The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Universalism In The Early Church

The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol XIII: Index - TOC

God is the Source, Guide, Goal of ta panta

"In the first five or six centuries of Christianity there were six known theological schools, of which four (Alexandria… Antioch, Caesarea, and Edessa or Nisibis) were Universalist, one (Ephesus) accepted conditional immortality; one (Carthage or Rome) taught endless punishment of the wicked. Other theological schools are mentioned as founded by Universalists, but their actual doctrine on this subject is unknown.”

Schaff, Phillip, The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge – Vol 12, Baker Book House, 1950

The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol XIII: Index - TOC

The history of universalism

The History of Universalism | Christian Universalist Association

When Jesus spoke of God’s judgment upon the wicked, he did so with words that implied a limited, corrective punishment. Specifically, he referred to divine judgment as aionios kolasis , meaning age-long chastisement. The idea was that a person who turns away from God and lives a life of evil will have to face justice — a purgatorial period in the afterlife — before enjoying eventual harmonious reunion with God.

Jesus explicitly prophesied that after his death on the cross and resurrection, he will “draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32). This hopeful promise was echoed by the teaching of the Apostles who founded the Christian ecclesia (church community). For example, St. Peter taught that Jesus visits sinners in hell to help them become redeemed (1 Pet. 3:18-20, 4:6).

Origen (185-255)

The Reconciliation of All things to God (Including the Devil!)

The restoration to unity must not be imagined as a sudden happening. Rather it is to be thought of as gradually effected by stages during the passing of countless ages. Little by little and individually the correction and purification will be accomplished. Some will lead the way and climb to the heights with swifter progress, others following hard upon them; yet others will be far behind. Thus multitudes of individuals and countless orders will advance and reconcile themselves to God, who once were enemies; and so at length the last enemy will be reached. …
De Principiis,

Through His Repentance, the Devil Shall Be Destroyed

When it is said that ‘the last enemy shall be destroyed’, it is not to be understood as meaning that his substance, which is God’s creation, perishes, but that his purpose and hostile will perishes; for this does not come from God but from himself. Therefore his destruction means not his ceasing to exist but ceasing to be an enemy and ceasing to be death. Nothing is impossible to omnipotence; there is nothing that cannot be healed by its Maker. De Principiis,

The Remedial Judgments of God

[Isa. I. II … ‘the fire which you have kindled’.] This seems to indicate that the individual sinner kindles the flame of his persona! fire and that he is not plunged into some fire kindled by another, …
God acts in dealing with sinners as a physician … the fury of his anger is profitable for the purging of souls. Even that penalty which is said to be imposed by way of fire is understood as applied to assist a sinner to health …[cf. Isa. xlvii. 14,15, x. 17, Ixvi. 16; Mal. iii. 3]
De Principiis, II.x.4,6

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Irenaeus: (130 to about 200 A.D.) “Bishop of Lyons.” His nearness to the apostles makes his testimony most interesting. Irenaeus did not believe evil would last forever. In his treatise Against Heretics, he wrote in Book III, chap. 23, §6:”(1) Wherefore also He drove him (Adam) out of Paradise, and removed him far from the tree of life, not because He envied him the tree of life, as some dare to assert, but because He pitied him and desired that he should not continue always a sinner, and that the sin which surrounded him should not be immortal, and the evil interminable and irremediable.—Irenaeus.

Theophilus, (160-181 A.D.) “Bishop of Antioch.” (3) And God showed great kindness to man in this, that He did not suffer him to continue being in sin forever; but, as it were by a kind of banishment, cast him out of Paradise, in order that, having by punishment expiated within an appointed time the sin, and having been disciplined, he should afterward be recalled.—Theophilus. To Autolycus, Book 2, chap. 26.

Clement of Alexandria, (190 A.D.) “Head of the catechetical school there. He speaks of having learned from a disciple of the Apostles.—Strom. lib. ii. His wide and various learning, and his sympathetic spirit combine to give special weight to his teaching.” (5) All men are Christ’s, some by knowing Him, the rest not yet. He is the Savior, not of some (only) and of the rest not (i.e., He is actually Savior of all) for how is He Lord and Savior if He is not Lord and Savior of all? But He is indeed Savior of those who believe…while of those who do not believe He is Lord, until having become able to confess Him, they obtain through Him the benefit appropriate and suitable (to their case). He by the Father’s will directs the salvation of all for all things have been ordered, both universally and in part, by the Lord of the universe; with a view to the salvation of the universe…But needful correction, by the goodness of the great overseeing Judge, through (by means of) the attendant angels, through various prior judgments, through the final (pantelous) judgment, compels even those who have become still more callous to repent.—Clement. Strom. lib. vii. pp. 702-6, Cologne, 1688.

