Scripture: Luke 15:11-32
This week in our sermon series, Church and State: The Rise of Early Christianity, we are talking about the church father, Origen. Whether you realize it or not, Origen had an enormous impact on the Christian faith. Origen is arguably one of the most prolific authors and defenders of Christianity that has ever existed. Origen wrote a commentary on every single book of the Bible. In fact, he was known for his absolute command of the content of the Bible. He knew almost the entire Old Testament and most of the New Testament (because there was no official New Testament at this point in history) by heart.
Origen adopted an ascetic lifestyle, which means that he abstained from sensual pleasures for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals. He was a teetotaler, meaning he didn’t drink alcohol, and he was a vegetarian in accordance with the commandment of Genesis chapter 1 where God says, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.” Origen would also fast for long periods of time so as to become closer to God, mirroring Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the desert.
During his time as a teacher at the Catechetical School of Alexandria, Origen developed his unique approach to Christianity. He was the first person to combine Christianity and philosophy into a single field. Literally, Origen was the first Christian philosopher and was a sought after speaker. But the work that really set Origen apart was his landmark book, On the First Principles. This book was groundbreaking because it was the first time that anyone had systematically thought through the foundations of the Christian faith. In fact, most of what Christians believe today started in that book.
This Sunday, we are going to talk about this work and how it changed the face of Christianity in very dramatic ways that still impact us as Christians today. I hope you stay cool this weekend. It’s going to be hot. Stay safe and I’ll see you on Sunday!