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Author Topic: Are angels unchangeable?  (Read 1726 times) Average Rating: 0
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Heorhij
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« on: November 07, 2007, 10:14:11 AM »

Dear knowledgeable people,

On another forum ("Maidan"), I heard from one of the posters, a Ukrainian Eastern Rite Catholic, that the Church has taught all along that angels are "pure spirits" and therefore principally unchangeable.

This does not make sense to me because, as we all know, Lucifer and his demons were created good, and yet fell from God's grace by their own will. So, something HAS changed in these "pure spirits," correct?

Thanks in advance for your comments.

George
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« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2007, 10:43:04 AM »

Dear knowledgeable people,

On another forum ("Maidan"), I heard from one of the posters, a Ukrainian Eastern Rite Catholic, that the Church has taught all along that angels are "pure spirits" and therefore principally unchangeable.

This does not make sense to me because, as we all know, Lucifer and his demons were created good, and yet fell from God's grace by their own will. So, something HAS changed in these "pure spirits," correct?

Thanks in advance for your comments.

George

I have the opinion that since they are created they fall under the same condition as we do. Namely death. But lets hear what others have to say.
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« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2007, 10:52:08 AM »

Yet in the liturgy they are referred to as the "Bodiless Powers of heaven" (Dismissal). How, then, do they die if they have no bodies? So yes, angels are pure spirits--but this does not necessarily mean that they are unchangeable. Your friend has been using his Jump to Conclusions Mat too much.
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« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2007, 11:07:05 AM »

What this poster on "Maidan"  meant is that the angelic powers are "pure spirit", and not "pure spirits".  "Spirit" is the only component making up their being.  This doesn't mean, however, that they are "unchangeable", in the sense that it is impossible for them to reject God.  What it means is that, unlike us, when angelic powers make a spiritual choice, they do it "whole hog".  People are not "pure spirit".  Unlike angels, we have bodies, and many would say other components in our nature that angels don't have, as well as a spiritual component.  Our bodies constitute a big part of who we are, as well as other parts of our nature.  So we can be ambiguous about things.  We can accept God, and then go out and sin.  I'm not articulating this very well, but:  we can be mostly accepting of God and still be somewhat rejecting of him too.....except for the saints, most people who are striving to be in union with God are like this, in varying degrees!  Unlike the angels, we are made in the image and likeness of God, so we can never completely reject God.  But angels can, in so far as it is possible for a rational creature to separate itself from its creator.  So because of their "pure spirit", angels are either completely holy or completely debased (in which case they have become demons).  There is no middle ground for them.  I don't think it's written in stone either way whether or not demons will repent in the end.  That's really none of our business, in a sense.  
Angelic powers are certainly "changable".  Nobody forced those who rejected God to do so.  They chose that state, just as the holy angels chose to remain obedient to God.

There.  Clear as mud?
« Last Edit: November 07, 2007, 01:57:06 PM by Pravoslavbob » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2007, 11:15:43 AM »

I have the opinion that since they are created they fall under the same condition as we do. Namely death. But lets hear what others have to say.

The angelic powers do not exist in the material realm, so they are not subject to material death.
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« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2007, 01:14:08 PM »

Yet in the liturgy they are referred to as the "Bodiless Powers of heaven" (Dismissal). How, then, do they die if they have no bodies? So yes, angels are pure spirits--but this does not necessarily mean that they are unchangeable. Your friend has been using his Jump to Conclusions Mat too much.

 I'm sure you read your confession of faith quite often than. It does state that everything is created by god. Find out what the word created means before you insult me. I just offered my opinion.
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« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2007, 02:11:41 PM »

Angelic powers are certainly "changable".  Nobody forced those who rejected God to do so.  They chose that state, just as the holy angels chose to remain obedient to God.

Is changeability dependent on repentance?  If they were changeable at some time (i.e. before the fall) they are unchangeable now (after the Resurrection)?  They changed once into demons but if they could repent based upon the Resurrection, they would change back by repentance.

