Sunday, February 19, 2006

Son of the Morning

If you like, a little light reading to start us off...So, who is Satan? I know all about him—I think. This is the guy who was a, if not the, chief angel in heaven. He had some sort of music thing going on (some say). He's the one who decided he was better off on his own, and tried to find the "man behind the curtain" dirt on Jehovah Almighty. (Far as I can tell, he's still trying.) He's Lucifer a.k.a. the Devil a.k.a. Satan a.k.a. Adversary a.k.a. Beelzebub a.k.a. Belial. He got himself booted from heaven for rebellion, and had the time before that to drum up the support of about 33% of the angelic host. Yeah, that's the guy.

But how do I know all this? Well, I remember it from Sunday School. A lot of it I don't know how I know—I just remember knowing for as long as I can remember. Hmm...(and I was thinking all this during church this morning)...not exactly a sound, apologetic background for this portion of my theology (or is it anti-theology?), is it? I couldn't give you any Scripture references off the top of my head for Lucifer 101, except for the two above. And those don't exactly look like model proof texts (and here I use "proof text" in the best possible sense). I mean check it out: both start out with the explicit statement that the prophet is talking about an earthly king, not some heaven-dropout. "Take up this taunt against the king of Babylon," Isaiah says, while Ezekiel is commanded to "take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre and say to him, 'Thus says the Lord GOD.'" Not exactly an annoyingly yellow neon sign saying, "Basic beliefs about that Satan dude found here." Where's the connection? At what point did someone come along and say this applies to Satan? And were they right?

Moving right along (no, I'm not done), I'm not wondering whether Satan exists. I think he's mentioned enough, most notably by the author of Job and by Christ Himself. But who exactly is he? That's another matter entirely. That's what I'm getting at. How do we apply those OT passages to Satan, and if we can't, then do we really know much about him at all? Our perceptions of the spiritual realm are so petty and muddled. We can't even tell the difference between following our flesh and being tempted by the Devil. How then are we supposed to give anyone a biopic of Lucifer? I'd like to think the Bible contains enough about such an oft-mentioned being that we have a reasonable idea of who he really is.

And just in case any of you are getting worried, I am half serious and more than half playing the (forgive the punnish colloquialism) devil's advocate (I warned you).

I know what I think I know about Satan. But a lot of other people know what they think they know, and for no better reasons. Why does the devil look like this?

Well, because that's how they grew up thinking of him.

That's not good enough.

So what's the basis for the Christian's satanology? Could it be that all our preconceptions about the Devil are basically fictional, or is there a unified description of him in the Bible?


Anonymous Hugh said...

If you've never done so, please read The Screwtape Letters. It's not Scripture, but it will illuminate your thought process about all this.

6:06 AM, February 20, 2006  
Blogger Johnny said...

On the flipside, why do we portray Jesus the way that we do? Did he really wear a sash? Long hair? I saw an article on the cover of some magazine once (Time maybe), and he looked a lot like Le Fou from Beauty and the Beast.

11:31 PM, February 21, 2006  
Anonymous Amy said...

I have never seen nor heard of the term, "punnish colloquialism" used in a sentence.

You're a very multi-talented person. . .and if I wasn't so darn sleepy, I'd give you some positive feedback on the post; but my brain hurts too hard for theology. :-)

I'll conclude and just say, "Nice post."

11:53 PM, February 24, 2006  

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