Do you believe in a personal devil?

Discussion in 'Faith, Devotion & Formation' started by Lowly Layman, Oct 18, 2013.

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Do you believe in a personal devil?

  1. Yes

    84.6%
  2. No

    7.7%
  3. Other

    7.7%
  1. seagull

    seagull Active Member

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    I'm not sure if I'd say that genoicide, apartheid, the BNP, pogroms, the gulags, etc were merely "the absence of good". I visited Auschwitz a few years ago, and the feeling of evil there was almost tangible. If the Devil exists, s/he was there.

    Edited for language.
     
  2. Alcibiades

    Alcibiades Member

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    When the good is missing, what do you suppose is left?

    Nothingness. The Void. Chaos and destruction. The dissolving of all things.

    This is why the devil, if he or she has a personal being cannot be equated with 'evil', but instead simply makes evil choices. The Devil is, at the bottom good.
    By making evil substantial rather the absence of all substance is to lapse into dualism, (a problem for Christianity that says all created things come from God- does he then create evil also?) but this objectification also distances evil. It makes it alien and 'other'. However by understanding it as the absence of something, an intrinsic piece nihilism it brings home the reality that it is within us. War, genocide, degradation of humans is not the work of some foreign intelligence or power that overawes basically good human moral sense, it is a twisted impulse in each of us that seeks to subvert things to our own (finite) ends. It's a lunacy, like zombies, we're filled with an hunger to be in control of what's around us yet are never satisfied with ourselves no matter how much we gain. Big or small, it is the human tendency towards self-annihilation through the pursuit of earthly treasures; wealth, respect, comfort, power, a Final Solution, Utopia...all things we long for and that drive people mad...is this not what Christ came to show by means of the cross as ultimately the shadows and fantasies that they are?
     
  3. historyb

    historyb Active Member

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    Yes, quite so indeed
     
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  4. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Dear Alcibiades,

    I think all too often people tend to think of evil and sin as "things" with substance, when in fact they are actions. When we talk of sin as being washed away at baptism I think we are using the term metaphorically. Sin, which is evil, consists in people (and in the case of angels the devil) acting in ways contrary to God's will. Sin isn't a stain that can be removed, held in one's hand, or examined under a microscope. It doesn't have an independent existence as a substance.
     
  5. seagull

    seagull Active Member

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    A Methodist friend once told me that, "sin is something which displeases God".
     
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  6. Alcibiades

    Alcibiades Member

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    I don't know...makes him sound a bit petty...

    But then I suppose it depends on how you answer this question: Is something bad because it upsets God...or is God upset by it because it is bad?

    Does the latter imply that their is a moral system that is logically prior to God that s/he/it adheres to? How can we know what is truly good though, if it depends on the whims of a divine command does the conept of 'truly good' even make sense in this framework?
     
  7. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I like what Fr. James Bernstein said in his book Surprised by Christ, "God doesn't hate sin because of what it does to Him, He hates sin because of what it does to us"."
     
  8. Alcibiades

    Alcibiades Member

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    It doesn't seem much of a statement if the impassibility of God is assumed. Sin by definition couldn't do anything to him.

    But it doesn't really address my questio which is whether Good is determined by God or God is determined by what is Good.

    And I don't think it's an idle question- the sacrifice of Isaac, the murder the firstborn egyptians, the testing of Job...these things have two readings depending on what determines a 'good' action over a 'bad' one; God, or something else?
     
  9. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Dear Alcibiades, I think the point of the statement is that God is not getting mad at us because of our actions, rather he knows how harmful our sinful action are to ourselves.

    I would say, in response to you original question, that good is determined by God. Before anything existedeven creatures such as ourselves who could contemplate questions of sin, truth, goodnessGod existed; therefore God is, "one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." Ephesians. 4-6 God determines what is "good" or "evil" and we cannot always understand his ways.
     
