Origen: Heretic or Great Theologian?
Here is my paper that I wrote for our Greek Father’s class. Before taking the class, the only thing I had heard about Origen was that he was a heretic. After studying him this semester, I found that my conclusions were wrong. There we definitely things he taught that would be considered unorthodox today, but he was clearly one of the first great Christian minds. Therefore, I submit this paper for your reading enjoyment.
Origen is one of the most controversial early church fathers. He was accused of heresy by the 5th Ecumenical Council and was excommunicated from the church. The anathema centered around several tenets of his theology, one of them being his doctrine of Subordinationism. Subordinationism was the teaching that the Son and Holy Spirit were both subordinate to the Father in nature and being. Origen is thought to be the first theologian to insinuate, if not out right teach such an idea, and that subsequent heresies derived their authority from Origen’s initial teaching. In light of this accusation, this paper attempts to do three things. The first section takes a look at what Origen actually said about the Father, Son, and Spirit and tries to piece together a coherent view of his Trinitarian theology. An explanation is then given as to why Origen appears to be misunderstood, and clearly affirms that he does not adhere to a doctrine of relational subordinationism within the Trinity, but does see a subordination of roles within the divine mission. The final section discusses two contradictions between Origen’s theology and that of the Arian doctrine that was linked to him.