Tuesday, October 03, 2006

speak of the devil...

Pop Occulture has a very interesting post about universalism and the role of satan. The comments are equally interesting. I plan to do some reading on the subject in the next little while. I think a trip to the book store is way overdue.

Anyways, I know a fair number of you are universal reconciliation subscribers and I'm curious as to your thoughts on satan and hell and demons and all that jazz.

I haven't given much thought to the concept of Satan in the last while, aside from occasionally wondering if he was doing a fantastic job of driving me away from the faith. Lately I've been thinking that the concept of satan as I understood it is just far too simplistic and one-sided, like so many things. After all, the bible says that a rainbow is a promise, but education will reveal it as the refraction of light through water droplets in the air.

I think that the simplistic, good guy bad buy themes of the bible serve their purposes, but as most of us here know, there are about a million shades of grey, and that many explanations for life as we know it.

Isn't it so much fun to speculate? I love being a free agent.

6 Comments:

Blogger rob horton said...

I did a related post recently. You might find it of interest: Initial Corruption

I am enjoying your free thinking.

Later,
Rob

October 03, 2006 11:26 PM  
Blogger SocietyVs said...

I haven't given much thought to the role of satan or any of that in some time. I read the article and it was quite interesting (satan being a prosecuter - makes sense and I even saw Devil's advocate).

I guess I focus more on the human relationship and how we mess up and make dumb decisions...we are responsible for them, not satan. That's where I put my time and efforts, focusing on what we as a community or personally could do better (I personally find this whole 'blaming satan' thing fishy).

October 04, 2006 2:21 PM  
Anonymous liquidlight said...

Ursa, i find this an important line of questioning and exploration. a few thoughts on satan that are bouncing around my head, to add to the mix of this thread.

1. the orthodox church has often got very freaked out and threatened by heresy, especially of the gnostic variety. from the reading i've done around it - Elaine Pagels etc - they seemed to have believed amongst other things: that man contains a divine spark which must be discovered and return to G-d + a radical dualism, stating that the material realm is fallen, to be avoided and/or denied. the church has generally rejected the first but rejected the second heresy - dualism - that brings me to the next thought...

2. in the old testament, satan is pictured as working under the authority of G-d in the role of tester & accuser - as in the case of Eden, the story of Job etc. Judaism has no concept of satan, as defined and characterised by much of christianity. admittedly there is some very stark light-dark imagery in the NT regarding satan being thrown into the fiery pit etc, but the lack of such a character in the OT & Judaism should help us to find a balance. Christ also said to one of his disciples, "Get behind me satan!" what was all that about? mmm, interesting...

3. a friend of mine whom i trust - he's not one to make stuff up or entertain dubious sources - recounted that in Augustine's early life, he visited a bath house. apparently he found the experience sexually arousing but felt disgusted with and guilty about his feelings. the writer whom my friend was reading suggested that this feeling of guilt & shame may have unconsciously underpinned his later theological structures.

regarding a visit to the bookstore, maybe check out Tom Talbott's The Inescapable Love of God. i've just ordered The Evangelical Universalist, which is apparently more technical but also good. Martin Zender Goes to Hell is apparently a solid and easy read. check out his site!

wackkky!

go well.

russ.

October 05, 2006 4:02 AM  
Anonymous liquidlight said...

oops, typo. i meant in point 1 that while the church rejected the gnostic tenet of the divine spark, it fiercy embraced it's teaching of dualism! ironic. i cannot explain it but i intuit that the dualism we see and experience in this eonic realm may not be such within the realm of the eternal - in the true "out-of-time" sense of the word - of which the bible is virtually silent.

adios.

r.

October 05, 2006 4:15 AM  
Blogger BruceD said...

Someone told me something once that I think applies here. They said, "the traditional church chooses to see evil and fight it with Christ as their sword, but I choose to see good, and embrace it with Christ at my side."

October 05, 2006 8:13 AM  
Blogger Soul Food Dude said...

Honestly, I have not found any theological framework -- that has at one time or another been widely considered as "orthodox" -- that makes much sense of Satan.

The dualistic notion really is the best, when it comes to explaining Satan as a mischievious being who rules this world, preparing for battle at the end of time, but I don't think Jesus' good news is about a truly dualistic universe.

What MIGHT be true is that God got keeps getting himself involved with dualistic worlds, in which he "backed off" and "let bad things happen." The core of reality would be dualistic insofar as God, as a Redeemer, constantly seeks to redeem, and so he creates worlds that need redemption. There is something of Karl Barth's thinking in this. He spoke of 'Das Nichte' or 'the Nothing' which is a sort of symbol of what God actually struggles against. God's nature is that of a creator, and by that very fact, he reaches outside of himself, he pours himself into something else. Perhaps to engage in communion with a 'something else' he must first bring it up from the mire, from outside himself, and then draw it in. Perhaps the redemption story was meant to be. After all, it is hard to think of who I am apart from where I've been, and I've been to some dark places, and even now those dark places reside in me and threaten me. Perhaps evil exists because God wanted to make US, and that making is not over until redemption has been brought to completion.

Personally, I think that Satan is a transcendent spirit, one that resides in more than one person. There is a Satan in all of us, but in effect, it is the same Satan, the same character, and in my experience, this character, this voice, is quite real. Is Satan a general of a demon army who's pouring over a spiritual world map as we speak, discussing with his demon officers the next big plan of attack upon the human race? Err...I doubt it, but each must decide for herself.

Still, the demon stories in the gospels perplex me, and I am very very reluctant to cast them aside as mere results of superstition. I think demons might be quite real. Is there a head demon? Well...maybe...but if there is one, that is really God's mystery.

Non-universalist views about Satan usually don't make much sense either, because they have to do with free will, and free will is a subject that gets muddier the more one looks into it. The Christian culture that I find myself engaging with does not give Satan much of a role at all, except that he has the opposite role of the Holy Spirit. Each side, according to these folks, has 'influence' upon an agent, without forcing the agent to decision. This notion of influence is quite mystical and doesn't really explain much at all.

peace,
Jathan

October 08, 2006 1:54 AM  

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