Satan: Lifting the Veil


#1

I am so pleased to finally unveil the fruits of a labor that I have been working at for over a year now. I’ve been holding off on publishing this series to my blog because I’m not quite finished, but I realized this morning that if I publish the pieces of what I have so far every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, it’ll be over a month before I catch up to myself. And so I am excited and proud to present the first section of:
Satan: Lifting the Veil

I will try to come back here and post an update as each section is published. I haven’t been around much lately, but I know some of you had spoken interest in this project.

:smiley:


On the heresy of universalism
Fighting For God's Nonviolence. (Richard Murray's approach.)
#2

I really enjoyed reading that Geoff :smiley:


#3

Thank you so much! I soooooo wish I could just post the rest of the series now. But:

  1. It’s not quite finished. I’ve written 18 of the 22 planned sections - the reason I started posting today is that I had a moment of clarity yesterday when I realized exactly how the rest of my notes would fit together into the last 4 sections, and I realized that if I start posting one section I’ve got at a time every MWF, it’ll take over a month before I catch up to myself.

And:

  1. If I posted it all at once, I’d get a considerably smaller number of readers. :frowning: And while I don’t get paid but pennies for this (and that’s not the goal either), I’d still like the message to go out to as many as possible.

But it’s positive feedback that keeps me going, despite those who get upset at me speaking my views. :smiley:


#4

Geoff, I really enjoyed it as well. You’re really an excellent writer and I hope many others will read your work! :smiley:

Looking forward to the next installment… :wink:


#5

Thank you so much, Steve! I’ll put an update here on Wednesday!


#6

I loved the picture of the camp-fire story about Obama! :laughing:
I’d honestly never connected the “blame” US presidents receive with scapegoating, but it is too, too true regardless of where one stands on the political spectrum. I really need to read some more Girardian books. (Well, I do have The Jesus Driven Life coming in the mail soon.)

All the best,

Steve


#7

Haha! Finding pictures to appear in various places throughout my writings is actually my favorite part of blog writing. :blush: :slight_smile:

I forget how I found that one - I know I stumbled onto it when I was searching for another phrase. And I knew I had to use it, but I was thinking “what kind of caption can I give it?” I was giggling to myself when I put that one in (along with it’s caption), though. :laughing:


#8

Sounds like an awesome series, bro :slight_smile:

I agree with Steve, and I’ve said it before, you’re a great writer, Geoff :slight_smile: When are you gonna write a book already, man? :laughing:

Anyways, I admire your intensive and thorough search for the truth about things. I admit freely that I’m just too lazy and lack the motivation to really study and search things out a lot. I’d much rather watch cartoons or play games, and I guess I prefer to feed off the fruit of your labors. :laughing:
But in all seriousness, I know I should try to search things out for myself more.
I was thinking next year, once I’m married and my lady and I are settled a bit, of taking another go at the Bible, and maybe be more careful in my reading of it then I was my first time around. And maybe whenever I do read through it again, I could include others in my reading, make it more of a community thing I guess, and I can ask questions here on the forum and elsewhere, look up stuff online, and try to get a better understanding of what I’m reading if at all possible. I mean, I’d love to read the Bible in its original languages, but I don’t think that’s gonna happen, so I’ll try to do what I can.
And maybe I can take it real slow, take my time with it, just one step at a time, and see how it goes…

Like our recent new member, Carrie, I have struggles with the Bible and believing in its authority as well, and tend to go more by my own experience and gut feeling about things, but if the Bible really does have value (which I believe it does) I want to get all I can out of it.

