Index To Section 2 .. Reasons To Believe/


003white  Section 2 .. Reasons To Believe       >        Index To Articles on God       >          The Trinity


Is God a Trinity... Part V
The Cappadocian Fathers.. Greek philosophers and Catholic Mystics

Carol Brooks

Index To All Six Sections

    Part I: Definition and Historical Background, Relying On Others To Decide What We Should Believe

    Part I B Plurality in The Godhead, The Deity of Christ & The Deity of The Holy Spirit

    Part II: Passages That Supposedly "Prove" the Trinity.

     Part III: The Holy Spirit... a Separate Person, Or The Divine Presence And Power Of The Father Himself

    Part IV: The Grammar... Can it legitimately be used to support the idea that the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity

    You Are Here 001orange Part V: The Cappadocian Fathers.. The doctrine of the trinity, which has remained virtually unchanged to this day, found its roots in paganism not the Bible. This largely due to the part played by three ancient Greek philosophers and mystics.

    Part VB: The Cappadocian Fathers... Are both the Son and Spirit derived from the Father in "different ways"? Asceticism and Mysticism. The sad legacy of Neoplatonism.

    Part VI: Summary and Conclusion



Introduction... The First Council of Constantinople

The Cappadocian Fathers

Greek Philosophy

Origen... The Stone On Which They Were All Sharpened

The Interaction of Theology and Philosophy

Origen's Influence on Gregory of Nyssa's Trinitarian Doctrine


The Son Is Begotten And The Spirit Proceeds
The Cappadocian fathers, determined to distinguish how the Son and Spirit derive from the Father, decided the the Son is "begotten" of the Father, and the Spirit "proceeds" from the Father. Unfortunately fro them, Jesus also spoke of 'proceeding' or 'coming from' the Father.

Asceticism and Mysticism
The Cappadocian fathers and the the ‘desert fathers’
Gregory of Nyssa’s interpretation of Moses and the burning bush

Neoplatonism, Contemplative Prayer, and The New Age
Wrong doctrine is not the only legacy they left us.


Introduction... The First Council of Constantinople
The First Council of Constantinople, held in 381 AD, is considered the second of the Ecumenical Councils - the 325 AD Council of Nicea being the first.

The Roman Emperor Theodosius I, the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire, made vigorous effort to do away with paganism and suppress all non-Nicene forms of Christianity (especially Arianism) thus bringing about unity of faith within the empire.

He issued an edict in early 380 to confirm his support of the doctrine of the Council of Nicaea and make orthodox catholic Christianity the official dogma of the church. As said by the Encyclopædia Britannica "Only persons who believed in the consubstantiality of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were henceforth to be considered Catholic Christians, a designation that here appears for the first time in a document". [39] The edict reads, in part,

    According to the apostolic teaching and the doctrine of the Gospel, let us believe in the one deity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in equal majesty and in a holy Trinity. We authorise the followers of this law to assume the title of Catholic Christians; but as for the others, since in our judgement they are foolish madmen, we decree that they shall be branded with the ignominious name of heretics and shall not presume to give to their conventicles the name of churches.

In November 380, after he refused to affirm the Creed, Theodosius expelled Patriarch Demophilus of Constantinople and appointed the staunchly pro-Nicene Cappadocian Gregory of Nazianzus in his place.

In May 381, the emperor convened a council of about 150 Christian bishops in Constantinople (modern Istanbul) with the aim of confirming his decree and clarifying the orthodox position. Not only did the Council of Constantinople confirm Gregory Nazianzen as Bishop of Constantinople, but it reaffirmed the creed formulated at Nicaea that proclaimed the Son to be consubstantial (i.e. of one and the same substance, essence, or nature.) and coeternal with the Father.

However, taking it several steps further, it conferred the same status on the Holy Spirit, now formally declared to be consubstantial with the Father and the Son. The council elaborated on the original creed which ended with, "We believe in the Holy Spirit", and added the following words which emphasized the Divinity of the Holy Spirit. (Although many believe the expanded version to be the "Nicene Creed" it is, in reality, the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed)

    "the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the prophets...."

