Satan, Suspicion., The Devil, The Evil One, Unbelief

I’ve been thinking about Satan a lot recently. You know, the red forked tailed fellow with horns who depending on your beliefs, can read your thoughts, is nearly omnipresent, and used to lead worship in heaven.

He’s the angel who transmogrified himself into a talking snake; The Devil, The Prince of the Power of the Air, Lucifer, The Accuser, The Father of Lies, The Enemy, The Evil One, That Serpent of Old, Son of the Morning, and so on. Man does this guy have a bad rap. Most of the people who I know who warn of Satan’s trickery refer to him as simply, The Enemy.

Most people don’t want to come out and say the word Satan. You start to sound crazy when you talk about him seriously.

It’s because it is crazy.

I started thinking about this after reading this post from Mark Driscoll, The founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. The post is titled, 3 Ways to Examine Our and Others’ Faith. It’s pretty straight forward. He starts off with a story about someone who thought he was a christian but really wasn’t. He sins, hears from God that he’s going the wrong way, gets convicted from going to church and so on. This is a story that sounds very familiar to me. He goes on to list three tests we can use to examine our faith and the faith of others.

In test three, Driscoll straight up says, “John tells us that we can discern who the children of God or the children of the devil are based upon these three observations. Though our knowledge of someone’s salvation isn’t exhaustive, these three tests are sufficient to help the church humbly, lovingly, and patiently examine those within her jurisdiction to see if someone is or is not a Christian.” His reasoning comes from the bible (1 John 3:11–15).

Mark Driscoll does this thing where he always warns of danger. Danger of falling into lust, danger of letting pop culture values seep into your morality, danger of marriage being sullied by the homosexual agenda, danger in watching Twilight or Avatar,

Danger, danger, DANGER.

In this post he claims that there are two groups, The children of God, and the children of the Devil.

It feels silly that I need to clarify that there is no demonstrable danger in any of the things mentioned above. I think that pastors like to post on hot topic issues in order to increase web statistics. I’m sure that some of them genuinely believe that they are protecting the “flock” but I think that this sort of warning causes irrationality.

I was reluctant to share my story of unbelief because of this very method of thinking. How much suspicion has been propagated by the idea that Satan is controlling people? I can’t imagine that Satan has really lived up to his reputation. So much of the bad things that happen in the world are enacted by crazy or deluded people who claim to serve God.

Whenever there is a natural disaster, we hear some preacher or religious person claim that the disaster is Gods way of judging the effected area for sins or political decisions. Even from a Christian perspective, what evidence is there to believe in the person of Satan? If God was so good, why would he allow Satan to continually foil the plans he has for his people?

More about suspicion

I think that most of Satan’s dirty work can be attributed to people just thinking that he is in the background causing trouble. Suppose you have a neighbor. You believe in spiritual forces and you suspect that he/she might be in league with the Evil One. You might end up treating the neighbor as an enemy rather than treating them as yourself. This doesn’t even hold up in Jesus’s top two commandments found in Matthew 22:36-40.

Suspicion leads to bad social interactions

My wife ran into someone from church recently. She asked Becca how she was. Becca told her that she had been experiencing pain from her Crohn’s. She asked Becca how she was praying and implied that she might not be saying the right stuff in order to be healed by God. The acquaintance then told Becca that she felt like God was saying that our marriage is suffering. I hadn’t been to church in several months at that time therefore this person suspected that my marriage was falling apart. My marriage is awesome thank you very much. I think that people get really worked up about perceived patterns. We humans see patterns where none exist. We are great at convincing ourselves that something is afoot when in reality nothing is. Satan is a myth that has been perpetuated to cause fear in others and to act out their suspicions. Please stop believing in Satan.

(Update) It’s occurred to me that belief states are not really choices. I’ve decided to strike out the last sentence in light of this new information. If you believe in Satan, you don’t really have a choice in it. You can gather new information and broaden your perspective and it’s possible that this path will bring you to a new place where you no longer believe in the devil. For now, all I can ask is that you consider the impact of a belief in Satan on real world relationships. Has assuming that the evil one is involved in any situation really helped? How did you know that the enemy was involved in something and that it wasn’t just chance, choices, or genes at work.

