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Is it repentance possible for the angelic orders?


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#1 Robert Hegwood

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Posted 14 September 2006 - 05:15 PM

If it is not too inopportune I would like to ask a question about angels, fallen ones in particular. Let me say at the outset it is probably not a very important question in the grand scheme of things, there's little I can think of that hinges on it, but perhaps someone has an answer, or if not an answer, a few useful thoughts on the subject. If the question is presumptuous or improper, then forgive me and pray for me a sinner.

It is simply this, why is it impossible (at least so far as I know) for fallen angels to repent. Why is their rebellion against God a fixed matter but ours open to repentance and salvation?

I have read of various saints who pitied their fallen estate...and even seemed to have prayed that God somehow have mercy on them if it be possible. If the fallen angels' estate is fixed then how can those prayers bear fruit...yet if those prayers are themselves borne of the Spirit then what fruit from them could be expected in the course of time.

Anyway, though this question doesn't trouble me, it does puzzle me.

And related to this question, I seem to recall reading somewhere that Hell is the last mercy of God that He has upon those who want nothing to do with Him. Scripture says it was made for the Devil and his angels...doubtless it is a place of torrment and lamentation...how could seperation from God yield any other end...but can we understand this place/event/condition of Hell in terms of mercy?

#2 Father David Moser

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Posted 14 September 2006 - 07:10 PM

St John of Damascus:

An angel, then, is an intelligent essence, in perpetual motion, with free-will, incorporeal, ministering to God, having obtained by grace an immortal nature: and the Creator alone knows the form and limitation of its essence. But all that we can understand is, that it is incorporeal and immaterial. For all that is compared with God Who alone is incomparable, we find to be dense and material. For in reality only the Deity is immaterial and incorporeal.

The angel’s nature then is rational, and intelligent, and endowed with free-will, changeable in will, or fickle. For all that is created is changeable, and only that which is un-created is unchangeable. Also all that is rational is endowed with free-will. As it is, then, rational and intelligent, it is endowed with free-will: and as it is created, it is changeable, having power either to abide or progress in goodness, or to turn towards evil.

It is not susceptible of repentance because it is incorporeal. For it is owing to the weakness of his body that man comes to have repentance.


Note that because they are created beings, angels have free-will and are changeable, however once they have exercised their free will, being bodiless they can not repent. Thus a "fallen angel" or one who has chosen to turn towards evil has made his choice but now is "stuck" with that choice. Repentance is a characteristic of bodily existence and angels being bodiless do not have that characteristic.

Why is it like this - I don't know and St John doesn't venture to explain. There are lots of questions that arise in my own mind about things like when and how an angelic being exercises free will and what constitutes and choice and so on - but these are things that are beyond our ability to comprehend since we are of a different nature - corporeal rather than bodiless. The specifics of angelic life are so "other" that we do not have the cognitive tools to understand them even if we could perceive them (something that is also beyond our capacity).

Fr David Moser

#3 Robert Hegwood

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Posted 15 September 2006 - 02:46 PM

Father,

Bless. I recall this passage as well links corporality to the ability to repent. Are St. John's views on this corroborated by other Saints and Fathers? Do any offer comment on why being embodied makes repentance a possibility while being noncorporal locks one into the choices once made?

Perhaps it is impious to think so...I'm not sure, but if the problem for fallen angels is the lack of bodily existance which would permit repentance, cannot a body in which to work out repentance be obtained? Christ permited the Legion to depart into pigs? And then there are monastics among the ancient fathers who would at times pray to be possessed for the sake of humility...could not the better of them function bodily as a kind of bodily "monastery" for a fallen angel to seek repentance through. Admittedly there are problems I can see in this, first the desire to repent itself must be present, second perhaps since our bodies are so much part of our selves/being they cannot be shared in this way...even to use animals in this way might violate what limited freedom and sentience they may know. Still if it is the lack of a body that is the central impediment, it seems like there ought to be a way somehow?

This is one of the things that seem most pitiable about their estate, to fall is bad enough, to be unable to repent to turn away from that path unto the right one...it is simply horrific to contemptate.

