Last Friday, while I was working on my (now published) article on the apokatastasis of the fallen angels, I began wondering how Satan’s salvation and deification (assuming he can or will be saved) might be grounded upon the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. For obvious reasons, this is not a question that is discussed much in the theological tradition. And so I did what any blogger might do—I tweeted:
I confess I did not give the composition of the tweet much thought. After all, what does Twitter have to do with thought—hence my ill-formed question. I just wanted to provoke discussion. What I did not expect were the prompt corrections from multiple tweeters. It’s nonsense, I was told, to think of God as assuming more than one nature. Jesus is a human being, not some hybrid monstrosity. The correctors are absolutely correct . . . but I already knew that. Silly me. Folks have seen me tweet so many dumb things in the past that they not unreasonably assumed this might be one more dumb thing. As the quip goes, “Stupid is forever.” Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of this particular blogger. Sigh. Such is my life—living out the wit of H. L. Mencken.
Note to self: think thrice before hitting the publish button.
Once I realized that the Twitterverse wasn’t going to help me with my real question, I then did what I should have done in the first place—email the brilliant Jordan Daniel Wood, Ph.D. He wrote me back on Monday and gave me permission to publish his helpful response, minus the personal stuff. Hopefully Jordan’s thoughtful reply will generate the discussion I was hoping for.
* * *
Dear Father Aidan,
I’d say this briefly about the question of whether angelic nature is saved by the Incarnation. The answer is yes, absolutely. The salvation of the whole cosmos, angels included, comes about through the God-human alone, since the goal of deification is nothing less than the identification of created and uncreated natures. Surely angelic nature is also created. Therefore it is united to God in the one “place” or way that any creature is united to God–namely in the person of the Word Incarnate. It doesn’t matter that the Incarnation’s first realization is the humanity of Jesus. Why would that limit its salvific/uniting effect? For one thing, Christ’s human nature is also a rational nature, and angelic nature is also rational nature; therefore rational nature is saved by the Word becoming created rationality. In other words, the Word became the very principle of created rationality (which includes angelic nature) in his rational humanity.
Another point is this: If we’re going to circumscribe the Incarnation by the primary object of human nature, why not go further? Didn’t Christ become simply a human nature? If he only became a single human nature, how then did he save the whole of human nature–i.e. every human being? However you answer that question will inevitably open the very way to the salvation of all rational nature (angels included) through the Word’s Incarnation. And anyway, as you know, St. Maximus thinks that Incarnation is to be “actualized always and in all things,” angels included.