"I Saw Satan Fall From Heaven"--Two Orders of Fallen Creation

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In reading the Gospel of Luke, I happened upon several passages that were intriguing and worthy of much more comment than I am likely to give here. But one thing that crossed my mind is God's apparent obsession with free will in creation. How much more harmonious a world might He have established if He had just done something about Free Will.

It also brought into sharp focus the plight of the fallen Angels and of humanity. In fact, we both committed the same sin for the same or similar reasons. Pride says distinctly non serviam. When Adam took a bite of the forbidden fruit, he was saying, in essence, I shall not serve. When we get up each morning to face the day, immediately after our morning offering or morning prayer, many of us begin to say, "I will not serve."

But why was the sin of the Angels so much greater than our own? Why will we be forgiven and saved, but the fallen Angels cast away from God's presence? The answer lies, I think, in the fact that the choice of the angels was made with much more information at their disposal. That is, the angels directly experienced the Beatific Vision. They saw and understood precisely what it was that they were rejecting. Even in our clearest Human sight, our faulty forefather did not engage in this direct experience of God. Yes, communion was far closer than it is today. Adam and God walked in the Garden together. But we are spirits trapped in a body of flesh. Angels are pure spirit experiencing pure spirit. They knew what they rejected. They knew with long knowledge.

But another passage in the Gospel of Luke makes me wonder about the fate of the Angels. I know that the Church teaches that they will be cast out--I will hold to that faith regardless of the tantilizing suggestions that led to the "heresy" of Universalism in the west. (I'm given to understand that the Eastern Church does not regard universalism as a heresy.) The passage I find intriguing in this regard is the story of the Gerasene demoniac. When Jesus is ready to cast out the demons, they plead with HIm and beg not to be cast into the abyss, but into the bodies of a nearby herd of swine. Jesus acquiesces nd allows this to happen. How so? Why should Jesus pay attention to the pleadings of demons?

No matter how disobedient the children, I think it is very hard even for a human parent to completely repudiate them. It can be done, but it is difficult. The fallen Angels are also God's children. Even if their crime was serious, and their sin more deeply injurious because of greater knowledge and responsibility, God still sees them as part of His creation which flowed out of pure love. When they beg "for a loaf of bread" He does not "hand them a stone."

I don't know what all of this means, but it opens my eyes to the wonder of the love of God. He is gentle even with the worst and blackest of his creation. What does it mean? Honestly, I don't know, but it does seem to reinforce St. Paul's magnificent paean to love--"Love is gentle, love is kind." Surely here, we see it enduring all things and exercising tremendous forebearance.

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"I'm given to understand that the Eastern Church does not regard universalism as a heresy."

The heresy is more precisely apocatastasis.

I can't say what the Eastern Churches do or don't regard as heresy, but apocatastasis was condemned at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553, a Council accepted by the Orthodox.

(There may be some wiggle room, in that what was condemned was the "monstrous restoration" ("teratode apokatastasis," if I've got it right) that follows from the doctrine of the pre-existence of souls, so perhaps one could argue a restoration that doesn't follow from pre-existence of souls is neither monstrous nor condemned.)

There has been much theological debate as to whether the fallen angels ever experienced the Beatific Vision. As a very amateur theologian I would tend to doubt that they did. Since their will and intellect have always been in harmony there could be no time that could pass where they could repent, the decision was made with full knowledge and will of th e consequence. I would think that entering into the Beatific Vision would require some perfection of submission of will.

This to me is one of the greatest mysteries to have that knowledge of creator and yourself as creator and then to peform the only sin possible for an angel, that of intellectual pride, is surprising. But it is good to remember that knowlege and intellect alone don't get us to heaven. That faith and grace are much more important.

an interesting question sir; however, being that I'm no theologian I'll take God's love and be glad He's offered it. The Theologians may debate 'till Hell freezes over, me = I'm going to rejoice that God found me and gave me another chance at getting "it right".

Dear John,

Thank you. You have succinctly restated the entire point of this post. I marvel at the compassionate love that even gives the fallen angels some measure of comfort. If so, how much more then can we expect from His generous hand.





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 9, 2004 6:57 AM.

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