  10. seagull

    seagull Active Member

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    I was thinking about this yesterday in the context of the anti-Anglican stance adopted by ex-Pope Ratzinger. I doubt very much if He was pleased by the establishment of the Ordinariate (thank God a damp squib), but I doubt if it was positively sinful. There are, I am sure, many other examples.

    When T Blair goes to confession, I wonder if he mentions Iraq?
     
  11. Perceval

    Perceval New Member

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    I believe in the Jewish version of Satan, but not the traditional Christian. It seems to me a being would have had to be made with asinine stupidity in mind to try to seize the throne of God. The Jews see Satan as an angel who challenges or obstructs the path of humans -- either to test their faith and give them an obstacle to triumph over, or perhaps even to ward them away from going too far. Think of the angel blocking Balaam's donkey; he was a satan, an adversary. The Christian devil is I think our way of making an ethereal subject like evil more understandable by giving it a human face. I can appreciate Satan as a metaphor, but not a fact. As Captain Picard announced to Q when he proclaimed himself God, "The universe is not that badly designed!"
     
  12. seagull

    seagull Active Member

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    I don't seem to be able to reproduce your quote, Perceval, but taking "Satan as a metaphor, but not a fact" (a line I go along with, as, I think, does my Vicar), could you go further and say that the Devil is a metaphor for evil?
     
  13. Old Christendom

    Old Christendom Well-Known Member

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    Obviously, good is determined by God.

    God is the fountain of all morality, law and reason. Nothing can be truly discerned apart from Him.
     
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  14. Richter Belmont

    Richter Belmont New Member

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    Yes, I believe that Satan is a distinct creature. Why? Because I believe in angels, and because I believe that Scripture indicates that such a being exists. I do not believe in the medieval images or 20th century caricatures of this being. But Scripture repeatedly presents Satan and demons as beings (not mental states or sinful/evil inclinations). Church Tradition also maintains that Satan is a being.

    Having said all of that, I am not stating or implying anything about anyone who differs. I'm only addressing the question that was posed in the OP.
     
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  15. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I agree for the same reasons, namely, that scripture specifically speaks of Satan as a person. The Lord himself spoke of the Devil on a number of occasions, and there is no reason to believe he was speaking metaphorically. If there is no Satan, then who was tempting Christ in the wilderness?
     
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  16. Alcibiades

    Alcibiades Member

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    Anyone actually met him? Or a demon?
     
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  17. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    If someone said yes, would that be dispositive? I have encountered demonic possesssion. I found it all too real.
     
  18. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    I've seen the influence and work of the devil in my life.
     
  19. Alcibiades

    Alcibiades Member

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    I merely find it a curious observation that everyone who asserts a personal devil actually has no personal contact, but instead asserts it because it is so in the bible. This is of course, highly contrary to the experience of the early Church which encountered and battled demons on a pretty much daily basis.

    For the record, I do happen to think the demonic does exist, so I'm not asking out of scorn (as if I ever intend to!)
     
  20. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    Tonight i was reading Ryle's commentary on Matthew 4 and thought it instructive: Let us learn in the first place, what a real and mighty enemy we have in the devil. He is not afraid to assault even the Lord Jesus Himself. Three times over he attacks God's own Son. Our Savior was "tempted by the devil." It was the devil who brought sin into the world at the beginning. This is he, who vexed Job, deceived David, and gave Peter a heavy fall. This is he, whom the Bible calls a "murderer," a "liar," and a "roaring lion." This is he, whose enmity to our souls never slumbers and never sleeps. This is he, who for nearly 6000 years has been working at one work--to ruin men and women, and draw them to hell. This is he, whose cunning and subtlety pass man's understanding, and who often appears as "an angel of light."

    Let us all watch and pray daily against his devices. There is no enemy worse than an enemy who is never seen and never dies, who is near to us wherever we live, and goes with us wherever we go. Not least let us beware of that levity and jesting about the devil, which is so unhappily common. Let us remember every day, that if we would be saved, we must not only crucify the flesh, and overcome the world, but also "resist the devil."