Welcome everyone to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’ve been looking lately at the Watchtower booklet called “Should You Believe In The Trinity?” Right now, we’re reviewing the church fathers. Tonight, we’re going to look at Origen and to do an exhaustive look at his work would be nigh impossible. Even Jerome once asked if anyone has read all that Origen wrote.
For now, let’s start with what the Watchtower says about Origen:
Origen, who died about 250 C.E., said that “the Father and Son are two substances . . . two things as to their essence,” and that “compared with the Father, [the Son] is a very small light.”
To begin with, Origen’s view is very difficult to understand. He did hold to some opinions that would be considered unorthodox. However, we will point to some instances where he does affirm an orthodox view.
Let’s look first at the sixth section of book 1 on his commentary on John:
Now the Gospels are four. These four are, as it were, the elements of the faith of the Church, out of which elements the whole world which is reconciled to God in Christ is put together; as Paul says, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself;” of which world Jesus bore the sin; for it is of the world of the Church that the word is written, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” The Gospels then being four, I deem the first fruits of the Gospels to be that which you s have enjoined me to search into according to my powers, the Gospel of John, that which speaks of him whose genealogy had already been set forth, but which begins to speak of him at a point before he had any genealogy. For Matthew, writing for the Hebrews who looked for Him who was to come of the line of Abraham and of David, says: “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” And Mark, knowing what he writes, narrates the beginning of the Gospel; we may perhaps find what he aims at in John; in the beginning the Word, God the Word. But Luke, though he says at the beginning of Acts, “The former treatise did I make about all that Jesus began to do and to teach,” yet leaves to him who lay on Jesus’ breast the greatest and completest discourses about Jesus. For none of these plainly declared His Godhead, as John does when he makes Him say, “I am the light of the world,” “I am the way and the truth and the life,” “I am the resurrection, “I am the door,” “I am the good shepherd;” and in the Apocalypse, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” We may therefore make bold to say that the Gospels are the first fruits of all the Scriptures, but that of the Gospels that of John is the first fruits.
Chapter 26 of book 2 against Celsus:
This Jew of Celsus still accuses the disciples of Jesus of having invented these statements. saying to them: “Even although guilty of falsehood, ye have not been able to give a colour of credibility to your inventions.” In answer to which we have to say, that there was an easy method of concealing these occurrences,–that, viz., of not recording them at all. For if the Gospels had not contained the accounts of these things, who could have reproached us with Jesus having spoken such words during His stay upon the earth? Celsus, indeed, did not see that it was an inconsistency for the same persons both to be deceived regarding Jesus, believing Him to be God, and the subject of prophecy, and to invent fictions about Him, knowing manifestly that these statements were false. Of a truth, therefore, they were not guilty of inventing untruths, but such were their real impressions, and they recorded them truly; or else they were guilty of falsifying the histories, and did not entertain these views, and were not deceived when they acknowledged Him to be God.
Here, Origen says that the writers of the gospels knew that Jesus claimed to be God on Earth. They did not make it up and they were not deceived when they acknowledged him as God.
Section 8 of book 1 of De Principiis:
In order, however, to arrive at a fuller understanding of the manner in which the Saviour is the figure of the person or subsistence of God, let us take an instance, which, although it does not describe the subject of which we are treating either fully or appropriately, may nevertheless be seen to be employed for this purpose only, to show that the Son of God, who was in the form of God, divesting Himself (of His glory), makes it His object, by this very divesting of Himself, to demonstrate to us the fulness of His deity.
I conclude that while Origen had views that are unorthodox, and wherever we find those we should disagree with them, he also did not hold to the position that the Watchtower thinks he does and while there could be more nuances there, I believe the Watchtower is misusing him. Again, without references, it’s hard to tell.
We shall sum up this part next time.
All references can be found here: