[ PDF / Epub ] ☂ Universalism the Prevailing Doctrine of the Christian Church During Its First Five Hundred Years (1899) Author John Wesley Hanson – Tactical-player.co.uk

Universalism the Prevailing Doctrine of the Christian Church During Its First Five Hundred Years (1899) From Inside The Book The Purpose Of This Book Is To Present Some Of The Evidence Of The Prevalence In The Early Centuries Of The Christian Church, Of The Doctrine Of The Final Holiness Of All Mankind The Author Has Endeavored To Give The Language Of The Early Christians, Rather Than To Paraphrase Their Words, Or State Their Sentiments In His Own Language He Has Also Somewhat Copiously Quoted The Statements Of Modern Scholars, Historians And Critics, Of All Sides Of Opinion, Instead Of Condensing Them With His Own PenAbout The Author John Wesley Hanson Was An American Universalist Minister And A Notable Universalist Historian Advancing The Claim That Universalism Was The Belief Of Early Christianity He Was Born At BostonHe Is Also Notable For His Eyewitness Accounts Of His Time As Chaplain To One Of The Unattached Companies Massachusetts Volunteer Militia During The American Civil War And For Publishing His Own New Testament Hanson S Edited New Testament , Which Was A Revision Of The English Revised Version With Baptism Changed For Immersion And Other ChangesIn He Arrived In Wentworth, New Hampshire As Universalist Minister In The S He Was Chaplain To The Sixth Regiment Of Massachusetts Volunteers In The S He Went As A Universalist Missionary To Britain, Becoming The Pastor Of St Paul S Universalist Church, Glasgow, Scotland He Then Became Minister Of The Universalist New Covenant Church Of Chicago, Where He Worked On His New TestamentHe Is Best Known For His History Arguing That Universalism Dominated Early Church Thought Before Augustine Universalism The Prevailing Doctrine Of The Christian Church Which Followed Universalist Hosea Ballou S Ancient History Of Universalism His View Of Early Church History Was Carried On By George T Knight However In Recent Years Hanson And Knight S Reading Of Church History Has Been ChallengedContents I The Earliest Creeds II Early Christianity A Cheerful Religion III Origin Of Endless Punishment IV Doctrines Of Mitigation And Reserve V Two Kindred Topics VI The Apostles Immediate Successors VII The Gnostic Sects VIII The Sibylline Oracles IX Pantaenus And Clement X Origen XI Origen Continued XII The Eulogists Of Origen XIII A Third Century Group XIV Minor Authorities XV Gregory Nazianzen XVI Theodore Of Mopsuestia And The Nestorians XVII A Notable Family XVIII Additional Authorities XIX The Deterioration Of Christian Thought XX Augustine Deterioration Continued XXI Unsuccessful Attempts To Suppress Universalism XXII The Eclipse Of Universalism XXIII Summary Of Conclusions Book report By L J Martini, Th.D May 2015on Universalism, the Prevailing Doctrine of the Christian Church During its First 500 YearsBy John Wesley Hanson Universalist Publishing House, 1899.BiblioBazaar Reproduction Series to preserve the legacy of literary history by reprinting and promoting culturally important literature.According to the introduction of this classic book, John Wesley Hanson s goal was to provide witnesses and testimonies of early church fathers as to the belief in universal salvation It is not a presentation of scriptural evidence, but the sole object is to show that those who obtained their religion almost directly from the lips of its author Jesus Christ , understood it to teach the doctrine of universal salvation p.4.Chapter 1 presents the earliest Christian creeds The Apostles Creed about 200 AD Tertullian s belief 160 AD the Nicene Creed 325 AD and the Niceo Constantinopolitan Creed that of the Roman Catholic Church The author contends that none of these creeds even hint at a doctrine of everlasting punishment p.6 , no thought of endless woe p.11 , no post mortem woe of sinners p.13 , and in fact gave expression to no condemnation of universal restoration, though, as will be shown, the doctrine had been prevalent all along p.12 Even though Tertullian, born in 160 AD did believe in the eternally damned, his private beliefs were not put into any of the creeds In fact he believed that there is a portion of God in everyone s soul and that there is something good in the worst of us and something bad in the best of us The author claims that at the time Tertullian had not discovered that worst of dogmas relating to man, total depravity p.10 The author writes, The early creeds contain no hint of it, and no whisper of condemnation of the doctrine of universal restoration as taught by Clement, Origen, the Gregories Gregory Nzianzen, who presided over the council of Constantinople in which the Nicene Creed was fully shaped, and Gregory of Nyssa, and unflinching advocate of extreme Universalism , and the one who added the words in the creed I believe in the life of the world to come p 11 , Basil the Great, and multitudes besides p.15.In Chapter 2 the author cites many 19th century theologians who claim Christianity before Augustine was simple hearted, sincere and purer, presenting the joyfulness and cheerfulness of the gospel kingdom of God, savor, grace, peace, living water, bread of life brimming full of promise and joy which spread the faith quickly According to him it was Augustine s theology that ruined the spread of Christianity and ripened into the mediaeval centuries