Apocatastasis: The Heresy that Never Was

As I continue with the series of Christian Universalism (apokatastasis), I want to point out this excellent article by Fr. Kimel over at Eclectic Orthodoxy. Only when we begin to grasp some of the historical reasons why Universalism, which according to credible sources was the majority position in the early church, has been rejected. While the arguments for eternal hell can and are made in good faith, they were also leveraged for the sake of political and religious control. It is a lot easier to keep the population in check if you have control over their eternal destiny.

Eclectic Orthodoxy


When first presented with the universalist hope, many Orthodox and Roman Catholics immediately invoke the authority of the Fifth Ecumenical Council (553), citing the fifteen anti-Origenist anathemas: “Apokatastasis has been dogmatically defined by the Church as heresy—see canon 1 … case closed.” Over the past two centuries, however, historians have seriously questioned whether these anathemas were ever officially promulgated by II Constantinople. The council was convened by the Emperor Justinian for the express purpose of condemning the Three Chapters. Not only does Justinian not mention the Origenist debate in his letter that was read to the bishops at the formal opening of the council, but the Acts of the council, as preserved in the Latin translation (the original Greek text having been lost), neither cite the fifteen anathemas nor record any discussion of them. Hence when church historian Norman P. Tanner edited his collection of the Decrees of the…

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