Many years ago in my protestant days I read a book called Prisoner for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand. In his recounting of his time in prison he recalled an Orthodox cellmate and an account (only vaguely remembered) of a strange or weakened guardian angel...something like that...which particular is not important...he goes on to say that this angel might have been weak/strange because it was one who had repented and thus was not yet on a par with those angels who had never fallen. He said that there was an Orthodox belief that some angels had repented after the fall/could repent (I forget exactly).

Now since becoming Orthodox I've not encountered anything remotely like this...the closest being the pity some very tenderhearted Saints had for all creation, even the devils. But there is a lot a don't know both of the Orthodox belief and local Orthodox pieties/beliefs that may or may not reflect the faith of the Church. I can't say Mr. Wurmbrand lied about his account...maybe he just badly misunderstood something, but it was something that has stuck with me all these years. For despite the limits of this account...the thing that struck me was that somewhere in Christian thought/experience there was hope even for fallen angels.

Then there is the passage in the Book of Enoch which the Ethiopian Copts accept as Scripture, about the Grigorii, a legion of angels whom Enoch supposedly urged to repent and seek the mercy of God. What does one make of such things, I cannot say.

Obviously this is something that very likely lies outside human perview...at least outside the perview of anyone not well on their way to being a living saint, and thus is best left to the mercy and will of God. Still one wonders...does this belief of repentant angels in some form belongs to Orthodoxy. I would like to think so, but I am still an infant in repentance and unwise in so many needful things, and this line of thought might best be left be. Maybe wiser and better souls can shed some light on this.

the unworthy seraphim

#4 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 19 September 2006 - 08:51 AM

Dear all,

Following on some of the comments above, on angels, non-corporeality and the connected inability to repent, I would be very interested to hear people's thoughts on just why this is. I don't think we've discussed the connection between corporeality and the possibility of repentance here before (or at least not at any length), and it would be an interesting topic drawing together conversations on the angels, death, prayer for the dead, etc.

If people are interested, do go ahead and begin the conversation: either by starting a new thread for it, or here (in which case we'll move it to its own thread once it gets going).

INXC, Matthew

#5 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 07:32 AM

Dear Matthew,

In Saint John Chrysostoms' homilies on the rich man and Lazarus if my memory serves me correctly he notices that the rich man was reaping what he sowed, a great gulf had been fixed. Meaning the rich man was so void of compassion he was not capable of even seeing the begging Lazarus even though he saw him often as he laid at his gate with sores. Saint John Chrysostom mentioned that even the dogs had a natural form of compassion as they licked his sores.

We know from Holy writ that there is one sin that can't be forgiven, the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The demons put into the Pharisees minds that the miracles of Christ had not been of God and such things.

I think that Saint John Chrysostom is seeing in the parable a willful hardness of heart. That came from where it always comes from. The rich man was obedient to demons who sought his destruction as they instructed him to follow the opposite path of a virtuous life. That's usually accomplished surreptitiously and authorized by actions or inactions. Small and often slow steps at a time that are often not even noticed especially if one is distracted by the concerns of this life. Only while being punished did the rich man become aware of Lazarus's suffering on earth.

There are no small steps for the demons, thought is rapid. A war broke out in heaven and the Archangel Michael and the good angels fought against Lucifer and his angels.

It is interesting to note the litany of the Saint's that Robert mentioned. The prayers for the salvation of all of God's creatures or hoping that all are saved with the knowledge that with God all things are possible. Correct me if I'm wrong but it seems somehow Origen's teaching of apokatastasis, condemned as heresy at the Fifth Ecumenical Council held in Constantinople in 553 A.D. ends up in the virtue scope. It's somewhat like one of those situations that the monk on at Saint Catherine's of Sinai found interesting. A huge icon collection made by the hands of men where the commandment written by the finger of God was given;

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above...

Yet we know with the incarnation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ things can be understood differently only through virtue in Christ. I've been reading Saint John Chrysostom lately and he really hammers that home, particularly regarding the importance of giving alms to the poor.

