"As it is to be expected from an Eastern Orthodox priest and theologian, patristic tradition was a springboard for Bulgakov’s own theological deliberations. He observes in The Bride of the Lamb that in pondering the final destiny of humankind patristic tradition followed two distinct trajectories: one associated with the universalist ideas of Origen and Gregory of Nyssa, the other espoused by the opponents of the doctrine of universal salvation. It should be noted that Bulgakov’s knowledge of the relevant patristic material was largely based upon the dissertation of M. F. Oksiiuk, Eschatology of St Gregory of Nyssa (1914), which provided a comprehensive survey of patristic views on eschatology up to the time of the Fifth Ecumenical Council (553).
Bulgakov recognized that the claim that all, including the fallen angels, would ultimately be saved represented a minority opinion, suspect of heresy on the grounds of its association with Origen. At the same time the Russian theologian emphasized that the Church had not issued any dogmatic definition on the subject of the final outcome of the last judgment and the eternity of hell beyond what was stated in the Nicene creed. According to Bulgakov, in the absence of a conciliar definition, consensus patrum, even if it could be presumed to exist on this issue, was not enough to settle a dogmatic dispute. In an important article ‘Dogma and Dogmatics’ (1937), written concurrently with The Bride of the Lamb, Bulgakov argued that only the doctrine of the trinity enshrined in the creed and the doctrine of the incarnation stated in the definitions of the seven ecumenical councils enjoyed the status of the dogma binding upon all members of the Orthodox Church. He relegated all other doctrinal questions, such as the veneration of the Mother of God and of the saints, sacramental theology, pneumatology, atonement theories, and eschatology, to the sphere of theologoumena, that is, of more or less authoritative patristic opinions. Bulgakov stressed that in the area of eschatology in particular no ecumenical council had ever condemned Gregory of Nyssa’s version of universalism. It is a matter of historical fact that in the Eastern Orthodox tradition the doctrine of eternal damnation did not achieve the level of explicit articulation that it later found in the Roman Catholic conciliar definitions and Protestant confessions."
A version of the Origenist doctrine of apocatastasis was condemned by the local council of Constantinople in 543. Whether the bishops of the Fifth Ecumenical Council (553) anathematized this aspect of Origen’s theology explicitly is a murky question. Up to the late nineteenth century it was widely assumed that this ecumenical council did condemn universalism. See J. Daniélou, ‘L’apocatastase chez Saint Grégoire de Nysse’, Recherches de science religieuse 30 (1940), 328-47; Brian Daley, The Hope of the Early Church (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 190; J. Sachs, ‘Apocatastasis in Patristic Theology’, Theological Studies 54 (1993), 620-1.