Where Demons Fear to Tread

Venturing into an Obscure Corner of the Doctrine of the Atonement Regarding the Un-fallen Angels

In: Journal of Reformed Theology
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  • 1 Torrey Honors Institute, Biola University, La Mirada CA, USA

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This essay consolidates, organizes, and contributes to the reflections of theologians throughout the history of the church concerning the inestimable benefits received by the un-fallen angels from Christ’s atoning death and resurrection, that we might better understand how the blood of Christ reconciles all things in heaven to God (Col. 1:20). Specifically, I explore five different ways in which the un-fallen angels are affected by the saving work of Christ, both in terms of salvation from the effects of sin, and salvation as the fulfillment of their being, while briefly considering the implications thereof for the church.

  • 2

    Adolf von Harnack, What Is Christianity? (New York: Harper, 1957), 56.

  • 4

    John Owen, “Vindiciae Evangelicae,” in The works of John Owen, vol. 12, ed. William H. Goold (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1965), 487 (hereafter “Works”).

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  • 8

    Origen, “De Principiis,” 289.

  • 10

    Anselm, “Why God Became Man,” 289–300.

  • 13

    Augustine, Augustine Catechism, 90.

  • 14

    Athanasius, Select Works and Letters (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 1983), 531.

  • 21

    Jonathan Edwards, “The Wisdom of God Displayed in the Way of Salvation,” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, ed. Henry Rogers, Sereno Edwards Dwight, and Edward Hickman (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1998), 147.

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  • 30

    Augustine, Augustine Catechism, 60–61. As Dante puts it: “Count up to twenty; thou wilt be too slow—/ Even faster did one Angel band rebel / And bring convulsion to earth below … / These other Angels humbly did admit / The Goodness whence they have their provenance / And understanding, for this joy made fit. / Merit and grace their vision so enhance / That now their will, steadfast and perfect grown, / From its objective knows no severance.” Alighieri Dante, The Divine Comedy, trans. Dorothy L. Sayers (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1955), 310–311.

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  • 42

    Kevin J. Vanhoozer, “Atonement in Postmodernity: Guilt, Goats and Gifts,” in The Glory of the Atonement: Biblical, Historical and Practical Perspectives, ed. Charles E. Hill and Frank A. James, (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 398–399.

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  • 44

    Damascus, Orthodox Faith, 19.

  • 45

    Coleridge, The Major Works, 16.

  • 47

    John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960), 464.

  • 51

    Irenaeus, Apostolic Preaching, 47.

  • 52

    Lawrence Osborn, “Entertaining Angels: Their Place in Contemporary Theology,” Tyndale Bulletin 45, no. 2 (1994): 286.

  • 54

    John Milton, John Milton: The Major Works (New York: Oxford, 2008), 356.

  • 57

    Cf. Anselm, “Why God Became Man,” 269.

  • 59

    Amy Plantinga Pauw, “Where Theologians Fear to Tread,” Modern Theology 16, no. 1 (2000): 56.

  • 60

    Peter Kreeft, Angels and Demons: What Do We Really Know About Them? (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1995), 22.

  • 61

    Harnack, What Is Christianity, 56.

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