Saturday, January 28, 2012

"Do you not know that we are to judge angels?"

In this “historical [(as distinguished from metaphysical)] dualism” of St. Paul, “There are two successive economies. The one was established on the subordination of the physical world to the ‘powers’ created by God in the good, and more particularly to their head, ‘the prince of this world’. This first economy was wrecked by the lie of its head, who carried along with him, if not the whole hierarchy of which he was the summit, at least a considerable portion of it. Still, it survives. This survival is provisionary, but for as long as it lasts, the στοιχεία τοῦ κόσμου τούτου [(Col 2:8, 20)], the κοσμοκράτορες [(Eph 6:12)] retain in it, with their function, however they perform it, their authority, which is of divine origin. It is true, on the one hand, that they abuse it, in this sense, that they divert to themselves the worship of the creatures inferior [to them], [the] worship of which they would be only the ministers [were it directed] towards God. But it is not less true, on the other hand, that they are deluded on this point, and that, at the very height of their malice, they do but serve, without being aware of it, the divine intentions. The impossibility of their situation [(Cette situation paradoxale)] becomes [unmistakably] evident [(éclate)] in the blindness of the ‘rulers of this age’ [(1 Cor 2:6, 8)], who crucified the Lord of glory, but who would undoubtedly have carefully avoided such a mistake if they had had any insight into the significance of what they were then doing. In fact, by leading to its consummation the perversion of the economy that had been entrusted to them, they struck a fatal blow against their own authority [(ils en ont cassé le ressort)]. Henceforth, there can take the place of it another economy, in which it is the new humanity, the humanity of Christ, at once both God and man, which reigns in the name of God.
     “In this perspective, everything becomes clear. The good angels suffer the repercussions consequent upon the defection and eviction of Satan not personally, but as members of a spiritual organism fallen in its head, and therefore in the whole of its structure. They will indeed collaborate in the new economy. They will even have a place of honor. But they will no longer be its rulers. They will enter into it as auxiliaries of a new ruler, who is the last Adam, the divine man. In this sense they will find themselves subordinates in the [very] world of which they were once the rectors, because the new humanity, one with its [new] head, the Christ, [one] with a unity to which they cannot pretend, will [at that point] participate in his sovereignty. It is for this reason that St. Paul can say, “Do you not know that we will judge the angels?” (1 Cor 6:3) And this is exactly the situation that he describes in the epistle to the Galations as ours with respect to the law established by them. We have been under the law, and therefore under the angels, as an heir under his custodian. For as long as the heir remains a minor, the custodian is his master. But when the former attains to his majority, the latter becomes what he was in reality, a simple servantlet us not mince words: a slavein the house in which the heir is lord by hereditary right [(cf. Gal 3:23-24)].
     “Reciprocally, for as long as the definitive economy, that of the Christ, has not supplanted the first, it persists, [together] with the relations that constitute of it the warp and woof. Satan remains the ruler of this world, and he is, in his very malice, the agent of the holy [(justicière)] wrath by which God, through him, makes contact with all of those who have identified themselves with his revolt. [Nonetheless] it remains [the case] that this wrath will accomplish the aims of saving love. . . ."

     Louis Bouyer, “Les deux économies du gouvernement divin: Satan et le Christ,” in Initiation théologiques par un groupe de théologiens, tome II: Dieu et sa creation, 2nd ed. (Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf, 1953), 514-516 (504-535).