|I was at the Blessed Trinity, in Ocala, Florida,
Wednesday evening, men's Bible study.
I have been called by some a "fundamentalist" and have worn the "tag"
somewhat proudly because what they meant is that I knew Scripture
and I could quote it. Knowing the Bible is a very, very good thing, but let
us not get lost in the knowledge of Scripture. Let us not miss God!
Satan knows every word in the Bible and misuses it.
Someone mentioned, at the Bible study, about Lucifer being thrown out of heaven.
Revelation 12:9 "The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and
Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were
thrown down with it."
Then another person said that he saw that part of the Bible as Satan and his other
rebellious angels choosing to leave heaven. I saw particular merit in this idea and said so.
Then a discussion ensued that Scripture was clear that Lucifer and the angels that
followed him were thrown out of heaven.
First, is this the only way we, as Christians, can see this verse?
According to The Catholic Church, the answer is no.
From the "Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma", by Ludwig Ott.
7. Theological Opinions
Theological opinions are free views on aspects of doctrines concerning Faith and morals,
which are neither clearly attested in Revelation nor decided by the Teaching Authority of
the Church. Their value depends upon the reasons adduced in their favour (association
with the doctrine of Revelation, the attitude of the Church, etc.).
The doctrine is: CCC 414 Satan or the devil and the other demons are fallen angels who
have freely refused to serve God and his plan. [The Fourth Lateran Council]
So, in this case, anyone is "free" to put forth their idea of how or why Satan left heaven.
Second, is this idea that Satan was thrown out of heaven clear in Scripture?
The answer is no.
Getting back to the "first" point, an idea that many Bible Christians have to learn.
I get so used to quoting the Bible to "defend" my points of theology that it is easy to
forget, the ultimate authority is God, not the Bible. Some, are thinking, they are one and
the same. Although the thought is certainly true you would be missing my point. That is,
when we read the Bible we need to see past the print to God.
For example, God gave His Church to show us a sure way to Salvation. This same
Church has the authority to say what certain passages of Scripture mean.
There are only about 7 verses of Scripture that the Church interprets infallibly [see
bottom of page].
They leave the rest of the Bible open to various interpretations. These interpretations
range from authoritative to imbecilic. So, there is much leeway in how we see Scripture,
as long as our view does not take away from Church teachings in any way.
Getting back to the verses referring to Lucifer and his angels leaving rather than being
thrown from heaven. I think this interpretation has real merit because, simply put, God is
Love, God lets us through Free Will choose right from wrong. Then God's perfect Justice
allows us to hurt ourselves, rather than He hurting us. Until we come full circle, getting
back to God is Love by allowing us Free Will.
Laid out in more detail, we know that God is first of all "Holy". This is "Perfection" in every
way. God is "Love", more than that He is "Perfect Love". A notion, as humans, we can not
fully grasp. Some people think that because "God is Love" there is no hell. That would be
a misguided assumption because God as Love is also "Perfect Justice". We know from
Scripture that hell exists.
I am sure, many of you have heard the expression, that God sends no one to hell, they
choose hell for themselves. I know some will think that no one would choose hell. But, we
know because of free will some people do choose hell. Let me deviate for a moment, to
bring up an interesting thought on hell. Others mistakenly think that hell is "the party
place". Of course, we also know from Scripture that it is so bad even the demons or fallen
angels do not want to go there. Remember; Luke 8:26 "Then they sailed to the territory
of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee."
The demons pleaded with Jesus not to send them into the "abyss". Luke 8:31 "And they
pleaded with him not to order them to depart to the abyss."
Back to the concept of Satan leaving heaven. 1 John 1:5 "Now this is the message that
we have heard from him and proclaim to you: God is light, and in him there is no
darkness at all."
Satan being "darkness' would not be able to stand the "Light". Satan, just like us, chose
to leave God when he rebelled against God. The difference is that the angels, unlike us
had only one chance to say no to God. I think that angels had one chance because they
are superior beings and certainly should have known better. We, as lesser beings, are
given many opportunities to accept of reject God.