Fr. Alexander Schmemann reminds us;

"The true orthodox way of thought has always been historical, has always included the past, but has never been enslaved by it. . . for the strength of the Church is not in the past, present, or future, but in Christ."


Dear Robert,

Any reasonable person must conclude that the demons opposing God in every way is insanity. Can the insane repent of their insanity?

There is much more that could be said, perhaps others have some additional thoughts.

In Christ,

Matthew Panchisin

#6 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 01:31 PM

Dear all,

Following on some of the comments above, on angels, non-corporeality and the connected inability to repent, I would be very interested to hear people's thoughts on just why this is. I don't think we've discussed the connection between corporeality and the possibility of repentance here before (or at least not at any length), and it would be an interesting topic drawing together conversations on the angels, death, prayer for the dead, etc.

If people are interested, do go ahead and begin the conversation: either by starting a new thread for it, or here (in which case we'll move it to its own thread once it gets going).

INXC, Matthew


I've really been banging my head (don't worry- immaterially of course) against the table over this one for a long time. I even began to wonder if there was perhaps another tradition that repentance is possible along with incorporeality.

Then I came across this quote from St Gregory of Nazianzus in which he is referring to the distinction between the composite nature of humanity and the incomposite nature of the angels.

We human beings are not merely composite; we are mutually opposed and inconsistent even with ourselves. We do not stay exactly the same for one day, let alone a lifetime. In our bodies and in our souls we are ever fluctuating, ever changing. I do not know whether this is true of angels and of all that exalted nature which comes next after the Trinity, or not. They, though, are not composite, and by their nearness to the crown of beauty are more firmly fixed in their relation to beauty than we are.


I thought the last sentence has an insight that is very interesting. First off St Gregory refers to the composite nature of humanity in comparison with the non-composite nature of angels. In terms of what we are talking about we could say then that immateriality of body & non-composite nature are linked. Both the fluctuating nature of men and the unfluctuating nature of angels is an aspect of their being on the one hand material & on the other immaterial.

The interesting thing about St Gregory's comments though is that he connects all of this to will. Both humans and angels have will, but as St Gregory says, "by their nearness to the crown of beauty are more firmly fixed in their relation to beauty than we are." So we see that immateriality & unfluctuating nature & firmly fixed will are all connected. It's not that the angels have no ability to change. But due to the firmness of their will and the way this is single-focused they lose the intent to change or repent once they have fallen.

Could we not then apply this to ourselves? Our nature according to what St Gregory says is composite and fluctuating. Extreme changability is built into the way we are made. The ability to repent is part of this.

But once having died we put off the body. Do we not become in some sense like St Gregory's description of the angelic nature which is incomposite and thus unfluctuating? If so we can at least to some degree understand why it is difficult to repent after death. The suggestion is that after death our soul becomes much more singly focussed for good or evil than now. And of course this focus is intricately connected to what we desired while alive.

Two questions though come up here. What of prayer for the departed? Perhaps the possibilty of change in the state of the soul which this implies is a different kind of change from that of repentance. Hierotheos Vlachos says that the possibility of change after death is only possible in that it corresponds to the desire of the person who reposed. Our prayer for the departed does not overturn the desire of the reposed rather it corresponds to it. So we're back to that interesting insight of St Gregory about the role of will again.

Last question however is what when we receive back our renewed bodies after the Second Coming of Christ? There is too much we do not yet understand about that realm. But from what we have been told our bodies will be more immaterial than at present. So the fluctuation we know now will be gone. And will will be much more singly focused on good thus preventing sin and the need for repentance. And that will be Paradise!

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#7 Robert Hegwood

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 10:11 PM

Two questions though come up here. What of prayer for the departed? Perhaps the possibilty of change in the state of the soul which this implies is a different kind of change from that of repentance. Hierotheos Vlachos says that the possibility of change after death is only possible in that it corresponds to the desire of the person who reposed. Our prayer for the departed does not overturn the desire of the reposed rather it corresponds to it. So we're back to that interesting insight of St Gregory about the role of will again.



Father, bless.