Anyways, about satan, yeah, I’ve never really been sure about that myself.
I mean, I think I can understand those who don’t believe in a literal satan or literal demons, and just pin the problems of mankind squarely on mankind, which makes sense and seems more humble and honest, but then on the other hand I’ve heard about different experiences people have had, being attacked by unseen forces, being tormented by voices and things like that even when they’re not mentally ill (or don’t seem to be anyway).
When I hear about stuff like that it makes me wonder. I guess I try to find a balance by thinking that we shouldn’t pass the buck when it comes to responsibility for the mess, but then I am open to the possibility that there really are dark forces at work in the world, though I don’t know what those forces are exactly. Demons? Maybe. Negative energy, a la Ghostbusters II? I lean more in that direction. :wink:

Also, I liked how you used President Obama as an example of scapegoating. I feel the same way. I mean, I don’t think he’s great, or has done everything right, but I think it’s unfair for everyone to pile on him like they have, and I’ve seen that with just about every president who’s come down the pike.
That doesn’t mean leaders shouldn’t be held responsible for wrongful actions or shouldn’t be questioned, because leaders should be open to question, but I do think it’s unfair to pin everything on one person.
Even in the case of someone like Hitler, as terrible as he was, he wasn’t the only one who was to blame for what happened in Germany.
I mean, he was a crazy dude that people followed.
The government didn’t have to follow him, the military didn’t have to follow him, the people didn’t have to follow him. It’s not like he was Superman and couldn’t have been resisted. He was just a guy. So I think there are others who were just as guilty as Hitler, for following along with his madness, as he was.
And the same could be said about any dictator or tyrant I think (and of course a lot of folks say Obama is one, a dictator or a tyrant, though people have said that about just about every president we’ve had at some point, which I think is unfair, considering how we still have so much more freedom than other places in the world, but I digress).

So yeah, I appreciate you pointing that out, as it’s a good example of something that’s going on right now.

Anyways, I’m looking forward to what else you have to say, and I’m hoping what you have to say will give me a little more clarity on things. Also, one of these days I gotta read your Checkmate On Hell series, bro, as it sounds really good. :slight_smile:

Blessings to you and thank you for sharing the fruit of your labors, you are a generous man. :smiley:

  • Matt

#9

Thanks Matt! In response to your question of when I’m going to write a book - this series is long enough it could be! The better question (at least from my perspective) is: when is someone going to offer to publish me? :wink:

I just published the second part of the series - in which I examine a couple case studies where Satan makes an appearance.


#10

Loved it!!:slight_smile: I left a comment on there too…not sure if you’d rather us leave a comment on the blog or here? hehe Great points you made though and a very interesting topic:) You nailed it with the scapegoat example. I am by NO means a supporter of Obama, but I do know that it isnt ALL his fault, there are others involved also or other people entirely like Bush…but because he seems so disliked right now, its like people feel free to throw it all on him and thats how the truth gets twisted and distorted:(

Blessing
Carrie


#11

I did see that comment as well - thank you very much! Yes, studying this topic has been very enriching for me - it’s absolutely fascinating if you’re not too tense about it! There are soooo many interesting facets that I just couldn’t cram into my series, as well. Such as the connections to other religions that surrounded Judaism and Christianity.


#12

So I decided last night that the next two parts of my series are so related that they should be published both at once. See if you can guess why.

Part 3: Serpent = Satan?

Part 4: What is Satan’s Real Name?


#13

Interesting stuff, bro :slight_smile:

Some of what you have to say about Genesis 3 in your third article sounds really similar to what my friend, Steve Doss, has to say about it, as far as the tree of knowledge of good and evil goes.
It’s challenging, as I tend to put labels on a lot of things myself, and it’s easy to separate things, and people, in my mind, so yeah, dualistic thinking is definitely a problem I think.

But the way I tend to look at it is that there really are things that are bad, or evil, as it were, which I think are, namely, things that are harmful to others or to one’s self, but being able to understand the difference between what is good and what is evil, or what is not good rather, or where there is an absence or simply a lack of good, what is true and what is not true, can be really hard for us sometimes I think, because we don’t have very clear vision most of the time about all of that, and only God sees with complete clarity about all of that.

And I think that in life there are a lot of gray areas, that there’s a lot of nuance in things, and that there’s a little light and a little dark (or lack of light) in a lot of things, and both some light and some darkness in people, even if the darkness is just the lies or illusions that they’ve believed about themselves or others or God, etc.

