Like last year, I honor today's solemn observance in the spirit of Christian universalism. I especially call to mind a few of the early Christian scholars and saints who advocated this view. Here are some of their own words about what they believed regarding the universal extent of Christ's redemption, the temporary & disciplinary nature of Hell, and the final destiny of all mankind:
Clement of Alexandria- 2nd century theologian, sometimes referred to as the first Christian philosopher
"For all things are ordered both universally and in particular by the Lord of the universe, with a view to the salvation of the universe."
"If in this life there are so many ways for purification and repentance, how much more should there be after death! The purification of souls, when separated from the body, will be easier. We can set no limits to the agency of the Redeemer; to redeem, to rescue, to discipline, is his work, and so will he continue to operate after this life."
Origen- 3rd century theologian, offered the first comprehensive theological, philosophical, and intellectual defense of Christianity
"But our belief is that the Word [Christ] shall prevail over the entire rational creation, and change every soul into his own perfection..."
"For stronger than all the evil in the soul is the Word, and the healing power that dwells in him; and this healing he applies, according to the will of God, to every man."
St. Gregory of Nyssa- 4th century theologian, sometimes referred to as the "flower of orthodoxy"
"...the nature of evil shall one day be wholly exterminated, and divine, immortal goodness embrace within itself all intelligent creatures; so that of all who were made by God, not one shall be exiled from his kingdom..."
"For it is evident that God will in truth be 'in all' when there shall be no evil in existence, when every created being is at harmony with itself, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, when every creature shall have been made one body. Now the body of Christ, as I have often said, is the whole of humanity."
"Whoever considers the divine power will plainly perceive that it is able at length to restore by means of aionion purgation and expiatory sufferings, those who have gone even to this extremity of wickedness."
St. Macrina the Younger- 4th century nun, older sister of St. Gregory of Nyssa
"When the evil has been extirpated in the long cycles of the aeons
nothing shall be left outside the boundaries of good, but even from them
shall be unanimously uttered the confession of the Lordship of Christ."
process of healing shall be proportioned to the measure of evil in each
of us, and when the evil is purged and blotted out, there shall come in
each place to each immortality and life and honor."
Titus of Bostra- 4th century theologian
"Thus the mystery was completed by the Savior in order that, perfection being completed through all things, and in all things, by Christ, all universally shall be made one through Christ and in Christ."
"The very abyss of torment is indeed the place of chastisement, but it is not eternal (aionion) nor did it exist in the original constitution of nature. It was afterwards, as a remedy for sinners, that it might cure them. And the punishments are holy, as they are remedial and salutary in their effect on transgressors; for they are inflicted, not to preserve them in their wickedness, but to make them cease from their wickedness..."
St. Isaac of Syria- 7th century theologian
"...He [God] has devised the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven for the entire community of rational beings...Nevertheless Gehenna [Hell] is grievous even if it is thus limited in its extent:"
With these sentiments in mind, we call to mind all human souls who have died, righteous and wicked, believer and unbeliever, and we entrust them to Christ, the Divine Mercy. Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.
"I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." Jesus Christ, Revelation 1:18
"For you, Christ our God are compassionate and love mankind..." Prayer of St. John of Damascus