If one has gone to "prison" at one's repose because of the sinful exercise of one's will and prayers for the departed only have effect in accordance with the will of the departed then how is it that certian souls are rescued from that place through the prayers of the faithful? Didn't St. Xenia so rescue her husband, and did not another ancient monastic who took pity on the soul of the emperor Trajan so rescue him?

Would this imply that the prayers of the Church or certain of her members can somehow affect/influence/enable a change of will in the departed and thus enable repentace and hence rescue?

And if it can be done for human souls...why not others? Or could this capacity in a reposed unrepentant human to be rescued albeit with difficulty from the gates of hell itself be linked to human corporatity...the fact that we are not whole apart from our bodies...and all man good and bad will stand in their bodies at the resurrection?

It seems to me this vein of thought though would not necessarily be succesptable to any kind of universal salvation doctrine since universal salvation is ultimately a denial of the freedom of the rational creature to choose. So long as freedom remains, choice remains, and there may well always be some man or fallen angel that choses against God.

Could it be that whatever it is that constitutes "hell"/"the pit" which we are told was made for the devil and his angels is so "designed" to work to soften even their very firm wills?

In the for what it is worth department, I recall reading once of a holy old abba who was once confronted by Satan. And the monk in some perplexity asked why he did not repent? In reply the devil only laughed and departed. I've long wondered...not deeply...but wondered nonetheless what might be understood from that.

the unworthy seraphim

#8 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 01:48 PM

If one has gone to "prison" at one's repose because of the sinful exercise of one's will and prayers for the departed only have effect in accordance with the will of the departed then how is it that certian souls are rescued from that place through the prayers of the faithful? Didn't St. Xenia so rescue her husband, and did not another ancient monastic who took pity on the soul of the emperor Trajan so rescue him?

Would this imply that the prayers of the Church or certain of her members can somehow affect/influence/enable a change of will in the departed and thus enable repentace and hence rescue?

And if it can be done for human souls...why not others? Or could this capacity in a reposed unrepentant human to be rescued albeit with difficulty from the gates of hell itself be linked to human corporatity...the fact that we are not whole apart from our bodies...and all man good and bad will stand in their bodies at the resurrection?

It seems to me this vein of thought though would not necessarily be succesptable to any kind of universal salvation doctrine since universal salvation is ultimately a denial of the freedom of the rational creature to choose. So long as freedom remains, choice remains, and there may well always be some man or fallen angel that choses against God.


I think it's best to turn these questions around so that one is working with what few Divine principles we understand.

In terms of what I was talking about yesterday we can see how for St Gregory of Nazianzus strength or focus of will is connected proportionately to incorporeality. I suggested that for humans this could explain why repentance was not possible after death. The question though that still remains is how then do we account for change in the state of the departed soul. After all we know this change is possible otherwise prayer for the departed or the accounts you refer to would be nonsense.

First by a change in the state of the departed soul we do not mean repentance. Repentance refers to a transformation which results from a free turning away from death to life. There is always something radical in this for it always involves an awareness of what is fallen in oneself and a turning towards life. The will is freely involved in repentance but the manner in which the will acts is like turning 180 degrees like Lazarus arising from death into life.

Once having died however we lose the transformational ability that corresponds to repentance. Following St Gregory's thought perhaps we could say this is because the will is far more singly focussed once we are incorporeal upon death. Then repentance is not possible because the will is singly focussed on whatever it desired during its life.

But this doesn't mean that change cannot occur in the state of the soul. As mentioned already prayer for the departed only makes sense if a kind of change can occur in the state of the soul. And there are many accounts about this although expressed in different ways. Some for example make a distinction between hell & hades: hades is the state where there can be a change in the state of the soul from worse to better as the result of others' prayer for us and Christ's mercy. But this change occurs not from repentance but rather from the change that can occur which corresponds to the desire of the soul upon death.

In terms of the questions you asked I think we find our answers in understanding the difference between these two kinds of possible changes. There is a great mystery in how such change is possible but still it must be that this change is according to a person's will. It's simply too universal a teaching of the Fathers that God's will never acts against our will but rather with it.

