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October 14, 2014

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Brad Jersak

Thanks for the excellent question, Anastasia,

Some obvious examples of the fathers teaching forms of the idea of apokatastasis (the restoration of all things, when God shall be all in all) or 'universal reconciliation' would include Clement of Alexandria (150-215), Origen (185-254, though his version was condemned at the 5th council, 300 years after the fact, bc he taught pre-existence of souls), Macrina the Younger (324-279), Gregory of Nyssa (335-390's), Gregory of Nazianzus (330-389, though debated), Maximos the Confessor (580-662), Isaac of Nineveh (7th century).

Note that I call it an idea rather than a doctrine, but as an idea, some of these esteemed teachers held it as a firm conviction (esp. Gregory of Nyssa, who was, after all, the final editor of the Nicene Creed). As for 'dogma,' what is required is laid out in the creed. "We believe that Christ shall come again in glory to judge the living and the dead ... and look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come." Beyond that, the fathers speculated, held convictions, and taught particular eschatologies, but not as dogma.

Recommended reading: Andrew Klager's chapter in 'Compassionate Eschatology,' which is available here: http://www.clarion-journal.com/files/new-klager-compassionate-eschatology-with-biblioklager-1.pdf
And Kallistos Ware, "Dare We Hope for the Salvation of All?" available here: http://www.clarion-journal.com/clarion_journal_of_spirit/2015/02/dare-we-hope-for-the-salvation-of-all-kallistos-ware.html

Anastasia Dare

Which early church fathers & in what period, offered alternative interpretations of divine judgement, in particular that eternal conscience torment is not a required dogma please?

Florian Berndt

Thank you! This is probably the best advice everr writen to someone who contemplates joining any church tradition. Very helpful and truly Spirit-inspired!

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