In other words,  the doctrine of the trinity, which has remained virtually unchanged to this very day, was given explicit shape at the Second Ecumenical Council.

Many anti-trinitarians point to Emperor Constantine as being somehow responsible for the doctrine of the Trinity. In other words, we cannot trust a doctrine that stemmed from pagan sources. Trinitarians will vigorously oppose this idea citing church history as proof that the doctrine had nothing to do with paganism nor the Emperor Constantine.

The truth is the trinity certainly found its roots in paganism. This largely due to the part played by three ancient theologians from Cappadocia, a province in modern day Turkey, who were jointly known as ...

The Cappadocian Fathers
Trinitarian Charles Ryrie, professor of systematic theology and dean of doctoral studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, says (Emphasis Added)

    In the second half of the fourth century, three theologians from the province of Cappadocia in eastern Asia Minor (today central Turkey) gave definitive shape to the doctrine of the Trinity and defeated Arianism" They were Basil, bishop of Caesarea, his brother Gregory, bishop of Nyssa, and Basil's close friend Gregory of Nazianzus. [40].

Remember that Nazianzus had already been appointed archbishop of Constantinople by the emperor Theodosius I.

Dr. Alister E. McGrath, a British-Irish theologian, priest, intellectual historian, Christian apologist and author of several books on theology and history is, among other positions, Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at the University of Oxford and President of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. His book An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought says (All Emphasis Added)

    The Cappadocian fathers, especially Basil of Caesarea, defended the divinity of the Spirit in such persuasive terms that the foundation was laid for the final element of Trinitarian theology to be put in its place. The divinity and co-equality of Father, Son, and Spirit had been agreed; it now remained to develop Trinitarian models to allow this understanding of the Godhead to be visualized.

    The Cappadocian Fathers played a pivotal role in establishing the full divinity of the Holy Spirit, a decision which was formally endorsed by the Council of Constantinople in 381. Once this decisive theological step had been taken, the way was open to a full statement of the doctrine of the Trinity. With the recognition of the identity of substance of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, it was possible to explore their mutual relationship within the Trinity. Once more, the Cappadocian Fathers played a decisive role in this major theological development. [41]

So, the question then becomes if Basil and the two Gregorys had such an impact on the doctrine of the Trinity, what do we know about them? Several things are certain.

1) They were trained in, and influenced by, Greek philosophy. At least two, and probably all three of these men were formally trained in Greek philosophy.  Additionally, they were all greatly influenced by the writings of Origen, known for introducing Greek ideas into Christianity. In fact, Basil, bishop of Caesarea and his close friend Gregory of Nazianzus "edited a collection of his writings, which they called Philokalia. ("In subsequent centuries, other small works of monastic spirituality also took the same title). [42]

    Note: The word "philosophy", which stems from the Greek words philo (love) and sophia (wisdom) means "love of wisdom". Greek philosophy focused on the importance of reason and evidence in understanding the nature of the god, the universe etc. In other words, knowledge and values are based on logical reasoning rather than empirical (or sense) evidence, a term used for knowledge acquired by means of the senses, particularly by observation and experimentation. Unfortunately, as long as the logic was sound, it seemed to matter not whether the conclusion contradicted the Scriptures.

2) They were Catholic to the core Not only were all three mystics, but Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus pioneered the rules of monastic life, compiling what became known as "the Rule of St. Basil". These rules heavily drawn on by Benedict, founder of the Benedictines, shaped the monasticism in the Eastern Church for centuries. It is little wonder that Basil is considered the founder of monastic communities.

    Note: If you have been told that Catholicism was not alive and well at this time, you have been misinformed. See Footnote O

So, what we need to do is see to what extent these factors influenced what they believed and taught.

Greek Philosophy
Basil, bishop of Caesarea (c. 329 - 379)
was educated first in Caesarea, then Constantinople which was, at that time, "distinguished for its teachers of philosophy and rhetoric", and then in Athens.