with semi pagan secular government, and grave Roman Catholicism, influenced by ascetic religions of Asia Buddhism contaminating Christianity with celibacy, monasteries, convents, hermits, etc p.19 20 Asceticism seems to have appeared in 250 AD.In Chapter 3 Josephus and even Philo, a contemporary with Christ, are said to have used the Greek word anionian to mean age long, or limited duration Jesus used the same word for the punishment of sin, aionion kolasin age long chastisement Philo used aionion for temporary duration and aidion to denote endless The Pharisees were said to use eternal punishment, aidios timoria, while the Essenes used never ceasing torment, timoria adialeipton and deathless torment, athanaton timorion However in opposition to the language of the Pharisees and Essenes, Philo used the exact phraseology as Jesus did in Matt 25 46, Then they will go away to aionion kolasin age long punishment , but the righteous into aionion zoan age long life The author Hanson quotes Stephens as claiming aionios meant three generations to the Jewish scholars who wrote in Greek p.38 The word kolasin means chastisement and connotes restraint, reproof, check, pruning, correction, to deter for the future, and punishment with reformative intent Origen is said to reply to Celsus an explanation of Gehenna being analogous to the known valley of the Son of Hinnom, and signifies the fire of purification p.41.That I think is really significant Let me explain with a little of my own developing theology relative to the possibility of a Christ centered Universalism Although I haven t found direct proof that Origen gleaned the idea of fire of purification from Scripture, I personally see its possibility It may be seen occurring in the fire of baptism by the Holy Spirit that Jesus was supposed to bring according to John the Baptist Matt 3 11 I baptize you with water He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire In the Greek, those words Holy Spirit and fire cannot be separated into two distinct, separate baptisms They are one and the same In other words, the Holy Spirit uses fire as baptism, a fire of purification purification through conviction, repentance, and restorative unification This was seen in the tongues of fire at the first baptism in Acts 2 and as predicted by Jesus as to the conviction of the world by the Holy Spirit in John 16 8f If fire is used by the Holy Spirit to bring salvation to those on this side of death, then maybe the fire of Gehenna Hades is also salvatory The aionion kolasin age long punishment or pruning may well be the reproof and correction process that the Holy Spirit uses for burning away the sin nature of the wicked in hell as fire is generally used in Scripture This idea is the premise of my book called, God s Great Scheme All Creation for Christ, Christian Holism published Feb 2015 This idea is consistent with what 1 Cor 3 12 15 teaches for the Day of Judgment Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw each one s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed byfire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done If the work that anyone has builton the foundation survives, he will receive a reward If anyone s work is burned up, he will sufferloss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.The second half of Chapter 3 speaks of the origin of doctrine of endless punishment coming from Pagan and Jewish incorporations of Egyptian and Babylonian influences during captivities hundreds of years before Christ , resulting in doctrines of annihilation of the wicked and or endless torment being eventually avowed The apocryphal Book of Enoch, appearing than a century before Christ, and appearing a little later, the Book of Ezra advocated these views Hanson makes note that Jude 6 quotes the Book of Enoch not to endorse its doctrine, but to illustrate a point as writers nowadays quote fables and legends p 45.Chapter 4 is all about the toleration and decline of universal restoration Pagan influences in the church began to regard endless torment in Hades and subsequently disregarded doctrines of prayers for the dead, Christ preaching to those in Hades, and softening other features taught by early church fathers such as Clement, Origen, and other Alexandrian fathers Universalism became cherished only as a secret for the chosen few, withheld from the multitude as beneficial to them than the truth a means of mitigating their recklessness and sin p.56.Chapter 5 presents two kindred topics the belief that Christ proclaimed the gospel to the dead in Hades between his crucifixion and resurrection and prayers for the dead Hanson claims the early church put great emphasis on 1 Peter 3 19, that Christ went and preached unto the spirits in prison This doctrine was prevalent as late as Augustine s day when it became listed as a heresy He quotes several early church fathers Eusebius, Christ, caring for the salvation of all opened a way of return to life for the dead bound in the chains of death Athanasius, the devil cast out of Hades, sees all the fettered being lead forth by the courage of the savior Origen on 1Kings 28 32, Jesus descended into Hades, and the prophets before him, and they proclaim beforehand the coming of Christ Origen again, Not only while Jesus was in the body did he win over not a few only, but when he became a soul, without the covering of the body, he dwelt among those souls in Hades which