As Iron Sharpens Iron

An ongoing and online discussion between: an Orthodox informed Ecumaniac without a denominational home, an ordained Baptist youth pastor with an open mind, a Calvinist worship leader/seminarian with a staggering vocabulary and ability to make a point, and a cradle Catholic with a love/hate relationship to Rome.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Sympathy for the Devil

I recall, back in the day, reading some lyrics to a Stryper song which went something like "To hell with the devil." Later, I worshipped at a church which sang a praise song with a similar theme. I was taught that, though we had authority (given by Christ) over the enemy, that we should also not disrespect him as even St. Michael, when arguing with him over the body of Moses, said, "The Lord rebuke you."

More recently, I've found another thread of though which implies, as the title of this post suggests, that we should have sympathy, even love, for Lucifer. I offer you two quotes, the first from St. Isaac the Syrian and the second from Fr. Romanides (who is quite offensive to Western Christians, for good reason). I covet your thoughts on both, especially the radical (to me) idea that "hell is the lowest form of salvation):
What is a merciful heart? It is a heart that burns with love for the whole creation — for men, for birds, for beasts, for demons and for every creature.

Augustinian Christians, both Vaticanians and Protestants, are literally unbalanced humans, and had been indeed very dangerous up to the French Revolution and are potentially still quite dangerous. They were never capable of understanding that God loves equally both those who are going to hell and those who are going to heaven. God loves even the Devil as much as He loves the saint. "God is the savior of all humans, indeed of the faithful" (1 Tim. 4:10). In other words hell is a form of salvation although the lowest form of it. God loves the Devil and his collaborators but destroys their work by allowing them to remain inoperative in their final "actus purus happiness" like the God of Thomas Aquinas.

5 Comments:

Blogger fra edwin said...

I begin to wonder if it is even possible for these guys to state a position without grinding their fellow Christians into the ground with descriptors such as "dangerous"? Neither Augustine nor Aquinas are the whole of Western Theology - they have never been called, "infallible." But, getting past that rhetoric...

The idea that God loves Satan, his own creation, is not alien to the West. That free will allows angels and men to choose hell rather than heaven is also part of the Western theology.

What I do not understand is how 1Tim 4:10, which talks about all the faithful, can be applied to the rebellious. Jesus didn't really talk about "Hell," which is a pagan concept, really. He talked about Gehenna: the trash heap where useless refuse is burned. I am not sure how to read this as a form of salvation of any kind.

6:06 AM  
Blogger The Poor Blogger said...

Sometimes I do too. I've read Orthodox positions which essentially state that they have never oppressed or been led astray because their faith is so pure and true.

That said, I believe that the perception I received as a child was such that it caused me to have a skewed vision of Him. That same perception is still being taught in "orthodox" Protestant churches today.

What I find more interesting than whether 1 Tim 4:10 can/should be applied to the Enemy is whether all humans will be saved. There is a thread (a minor one) in Orthodoxy which believes just that. Not that God will force it on all, but that all will eventually choose Him. I hope that is the case.

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Chuck White said...

That would be just lovely and if I was designing a universe, that is the way I would do it. My mother believed that eventually even the devil and his angels would be saved. Unfortunately this causes severe problems with many Scriptures. John 3:16 "God so loved the world so that everyone WHO BELIEVES IN HIM will not perish but have eternal life....Anyone WHO BELIEVES IN HIM is not judged but anyone who does not believe is already judged because he has not believed....This then is the judgment: the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil."

And then there is the story of Lazarus and Dives where Abraham tells Dives that there is an uncrossable gulf and that even if one returned from the dead, he will not convince those who do not believe in the Scripture. It is God's desire that all would be saved but He allows us to choose--salvation is freely available to all but there are those who will reject it. Thus there is a tension in Scripture regarding salvation. It is true that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. But, for many that will be too late.

The Bible also says that there is given to man but once to die and then the judgment. It seems to me that the clear implication of those two Scriptures is that we die--those who belong to Christ have the judgment of works that results in crowns or no crowns--those who have rejected Christ are also judged by their works as to salvation, since they rejected Christ while they had a chance and when they see their pitiful works stacked up against the reality of their sin, then their knee will bow as they recognize God's justice and they depart for the hell they chose on earth.

