In response to the earlier post “Bishop Hilarion: God’s Mercy is immeasurable”, His Grace, Hilarion (Alfeyev), Russian Orthodox Bishop of Vienna, posted the following clarification in the combox:
Friends, I came across your blog by accident. Thank you for your interest in what I said in Rome. However, I must state that what some of you take as my position is in fact that of St Isaac of Nineveh. It is his views that I tried to present as faithfully as I could in my paper and in my earlier book The Spiritual World of Isaac the Syrian, on which this paper is based. Please read the text of my paper here.
As you will see, I clearly state: “The teaching on universal salvation, which is so explicitly preached by Isaac the Syrian, has never been approved by the Orthodox Church. On the contrary, Origenist idea of the apokatastasis ton panton (restoration of all), which has certain resemblance with this teaching, was condemned by the Fifth Ecumenical Council”.
Then I try to explain the difference between St Isaac and Origen: “However, we would not completely identify Isaac’s idea of the universal salvation with Origenist ‘restoration of all’. In Origen, universal restoration is not the end of the world, but a passing phase from one created world to another, which will come into existence after the present world has come to its end. This idea is alien to Christian tradition and unknown to Isaac. The latter is more dependent on other ancient writers, notably Theodore of Mopsuestia and Diodore of Tarsus, who also developed the idea of universal salvation, yet in a way different from Origen’s. On the other hand, it would not be fair to say that Isaac simply borrowed the ideas of his predecessors and inserted them into his own writings. Isaac’s eschatological optimism and his belief in universal salvation are ultimate outcomes of his personal theological vision, whose central idea is that of God as love. Around this idea the whole of his theological system is shaped”.
Many thanks, Vladika, for this important clarification. We are truly honored by your participation in our humble ecumenical forum!