Brief thoughts on Lucifer

Dtcwee asked a question about Lucifer in light of the previous post.

Could we then say that Lucifer is imagining his own responsibility for his fall?

I’m hesitant to speculate too much about angels.

In the tradition, Lucifer’s sin is pride. That would imply he went wrong in desiring to be somehow equal to God or independent of God. This pride is believed to have been motivated by Lucifer’s own greatness, since he was the highest of angels.

If I’m right about original sin, then we could argue that human pride is different because it is motivated by suffering and separateness, a condition we inherit from our parents.

This difference in the motive of pride is what makes me hesitate in case I’m missing something important.

That aside, the devil is just another creature, and the conditions of his existence are essentially the same as ours. I very tentatively suggest that his “responsibility” began through contemplating his own greatness in the created order. As I mentioned in a previous post where I quoted John Cassian:

he believed that he had acquired the splendour of that wisdom and the beauty of those powers, with which he was graced by the gift of the Creator, by the might of his own nature, and not by the beneficence of His generosity. And on this account he was puffed up as if he stood in no need of divine assistance in order to continue in this state of purity

This is the point where tradition tells us the highest creature in existence succumbed to pride. A self-consciousness of his own greatness was the cause of Lucifer’s false sense of “responsibility”, which initiated his subsequent fall.

Cassian concludes:

On account of which being forsaken by God, whom he fancied he no longer needed, he suddenly became unstable and tottering, and discovered the weakness of his own nature, and lost the blessedness which he had enjoyed by God’s gift.

So the only reason I would demur from accepting dtcwee’s suggestion is that Lucifer exhibited a kind of “positive” responsibility. He was so great, he identified with his greatness and in that moment embraced a false self-sufficiency. Responsibility is the corollary of that.

My only other caveat is that the word “imagined” should be taken as an analogy. The sense of responsibility may be false, but in calling it “imaginary” we shouldn’t underestimate the impact this false idea has had on our existence.

Furthermore, our normal use of “imaginary” implies that we are under a misapprehension. The conclusion I am working toward is that we are a part of that misapprehension as well. Responsibility is not just something you are imagining, it is something that underpins our sense of self.