were without bodily covering, converting such of them as were fit for it Didymus, etc.Hanson goes on to say that the condition of the dead was not regarded as unalterably set fixed is evident from the fact that prayers for the dead were an ancient custom Clement claimed prayers of the good on earth help the dead come to repentance Even Augustine accepted the doctrine, for he prayed after his mother s death, that her sins might be forgiven, and that his father might also receive pardon Confessions 9 13 On page 68, Hanson notes that Origen s tenant of Catharsis or Purification was absorbed by the growing belief in purgatory On page 66, and Hanson sites Pope Gregory as being the first inventor of purgatory at the close of the sixth century and quotes him, For some light faults we must believe that there is before judgment a purgatorial fire Hanson says, This theory is a perversion of the idea held anciently, that all God s punishments are purgative The word rendered punishment in Matt 25 46 kolosin implies all this Chapter 6 tries to address the theology of the immediate successors of the apostles relative to Universalism In the presentation of the Gnostic sects of Chapter 7 the only important conclusion is that the generally accepted view between them of the good at death ascending to dwell with the Father and the wicked passing through transformations until purified, was not faulted by early Christian orthodox fathers p.95 Gnostics claimed all unworthy, perverted evil would eventually disappear either through conversion, annihilation or purification They were the theologians of the First Century, trying to establish a systematic Christian doctrine that would also harmonize the Hellenic culture answering questions to the problems of evil and the destiny of humankind Hanson says Clement, Origen, the Alexandrine schools, and probably the great majority of Christians agreed with many of these Gnostic views.The important point of Chapter 8 is that the Sibylline Oracles written between 181 BC and 267 AD were in wide use by many First Century Christians The Universalism portions of the Oracles, written in 80 AD, used the language of Matt 25 46, aionion torment of the lost, their immortality athanaton , but also claimed an eventual end to their torment.Chapter 9 establishes the Gnostic philosophy of Clement of Alexandria 150 220 AD He is considered the greatest of all Christian apologists except Origen These Alexandrian fathers emphasized reason and philosophy to bear on their faith p.112 , ranking knowledge gnosis above faith pistis , placing the two in such an imminent relation to one another that neither could exist without the other p.125 Clement defined philosophy as not to mean Stoic, nor the Platonic, nor Epicurean, nor that of Aristotle but whenever any of these sects had said that was fit and just, that taught righteousness with a divine and religious knowledge, this I call the eclectic philosophy p.113 Clement wrote, We wait for no human testimony, but bring proof of what we assert from the Word of the Lord, which is the most trustworthy, or, rather, the only evidence p.113.Clement wrote Christian doctrine from the oral traditions that had been communicated by the Lord to the apostles, Peter and James, John and Paul, and handed down from father to son Hanson points out that it is inconceivable that Clement could misinterpret or misunderstand the New Testament scriptures, written as they were in his mother tongue Thus when he used the Greek word aionion of Scripture, but yet taught and maintained the prevalent belief in universal restoration, he must of meant it as age long, and not to be confused or used interchangeably with aidion endless , as the Latin speaking six century church fathers like Augustine did Augustine did not even know scriptural Greek refchokengtitiktitikchokeng115 The book God s Great Scheme goes into great detail about the Greek words aionion age long and apokatallasso reconciliation, that which Christ does for all creation and is worth reading to understand the finer details according to Scripture.Chapter 10 presents the life of Origen Adamantius of Alexandria 185 254 AD But in my opinion the most important emphasis lies in the texts that Origen quotes as proof of Universal salvation footnote on p.150 Luk 3 16 John answered them all, saying, I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.1Co 3 15 If anyone s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.Isa 16 4 let the outcasts of Moab sojourn among you be a shelter to them from the destroyer When the oppressor is no , and destruction has ceased, and he who tramples underfoot has vanished from the land,Isa 12 1 You will say in that day I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me.Isa 24 22 They will be gathered together as prisoners in a pit they will be shut up in a prison, and after many days they will be punished.Mic 7 9 I will bear the indignation of the LORD because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me He will bring me out to the light I shall look upon his vindicationEze 16 53 I will restore their fortunes, both the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters, and the fortunes of Samaria and her daughters, and I will restore your own fortunes in their midst,Eze 16 55 As for your sisters, Sodom and her daughters shall return to their former state, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former state, and you and