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Author Topic: Free will - just for mankind?  (Read 1180 times) Average Rating: 0
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Konstantine
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« on: April 05, 2011, 03:11:56 PM »

Hello all,

This is my first post, and it's regarding a question I've had for a few years that has never really been answered to my satisfaction.

Starting off with the assumption that the power of free-will is something that was only granted to mankind (Adam & Eve and their descendants).

Is this true for all eternity?
If so, then how were the ill-fated fallen angels able to choose to go against the Lord?
« Last Edit: April 05, 2011, 03:12:27 PM by Konstantine » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2011, 03:55:48 PM »


Who told you that only mankind was given a free will?

I have always been taught that angels have free will, always have, always will.

It is by their purity and love for God, that they do not sin...not because they can't.

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« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2011, 04:11:04 PM »

I see, so is it safe to say that angels have the same knowledge of good and evil as mankind did after eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge?
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« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2011, 04:26:03 PM »


I don't think that eating from that particular tree changed Adam or Eve in any way.

That particular tree was simply used by God to test our ancestors.  It may have been any tree in the Garden.  The point was that they were not "allowed" to do something. 

They could eat from 1,000 trees, just this 1 they were asked not to eat from.

However, they ate from it...so, they already had free will...because they KNEW they weren't supposed to eat from it,....and yet, they ate from it.

It wasn't the actual fruit that changed them, it was the act of disobeying God that changed them....that made them realize their guilt.  It is the same with all sin....even the sins we commit each day....they take us further from the Lord.

Therefore, I believe that the angels have the same knowledge that Adam and Eve were given upon their creation.

By the way, welcome to the forum!   Wink

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« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2011, 04:32:26 PM »

Thanks for the insight, and the welcome! Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2011, 05:47:17 PM »

I see, so is it safe to say that angels have the same knowledge of good and evil as mankind did after eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge?

Free will is obviously not dependent upon this knowledge (otherwise Mankind wouldn't have had free will before the Fall), so the angels having free will doesn't necessarily imply that they have the knowledge that was bestowed by the tree.
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« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2011, 05:52:04 PM »

I don't think that eating from that particular tree changed Adam or Eve in any way.

That particular tree was simply used by God to test our ancestors.  It may have been any tree in the Garden.  The point was that they were not "allowed" to do something. 

They could eat from 1,000 trees, just this 1 they were asked not to eat from.

However, they ate from it...so, they already had free will...because they KNEW they weren't supposed to eat from it,....and yet, they ate from it.

It wasn't the actual fruit that changed them, it was the act of disobeying God that changed them....that made them realize their guilt.  It is the same with all sin....even the sins we commit each day....they take us further from the Lord.

Therefore, I believe that the angels have the same knowledge that Adam and Eve were given upon their creation.

By the way, welcome to the forum!   Wink



Even for someone like me who is quite often more inclined allegorical interpretations of the OT than others, that seems like an incredibly dismissive interpretation of the tree of knowledge of good and eivl.
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« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2011, 06:27:00 PM »


Sorry.

I don't mean to be dismissive or belittle the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

However, Adam and Eve weren't so much expelled from the Garden of Eden for eating that particular fruit, as they were for disobeying God.

...that's just my own opinion....and if I am way off base, please forgive me.

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« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2011, 06:47:08 PM »


Sorry.

I don't mean to be dismissive or belittle the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

However, Adam and Eve weren't so much expelled from the Garden of Eden for eating that particular fruit, as they were for disobeying God.

...that's just my own opinion....and if I am way off base, please forgive me.



No Liza, that part you are right about. The part I think you are not right about is saying that it was an ordinary tree that did not at all change Adam and Eve.
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« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2011, 06:59:45 PM »


Oh.

I don't know about that.  I may have been speaking before thinking.

However, I am always open to learning...and appreciate the notice.

Seriously....was it truly the fruit that made them realize they were naked....or was it the fact that they had disobeyed God that made them realize this?