4 thoughts on “

  1. There should be a “love” button as a choice up there. You are so right on about the belief of Satan influencing believer behavior. I must have been the worst of them all! I not only made important decisions because of what I thought God was saying, but also because of all the demonic stuff I thought was going on around me. (I’m probably going to write a post now of course.) I love your tone in this by the way.

    1. I always like thinkers Ryan, I just found out in my Myers Briggs that I am an INTP and the name for this type is “the Thinker.”

      I agree that many Christians go to far in interpreting where Satan and God are or not speaking. But not everyone is wrong. Some people have experienced the presence of one or the other. Not every Christian is a total nut job, we just get as bad rap by the ones that are, and the ones that are normal but make mistakes in their understanding.
      I would like to argue some of these points if that’s cool.

      I have a question or 2.
      1. If There is a God, and if He is perfect, and if you and I are not Him, then there is a distinct difference between us. If He is perfect, and we are less perfect, or more evil , does it also stand to reason that there is something more evil than us humans? Science and logic would I think back this hypothesis. But, if you don’t believe in God then no, i agree you should not believe in Satan.

      2. Do you really think there is no danger in lust?????? Do you think lust had any impact on STD’s, Rape, and Adultery?

      I agree that the pastors comment you mentioned are inaccurate. Christ Himself actually talked about this and dispelled the commonly held belief that all bad things happen to people as a result of sin, and that sometimes mistakes are made, and natural disasters cause destruction on their own.

      I agree that there are a lot of really dumb Christians. I agree that our first calling is to love our enemies (though I don’t believe that this applies to Satan, I think its best to just stay away from the guy all together).

      But I feel that i understand why God allowed Satan to cause trouble. I think it is found in the nature of free will again. God wants us to know Him, and to Love Him because that’s part of having a relationship with the Dude and also because He is worthy of it. In order for us to love Him though, it has to be a choice. It can’t be forced. So He gave us the free will to either walk away or to seek Him. So, just like many people walk away, Satan did too. But here is the real kicker. And this might not be received well. : ( We walk away from God because we want to be Him. I know most people have never thought of it this way but I really think it’s the truth. Satan was jealous of God. Satan wanted to do what he wanted to do rather than be under the leadership of God. He wasn’t satisfied with his current position. He was essentially greedy and discontent. This emotion, this desire is not something that can be quenched. Greed for more is a fire that will always burn and the ultimate desire of it is to have total control, total power and this is the same as wanting to be a god, to be GOD. It sounds far fetched because most of us have this desire in a moderate degree and I believe that every human has it to some degree. But……we only have it in a moderate degree because we can only satisfy it in small amounts. I think that many people don’t like the idea of having to submit to someone else’s authority. To not have the freedom to do as we want. Funny because most people never really do what they want, but they always want that ability. If we had a magic genie, and we started asking for everything we wanted, the more we got, the more we would want. We would keep wanting more, and one of two things would happen, you would either get depressed because nothing satisfied, or you would like having that power and it would become an unquenchable desire eventually resulting in conflict with God for total control.

      I am just spewing out stuff so feel free to comment and criticize.

      1. Justin,
        I think that there is danger in lust but only when people use it to abuse each other. I think that Driscoll uses hot topics to drum up a response. Anything can be dangerous. To uneducated superstitious people, the bible is dangerous. Give a redneck the book of Leviticus and tell him/her to follow it to the letter. That could cause some problems.

        I like that you refer to God as “The Dude”. It makes me think that God is the Big Lebowski. I’m pretty sure that I just received that from you prophetically. I did agree with the free will point at one point but I just can’t think of it that way anymore. I would hope that I would be the type of person who would ask the genie for 2 wishes and make the 3rd wish to set him free but the inner oppressor in me says otherwise. I think that we do have selfishness built in to us but I don’t think it’s the byproduct of anything having to do with Satan, Adam, or Eve. I think that there is plenty of biological and genetic evidence to support this.

        Until next time, friend.

    2. Thanks Susan. It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. I couldn’t have known that just 1 week after I posted this, there would be a home town tragedy resulting in more Satan talk than I’ve heard in years.

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