Weekend Wisdom – John R. Sachs
As much as Gregory emphasizes the gracious priority of God’s saving action in the Incarnation (and, finally, in the resurrection), he also views God’s final victory over evil as assured, because, like Origen, Gregory was inclined to see evil as a perversion of the good, rather than as something which had a real substance of its own. Unlike the good, it can never be absolute and unlimited. Therefore, he argued, it must eventually have an end. Evil has not in fact always existed and it cannot exist forever. Since God is the origin and final orientation of all creatures, the sinner must reach a limit when all the evil he or she can do is done; at that point the individual can turn once again toward the good. While others, notably Origen, had already suggested that the grace of true conversion in an individual’s life often came at a point when the infection of sin, like a severe fever or a festering abscess, had reached its breaking point, Gregory applied this metaphor to the collective history of the world. Gregory argued that the Incarnation came precisely at the point when human evil had reached its limit. The resurrection of Christ is the definitive revelation that the power of sin has been broken.
From “Apocatastasis in Patristic Theology” by John R. Sachs