your daughters shall return to your former state.Jer 25 15 16 Thus the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them.Mat 18 29 30 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, Have patience with me, and I will pay you He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.Joh 10 15 16 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father and I lay down my life for the sheep And I have other sheep that are not of this fold I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice So there will be one flock, one shepherd.Rom 11 25 26 Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from JacobRom 11 32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.1Pe 3 18 21 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus ChristWhereas Chapter 10 tries to present the original thoughts of Origen, Chapter 11 presents secondary descriptions and references towards Origen by his contemporaries and those who followed him Pamphilus, Eusebius of Caesarea, Didymus of Alexandria, Athanasius, Basil the great, Gregory of Nazianzum,, and Gregory of Nyssa and among the Latin fathers, Hilary and Jerome.Of the six theological schools in Origen s time, only one favored eternal punishment, one was in favor of annihilation of the wicked, two were in favor of the doctrine of universal restitution on the principles of Origen, and two in favor of universal restoration on the principles of Theodore of Mopsuestia p.174 The one school that taught and endless punishment derived its doctrine by mistranslation and misunderstanding of the Greek Scriptures, and instead infused the virus of Roman secularism into the simplicity of Christianity p.175 Origen was accused of heresy by misinterpretation of his works, but for all those heresies listed, his idea of universal restoration was never condemned as heresy Heresies listed included teaching inequality between the persons of the Trinity, the pre existence of the human soul, denying the resurrection of the body, affirming that wicked angels will not suffer endless punishment, and that all souls will be absorbed into the infinite fountain whence they spring like drops falling into the sea This later accusation was a perversion of his teaching that God will be all in all p.176.Chapter 12 eulogizes Origen by quoting many contemporaries of the author, while Chapter 13 presents third century theologians who were either indifferent towards Origen s universal restoration concept or embraced it, either in their writings or due to friendly association with Origen and his schools of theology.Chapter 14 starts by listing five celebrated early church fathers who beyond all rational doubt where Universalists because they were students of Origen Chapter 15 through 18 lists and discusses many Universalist in the early and later years of the Church.Hanson claims in Chapter 19 that the deterioration of Christian thought began with Constantine at the beginning of the fourth century Christianity of the Catacombs and of Origen became the church of the popes, the Inquisition, and the asceticism of the Middle Ages Hanson claims that during Constantine s reign corruptions like monastic systems came into Christianity from the Hindu religions and other sources, Constantine s mother, Helen, practicing cultic gathering of virgins into the church for repasts and prayer p.261 Jerome 331 420 AD who had once embraced and praised Origen s Universalism now began to deny his adherence in the face of Augustine s growing influence and even violently attacked those who had held such opinions in order to divert attention from himself p.266 Hanson cites several scriptures from Jerome s writings that established testimonies for Universalism that the punishment of the wicked will one day, after many ages, have an end Romans 11 25 Galatians 3 22 Micah 7 9 Isaiah 11 1 Psalms 30 20 p.264.Chapter 20 emphasizes how Aurelius Augustinus 354 420 AD changed the Universalism theology of the early church to a form of Manichaeism with the addition of a perpetual dualism that Mani had made temporal p.272 It was Augustine that argued Matthew 25 46 used the same Greek word applied to life as to punishment to signify endless duration, and that the Greeks used only aionios to mean endless The interesting thing is that when a Spanish presbyter, Orosius, visited Augustine in 413 to show him the Greek word did not denote eternal duration, but limited duration, Augustine replied that though aion signifies limited as well as endless duration, the Greeks only used aionios for endless p.274 The real problem seems to be that Augustine did not know Greek In fact he is quoted as saying he hates Greek, and the grammar and learning of the Greeks Hanson makes a valid point in saying that it is strange that all the history of criticism and generations of scholars should take their cue from an incompetent theologian who knew almost nothing of Greek and who contradicted and subverted the teachings of such men as Clement, Origen, the Gregories and others whose mother tongue was Greek See my review on the book Our Catholic Inheritance In The Larger Hope, by Alfred Gurney, MA with Historical Appendix by H.H Jeaffreson, MA, for detail on this important issue posted on.com on 5 12 15 Hanson brings up several unsuccessful attempts to suppress Universalism in Chapter 21, while Chapter 22 presents the eclipse of Universalism After 730 AD the prevalent doctrine of Origen was eclipsed by the