Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Can a Demon Repent and Be Saved?

I ran across an interesting passage in Thomas Oden's systematic theology:

The speculation that Christ might have died also for fallen angels in addition to humanity (or that Christ might have assumed the form of an angel to redeem lost angels) was rejected at the Second Council of Constantinople, A.D. 553. (389)

I was curious about the reasoning of the Fifth Ecumencial Council and so tracked down the relevant text. In the "Anathemas Against Origen", the Council concludes:

IF anyone shah say that Christ, of whom it is said that he appeared in the form of God, and that he was united before all time with God the Word, and humbled himself in these last days even to humanity, had (according to their expression) pity upon the divers falls which had appeared in the spirits united in the same unity (of which he himself is part), and that to restore them he passed through divers classes, had different bodies and different names, became all to all, an Angel among Angels, a Power among Powers, has clothed I himself in the different classes of reasonable beings with a form corresponding to that class, and finally has taken flesh and blood like ours and is become man for men; [if anyone says all this] and does not profess that God the Word humbled himself and became man: let him be anathema.

However, the context of the passage suggests that the Council's larger concern was Origen's Platonic cosmology, which featured a highly elaborate angelology. I am not deeply informed about this church council, so I can only speculate at this stage. But the potential salvation of fallen angels is an intriguing (if highly speculative) issue.


John Meunier said...

I have little knowledge of angels and demons, but I wonder what understanding of God and grace it was that led the church to determine that Satan was beyond salvation.

Isn't grace available even to him?

John said...

Well, I guess that if the Incarnation of the Son into human form was a necessary step for the Atonement, than it would be necessary for the Son to likewise be incarnated as angel and then sacrificed in order to provide atonement for fallen angels. As this has not happened, then fallen angels cannot be saved.

But I'm just thinking outloud.

Jason Woolever said...

This is a wild sort of conversation that I've not thought too much about. I know that Origen did believe that Satan and angels and every human being would eventually be saved.

We have to imagine that angels are quite a bit different than us, because it wouldn't appear that they sin continually like we do. They seem to have the ability, from my understanding of them, to do God's will and bidding perfectly unless they rebelled with Satan.

Michael said...

Since angels and demons are other-than-earthly beings, what could be said about atonement for those who "sleep" and were before the time of Christ? Since we seem to insist specifically - if exclusively - that one must profess Christ as the Savior, what about those who were before the time of Jesus? Are these the ones to whom Peter refers as those "in prison"? And if so, are they also beyond redemption?

It would seem to me that these demons who are in constant and intentional battle against the Lord, they are only beyond salvation by their own choice. And since rebellious angels are seemingly capable of the same free will man has, then they have made a conscious choice to rebel. By that same reasoning, they could perhaps see the futility of their struggle and finally surrender.

Keith Taylor said...

Michael wrote:

what could be said about atonement for those who "sleep" and were before the time of Christ? Since we seem to insist specifically - if exclusively - that one must profess Christ as the Savior, what about those who were before the time of Jesus? Are these the ones to whom Peter refers as those "in prison"? And if so, are they also beyond redemption?

How are the old testament saints saved??? The exact same way that you and I are saved. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!!! You say, how is that possible. When the first promise our savior was given in Gen 3:15, there were only two humans on the face of the earth. Adam and Eve. So you can say that every human since that time has had some basic fundamental knowledge of the Savior to come. Every book of the Old Testament points to Christ. The old testament laws and prophets are filled with the promisses of the savior who would come. They are saved the exact same way that you and I are. They believed he would come and save them. We believe that is come to to save to us.

Angles on the other hand, I do not believe can be saved. They knew what they were getting into when they rebelled. Fallen man was born with the disease, inherited from Adam and Eve.

John said...

Angles on the other hand, I do not believe can be saved. They knew what they were getting into when they rebelled. Fallen man was born with the disease, inherited from Adam and Eve.

So then humans are not morally accountable for their inherited sin; that is, there is no Original Guilt?

John Meunier said...

Genesis 3:15

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Please forgive my poor exegetical skills, but I do not see the Savior in this passage.

Larry B said...

Not to belittle the subject, but in keeping with John's overall blog theme, wouldn't the answer to this question impact whether or not a zombie can also be saved? And if so, would a good zombie "killing" strategy be to evangelize the zombie since they choose to walk among us?

John said...

I think that one could evangelize a zombie as much as one could evangelize an insect or a snake. They lack sufficient intellect to grasp the gospel.

And since they lack most of the biological functions of humans (e.g. breathing, digestion) I question whether they even have souls.

