The unusual pairing of these two terms – orthodox and heretic – is not meant to be provocative but a genuine description of an early theologian who shaped what Christians still confess and yet he was also someone who got himself into trouble with the heresiarchs [over universalism and his anthropology]. I am referring to Origen (not Origin) whose understanding of the relationship of Jesus to the Father is the orthodox position. We are looking at the fine small and readable book by Ronald Heine, Classical Christian Doctrine: Introducing the Essentials of the Ancient Faith.
Origen articulated what is now called the “eternal generation of the Son.” We confess it as “begotten, not made.”
The issue was the belief from the New Testament that Jesus was divine/God. Does this mean “two Gods”? (We looked at this last week.) If Jesus is God, if the Father is God, what is the relationship of the Father to the Son? In particular, was there a time when the Son was not? If the Son had a beginning (made, not begotten) then how can he be God in the sense of eternal?
Origen appealed to two arguments for the eternal generation and eternity of the Son:
First, Origen used Aristotle’s way of defining terms and the issue here is about “correlatives”: if there is a Father, there is a Son. (If there is a slave, there must be a master.) There is no such thing as a Father without a Son, nor such a thing as a Son without their being a Father. And, correlatives have simultaneity: if the Father is essentially, or eternally Father, then there is an essential and eternal Son. Simultaneous to being Father there is Son. If the Father is eternally, there is the eternal Son.
Second, John 1:1 says “the Word was God” and not “the Word came to be God,” the latter implying a time when the Word was not God. Hence, the exegetical evidence states the Son is eternal because the Son is/was God.
Therefore, the Son’s relation to the Father is one of eternal generation (this refers to Fathering and “Son-ing”).
This is orthodox Christian christology.
Origen also believed deity was inherent to the nature of Christ though humanity is something the Son assumed.