We just read through John Milton's Paradise Lost in my English class (there are all sorts of problems with spending only a few weeks on a book that dense) and a question that came up again and again was why does God keep letting Satan get away with these things even God know's what's going to happen?
The short answer was always that it just brings God more glory that way, but I think that may apply to this question, too. God is essentially letting Satan cinch his own noose tight. In the past He's given Satan billions of opportunities to exercise his remaining free will and do the right thing, but Satan kept doing evil. Now, God's giving him a thousand years to cool off and think over everything, and he's still going to keep sinning when he gets out. So on one level, it could be that God is extending grace to everyone and at the same time proving His infinite justice for when He judges Satan.
So you believe Satan still has free will and could, if he wanted, turn and become a God-worshipper again?
Like I said, I have no biblical evidence to support my idea that Satan and the demons (and the angels, incidentally) no longer have that kind of free will, so I like talking with folks who might have another view about it.
Well, since of course I've been studying this subject deeply for all of my 17 years, I think he could, except that he never would.
Free Will is probably the trickiest doctrine of Christianity, and I don't think humans will ever have a vocabulary that is able to express acurately the concepts behind it.
I know that human free will (and states of grace) are different from angelic free will (because our essence and being is different), but it seems to me as if Satan and the demons are deciding again and again that they're going to disobey and rebel against God. It's as if they made the decision once to never obey, and now they can never choose the other option. The possibility of not sinning is still there, but they would/can never take that path. Hmmm, sounds a bit like parallel universes...
I've had a year of Systematic Theology and Building a Christian Worldview, but it seems like that mostly outlined the confusing parts of Christianity in stead of answering the questions. I think the debate is going to go on and on and on while God looks down and laughs.
The chief purpose of the Millennium is for Christ to sit on David's throne and rule. David was anointed king of Israel as a youth, but he did not take possession of Jerusalem and his crown until many decades had passed. Christ is already king, but his visible presence as the supreme temporal ruler occurs in the Millennium.
This isn't simply the Father's reward to His faithful Son. The physical creation and its human inhabitants need the tangible experience of the just and perfect ruler. We need to see ideal kingship at work. At the Millennium we would witness this.
That's my sense of its purpose. Then, when the thousand years is over, and this physicality has had this wonderful experience, all of the earth and human life is transformed into an amazing new creation.
As far as the angelic creation is concerned, I believe free will exists. Changing from one decision to another, repenting of a choice, requires a spatial-temporal framework of some sort. While I believe angels can operate in our spatial-temporal framework, they are not bound to it the way living human beings are bound.
Will has two aspects to it, the possible choices with their outcomes, and the choosing of one of them. There is a thought-element to free will, and an act-element.
We humans are aware that often our choices are limited. Sometimes this means being forced to choose between the lesser of two evils. An example of this is when a general commits troops to battle. He knows he is sending some fine young men to their deaths, but he weighs the loss of those precious lives against the more terrible losses should the enemy prevail. (You can read about this type of difficult choice, and weight on the conscience, if you study Eisenhower at the time of the invasion of Normandy.) Our awareness of our limitations, and the difficult choices we sometimes need to make, should not mean that the same limiting circumstances apply to angels.
I think the bad angels who sided against the Almighty had free wills, just as we do. But unlike us, whose insight when we choose, or range of choices, can be limited, and whose power to decide can be influenced by our sinful habits and demonic oppression, the angels had complete clarity and freedom about their choices.
There is a line from Milton which I think sums up their choice, "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heav'n" (Book I, Paradise Lost). Personally, I think they fully knew they were on a loser before they made their decision, and are stuck with it. So for them the time of repentance is past.
Conceptually, I am inclined to distinguish between bad angels and demons. My reasoning is this. Angelic pure spirits exist without the need to inhabit living beings, whereas demons seem to crave the warmth of living bodies, human and animal.
There is an idea which is being studied among some Scripture scholars and theologians that demons belong to a pre-Adamic race of beings, and are neither human nor angelic. It is an interesting idea, although speculative. Now, if demons are not the same as the bad angels, and were in some way previously limited in their wills, maybe there is the possibility of repentance at a future time. A fiction writer could tinker quite creatively with that. (Personally, I don't speculate on the possibility of demonic repentance, so wouldn't use my creativity in that direction.)
I'd like to add that, as we wrestle with these ideas, I do not think God looks down and laughs. I think we are like Job. God did not laugh at him. We don't know a fraction of what is going on in creation. I think we are in the thick of total war, which is occurring in many dimensions, mainly invisible to humans. It is real and it affects us.
Here's a new angle on some things already mentioned:
I've been taught biblical numbers, that in the Bible (and only in the Bible), God inspired numbers to represent specific things and that the same numbers were used over and over again. This is not meant to be a way of interpreting life events (like the recent Jim Carey movie or some superstitious hooey about the Challenger explosion suggest); it's meant to be a means to better understand God's Holy Word. Here's some examples (from my memory):
1 = unity (of the Godhead, of Scripture, "one faith, one baptism, etc.") 3 = divine perfection (trinity, e.g.) 4 = creative works of man (4 gospels, 4 elements used in tabernacle) 5 = number of grace (can't remember an example) 6 = number of man (created the sixth day) 7 = divine completion (seven days of creation) 8 = new beginnings (Noah's family consisted of 8, the day after God rested at the end of creation)
There are others but I can't remember them all. Here's why I bring this up: someone asked what would unite all of Earth's disparate nations and I like Morpheus' answer to this question from The Matrix. We were all unified under the creative genius of humanity that birthed A.I.
