Origen: Man of Steel
Church History Friday!
Origen: Man of Steel
His name was Origen, but they called him Adamantius – “The man of steel,” because of His solid faith in Jesus Christ. Born around 185 A.D., in the major Egyptian seaport of Alexandria, Origen was the oldest of seven children. Around the age of 17 his father was beheaded for being a Christian, and this event profoundly shaped Origen for the rest of his life. He became even more devout and determined in his Christian faith; many called him a religious fanatic. Origen fasted twice a week and abstained from eating meat, drinking alcohol, sleeping on beds, and wearing shoes! His intellectual power also shined through his faith; Origen wrote thousands of sermons, commentaries, and philosophical books. He intentionally studied under pagan teachers to better defend Christianity in the terribly lost Roman society around him.
Although Origen believed he would die as a martyr for Christ, just like his father had, God had other plans for him. Throughout the third century, Origen wrote, preached, and debated among Christians and pagans. He could draw multiple spiritual lessons from any biblical passage, and the Bible studies Origen wrote were used and admired for hundreds of years after his death. In fact, Origen wrote the first Christian theology textbook, presenting a uniquely Christian worldview for critical Jews and Romans. A century later another church leader asked in frustration: “Has anyone read everything that Origen wrote?”
Origen also wrote what many scholars consider to be the greatest defense of Christianity from the ancient Roman world. In his book, Origen argues point for point against a Roman named Celsus, the leading anti-Christian pagan philosopher of the time. Christians were often condemned as bad citizens for refusing military service, but Origen defended Christians by telling the government:
“We who by our prayers destroy all demons which stir up wars, violate oaths, and disturb the peace are of more help to the emperors than those who seem to be doing the fighting.”
In 250, Origen was tortured in prison by the evil emperor Decius, who hoped to see the famous preacher renounce his faith. Origen suffered for years, but he outlived Decius and was released from prison near the end of his amazing life. May we have a faith as solid as steel, just like Origen!
Today's Devotional was contributed by Mr. Stephen Nobles.
(The Ephesus Baptist Church Pastoral Ministry Intern)
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