Michael said...

It is much easier for a Christian to read Christ into the Genesis passage than it would be without the benefit of the New Testament. As my old OT professor once said, we cannot know anything beforehand without some context. That single passage, for me at least, does not even imply "Savior".

Ancient Israel did not have the benefit of the NT to see Christ in that passage. For that matter, a singular interpretation of Christ in the passage may be too narrow. King David, for instance, had yet to be. It must remembered that Genesis was not written with an eye on the NT.

decaf owl said...

John -

There is a long tradition to view Gen 3:15 as a prophesy of Jesus. The prophetic reading is something like this: "I (God) will put enmity between thee (Satan) and the woman (Mary), and between thy seed (Satan) and her seed (Jesus); it (Jesus) shall bruise thy (Satan's) head (the resurrection), and thou (Satan) shalt bruise his (Jesus') heel (the crucifiction).

Some translations place this reading more transparently. The phrase "it shall bruise thy head" is commonly translated "he shall ..." (e.g. RSV, NIV, NLT). The New King James Version goes one step farther; for the second half it has "... and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel." Note the use of capital letters of "her Seed", "He", and "His".

John said...

That would eliminate Satan, then.

Are fallen angels the seed of Satan?

Anonymous said...

I believe that Lucifer also known as satan the church determine he is unsavable because he is really hidding behing the roman catholic church that is why their emblem has a red dragon the same red dragon of revelation that represents satan. God sent Jesus to save both man and angels because we are all children of god. God sent a brother to make peace with his half brother. We are all children of God so Lucifer is half brother to Jesus. He is meant to be saved. Would you save your son? Lucifer is still Gods son. Jesus was born to save us all.

Anonymous said...

God's creations are not perfect.
Therefore God's creations can sin.
God's creations began good.
Good beings have a somewhat equal chance of turning evil.
Evil people can repent.
Repenting evil people who have faith in God are saved.
Repenting people have faith in God.
If we repent, then we are saved.
It therefore doesn't exactly follow that if demons repent, then they can be saved.

Somehow, if Demons cannot be saved, then God has not treated demons and us equally. It isn't exactly fair for demons who repent, is it?

Anonymous said...

Angels do not have forgiveness. They sin they get banished to the universe which acts as a prison until the final judgement.

Demons are not angels. Demons are actually man who died without forgiveness of their sins. They know who Jesus is and reject Him.

Unclean spirits are spirits that never knew Jesus and died without knowing forgiveness like children and babies etc.

The demon will not be able to go to heaven but they can return to dust and probably escape hell or eternal torment. Jesus casted out demons and sent them into animals where then the animals killed themselves.

Animals don't have spirit like Adam have so when they die they will return to the ground neither receiving hell or Heaven.

In my opinion there is two things that can happen to demon. They can either go to hell or they can return to earth as the beast and all the other living things did during the great flood.

Unclean spirits will have opportunity to know Jesus and receive Him in the second resurrection. They have chance to go to heaven or hell or maybe just return to dust..

Satan and all the angels that rejected God do not receive salvation. They go to hell.

This is just my specific view from my reading of the bible.

Enrique said...

If I may play the devils advocate, Father God can do all things! Even deliver demons from the pit of hell, should He choose to. If God can forgive us "mortal beings" of our sins through both the "DIVINE" and "HUMAN" blood that was shed through Yeshua, Jesus, The Son of the Living God; how much more would He not be ready and willing to forgive the sins of "immortal beings"; the former principalities and powers of heaven that sinned against Him. Remember Jhn 3:16, "For God so loved THE WORLD, that He gave his only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believeth in Him should NOT PERISH, but have everlasting life." Was not Satan himself cast to the earth and now become a part of this world?? To quote Yeshua, "The whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick do." Are not these same demons "sick" and "dying" in their sins. I believe, some of those demons may very well enter the Kingdom of God before us, if we are not careful of being so judgmental and speaking so confidently of heavenly things that we have very little knowledge of. If we will be confident, let us all be confident in this one thing, "CHRIST IS THE LORD, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD AND ALL THOSE WHO HAVE THE SON HAVE LIFE."

Anonymous said...

1Peter 1:10 As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries,

1Peter 1:11 [fn] seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories [fn] to follow.

1Peter 1:12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.

This thing that angels long to look into is the grace that we fin through faith in Christ Jesus. They (angels -fallen or unfallen) have no self experience of grace.

Also Hebrews 2 shows that Christ came to save man not angels.

Lets use scripture...