Origen, (185-254 A.D.) “Pupil and successor of Clement of Alexandria, founded a school at Caesarea…the greatest theologian and exegete of the Eastern Church.” (7) But he that despises the purification of the word of God and the doctrine of the Gospel only keeps himself for dreadful and penal purifications afterward; that so the fire of hell may purge him in torments whom neither apostolical doctrine nor gospel preaching has cleansed, according to that which is written of being “purified by fire.” But how long this purification which is wrought out by penal fire shall endure, or for how many periods or ages it shall torment sinners, He only knows to whom all judgment is committed by the Father.—Origen. Commentary on Rom., Book 8, Chap. 11.

Eusebius of Caesarea, (265-340 A.D.) “Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine; friend of Constantine; the greatest of the early Church historians, wrote on Ps. 2:” (9) “The Son’s ‘breaking in pieces’ His enemies is for the sake of remolding them, as a potter his own work; as Jer. xviii. 6, says: i.e., to restore them once more to their former state.”–Eusebius. De eccles. theol. iii. 16.

Athanasius, (296-373 A.D.) “Called ‘the Great,’ ‘Father of Orthodoxy,’ ‘Pillar of Orthodoxy;’ Bishop of Alexandria and writer of many works; especially noted for defending the deity of our Lord.” (11) “While the devil thought to kill one he is deprived of all cast out of Hades, and sitting by the gates, sees all the fettered beings led forth by the courage of the Savior.”—Athanasius. De pass. et cruce Darn.

Gregory Nazianzen, (330-390 A.D.) “President of the second great Ecumenical Council, was considered the most learned bishop in one of the most learned ages of the Church.” (13) “Until He loosed by His blood all who groan under Tartarean chains.”—Carm. xxxv. (ed. Lyons, 1840.) “Today salvation has been brought to the universe to whatsoever is visible and whatsoever is invisible…(today) the gates of Hades are thrown open.”—Or. xlii. “Adam receives death as a gain, and (thereby) the cutting off of sin; that evil should not be immortal: and so the vengeance turns out a kindness, for thus I am of opinion it is that God punishes.”—Nazianzen. Orat. xli

Ambrose, (340-397 A.D.) “Bishop of Milan; converted Augustine by his preaching; the Father of Latin hymnology; reproduced many of the writings of the Greek Fathers.” (15) The mystery of the Incarnation is the salvation of the entire creation…as it is elsewhere said, “the whole creation shall be set free from the bondage of corruption”…So the Son of Man came to save that which was lost, i.e., all, for as in Adam all die, so, too, in Christ shall all be made alive. The subjection of Christ consists not in few, but in all (becoming obedient)…Christ will be subject to God in us by means of the obedience of all…(then) when vices having been cast away, and sin reduced to submission, one spirit of all people, in one sentiment, shall with one accord begin to cleave to God, then God will be All in All.—Ambrose. De fide lib. v. 7.

Didymus, (380 A.D.) “The last distinguished head of the school of Alexandria, Didymus, surpassed all of his day in knowledge of the Scriptures.” says S. Jerome. He argues, “divine correction (even vengeance), and promise, have the same object in view.”—Adv. Man. ch. xviii. (17) Also “God ‘destroys liars, so far as they are liars.’—In Ps. v. 6. [Christ] ‘descends to Hades and brings back the souls, there detained on account of their sins.’”—Didymus. In Ps. lxxi. 20. See, too, De Trin. lib. iii 21, &c.

Gregory of Nyssa, (332-398 A.D.) “A leading theologian of the Eastern Church and one of the most prominent figures in the second great Church Council which practically established the orthodoxy of the Nicene Creed.” (19) The Divine judgment does not as its chief object cause pain to those who have sinned, but works good alone by separating from evil, and drawing to a share in blessedness. But this severance of good from evil causes the pain (of the judgment). In other words, the penalty is the cure; it is merely the unavoidable pain attending the removal of the intruding element of sin.—Gregory. Dialogue of the Soul and Resurrection.

Jerome, (340-420 A.D.) “Devoted to Scripture study; revised the old Latin translations and translated the Old Testament from Hebrew into Latin of the New Testament. Allin stated he found nearly 100 passages in his works indicating Jerome sympathized with the ‘larger hope.’” (21) “When the Psalmist says, ‘Your enemies, O God, shall perish,’…every man who has been Your enemy shall hereafter be made Your friend; the man shall not perish, the enemy shall perish.”—Jerome. In Ps. xcii. 9.

