Origen & Early Church Fathers on Reincarnation

Titus Flavius Clemens or “Clement the Alexandrian” was a heathen who came over to Christianity and whose natural talents soon attained him the position of presbyter in the church of Alexandria. He was the successor of Pantaenus in the catechetical school of that place, which was the first and for a long time the only institution where Christians were instructed simultaneously in the Greek sciences and the doctrines of the Holy Scriptures. Among his numerous pupils was Origen. Clement later became the Greek Father of the Church

Since the time of the Ptolemies, Alexandria had been a centre for the interchange of ideas between East and West. It had furnished Judaism with a Hellenic philosophy and it also brought about the alliance of Christianity with Greek philosophy.

The importance of Clement in the history of Christianity was this: he is the first to bring all the culture of the Greeks and all the speculations of the Christian heretics to bear on the exposition of Christian truth. That is, although he did not create a systematic theory of Christian doctrine he paved the way for it, and laid the first foundation stones of it. Clement’s knowledge of Christian heretic theology was great indeed. In addition, it is self-evident from his teachings that he had not only read but also thought deeply on the questions raised by the Greeks and the various writings of poets, philosophers and heretics.

Clement believed the Scriptures contained the revelation of God’s wisdom to men. Moreover, he believed that all that is good comes from God, that Truth is Good, thus, he sought the Truth from whatever quarter he could get it and wherever it be found. Therefore, since he belonged to no school of philosophers he called himself an Eclectic. However, that said, he was in the main a Neo-Platonist, especially in his doctrines of the Monad and his predilection to mysticism. Although his moral doctrine borrows freely from Stoicism, and is embellished with Aristotelian features, he always regarded the articles of the Christian creed as the axioms of a new philosophy.

Clement’s Christianity not only does not fit into any classification but he also regarded Christianity as a philosophy. Thus, just as the ancient Greek philosophers sought through their speculations to attain a nobler and holier life, this also was the aim of Christianity. The fundamental difference between the two, said Clement, was that the Greek philosophers had only glimpses of the truth, and attained only to fragments of the truth, while Christianity revealed in Christ the absolute and perfect truth. Consequently, world history was therefore preparation leading up to this full revelation.  Moreover, God’s care was not confined to the Hebrews alone but had universal application.

via Origen & Early Church Fathers on Reincarnation.


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