[Milton-L] Strier, the Son's role and necessity-- last try

Michael Gillum mgillum at unca.edu
Wed Aug 9 16:54:54 EDT 2006

Thanks to Prof. Stier for his patience.

He wrote, "The Father's speech presents man's chance at redemption [. 
. .] as a done deal.  No further action on the divine side is 
required or anticipated or hinted at."

In the course of this summer's discussions, I've come to understand 
his point (also made by Prof. Skulsky as I recall) that the Father 
shows a deficiency in charity by not offering the fallen angels the 
grace without which they are unable to repent.

But I still don't understand the point about the role of the Son 
being irrelevant to human salvation because of the Father's decree at 
3.131. In his Book 3 speeches, the Father makes a number of 
statements about the future, and these are of various kinds:
(a) Some of these are foreseeings or predictions about how free 
agents will act: "man will hearken to his glozing lies" (93).
(b) Some are statements about what God himself will do by his direct 
agency: "I will renew his lapsed powers" (174).
(c) Some are conditional statements: "if they will hear, / Light 
after light well used they shall attain" (195) or "unless for him / 
Some other . . . pay / The rigid satisfaction."

The Father also issues absolute decrees, for example in 6 where he 
says those who rebel against the Son's elevation will be cast out 
irrevocably. But to me the statement "man therefore shall find grace" 
(3.131) does not seem to be such a doing-by-word; rather it seems to 
combine elements of a, b, c, above. He intends that man shall find 
grace. However, the rescue from permanent death requires the 
sacrifice of the Son (211-26), which depends on the Son's free action 
in obedience to the Father's will.  It also requires that people's 
hearts be softened by prevenient grace which God will send by his own 
direct agency. And finally it is conditional on individuals freely 
choosing to repent and follow the right path. Even on the divine 
side, it's not a "done deal" in the way "Let there be light" is a 
done deal. The Father must foresee that the Son and some humans will 
do their parts to make it happen. Prof. Strier said in a previous 
post that the text says nothing about foreseeing the Son's choice, 
which is true, but then the Father foresees the actions of agents 
routinely throughout the narrative.

Yes, Milton camouflages his heterodoxies in PL, but doesn't he 
generally do this by avoidance and ambiguity rather than by making 
plain statements that he doesn't agree with? He doesn't say the soul 
survives death or the Spirit is the third divine person.  But he has 
the Father (3.211-26) and Raphael (12.424-29) directly say that the 
Son's sacrifice is required to remit the punishment for sin.

Michael Gillum

>From my point of view, it does no good to quote stuff where the poem 
>looks or sounds like standard Christian theology (death for death, 
>etc), since M wants the poem to look that way.

More information about the Milton-L mailing list