I believe in Satan.
Last week, Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, was lambasted over a speech he gave four years ago to a group of Christians in which he spoke of Satan and evil. He was obviously mocked and hated for what he said. But was he so wrong? If there is one thing the historical record has left behind, it’s the fact that pure evil exists in the heart of the human race. And yet there are those who still look to the human race without Jesus (humanism) as the hope of the world!
But what is the solution to evil? In previous centuries the solution to pure evil was that those who adhered to the gospel would respond with moral force in some cases (as in the Reformation’s response to the Inquistion), or physical force in other cases (as in the Civil War or WWII). It must be very difficult for the atheist to accept this truth. Instead of being the light that holds back darkness and evil, the skeptic would like to paint a picture of Christianity as being the epitome of evil. They even paint God as a tyrant who rules with cruelty, manipulation, and force. But is this true? Is God evil? Is he a tyrant who demands that his will be done, or else? Or is he an understanding God who has done everything he can, even to the point of offering his own blood, as the solution to the problem of evil?
The Bible says that evil entered the world through a being called Satan. He tempted Adam and Eve to doubt God’s word and lured them into rebellion. This was known as the Fall.
In order to understand the Fall, we need to realize that Adam and Eve weren’t the first in the universe to rebel. The Bible tells us of another of God’s creations, the angels, as having been part of a rebellion. They were led by Lucifer (which means “light-bearing one”). He was God’s most beautiful creation. He lived in the presence of God. But Lucifer, impressed by his own beauty and abilities, became arrogant. He wanted to be like God. He convinced one-third of the angels to follow him in rebellion. At this point, sin, rooted in pride, was given place in the universe.
But this left God in a quandary. If there was no consequence for the actions of the fallen angels, sin would spread. Like a virus out of control, it would move across the Cosmos and infect everything. If this happened there would no longer be any heaven, just a Mad Max kind of universe where the strong and evil would run rampant over the weak. The pride and rebellion in Lucifer’s heart would spread and permeate creation, causing war, division, hatred, and injustice.
On the other hand, if God were to destroy the rebellious angels, there would be fear in the universe. God would have a dictatorial relationship with his creation, rather than the love relationship He desired. What could He do? Ignore them and let the universe become infected, or destroy them and make creation live in fear of him? It seemed there was no way out.
Love requires liberty. It can’t be forced. And yet it appeared that the angels were forced to love God . . . or else. Lucifer had forced God’s hand. The corrupt seed of thought had been planted and Lucifer had prevailed. Through the life – or death – of the fallen angel, God would lose.
Or so Lucifer thought. But God wasn’t trapped. He devised another way. It was a beautiful plan that included a display to the universe of His great love. It would show His creation that He was a loving God and not a dictator, revealing His selflessness and humility. It would show them that they could trust His heart and that He was worthy of their allegiance and love. It would even inspire passion for Him, not just lip service and lifeless obedience.
The Scriptures say that God wants a bride, but He isn’t interested in an arranged marriage. He wants love rooted in passion and romance, the kind that produces life and joy. (This is why Christianity doesn’t encourage arranged marriages, but instead recognizes the power and mystery of attraction as the foundation for a strong marriage.) Through this plan God would reveal himself to be a friend, rather than a dictator, and instead of a tyrant, He would be a bridegroom so full of passion that He would even die for His bride.
As with the angels, he had to give his creation a free will or there would be no true love. He created a new race called humans and put them in a perfect environment so that there would only be satisfaction and sufficiency. There would be no excuse for rebellion. He would provide a way for them to have eternal life with Him. All they had to do was eat of the Tree of Life.
But he also had to give them another option. It had to have within it the same temptation as that experienced by the angels – to “be as gods,”– and the same consequence–death. This would allow God to show the justice of his decisions. If the angels could watch this drama unfold and see the consequence of sin, perhaps it would make them long for justice and righteousness and would set their hearts in agreement with God.
Lucifer watched as God set up this new world. He regarded the two trees and probably pondered what God was doing. He knew disobedience and rebellion had left God on the horns of a dilemma in the past and perhaps thought God was banking on the fact that this different type of creation – a creation made in His own image- wouldn’t be as easily tempted.
It’s difficult to say what led Lucifer to creep into the Garden and begin his seduction. (Seduction is an interesting word to use because it implies that there was an intimacy between God and humanity that would be corrupted by a betrayal, an adultery.) Regardless, Lucifer went in for the kill, hoping to have victory over the defeated God again!
But this time, God would put Lucifer on the horns of a dilemma. No matter what choice humanity made, God would have the victory, not Lucifer. If they chose the Tree of Life, they would live in union with God forever, but if they chose the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, there would be provision for them to have life also. Lucifer wouldn’t understand this though. It was a “deeper magic” (as C.S. Lewis would characterize it).
