Gregory of Nyssa, The Suppressed “Fathers,” and our Historic Faith – By Daniel Sheridan
It gives me so much joy to know that we have both the Biblical and Historical arguments for our faith. Many orthodox teachers have suppressed the Universalist “Fathers” so as to be able to claim the historic argument for their “orthodox” hell. I heard one hell-fire man take up the same ole’ false accusation that “Origen castrated himself” in order to make his congregation think Origen was a kook so as to discredit that Father’s universalism. You have to be very insecure to have to resort to these kinds of slanders in order to keep your congregation.
I love the fact that universalism was never the product of controversy or violence; “it belongs,” says Thomas Allin, “to the pre-controversial age, it is the spontaneous expression of the earliest Christian thought; its spirit long remained un-affected by the many struggles of rival churches and schools on the battleground of the Trinitarian (and similar) dogmas.” Many doctrines require excommunications, violence, state-support, and slander to maintain themselves, not so universalism.
It is true, that Alexandria and Antioch had their rivalries, their jealousies (such is human nature), and their contrasted theories of exegesis, but, as Thomas Allin has pointed out, “Origen is not a more decided Universalist than the distinguished (and I may add most unfairly depreciated) Theodore of Mopsuestia, head of the Antiochene school. To these original thickers are due the two great systems of theology which Hellenism has bequeathed to the Church, which by divergent paths reach the same goal and echo with confidence the same views as to human destiny, as to the extent and the universal success finally of the Divine plan of redemption.” We too, though many of us diverge in some areas of doctrine, we all agree on the goal – all humanity at one with each other and God.
Allin, quoting Doederlin, said, “In proportion to the eminence of any Christian teacher was the conviction with which he asserted the termination of penalties at some time in the future.” Allin then goes on to say this about Gregory of Nyssa.
“…it is right to point out that such views are, as a rule, stated without fear or reticence, without the least notion of any unsoundness, but rather as part of the Faith. Thus Gregory of Nyssa proclaims them aloud, not in one treatise but in many; and Gregory died not alone in the odour of sanctity, but as probably the foremost thinker and divine of the Church of his day.”
“This is the end of our hope,” proclaimed Gregory, “that nothing shall be left contrary to the good, but that the divine life, penetrating all things, shall absolutely destroy death from existing things, sin having been previously destroyed…For it is evident that God will in truth be in all when there shall be no evil in existence, when every created being is at harmony with itself, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; when every creature shall have been made one body. Now the body of Christ, as I have often said, is the whole of humanity.”