    Note that "rhetoric" is the art of using language effectively and persuasively. It aims to improve the capability of writers or speakers who wish to persuade, or motivate others. The word rhetoric was also used of language that was elaborate and high-flown.

According to the web site of the orthodox church in America, Basil was also called "the revealer of heavenly mysteries". He ...  (Emphasis Added)

    "... studied under the finest teachers in Caesarea of Cappadocia, and it was here that he made the acquaintance of St Gregory the Theologian (January 25 and January 30). Later, Basil transferred to a school at Constantinople, where he listened to eminent orators and philosophers. To complete his education St Basil went to Athens, the center of classical enlightenment.

    At Athens a close friendship developed between Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian (Nazianzus), which continued throughout their life. In fact, they regarded themselves as one soul in two bodies" [43]

In a parallel drawn from Platonism Basil, a very influential theologian, stressed the distinction between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, while insisting on their essential unity.

Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335 – c. 395).
Little is known of Basil's brother, Gregory of Nyssa's education, but it is believed that he studied in Caesarea, where he read classical literature, philosophy and perhaps medicine.

Gregory of Nazianzus (c. 329 – 389/390)
Nazianzus was also known as Gregory the Theologian, or the "Trinitarian Theologian". He and his brother first studied at home with their uncle, but he later went on to study advanced rhetoric and philosophy in Nazianzus, Caesarea, Alexandria and Athens. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (Emphasis Added)

    "Gregory was recognized as one of the very foremost orators who have ever adorned the Christian Church. Trained in the finest rhetorical schools of his age, he did more than justice to his distinguished teachers; and while boasting or vainglory was foreign to his nature, he frankly acknowledged his consciousness of his remarkable oratorical gifts, and his satisfaction at having been enabled to cultivate them fully in his youth. Basil and Gregory, it has been said, were the pioneers of Christian eloquence, modeled on, and inspired by, the noble and sustained oratory of Demosthenes and Cicero, and calculated to move and impress the most cultured and critical audiences of the age. [44]

Note: Demosthenes was a prominent Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens [45]. Cicero was a Roman philosopher, politician, lawyer, orator and political theorist trained in philosophy and rhetoric in Rome, and educated in the teachings of the ancient Greek philosophers [46]

The Department of Internet Ministries of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, says this about Gregory of Nazianzus

    His extant writings, both prose and poems in every type of metre, demonstrate his lofty eloquence and his wondrous breadth of learning. In the beauty of his writings, he is considered to have surpassed the Greek writers of antiquity. [47]

Even more alarmingly....

    Gregory of Nazianzus is widely considered the most accomplished rhetorical stylist of the patristic age. As a classically trained orator and philosopher he infused Hellenism into the early church, establishing the paradigm of Byzantine theologians and church officials. [48].

Note: According to Merriam Webster, Hellenism is devotion to, or imitation of, ancient Greek thought, customs, or styles. [49]

Origen... The Stone On Which They Were All Sharpened
Both Alexandria and Caesarea, where the Cappodocian Fathers were educated, were the former stomping grounds of Origen, who was born in Alexandria to Christian parents, and who ran schools in both places - the one in Caesarea functioning for more than twenty years.

    His school at Caesarea exercised a magnetic attraction not only over the neighbouring country but on hearers from abroad, who came to hearken to his wisdom from all parts, as the Queen of Sheba came to Solomon. [50]

Gregory of Nazianzus, one of the three Cappadocian Fathers, made a very telling statement. He wrote: "Origen is the stone on which all of us were sharpened." [51] This declaration makes what Origen believed and taught extremely important.

One Of The Greatest Christian Theologians? Seriously?
Origen is considered by many to be the father of systematic theology, and has been called "one of the greatest Christian theologians" [52] and the "greatest by far" of the ante-Nicene writers of the Eastern Church, both as a theologian and as a "prolific Biblical scholar". [53].