Did they not know right from wrong before eating?  If not, than how could God test them...test what?  They wouldn't have the concept of doing "wrong"....and yet...eating from the tree was wrong.

Now you've got me really confused. 

Did the tree actually have "powers" that opened their eyes to their nakedness and sinfulness?  Or was it the fact that they realized they had disobeyed God?  Would they not have realized they disobeyed had they not eaten from the tree?

They weren't forbidden anything other than the fruit from that tree....so, they never had an opportunity to disobey, other than eating from that tree.

(...head spinning...talking in circles...) 

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« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2011, 02:23:11 PM »

What would spin heads even faster is the question of wether they would have eaten from the tree or not had the serpent not tempted Eve?

Reminds me of the Matrix "What will really get your noodle going, is would you have broken that vase had I said nothing about it" LOL
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« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2011, 03:24:54 PM »

From what I understand, and I don't remember which Church father said this, but the nakedness can be understood as a way not so much the literal fleshly nakedness, but that as soon as they disobeyed God, they lost the clothing of divine glory.  In a way, they took it off, and wanted to build their own glory.  They wanted to be like God without God.  And so instead of the clothing of glory, they covered themselves with fig leaves, realizing shamefully that all there is left is materialistic means to glory, and not real glory with God.

And despite the disobedience and the choice of a world of death and corruption, God condescended in love to at least at their level make them coats of skin, to remind them even though you will continue in this wretched world, I have not forgotten you.
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« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2012, 08:07:53 PM »

I was under the impression that whenever you see "knowledge" or "know" or "knew" in the scripture it ment to actually experiance first hand so the "knowledge of good and evil" would have been the experianced results of the disobedience, and the fact that the fruit "looked" good means that their senses played a role in the disobedience and not just the spiritual temptation
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« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2012, 05:58:23 AM »

I don't know the exact answer to the question about The Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil. I agree with Liza regarding the disobeying of God that was really the key element here, but what the tree was in itself is not an answer I have been able to find, yet.

All I can say is this: There were two special trees in The Garden of Eden. One was The Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil, the other The Tree of Life. They were both real, actual trees. After they ate from the first tree, God prevented Adam and Eve from eating from the second tree, in order that they do not remain in that fallen state eternally.

Although, it may seem strange to us that such trees would actually exist, it shouldn't. I mean, today we eat Bread and Wine that is mystically The Body and The Blood of Christ. It's not at all hard to believe that God would have initially provided humanity a similar physical-spiritual way of communing with Him in the shape of a tree; and, an additional tree should they desire an alternative to His plan for them. Reality is that they were tempted by Satan, so they did not eat from The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil by their own initiative -- that would have meant that they were actually inclined towards evil, which is not what we believe was the case.
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« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2012, 08:39:49 AM »

I am back. In short, the view of The Church about The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is the following:
The tree was physical, but as with all things about man and his environment, it also has spiritual meaning. So, the real temptation coming from Satan was that they would become as God, IF they EAT from the tree itself. So, they foolishly believed that matter in and of itself can accomplish that for them in the blink of an eye. It's really stupid if you think about it, but Adam and Eve were very naive. It's as if somebody told you: if you have this energy drink and you will win the marathon (even though you can't even run more than 100 feet). Ever since, man has fallen under the physical aspect of things, for carnality, for fallen rationality, for imagination, etc. That's why the Saints say the the wood of The Cross was necessary in order to overturn the effects of the wood of the tree.

I believe St. Maximus The Confessor writes about this stuff in detail. You can try St. Basil The Great, John Chrysostom homilies on Hexameron. It is for sure the view of The Church that the tree was both physical, as well as to be taken spiritually (I wouldn't say metaphorically). To believe that Genesis is not literal is heresy, gnosticism I would guess.
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« Reply #15 on: October 26, 2012, 09:40:48 AM »

Quote
Anyway, will any man of sense suppose that there was a first day, and a second, and a third, evening and morning, without sun and moon and stars? and the first, as it were, even without a heaven? And who is so silly as to imagine that God, like a husbandman, planted a garden in Eden eastward, and put in it a tree of life, which could be seen and felt, so that whoever tasted of the fruit with his bodily teeth received the gift of life, and further that any one as he masticated the fruit of this tree partook of good and evil? And if God is also said to walk in the garden in the evening, and Adam to hide himself under the tree, I do not suppose that any one will doubt that these passages by means of seeming history, though the incidents never occurred, figuratively reveal certain mysteries.

