One of the most influential thinkers in the early church was Origen. Although later condemned for some of his more platonic theology, Origen was immensely popular in his own time. Origen was the first Christian writer to try to wrestle through the theology of the sacrifice on the cross in a philosophically coherent way. He asked how can the Christ as Logos of God be correctly and convincingly understood understood as possessing saving power?
As a man deeply influenced by Plato the idea that God somehow needed something from people did not sit well with Origen. A god that needs us is not an all powerful God and cannot be a true god. Therefore he did not like the idea that the cross was in place to satisfy something in God. Instead Origin looked toward humanity as the problem. He did not focus on the physicality of the cross, believing that this could distract people from the deeper understanding of the sacrifice of Jesus. Instead he wanted people to see that the cross was simply the most tangible expression of the heart of Jesus.
Origin taught that Jesus entire life was an act of taking up the cross. He wanted people to see that Christianity was not simply something that was accomplished by Christ, but that it extended a call into people’s lives at all times. The cross showed not a God weakened by his need for us, but one who was willing to be shamed by us to show how great he was. Origen calls the cross the “death which is accounted the most shameful among men” and Jesus willingness to suffer it demonstrates an act of God so beyond human understanding that it surpasses the mystery of creation.
According to Origen, the Cross demonstrates ultimate virtue and functions as a sort of educative therapy. Only God could show the world true virtue because only God has ultimate goodness. This goodness is demonstrated so powerfully that it not only shows humans how to live lives of virtue before God, it actually subdues the forces of evil and temptation themselves. In effect, it’s function was to change Humans rather then changing God. Those transformed by Christ can partake in the subjugation of evil and achieve a form of theosis where they are made like God. This understanding, although very influential on many Christian thinkers, was eventually condemned. The church still had a good deal of thinking about what the Death of Jesus did for humanity.
 Dreyer, The Cross in Christian Tradition, 94.
 Dryer, 97.
 Origen, Homilies on Jeremiah: Homily on 1 Kings 28, trans. John Clark Smith (Washington, DC: CUA Press, 1998), 186-187
 Origen, “De Principiis: On the Incarnation of Christ,” Christian Classics Ethereal Library, n.d., http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf04.vi.v.iii.vi.html, (Accessed March 2, 2012).
 Young, The Use of Sacrificial Ideas, 213-220.