Recent critics have argued that Milton’s poetry and prose anticipate the political theology of Carl Schmitt. In particular, Milton’s God in Paradise Lost has been described in these terms because he provokes the angels in his exaltation of the Son, a gesture that allegedly resembles the Schmittian idea of the state of exception. This article argues that Milton’s concept of the exception should be understood not only in Schmittian terms but also, according to Abdiel in book 5, as a pedagogical test. Situating Milton’s God within contemporary anti-Trinitarian theology, I suggest that the deity can be seen as politically authoritarian, but that the poem aims to cultivate agency pedagogically in the exercising of moral judgment.

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