Very confusing.  Guess I'll have to wait and get my answer in Heaven (assuming that's where I'm going)
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« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2007, 02:31:02 PM »

Thanks to all who responded. Any references to Fathers? --G.
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« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2007, 05:02:46 PM »

St. John of Damascus says that even Angels are immortal not by nature, but only by grace (De fide orth. II, 3; u fysi alla hariti)
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« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2007, 10:42:28 PM »

Lossky says in Mystical Theology:

Quote
[T]here is... another form of existence outside of time, and which is proper to intelligible being.... 'The aeon -- says St. Maximus -- is motionless time, while time is the aeon measured according to motion.' The intelligible is not eternal.... The divine eternity alone is incommensurable.... It is in this extra-temporal condition [the aeon] that God created the angelic world, according to St. Basil. This is why the angels are no longer capable of falling into sin: their wavering attachment to God or their eternal enmity against Him having been realized instantaneously and for all the ages at the moment of their creation. For St. Gregory of Nyssa, as for St. Maximus, however, the angelic nature is non the less able to grow without ceasing in the acquisition  of eternal good things in an unending development such as is proper to everything which is created, but excluding all temporal succession.
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« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2007, 11:54:46 PM »

John of Damascus has the greatest discourse on the Angels.  I'm not privy the the reference at the moment. 

Angels are bodiless, yet their entire purpose of existence is to do the will of God.  If the will of God has them taking on forms, etc. then that is what they do.  It is not of their own will that they do it, but rather through/because of the will of God. 

What Satan did was diliberately stop thinking/living the will of God.  He stopped being a reflection of the will, and he did it of his own volition (purposely in some sense). 

Forgive me, this is all I can offer you right now, there may be more later. 

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« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2007, 12:30:23 AM »

I would say Satan is a good example of how angels can die.
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« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2007, 03:02:19 AM »

I'm sure you read your confession of faith quite often than. It does state that everything is created by god. Find out what the word created means before you insult me. I just offered my opinion.
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« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2007, 04:54:17 AM »

Every time someone asks a question on this forum, it is a good opportunity for some investigation to enrich our own knowledge and understanding of Orthodoxy as well.My only source of information at the moment is the Internet I am afraid. Still, George, I found a couple of pages you may want to have a look at if you already have not found them yourself:

http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/death/angels2.aspx

http://aggreen.net/beliefs/the_angels.html

They do offer information on angels with references to Fathers and Scripture.

I´ll have a better look myself outside my office hours!

Have a nice day!  Smiley Grin Cheesy
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« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2007, 07:48:05 AM »

Demetrius,
I apologize for insulting you. Please know that it was unintentional, and indeed I was suprised to read that I had offended you. My post was directed to George. I only referenced what you had said rhetorically, hoping for a response such as Pravoslavbob's to follow. I was quite pleased with the explanation he gave. Note that I did not contradict you, and as Bob pointed out, angels can die a spiritual death, but being only spirit this is their entire death. They are not subject to, as we are, physical death, because they are not physical beings.

I'm sure you read your confession of faith quite often than. It does state that everything is created by god. Find out what the word created means before you insult me. I just offered my opinion.
Again I apologize for offending you. I did not intend to state or even imply that angels are uncreated. That certainly is false. I am well aware of semantics and thus I was attempting (feebly) to make a distinction between bodliess and unchangeable. I never meant to state that your opinion is invalid, and it most certainly is not.
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« Reply #15 on: November 08, 2007, 07:57:40 AM »

Thanks, Sophie, for the links. That Orthodox Info site has a succinct summary of our beliefs on the angels. I learned quite a bit from it.
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« Reply #16 on: November 08, 2007, 08:28:22 AM »

Sophie, thank you so much for the links. The second one was quite new to me.

Again, many thanks to all who replied - I think I learned a lot.

George
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« Reply #17 on: November 08, 2007, 09:48:00 AM »

No need to apologize ytterbiumanalyst. I see how the mix up accrued.
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« Reply #18 on: November 08, 2007, 12:35:59 PM »

Looks like I might have to eat my words about one or two things according to a couple of the Fathers.  I'm not sure, though.

Both sites offered by Sophie are interesting.  I found both to be helpful.  I did find a couple of questionable assertions on the Orthodoxinfo site, but I guess there's nothing new in that.
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