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Whereas Origen did, to a certain degree, follow Clement's teachings, he introduced his own point-of-view in the matter and provided his followers with less information regarding Christian mysticism. This is most probably caused by his interest in teaching mainstream Christianity. He considered that it was easier for him to promote the religion this way, as the masses were presumably unable to understand mystical concepts if they did not know the difference between material Christianity and spiritual Christianity.
Origen feared that by employing a Gnostic approach at understanding religion, people would realize that it was not obligatory for them to consider Jesus Christ and His crucifixion. Origen believes that it is not that a Gnostic "denies or doubts the truth of the Gospel history, but he feels that events which only happened once can be of no importance, and regards the life, death, and resurrection of Christ as only one manifestation of an universal law, which was really enacted, not in this fleeting world of shadows, but in the eternal counsels of the Most High" (Inge 89-90).
From Origen's viewpoint, one needs to associate God with reason in order for the respective person to understand Him. To a certain degree, one might be inclined to consider that Origen believed God to be below reason when considering His power. The philosopher actually considered that God's actions were not necessarily based on morality, as He could also act on account of His laws. While man has the ability to change throughout life, God will always be the same immutable being. Given that many tend to believe that Origene's perspective regarding the relationship between God and humans is implausible, readers should take into account his background and the period of time that he lived in. Alexandria was a tumultuous place during the early second century and it was very difficult for a Christian to limit his or her horizons to simply believing in God. Knowing that he or she will one day connect with the divine and eventually overcome material boundaries is very important for someone wanting more from life.
Origen might have been considered a heretic by his contemporaries, but this did not stop him from continuing his work and from getting actively engaged in producing texts that assisted humanity as a whole when concerning spiritual teachings. There is much controversy regarding the relationship between him and his students, as even though he wanted to instruct his students in regard to reaching their spiritual side, he was unwilling to assist them as they struggled to do so. Origen considered that only by finding truth on his or her own was one capable to actually attain a spiritual state. As a consequence, he preferred to leave many things wrapped in secrecy in order for his followers to be able to discover them personally.
Given that the Old Testament and Jewish tradition in general have had a strong influence on Early Christianity, one might be inclined to believe that Christian mysticism also originates in Jewish tradition. However, considering Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Hellenistic cultural values in general, it appears that mysticism started off with the help of Greek philosophies. Christian spirituality is practically the product of Christian beliefs in combination with Hellenistic thinking. With many Jews that contributed to Early Christianity guiding themselves in accordance with Hellenistic principles, it is only safe to assume that Greek culture is responsible for providing Christians with spiritual conceptions. In spite of the fact that a series of cultures interacted and actually clashed in Alexandria in the first centuries A.D., they also made it possible for theorists to adopt multicultural principles in creating a more spiritual form of Christianity.
Chadwick, Henry Early Christian Thought and the Classical Tradition: Studies in Justin, Clement, and Origen (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984)
Horton, Michael S. "Hellenistic or Hebrew? Open Theism and Reformed Theological Method," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 45.2 (2002)
Inge, William Ralph, Christian Mysticism: Considered in Eight Lectures Delivered before the University of Oxford (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1899)
Lardner Carmody, Denise and Carmody, John Tully, Mysticism: Holiness East and West (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996)
Osborn, E.F. The Philosophy of Clement of Alexandria (Cambridge, England: University Press, 1957)
Sachs, John R. "Apocatastasis in Patristic Theology," Theological Studies 54.4…[continue]
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