Every age has its mythological heroes. Beings with extraordinary abilities and powers that enable them to live a life that is larger than the life of us mere mortals who have to struggle simply to have bread on the table at the end of the day. Their tales, crafted by mostly unknown authors, serve to inspire, encourage, and at times, hold us in suspense wondering what their outcome will be.
The heroes of my youth have been showing up on the big screen in the past few years with larger than life productions and stories. With every new movie, memories of the short days of my childhood return like a bright summer Saturday afternoon that sadly ends too soon.
I still have heroes that strengthen my heart and help me make sense of a world filled with a fierce struggle between good and evil. Now however, it is not the two dimensional fictional characters in the pages of comic books, but real men and women throughout time.
In the Third century, the darkness of the Gnostics and their perversion of the gospel were gaining ground. A teenage boy who had the faith and the conviction of the message of Christ crucified, encouraged his beloved father to remain faithful in the face of persecution. So great was this young man’s faith, his mother had to hide his clothes to prevent him from following his father into a premature martyrdom!
As he grew into manhood, his robust faith did not wane but grew strong even as he began his studies of the Greek philosophers. With his mind honed and disciplined by his studies, he began to write and teach whoever desired to learn the Christian message contained in Holy Writ. Some think that it was at this time this man of heroic faith made a decision that he would later regret. In the light of recent scandals involving pastors who are whoremongers and priests who molest children, a thoughtful mind could easily admire this man’s legendary preemptive self-mutilation.
Those familiar with the history of the Christian church know that I am speaking of the Eastern Church father from the Third century: Origen. He was a man of great character and gift.
Origen’s thought and work would contribute to later Nicene Orthodoxy. He would give to the Church the first systematic theology. We also find him developing an idea that is not far from the Reformed hermeneutic principle call the analogia fidei (see 2LBC 1.9). The most outstanding aspect of Origen’s work however, is that it is saturated with Scripture.
Though all these are admirable traits of a Christian intellectual, it is Origen’s commitment to Christ and His people, even in the face of persecution, that inspires me. It is reported that as many of his students were led away to face execution for their faith, he would follow along and encourage them to remain faithful to the Lord Jesus. He himself would be attacked by soldiers and angry mobs and needed to be hidden for his own safety!
One writer reports that when Origen was an old man, “he was arrested, incarcerated and cruelly tortured in an effort to force a recantation. But a lifetime of ascetic training supported his faith, and neither stretching on the rack nor threats of fire could induce Origen to renounce it.”
In his days, he was called by the nickname Adamantius, translated this means unbreakable or as we would say it, he was an Iron Man!
Even now, there are men and women throughout the world who I esteem as my heroes. They have no body armor or super powers to protect and give them aid. They are usually poor and plain people of the earth. Their bodies are often beaten, bruised, and burned for their convictions. Yet they are unbending and unyielding in their faith in the One who, although He was God incarnate, was broken for us, even Jesus our Savior.David Charles Providence Reformed Baptist Church Toledo, Ohio
 The History of Christian thought. Jonathan Hill pg. 48