The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Satan, a person or a personification?

On another thread, Johnny raised a point that I’ve not thought much on, that being who/what Satan is. So, is “Satan” a created being, a personification of evil, or other? Your thoughts and convictions would be greatly appreciated.


No effing clue. :laughing:

I think that my instinct at this point is that satan is somehow both a created “being” and a personification of evil/ animal/ flesh nature of man. I think God created the entity called “the adversary/ accuser” for the very purpose that it fulfills in God’s grand story. I think the traditional view of satan leads to much dualism, and robs God of His true power and authority.

I think we have a number of clues in scripture that point in this direction; I just don’t know for sure if we have enough to reach a solid conclusion about it.

I’m inclined to think there’s a “person” behind the name. But I also don’t think it matters whether it’s a person or a personification. It’s not a point I would care to argue about. :sunglasses:


personally, while i am exploring some very interesting ideas that Sobornost has told me in an email (i’ll let him talk about them), the place i am coming from is despite much north american christianity style spiritual warfare being drummed into my head, and even doing an exorcism, i honestly do not believe in a person called satan. for one thing, many scriptures talking about “satan” can be viewed in different ways simply by remembering that “satan” means adversary, opponent, etc. so even God can be a satan to the wicked.

i am at my most charitable, agnostic on his existence, but i lean towards no. i do not need a devil to explain human evil to me. i think we do a great job of being evil without external forces tempting us. also, the lack of a devil in my Theology does not take away the need for a God. i don’t have a Yin and Yang view of evil, that where one exists, so must the other (although i am slightly re-evaluating this as well)

but Sobornost raises some fascinating possibilities, so i look forward to his contribution to this thread! it is causing me to re-evaluate my conception of the ol’ “fallen angel”, and i think offers a way to partially reconcile my beliefs with a more traditional belief, as odd as that may sound. well, i’ve build it up alot now, sorry Sobornost! :laughing:

I definitely don’t think he’s a fallen angel. He was a liar from the beginning.

He seems to be everywhere, that would make him omnipresent, I don’t think thats the case.

Maybe satan is a being, maybe its just part of our nature. I don’t know, either way in Christ he/it is defeated. I’m treading on scorpions baby.

I definitely believe in angel spirits with free will and that some of them rebelled. Jesus referred to one of those rebellious angels as the prince of this world. This prince angel will eventually return to Christ.

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I think both. On the one hand, the impersonal “force” of evil, chaos, whatever you choose to call it . . . and the other hand an actual person who does personify that evil. Jesus speaks with demons as though He believes them to be actual individuals. They speak back. He speaks of the devil as though he were an individual. We also have, as has been said, the prince of the power of the air, who does not seem to be a symbol.

I believe that God created him as a free individual, knowing what he would become; just as He created us as free individuals, knowing what we would become. If God’s going to go around creating individuals as free agents, He can’t be controlling what they do or only creating those who will obey Him. That would kind of negate the whole idea of freedom. He knew what would happen and He knew He could bring it all together into the eventual perfection He desires – and He will.

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don’t tread on my poor scorpions!!!

James where does Jesus call an angel the god of this world?

throw me a bone here (another Austin Powers reference :stuck_out_tongue: )

i didn’t say He does, i put quotation marks round it to indicate my distain for the term. you may’ve also noticed that i did say that i don’t really believe in a personal devil, so i definitely don’t think he is called a “fallen angel” in the Bible… :stuck_out_tongue:

nor do i think he’s half goat, has a stylish goatee, red, or armed with a pitchfork. :stuck_out_tongue:

just to be absolutely clear :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue:

as apparently i wasn’t :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue:

so to me, “angel” and “god of this world” are totally unrelated.

however, sharks with lazer beams in their heads! that’s a different matter

Some wise words and interesting observations here, particularly from Melchizedek and James (corpselight).

The arbiter of this fascinating issue ought really to be scripture. But in my opinion, scripture is – as is so often the case – not definitive. The Bible is so full of allegory and symbolism and metaphor, and Jesus himself employed those devices so often, I do not see how anybody *can *make a definitive judgement.

