Thursday, September 29, 2011

C.S. Lewis on Angels

In honor of St. Michael and All Angel's day, Michaelmas for all you church year enthusiasts, I thought I'd post a little something from Miracles. In an appendix, Lewis extends his discussion on nature, super-natural and their overlap. Both, he says are "natural" when understood as being created. Therefore on the one hand, while angels appear to be supernatural - and in some ways they are, as they are given different powers, etc. - they are entirely natural from God's perspective.

All angels, both the 'good' ones and the bad or 'fallen' ones which we call devils, are equally 'Supernatural' in relation to this spatio-temporal Nature: i.e. they are outside it and have powers and a mode of existence which is Supernatural in another sense as well. That is to say, they have, of their own free will offered back to God in love the natures he gave them at their creation. All creatures of course live from God in the sense that he mad them and at every moment maintains their existence. But there is a further and higher kind of 'life from God' which can be only given to a creature who voluntarily surrenders himself to it. This life the good angels have and the bad angels have not: and it is absolutely Supernatural because no creature in any world can have it by the mere fact of being the sort of creature it is.

In other words, it must be given. I do wonder what Lewis means by free-will here. He does not elaborate here. But this is not the only place he writes of angels. In a similar way he approaches angels from Screwtape's twisted perspective. the devil is not God's opposite, but St. Michael is. Both are created beings. The difference is the former has disobeyed, rejected and rebelled against God's love, the latter has remained in God's love and according to Revelation continues to live up to his name. Michael is both messenger and defender of Christ, but this is an honor bestowed upon Michael by Christ, for he conquers - as do all faithful men and angels - not by his own reason or strength, but by the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 12). This, then, is what it means to "surrender" biblically speaking. To let Christ be Christ. To be begotten in Christ, or born again, sharing in the life of Christ. Baptized. Fed in the Supper. Killed and made alive by the Word. To conquer by the blood of the Lamb even as he has conquered for you by water, blood and Spirit. A blessed Michaelmas to you all.

Everlasting God,
you have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order
the ministries of angels and mortals:
Mercifully grant that,
as your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven,
so by your appointment
they may help and defend us here on earth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

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