Origen lived and wrote prolifically in the first half of the 3rd century. He had been a disciple of St. Clement of Alexandria, and assumed many of his master's theories and habits. Unfortunately, taking some of these theories and habits to an extreme conclusion is what eventually got him condemned, 300 years after his death, by an Ecumenical Council. Among his teachings that were condemned included a belief in a hierarchy within the Trinity, the preexistence of souls, and possibly even reincarnation.
Be all that as it may, most of his writings are Orthodox in nature and were an influence on such great later figures of the Church as St. Gregory Nazianzen and St. Basil the Great. Origen eventually, in AD 254, was tortured to death and martyred for his Faith in Christ.
I'm very happy to be able to announce that, search high and low as I might, I was not able to find a single viable Protestant proof-text in favor of Origen believing in Sola Scriptura. Happily, Origen was generally precise enough not to lend himself to this kind of quote-mining.
Origen's ideas on Scripture were much like those of his teacher, St. Clement of Alexandria. First, he had a much wider canon than most Christians even in his own time had. Like Clement, whom we've already covered in this series, Origen believed that pretty much anything that agreed with the Orthodox Christian Faith was Scripture. He refers, for instance, to the following writings as "divinely inspired":
- Gospel of Peter
- Gospel of the Hebrews
- Acts of Paul
- First Letter of Clement to the Corinthians
- Letter of St. Barnabas
- Shepherd of Hermas
We also find, in common with his teacher (and with all of the Fathers, for that matter) that Origen considered Apostolic Tradition to be the correct interpretation of the texts of Scripture, which had been passed down from the Apostles alongside Scripture and which was indispensable to a correct reading of Scripture. He also, like his teacher (and, again, all of the Fathers) is unequivicle about that fact that this Holy Apostolic Tradition has been passed down through Apostolic Sucession and is found only in the Church. Here's Origen, in his own words:
"When heretics show us the canonical Scriptures, in which every Christian believes and trusts, they seem to be saying: 'Lo, he is in the inner rooms.' But we must not believe them, nor leave the original Tradition of the Church, nor believe otherwise than we have been taught by the succession in the Church of God." - Origen, Homilies on Matthew, 46, 13, 1667 [emphasis mine]And again, elsewhere:
"Now the reason of the erroneous apprehension of all these points on the part of those whom we have mentioned above, is no other than this, that Holy Scripture is not understood by them according to its spiritual, but according to its literal meaning. And therefore we shall endeavor, so far as our moderate capacity will permit, to point out to those who believe the Holy Scriptures to be no human compositions, but to be written by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and to be transmitted and entrusted to us by the will of God the Father, through His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ, what appears to us, who observe things by a right way of understanding, to be the standard and discipline delivered to the Apostles by Jesus Christ, and which they handed down in succession to their posterity, the teachers of the Holy Church." - Origen, First Principles, 4, 1, 9 [emphasis mine]I've found that this is the common strain that connects and unites all of the Fathers in their interpretations of Scripture, no matter how different their approaches are in other respects: they one and all agree that alongside Scripture has been passed down a certain understanding and interpretation of that Scripture; that this understanding and interpretation is divinely inspired and equal to Scripture itself; and that this understanding and interpretation is found only in the One True Church, which has preserved it through Apostolic Succession. This understanding and interpretation is Holy Tradition, and without it one does not have the Scriptures at all even though he might be able to read the texts. This point seems lost on Protestant apologists who would like to quote-mine both the Scriptures and the Fathers in favor of their own innovative positions. I have to be honest, I'm not sure, after doing the research only this far on the Fathers and their possible adherence to Sola Scriptura, how it is that Protestants can read the Fathers and not feel indicted by them.