"I wish to be a man of the Church"

“I wish to be a man of the Church, not the founder of heresy; I want to be named with Christ’s name and bear the name which is blessed on earth. It is also my desire to do this in deed as well as in Spirit.” Some of you reading this might be surprised to learn that Origen, nicknamed Adamantius, “Man of Steel,”[1] said this. See his Homily on Luke 16. I think it grievous that later generations have judged Origen so harshly. I have never regarded him as a heretic as some have done. He was a Christian theologian who made some theological errors, yes. But a heretic never! We need to ever recall with figures as complex as Origen the way Robert Murray McCheyne spoke after hearing of the death of Edward Irving, the preaching wonder of the 1820s: for McCheyne, Irving was “a holy man in spite of all his delusions and errors.”[2]

[1] Jerome, On Illustrious Men 54[trans. Thomas P. Halton, Saint Jerome: On Illustrious Men (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1999), 77].

[2] Andrew A. Bonar, The Life of Robert Murray M‘Cheyne (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1960), 35.