Saturday, April 19, 2008

Satan Is A Fallen Seraph Not A Cherub

MYTH
Satan was a cherub and not a seraph

The Inconsistent Position of Aquinas on Satan's Angelic Order
1. Those who, with my favorite theologian St. Thomas Aquinas, theorize that Satan is a fallen Cherub (כרוב) face an insuperable difficulty which is of course not satisfactorily answered in ST 1.63.7.1r.{1} Aquinas's reply seems to imply that one cannot sin by virtue of being a Seraphim; he says the meaning of Seraphim is incompatible with mortal sin. But this would seem to mean that we are affirming that this group of angels by virtue of their name could not have sinned; and this is true of no group of angels because each angel had the choice of sinning after the first instant of his creation and becoming obstinate in evil.

Proof from Traditional Angelic Hierarchy
2. The highest angel must belong to the highest order. The highest angelic order is the Seraphim.{2} Satan is the highest angel.{3} Therefore Satan is a fallen Seraph.

Ek 28:14 Does not Mean Satan is a Cherub
3. There is no getting around this; even if you identify Lucifer with Satan{4} you don't have to and indeed should not call Satan a Cherub in light of the straightforward inescapable logical proof above. Scripture does not call Lucifer a Cherub as you see when you read Is 14:12. And it cannot be said that Ezekiel 28:14 shows that Satan is a Cherub. For Ek 28:1-10 make it clear that the discussion of the Cherub strictly concerns the mortal king of Tyre and not the immortal fallen angel Satan: "thou art a man, and not God;" "I will bring upon thee strangers: the strongest of the nations: and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy beauty. They shall kill thee, and bring thee down: and thou shalt die the death of them that are slain in the heart of the sea. Wilt thou yet say before them that slay thee: I am God; whereas thou art a man, and not God, in the hand of them that slay thee? Thou shalt die the death of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers." Other parts of Ek 28:1-10 are not strictly inconsistent with the target of the warning being Satan but these are and so the passage cannot be said to call Satan a Cherub! Additionally, Ek 28:19 says, "I will bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, to devour thee, and I will make thee as ashes upon the earth in the sight of all that see thee," and this is not applicable to an immortal angel. We must never take passages out of context.

Ek 28:13
4. Does Ek 28:13 mean that the person in mind must be Satan? This verse begins, "You were in Eden, the garden of God." Of course Satan was in Eden; he was the serpent who tempted Eve. But the context teaches us that Ek 28:13 refers to the king of Tyre who traded with Eden [Ek 27:23] and the person in Ek 28:13 received all the items for which he traded in Ek 28:1-24. And the only place in which a cherub is found in Eden is Gen 3:24 and these guardian Cherubim (כרובים) came only AFTER Satan led our first parents to sin. The king of Tyre, and not Satan, is compared to these guardian Cherubim because he was the guardian of the prosperity of many ancient nations. As is clear from the logical proof above, the only way we can say that Ek 28:14 refers to Satan and labels him a Cherub is if we say that the Cherubim are a higher angelic order than the Seraphim, but this is impossible.

Clues from Genesis to Revelation
In Nu 21:4-9 St. Moses mentions plain seraphs (the good figurine of the seraph will cause miraculous healing of its beholder) and seraph serpents. God lets these seraph serpents punish the people just as he let Satan punish Job; Nu 21:4-9 is a clue that Satan is a seraph; Satan is the serpent in Gen 3:1-15 and Rev 12:3-4,7-9,12-13,15,17; 20:2. Satan is a seraph serpent!

Notes and References
{1} St. Thomas says [ST 1.63.7.1r], "Cherubim is interpreted 'fulness of knowledge,' while 'Seraphim' means 'those who are on fire,' or 'who set on fire.' Consequently Cherubim is derived from knowledge; which is compatible with mortal sin; but Seraphim is derived from the heat of charity, which is incompatible with mortal sin. Therefore the first angel who sinned is called, not a Seraph, but a Cherub." Now if you have read ST like me, you will agree that there are not many "unsatisfactory" answers to be found in the masterpiece of this great Doctor!
{2} The Seraphim (שׂרפים) are the highest according to Pope St. Clement of Rome [Apostolic Constitutions], St. Ambrose the Great [Apologia Prophet David 5], St. Jerome the Great, Pseudo-Dionysius [Coel. Hier. 6-7], Pope St. Gregory the Great [Homilia], St. Isidore of Seville [Etymologiae], St. John Damascene [De Fide Orth.], and St. Thomas Aquinas [ST]. This list includes two Popes and six Doctors of the Church.
{3} Pope St. Gregory I the Great, Hom. 34 in Ev.
{4} I agree with the Patristic view that Lucifer denotes the state from which Satan fell [cf. Petavius, De Angelis 3:3:4]. But this does not force me to say that Satan is a Cherub.

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