This article is the last part of a 6 part conversation – see also the following:
- Part 1: The nature of evil
- Part 2: Belief in hell
- Part 3: The identity of Satan
- Part 4: The nature of Satan
- Part 5: Fear of hell
I find your response very thought provoking. I will stew on these answers for awhile – your point of view is very different from mine, but the angle is interesting and worthy of consideration.
I have now finished reading the bible, but still don’t find evidence” of what Satan is claimed to be – The bible says . . . yet man interprets. Half the time I don’t understand how the interpreters come to their conclusions. Forgive me, (and I am not referring to you) but so many people seem brainwashed into believing what they have been told to believe. They tell me “the bible says . . . “ but it does not say what they claim. And if I open the bible and read what is written, their argument just falls apart. Now I realize that we would have to take actual examples to debate this, but for now I am simply trying to point out that the amount of fear attached to Satan does not appear to be justified. In the entire book, he is seldom mentioned. Only after Jesus dies, does Satan really become an issue. Were the disciples using fear to gather a following? Or was Constantine using fear in an attempt to regain control over an empire that was about to topple. I run a business – I also resort to threats when people don’t behave.
Smithy, I agree wholeheartedly that when a motivation for doing something is mainly driven by fear, then it cannot lead to anything constructive or be sustained in the long run. Remarks about Satan in the Bible do not seem to have the purpose of making people afraid, but to make them aware. Again, I agree, people have made too much of Satan and that is odd, as you’ve mentioned, when considering the relatively little attention the Bible’s gives him. But that he does get attention and why he gets specific attention, should not be minimized either.
Jesus taught that God was a loving God, and that this God did not only belong to the Jews. I believe Jesus encouraged people to love God, not fear Him. It is my impression that Paul is the one to blame for bringing fear back into Christianity. Did people not want to change, not want to listen? Paul does a lot of threatening. However, being a woman, I would naturally be offended by Paul’s teachings. What a sexist! If I were a priest I would be very careful about which passages I selected from Paul’s writings.
I personally don’t really see a Paul who ‘threatens’. I see a Paul who sometimes rebukes and who is often very stern (and have reason to be so), but not threatening. Mostly I am impressed with Paul’s concern for Christian excellence in thought and deed, for how he encourages people to live lives worthy of the One whose name they bear testimony to and how he urged people to love one another. If Paul is seen as talking in ‘threatening’ terms, in contrast to Jesus talking about ‘loving God’, then one possibly has a very selective view of all the things Jesus himself actually said (and needed to say).
I agree that on a superficial reading of Paul of the 1st century, some of the things he has said could make any woman in the 21st century flinch with exasperation. What is necessary, though, is that contextualization be heeded for various statements in the Bible and of people in antiquity. This is not just some easy way of escape from unflattering passages, but of real exegetical importance. The fact is that when you look at the whole scope of passages where Paul refers to woman directly or indirectly, his attitude (as a follower of Christ) actually goes firmly against the grain of the accepted cultural ideas about women in his day (which was quite grim, as you would know).
From a superficial point of view Paul could be described as a sexist. But this really doesn’t make sense in view of all Paul has said about the equality of all people before God. There is no sense in which it can be justified that Paul was advocating the inferiority of the female sex.
Where does Samuel come into the picture? Because Samuel is supposedly the name of Lucifer before he fell from grace. I was taught that Lucifer was the fallen angel – a misconception that Satan and Lucifer are one, for apparently it is Satan who fell. Where is this written? In Revelation – the last book in the bible? Possibly the works of an embittered senile old man. That he may have seen a glimpse of the future, I can believe. (I deal with a lot of psychics – real and fake ones)
“Possibly the works of an embittered senile old man.” Whoa! This suggestion seems needlessly uncomplimentary and simply unfounded…
I don’t really see the excitement over all the names of Satan, even being aware of all the equivocation. There is enough written elsewhere in the Bible about Satan as a spiritual being, apart from the book of Revelation, to accept what is mentioned about him in Revelation.
Revelations 22:18-19 sound suspiciously like a curse to me. It is out of character with the rest of the book. Something I have noticed is that Satanists and black witches are dependant on one’s fear to make their curses work. I have found them to be pathetically powerless. Have you ever dealt with these extremists before? If so, how did you find them to be?
Rev. 22:18-19 seems to be a very serious warning not to misuse the revelation. It also does seem to be a way of the author to discourage detractors. But I doubt that is was meant as some magical curse, precisely because it would be out of character.
And no, I haven’t dealt with such extremists before. But I agree that fear can and does play a big role in how any extremist group of people control and manipulate their followers.