Origen not a Universalist?


I’m pretty sure that I’ve read that Origen wasn’t a Universalist as most would understand the term. Instead he believed that eventually all creation would return to its previous unity with God, BUT…

this new unity would be broken by another fall, which would eventually end with a restored unity, then another fall, then another restoration, and so on endlessly.

Can anyone point me to primary texts (preferably in Origen’s own writings) stating the above?


Edward Moore compares the eschatologies of Origen and Maximus the Confessor (his PhD thesis):

Origen of Alexandria and St. Maximus the Confessor: An Analysis and Critical Evaluation of Their Eschatological Doctrines (2005)

He treats a good selection of passages in both, and as I remember he discusses Origen’s problem regarding freedom and the unending possibility of future falls. You can order it on amazon.

He thesis regarding Maximus is, I think, not successful. But on Origen he’s on.



That resembles Norse mythology - battle all day against evil - everyone who died is brought back to life at the beer hall in the sky - Valhalla - and then wake up the next day to do it all over again. Those crazy vikings!


Hello Geoffrey,

Actually, I have idea on how Origen believed we are restored unto unity. He did not believe in reincarnation, he believed in progressive restoration over several lifetimes. This is difficult to understand because it is not ‘new’ lifetimes, but the same lifetime several times. Living the same life, facing the same obstacles but as rational creatures making the right choices. Thus preserving man free will, and the only evil suffering one goes through by his own actions is of his own making in this lifetime and not in the existence beyond.

His third book of De Principiis, explains a lot of what Origen believed concerning it forknowledge, humanities freedom of will, restoration, and ultimate salvation,


Sounds kinda like the movie “Groundhog Day.” :sunglasses:



So basically we’re talking about multiple universes here, except rather than there be more than one of ‘me’, for example, it would be the same me living out each and every choice possible.

The problem I see here is that choices are not necessarily dependent on me alone, but as we relate to each person with our sphere we react to other’s choices as well. And so by that logic, even if I make the ‘right’ choice if may not result in a favorable outcome depending on the choice of others with my immediate influence. So theoretically, I could make the same right choice for any given situation a million times before other factors result in the favorable solution. THEN we move one to the next choice, and start all over again. But then these choices expand exponentially for every combination of choices one makes to factor in other’s choices and their choices are also likewise factored, ad nauseum. It’s an endless cycle. Might as well make us robots for efficiency’s sake.


Dondi: The problem I see here is that choices are not necessarily dependent on me alone, but as we relate to each person with our sphere we react to others’ choices as well.

Tom: Bingo. Right on. Relationality. How can you really be reliving the same life without the same relations? Given the relatedness and situatedness of all our choices, how would such a thing be possible?

And I don’t see any real difference between Craig’s description of Origen and reincarnation. You keep coming back until you get it right (but coming back to the exact same journey and set of choices, not a new journey as someone or something else). Looks essentially like reincarnation to me.



I will say this gentle and as kind as I can, not knowing what Origen believed in order to make a conclusion on what is logical or illogical is actually irrelevant. Despite those comments on what Origen believed and what I described without asking questions about it, you actually error your conclusions.

That is actually because you don’t actually understand what is happening, you think linear and that is the problem. It is difficult to explain to those who first ASSUME it is reincarnation and ASSUME they understand the principles in which they are based on. So, you think your sphere of influence has something to do with other’s choice in doing what is right. The most evil things can happen to you, but that doesn’t stop you from making the right choice in life; so therefore it is not about your sphere of influence, it is about your choices.

It isn’t reincarnation and to make a conclusion based on your assumption of what Origen taught is not what Origen taught. Whether you believe what Origen taught was reincarnation or not, doesn’t make it reincarnation. It matters not what you think Origen taught, what matters is that Origen did not teach reincarnation, and you have to stop thinking linearly in order to understand that what happens only happened in one lifetime even though it may appear it happened many times.

You may ask yourself, why would I take it so personally when someone assumes they know what another believes and concludes a negative? Well, think about it for a moment.


I think that Origen indeed believed that after the restitution of all things a new fall might occur and that this might happen in an endless circle. So that the saints of his day might later be the demons who fall away from God and the current demons later the saints and so on an on …

I think Origen believed in the entirely free will of any being and that the freedom of choice is preserved after death and that one time all beings voluntarily return to God because of Hos goodness.


It is only an endless circle until they enter the resurrection of the dead, the resurrection ends the aionios Kolasis.

If anyone is In heart’ and of unpolluted mind and welltrained understanding he will make swifter progress and quickly ascend to the region of the air, until he reaches the kingdom of the heavens, passing through the series of thoseabiding places’, (On First Principles 2.11.6)


This is also true, but not what most people believe or think. This is rather difficult to express without people referencing eastern theology for their frame of reference. They are not actually demons or devils as enemies of God, but rather become the adversary of humanity for the purpose of destruction of their sinful nature and the salvation of their souls. So understanding that Origin believed that we live this life several times (through abiding spheres) before accepting the truth and obeying it, some of those same people you see have already been raised; and those they are raised they remain in that circle for the purpose of those who are not raised. They are ministering spirits sent for the purpose of salvation until all have been reconciled.

Through the numerous and uncounted orders of progressive being who are being reconciled to God from a state of enmity, the last enemy is finally reached, who is called death, so that he also may be destroyed, and no longer be an enemy. When, therefore, all rational souls shall have been restored to a condition of this kind, then the nature of this body of ours will undergo a change into the glory of a spiritual body (De Prinicipiis, 3)

It is again, difficult to explain, since most will most inevitably revert their perspective on Eastern philosophies which sound similar but are not the same and it is human nature to make the hasty generalization.


That was a great explanation Craig. Although knowing Origin had a reincarnation belief of sorts I never researched it.



Thanks, I try.

It isn’t actually reincarnation because we are the same person throughout this time, not different person (as what reincarnation teaches) and we have only one body which is later transformed into a spiritual body. Therefore it really has nothing to do with reincarnation. You always retain the same body throughout this experience.


You know Craig. Jane Leade shared much the same thoughts as Origen. She gained these from a vision she had. I find merit in this concept.




Craig: It isn’t reincarnation and to make a conclusion based on your assumption of what Origen taught is not what Origen taught. Whether you believe what Origen taught was reincarnation or not, doesn’t make it reincarnation.

Tom: Too much coffee?




One way or another, I believe we will walk in each others shoes, in realizing the fullness of Christ in us. Christ is in all men and all men are in Christ. In reality, by Christ within us, the whole of the universe and all it’s creatures dwell within us. So yes you would have to give Origen’s and Jane Leade’s thoughts some kind of merit.

To know Christ, is to know what is in man, each one a distinct life lived out as an important part of God’s sovereign plan and purpose.
Our God is awesome and so is each man! That is the theme of UR!