G.L. Prestige, fellow and chaplain of New College, Oxford says that Origen was ".. one of the greatest teachers ever known in Christendom" who (Emphasis Added)

     "...finally, and completely established the principle that Christianity is an intelligent religion, by bringing all the strength and vigour of Greek philosophical insight to bear on the elucidation of Hebrew religious intuition and Christian spiritual history" [54].

He adds that Origen

    ....chose the wrong path; instead of abjuring the illegal superstitions of the Gospel, as his tutor had done, he gave them fresh support by introducing Greek ideas into Christianity. [55]

One example of how Origen introduced Greek ideas into Christianity is found in the fact that he established his doctrine of the trinity based upon standard Middle Platonic triadic emanation schemas. See Below

In fact, so much of Origen's theology was so far removed from what the Bible teaches, that there is little doubt that, more than the Scriptures, Greek philosophy played a major part in determining his views on life, God, and religion in general. Origen believed

    "the Holy Spirit was a feminine force, that Jesus was only a created being and Gnosticism taught that Jesus became Christ at his baptism but that he was never God. He was a just a good man with very high morals. He believed in the doctrine of Purgatory, transubstantiation, transmigration of the soul and reincarnation of the soul. He doubted the temptations of Jesus in Scripture and claimed they could have never happened. The Scriptures were not literal. Genesis 1-3 was a myth, not historical or literal (See Footnote I), as there was no actual person named "Adam.” Based upon Matthew 19, a true man of God should be castrated, which he did to himself. He taught eternal life was not a gift, instead one must grab hold of it and retain it. Christ enters no man until they mentally grasp the understanding of the consummation of the ages. He taught there would be no physical resurrection of the believers.” [56] 

    See More about Origen's "On First Principles"  Footnote II

The Fifth Ecumenical Council passed a list of 15 anathemas against Origen's teachings, which is hardly surprising considering some of the utter baloney he came up with.

The real tragedy is, to me, the number of believers who consider Origen one of the "greatest Christian theologians", and who spend countless hours of their own lives expounding the rubbish he taught. Time that would be put to far better use studying the Scriptures that Origen so greatly contradicted. Recalling something that Tozer once said, even laying bricks would be a better use of time.  Can we, at the very least, require people to actually be in agreement with the Scriptures before we hang labels like the "Greatest Theologians" and "prolific Biblical scholar" on them?

The Interaction of Theology and Philosophy
However, even today, people defend using Greek philosophy. Melinda Penner, executive director of Stand to Reason says the councils "used Scripture as their authority", but the early theologians brought their training in philosophy to bear on the debates.

    The ecumenical councils used Scripture as their authority, but sought to work out the details in an intellectually rigorous way. The early theologians were also philosophers, and brought these categories of thought to bear on the debates. After all, if God is a rational being, His revelation must make logical sense, though this is different than being fully comprehensible to finite minds... So theology and philosophy must interact to express the most accurate and logical doctrines possible. [57]

Unfortunately, this is a bunch of hogwash on several levels.

In the first place, we do not need any injection of philosophy to come up with accurate doctrine. The Bible tells us all we need to know, some of which cannot be understood "logically".

God's revelation does not need to make logical sense to us simply because He is "a rational being ". Very many of God's numerous revelations make absolutely no logical sense at all. We cannot explain how the waters of a sea can part to allow people to walk through, or a river can turn to blood, how dead men can rise again, how bread and fish can be multiplied, how water can change into wine. Most importantly, while I am certainly very grateful that it is so, it makes NO logical sense as to Christ can pay for the sins of a multitude. Logically, a person has to answer for their own misdeeds.

So why in the world do we have to use Greek philosophy to write endless tomes about the nature of God. The Old Testament is very clear that God is more than a single Being (See Plurality in The Godhead) and no amount of 'rationalization' is going to tell us how exactly this works. Just like the loaves and fishes, we accept that this is what the Bible says and perhaps one day He will explain it to us.

