The Devil and Satan in Recent Thought

Even with my back to the world, I hope I’d stand for Bible truth regardless of what anyone else thought. We must do and believe what is right before God, rather than what is smart and trendy before our surrounding society. But I realize that for many, the rejection of the idea of a superhuman Satan is a major issue, and for some this may be their first encounter with any alternative idea. To provide somewhat of a human cushion for the changeover of thinking, a slightly softer landing, I’ve referenced throughout this book the views of many who have made this rejection of pagan superstition in favour of Bible truth. And in this section I wish to give some more recent examples. But name dropping of supporting voices is irrelevant in the final analysis—for we must each unflinchingly set our face to understand the problem of sin and evil in accordance with God’s truth, as revealed in the Bible.

Stephen Mitchell, in a much acclaimed and well publicized book published by none other than Harper Collins, observes that throughout Job, “there is no attempt to deflect ultimate responsibility by blaming a devil or an original sin”¹. And Mitchell says this in the context of commenting upon Job 9:24, where having spoken of the problem of calamity, Job concludes: “Who does it, if not he [God]?”. And of course at the end of the book, God confirms Job as having spoken truly about Him. Mitchell observes that Job ends “with a detailed presentation of two creatures, the Beast and the Serpent both creatures are, in fact, central figures in ancient near-eastern eschatology, the embodiments of evil that the sky-god battles and conquers this final section of the Voice from the Whirlwind is a criticism of conventional, dualistic theology. What is all this foolish chatter about good and evil, the Voice says, about battles between a hero-god and some cosmic opponent? Don’t you understand that there is no one else in here? These huge symbols of evil, so terrifying to humans are presented as God’s playthings”. And so Mitchell comes to the very same conclusions as we have outlined here—there is in the end only God, and He is not in struggle with any super-human ‘devil’ in Heaven. And this is in fact the whole lesson of the book of Job. Even if such a mythical being is thought to exist, as it was in Job’s time, the essential point is that God is so much greater than such a puny ‘devil’ that He can play games with him. John Robinson, one time Anglican Bishop of Woolwich, came to some similar conclusions, albeit less clearly expressed, in his classic In The End God². The Christian psychotherapist Paul Tournier also came to the same view about the devil which we’ve outlined elsewhere. He expresses what we’ve said Biblically in more modern jargon: “[We must] unmask the hidden enemy, which the Bible calls a devil, and which the psychoanalyst calls the superego: the false moral code, the secret and all-powerful veto which spoils and sabotages all that is best in a person’s life, despite the sincerest aspirations of his conscious mind”³.

Others have come to the same conclusions by different paths. Students of the history of ideas have found that the idea of a personal satan just isn’t there in the Old Testament; and yet they’ve traced the development of the idea through the centuries, noting how various non-Christian ideas have become mixed in, a tradition developed and then picked up more and more accretions as time went on.

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Author: Duncan Heaster

Keywords: Satanology, Devil, Evil angel, Evil Inclination, Evil one, Satan

Bible reference(s): 1 Chronicles 21:1, Job 1:6-9, Job 1:12, Job 2:1-7, Isaiah 14:12, Zechariah 3:1-2, Matthew 4:1-11, Matthew 12:26, Matthew 13:19, Matthew 13:38-39, Matthew 16:23, Matthew 25:41, Mark 1:13, Mark 3:23, Mark 3:26, Mark 4:15, Mark 8:33, Luke 4:2-5, Luke 4:13, Luke 8:12, Luke 10:18, Luke 11:18, Luke 13:16, Luke 22:3, Luke 22:31, John 6:70, John 8:44, John 13:2, John 13:27, John 17:15, Acts 5:3, Acts 10:38, Acts 13:10, Acts 26:18, Romans 16:20, 1 Corinthians 5:5, 1 Corinthians 7:5, 2 Corinthians 2:11, 2 Corinthians 11:14, 2 Corinthians 12:7, Ephesians 4:27, Ephesians 6:11, Ephesians 6:16, 1 Thessalonians 2:18, 1 Thessalonians 3:5, 2 Thessalonians 2:9, 1 Timothy 1:20, 1 Timothy 3:6, 1 Timothy 3:7, 1 Timothy 5:15, 2 Timothy 2:26, Hebrews 2:14, James 4:7, 1 Peter 5:8, 1 John 2:13, 1 John 2:14, 1 John 3:8, 1 John 3:10, 1 John 3:12, 1 John 5:18, 1 John 5:19, Jude 1:9, Revelation 2:9, Revelation 2:10, Revelation 2:13, Revelation 2:24, Revelation 3:9, Revelation 12:9, Revelation 12:12, Revelation 20:2, Revelation 20:7, Revelation 20:10

Source: “The Real Devil A Biblical Exploration.”

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