Actually we see this same thing at work for example in how God takes the soul from glory to glory even beyond Christ's Second Coming. God's overall economy from creation and Paradise to Christ's Incarnation and Resurrection implies all of this movement towards something more glorious. In other words the change in the soul from better to worse, even though evil, is best understood when seen as part of God's overall plan for mankind.

But this is a movement in which the free will of humanity is intricately involved. And perhaps this is what separates heretical ideas about universal salvation from those which are acceptable. The former is 'salvation' regardless of free will & the latter is salvation that works with and is the deliverance of free will.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#9 Ryan

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Posted 28 September 2006 - 04:32 PM

I don't know if this helps the issue, or just makes it more confusing, but according to Lossky the angels were created outside of time, and so fell outside of time, "their unwavering attachment to God or their eternal enmity against Him having been realized instantaneously and for all the ages at the moment of their creation." (Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, p. 102-103)

#10 Peter Farrington

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 02:16 PM

Is it possible for any created being to be outside of time?

I am not sure? I am sure it is beyond our understanding, but if all things happen at once then that would surely require divinity? An infinity of things that are all present. No sequence of events.

Indeed how could the angels 'fall' outside of time? This would require a sequence of events and therefore time. If the angels 'fell' then there would have to be a time when they had not fallen.

So I am not at all convinced by Lossky on this issue. I could imagine a certain flexibility with respect to time, perhaps? But we read that the angels long to 'look into these things' which suggests development and time. And we know that 'neither the day nor the hour' is known by the angels, but how could this be if they were outside of time?

Indeed to be outside of time for a created being suggests rather some Origenistic view where there could be no motion, no thought, no growth, for all of these require sequence and time.

Just my thoughts

Peter

#11 Ryan

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 03:54 PM

Lossky, citing St. Maximus, seems to suggest that the angels are not "outside of time" in the same way that God is, but rather that they exist in "aeon," which is "motionless time", which is created but thenceforth does not change. To be honest I don't understand this, so I won't try to argue about it either way!

#12 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 11:54 PM

With the Sign of the Cross, the old monk Abba Joseph trapped in his cell a dark and miserable demon who had come to tempt him. "Release me, Father, and let me go," pleaded the demon, "I will not come to tempt you again". "I will gladly do that, but on one condition," replied the monk. "You must sing for me the song that you sang before God's Throne on high, before your fall."

The demon responded, "You know I cannot do that; it will cause me cruel torture and suffering. And besides, Father, no human ear can hear its ineffable sweetness and live, for you will surely die." "Then you will have to remain here in my cell," said the monk, "and bear with me the full struggle of repentance." "Let me go, do not force me to suffer," pleaded the demon." "Ah, but then you must sing to me the song you sang on high before your fall with Satan."

So the dark and miserable demon, seeing that there was no way out, began to sing, haltingly, barely audible at first, groping for words long forgotten. As he sang, the darkness which penetrated and surrounded him began slowly to dissipate. The song grew ever louder and increasingly stronger, and soon the demon was caught up in its sweetness, his voice fully lifted up in worship and praise. Boldly he sang of the power and the honour and the glory of the Triune God on High, Creator of the Universe, Master of Heaven and Earth, of all things visibleand invisible. As the song sung on high before all ages resounded in the fullness of its might, a wondrous and glorious light penetrated the venerable Abba's humble cell, and the walls which had enclosed it were no more. Ineffable love and joy surged into the very depths of the being of the radiant and glorious angel, as he ever so gently stooped down and covered with his wings the lifeless body of the old hermit who had liberated him from the abyss of hell.

#13 Robert Hegwood

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 01:34 PM

That is a beautiful story.

There are some questions it poses though...namely who could have witnessed and recorded it for postertity.

The other questions, if we can trust the theological accuracy of the content are those of what such a thing would mean for fallen angels. We recall that the devils at times asked Christ if He had come to torment them before their time. We also know Hell was created as a place of torment for the Devil and His angels insofar as we can conceive of either heaven or hell as places per se.

Many fathers and saints teach that Hell is essentially being exposed to the glory of God without being made conformable to that vision of love and thus it is torment.

