[Milton-L] obedience

Carol Barton, Ph.D., CPCM cbartonphd1 at verizon.net
Tue Apr 8 12:08:57 EDT 2014

Yes, Michael; and I haven't thought this through entirely yet, but another that reason that Adam and Eve find grace, the other none is that, prior to the angelic revolt, there *was no* sin, dissension, anarchy, disunity, or disobedience in Heaven--so there was no need for "grace" or "redemption" in the restorative sense (there was nothing to restore). Satan has the opportunity, as do the fallen angels, to repent, and restore what they stole from Heaven (unity) by genuine acceptance of the Son; Adam and Eve can't make the injured party whole again (to use legal language) because they can't give back the forbidden knowledge, or undo the second act of disunity, except by the same means. Satan and the fallen angels reject the only avenue to salvation; after running through many of the same stages of denial that the devils do, they embrace it.

And the point of obedience is that we love God and our parents enough, and trust in their love for us enough, to do as they ask without always knowing **why**. (We do not, however, owe such allegiance to our political leaders.) The prohibition against eating the Fruit may be "arbitrary" from Adam and Eve's point of view--just as many things our parents did seemed arbitrary to us--but the fact that a commandment "seems" arbitrary doesn't make it so. I am reminded of the story _The Once and Future King_ 1.9 of the prophet Elijah and the Rabbi Jachanan, as well as Twain's _Mysterious Stranger_. Sometimes, things happen for reasons we don't understand . . . but that doesn't mean they happen for no reason.

Best to all,

Carol Barton

From: J. Michael Gillum 
Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2014 11:15 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List 
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] obedience

I disagree with Greg's and Neil's (and Fish's) emphasis on arbitrariness. Milton's God is not the Calvinist God of pure will and power. Milton thinks of God as rational and reasonable. and Milton in PL interprets God's words and actions as reasonable insofar as the Genesis text allows. Yes, God in PL singled out a tree for arbitrary prohibition. He did so for a reason.  He had a reason to set up the test, and (because A&E had a frictionless relation to their environment in Paradise) the arbitrariness of the selection was essential to the test. We should not therefore conclude from the arbitrariness of that prohibition that arbitrariness is basic to God's nature and actions as represented in PL. 

God had a number of reasons to be more merciful to A&E than to the fallen angels.

1. Mercy by definition is not deserved, but punishment may be deserved in different degrees. The angels raised impious war in Heaven against the throne and monarchy of God, while A&E violated an arbitrary prohibition. The angels rebelled violently against a good order, while the humans did something that would have been morally neutral except for the prohibition. It seems reasonable to distinguish degrees of punishment. Adam and Eve are still punished.

2. God told the angels before their revolt that rejecting the Son's kingship would cause them to be punished with no hope of mercy. He made no such statement to A&E.

3. The angels had a higher order of rationality which would have made truth and right more obvious to them than to the humans.

4. Eve was deceived by a being of a higher order; Satan misled himself and then his equals.

5. As the Son in Book 3 interprets the Father's decree of mercy (144-66), he gives a whole list of reasons for it:

---The whole race of man would be lost [implicit contrast with the majority of angels surviving].
---The Father had loved mankind as his "youngest son."
---Destroying mankind would give a victory to Satan.
---That victory would raise questions about God's "goodness and thy greatness both."

God's decree of mercy is therefore reasonable and not arbitrary. He does not include all this context in his decree, but--perhaps arbitrarily--chooses to mention only the factor of external temptation.



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