That said, it is my – limited – understanding that most of the time ‘Satan’ is referenced in the OT, it is as a noun, not as a name – which, I suggest, could be thought of as supporting the ‘personification’ view.

Myself, I come down on the side of personification, not person. As Melchizedek points out, give Old Nick too much credit, or credibility, and you get a nasty dose of dualism – or Manichaeism, in fact. And as redhot says, an ominpresent devil is an absurdity – only God is omnipresent. And the minute you accept that the adversary cannot be in two places at once, suddenly he becomes a very very minor person indeed, if indeed he is a person. I mean, how can one guy – even if he is a ‘fallen angel’ or whatever – cause so much trouble for so many people? :slight_smile:

What I do believe in is evil. The evil I see in myself, and all around me – in people, in corporate entities, in ideologies, everywhere. To me, evil and the powers of evil have a ‘cosmic’ dimension which is, I think, strongly supported in scripture.

And the evil in me – the adversary in me – sometimes *seems *very personal. It almost seems like it’s *after *me personally, that it knows where I’m weakest, what scares me most, how I’m most easily led astray. But then I guess a psychologist would say that’s just my psyche at work (I don’t know much about psychology, haven’t read Freud or Jung).

So in many ways, I think, it doesn’t really matter whether we see the adversary as personal or not. To me, the point is that whatever he or it is, that thing is real. It has real power to hurt, to damage, to destroy. We are warned about it very specifically everywhere in scripture, and we should heed those warnings.

But then again, as Verbal Kint says in reference to the diabolical Keyser Sose in the Usual Suspects, “the greatest trick the devil ever pulled is convincing the world he doesn’t exist”.

Food for thought …



corpsey I was speaking to James Goetz, I didn’t even realize your name was James :slight_smile: You think you’re the only James round these parts??? :slight_smile:

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh :blush:
i forgot not everyone knows my name :laughing:
it’s most inconsiderate of there to be other Jameses in the world :laughing: it confuses me! and that’s too easily done :laughing: :blush:
ignore me!

good post, Johnny!
though the best part of the Usual Suspects is that Keyser Soze did NOT exist! but was used as a cover for someone very diabolically clever. the end scene of that film, where his leg straightens, still makes me shudder at the magnitude of the deception LOL

Indeed! So Keyser Soze is an *invented *personification of evil, invented by somebody even *more *evil than him, to convince the world that he, the real evil person (Kint) didn’t actually exist either. Or something. :smiley:

Jung/Hesse may be inclined to say that evil comes directly from you. They believed that a person has the capacity for both extreme good (i.e., love) and extreme evil at the same time. Hesse in particular believed that both the evil and good must be understood properly for man to control them, and not be afraid of them, and seemed in opposition to the “Christianity” of his vicinity because it portrayed the world, as some people here pointed out, as a battle of good vs evil, and tried to diminish man’s evil element completely, drive away all bad acts and all bad thoughts, while Hesse would say “understand it, let it go through you, and figure out what to do with it”. He also pointed out that, for instance, some feelings like hate are directly rooted in man’s own insecurities - one hates in another what he does not like in himself. While, for instance, the Cainites, made the argument that since Cain committed murder, man was allowed to deny it. This sort of goes into the whole “sin is room for spiritual growth” idea. This is all a tad gnostic, btw.

Hi redhotmagma, No where. I referred to Jesus calling Satan “the prince of this world.” But you were thinking about Paul calling Satan the “god of this world,” which I never referred to earlier in this thread.

interestingly, the vile-servent-of-satan-not-a-real-human-being-so-it’s-ok-to-despise-him-and-his-thrice-damned-company-estate-agent that messed me over a couple years ago was also named Keyser…coincidence? i doubt it!

sorry about the mix up, did Jesus call satan an angel when He called him the prince of this world? I can’t seem to find the reference, thanks

There is no direct statement about it, but apostolic church history and various allusions in the New Testament teach that Satan was an angel. And the Gospels describe Satan as a personal entity.

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