In this story I note that the demon regards both his proximity to repentance and the singing of the song of creation to be tormenting, yet it is in the accepting of this torment...though under constraint, the torment melts away into tranformation and restoration.

#14 Chrissi

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Posted 06 October 2006 - 08:14 AM

It is simply this, why is it impossible (at least so far as I know) for fallen angels to repent. Why is their rebellion against God a fixed matter but ours open to repentance and salvation?


I recently found a passage in the book I'm reading "An Orthodox Survival Guide..." that says:

"By persuading Adam and Eve that by disobeying God and eating of the "forbidden fruit" they could "be as God" (Gen. 3:5), the Serpent (Satan) convinced them to share in his own prideful sin: that they are self-existent; not creatures, but gods.

At this, a terrible change took place in man: his "soul became like that of the fallen spirits, while his body became like that of an unreasoning animal. The crime committed by the fallen angels toward men ultimately decided the fate of the fallen angels."

In Christ,
Christina

#15 Predrag Mandic

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 11:24 AM

I always thought that the issue of fallen angels can not be discussed as it is not given to us to understand those things. It is a mystery of which we know very little, and actual relation between the Holy Three and Angels and Demons is something that is totally unknown.

It was my belief that demons can not repent because they do not wish to repent, and I hate it that Father David brought those words of the friend of God St. John of Damascus, for it is totally incomprehensible to me that body is a mean of susceptibility of repentance.

Where St. John says, as quoted above:” It is not susceptible of repentance because it is incorporeal. For it is owing to the weakness of his body that man comes to have repentance.”

I do not know a lot to say anything about this, but I always saw repentance as “a property” of the soul and spiritual rather then body and corporeal – for horses have body but can not repent – indeed are unaware of anything that is of such things.

It brings other questions, like what is the condition of having repentance – why didn’t Christ come for Angels and did for humans etc – that is why is human kind given the second chance when angels are so much higher than us and they did not etc.

I am confused.

#16 Father David Moser

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 03:26 PM

[COLOR=black]... I hate it that Father David brought those words of the friend of God St. John of Damascus, for it is totally incomprehensible to me
... I am confused.


Pedrag,

I am sorry if I have added to your confusion. If these things are confusing to you and beyond your comprehension (and they are beyond the comprehension of most of us, including me - I can only grasp the trailing thread of understanding St John's comments and do not come close to grasping the whole of it) then simply set it aside for now. Concentrate on loving God yourself and do not worry about the nature of angels or the fate of demons. Such things are not important for your salvation. Focus instead on loving God perfectly and completely in your own life and don't concern yourself with those things which do not affect that goal.

Fr David Moser

#17 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 04:58 PM

It brings other questions, like what is the condition of having repentance – why didn’t Christ come for Angels and did for humans etc – that is why is human kind given the second chance when angels are so much higher than us and they did not etc.


The Apostle Paul points out that we will judge the Angels (1 Corinthians 6:3). I believe it is Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos) who points out that only Man is uniquely formed in God's image and likeness, in a Trinitarian manner: Body, Soul, and Spirit. Animals have body and Spirit but no Soul, angels have Spirit and Soul, but no Body. It might be worth noting before a semantic discussion ensues, I have seen the words "Spirit" and "Soul" defined differently by different Orthodox writers. Some use the words interchangeably, others give opposite meanings, what one calls "soul" the other calls "spirit" and vice versa. The point being that Man is indeed unique according to Holy Scripture, even if he is "...a little lower than the angels..."

#18 Kusanagi

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 10:25 AM

Elder Paisios says because the fallen chose not to follow God it is part of their being and cannot repent. We however were tempted and then chose not to follow God so there is a chance for us to repent if we so wish.

#19 Victor Mihailoff

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 09:54 AM


It is simply this, why is it impossible (at least so far as I know) for fallen angels to repent. Why is their rebellion against God a fixed matter but ours open to repentance and salvation?


And related to this question, I seem to recall reading somewhere that Hell is the last mercy of God that He has upon those who want nothing to do with Him. Scripture says it was made for the Devil and his angels...doubtless it is a place of torrment and lamentation...how could seperation from God yield any other end...but can we understand this place/event/condition of Hell in terms of mercy?



