My eschatology turned upside down after I studied the Bible verses referenced in the F. Furman Kearley article “The Conditional Nature of Prophecy: A Vital Exegetical and Hermeneutical Principle”. For example, Hebrew prophets such as Jeremiah (18:5-10) and Ezekiel (33:12-16) clearly teach that the outcome of prophetic judgments are conditional. The word and purposes of the Lord never alter while the outcome of the word of the Lord can vary. When the Lord speaks a prophetic judgment against a nation or individual human, then genuine repentance of the nation or human will alter the outcome of the judgment. And this conditional nature of prophecy applied to all the divinely inspired prophetic judgments written in the canonical books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Kearley also applies the conditional nature of prophecy to end-time prophecies. He says, “If the conditional element were accepted, this would constitute a giant step toward the unity of classical premillennialists, dispensationalists, amillennialists, and postmillennialists.”
Before I studied the nature of prophetic judgment according to the Hebrew prophets, I loosely held to premillennialism. I believed in the Millennial Reign after the Lord returns while I saw a lot of symbolism in Revelation and never insisted that the Reign had to literally last one thousand years. And I strongly believed that 2 Thessalonians 2 clearly teaches about a final human Antichrist who would manifest before the return of the Lord. Likewise, I held to futurism. My futurism also incorporated preterist and postbiblical typologies. For example, I saw Hitler as a postbiblical type of the final Antichrist.
After I studied the nature of prophetic judgment according to the Hebrew prophets, I remained a futurist and embraced the conditional nature of prophetic judgments, which I call “Conditional Futurism”. For example, I still believe that a final human Antichrist will manifest before the Lord returns. And this Antichrist can read about his or her pending doom and decide to repent in the name of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. I’m not saying that we can count on the final Antichrist repenting before the Lord returns, but we need to understand the nature of prophetic judgments and pray for the salvation of all political leaders according to 1 Timothy 2:1-4.
On one hand, the Bible teaches about a type Antichrist who repented. For example, Revelation refers to the Babylonian Kingdom while describing Antichrist forces. This suggests that Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar was a type Antichrist. And Nebuchadnezzar repented (Daniel 1-4). On the other hand, we cannot depend on the repentance of the final Antichrist before the Lord returns because Acts 3:19-23 teaches that some people can choose to reject Christ and face destruction. According to Conditional Futurism, the Antichrist could repent or fulfill his destiny of doom.
You raise a lot of good points James. Sometimes when I talk to people who believe that satan is a fallen angel who was once ‘good’ and rebelled through ‘free will’ I bring this up.
What if satan came to his senses right now and saw the light and repented??? Stopped deceiving the world, stopped inspiring all the bad stuff?
If the answer is “he can’t” then the free will argument goes down the tubes. If the answer is “we know he won’t” then we still have a philosophical dilemma because in this case the future is already determined. If the case is “It’s too late for him, God won’t LET him repent now” then that makes God responsible for locking humanity in under satan’s power, no?
Determined, at the time of the future, by Satan; which God would merely be reporting ahead of that time. No problem for Satan’s free will there.
And the actual predictive language leaves open the possibility (indeed the hope) that even Satan will eventually repent. What we’re told is that it won’t happen for a massively long indeterminate period of time; and won’t happen before various other things occur.
This also leaves open the technical possibility that Satan may never choose to repent; thus respecting his free will in that regard, too. Satan is not however ever going to be free from God persistently seeking to lead Satan to repentance. (However much Satan might want to be free of that… )
Probably because people don’t recognize it when it’s there…
There isn’t much discussion between God and Satan (which is treated as a formal name-title in several biblical texts, though not in all) in the scriptures to begin with. But the two most famous ones are directly related to God calling Satan to get back in line.
In the prologue to the book of Job, God is inviting “the Satan” (called Leviathan elsewhere in the poem) to consider His servant Job; and obviously expects Satan to learn something from Job. Satan spitefully dismisses Job’s piety, leading to God giving Satan permission to whomp down hard on Job.
