25 October 2013

Judging angels?

The other day I was reading this post on Chatpilot's God Is a Myth blog, on the issue of sexual abuse within Christian churches and the tendency to handle such things internally rather than contacting the proper authorities.  The post included this quote (1 Corinthians 6:1-6):

1 If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? 2 Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4 Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? 5 I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6 But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!

I was immediately startled by verse 3 -- "Do you not know that we will judge angels?"  Really?  Humans will sit in judgment over the winged flunkies of the Lord?  I had never heard of this before.  This text is from the Epistles of the Apostles, specifically St. Paul, who would presumably be expected to know what he was talking about.  What might angels be getting up to that would require judgment?  Molesting the cherubim?  Shoplifting halo batteries?  They can go bad -- remember Lucifer.  But why would God assign fallible humans to preside over the trials?  Maybe he's too busy appearing on pieces of toast to do it himself?  Also, which humans?  Obviously proper Christians, based on the context of the quote, but that covers a lot of ground.  Will Rick Perry qualify?  How do you execute an angel?

I checked to see if there was any online commentary that could clarify this odd mystery.  1 Corinthians 6:3 seems to have received little attention from Bible scholars, but I did find this summary of what various authorities have said.  Some claim it must refer to demons (fallen angels), but as the "Pulpit commentary" section points out, "The statement furnishes no data for further speculation. It can hardly mean 'evil spirits,' for where the word is entirely unqualified it always means good angels.....We must take the plain meaning of the apostle's words, whether we can throw any light on his conceptions or not."  If St. Paul had meant demons, he would have said demons.  So angels it is.  Angels will be judged by dead fundies in the afterlife.

You guys are in trouble.


Anonymous Sheldon said...

I had been aware of this verse for some time, hadn't given it much thought during the fundie days, other than to think that it was a great responsibility that god was entrusting Christians with.

Now that I look back on it, it's rather baffling. Presuming the translation that they are still perfect angels (and haven't chosen to rebel and become demons), then why are imperfect beings judging perfect beings?

Even if a Christian makes the argument that humans will no longer be imperfect beings, since they will be in Heaven, and therefore a perfect soul without a body, that still doesn't explain what exactly these angels are supposed to be judged for in the first place.

25 October, 2013 11:24  
Blogger BB-Idaho said...

Doubtful angels would have much of a chance in the current SCOTUS either.

25 October, 2013 16:47  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Sheldon. It's very odd. Of course the Bible is full of weirdness if one looks closely enough.

BB: After Scalia made their feathers fly, they'd wish they'd skipped town with Lucifer when they had the chance.

26 October, 2013 08:04  
Blogger (O)CT(O)PUS said...

If you replay this tape in reverse - from the pedophilia scandals that exposed the moral hypocrisy of the church - the rationalization starts with Paul who first enunciated the concept of church authority. The critical word is the last word -"unbelievers." Henceforth, church authority takes precedence of secular authority, and children ... well, heck, the little angels are merely collateral damage.

27 October, 2013 00:51  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Octo: Yep. Chatpilot says that the quote actually referred to lawsuits, not serious criminal matters -- but the clergy will take anything they can get to justify keeping their own from the judgment of "unbelievers".

27 October, 2013 15:01  

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