But no, as humans we have to resort to endless gobbledygook in the effort to explain that which is not explainable.

Although Scriptures provides evidence aplenty for the Deity of Christ, as we have seen there is none for the Holy Spirit being a 'person' at all. This means the ecumenical councils did not use Scripture as their authority but, as the next section makes evident they were greatly influenced by Origen's ideas.

Origen's Influence on Gregory of Nyssa's Trinitarian Doctrine.
Some very interesting details of how Gregory of Nyssa based his conception of the Trinity on Origen's ideas is found on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.

Origen stated that, since there are "certain secret analogies or affinities" between the things below and the things above, we must "read within ourselves the reflection of truths" that we could not otherwise know.

Note: Origen did not apply this line of reasoning to the trinity but, as mentioned earlier, established his doctrine based upon standard Middle Platonic triadic emanation schemas. See Footnote III. However, that this idea originated in occult literature is in little doubt. See Footnote IV

It was however, Gregory of Nyssa who applied Origen's line of reasoning to the trinity.

In fact, Gregory says we would have no content for our thoughts about Father, Son, and Spirit, if we did not find an outline of their nature within ourselves. In other words, Gregory found the key to the trinity in the triple nature of our soul stating that you learn "the secret of God" from the things within yourself... a "testimony above and more sure than that of the Law and the Gospel".

    Gregory employs sometimes a method which he has caught from Origen. Origen supposes, not so much, as Plato did, that things below are images of things above, as that they have certain secret analogies or affinities with them. This is perhaps after all only a peculiar application for his own purpose of Plato's theory of ideas. There are mysterious sympathies between the earth and heaven. We must therefore read within ourselves the reflection of truths which are too much beyond our reach to know in themselves.

    With regard to the attributes of God this is more especially the case. But Origen never had the occasion to employ this language in explaining the mystery of the Trinity. Gregory is the first Father who has done so. He finds a key to it in the triple nature of our soul. The νοῦς, the λόγος, and the soul, form within us a unity such as that of the Divine hypostases.... Not only does this instance illustrate trinity in unity, but we should have no contents for our thought about the Father, Son, and Spirit, if we found no outlines at all of their nature within ourselves. ...

     Gregory, then, had reason in recommending even a more systematic use of the method which he had received from Origen: ‘Learn from the things within thee to know the secret of God; recognise from the Triad within thee the Triad by means of these matters which you realise: it is a testimony above and more sure than that of the Law and the Gospel (De eo quod immut., p. 30) [58]

Note: νοῦς means the mind, the reason, while λόγος means a word.

In so few years the entire lot of them had forgotten Paul's words (as, unfortunately, have we)...

    For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside." Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness [1 Corinthians 1:17-23 NASB]

    and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. [1 Corinthians 2:4-5 NASB]

    See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. [Colossians 2:8 NASB]

Instead, by relying on cleverness of speech, and the wisdom of men, they did exactly the opposite.

Sadly, even today, our assessment of the "wisdom" of the message seems to be to be in direct proportion to how abstract and elaborate the concepts and, how convoluted he language. And, of course the more words the better. Unfortunately, the sheer volume of words usually meant they said the same, usually incomprehensible, thing 65 different ways.

However, formulating the doctrine of the trinity from Greek lines of reasoning was not the only thing the Cappadocian fathers got completely wrong.

Continue Reading .... Part VB
The Son Is Begotten And The Spirit Proceeds. The Cappadocian father wrote that both Son and spirit derive from the father, but are derived in different ways. That is the Son is "begotten" of the Father, and the Spirit "proceeds" from the Father. But is this true? Asceticism and Mysticism. The sad legacy of Neoplatonism.


Footnote O
ven a cursory reading of the canons of the Council of Nicaea (that took place half a century before the Council of Constantinople) the so called "disciplinary issues" shows many of the tenets of the Catholic church coming through, loud and clear. For example...

    Canon 3 said any and all members of the clergy were forbidden to dwell with any woman, except a mother, sister, or aunt.