There is no Scripture that says, "When you see Jesus you'll have a second chance", only that tension between God's love (yes for all, even Satan)and His desire that all would accept Him and His love that allows us to choose or reject Him and His justice and judgment that follow that decision after death. It is wishful thinking to try and impose universalism or even a second chance on the Bible--show me a clear Scripture. It is also dangerous to teach such a doctrine--it is not love or care for your fellow man to point him or her on a path that leads only to the edge of a deep canyon. I don't know the full extent of God's love and there is much that is not crystal clear in the Bible.

It is clear enough to me though, that we can only choose here on earth, to desire that all my family and everyone accept Christ and do it at an early age and not hope for any nebulous second possible chance. Also, regarding Satan. To me it is quite clear that hell is a place of eternal torment chosen by those who reject Christ and not some form of salvation. Revelation 21:11 describes the great white throne judgment. First Satan is thrown into hell "to be tormented day and night forever and ever" (that means eternally).

Then there is the judgment of works--those written in the Book of Life are saved--not because of their works but because they are written in the Book of Life. Those not in the Book of Life are sent to Hell where Satan has just been thrown to dwell eternally. It is said that Protestants preach Hell and practice universalism. It is, at the least, very dangerous to count on or hope for a second chance after death for salvation and we should all be exerting all that we have to bring our friends, family and acquaintances to the point where they accept Christ. How horrid it will be to stand at that judgment and see those who we should have witnessed to in that long line and realize the inevitability of their eternal destination--how much more horrible if they are family members for whom we had a special responsibility.

3:34 PM  
Blogger The Poor Blogger said...

Responses:

1. Fallen angels DO believe in Him.

2. As I said, choice would be required. It is the belief that all will eventually choose Him (although I find it unlikely).

3. Using your argument, everyone who does not choose Jesus will go to Hell no matter if they choose Him after death or not. Sucks for all those ig'nrant savages, dudnit?

4. It also sucks for you, since your understanding of Christ and God is quite a bit astern from either Orthodoxy or Catholicism. Both of us find ourselves off the straight and narrow there. See you in hell, then.

5. But if that savage can be given a choice because of his ignorance, why can't others in their ignorance? Meaning those who have heard of Christ, but from someone like a pedophile priest and, thus, have a skewed image.

6. Remember "The Last Battle" and the virtuous Calormene.

7. It is also not love to portray CHristianity as a safe gamble either, or as the threat of hell.

My God, I love Thee not because
A hope of heaven thereby.
Nor that for fear of loving not
I might forever die.

8. Bible also describes the literal flesh and blood of Christ in the Eucharist. Whoops. Guess we get to pick and choose which verses to interpret literally.

9. Finally, don't confuse universalism and the belief that ALL will have a chance to choose Christ when they truly know Him. As I've said before, the Morning Star rejected Him with full knowledge. I assume many humans will do the same.

3:43 PM  
Blogger fra edwin said...

Someone asked me once if I thought that someone could really convert on their deathbed. My first thought was, "Of course, the thief on the cross did as much." But then I thought about the other thief.

How much more likely, at the end of our days, are we to continue to death in the old paths trod during life? Even given a choice, if one has chosen the path of death day after day, how likely is a true conversion? Is fear of death enough? Is fear of Hell enough? In most cases, I dread, no threat is enough if love was never there to start with.

The "good" thief never lost his conscience. He admitted his wrongdoing and was still human and compassionate in his heart. The other thief had driven away those emotions through years of evil. Even on the Cross next to Jesus he rebukes the One who could be his savior.

The Devil believes in God, but rejects God's will in favor of his own. Yes, we must believe in God, but we must ACT in faith, we must SUBMIT to the Will of God. If we cannot bridle and control our own will and desires in life we will most likely perish the way we lived.

Lastly, the Devil is a very, very powerful spirit. He has no need of food, air, water, shelter nor clothing, warmth nor medicine. Yet we need all of these things. And yet we, confronted with our many, many daily and hourly needs, often neglect our need of God.

If we, with all our weaknesses, admit no need of God, how much more likely is such a temptation to Satan, once the most beautiful and powerful of God's creations?

11:17 PM  

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