Hillary, (354 A.D.) “Hillary, Bishop of Poictiers, is considered one of the champions of orthodoxy.” (23) “The whole human race, who are one, are the one lost sheep, which is destined to be found by the Good Shepherd.”—Hillary.

Titus, (364 A.D.) “Bishop of Bostra. Caillou, describes as ‘the most learned among the learned bishops of his age, and a most famous champion of the truth.’ S. Jerome reckons him as one of those, in whom you are at a loss whether to admire most, their learning or their knowledge of Holy Scripture.” (25) The very pit itself is a place of torments and of chastisement, but is not eternal. It was made that it might be a medicine and help to those who sin. Sacred are the stripes which are medicine to those who have sinned. “Therefore we do not complain of the pits (of hell)—abyssis—but rather know that they are places of torment, and chastisement, being for the correction (amendment of those who have sinned.”—Titus Adv. Man. lib. i. 32.

Diodorus, (378 A.D.) “Bishop of Tarsus…noted for untiring zeal in defense of the Nicene Faith.” (27) “For the wicked there are punishments not perpetual…according to the amount of malice in their works…The Resurrection, therefore, is regarded as a blessing not only to the good but also to the evil.”—Diodorus. ASSEM. Bibl. Or. iii. p. 324. (28) Theodore of Mopsuestia, (407 A.D.) “The crown and climax of the school of Antioch…called the ‘Master of the East’ from his theological eminence.” Dorner. ( Pers. of Christ, i. 50). (29) “Who is so great a fool as to think, that so great a blessing can be to those that arise, the occasion of endless torment?”—Frag. Ex. lib. cont. pecc. orig. “All have the hope of rising with Christ, so that the body having obtained immortality, thenceforward the proclivity to evil should be removed.” [God] “recapitulated all things in Christ…as though making a compendious renewal, and restoration of the whole creation, through Him…Now this will take place in a future age, when all mankind and all powers (virtues) possessed of reason, look up to Him, as is right, and obtain mutual concord and firm peace.”—Theodore. In Eph. i. 10

Cyril of Alexandria, (412 A.D.) “He (Cyril) describes Christ as having spoiled Hades, and ‘left the devil there solitary and deserted.’—Hom. Pasch. vii. And again, ‘Christ, wandering down even to Hades, has emptied the dark, hidden, unseen treasuries.’”—Glaphy in Gen. lib ii. (31) “For when death devoured Him who was the Lamb on behalf of all, it vomited forth all men in Him and with Him…Now when sin has been destroyed, how should it be but that death, too, should wholly perish?”—Cyril. In S. Jno. i. 29.

Maximus of Turin, (422 A.D.) “Christ carried off to heaven man whose cause He undertook, snatched from the jaws of Hades mankind.”—Maximus. In Pent. Horn. ii.

Theodoret, (423 A.D.) “Bishop of Cyrus…perhaps the most famous, and certainly the most learned teacher of his age; uniting to a noble intellect a character and accomplishments equally noble.” (34) “After His anger, God will bring to an end His judgment; for He will not be angry unto the end, nor keep His wrath to eternity.”—Theodoret. In Is. xiii. (35) “He shews here the reason for punishment, for the Lord, the lover of men, torments us only to cure us, that He may put a stop to the course of our iniquity.”—Theodoret. Hom in Ezech. cap. Vi. vers 6.

Peter Chrysologus, (433 A.D.) “Bishop of Ravenna.” (37) On the parable of the hundred sheep he said, “That the one lost sheep represents ‘the whole human race lost in Adam,’ and so the Good Shepherd ‘follows the one, seeks the one, in order that in the one He may find all, in the one He may restore all.’”—Chrysologus. Ser. clxviii.

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Thank you for those quotes, FineLinen.

Dear Paidion: It is a joy!

The classic, Christ Triumphant by Thomas Allin, also records the following>>>

“Just as any teacher in Christianity towered aloft, so in proportion did he the more hold and defend the termination of penalties at some time in the future.” - Dcederlin, Inst. Theol

“Indeed, beside ORIGEN, GREGORY of Nyssa also, GREGORY of Nazianzus, BASIL, AMBROSE himself, and JEROME, taught everywhere the universal restitution of things, asserting simultaneously with it, an end of eternal punishment.” -C. B. SCHLEUTER, pref. in. Erig, (Migne.)