Origen's "Philocalia" 1:17, compiled by St. Basil of Caesarea and St. Gregory the Theologian

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You anticipate the Festival, and the letters, and, which is better still, the time by your eagerness, and you bestow on us a preliminary festival. Such is what Your Reverence gives us. And we in return give you the greatest thing we have, our prayers. But that you may have some small thing to remember us by, we send you the volume of the Philocalia of Origen, containing a selection of passages useful to students of literature. Deign to accept this, and give us a proof of its usefulness, being aided by diligence and the Spirit.

The letter of St. Gregory the Theologian to Theodore, Bishop of Tyana
http://www.tertullian.org/fathers2/NPNF2-07/Npnf2-07-61.htm#P6378_2229114
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« Reply #16 on: October 26, 2012, 05:52:44 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

It's really stupid if you think about it, but Adam and Eve were very naive.

Personally I never thought Adam and Eve were naive at all, I thought they ALWAYS knew exactly what they were doing, perhaps they weren't aware of the gravity of their mistakes.  I'm not quite sure what was Eve's motivation for giving into the temptation of the Serpent, I'm not a woman so I can't really understand the depth of that moment.  However, as a man, I've always had my own insight about why Adam followed her sin and also ate.  He said she deceived him, he was lying.  People are not that stupid, we just like to pretend we are so garner sympathy or at least a free ride out of a given situation.  No, I think Adam knew EXACTLY what he was doing, I think that Adam fully understand that Man was created in the Image of God, that Man was the archetype for the coming of the Word Incarnate.  If Adam knew this, he also understood that God didn't have intentions of immediate destruction of mankind.  Adam was calling God's bluff.  God didn't want to destroy Adam, and He didn't.  God didn't want to destroy Cain either, even though Cain committed the worst of human crimes which is cold blooded murder, and yet God forgave him too!  Clearly Adam and Cain knew something about God we have forgotten, His Love, Compassion, and Forgiveness.  So I think that after Eve ate of the fruit, that Adam was afraid for her, more particularly, he was afraid of losing her.  What man hasn't made silly and self-defeating sacrifices for the sake of the love of a woman?  How many men have beat their heads against that stone wall?  So I always felt that Adam knew God wouldn't destroy MAN, but he wasn't so sure about what God would do with women who were created after, so Adam at the fruit to be complicit with Eve's guilt, to test and challenge God.  Sort of like a cosmic and existential, "Ah ha! Gotcha God! See if you really want to destroy me.."  Its the same way our own children play with our emotions and push our buttons and test our tempers, they KNOW we aren't going to seriously hurt them no matter how angry we get, no matter how justified it may seem..

God could have easily done that, and created an entirely different person to become Jesus Christ in the Incarnation, but for whatever reasons we can't understand God chose Adam, and from Adam's descendants came Our Lady and the Savior in the Flesh.  God chose Adam's flesh, and I think Adam knew this.  So Adam ate the fruit I think fully aware of the potential punishment, but was hoping God wouldn't do it for the sake of His plans for Adam.  Adam loved Eve enough to sacrifice himself.  Perhaps Adam thought that either (a) if God has to kill Eve for this crime, then He will have to kill me too which it seems God didn't want to do or (b) that Adam loved Eve enough to be willing to lose his own life to be with her in Hell.  Its a bit campy and romantic, true, but its how I feel about that particular story.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #17 on: October 26, 2012, 06:31:26 PM »

Lol my grandfather says it like this, Eve- ya know Adam it gets real lonely at night and you don't want to spend it without me Smiley
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« Reply #18 on: October 27, 2012, 01:04:59 AM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

It's really stupid if you think about it, but Adam and Eve were very naive.