During the subsequent dialogue, Job agrees with his friends in expecting the rebel “Leviathan”'s fate to be hopeless condemnation and destruction by God. However: at the end of the poem, when God arrives to answer Job’s continual challenges, a main thrust of God’s second phase of answering is that God intends to tame Leviathan and make a new covenant with him–a topic sequentially connected to God’s power in creating subordinate realities at all.
Not incidentally, the epilogue begins with God making peace with Job’s three friends through a call for them to reconcile with Job. It’s important to keep in mind that Job and his three friends had been increasingly vitriolic against each other, so for this to work Job has to be willing to reconcile with his former friends, too. It’s also important to keep in mind that Job’s three compatriots (along with Elihu, the wandering prolix teenager who summarizes and restates their case–and whom everyone proceeds to basically ignore ) have ended up acting according to one of the key functions of the classical Hebrew ‘adversary’: thinking evil of Job and calling God in against him. (This has some connection to why the Nazareth synagogue was so hacked off at Jesus in that GosLuke anecdote, btw.)
Job (as YHWH explicitly states) isn’t expected to tame and recovenant with Leviathan–that’s for YHWH to do. But Job is expected to reconcile and recovenant with his three human little adversaries; former trusted allies of his who became enemies. By doing that, he’s doing on a small scale what YHWH has revealed is His own larger-scale plan for cosmic rebel entities like Leviathan. (Behemoth, i.e. Bahamut, is presented as being more of a wandering neutral than an outright rebel like Leviathan. The question of which animals are being borrowed for representing the two cosmic entities is beside the point; though personally I rather like the dinosaur theory. )
The point is that none of this can be topically divorced from the prologue, and God’s calling upon Satan to learn something from regarding Job.
The other most famous discussion between God and Satan in the Bible is the Temptation in the Wilderness. This assumes an orthodox interpretation, of course, but the two Synoptic accounts (in GosMatt and GosLuke) read very interestingly when put together.
The key phrase here is “go away behind me”. Jesus certainly isn’t simply stating a fact, that Satan is going in a different direction than Jesus (literally or analogically), though that is admittedly one way to read the phrase (as in GosJohn, when Jesus’ disciples go away behind Him after the flesh-munching incident in Capernaum.) He’s making a call to action–the exact same way (and indeed the exact same phrase!) that Jesus tells Simon Peter, as “Satan”, to get behind Him. Jesus doesn’t want Peter to go off in an opposite direction from Him (on the contrary, that’s what Peter reveals himself to have been doing already!) Jesus wants Peter to get in line behind Him: i.e. to follow Him.
That, by the way, makes Jesus’ subsequent injunction to Satan very curious, because Satan is only supposed to be treating his Lord God as his superior–but Jesus has just insisted that Satan treat Himself as his superior!
Thus the humor of the next scene: Satan is literally standing behind Jesus now–but still enticing the Son to go His own way apart from the Father. (In Greek, Satan now is using a definite article in his question about being son-of-God. Thus the rhetorical arc of the combined temptation accounts is completed: Jesus makes no reply to the implicit challenge about being son-of-God in the bread temptation scene; so Satan takes the opportunity to see if he can take advantage of possible uncertainty in Jesus about His identity, since the Son would of course already have all this stuff anyway; rebuffed with a reply that implies Jesus knows Who He is, Satan challenges Jesus to prove His claimed identity as the Son of God–receiving a double-meaning reply again. The two Synoptic accounts inadvertently break up the rhetorical structure, though.)
I’ll let James (Goetz) discuss why he’s including (previously) incarnated rebel angels among those spirits in jail being preached to by Christ who were stubborn in the days of God’s patience before Noah. And maybe also query you as to what St. James meant, then, concerning the demons who also believe the Shema–and shudder. (Among many other such things in scripture.)
I will, however, point out here that St. James does not say in 1:14 (or anywhere around there, or anywhere else in his epistle at all), that we are not ever tempted by rebel supernatural entities. He does say we are led astray by our own desire, but this is not mutually exclusive to being led astray by other persons (whether they are rebel angelic spirits or otherwise); and traditional Christian theology has included both kinds of temptation: that which originates from our corrupted natural state (needing restoration), and that which originates externally from other persons (including rebel supernatural entities). I think they would also include a third category, that which happens sheerly by the choice to rebel; which is the worst kind of sinning, as it has no extenuating circumstances (internally or externally) pressuring toward the sin.