It’s the principle of the seed. Inside the outer shell, lies dormant a form of life. Likewise, within the outer shell of the seed of the Jewish religion would lie dormant a glorious form of Life. It was a magnificent plan that would finally conquer Lucifer and his fallen angels and restore a just and righteous peace to the universe.
That magnificent plan was the Cross. 1 Peter 1:19-20 explains, ” . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world . . .” There was a plan – – and that plan included the death of Jesus, the “lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev. 13:8)
Each of us must judge for ourselves whether God’s desire is to tyrannize us or to redeem us with loving kindness. According to the scriptures, God reveals his love towards us, yet the atheist will cherry pick scriptures from the Old Testament law, and even from Jesus, who lived before the cross and whose purpose was to point to the law as the standard for justice, in order to reveal to humanity that the purpose of his life was to meet those requirements of justice on behalf of us who were helpless and hopeless to do it for ourselves.
It was this great gift of grace which most of the heroes of history were inspired by. Read the lives of Luther, Huss, Wilberforce, Bonhoeffer, and on and on. They received this gracious gift of God–and now His life flowed through them — making them the greatest enemies of tyranny and evil the world has ever known.
How does the atheist oppose evil? To them, it is to mock, accuse, and be derisive toward fundamentalist Christianity. But if they oppose fundamentalist Christianity, are they becoming unwitting tools of Satan, even though they don’t believe in him? Are they actually contributing to evil? (As their record in history reveals–i.e. communism and the French Revolution where millions were murdered, sent to prison camps, or beheaded by guillotines.)
The premise, as always, is that infinite punishment is a just punishment for a finite crime. Even the most heinous of criminals (child molesters, Hitler, wife beaters, Joseph Koney…) have eventually paid their price.
Also, what is Hell for? Rehabilitation is the truly just cause for any judicial system, the second is protection. Retribution and pure punishment are the last of the purposes in any justice system we seem to admire (with the exception, of course, of Hell).
Death, for those that will not be rehabilitated, serves as both protection of society and–to a lesser extent–retribution. But Hell–an eternity of conscious torment–is unjustifiable.
Not to mention that an omnipotent God could remove that rooted prideful sin from our genome. A benevolent God would want to remove our pre-destiny to Hell. An omniscient God would understand that they must remove that rooted prideful sin in order to save us from Hell.
The blood sacrifice is not the only way God could save us. He could lower the bar, it is unfairly high after all. He could weigh good up against bad and look at our average goodness. Remember, unlike Earthly courtrooms, God is not judging an action, He is judging a soul, or He should be at least. But He’s not, he has actually chosen to judge only sincerely worship directed at Him.
I’m going to stick with an over-punishing, critically judgemental, worship-demanding God being a tyrannical one.
I guess I’m going to go with God being love and giving us a free will. He’s not a rapist or a kidnapper. He won’t force you to receive what Jesus did for you. He’s not going to shove the food down your throat, like a cruel father. He offers you a way to be reconciled. It was a way where he could even pay the price. He can’t let heaven be defiled by sin and selfishness and evil, so he made a way for those who would be willing to be with him.
This way has been shouted from every roof top. It’s on the top of steeples. It’s in books, magazines, on TV, radio, preached in the street. The message has been heard: “God loves you! He’s done everything he can to restore his relationship with you. Please receive the way that he made for you. Accept the gift of Jesus. He died in your place in order to save you from being eternally separated from God. Please accept his gift.”
Some weep and cry and receive him with gratefulness and God receives them into his kingdom.
Some reject him . . . and God doesn’t take them by the hair and drag them into his presence . . . he lets them go.
The problem is: God is light. God is love. God is joy. God is peace.
Did God send them to darkness, hatred, despair, and war — or did they go on their own?
And to say that pride has been injected into the gene pool, therefore making it impossible for some to receive Christ is preposterous! What an excuse! My kids have tried a lot of excuses on me, but that’s a new one. 🙂
Have you heard the God-the-abusive-spouse analogy? “You made me angry. Beg for forgiveness or I’ll get angry again… I don’t want to have to hurt you”. That is the threat of Hell. It’s absolute tyranny.
Those of us that end up in Hell end up there because of God. He made it, He uses it as a threat, and He sends us there (we don’t send our selves there. If our “sin” sends us there, why? Because of God, that’s why).
The death–the torture and the sacrifice–of a human being was a gift…? Omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent and He had to kill some one to forgive us? AND there’s more we still have to do? We have to be convinced that a mortal death–of an innocent of all people–is a good thing! That’s tyrannical.
Not to mention Jesus didn’t die. Or, more to the point, Jesus is God and God didn’t die. Jesus was in Hell for what, 3 days (less than)… the people crucified around him went forever (unless they believed He was the son of God, in which case they didn’t go at all). But that’s more about the trick than the tyranny. But I thought it worth highlighting.