Personally I never thought Adam and Eve were naive at all, I thought they ALWAYS knew exactly what they were doing, perhaps they weren't aware of the gravity of their mistakes.

Well, the Saints do say that they were naive, in the sense that they also lacked spiritual maturity. They knew what they were doing, but they did not know the full implications. They did not become evil through the fall! They made a mistake, but did not exactly want to rebel against God. They wanted something else, to be like God since Satan lied to them that they could. It's not even a sin to want to be like God, it's theosis.  Smiley So, everything was one big mess and confusion, but we do not buy into the guilt aspect of things, that say Roman Catholics do. And, nowadays, we shouldn't even see the commandment to not eat from The Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil as only an actual commandment. Ultimately, it was an advice. God did not say, "don't eat or I kill you". He said, "if you eat, you die". God is a friend, not a tyrant. And he is also Truth, so if Adam and Eve were really evil, we would not hear about them as we do, nowadays -- as Saints. Actual evil on the planet started with Cain and his seed.
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« Reply #19 on: October 27, 2012, 01:15:13 AM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!



Personally I never thought Adam and Eve were naive at all, I thought they ALWAYS knew exactly what they were doing, perhaps they weren't aware of the gravity of their mistakes.

Well, the Saints do say that they were naive, in the sense that they also lacked spiritual maturity. They knew what they were doing, but they did not know the full implications. They did not become evil through the fall! They made a mistake, but did not exactly want to rebel against God. They wanted something else, to be like God since Satan lied to them that they could. It's not even a sin to want to be like God, it's theosis.  Smiley So, everything was one big mess and confusion, but we do not buy into the guilt aspect of things, that say Roman Catholics do. And, nowadays, we shouldn't even see the commandment to not eat from The Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil as only an actual commandment. Ultimately, it was an advice. God did not say, "don't eat or I kill you". He said, "if you eat, you die". God is a friend, not a tyrant. And he is also Truth, so if Adam and Eve were really evil, we would not hear about them as we do, nowadays -- as Saints. Actual evil on the planet started with Cain and his seed.

I wasn't mentioning anything about guilt, just responsibility. I didn't say they became Evil, even Cain didn't become evil, that is to say by Nature or essence, rather by free-will he enacted Evil.  Evil is not an abstract state of being or entity, it is an action and manifestation of individual agency and free-will.  Further we agree in part in that we both feel they didn't understand the long-term (i.e. metaphysical) implications of their sin, I don't think they understood it was going to cause a cosmological shift in reality.  However, I do feel they knew exactly what they were doing.  Even in the heat of passions and sin, most folks feel a degree of themselves, are not entirely overwhelmed by the temptation as if it were an outside force.  I'm not quite sure I agree that they wanted to be God, I'm not sure what they wanted to be or what they fully intended to do.  My speculations about Adam's motivation are romanticized, but I do feel some kind of sense of love, not necessarily romantic but deeply spiritual, pushed Adam to take that risk.  My point was I didn't think Adam was indeed deceived by Eve, in my heart, I envision Adam as debating the decision in his mind before taking that first "bite" and I feel as a man that he took the risk fully aware of the potential consequences.  I'm couldn't say he or they understood the complexity of those consequences, and perhaps they also had so much faith in God's Love as to believe He could forgive them (after all, in the long arc He did), but in some ways I am sure they were self-aware of their decisions and culpability.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #20 on: October 27, 2012, 01:26:46 AM »

I wasn't mentioning anything about guilt, just responsibility. I didn't say they became Evil, even Cain didn't become evil, that is to say by Nature or essence, rather by free-will he enacted Evil.  
stay blessed,
habte selassie

Responsibility, but they did yet know the depths of responsibility. It would be wrong to accuse them of lack of responsibility. If they persisted in the way of life that Satan suggested, and like I said they did not know the full implications of it initially, then yes, we could start to find actual defects in them, maybe even evil. Otherwise, they simply became ill under Satan's influence. Their only responsibility was to repent gradually, to ponder what had actually happened and what they really want for themselves. Again I mention, the tree of knowledge was there in case they wanted something else; it wasn't there for Satan to tempt them. What happened was really a catastrophe, that some angels become evil and wanted to tempt man.

