St. Theodore – the Legendary Bishop of Mopsuestia (350-428)
1) Hell is REAL & PAINFUL but it is NOT eternal
“Bishop Theodore of Mopsuestia (350-428), who was an avowed Universalist and is still regarded by many Nestorians as “the Interpreter” of their faith. He is thought to have been the one who first introduced universal reconciliation into the Nestorian liturgy.
Theodore of Mopsuestia emphasized the sovereignty and power of God to restore all beings to Himself regardless of their free will to rebel. He wrote: “The wicked who have committed evil the whole period of their lives shall be punished till they learn that, by continuing in sin, they only continue in misery. And when, by this means, they shall have been brought to fear God, and to regard Him with good will, they shall obtain the enjoyment of His grace. For He never would have said, ‘until thou hast paid the uttermost farthing,’ [Mat. 5:26] unless we can be released from suffering after having suffered adequately for sin; nor would He have said, ‘he shall be beaten with many stripes,’ [Luke 12:47] and again, ‘he shall be beaten with few stripes,’ [vs. 48] unless the punishment to be endured for sin will have an end.”
2) Who is he?
“Theodore the Interpreter (c. 350 – 428) was bishop of Mopsuestia (as Theodore II) from 392 to 428 AD. He is also known as Theodore of Antioch, from the place of his birth and presbyterate. He is the best known representative of the middle School of Antioch of hermeneutics.”
3) Was he condemned for the Nestorian Heresy?
“Although he was later criticized for anticipating the “heresy” of Nestorius, during his lifetime Theodore was regarded as orthodox and as a prominent ecclesiastical author. Little in his writings speaks directly to the Christological teaching for which he was condemned. However, like several figures in the early church, Theodore was a universalist, believing that all people would eventually be saved.”
3) How did “other orthodox saints” during or close to his time view him?
To quote (from the same source):
“The popularity—and later the criticism—of Theodore increased following his death.
Theodoret of Cyrrhus regarded him as a “doctor of the universal church.”
Cyril of Alexandria relates that “We believe as Theodore believed; long live the faith of Theodore!” was a cry often heard in the churches of the East (Ep. 69).
When the bishops of Syria were called on to criticize his view, they reportedly replied: “We had rather be burnt than condemn Theodore” (Ep. 72).
Nestorius: Although Theodore was not accused of heresy during his lifetime, certain of his writings were condemned as “Nestorian” during the Three-Chapters controversy.
Yet, by 431, the African church writer Marius Mercator denounced him as the real author of the Pelagian heresy (Lib. subnot. in verba Juliani, praef) and the precursor of Nestorianism. The Council of Ephesus (431) condemned ideas attributed to Theodore, but without mentioning him by name.”
4) At Most, Theodore’s Nestorianism (in his writings, if true) were CONDEMNED and NOT his Christ Centered Universalism.
Can you see it?
To quote (from the same source):
“In 436, Patriarch Proclus of Constantinople demanded from the bishops of Syria a condemnation of certain propositions supposed to have been drawn from the writings of Theodore.
Cyril of Alexandria, who had once spoken favorably of some of Theodore’s works (Facund. viii.6), now wrote to the emperor (Ep. 71), that Diodore and Theodore were the parents of the “blasphemy” of Nestorius.
For their part, members of the Nestorian party compounded the problem by citing Theodore’s words as affording the best available exposition of their own views (Liberat. Brev. 10).
5) What is Nestorianism?
“Nestorianism was an ancient Christian heresy associated with Nestorius (c. 386–c. 451 C.E.), Patriarch of Constantinople, who taught that Christ consisted of two distinct persons (human and divine Logos), rather than a unified person. Nestorius’ view of Christ was condemned at the Council of Ephesus in 431 C.E. The christological debates surrounding his teachings led to the Nestorian schism, separating the Assyrian Church of the East from the Byzantine Church.”