    Canon 4 speaks of the "ordination" of bishops. It says a bishop should be appointed by all the bishops in the province; but should this be difficult, at least three should meet together, and the assent of the absent bishops communicated in writing. After which the ordination could take place.

    Canons 11 and 12 speak of penances imposed for certain sins. For example, Canon 11 says if those who denied Christ during the persecution "heartily repent", they shall pass three years among the hearers; shall be prostrators (penitents, who could not receive communion in penance for something they did) for seven years, and shall communicate with the people in prayers, but without oblation for two years. In other words, the church determined that the penalty was 12 years long if the person repented. (This in spite of the fact that verses like Acts 2:38 say you can repent, be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit with no mention of any time delay).

    Canon 13 speaks of last rites.

    Canon 18 explicitly states that the Eucharist is the Body of Christ and, not only reminds deacons that they are "inferiors of the presbyters" and cannot even sit among them, but also warns them that they have no right to touch the Eucharist nor administer it to the presbyters. In other words, only bishops and priests can consecrate the Eucharist.

Which is why I am not sure how any one can deny that the council of Nicaea was attended and run by men who had decidedly Roman Catholic ideas. For much more information see Catholicism and The Councils


Footnote I. Origen and Genesis 1-3
About Genesis 1-3 Origen wrote,

    "Could any man of sound judgment suppose that the first, second, and third days (of creation) had an evening and a morning, when there were as yet no sun or moon or stars? Could anyone be so unintelligent as to think that God made a paradise somewhere in the east and planted it with trees, like a farmer, or that in that paradise he put a tree of life, a tree you could see and know with your senses, a tree you could derive life from by eating its fruit with the teeth in your head? When the Bible says that God used to walk in paradise in the evening or that Adam hid behind a tree, no one, I think, will question that these are only fictitious stories of things that never actually happened, and that figuratively they refer to certain mysteries.” [59] [PLACE IN TEXT]

Footnote II. Origen's "On First Principles"
Origen's On First Principle is called "the most systematic and philosophical of Origen’s numerous writings". 

The paperback edition carries an endorsement by Pope Benedict XVI, who said..."Origen of Alexandria was a figure crucial to the whole development of Christian thought", and includes a new foreword by John C. Cavadini, who is a Catholic professor of theology. The description of the 2013 paperback edition, published by Christian Classics inc., says it is a

    "foundational work in the development of Christian thought and doctrine....  the first attempt in history at a systematic Christian theology.. written in a time when "fundamental doctrines had not yet been fully articulated by the Church, and contributed to the very formation of Christianity" [60]

I guess my question is what brand of Christianity this book contributed to?

Origen flatly contradicted Scripture.  He taught the pre-existence of souls, the final reconciliation of all creatures (possibly even Satan), and the subordination of the Son to the Father. The following excerpts are from Origen of Alexandria on the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP). All Emphasis Added

    Souls and their Fall:
    According to Origen, God's first creation was a collectivity of rational beings which he calls logika. "Although Origen speaks of the logika as being created, they were not created in time. Creation with respect to them means that they had a beginning, but not a temporal one" (Tripolitis 1978, p. 94). As Origen explains, the soul of Christ was no different from that of any of the souls that fell away from God, for Christ's soul possessed the same potential for communion with God as that of all other souls. What distinguished the soul of Christ from all others – and what preserved Him from falling away – was His supreme act of free choice, to remain immersed in the divinity.

    What are now souls (psukhê) began as minds, and through boredom or distraction grew "cold" (psukhesthai) as they moved away from the "divine warmth" (On First Principles 2.8.3). Thus departing from God, they came to be clothed in bodies, at first of "a fine ethereal and invisible nature," but later, as souls fell further away from God, their bodies changed "from a fine, ethereal and invisible body to a body of a coarser and more solid state. The purity and subtleness of the body with which a soul is enveloped depends upon the moral development and perfection of the soul to which it is joined. Origen states that there are varying degrees of subtleness even among the celestial and spiritual bodies" (Tripolitis 1978, p. 106). When a soul achieves salvation, according to Origen, it ceases being a soul, and returns to a state of pure "mind" or understanding.

