Note that this is one pitfall in allowing older PC celestials -- if they were around at the time of Christ, they may likely *know* some of the details. If you allow this, you're going to have to come up with answers up front. With younger celestials, they won't know from personal experience, and may not even have access to accurate historical information on some of the touchier subjects.
As far as the Christ situation goes, I don't think there's much that *could* be known for sure. It's much like the Islam situation in that respect.
We're told that Gabriel was "present at the birth" of Christianity. (Actually, the Gospel accounts place Gabriel at the conception of Jesus, announcing the same to Mary, and an unnamed multitude of angels at Jesus' birth. Perhaps Gabriel was present on both occasions.) The thing is, we don't know how much initiative Gabriel had, here. Much as when (s)he dictated the Qur'an to Muhammad, (s)he may simply have been given orders (by God or Yves) to deliver a particular message to a particular audience.
In Derek Pearcy's sidebar on pregnant angels (probably no longer canon, but still informative), it is suggested that Michael, at least, suspects that *Gabriel* fathered Jesus on Mary. So, again much as in the case of Islam, the truth seems clouded even in Heaven.
Celestials who met Jesus while he walked the earth would be none the wiser as to his true nature. He used Essence and Songs, most likely, but so does any Soldier (and Jesus was probably at least a Soldier, even in the eyes of non-Christian angels). Remember, it's impossible (or at least very hard) to spot a Celestial in a Corporeal Vessel, so even if Jesus were merely Gabriel's angelic offspring, no one could tell as long as he remained Corporeal. If the Christian view is correct, and Jesus was God Himself somehow inextricably fused with an actual human (not just a Vessel, but a body *and* soul), then he'd probably be even harder to detect. Heck, most Celestials have never met God, so how would they know what to look for?
If the Temptation occurred as recorded, Lucifer might know something -- but he's unlikely to talk. And even if he did, the Gospel accounts of the Temptation make it clear that Jesus very specifically did not do anything "divine" during the encounter, though Lucifer tried to persuade him otherwise. If it happened at all, Jesus was tempted and resisted as any specially chosen human (i.e., Soldier) might have.
The angel most likely to know something would be the one who announced the Resurrection to those who visited the empty tomb. (I'm assuming there was, in fact, an empty tomb. Given that two of the Archangels are strongly pro-Christian, I'd assume that even the angels can't say for sure that Jesus stayed dead. It would be dissonant for Dominic, and probably dishonorable for Laurence, to support a religion they *knew* was untrue.) However, the Gospels are unclear as to who, exactly, was responsible for that announcement. Two say an unnamed angel, one says two unnamed angels, and the earliest (Mark) mentions a young man in white linen. (That might be a description of the angel's Vessel, but the same unnamed "young man" pops up earlier in Mark's Gospel as one of Jesus' followers; some think Mark was humbly referring to himself there. So the messenger may not even have been a Celestial.)
Now, if Jesus did, in fact, hang around after death, there's the question of where he was during the not-quite-three-days that his body was entombed. Presumably he did *not* show up in the angelic Heaven. He *may* have gone immediately to the higher Heavens (permissible whether he was merely human or divine/human). Or perhaps he wandered the Marches. One of the letters of Peter suggests that Jesus used that time to "preach to the spirits in prison," a notoriously obscure reference. Since the IN cosmology has no Limbo that we know of, this could be a reference to the wandering ghosts of the Marches. The Mormons, I think, believe that Jesus used that time to preach to his "other sheep" in the Americas, certainly an interesting possibility. (Were there Celestials watching over the Americas before the monotheistic religions spread there? Or merely pagan spirits of the Marches?) The "spirits in prison" have also been identified with the Grigori, which would make for a *really* interesting IN possibility.
Anyways, that's why I don't think the "Jesus problem" is a problem, no matter what age your PCs are. Just as with Islam, Gabriel and Yves may know things they're not telling, and other angels may have very strong opinions on the issue -- but as far as the Truth is concerned, Celestials are in the same boat as humans.
(The possibility of a Seraph getting a 6 check digit on its resonance does undercut my previous statement somewhat. But since we are to believe that Dominic has never gotten a 6 CD when Inquiring into Gabriel's alleged heresy -- this despite off-the-scale attribute scores -- we can believe the same here.)
BTW, I realized the above about Dominic and Gabriel when I read "Feast of Blades," the GM Screen adventure. I won't spoil anything here in case we have folks who haven't read/played the adventure, but the appendix on involving the various Superiors suggests that Gabriel is now searching for extraordinary means to prove her innocence to Dominic. After reading this I realized, "Waitaminnit, lady, he's a Seraph. Go *talk* to him, and eventually he'll realize the Truth. And once he knows you're innocent (assuming you are), he can't lie about it or he'll eat Dissonance. If you think he'll try to keep mum on the issue and continue to persecute you, lobby for a hearing before the Seraphim Council. He can't lie to *all* of them."
Anyway, I've blathered on enough. Bye now.
Please, let's not get into a discussion about this as it solves nothing.
It's a circular argument:
"Why is idolatry wrong?"
"Because God says so."
"Why does God say so?"
"Because it's wrong."
.... etc, etc, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.
We either accept the possibility of a Higher Force that is qualified to make policy regarding morality, or we chuck it into the same cans of worms that holds "What is art?" -- in other words, banish it to the abyss of subjectivity.
It is possible to have an objective morality without saying that God determines what is moral and what is not. You simply have to believe that Right and Wrong exist apart from the opinions of individuals. Having a God to uphold that morality is convenient, but not necessary; the standards of Right and Wrong may simply *exist*, and God (if He exists) may simply recognize rather than create those standards (as an earlier poster pointed out).
There's one of Plato's dialogues that deals with the whole question of whether morality (or "holiness") is determined by the gods or exists beyond them. I think the _Euthyphro_ is the one in question. In the dialogue, Socrates demonstrates that holiness must be something above and beyond the gods' control (for the precise reason that if it were otherwise, the gods could just change their minds, and thereby make what used to be atrocities into virtuous acts or vice versa).
Of course, Socrates was dealing with a pantheon of non-omnipotent gods. Monotheists generally just combine God and Morality into one entity, saying that Goodness is God's very nature. So there's not any "higher" power than God that created morality, but neither can God just change the rules -- they are *part* of Him, and where His nature is concerned God has even less free will than _In Nomine_ angels: He CANNOT violate what He Is.
Some theologians (including St. Augustine, who based his views on other writings of Plato's) speculate that only Good really *exists* in a positive sense. Evil is simply the distortion or absence of a good thing or quality. In this Evil is similar to darkness and cold in that it can be identified, but doesn't really exist as an independent "thing." Therefore, when we say God can only be Good, we are not limiting God's power but simply stating an obvious fact. Since God is the ultimate fullness of Being, there is nothing "missing" or distorted in Him, and therefore no Evil. Angels and humans, because they are created things, have the potential for Nonbeing and therefore for Evil.
The "Evil as the absence of good" theory seems to hold in _In Nomine_, given that demons are described as "broken angels." (Even those demons created in Hell are made according to the same twisted patterns -- i.e., the Bands -- implying that the Princes are unable to create anything truly original, but only to distort what God has already made.) The exceptions, as usual, are the Lilim, but their unusual status probably has something to do with the fact that Lilith is a human (or something similar) rather than a true demon.
P.S. If you're still interested, AA Beth, please feel free to put my musings on Christianity in the IN Universe up on the INC. I would be honored. (Is inclusion on the INC one of AA Beth's Distinctions? If so, what are her Dissonance requirements?)
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Elizabeth McCoy <email@example.com>
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