Monday, October 21, 2013


Officially, Origen is the Luis Figo of theologians. Figo poured so much of his talent into the cause of FC Barcelona, yet he cannot be remembered by Barca fans as one of their own. His heretical move to Real Madrid in 2000 made him anathema. A pigs head, thrown in his direction as he took a corner in the Nou Camp, symbolised a conciliar decision beyond reversal. Origen suffered a similar fate.

He is one of the greatest minds ever to pay scholarly attention to the Bible, yet the church could not overlook his perceived heresy. He believed, to paraphrase DB Hart's language, that the fire that God has stored up for wayward humans is not, ultimately, the fire of eternal punishment, but the fire of an infinite love. In other words, he believed that all things will be restored to their original state of peace and bliss and beauty, because the end must mirror the beginning. He also believed a few other kooky things, but which of the early Christian theologians didn't?

Unofficially, however, Origen is the Michael Laudrup of theologians. Sure, he left orthodoxy (Barcelona) for heresy (Madrid), but we can forgive him that slip up. We can look back on his works (Youtube videos) and appreciate the genius in them. We can perhaps even feel he was a little hard done by by the powers that be. Laudrup, it should be remembered, didn't feature in the Barcelona squad humiliated by Milan in 1994. The next season he found a new home in Madrid, where he went on to win the league for a fifth consecutive year, beating Barcelona 5-0 along the way. Barcelona fans are generally happy that his talents remained on display in Spain, and can even appreciate the poetic justice that he meted out to the club following his departure. Perhaps something similar is true of Origen. The fire he has been cast into has enabled us to discard the dross and hold on to the gold.

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