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A step too far

"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians 5.23

Origen's practice of the spiritual disciplines left his contemporaries breathless. He adopted Paul's threefold model of "spirit, soul and body" as a metaphor for spiritual growth. And he incorporated Jesus' moral teachings which he adopted literally, such as giving away his possessions, going barefoot, sleeping rough, prioritising the needs of others - often at the cost of his own health and well-being.

He applied the same rigour to his theology, which got him into trouble for the conclusions that he reached, most notoriously with regard to God's salvation. Origen argued that, if God would ultimately do away with all suffering, even death, reconciling all things to himself through Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit, then that must include all creatures even Satan. For his "universalism" (apokatastasis), Origen was disqualified from being regarded as a true "church father", though he continues to be admired for his lively thinking, his robust lifestyle and his extraordinary resilience.



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