The number of the beast is 666. Taking biblical numbers, that would be the the number of man coupled with divine perfection. Look at where human science (especially genetic engineering) is taking us! OK, so I know it's a stretch, but this is speculative thinking on a forum for speculative fiction. All this means that the Antichrist could be the first fully functional, fully self-aware human clone. All man, all perfect (at least in man's image). And what would God loathe more than all humanity assuming the position reserved only for Himself (Creator of human life)?
Just something to chew on. If you want more info about biblical numbers, PM me. I'm willing to dig up my notes from that class to share.
Last Edit: Dec 17, 2007 1:51:27 GMT -5 by myrthman
Post by Jeff Gerke on Dec 17, 2007 10:13:02 GMT -5
Sounds plausible to me, myrthman.
I've also speculated elsewhere that the Antichrist could be the first successful hybrid between man and demon.
Maybe I shouldn't say the first one. There's biblical evidence that the Nephilim might've been just this (the Nephilim are the result of the coupling between the sons of God and the daughters of men). Maybe he's just the latest and greatest. The New Nephilim.
I've heard some descendants of the Nephilim still roam the Earth. Now there's an idea for a story in the Millennium! I don't know how true it is since God wiped away all but Noah's family with a bunch of water. Do I have my timeline correct?
Last Edit: Dec 17, 2007 13:09:29 GMT -5 by myrthman
Your timeline is correct. However, in Beowulf, Grendel is a descendant of Cain whose ancestors survived the flood somehow (it's not explored). It might be something to think about though. What if some of the Nephilim entered a suspended animation in a sealed cavern under the mountains? They could be used then.
True holiness comes when we loathe sin not when we loathe getting caught.
What if they were still asleep and someone accidentally woke them up in the modern day? That would be an interesting story. I actually considered a story with some guy seeing two Nephilim battling each other and got drawn into a spiritual war. But can Nephilim be good or evil, or just one? Do they have to accept Jesus as savior? There's lots we don't know about them.
Post by strangewind on Dec 19, 2007 14:16:23 GMT -5
Regarding the Nephilim: as I understand it, the Giants occupying Canaan when Joshua led the nation of Israel crossed the Jordan must have had a demonic element in the line of the Nephilim. Keeping in mind that a Nephilim (Nephila?) is created through the breeding of a human woman and a demonic power, I guess it is possible that Nephilim continued to be born after the flood. Another possibility is that a race of these semi-immortal giants survived the flood but in greatly reduced numbers.
The sepulchre of Antaeus, the giant king of North Africa, is a megalith five meters high. When the ancient Romans excavated his burial mound, they found giant bones inside, and were amazed (they had thought at the time that the Legend of Antaneus was a fairy tale). His guessed-at reign would have placed him up to 500 years after King David, who slew Goliath of Gath (and there is another Gathite giant mentioned after Goliath's death, so Goliath may have been one of the last of the giants, but he wasn't the last.)
If I ever write a story about this, I'm going to set it in the Nordic countries. The word "Nephilim" sounds a bit like the word "Niflheim," the mythological Norse underworld... or one of their underworlds, I can't remember all of their Nine Worlds (I did a progect on Asatru, Norse Heathenism, for World Religions).
My possible story would be:
Some of the Nephilim survived the flood in the bowels of the earth. They were accidentally aawakened at different times, including the Canaanites and maybe the Greeks. Their lairs are named after the various underworlds of antiquity (Hades, Sheol, etc.), and all but one were awakened earlier in history. European knights and ancient heroes systematically eliminated all the existing nephilim. They are thought to have disappeared into legend.
Fast forward to our day. A spelunker/archaeologist comes to investigate some strange ruins way out in the wilderness of the Norwegian peninsula. While esploring a cave, he finds a door. This door leads to an outlying chamber of the Nephilim city (it's not connected). Their is a single Nephilim there. And when the archaeologists remove him to send to a contained area (he's still alive), they unknowingly activated the awakening process for him and for all the others.
Nephilim 1 waked up in a Fort somewhere. Everybody in the fort either dies or joins him. He and his army start to make their way back to the Norselands. The other Nephilim wake up and start to set up their awesome pre-flood technology. Haven't figured out everything yet, but there could be some spiritual warfare as well as some physical battles that are a mix of modern and pre-flood tech.
As far as waking up the nephilim goes, i remember watching one of those sci-fi channel movies where some archaeologists accidentally wake one up somewhere in the American southwest. The title was "The Fallen Ones". The premise was that some of the fallen angels had placed some of their children in some type of stasis, I think. Something along those lines.
Also, I remember hearing or reading somewhere that there was a whole group of Gathites that were of giant proportions. And there was another family group from another location that was too. I cannot remember the details though; sorry.