I will also point out that traditional theology is NOT “presuming” the existence and operations of such entities. Orthodox (and other) theologians are drawing inferences to a belief that such entities exist (and that one of them is more powerful than the others, and seduced the others to rebellion after rebelling himself), from what they believe to be proper data. Their inferences may be wrong; or they may be misunderstanding the data; or the data itself may be corrupted or otherwise incorrect; or any combination thereof. But you unfairly misrepresent their position by declaring them to have merely presumed their position on this topic.
(Admittedly, theological presuppositionalists tend to feed that impression by claiming to presuppose their theology wholesale… But most theologians in church history haven’t been presuppositionalists; and I would argue that the presuppositionalists aren’t really, either, in the sense required. They have their reasons-to-belief just like everyone else, and arrived at their beliefs by a process of human reasoning, just like the rest of us humans do.)
The view of demons is another discussion, but they are not beings either… Why would God create an INNUMERABLE army of demons to lead us astray? The thought is evil in itself… How NOT NICE of Him! Well, you are welcome to believe that He did so… I do NOT!
In blue… James doesnt SAY in 1:14 (or anywhere around there, or anywhere else in his epistle at all) that we ARE tempted by “rebel supernatural entities”, …either, does he?
To pose the idea that a “rebellion” took place in heaven, is simply to give place for another to occur… If it happened once, what is to prevent it from reoccuring?
It is fallacy in action bro… Again, you are welcome to think and believe as you do, and I do not seek to change your thinking OR beliefs…
However… If you go back to the garden… and you notice Eve’s “convo” with the “serpent”… it is quite evident that she is negotiating with HERSELF… Just as you would come to a corner, and say to YOURSELF… hmm, should I turn right or left… WHO are you speaking to?
The fact that JAMES says EVERY MAN is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust… notes a process which occurs in EVERY MAN… take it or leave it, your choice…
ALL sin stems from this brother… NO man is free of INFLUENCES, and even if a man, BY HIMSELF, decides without ANY external PROMPTING, to go an beat the tar out of (poor old ) willieH… does not mean that this decision appeared OUT of nowhere, …without ANY prior INFLUENCE…
Maybe he just got done playing a violent video game, and the residual INFLUENCE of the VIDEO game, CREATED by MEN, prompted an (albeit negative) REAL LIFE desire…
Blue above… yeah right… why would (1) he be more powerful than “the others” (2) Why would he “seduce” them to rebel? Isn’t this ASSUMING that old “satan” had a bite of the old “tree of knowledge”… How would “he” even have the KNOWLEDGE of what a “rebellious” thought would be? Did GOD make a mistake when He made old “satan”?
Which makes GOD look like a fallible and tinkering scientist that just didnt “get it right” and now a WAR is blowing up in His face from His …less than PERFECT creation of “old satan”! What a lot of crap to swallow bro…
Concerning theologians and anyone else which proposes these fairy tales, …I haven’t declared them anything… I have proposed that satan is not a sentient purposed being, neither are demons… and the theologians have created the doctrinal teachings by stretching the texts they use to prove those teachings… We can examine them if you like?
