Friday, October 14, 2011

Short Essay on Angelology and Satanology

Angels and Demons, it is not just a book title or a Hollywood movie; these topics are a must for the Christian to understand and discuss. At the root of this discussion exists the problem of evil and more specifically whether or not God is the author of such evils. For if God created Satan, that fallen angel of evil, it’s possible he created evil, however Scripture attests to something quite different (Jas. 1:13; 1 Cor. 14:33).
            From this debate of evil the question of dualism is raised. Ethical dualism is the doctrine that avows the existence of two reciprocated beings, one the provenance of all-good and the other an equal provenance of all-evil.[1] Though God and Satan might seem to fit this synopsis the two beings are certainly not equal in attributes. God created all things including the angels (Gen. 1:1), which is a display of his awesome power. He is the everlasting, eternal being (1 Tim. 1:17) to which none can be the creator. Satan himself has been described as one disguised as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). If Satan is an angel then no matter his efforts creation is subject to the creator. Though his power is second only to God (Ezek. 28:12-17) he is subject to God’s will for the use of his power (Job 1:12).[2]
            The downfall of Satan and his ultimate demise has been well documented in Scripture. This once high angel called the morning star (Isa. 14:12); the symbol of perfection that inhabited the Garden of Eden (Ezek. 28:12-13) will ultimately be judged and condemned to the fiery pit prepared for him and his fallen angels (Rev. 20:10).  Though he still roams the earth today seeking those whom to devour (1 Pet. 5:8), Satan has already been judged to perish which explains the fervor at which he pursues his mission to disrupt the work of God.
            Though Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 appear to be speaking directly about Satan himself some have offered their defeaters to the notion that this speaks explicitly of that serpent of old. The naysayers claim that these passages are specifically addressing the king of Tyre and Babylon not Satan. [3] Though it is true these verses appear to speak about these earthly kings the attributes such as son of the dawn (Isa. 14:12), the model of perfection (Ezek. 28:12), anointed guardian cherub (Ezek. 28:14), and so on, do not speak of a mortal man. These attributes must be applied to a heavenly host, and Satan fits that description as the fallen one quite agreeably.
            From Satan’s own desire to be like the most high (Isa. 14:13-14) his ultimate nature can be discovered. Satan is a liar (Jn. 8:44), sinner from inception (1 Jn. 3:8) and as such God cannot be accredited with his fall. If God was to intervene and stop Satan from his evil plans in the beginning this would have been a contradiction of God-given free will.[4] Viewing God’s restraint in this manner leads one to conclude God could not be the author of evil though he was the creator of Satan (Jas. 1:13).
            A reading of the first chapter of the book of Job speaks volumes to the power and position Satan has in reference to God. Satan is first seen as presenting himself before God (Job 1:6) a sign of submission to God. He is also viewed as being restricted to harm only Job’s circumstances and not Job himself (Job 1:12) a denial of Satan’s omnipotence. Next God asks Satan if he has considered Job as a righteous man (Job 1:8) alluding to the fact that Satan’s knowledge is not ultimate. God as the uncreated one (Col. 1:15-17) cannot have an end yet Satan’s obliteration has been predicted since the beginning (Gen 3:15; Rev 20:10). He is not eternal nor is Satan equal on any level with the one he seeks to overthrow.
            Though it has been utilized as a phrase for copping out, “the devil made me do it” couldn’t be farther from the truth. Satan certainly has the power to tempt as is evidenced by his discourse with Christ (Lk. 4:1-13), yet he cannot force one to do something much in the same way God cannot force someone to accept him. Both examples would clearly violate the function of free will. It is true that demonic activity will increase in the latter days and many will be seduced to follow them (1 Tim. 4:1)[5] however, it does not follow that seduction is the same as extortion. You have the power to resist the devil and he will turn from his pursuit (Jas. 4:7) but if you yield to temptation you alone are responsible for your fall, not some external cause.

[1]             H.B. Kuhn, “Dualism,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell, 2nd Ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001), 357.            
[2]             M.F. Unger, “Satan,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell, 2nd Ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001), 1054.
[3]             M.F. Unger, “Satan,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell, 2nd Ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001), 1054.
[4]             Elmer Towns, Theology for Today (Mason: Thomson Custom Solutions Center, 2001), 367.
[5]             S.E. McClelland, “Demon, Demonization,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell, 2nd Ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001), 332.

No comments:

Post a Comment