of this saying is not to raise us to the level of Gods nature, but that He (the Logos) gives us to share in His grace, and graciously grants us His own dignity; for He tells us to call God "Father".
GRACE AND The heavenly life
Divine grace makes our hearts very close to heaven, granting us the desire to attain the heavenly kingdom not only in the world to come but here on earth, by the dwelling of Christ in our souls. Origen says: "as long as Jesus Christ, the Divine Logos that was in the beginning with God, does not dwell in a soul, the kingdom of heaven is not in that soul. However when one is ready to receive that Logos, the kingdom of heaven is nigh at his right hand."
GRACE AND SHARING IN THE CRUCIFIXION OF CHRIST
Divine grace enables us to share in Christs crucifixion and death.
Then [Thomas], as a true disciple, resolving to follow wherever He should go, sought that the other disciples too should by the grace of Christ lay down their lives with Him.
THE HOLY BIBLE AS A DIVINE GRACE
The Holy Spirit as the Revealer of the Truth, grants us the holy Scripture as a divine grace, works in our souls as a field of God. By heavenly grace not only do we discover the truth through the holy Scriptures, but also attain its effect in our lives. It grants us to be in the presence of God Himself on reading the Holy Scripture, to hear Him, and to understand His word.
Every man is his own farmer. His soul is like a field to be plowed, and the oxen he drives there are the holy thoughts which Scripture has given him. Under the plowshare of the Logos his soul receives the seed of Gods grace and becomes, as it were, a new field. On the fertile soil he casts the seed of Gods teaching, the seed of the law and of the prophets and of the Gospel, and all such teaching he holds in his memory for his hours of meditation and prayer.
Jude wrote an epistle which was short, but filled with the powerful words of heavenly grace.
The divine scripture says that the spoken word, even if it is most true and convincing in itself, is not sufficient to reach a human soul unless some power is also given by God to the speaker and grace flowers on what is said, and it is only by Gods gift that this power is possessed by those who preach with effect.
God admonishes those who hear Him throughout the whole of scripture and through those who teach by Gods grace.
Nothing good can come apart from God, and this is above all true of the understanding of the inspired Scriptures.
Let us exhort God to grant that, as the Word grows in us, we may receive a rich large-mindedness in Christ Jesus and so be able to hear the sacred and holy words.
And so, if at times we do not understand what is said, we shall not lessen our obedience or betake ourselves to easier material, but wait for the grace of God to suggest to us an answer to our question, whether by direct enlightenment or through the agency of another.
DIVINE GRACE AND PRAISING GOD
Divine grace changes the inner man into the joyful kingdom of God; thus the true believer can sing the praises of Gods glory.
None can exalt the Lord if the Lord has not uplifted him...
To uplift ones own soul in all virtue and in the life of wisdom is to exalt the one who dwells in that soul?
GRACE AND SATISFACTION
Our souls cannot be satisfied except by the works of divine grace; through it we receive God Himself dwelling in our inner man, and His gifts.
Grace comes to us from God and we are filled with His gift.
GRACE AND ATTRIBUTING GOD TO BELIEVERS
God is attributed to us as our own, if we receive Him within us by His grace.
He is the God of the living... who perceive the grace He gave them when He announced Himself as their God and said "This is my eternal memorial" (Ex 3:15), And so Abraham, Isaac and Jacob live perceiving God and His grace.
Grace is the gift of God offered to men who are unable to attain it by their own merits. St. Paul says, "being justified freely by His grace" Rom. 3:24.
None of Gods gifts to humanity is made in payment of a debt, but all are of grace.
Gods grace is not given to those who lack zeal in the cause of good, nor can human nature achieve virtue without help from above.
The growth or the loss of grace
Origen assured that it is the free grace of God that acts in the life of the believer, it is ever acting in his life granting him the good will and the power to practice the "new life" in Christ. Believers cannot by themselves do good without Gods grace, and at the same time God who grants man free will as the most noble gift does not work in him unwillingly. He grants him to accept free grace or reject it. This grace is not something solid or static but always dynamic, ever-acting, therefore the believer who accepts it must enjoy continuous growth in grace, otherwise he loses it. Therefore, St. Paul says, "Do not quench the Spirit" 1 Thess. 5:19.
In His wisdom He makes His graces great to those who show with all their power... that they love Him with all their souls.
This expression (rekindling the lamp, torch or other lights) seems to indicate something like this also in Jacob. As long as he was far from Joseph and received no information about his life, his spirit had failed in him, and the light which was in him had been darkened, as the kindling has already failed. However when those who reported to him about Josephs life came, that is those who said that "the life was the light of men," John 1:4 he rekindled his spirit in himself, and the brightness of the true light was renewed in him.
However because occasionally the divine fire can be extinguished even in the saints and the faithful, we hear the Apostle Paul warning those who were worthy to receive gifts of the Spirit and grace, by saying: "Do not quench the Spirit" (1 Thess. 5:19). The Scripture says of Jacob, therefore: "And Jacob is still living," (Gen. 45:28), as if he has experienced something like that which Paul warned against, and has renewed himself through those words which had been spoken to him that Joseph is still alive.
However this also should be noticed, that he who "rekindled his spirit," meaning of course, that spirit which seemed almost extinguished, is said to be Jacob. But he who says: "it is a great thing for me if my son Joseph is living;" Gen. 45:28 as if he understands and sees that the life which is in the spiritual Joseph is great, he is no longer called Jacob, but Israel, he who sees in his mind the true life which is Christ, the true God.
But he is excited not only about the fact that he has heard that "Joseph his son is living", but especially about that which has been announced to him that it is Joseph who holds "dominion over all Egypt", for the fact that his son has reduced Egypt to his rule is truly great to him. For to tread on lust, to flee luxury, and to suppress and curb all the pleasures of the body, this is what it means to have "dominion over all Egypt". And this is what is considered great and held in admiration by Israel.
But if there is someone who should subject at least some vices of the body, but yield to others and be subject to them, it is not said correctly of him that he holds "dominion over the whole land of Egypt," but, for example, he will appear to hold dominion over one, perhaps, or two or three cities. But Joseph whom no bodily lust ruled, was a prince and lord "of all Egypt". Therefore no longer Jacob, but Israel, whose spirit has been rekindled, says: "It is a great thing for me if Joseph my son is living. I will go and see him before I die" (Gen. 45:28).
THE MEASURE OF HIS GRACE
Origen affirms that God helps man by His freely-given grace. He desires to grant it without limitation, but He gives it according to the following factors.
1. His grace surpasses our needs, but we receive what we need only.
2. Gods will (Rom 12:6, 1 Cor. 12:7,11).
3. Our faith, expressed by works and virtues.
God does not have to "measure out" His Spirit and His grace - "to His greatness there are no limits" (Ps 145:3). The point of the "measure" is to spare the recipients, who can only cope with what is fitting for them to take.
For the grace-gift of God surpasses our need, even as does being in the glory of sun, moon and stars, or in the holy resurrection of the dead.
Grace is given "according to the measure of the gift of Christ," if not "from works" (Rom. 11:6), at least on condition of some qualification on our part. For grace is given "from faith" (Rom. 4:16), its purpose being to co-operate towards the adornment of faith with works.