Start a thread about the REBELLION or the “fallen incarnate angels”… and show me proofs, and I will be happy to examine those “proofs” in an answer to them…
The truth is that most of the things we can decipher in modern terms that JESUS healed, are treatable diseases which can be dealt with by the medical community of today…
I certainly and absolutely believe He supernaturally healed, with the power of the WORD of YHVH… but many of those problems can be solved with medical treatment today…
And there are not parades of devils rushing out the hospital doors of today, …No “demonic” beings departing from the various patients as the medicine takes hold and healing processes begin…
Again Jason, you are welcome to believe as you do, and it is not my desire to change those beliefs… and please know that I do not put you down for them… You believe what you do… all I seek to do is give to you another view of these things, which might possibly help you see them more clearly… maybe not… we are all on our own individual trails… which started in different places, at different times, under different circumstances and environments…
One thing is certain to me… GOD is LOGICAL… simply because TRUTH is LOGICAL… For Him to have created an ability to transgress within the makeup of men, makes much more sense to me, than an INNUMERABLE army of INVISIBLE, more powerful and rebellious demons nailing us humans with temptations we cannot even deal with, because they exist in a domain beyond our senses… makes no sense… it sounds more like contriving, or a web being woven to me…
If there was ONE account of a DEMON appearing and speaking and/or acting mechanically in the NT… It would have more basis… however… John, Paul, James, Peter & the boys…were battling HUMANS in their trials, not mythological ghosts that somehow supposedly REBELLED in a PERFECT scenario…
If we are banking on GOD making it all good forever… He must have better management and creation skills than these ideas propose, otherwise… Heaven might just turn out to be …HELL…
I choose to believe that GOD is PERFECT, and HEAVEN is PERFECT, and there has never been, nor ever will be, a “stray”, “fallen” or “incarnate” …angel…
There is no account of any rebellion in the domain of GOD… found in the WORD… the only marginal thing one might grab onto is the “war in heaven” in the SYMBOLIC book of REVELATION… which is the REVEALING of JESUS CHRIST, not a Literal HISTORICAL account of HEAVENLY activities gone awry…
Incidentally, you might recall that we aren’t claiming that demons were simply created evil by God. (“rebel” angels, remember?) So, no, we aren’t welcome to believe that God did that.
And insofar as the people you’re talking to think that Satan is a name/title for the chief demon, then no it isn’t another discussion. The topics are quite linked.
You’re free to disagree with us, of course. But at least disagree with us on what we’re actually talking about. We aren’t talking about God creating a bunch of originally evil entities. We’re talking about supernatural creatures who have rebelled against God; among whom we consider there to be a chief. (As you yourself acknowledge we’re talking about, shortly afterward. Consequently, there is less than no good reason to be treating us here as though we’re saying something very different.)
A useless observation: by the same logic, there must not have been apostles who betrayed and abandoned Jesus, because St. James doesn’t talk about them doing so, either.
My point was that you cannot legitimately treat his positive mention of one inducement to sin, as being exclusive of other inducements, if the propositions about the inducements are not themselves logically exclusive. Which they are not. The fact that St. James talks (as other authors also do) about our desires leading us into sin, is not evidence that other persons (be they rebel angels or otherwise) do not also tempt us into sin.
St. James does however talk about demons who believe points of doctrine and shudder. (He also contrasts “the Adversary” to “God” later, treating both of them as persons to whom we should personally relate in contrasting ways.) And other writers speak of people being tempted and led into sin by rebel supernatural entities (Jesus Himself not least of those being tempted, although He did not sin.)
In whatever way those references should be interpreted, they do exist. Those of us who believe the references are referring to rebellious supernatural entities are not just pulling that idea from nowhere.
So what if it might possibly occur again? In any case, God sets up situations where His children might rebel. That goes with the territory of us being real boys and girls, or on the way to being real boys and girls, and not merely puppets (to borrow the Christian analogy designed into the story of Pinocchio.) Certainly it is better not to rebel; and one can hope that sooner or later rebels learn their lesson, grow up, and accept cooperation with God rather than rebelling again; and one can look forward to this (after rebellion has been allowed by God) as an aimed (and even prophetically foreseen) goal of God.
But then again, if the increase of the kingdom of God shall never end, then there might be further new rebellions down the line. Or not. That’s up to the children; and it’s up to God, insofar as He allows the possibility of rebellion at all among His children.
There is certainly no fallacy (“in action” or otherwise) in the proposal that there can be more than one rebellion; nor in the proposal that one set of rebel children can tempt another set of children into rebellion.
It is certainly not evident from anything in the text that she is negotiating with herself. Maybe you haven’t noticed her “convo” with the “serpent” is a conversation with someone or something specifically identified in the story as being different from herself.
Someone who wouldn’t be very feasibly described as an entirely distinct entity from myself.
