[Milton-L] Abdiel (thought-sins)

Michael Gillum mgillum at unca.edu
Tue Jul 1 19:15:03 EDT 2008

Jim R., thanks for the clear explanation.

To begin with your last question -- and subject to correction -- I think
Milton understood regeneration as an instantaneous radical makeover, but not
with "perfect and complete results." It is also the beginning of a process.
There is an analogy in PL where God intended his unfallen humans to change
and grow more perfect. (I'm not sure how that comports with God's certain
knowledge that they would get worse instead, but that's one of the cracks
that show up when Milton starts trying to explain everything, bless his

Now, where you and I are talking past each other is that I am persistently
denying that the forbiddance of the fruit is the only rule for A&E. It is
rather the only rule that needs to be spoken, because they already know, or
have the ability to discern, the other rules.  A&E are  subject to natural
law, which they understand through reason. Natural law says not to diddle
the wombats, among a vast multitude of other rules. The law of reason is to
live in accordance with the right ordering of things. Doing so comes
naturally for A&E because their unfallen psyches are ordered so that reason
is automatically in charge. Also Adam's reason especially is very powerful
(though not inerrant, according to him). Therefore, when Adam fails even to
consult reason at the moment of his temptation, it requires a fundamental
perversion of his nature. He must have deliberately turned off the light
switch so he could stumble in the dark.

To "approve" the temptation before acting is not to violate the special or
"positive" prohibition of the tree. Rather it is to violate the natural and
rational obligation to maintain a state of obedience toward the creator. The
Christian Doctrine says that the first function of right reason was "to
discern the chief good," meaning a right relationship with God. To decide to
eat the fruit is to break fealty and violate natural law.


On 7/1/08 5:15 PM, "James Rovira" <jamesrovira at gmail.com> wrote:

> Michael and Carol: I tried to explain these distinctions from my
> divorce example in my previous post, but perhaps I was not clear.  The
> primary distinction I see in the Genesis account is that prior to the
> fall, there was only one command, and all moral reasoning and
> principles were embodied in that command, while after the fall there
> were multiple commands, multiple principles, and far more complex
> contexts.  Furthermore, prior to the fall, there was no sin to observe
> -- Adam and Eve did not see other people sinning.
> Christ's teachings, on the other hand, clearly forbid mental acts such
> as lust and hatred, and the Mosaic law forbids coveting.  To apply
> these standards -- demands for perfect mental obedience as well as
> physical obedience --  to Adam and Eve is therefore to "Christianize"
> them.  So this leads me to my question again -- did Milton see a
> difference between the Christian and the unfallen Adam and Eve, or did
> he believe that to become a Christian was to return to the state Adam
> and Eve were in before the fall?  Diane posted an interesting
> quotation from OCD about regeneration, but it was unclear to me from
> that short quotation if Milton understood regeneration as a process or
> as something that happens instantaneously with perfect and complete
> results upon reception of the Holy Spirit.
> Jim R

More information about the Milton-L mailing list