Do you hate the devil because of his temptations and the evil he works in the world? Or do you hate him because people use him as a tool of fear and control, or as an excuse to not take responsibility for their own moral choices? Or do you simply think he doesn’t make theological or historical sense? I know I don’t believe in the multi-headed being stuck at the bottom of Dante’s nine levels munching on Judas Iscariot and other traitors, nor the pitchfork wielding, spiked-tailed, red skinned being gleefully dragging souls to hell, but I have to say that I find the figure of Lucifer in the premortal councils very compelling, and I want to tell you his story:
The tiniest bits of matter said yes, we will join together. They did it by copying each other–the simplest choice that says “I see you”–and as they did new structures arose. In time these structures became universes. Universes formed more universes, or broke apart again into chaos, until intelligent life emerged and began shaping its own future. These intelligences became the Gods, alive since “the beginning” since they were formed from living matter, but now in new forms–no longer a sea of chaos. Finding great joy in their new knowledge, power, and family, they invited more and more intelligent matter into their family, extending the joy of creation to more and more beings–a joy that could be fully tasted only by self-aware structures, beings who had chosen to be, and chosen to love.
In giving the knowledge and power of creation to newly formed intelligences–beings who hadn’t gone through the ages long process of finding the love needed for universes, lives, and Gods to flourish–these Gods gave a short-cut to their new children. These children could learn the power of creation, and destruction, without having lived through all the consequences of choosing good and ill. And here we meet Lucifer, Son of the Morning. We also find ourselves.
What do we see? Our glorious, intelligent, good brother Lucifer. The brother who soaked up everything his parent Gods would teach him, and passed it on to us, his adoring siblings, so we could all rejoice in the secrets of being. But there is this nagging hardness in our parents’ call to create, reproduce, and love. Not all of us would choose what it takes to become Gods. Some of us will refuse the hard choices. Is there no other way? Lucifer said there was. “Why can’t you just make everyone become Gods?” he asked our parents. It doesn’t work that way. “Why not? Just because you didn’t get where you are without great pain and loss, why do we all have to go through that? We know so much more now. You taught it to us. Why do any of us have to suffer like you did? You’ve given us all the knowledge to live forever and make new worlds. Why should anyone else have to suffer in the process? Why can’t your glory be given to all without passing through the evil? Isn’t that what you want? All of existence to be glorified and share in your majesty?”
I can imagine these questions pulling at our hearts. I see us looking at what our Parents had done and wanted us to do, and realizing that it would work. Lucifer’s plan would work. Our Parents could bring us to where they are–or very close–without the pain, the loss, the evil. My earthly parents didn’t raise no fools, and I find it hard to believe my Heavenly Parents did worse. But Lucifer’s plan says, this is enough. We need only get here, no further, and eternal life will be good. Exaltation is a state. Static. Unchanging. A state can be reached. We need no more to find eternal joy. But our Parents saw more. They reached their glory through ceaseless striving and boundless loving. They were not at the end of creation, but moving through it headed to a destination even they had not yet fully imagined. The laws of being were not encompassed in their knowledge, but only explored to the horizon, and as each horizon was reached a new one appeared. They had learned to love the journey so fiercely that they wanted all to come see. Come, follow Us. Join Us. Join Us in a quest, not a destination. Help Us find new horizons. Help Us understand new laws, since not all the laws of Nature even exist yet. Help Us shape the unrealized future. Lucifer’s plan could make us Gods, but would damn us at the same time. We would not flow into the unknown future.
So some of us stepped forward, understanding–or at least trusting–that there was no other way than to learn of good and evil, life and death, sorrow and joy. Having fallen from grace, Lucifer refused to pass through the pain, but he had no qualms about helping his foolish and trusting siblings to experience it. So he said to Eve, there is no other way. You must learn of evil to become God. And God rebuked Lucifer for tempting Eve. And Lucifer said, “I’m just doing your job. That’s what you want. That’s what you learned before, and what you taught people on other worlds.” And it was true, but our Parents taught with love, Lucifer with spite. Lucifer learned the error of his ways as our Parents let him grow no more. They granted him no more power, having seen how Lucifer would use it to damn all new creation, and for perhaps the first time Lucifer felt misery. But it had been his own choice. It was in him so completely that our Parents could not undo it. They could not make him love agency, so they had to stop his power before he destroyed eternal progression in the name of ending sorrow. He could not become the God he was born to be, or he would destroy countless futures. This sorrow of lost children could not be avoided by our Parents who knew that they could not deny agency–the reality of the very stuff that makes us–and knew that endless joy came only with eternal progression.
So Lucifer makes sense to me. I’m agnostic about a tempter who speaks to our thoughts. I’ve seen enough of evil people that I find it simple to imagine evil among spirit beings. I also find it inconsistent to believe that God can speak to our spirits, however you interpret spirit, and not allow the possibility that other unseen beings can also speak to us. I’m sure some of my acquaintance say none of it is from unseen beings, but I’ve already given my reasons for finding that improbable, pessimistic, or a concession that the future is completely determined and all meaning is finite. The Lucifer that makes sense to me saw a real, possible future where pain and sorrow were absent. He only failed to believe that Joy (like work) is not a state. Joy is inseparable from process and is meaningless without change. He mistook the passing state of our Parents as an end, or at least convinced himself that such a state would be a sufficient end.
I’ll admit, this Lucifer makes less sense in the presence of an all-knowing God who understands every law of Nature and can predict the entire future. In this heaven, Lucifer and a third of our brothers and sisters would have to be truly foolish or willfully rebellious with no hope of success. On the other hand, in a world where our Parents could share all Their understanding except for Their experience, in a world where the laws of Nature are emerging and even being shaped by the intelligences within, I can see Lucifer saying, “Look, I’ve done the calculations. This would work based on the very knowledge you have given us.” Lucifer simply extrapolated to one of the possible futures. That it was a future without a future didn’t matter. That Lucifer would be choosing a state and not a process, would be limiting agency, would be limiting reproductive rates, and might be limiting the amount of intelligent stuff that could be invited towards Godhood didn’t matter. Suffering and pain would be avoided. His power, and maybe ours too, would be assured.
But our Parents had evolved into and chosen an open future. An unknown future where agency had full reign. A world where every being willing to join it would be enabled to maximize our potential. A world where joy and sorrow coexist and are found in becoming, not in being. A world of hope and great knowledge, but not of certainty. Never of complete certainty. A world where perfection is not a state to be achieved, but an undertaking possible in the now but never finished. And true love means not letting Lucifer or anyone else stop this journey, even as it breaks our Parents’ hearts, and forever will, to watch their children choose an end to their growth.