Even in nature, you have all the beauty and the wonder of things, but then on the other hand you have all the violence and death too, so it’s hard to know what has God’s stamp of approval, and what doesn’t.

I hear where you’re coming from, and where Steve is coming from too, on things like this, seeing how everything is one, and I think that’s important, because at rock bottom we’re all part of the same human family, the same world, and the ‘earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it’. :slight_smile:

But I think we need to be careful when we say evil is an illusion, because some people might think we’re saying that because it’s an illusion, something like rape or murder isn’t really a big deal, though of course that’s not what you’re saying at all, I know.
The pain that people experience because of their own choices or the choices of others, or even because of things outside of human control, is real enough, and we need to always keep that in mind.
Evil may not be some separate entity that’s equal to good, or to God, the darkness may not be the opposite number to light in reality, and is really only a shadow that holds no real weight in the end, but the weight that people feel because of what is going on in their lives and/or in the world around them is real enough, I think, and we should always remember that.
But then I know you know that. :slight_smile:

And I think where you, and Steve too, are coming from on this is that the tree of life, or love, should be our guide, because by following the way of love we’ll always be in ‘the good zone’ as it were, and we don’t even need to bother with trying to figure out whether something is good or evil, whether it’s light or dark, because if love is our guide, then it’s all good. :slight_smile: And I think that’s a ‘good’ way to look at things, it’s just we need to be careful in how we explain things so people don’t think we’re a few planks short of a barn. :wink: :laughing:

Life is complicated, at least from my perspective.
There’s so much that I don’t understand, and I’m not always sure what’s good and what’s not, what God wants me to do, or not do.
But though love is hard, it’s a simple enough idea and concept, not very complicated, not really hard to understand, even if its very difficult at times.
I guess I will keep praying that God will help me to love more, to be more loving, to embrace life more (because love is the essence of life I think, even if I have a hard time with it) love Him, love others, and even love myself, more.

All of this makes me think of this Star Wars book I was reading recently, where one of the characters, a man named Revan, is someone who has been on both the light side and the dark side of the Force, both one of the ‘good guys’ and one of the ‘bad guys’ and he’s come to understand that the two sides are more closely intertwined then he initially thought, and that the Force, and this life, is more complicated than he thought, that it’s more gray than black and white, that most things are a mix of this and that, and one can’t simply have a dualistic mindset about things, can’t just separate everything, because it’s all connected at the ground level.
And he came to believe that rather than denying all emotion like most of the Jedi believed one should do, one should instead try to work through all of their emotions, both those on the more positive side and those on the more negative side, and face their inner struggles and learn to overcome them and learn and grow by them, rather than just trying to bury them, and he also came to believe that love and the search for true happiness will make us one with the Force… or something like that anyway. I know, deep stuff for a Star Wars book :laughing:

Not sure if I’m making any sense here, just throwing out a little feedback I guess :slight_smile:

Looking forward to the rest of your series bro, and may you be blessed :slight_smile:

  • Matt

#14

Well Geoff, along with Matt I’m still reading and enjoying too. Really liked the third post on Lucifer b.t.w. - very much so.

One thing that made me stand back when I was reading the second post was this -

Physician heal thyself? But I do understand that he was a more complex man than ‘Sinners in the hands of an Angry God’ would suggest.


#15

Absolutely agree here. Let me clarify after another of your quotes:

So here’s how I think of this - and I haven’t yet figured out a good place to get into this model of thinking (it’s probably going to be in the “Conclusions?” section, which I haven’t yet written). I think of this through the lens of Thomas Merton’s “False Self / True Self” model. So everything that is, was created by God. And God declared everything to be “good” - therefore, all that is is good. That is the “True” nature of things. God did not create anything evil, and all that is has been created by God.