    Multiple Ages, Metempsychosis (Reincarnation), and the Restoration of All
    Origen was unable to conceive of a God who would create souls that were capable of dissolving into the oblivion of evil (non-being) for all eternity. Therefore, he reasoned that a single lifetime is not enough for a soul to achieve salvation, for certain souls require more education or 'healing' than others. So he developed his doctrine of multiple ages, in which souls would be re-born, to experience the educative powers of God once again, with a view to ultimate salvation. [61]

The quote immediately above, makes me wonder whether Origen ever read the book of Hebrews which so clearly states ... "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27 KJV). But then, as I said before, Greek philosophy trumped the Scriptures.

Certainly, Gregory of Nyssa picked up on Origen's ideas about the restoration of all things including demons. (although he may have abandoned the idea later). In his book Sermo Catecheticus Magnus, he talked about "The annihilation of evil, the restitution of all things, and the final restoration of evil men and evil spirits to the blessedness of union with God, so that He may be 'all in all,' embracing all things endowed with sense and reason. [PLACE IN TEXT]

Footnote III
An article on the web site of the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy says this (Emphasis added)

    Origen begins his treatise On First Principles by establishing, in typical Platonic fashion, a divine hierarchical triad; but instead of calling these principles by typical Platonic terms like monad, dyad, and world-soul, he calls them "Father," "Christ," and "Holy Spirit," though he does describe these principles using Platonic language.

    The first of these principles, the Father, is a perfect unity, complete unto Himself, and without body - a purely spiritual mind. Since God the Father is, for Origen, "personal and active," it follows that there existed with Him, always, an entity upon which to exercise His intellectual activity. This entity is Christ the Son, the Logos, or Wisdom (Sophia), of God, the first emanation of the Father, corresponding to Numenius' "second god," as we have seen above (section 2). The third and last principle of the divine triad is the Holy Spirit, who "proceeds from the Son and is related to Him as the Son is related to the Father" (A. Tripolitis 1978, p. 94). Here is Origen explaining the status of the Holy Spirit, in a passage preserved in the original Greek:

    The God and Father, who holds the universe together, is superior to every being that exists, for he imparts to each one from his own existence that which each one is; the Son, being less than the Father, is superior to rational creatures alone (for he is second to the Father); the Holy Spirit is still less, and dwells within the saints alone. So that in this way the power of the Father is greater than that of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and that of the Son is more than that of the Holy Spirit, and in turn the power of the Holy Spirit exceeds that of every other holy being (Fragment 9 [Koetschau] tr. Butterworth 1966, pp. 33-34, and footnote). [62] [PLACE IN TEXT]

Footnote IV... As Above, So Below
Legend has it that Hermes Trismegistus, was the first being to communicate divine knowledge to mankind in writing. According to themystica.com

    The forty-two sacred books of wisdom allegedly written by Hermes Trismegistus or "thrice great Hermes." The books combine the mythological wisdom and attributes attributed to the Egyptian god Thoth and the Greek god Hermes.

     The dating of the books is somewhere between the third century BC and the first century AD. Their influence has been tremendous on the development of Western occultism and magic. Neo-pagan witchcraft contains many rituals and much esoteric symbolism based upon Hermetic writings. [63]

The site also says

    The Emerald Tablet, or the Emerald Table as it is frequently called is part of the Hermetica and is one of most revered magical documents in Western occultism. Hermes Trismegistus is portrayed in art as holding an emerald upon which he inscribed the entire Egyptian philosophy.

    The most significant part of The Emerald Tablet is within its opening: "That which is above is like that which is below and that which is below is like that which is above, to achieve the wonders of the one thing." Therefore, "This is the foundation of astrology and alchemy: that the microcosm of mankind and the earth is a reflection of the macrocosm of God and the heavens." [64]

Sound familiar? 