word pseudo Christianity that reigned like a nightmare all over Christendom from the seventh to the fifteenth Century It was due to the pagan and Latin secularism of ignorant hail converted hordes of heathen barbarians and of the hierarchy that could not employ it in its ambitious schemes p.298 According to Hanson the darkest hour of ignorance, cruelty, and oppression of the church was highlighted by Michael Angelo and Dante just before the Reformation, they presenting the distorted views both in art and poetry Hanson then ends the chapter with reference to the distinctive intelligence of the Reformation and the invention of the printing press which he foresees as the rebirth of the restoration of Christianity, and especially into his current 20th Century which was about to dawn at the publishing of his book of in 1899.Chapter 23 presents a list of conclusions to summarize Hanson s book He states that the first century of the primitive church was involved in issues of apologetics instead of matters of eschatology Clement and Origen between 180 230 AD declared that all punishment, however severe, is purificatory that even the torments of the damned are curative Origen explained Gehnna as signifying limited and curative punishment and all the other ancient Universalists declared that everlasting aionion punishment is consonant with universal salvation p.304 Jesus, his Apostles, and the primitive Christians avoided the words which the pagans and Jews defined as endless punishment, aidios or adialeipton timoria endless torment Instead the Lord, his Apostles, and the early Christians used the words kolasis aionios, defined as chastisement of indefinite, limited duration p.305 The early Christians taught that Christ descended into Hades, preached the gospel to the dead, and released them According to Hanson that shows repentance beyond the grave and perpetual probation For much greater scriptural proof of all this consult God s Great Scheme You will see why Christian Holism is currently becoming the theology the modern church hungers for. Just finished reading Excellent to have a book on this topic that comes from an earlier era Backs up with historically accurate authority all the current books from authors such as Bradley Jersak, Sharon L Baker, Gregory Macdonald Robin Parry , Rob Bell, George W Sarris, WM Paul Young and so forth.Each of these authors have great things to say in their own way but it s good to get some solid historical background from the first 500 years of Christianity The loss of meaning caused by the shift from Greek to Latin The way the 4th century writers and critics began to turn on the 2nd century founding fathers.I know this book looks like a hard read a bit dry but it was better than I had anticipated in that regard My copy is now marked out with pen and highlights and forms of a reference book for me.If the concept of Christian Universalism seems a bit lightweight to you It the topic seems merely comprised of feelgood new age slop then this book should be an eye opener for you.If you re on a bit of a journey with this topic then I possibly would consider working up to this book It provides a solid historical background in support of accessible works for me.I would suggest starting with the excellent DVD BluRay documentary Hellbound by Kevin Miller Rob Bells Velvet Elvis and Love Wins can seem lightweight to some and merely ask a lot of questions but they do start one thinking Possibly the best stand alone book is Heaven s Doors by George W Sarris Other authors mentioned are excellent too and go deeper once the interest is there Bradley Jersak in particular offers good historical and theological background but it s pretty heavy and slow to start with.The story God is telling is the most wonderful one imaginable It s so mush better so much victorious and complete than the nasty small story the Latins and the west have reduced it to since 500 AD God Wins, Love Wins. By scholars standards, this book unequivocally proves that the Church Fathers and most of the Church were Universalist during the first five hundred years of Christianity The evidence is overwhelming It s not just one or two proofs presented here that confirm this, it s over twenty One important evidence is that the Pharisees and Pagans both use two Greek terms they use that mean eternal punishment, and they explain it at length But Jesus and the Church Fathers use a very different term which means temporary rather than eternal Also, the Greek words Jesus and the Church Fathers use for punishment and judgment are specifically words used that mean correctional, where as the word the Pagans and Pharisees used to describe hell was a vindictive type of punishment Also, Universalim is never once condemned in the first 500 years of the Church until the days of Augustine, a natural born Pagan who admitted he hated the Kline Greek of the New Testament and could not read it As long as the Church Fathers were native Greek speakers, they understood the Bible to teach temporary punishment that purified people and got them to Heaven But the Latin Church Fathers were a vile bunch who ushered in one of the worst ages of the Church And yet of them, only Augustine condemned Universalism The council refused to condemn Universalism even after Justinian ordered them to do so This boom should be required reading for all Christians and scholars.

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