Here’s where “False Self” comes in - the “False Self” is what occurs when we turn everything inward in service to ourselves. We make an idol out of ourselves, and then we believe we can find fulfillment through things - creating an idol out of the good things God has created. This does not render them evil - they are still good. But in our misuse of the good gifts God has given us, we pervert them. We also have a tendency - when we do this - to identify ourselves through those idols. We define ourselves by what we wear, what we listen to, or a set of opinions (such as a political identity). We are not those things, though we pretend that we are for a time. That is why Merton calls it a “False Self” - it is nothing, but we treat it like it’s something.

But the “True Self” is what God always intended us to be - we were created in His image, and He is a giver and a creator. That’s what unconditional love is - it’s an outward focus, rather than an inward focus. And when we focus the gifts God has given us outward, then we will be engaging our “True Self”. Does this clarify the “illusion of evil” and what I mean by that for you?

Absolutely. As long as unconditional love guides you, I don’t think a few wrong opinions are going to prevent you from finding the path.


#16

I went to a lecture recently by a professor who is one of the foremost Edwardsian experts. Interesting fact I discovered through this: Edwards was a panentheist. I never knew that before, and I was surprised, because I thought “how can someone who believes in eternal conscious torment believe in panentheism? Isn’t that kind of like believing God was going to burn one of His own internal organs for all of eternity? Or maybe…eternal heartburn or something?” :laughing: :wink:


#17

:laughing: :laughing: :laughing:

Well he certainly heard God’s judgments prefigured in the thunderstorm. But he did write something very beautiful once about a spider’s web too (unlike that notorious evocation of a spider in the flame). Interesting one about panentheism and Edwards - being a panentheist certainly doesn’t make you a universalist. :slight_smile:


#18

Yeah, I think I hear I understand what you’re saying, bro :slight_smile:

The true self/false self way of explaining things makes a lot of sense, and explains a lot of things, or at least on the human side of things (stuff in nature, like all the violence and death in the animal kingdom, and stuff like natural disasters, that’s another thing… what’s your take on all of that? And I’m pretty sure you don’t think it’s Satan :laughing:).

I think a large part of what God is doing with us is seeking, in various ways, to awake us to our true selves, or to put it in biblical terms, ‘conform us to the image of Christ’, so yeah, what Merton has to say about things, as challenging and convicting as it may be, makes a lot of sense.
Thanks for expanding on that, bro :slight_smile:


#19

Well, that’s hard to explain - I think the best answer I’ve heard/seen for that came from John Polkinghorne in Questions of Truth. Polkinghorne is a former physicist turned priest. And he approaches it from a scientific standpoint - there seems to be a need for a certain amount of “openness” in the system in order for life to arise. And that means that the system has to be open to the possibility of chaos. Thinking in human terms, God gives us freedom in order that we might love - because this is our purpose. But love is not love without freedom. And so for freedom to exist, there is always the possibility that we might abuse it.

Now as far as disasters go - the system of the universe is so complex and beyond our ability to reason still - but, it does seem that a lot of the “natural” disasters we’ve been having lately have actually been our own damn fault. Did you hear that deforestation is likely the cause of the recent mudslide in Washington State?


#20

Yeah, if God goes by evolution, survival of the fittest, and all of that, I guess that would make sense… I guess I still struggle with violence and death being part of the natural order, and not just on a human level… I remember watching the documentary series Planet Earth awhile back and the part where they described how male chimpanzees would sometimes rape and kill female chimpanzees, then eat their brains, that was disturbing (guess it would make sense then, if we’re descended from apes, as human beings can be just as depraved, if not more so, at times) but I think I can cope with that reality if I know it won’t always be that way.

And yeah, I totally agree that a lot of the natural disasters are our own fault, that or people aren’t wise enough to stay away from regular problem areas (can anyone say New Orleans?) or aren’t prepared enough, etc. I guess we should be thankful things aren’t as bad as they could be though.
At least we have better weather here than on Mars :laughing:

universetoday.com/14941/mars-weather/