Also, in Genesis 3:15 "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your
offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel."
We see the idea of "enmity". This word, as I have shared before, is like the reaction of
two positive polls to huge magnets. They would not allow any touching. They would both
repel one another.
Another story that may help clarify the merit of this idea.
In Florida there is a healing ministry located in Jacksonville, Christian Healing Ministries.
I heard Francis MacNutt give a talk at The Orlando Catholic Charismatic Conference
once on helping witches to get out of covens. On speaking with a former witch Francis
repeated the following story to the audience. A witch can tell when a man or woman of
God is coming towards them, as much as a mile away and they will do whatever it takes to
avoid them! They so abhor the state of Sanctifying Grace that they do not want to come
in contact with someone like that!
For more on "Witchcraft"...
Again, showing that evil does not want/ can not/ stay in the presence of holiness!
So, as much as Satan was thrown out of heaven, he would want to go.
Isaiah 14:12 "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, who didst rise in the morning?
how art thou fallen to the earth, that didst wound the nations?"
The preceding verse almost sounds as though Satan fell by some accident.
Jude 1:6 "The angels too, who did not keep to their own domain but deserted their
proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains, in gloom, for the judgment of the great
In Jude it certainly sounds like the Devil and his followers chose to leave heaven.
2 Peter 2:4 "For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but condemned them
to the chains of Tartarus and handed them over to be kept for judgment"
From all the preceding Scriptures taken together, we can conclude that the feeling was
mutual, so to speak. Satan left and was thrown out, not one or the other. Scripture does
not contradict itself.
Fr. Gabriel said that we should see the "traditional" teaching of The Church as Satan
being cast out of heaven and secondly that Satan decided to leave. Which is probably
the way we should see this verse. We may also take note that this is not an official
teaching of The Church. But rather, a popular rendering of the verse in question. On
doing an online search and several hours of reading I could not find any traditional
teaching on how Satan left heaven, that being, whether he was thrown out or decided to
leave of his own volition. What I did find however, was the Scripture from Revelation that
stated this, the Scripture from Jude that says they decided to leave and the doctrine from
The Fourth Lateran Council.
Furthermore, I could not find a Catholic teaching that said the alternate conclusion is
From the Catechism of The Catholic Church, here is the traditional teaching.
CCC 391 Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice,
opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy. Scripture and the
Church's Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called "Satan" or the "devil". The
Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: "The devil and the
other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their
CCC 414 Satan or the devil and the other demons are fallen angels who have freely
refused to serve God and his plan. [The Fourth Lateran Council] Their choice against
God is definitive. They try to associate man in their revolt against God.
Now, the last point, which is my original point.
If all you come away with from this note is that the Bible is ambivalent about the idea of
Satan falling from heaven, then you missed the point! My point is not that, but that there
is more than one way to see any verse in Scripture and this idea is not novel but a long
standing tradition of God's Word given to us through The Church He established on
earth. That is my point in writing this. Oh yes, and foremost, God is Love... True Love!
For more on this subject...
The following is an excerpt from an article by James Akin.
The Limits of Scripture Interpretation By Jimmy Akin
"As far as I have been able to document, only seven passages of Scripture have had
their senses partially (not fully) defined by the extraordinary magisterium. These
definitions were made by the Council of Trent:
(1) The reference being "born of water and the Spirit" in John 3:5 does include the idea
(2-3) In telling the apostles "Do this [the Eucharist] in memory of me" in Luke 22:19 and 1
Corinthians 11:24, Jesus appointed the apostles priests.
(4-5) In Matthew 18:18 and John 20:22-23, Jesus did confer a power on the apostles to
forgive sins, and not everyone shares this power.
(6) Romans 5:12 refers to the reality of original sin.
(7) The presbyters referred to in James 5:14 are ordained and not simply elder members
of the Christian community."