Cain was evil as a person. I never said that humans (or angels) can become evil in nature. They become evil by personal choice. Well, Adam and Eve did not become evil as persons, they made a mistake. Cain did not make a mistake, he truly wants to be that way (eternally). His case is altogether different than that of Adam and Eve.
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« Reply #21 on: October 27, 2012, 01:37:52 AM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!



Responsibility, but they did yet know the depths of responsibility. It would be wrong to accuse them of lack of responsibility. If they persisted in the way of life that Satan suggested, and like I said they did not know the full implications of it initially, then yes, we could start to find actual defects in them, maybe even evil. Otherwise, they simply became ill under Satan's influence. Their only responsibility was to repent gradually, to ponder what had actually happened and what they really want for themselves. Cain did not make a mistake, he truly wants to be that way (eternally). His case is altogether different than that of Adam and Eve.

I can dig that, when I think of the question God ask Adam and Eve, "Where are you?" I don't feel it was a physical question, or a matter of proximity or geography.  That was a spiritual question.  Adam and Even broke humanity, they fractured the mind and heart, and that is why now need healing just as they did, and indeed as you mentioned, it is a gradual process.  So when God asked them, "Where are you?" He meant spiritually.  Where had prodigal living dining on that forbidden fruit get them? What was the end result? Did they feel better with this gnosis?  Did their complicit actions with the Devil make them feel more empowered?  Sin degrade us, my Confessor was telling me a wise parable how Satan's pride was that He wanted to see mankind look stupid because he knew God loved humans so much.  Did it work? Did sinning make Adam and Eve feel the pain of their stupidity in listening to the Devil, indeed, listening to their own inner temptations? Honestly, we say the Devil is a Tempter, and this is accurate, he doesn't invent evils, he draws them out of the imaginations of the human mind.  We are the source of these evils, the devils just motivate us to lose.  So God asked them, and He asks all of us, "Where are you?"  Have our actions pushed us far from God's Grace, from God's Love, from God's holy Presence?  If so, we must Repent, Confess, and come to Him directly.  As to Cain, even in the narratives in Genesis he expressed a degree of remorse, of accountability.  That God spared him his life surely is evidence enough even within the text to suggest that Cain was somewhat forgiven by God. As to eternity, I don't think we can speak on that matter, that is surely between Cain and God.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #22 on: October 27, 2012, 01:55:31 AM »

I can dig that, when I think of the question God ask Adam and Eve, "Where are you?" I don't feel it was a physical question, or a matter of proximity or geography.  That was a spiritual question.  Adam and Even broke humanity, they fractured the mind and heart, and that is why now need healing just as they did, and indeed as you mentioned, it is a gradual process.  So when God asked them, "Where are you?" He meant spiritually.  Where had prodigal living dining on that forbidden fruit get them? What was the end result? Did they feel better with this gnosis?  Did their complicit actions with the Devil make them feel more empowered?  Sin degrade us, my Confessor was telling me a wise parable how Satan's pride was that He wanted to see mankind look stupid because he knew God loved humans so much.  Did it work? Did sinning make Adam and Eve feel the pain of their stupidity in listening to the Devil, indeed, listening to their own inner temptations? Honestly, we say the Devil is a Tempter, and this is accurate, he doesn't invent evils, he draws them out of the imaginations of the human mind.  We are the source of these evils, the devils just motivate us to lose.  So God asked them, and He asks all of us, "Where are you?"  Have our actions pushed us far from God's Grace, from God's Love, from God's holy Presence?  If so, we must Repent, Confess, and come to Him directly.  As to Cain, even in the narratives in Genesis he expressed a degree of remorse, of accountability.  That God spared him his life surely is evidence enough even within the text to suggest that Cain was somewhat forgiven by God. As to eternity, I don't think we can speak on that matter, that is surely between Cain and God.