Lastly, the act of salvation is not morality. It’s the meaningless hand-me-down from God. It’s His preference; we must conform to His preference. Of course it could be easier to get into Heaven; the perfection of God’s grace (ignoring, out of politeness, that the character is genocidal) is too high a command. Of course we could be weighed against our moral worth and integrity; the sum of the good versus the sum of the bad. But it’s not; it’s this narcissistic demand to be worshipped. “Look at what I have done! Look! Isn’t it amazing! If you don’t think it’s amazing you can go to Hell” (my brother said that when stoned once about something he built).
The fact of the matter it was amazing. But not going to Hell should have been about morality, not recognising my brother’s stoned-craftsmanship.
How would you ensure justice in the universe? Would you have no justice system? Would you allow only those who have more good deeds than sin into heaven–even though they have no friendship with you and actually have enmity toward you? How would you set up the universe in a way where there could be a true and lasting peace and where no fear, cruelty, or harm will come to its citizens? After all, isn’t that the goal of every society?
If I were God I would further limit human free will. Be under no illusions, our will is already very limited. We have psychological limits: I cannot mentally justify murder at random, I cannot inspire myself to believe; we have logical limits: we cannot image a square circle or the colour of ultra violet light; we have imaginative limits: I cannot grasp the size of the sun, or the complexity of quantum mechanics; we have physical limits: I cannot will my self to flight or force gravity to not exist.
I also cannot hit myself hard. I find it nearly as hard (especially without great provocation) another person.
It is that last bit I wish to expand upon. Empathy, for the most part, is the reason I cannot hit another person without believing they deserve it. I would expand that empathy in the mind of all humans to an equal level. See, if I can be bestowed with levels of empathy like that, that limit my violence, why couldn’t the Witch Hunters, or the Crusaders, or the people of the Inquisition, or Joseph Koney. Why was I bestowed with a level of empathy that could save me from Hell (if God were fair, and measured me against my deeds and not against His preferences) when those people could not.
But that’s beside the point, my point is that allowing people into Heaven that are good “even though they have no friendship with you and actually have enmity toward you” is just and loving. Banning them for not being your friend is tyrannical.
Imagine a government that openly gave tax cuts to its rich friends and hiked up the taxes of those that don’t approve of the government. Imagine a system so childish and tyrannical!
I’m going to copy and paste a question from another discussion we’re having because I think it got lost for being asked in the wrong place:
“[T]he difference between God knowing morality and God being the author of morality is huge. If God simply know morality then He knows it’s not moral to offer infinite punishment for a finite crime, and He knows He doesn’t have the authority to change that (He didn’t write the morals). If God simply knows morality then He is unquestionably tyrannical in offered unjust punishments.
However, if He is the author of morality He’s a hypocrite for writing one morality for us, another for the people that heard His voice and another again for our intuitions that are all incompatible with each other…
[I]f God is the author of morality then faith is a moral precept, then God is still tyrannical for making it possible to be born somewhere where the gospels go unpreached or unheard of.
He’s also tyrannical for making me in such a way I cannot believe. I cannot believe things I have not been convinced of–and I cannot worship what I do not believe; that makes no sense.
Making faith a moral matter (or, adding faith-based loopholes into His moral code) is also tyrannical. After all, to God the command for faith in the command to “LOVE ME!!”. If saving my soul is based on that command, it’s tyranny.”
I know you’ve answered the “I cannot believe things I have not been convinced of” part. But the rest to me seems to make the title “Tyrant” much more applicable that “Loving Saviour”.
How, (having full omnipotence) can a creator justify birthing a people holding them to a standard he knew they’d fail to reach and then punish them for failing to meet this standard forever with methods so horrible they are terrified into subservience? How could you see the fall beforehand and plan to send your only precious son to save a people who consistently have shown scorn and disinterest to you? I don’t see love there, just utterly confusing action more inline with how People behave. Furthermore isn’t the creator completely responsible for the actions of his/her creation especially b/c he for saw it.and had the power to change the fall?
Unfortunately, although you judge God, in the end he will be the judge over you, not you over him.
Hell is merely separation from the God you think is unjust. He is the source of light, holiness, peace, love, and all things that are good and just. If you don’t want to be with Him, he won’t make you, but then you will be in a place of darkness, division, war, hatred, and injustice–kind of like the ISIS rat’s nest that rejects him and won’t let the God of Israel or Jesus into their society, or even the atheist, communist regimes of Mao Tse Tung or Stalin that murdered millions in the 20th century.
God cries out to all of his creation, “Be mine! I love you so much. I’m doing all I can to bring you to myself; please receive the living water, the light of the world, the righteous one, the lamb of God, and I will receive you as a bridegroom receives a bride and I will have dinner with you and live with you–just turn to me with your whole heart.”
If you reject that offer because you think God is unjust–even though the fruit of his goodness can be seen in all the societies that love and honor Him–then he will let you go.
It’s your choice.
You really have nothing to offer but the brainwashed ranting of a mad person. This is a subject you barely understand and when challenges you revert back to the threats of your loving god. Either love me OR I will burn you in hell. Wow.