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The Recognition of Universal Reconciliation - Part 2

By Ernest L. Martin, December 1982
Edited by David Sielaff, August 2002

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NOTE: This is part 2 of a three-part Breaking News. Part 3 consists of additional information indicating how wide-spread the understanding and belief of Universal Reconciliation was in Christianity even to the 5th century B.C.E.

Universal Reconciliation Understood by Early Christians

The truth that a salvation in Christ awaits all was the prime message of Christianity as revealed in the New Testament. But what about the people who followed on after the deaths of the apostles? Did they maintain this fundamental doctrinal belief? The answer is a decided YES. Among several important Christian scholars and theologians over the following four hundred years, universal salvation was publicly advocated and taught. First note the remarks of Iranaeus, the Bishop of Lyons (c.130 to 200 C.E.)

“Wherefore also He drove him out of Paradise, and removed him far from the tree of life, not because He envied him the tree of life, ... but because He pitied him [and did not desire], that he should continue a sinner for ever, nor that the sin which surrounded him should be immortal, and evil interminable and irremediable. But He set a bound to his [state of] sin, by interposing death, and thus causing sin to cease, putting an end to it by the dissolution of the flesh, which should take place in the earth, so that man, ceasing at length to live to sin, and dying to it, might begin to live to God.”

• Against Heretics, Book III, Chapter. 23.6

Note also the remarks of Clement of Alexandria (c.190 C.E.). There can be no doubt of his understanding that all in the universe will one day obtain their salvation in Christ which was given before the world’s foundation.

“How is He Savior and Lord, if not the Savior and Lord of all? But He is the Savior of those who have believed, because of their wishing to know, and the Lord of those who have not believed, till being enabled to confess Him, they obtain the peculiar ... boon which comes by Him ... For all things are arranged with a view to the salvation of the universe by the Lord of the universe, both generally and particularly.”

• The Stromata, or Miscellanies, Book vii, chapter 2

[Quoting 1 Timothy 4:10] “To speak comprehensively, all benefit appertaining to life, in its highest reason, proceeding from the Sovereign God, the Father who is over all, consummated by the Son, who also on this account ‘is Savior of all men,’ says the apostle, ‘but especially of those who believe.’”

• The Stromata, or Miscellanies, Book vi, chapter 17

“Christ’s only work is the salvation of mankind.”

• The Stromata, or Miscellanies, Book ix

Let us now look at the linguist and scholar Origen (c.210 C.E.). All historians know he was an avowed believer in universal salvation for the human race and all intelligent beings in the universe.

“When the Son is said to be subject to the Father, the perfect restoration of the whole creation is signified, so also, when the enemies are said to be subjected to the Son of God, the salvation of the conquered and the restoration of the lost is in that understood to consist.”

• De prin. iii.5

“But those who have been removed from their primal state of blessedness [innocence] have not been removed irrecoverably, but ... being remolded by salutary discipline and principles, they may recover themselves, and be restored to their condition of happiness.”

• De prin.

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