God bless you for your interest in eternity.

I once read in an Orthodox book, don't ask me to remember the name, it was over 20 yrs back, that God would accept Satan's repentance and restore him to a place in the heavenly kingdom but Satan is too proud and would rather be king in hell than a mere citizen of heaven. We must not forget that he freely chose to not be subjected under God through pride. Also, when the serpent was cursed in Eden to remain on his belly always and to have dust to eat, God was cursing Satan spiritually. To remain on his belly meant that he would never again know of heavenly things and never have high spiritual thoughts to contemplate because he chose the lower willingly. Dust to eat meant that he would desire things of the material/physical world and that is one reason why demons possess humans, to partake of their fleshly sins. But demons take the pleasure without paying the price for it in this temporal world. Hence a demon entices and seduces a man or woman to take drugs or drink alcohal again and again but never stays around to suffer the hangover or withdrawel symptoms. Now that is interesting. It is we humans who can suffer pain for sin and then repent but having no bodies, the demons bypass the pain and return again later for more of the pleasure without ever repenting. does that help answer the first part of your post?

The second part of your post was about hell being God's final mercy or words to that effect. Yes, that is true because God's light is warmth, enlightenment, comfort and love for his repentant servants who greatly desire Him but the same light is blindingly painful to gaze upon for demons and unrepentant sinners. They cannot find shade from it in heaven. So if a demon or unrepentant sinner were to be brought into heaven, they would suffer more than in hell, moreover, the uncreated light of God does not warm them but burns them exceedingly. Demons it burns because they are evil through and through while the unrepentant sinner burns because he is attached to sinful pleasures which burn them while they are burned by God's pure uncreated light. For all impurity is consumed by this light of God. To visualise this, just imagine that passions are steel pots and pans and sinful attachment is glue that sticks those pots and pans to one's skin. Now along comes Someone who is lighting the way for His loved ones with a brightly burning torch of fire. The closer the pots and pans are to the fire, the more pain is felt on the skin they are attached to. Now if the Torchbearer loved also these fools attached to passions without repentance, He would prepare a place of eternal darkness in advance for them to shield their eyes from the bright light and protect them from the fire. But God's love follows His creatures, His crowning glory, man, even into the darkest hell. His love burns them even there but mercifully much less than in His immediate presence, or even in His Kingdom of love and uncreated light. So hell is a place of imperfect shelter, but shelter nevertheless from God's perfect love.

So you can picture demons and unrepentant sinners to be represented by slimy creatures like leeches and slugs and hell is like a big rock or brick that they can slither under while the sun above shines brightly. If you remove the rock or brick the slimy creatures suffer pain as the sun light dries up their slime. So to leave the rock in its place would be a merciful thing for them.
I hope I shined a little light on the subject added to the greater light given by the others before me in this thread.

May God be the light for all of us! Victor

#20 Robert Hegwood

Robert Hegwood

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Posted 01 March 2008 - 02:42 AM

This renewed discussion on angels in this thread and a couple of the comments made in a tread regarding fallen angels and repentance bring to mind a new question. Indeed it is something that never occurred to me before I encountered those comments

The question is simply this: Do the Saints and Fathers ever speak of angels reproducing? It had always been my impression that the angels were created en masse and that their numbers are fixed. Of course we know some fell.

Both as a protestant and from some Orthodox quarters I have encountered the teaching that the numbers of redeemed mankind will numerically replace those angels who fell and restore the "completeness" of the angelic choirs...or something similar.

But in the threads I mentioned some comments seem to strongly suggest that at least some of the Saints and Fathers believed that angelic numbers (both fallen and unfallen) were not static and that they had some means of reproducing after their own kind however that might be?

Then there's the whole...what exactly happened to "create" the neflhiem...and all related questions to how it was possible...but that though related is a big enough can of worms to be its own separate thread. So it is perhaps best to exclude that group for the nonce if possible.

Anyway I'm not sure what to think about such assertions/implications. Any illumination that may be shed on the subject is surely welcome.

Thank you
Seraphim




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