I do in fact recognize the extent to which a demonic entity may encourage a person to debate with themselves over whether or not to sin, by taking form in the person’s psyche. There is a specific entity tempting the protagonist of my novels, who tends to manifest in her psyche as part of her own mind (one result of which is that the rebel spirit ends up subordinately bonded to the heroine later and trying to reverse that condition in her own favor); and the heroine, from her perspective in the future, insists on accepting the blame and responsibility herself for what that side of her mind contributes to the story–without putting responsibility off on the other entity.
So I can understand how the situation can get psychologically complex. But I also understand that that doesn’t necessarily exclude the input and influence from another person, including from a supernatural entity. No more than I would explain away the influence of God (or even an angelic servant of God) as being only me talking to myself.
Anyway, you aren’t explaining how you’re getting this idea from the text, and it certainly is not any kind of “evident” feature of the text.
That doesn’t necessarily mean your interpretation is wrong–I understand that interpretations sometimes have to be read into a text from out of somewhere else. But then, there is no point appealing to that story as being any kind of primary support for your claim that rebel supernatural creatures (other than we ourselves, perhaps) do not exist: the text does not say they don’t exist, and instead features something (maybe something rather odder than what we normally think of as a rebel angel, but later identified with a major rebellious cosmic entity) tempting Eve to sin. Just as Eve’s temptation of Adam afterward was not merely a convenient figment of Adam’s imagination. (And again, just as God punishes both Adam and Eve personally, the “serpent” is also punished as a personal entity.)
I take it and I don’t leave it. But you’re unfairly representing me as denying this happens, which I have never once done, and which I have affirmed happens instead. I recommend not pretending that I’m denying something that I have already explicitly affirmed in the comment to which you’re replying.
That includes when I distinguish between sins that a person is led into by internal promptings of non-rational behavior (itself distinguished from sins that a person is led into by promptings of rationally active entities other than the person), and sins that a person may choose to commit regardless of the influence of promptings. The recognition of the latter is NOT a denial of the former; and an affirmation that the former happens to every man (which is all that St. James is saying in that verse, by the way), is NOT the same as affirming that all sins occur only for that reason (nor a denial of other reasons that sins are done). To claim otherwise is a category error.
As to (1), I don’t know of any necessary reason why the chief of rebels would be more powerful than the others to start with; but I do know that people who have thought so on Biblical grounds are picking up that idea (that he was originally more powerful than the others) from a few story details here and there. There is also an inference from another story detail: that the rebel currently in charge is the one who led the others to rebel. The rebel currently leading the rebellion, in the story details, certainly seems stronger than the others; and that could be a reasonable expectation from the competitive nature of evil as well. It might be a mistake to infer that the currently strongest leader was also the strongest when he led the rebellion, but it isn’t an unreasonable inference. It would be more peculiar if he hadn’t been the strongest at the start! (Not impossible, but more peculiar.)
That being said, the details are also more scattershot than is commonly supposed, and I would have no problem believing that different (though still high-ranking) rebel angels or other entities are being talked about at different times.
As to (2): why does any sinner seduce anyone else to rebel?! Because he perceives (rightly or wrongly) that he himself will gain in power thereby; perhaps also because he perceives (rightly or wrongly) that it will bring him pleasure and he chooses to act toward getting that pleasure rather than going without. Once he gets going, he’s likely to become increasingly deluded about facts, and (I expect) also more subject to any external or internal influences that he would have originally been master of (if not exactly immune to) but which now would be leading him to continue sinning in a downward spiral.
By your own standard of application, Eve would be in the same boat: she didn’t have to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil either, before she rebelled by eating of it. She (and Adam) did already have some relevant knowledge about what a rebellious thought would be; God had already explained to them what would happen if they chose to rebel, and what their rebellion would involve if they did it.
(It may be worth noting that both trees are pictured as occupying the same place in the garden; so it shouldn’t be surprising if they already have some knowledge about good and evil, though not yet the experience of being evil. Insofar as the Tree of Life is elsewhere in scripture a metaphor for God and Christ, the concept that they would attempt to seize the life of God without cooperation with God, fits pretty well with the temptation of the devil: that they can be like the Most High. It also accords suggestively well with the complaint of Christ that violent men are forcing their way into the kingdom.)
