The case against humanity

Satan means accuser. We get the clearest view of him in this role in the Book of Job, where his accusation is that Job’s goodness is not based on anything belonging to Job himself but is purely the result of divine gifts. What’s fascinating in the accusation is that it seems not only true but even pious, in fact, it even seems to be a sentiment that Job himself shares: the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Aren’t we supposed to think “there but for the grace of God go I”? And yet the dialogue is a clear repudiation of the accuser. His hypothesis fails. What is he missing?

One response is that the accusation is that man will curse God if he loses physical goods. This accusation amounts to the claim that humans never love another but only themselves. Despite all their protestations to the contrary, when they lose the goods they love for themselves they find they love nothing else. Understood in this way, the satanic accusation is that human persons are fundamentally self-interested to the exclusion of others.

And yet the idea that gets repudiated can’t be that human beings are fundamentally good apart from any divine help or gift, since Job himself sees all that he is or has as being from the Lord. But if we simply posit some supernatural gift not to curse God then the dialogue seems stupid or pointless. All it would be saying is that you will not curse God so far as he gives you the gift not to curse him. Well, duh.

This seems to lead to a more radical account of the disagreement between God and the Accuser. The claim of the accuser seems to be that divine gifts always remain outside of and separate from the subject they are given to. My existence is whatever I am after one removes all the gifts that God added to it. When God takes away his gift of fidelity, in other words, we see what Job really is in himself. Understood in this way, the Luciferian fall is a desire to be entirely oneself, which requires a repudiation of all divine gifts added to existence. Sure, existence itself is a divine gift, but the Luciferian logic seems to be that once you exist as a self the only way to persevere as that self is to repudiate all dependence on the gifts of another, every one of which is a bonum alienum to the existence of the self. If we would all curse God in the absence of a gift to praise him, then our true self is the one who would curse him. Our true self is not the image of God, but the image of the one who rejects him.

One partial response to this is that every divine gift comes essentially though not entirely from within human nature so far as it is conferred though Christ and the Church.

1 Comment

  1. t3ophilius said,

    May 4, 2017 at 8:51 am

    But does luciferian logic not be even more radical? He could suppose the possibility of a self without the constant gift of existence. A mortal self, I mean.

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