Friday, 11 March 2016

Milton's Theological Heresies

Milton's vast theological treatise, De Doctrina Christiana- assembles thousands of scriptural passages which meant a a great deal to the blind, solitary writer, for he considered it his "dearest and best possession" and his "greatest comfort".

Christian Doctrine was an attempt to illuminate his 'dark' mind with the texts and spirit of the Bible.

The Bible: "the onely Book left us of Divine authority."

As he was working on Paradise Lost, Milton was compiling his voluminous treatise on Biblical matters. Therefore connections can be seen between the two texts.

This text was written with the hope that his work might, "wipe away those two repulsive afflictions, tyranny and superstition from human life and human mind."

Similar to other Puritans, Milton deeply resented the invocations of Archbishop William Laud who had subordinated the status of scripture and individual conscience by emphasizing the Church of England's power and ceremonialism. Church has asserted its splendour + authority.

Milton believed that: "God has revealed the way of eternal salvation only to the individual faith of each man."
The Scripture itself is a vital and dynamic spiritual force both in his age and within the upright heart of each Protestant individual.

As in Areopagitica he valorises 'free discussion and inquiry'. Anti Trinitarian in his theological beliefs. Dismantles the orthodox trinity so that the Son though subordinate to the father is an independent entity.  The Son lacks the Father's omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence.

The Son's divine nature is distinct and inferior to the Father's. Milton emphasizes filial subordination.

Milton's radical Arminianism is the most significant for understanding Paradise Lost. Passionate belief in human free will which distinguished him from orthodox Calvinist Puritans. Man's Nature was so debased and enslaved by sin that it precluded his ability to achieve salvation through free will,

Calvinists focus on man's utter depravity, powerlessness and 'infected will- Man's fallen nature is diseased and has corrupted us. No point- already damned to hell...

Milton stressed God's foreknowledge but firmly wished to deny that future events were predestined or happened by necessity. Milton attempts to differentiate his God from the Calvinist God of arbitary power.

God does forsee events but humankind may choose freely to stand or fall when it comes to temptation the choice is always ours- "there can be no absolute divine decree about the action of free agents.' The fall was not inevitable - this is a Protestant poet who attempts to highlight the freedom of human agency though without ever abandoning a belief in God's omnipotence.

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