End Notes... The Cappadocian Fathers

[39] Adolf Lippold. Theodosius I. Roman emperor http://www.britannica.com/biography/Theodosius-I

[40] Charles C. Ryrie Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth. Hardcover. Moody Publishers; New Edition edition (January 11, 1999) Pg. 65

[41] Alister E. McGrath. Historical Theology: An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought. Wiley-Blackwell; 2 edition (July 23, 2012). Paperback. Pgs. 55, 57

[42] G. E. H. Palmer. Philokalia: The Eastern Christian Spiritual Texts (SkyLight Illuminations) Skylight Paths Publishing; Annotated edition (August 1, 2006) Paperback. Pg. 8

[43] The Orthodox Church in America. St. Basil the Great, Archbishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia.

[44] Hunter-Blair, O. (1910). St. Gregory of Nazianzus. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved February 4, 2014 from New Advent:  http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07010b.htm

[45] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demosthenes

[46] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cicero

[47] Gregory The Theologian. http://www.iconograms.org/sig.php?eid=403. (2014 © Iconograms is a service of the Department of Internet Ministries of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

[48] McGuckin, John (2001) Saint Gregory of Nazianzus: An Intellectual Biography, Crestwood, NY. As quoted on Wikipedia.

[49] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hellenism

[50] G.L. Prestige. Fathers and Heretics: Six Studies in Dogmatic Faith with Prologue and Epilogue (Bampton Lectures for 1940). London: SPCK, 1940.  "Lecture 3: Origen: or, The Claims of Religious Intelligence," Fathers and Heretics.
http://www.earlychurch.org.uk/pdf/origen_prestige.pdf. Pg.48-49

[51] Description of Origen's "On First Principle" (2013 paperback edition, published by Christian Classics Inc.) on numerous sites. Amazon for example... http://www.amazon.com/dp/0870612794/ref=dp_bookdescription?_encoding=UTF8&n=283155

[52] The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Origen of Alexandria (185—254 CE). http://www.iep.utm.edu/origen-of-alexandria/#SH5b

[53] The Development of the Canon of the New Testament. Origen. http://www.ntcanon.org/Origen.shtml. Pages created by Glenn Davis, 1997-2010

[54] G.L. Prestige. Fathers and Heretics: Six Studies in Dogmatic Faith with Prologue and Epilogue (Bampton Lectures for 1940). London: SPCK, 1940.  "Lecture 3: Origen: or, The Claims of Religious Intelligence," Fathers and Heretics.
http://www.earlychurch.org.uk/pdf/origen_prestige.pdf  Pg. 43

[55] ibid. Pgs. 45-46

[56] Dr. Ken Matto, Origen's Gnostic Belief System. http://www.scionofzion.com/origen.htm

[57] Melinda Penner. The Doctrine of the Trinity at Nicaea and Chalcedon.

[58] NPNF2-05. Gregory of Nyssa: Dogmatic Treatises, Etc. Edited by Philip Schaff. Chapter III.—His Origenism. The Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL). http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf205.vii.iii.html . All emphasis Added

[59] The Allegorical Interpretation Of The Scriptures. Coptic Orthodox Church Network.

[60] http://www.amazon.com/On-First-Principles-Origen/dp/0870612794

[61] Origen’s Life and Times. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP) http://www.iep.utm.edu/origen-of-alexandria/. Note that quotes attributed to "Tripolitis" are from The Doctrine of the Soul in the Thought of Plotinus and Origen (New York: Libra 1978), by Antonia Tripolitis

[62] Edward Moore. (St. Elias School of Orthodox Theology) Origen of Alexandria (185—254 C.E.) Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  http://www.iep.utm.edu/origen-of-alexandria/#SH3a

[63] Hermetica. http://www.themystica.com/mystica/articles/h/hermetica.html

[64] The Emerald Tablet. http://www.themystica.com/mystica/articles/e/emerald_tablet_the.html


The Trinity Part IV