PFAFF says, " The ultimate restoration of the lost was an opinion held by very many Jewish teachers, and some of the Fathers." - Frag.anec.

REUSS says, " The doctrine of a general restoration of all rational creatures has been recommended by very many of the greatest thinkers of the antient church, and of modern times." - Hist. de la theol, Apost.

“From two theological schools there went forth an opposition to the doctrine of everlasting punishment.” - NEANDER, Church Hist. iv. p. 444., Lond., 1853.

“The dogma of ORIGEN had many, and these the most celebrated defenders.” - PAGE, In. Bar. ann. A.D. 410, p. 103.

“The school of .Antioch had no hesitation in hoping for an end of the pains of the other world.” - MUNTER

“Universalism in the fourth century drove its roots down deeply, alike in the East and West, and had very many defenders.” - DlETELMAIER.- Comm. fanat.

The learned and candid HUET names several Fathers as in sympathy with the larger hope. - Origen. ii, pp. 159, 205: Co1egn, 1685.

GIESELER says, “The belief in the inalienable power of amendment in all rational creatures, and the limited duration of future punishment was general, even in the West.” - Text Book i. p.212. Phil. . 1836.

I TRUST the candid reader will weigh the above testimonies with all care, coming as they do, so far as I know, in almost every case from those who are not friendly to Universalism. We shall see how they are supported by a vast body of evidence, from all quarters, in the earliest centuries; and confirmed by the express testimony (which I shall quote) of co-temporary witnesses so famous as AUGUSTINE, JEROME, BASIL, (and DOMITIAN of Ancyra,) who attest the very wide diffusion of the larger hope in their age. The following pages will, I hope, show clearly how groundless is the widespread opinion which represents Universalism as the outcome of modern sentimentality, and will establish clearly:

(1.) That it prevailed very widely in the primitive Church, especially in the earliest centuries, often in a form embracing all fallen spirits.

(2.) That those who believed and taught it, more or less openly, or held kindred views, were among the most eminent and the most holy of the Christian Fathers.

(3.) That it not only has never been condemned by the Church, but is, far more than any other view, in harmony with the antient catholic Creeds.

(4.) That in our Prayer Book are some passages, which show a leaning towards Universalism. Such an inquiry seems indispensable, not alone because this branch of the question has been usually neglected, and the argument for Universalism thereby weakened; nor because to many minds the Fathers speak with special weight, as a link connecting us with the Apostolic age, and preserving Apostolic tradition; but on grounds common to every serious student. For all such will surely admit that in dealing with a historic faith like Christianity, its doctrines cannot be adequately treated, their growth and development rightly comprehended, or studied with intelligence, except when viewed from the standpoint of history, as well as of the moral sense, and of Holy Scripture. Further, if this historical inquiry were not entered on, we should have no sufficient answer to a very possible, and very fair objection, viz.: why, if the larger hope be in the Bible, did not those great minds of old find it there? And our faith in the larger hope will gain fresh vigor, as we see it very widely taught by many of the wisest and best men in primitive times, and taught (a) not alone on the direct authority of the Bible, but (b) by those especially to whom Greek was a living tongue, was indeed their native tongue. It is a striking fact that the weight of opposition to Universalism in primitive times is found in the Latin Church, is found most vigorous where, as in AUGUSTINE’S case, the Greek language was never really mastered.

Christ Triumphant by Thomas Allin

The First 500 Years

[Richard Wayne Garganta’s TV Show - First Century Christianity]

I The Earliest Creeds
II Early Christianity a Cheerful Religion
III Origin of Endless Punishment
IV Doctrines of Mitigation and Reserve
V Two Kindred Topics
VI The Apostles’ Immediate Successors
VII The Gnostic Sects
VIII The Sibylline Oracles
IX Pantaenus and Clement
X Origen
XI Origen–Continued
XII The Eulogists of Origen
XIII A Third Century Group
XIV Minor Authorities
XV Gregory Nazianzen
XVI Theodore of Mopsuestia and the Nestorians
XVII A Notable Family
XVIII Additional Authorities
XIX The Deterioration of Christian Thought
XX Augustine–Deterioration Continued
XXI Unsuccessful Attempts to Suppress Universalism
XXII The Eclipse of Universalism
XXIII Summary of Conclusions

Does anyone know of any books that are on this subject? Thank you!

Dear Robot: The following are the best of the best!

Andrew Jukes: The 2nd Death & The Restitution Of All Things

The Restitution of All Things, Andrew Jukes

Thomas Allin: Christ Triumphant

Christ Triumphant by Thomas Allin