Don’t misunderstand me to be saying that a tempter is necessary for someone to fall into sin: obviously I’m not saying that, since I certainly don’t claim that anyone tempted the first of rebels to sin. Eve or Adam (or whoever historically the figures of the story represent) might have sinned instead, without being tempted into sinning. The story detail, though, is that they were tempted into sinning by another entity (one represented in the story by an intelligent legged reptile who subsequently lost those legs.) After the Fall of Adam and Eve, their descendants (including us) have to live with a corrupted nature that inclines all of us to sin. That doesn’t exclude persons tempting us, too, whether those persons are other humans or supernatural entities. And that doesn’t necessarily exclude us from just flatly choosing to do what we know to be wrong instead of surrendering to pressures to do the wrong thing.
Nope. I trust that He wouldn’t have made a mistake in making anyone originally under the internal pressure to sin, by their nature, either–which is what you seem to be advocating, as far as I can tell. (i.e. that all sinners including the first ones are pre-existent spirits born into a situation where they’re necessarily exposed to corrupting internal pressures.)
If God wouldn’t be making a mistake to put sinless beings into a situation where they’re bound to fail thanks to a built-in weakness versus natural pressures of their nature, then He would be failing even less to make sinless beings who have no such pressures to sin originally. Indeed your own theology appears to agree that such entities exist. (But who don’t sin until God saddles them with a nature that constantly erodes them into sinning.)
Excuse you. But you’re reading the “crap” into my position, and then gagging on it. Bro.
Whereas, I fail to see how God is more “perfectly” creating, by saddling a creature with internal desires leading the creature (inexorably for all practical purposes) into rebellion, than by creating a creature who has no vulnerabilities of that kind originally. Any war that occurs afterward won’t be because God created that entity with a must-fail clause, for example.
You declared they were simply presuming the position (along with being many other unflattering descriptions ranging from inept to outright deceptive). Which, as I pointed out last time, is very different from claiming they’re drawing mistaken conclusions from the data. But, rightly or wrongly, they are drawing conclusions from the data. They aren’t “presuming” it, and you’ve unfairly caricaturized them by presenting them that way.
Which still sounds like you’re saying they’re only presuming it, not getting it (even by mistake) from the texts.
You’ve certainly had plenty of opportunity in your comment so far, to examine St. James’ own mention of demons in his epistle, instead of talking around his reference while bluntly asserting that those demons aren’t personal entities.
If your examination is going to follow a procedure similar to your treatment of Gen 3, though, where you ignore the details and read in your own meaning with no explanation for why you’re doing so while treating this application as though it’s supposed to be evidence in favor of your position; then frankly I have better things to be doing with my time.
Aside from drawing a false exclusion conclusion (as though this means demons could not be causing the conditions being healed by Jesus), I will point out that once again you’re reading this meaning into the texts. It isn’t scriptural evidence for your position; it’s scriptural data that you’re interpreting in line with an already developed position. (And rather against the face of the data, too.)
I will also point out that even if all the diseases Jesus treated as being demonically instigated (which wasn’t something He claimed for all His healings–or for both of his weather calmings for that matter!) in fact had nothing at all to do with rebel supernatural entities (despite the story details and apparent claims of Jesus otherwise), this is not conclusive evidence that other references to supernatural rebels are wrong.
Perhaps most importantly, though, I will point out that your ground of complaint has completely flipped around now. Because whatever else theologians are doing, who use the references to Jesus’ own claims in regard to His healings as biblical evidence for the existence of rebel supernatural creatures, they are very obviously not twisting the scriptures around to make them say something completely different from what the scriptures would otherwise seem to be saying.
You may deride those theologians for being too credulous about what the scriptures are saying, but they are claiming something that is obviously in line with what the scriptures are saying. Whereas, the belief that no supernatural rebels are involved at all in those healings of Jesus (much moreso in any disease, much moreso that such creatures don’t exist at all), has to be read into those texts in flat contravention to what the texts are actually saying.
