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