stay blessed,
habte selassie

Well, evil entered our world by the initiative of Satan. God put the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, in case man wanted something different than Him, in order to grant man his freedom. That's why God told man from the beginning what the deal was with the tree; in a way, He told man that there is an alternative to Him, but it is a very bad one. Otherwise, man would not have known that there could be something else other than God, and that to God is not good because man could not truly choose good or evil in such a case. PROBLEM is that Adam and Eve and man, in general, do not choose evil for the sake of evil by their own initiative. The tree was there in case man by himself wanted to truly try something other than God, if man wanted to be himself as God (in an evil way). But the problem is that demons became evil before man had a chance to choose evil himself. So, the temptation for Adam and Eve was not if they wanted to be as God, but if they wanted Satan as God. You see, Satan thought to himself: "yeah, God put this tree there in case man wants to be evil, but did God ever wonder if they want me as their god?". So, the potential for disaster magnified exponentially. God can no longer offer man the opportunity to choose evil by himself; He is forced to test man to a much higher degree -- to see if man can resist the temptation of a fallen angel, who is much more powerful and experienced than man. Needless to say, man collapsed under such an influence, and the evil on this planet that happened ever since, is partly because the evil of man, but a lot of it has to do with the evil of demons who can inspire man to much worse things than man could come up with by himself.

Cain did not express remorse. The Fathers all talk about him as evil, as one who murdered Able out of envy, who does not repent. He is cursed by God in Genesis. And from Tradition we find that he was actually killed by a member of his family who was hunting and hit Cain by mistake. The seed of Cain is clearly cursed by God because they do not want communion with Him and propagate evil.

P.S. So, that's why satan is called a murderer (of men) from the beginning. He wasn't actually going to see if man wanted to be as God by eating of the tree. He purposely lied to Adam and Eve in order to separate them from God, to gain dominion over them and eventually destroy them. That is why he is called "the ruler of this world"; it is because indeed he has (forcefully and unfairly) gained temporary dominion over this place. That's why evil people are called sons of the devil; it is because they obey satan as if he is their god, or father (of lies), not as if they want to be gods. Satan couldn't care less about what you want -- he will use you and discard you. Those who go to hell are in a very sorry state because part of the torments of hell are demons themselves.

« Last Edit: October 27, 2012, 02:20:46 AM by IoanC » Logged
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« Reply #23 on: October 27, 2012, 03:11:44 PM »


Do you think Adam and Eve actually comprehended the reality of "death", having never experienced it before?
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« Reply #24 on: October 27, 2012, 03:16:51 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!


Do you think Adam and Eve actually comprehended the reality of "death", having never experienced it before?


No, but I do think they weren't deceived, that they knew in the core of their being that they were about to do something wrong.  How wrong? Perhaps that was indeed impossible to comprehend, we still do not have any more depth of understanding about matter now than then.  However, I would still say they knew they'd be sinning.  I don't think they were gullible and completely innocent in eating the fruit, if that were the case why could God have punished them, on a technicality?

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #25 on: October 28, 2012, 01:30:47 AM »


Do you think Adam and Eve actually comprehended the reality of "death", having never experienced it before?


I agree with Habte. They knew it on an intuitive level, but not on a deep, experiential level. Sort of like I child surely knows what you mean when you caution him about putting  his hand in the fire, but it's still a long way before he can make his own decision about the fire.
And the last thing you want is someone like satan to try to steer him totally off course.

Here is an interesting article about this stuff by great theologian Dumitru Staniloae: http://theophilogue.com/2011/04/24/dumitru-staniloae-on-the-fall-eastern-orthodox-theology/
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