Be that right or wrong–it isn’t the “traditional” theologians who are doing what you’ve been charging them with doing, there. Actually, the one most overtly interpreting against the face-value of the scriptural data there… is you.
And I appreciate that. But considering that I am a theologian who believes and teaches certain things, and that you have charged such theologians with biblical imposition at best, I think will take your claim that you are not “putting me down” as being perhaps a bit shortsighted. (Or perhaps you have forgotten laughing at me and calling what you think I believe a load of crap, etc.?)
Now if I were being my cynical old self I’d say that would apply just as much to prayer as temptation - a conversation held in the head of the one praying (I anticipate the answer to this would be that prayer isn’t a conversation as there is no responding ‘voice’).
Interesting how a thread on end times events has morphed into musings on how the whole sin mess started. Both great topics I guess, and not unrelated. That is, the nature of the problem – what went wrong – might inform our views of how it wraps up; how it is to be solved.
A few brief observations:
While I track best with Jason on the issues of fallen angelic beings, as well as the nature of Eve’s deception, I do appreciate the perspective of Willie. As for “proving” the existence of Satan, goodness! I have trouble enough “proving” God’s! I will observe however, with great sadness, that for many who DO believe in Satan’s existence, they seem more convinced of his ability to deceive than in God’s ability to save. Satan or not, the object of our love, adoration, and worship is God; how we “deal” with Satan should follow from that reality. (Perhaps the best strategy is to ignore Satan…)
In one of M Scott Pecks last books (forget the exact one just now) he comments that were Satan to leave on a very extended holiday, he would hardly be missed; so thoroughly capable are we humans of carrying on his work.
The denomination of my upbringing has held that there are in fact intelligences on other planets, as well as fallen angels who sided with Lucifer/Satan in the “great war” in heaven. (the referents in 1 Col 1:20) While I admit this is rather speculative, and I’m not convinced much hangs on this information, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least. The reason is that if we exist as a product of God’s love, it makes sense that there have been other products of that creative love. It’s in God’s nature to create. This seems incredibly important to me to the cause of UR since that very same creative love is the same love which does not rest until ALL are safely in the fold.
For me, the story of Eve’s deception at the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil works better with a distinct outside agency providing the temptation. The salient point of this encounter though is that Eve is a poor skeptic and worse evaluator of evidence. What evidence does she have that this serpent is more trustworthy than God? None. The choice for Eve could be boiled down to this; the God option versus the non-God option. (this works just as well if the non-God option emerges from within her own mind btw) At the very least it seems it would have been appropriate for Eve to delay her choice, go back to what she did know, that is God, and say “I’ve been presented with a non-God choice. What steps shall I take to make the right choice?” I do not think that the point was simply to obey God from authority alone, but to discover that the authority that rests with God emerges from His truthfulness and therefore trustworthiness. There was zero evidence that the serpent could be trusted. (Jason said, I think, similar things on the Darwin’s Birthday/Atheism thread…)
Lastly, while realizing that much of what we “know” about this whole drama is arrived at via speculation, it seems most reasonable to insist that God behaved toward Adam and Eve not unlike He does with us. Namely it is in His nature to reach out and communicate; to be with us. Even initiating the relationship. Hard then for me to imagine Adam and Eve had zero defenses available to them to resist this deception.
Proper understandings of Eschatology then should take into account that if the entire drama began with created sentient beings making a bad choice willfully, their redemption will necessarily involve, after a long period of painful education and learning (see the bible) making the right choices. The amazing thing to me is that God took the choice of Eve seriously and said, in effect “Alright then; lets see where your non-God choice will lead you.”
For those who don’t know, Willie was asked to be more polite in his posts against those he disagreed with, or else leave. By which we meant, leave voluntarily or be banned (or be actively edited in his posts at the very least).
I mention this because we board admins want this to be a forum where people are free to discuss positions on a topic without being mocked for their retarded foolishness or accused of being deceitful liars in league with the devil etc. Hopefully we’re doing a good job with that; but it does mean that we have to take steps in regard to people who show up with that attitude.
Personally, I think he’d’ve been much happier moving to Triablogue…