5) Theodore of Mopsuestia’s Orthodox Universalism and Its Impact on others
Theodore of Mopsuestia’s Universalist Quotes were never condemned by any of the Orthodox saints of his time who knew him.
Example (to quote):
“Subsequent hands have corrupted the faith of Nestorius and Theodore. For example, the “Jewel,” written by Mar Abd Yeshua, A.D. 1298, says that the wicked “shall remain on the earth” after the resurrection of the righteous, and “shall be consumed with the fire of remorse. This is the true Hell whose fire is not quenched and whose worm dieth not.” But the earlier faith did not contain these ideas. The litany in the Khudra, for Easter eve, has these words: “O Thou Living One who descendest to the abode of the dead and preached a good hope to the souls which were detained in Sheol, we pray thee, O Lord, to have mercy upon us.” “Blessed is the king who hath descended into Sheol and hath raised us up, and who, by his resurrection, hath given the promise of regeneration to the human race.”
Dr. Beecher on Theodore
After giving numerous testimonials to the educational, missionary and Christian zeal of the Nestorians and other followers of Theodore, Beecher says that these advocates of ancient Restorationism were “in all other respects Orthodox,” and that their views did not prevent them “from establishing wide-spread systems of education, from illuminating the Arabs, and through them the dark churches who had sunk into midnight gloom.” The Universalism of Theodore was beneficial in its effects on himself and his followers. It did not “cut the nerve of missionary enterprise.”
6) Theodore of Mopsuestia NEVER believed in ‘Mary Veneration’ which he regarded as ‘heresy’ personally at that time even (Can you see who is RIGHT here?)
“Theodore “expounded Scripture in all the churches of the East,” says John of Antioch (ibid. ii.2), with some literary license, and adds that in his lifetime Theodore was never arraigned by any of the orthodox. But in a letter to Nestorius (ibid. x.2) John begs him to retract, urging the example of Theodore, who, when in a sermon at Antioch he had said something which gave great and manifest offence, for the sake of peace and to avoid scandal, after a few days as publicly corrected himself. Leontius tells us that the cause of offence was a DENIAL to the VIRGIN MARY of the title THEOTOKOS. So great was the storm that the people threatened to stone the preacher (Cyril of Alexandria Ep. 69). The heretical sects attacked by Theodore showed their resentment in a way less overt, but perhaps more formidable. They tampered with his writings, hoping thus to involve him in heterodox statements (Facund. x.1).”
7) Mysterious Lost Writings of Theodore in Support of Christ Centered Universalism
“Photius mentions that Theodore wrote three books on “Persian Magic”, which not only attacked Zoroastrianism, but according to Photius betrayed his “Nestorian” views in the third book, and DEFENDED BELIEF in the FINAL RESTORATION of ALL MEN.”
Theodore, a friend of Christ – a friend of mine.
P/S: Non-canonical wisdom agreeing to Canonical Christ Centered Universalism
An Interesting Early Christian View of Christ Centered Universalism is sometimes echoed even in non-canonical Writings
“68 The context is eschatological:
from death you will pass on to life in the other world […] you will dance dances in the world to come and will be crowned among the angels, remaining forever in the blessed choir.
69 Therefore, the salvation requested by the saints is the eschatological salvation of sinners. This concept was already developed in the” – Apocalypse of Peter (Quoted from Ilaria L.E. Ramelli’s writing discussing St. Basil the Great)
The phrase “the salvation requested by the saints is the eschatological salvation of sinners.” ——> similar to the “Sibyline Prophecies”. Interesting.
Further discussion regarding the “Sibyline Prophecies” (Chapter 7, Page 261) and “Persian Magic of Christmas” (Chapter 8, Page 279) may be found in the Free downloadable pdf Book in link below (with encouragements by both St. Justin Martyr and St. Clement of Alexandria themselves too):
‘No one loves you truly until they have loved you to the Hell and back’ – Anonymous