Grace & Peace!
[quote=ideaman]Adam was made from dust and put in a paradise on earth. He was in a completely safe enviorment from all mental and physical maladies. Even though God warned him he knew nothing of consequences or punishments for there was no past history to refer to. They never existed for him.
Completely vulnerable as they were,God permitted the archangel satan, the most powerful created being in existance, to enter the Garden of Eden and deceive them.
Ideaman, thanks for this post. The idea regarding their culpability, though, is not about them being unable to make an informed choice, not necessarily having knowledge of what it means “to die” as if God had stacked the deck against them. The idea is that they were able to a make a choice period between love of God and love of self. God does not want us to love him for fear of punishment. God wants us to love him for love of him. You can take God’s, “in that day you shall die” not as a threat, but as a warning. God knew the consequences of their actions, but it was not necessary for Adam and Eve to know fully what would happen–it was necessary for them to know only that to choose against God was not to choose God. And this, I would argue, they knew perfectly well.
They can be pitied for their folly in choosing themselves over the Mercy, but they cannot be pitied for not knowing what their choices were–they knew. In the words of Charles Williams: “They had what they wanted. That they did not like it when they got it does not alter the fact that they certainly got it.”
Regarding the serpent being Satan himself, this is somewhat arguable and the tradition is more to be found in pious legend than in Scripture. I would argue that the serpent in the garden represents the latent imperfection in people–Adam and Eve could not be as perfect as God unless it was through God’s grace that they were made so. Their perfection was, in the words of Jean Borella, “supernaturally natural” insofar as they remained united with God. But strictly speaking, their nature contained a latent imperfection–the mere fact that they were not Perfect as God is Perfect. The only thing, therefore, to which Adam and Eve could lay claim as their own, the only thing about themselves that they could say, “this is mine and has no part in God” is this imperfection, the thing in them that was Not God–the mystery of which is that it cannot properly be said to exist–it is not Real as God is real. It is nothingness and emptiness. The abyss. The serpent represents the desire to know the abyss. And by following the serpent’s advice “you shall be like gods,” Adam and Eve separated themselves from God, entered fully into their own imperfection and became gods of the abyss. Again, "“They had what they wanted. That they did not like it when they got it does not alter the fact that they certainly got it.”
The parallels to Satan’s own fall, according to tradition, are clear. It makes me wonder sometimes if they are not just versions of the same story.
This is mostly speculation, for the most part. But I do not think it is against orthodoxy.
In Islam, Iblis/Shaitan fell when he refused to bow to man as commanded by God. This was for two reasons–he thought it ridiculous that he should be made to bow to clay, and because he loved God so much that he refused to bow to anyone or anything else. It is said that his destructive behavior ever after is an attempt to prove to God that humanity was never worth the effort in the first place.
It’s an interesting story, but I think the parallels to the Adam and Eve story in Christian legend are interesting–that Satan, like Adam, choose himself as the object of his own worship, choosing to try to possess for himself the God (or the Godness) that gives himself freely to all. Jacob Boehme, the Lutheran mystic, describes God as a flame–fire (power) and light (love). As Satan came to know God more, Boehme believes that Satan came to want the fire without the light and when he came to possess it, attempting to divide the unity of the Godhead, he experienced the fire of God as wrath.
All interesting stuff.
Under the Mercy,