Don't Let the Heretics Take Hope From You! - By Dr G. Brushwood

What about the Church Fathers of old on whose broad shoulders most of our understanding of the Faith rests. Did they always get it right?

Is the crisis we all lament about the present day Church with bishops preaching errors unique? Or has the Church been here before?

Are my frequent bouts of trichotilomania (hair pulling disorder) upon hearing the latest pronouncement from Francis the Pope reasonable? Or only serve to send my barber into early retirement?

Recently, I had a stimulating conversation along these lines with an honest cleric from the US. He said he would not exchange the current state of affairs for the times bygone for all the money in the world (in a figure of speech) when heresies were flying around in all directions. Imagine the confusion faced by a third century Catholic?

Let us take the heresy of "salvation for all". Incredibly, the Swiss theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar (+1988) didn’t invent this, nor his disciple Bishop Robert Barron who enthusiastically promotes it using telemedia.

This heresy goes back as far as to Origen (185-254), an early theological author who got some things spectacularly wrong despite being considered to be the greatest Christian theologian prior to St Augustine of Hippo.

Recently, at a fabulous talk in a series on the Church Fathers by Rev Fr Michael Lang of the London Oratory, I found out why Origen does not appear in the Litany of Saints (so far...).

Origen of Alexandria was born to a Christian family and his father Leonides died as a martyr in 202.

He was a very gifted writer. His biggest contribution to theology was his scriptural exegesis through which he showed the spiritual and theological depths of the Bible.

For example, Origen interprets the ban on Aaron entering the temple without proper garments as an allegory that applies to all of the faithful on how we should approach God.

Using scripture to explain scripture and the 1st Letter of Peter in which is said that all of us by way of baptism received a royal priesthood, Origen describes all faithful as priests, and as such must have the right garments on to approach God.

He then explains what these garments ought to be as honesty, purity etc.

Having blazed a path for the amazing biblical scholar St Jerome, Origen also laid a theological foundation for St Augustine and others with his treaties On the First principles and also wrote apologetics and another treatise on prayer.

But then he got things spectacularly wrong. Let me attempt to summarise what Father Michael Lang said about why Origen was never venerated as a saint and was never considered a Church Father.

Origen held that creation didn’t exist in time despite Genesis describing ‘in the beginning God created light’.

He held the idea that ALL souls were created equal and disembodied and each soul fell into sin to different degree and was only embodied in that fallen state.

This is a form of dualism. He used it to explain why some people seem better off than others (a sort of a Christian version of Karma). He thought ALL created beings, including the devil, will finally be restored unto God.

But then the whole cycle of fall and redemption would be repeated again.

This truly is incredible. How could he fall into such deep error? What robbed him of the Divine Light which illuminated his thought on so many other things?

Could he have met a wandering Hindu swami or Buddhist monk in Alexandria who polluted his mind with ideas of reincarnation and Karma?

What ever happened to drive Origen off the true path of Christ? Imagine being a Christian of his time, reading his works and grappling with what information to retain and what to be rid of. We now have the benefit of other Fathers that came after Origen, and clarified things.

It’s a bit like wading through the warming syrupy prose of Amoris Laetitia, only to discover the bilious pith in the centre that would poison even the most merciful of hearts.

And no doubt, there will be others that will come after the present day Church leaders, and re-align all things to Christ.

Do not fear.
REsist reject refuse heretics