St. Clement of Alexandria is also known as Titus Flavius Clemens. He was a Christian theologian who taught at the Catechetical School of Alexandria. He is venerated as one of the Church Fathers.
Clement was a Christian Apologist, missionary theologian to the Greek cultural world, and second known leader of the catechetical school of Alexandria. He synthesized Greek philosophy and Mosaic tradition, and attempted to mediate Gnostics and orthodox Christians.
He was born about the middle of the 2nd century, and died between 211 and 216. Ancient records indicate Athens as his place of birth.
"...Clement teaches that it is not God's wrath which is to be appeased but man's impurity which is to be overcome, so that unity with the Divine may be attained. Ignorance, to Clement, is the cause of sin, and as man grows in inner wisdom he emerges from the darkness of ignorance and sin into the light of the spiritual world This victory, which Christ attained in His resurrection, is the goal to which every Christian should aspire; and it is to the risen Christ and not to the crucified Christ that Clement bids us look. The message which Christ brought to man was not that life meant a crucifixion, but that through the crucifixion of our earthly self the spirit within could attain to the new birth. Joy therefore should be the hall-mark of the Church as well as of its members, for Christianity essentially brought a message of gladness. Most Christians in Clement's time looked upon joy, beauty and wisdom as essentially sinful and as leading man away from God. Primitive Christianity in opposition to Christ's own teaching was bowed down under an intense feeling of sinfulness and evil from which alone God's pardon could bring release. Clement taught that God was the fount not of pardon but of Life, and that it was through wisdom, love and beauty that man grew nearer to God. His scheme of training was one in which he led his pupils through science, dialectics, ethics and philosophy to theology as the crown of all, thus giving them a wide range of knowledge, culminating in the Christian tradition and scriptures in which all found their unity.
"The life of Clement was essentially a life of harmony and beauty; his character was noble and gentle and showed that perfect balance and sense of proportion which was the precious heritage of Greece. His common sense prevented him from allowing himself to be martyred during the persecution of Severus while he could preserve his life by flight; and, though less heroic, his way was certainly the more useful one. Until his flight in the year 202 he was the head of the catechetical school, though he lived until 215, leaving behind him a number of works of which the Stromateis were the most important.... If ever a man deserved to be termed a Saint it was Clement, whose life of truly Christian virtue and wisdom together with the greatness and nobility of his character make him a true disciple of the living Christ, following in the footsteps of the Master in a time when the message of Christ was but too often obscured by the doctrines of his followers."
Interesting details about St. Clement life:
• He was a married priest, which was a common practice in the day.
• He discouraged the consumption of meat and may have been vegetarian.
• Clement argues for the equality of sexes.
• He suggests that Christ is neither male nor female.
• Clement does not believe in the abandoning of worldly pleasures and argues that the Christian
should be able to express his joy in God's creation through gaiety and partying.
• He was extremely knowledgeable in pagan religions of the region.
While Clement taught extensively, he also authored a number of books. Some highlights of his writings are:
• He attempted to unite Greek pagan philosophy with Christianity. Clement spend much time defining for Christians the originally pagan philosophical concept of the Logos, the principle of true Christian gnosis, through whom alone God's relation to the world and his revelation is maintained.
• The way to union with God (theosis) is for Clement only the Church's way: Faith contains all the essentials of the highest knowledge and through the Eucharist the believer is united with the Logos and the Spirit, and made partaker of incorruptibility.
• Christianity is an intellectually rigorous worldview, and to convince Christians that one could be a well-educated philosopher and a follower of Christ at the same time. God has planted the seeds of truth in every rational mind, and that “the Law is for the Jew what philosophy is for the Greek, a schoolmaster to bring them to Christ.”
• Clement's Christ is a supernatural physician. The medicine which he offers is the communication of saving gnosis, leading men to faith and from faith to the higher state of knowledge.
St. Clement of Alexandria became successor of his teacher as the head of the Didascalium. In the year 202, Clement had to flee Egypt due to persecution of the Christian community by the Romans, and he ended up as the leader of a church in Cappadocia.
“For all things are ordered both universally and in particular by the Lord of the universe, with a view to the salvation of the universe. But needful corrections, by the goodness of the great, overseeing judge, through the attendant angels, through various prior judgments, through the final judgment, compel even those who have become more callous to repent. … So He saves all; but some He converts by penalties, others who follow Him of their own will, and in accordance with the worthiness of His honor, that every knee may be bent to Him of celestial, terrestrial and infernal things (Phil. 2:10), that is angels, men, and souls who before his [Christ's] advent migrated from this mortal life. … For there are partial corrections (paideiai) which are called chastisements (kolasis), which many of us who have been in transgression incur by falling away from the Lord’s people. But as children are chastised by their teacher, or their father, so are we by Providence… for good to those who are chastised collectively and individually.”