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Good God vs bad god
In the Beginning...
While driving in the car, my 5-year old son told my wife and me, “God talks us.” I don’t know about you, but I had no idea what he was talking about. After asking many questions we figured it out. He was telling us God puts some words into our mouth to help us talk to others about Jesus. I thought this was a great concept for someone so young to understand, but my wife continued to ask questions. She asked him, “So does God put bad words in our mouth?” He thought for quite some time before he answered, “Nope that is the bad god putting words in our mouth.”
Good God vs bad god?
Maybe a little background is needed now. My son is a HUGE super hero fan. He watches several shows on TV about different groups of super powered people saving others and helping the world be a better place. He also watches as super villains, or “bad guys”, try and destroy people, buildings, or just the super heroes themselves. In the end, like any comic book story, the good guys win and my son is pretending to save his own personal world in his batman pajamas.
All of this did get me thinking about what it means to know about a bad god. I went to seminary to become a Presbyterian minister and one of the classes I was in we were told about the challenges of creating a divine duality. In other words, it is bad to have God and Satan. It leads to lots of uncomfortable discussions about why God allows Satan to be evil if God truly loves us. Why is there pain and suffering if our God is all powerful and everywhere? It just doesn’t make any sense. Unless you simplify it to the point of my son, there is a good God, and a bad god. They each have their goals in mind and the good God always wins in the end. To him, it is that simple. However, the thought of being taught not to talk about Satan has been increasingly challenging to me in my current bible study.
Angels in the Bible
I am researching what the bible says about angels. The bible is clear there are celestial beings who came down and interacted with humans. In pop culture, this concept has been consistently seen on different shows: Highway to Heaven, Touched by an Angel, and many others. Even the film industry has jumped on the angel bandwagon with Prophecy, Dogma, and Hancock. The Garden of Eden is protected by an angel with a fiery sword to prevent anyone from entering the Garden every again. Later on in the book of Genesis Jacob sees a ladder going from earth to heaven that is well trafficked by angels. . Isaiah sees angels at the footstool of God. If we move to the New Testament, we have Gabriel telling women they are going to be pregnant. Gabriel then moves on to announce to the shepherds the Son is born. In the letter to the Hebrews the bible hints Jesus is made lower than the angels for just a short amount of time, and this tells us there is a power difference in being an angel and being human. To my understanding, a human is vastly weaker than an angel, who is vastly weaker than an archangel, who is vastly weaker than God.
Now to the point of whether of not Satan exists in the Bible. He is typically viewed as the serpent in the Garden of Eden, but is more explicitly talked about in the book of Job. In 2 Peter and Jude we find there were angels who disobeyed God and were sent to live in eternal darkness. I remember another story of how Lucifer decided God was being too kind to the humans, and Lucifer took a third of the heavenly host and attacked heaven. Another angel, Michael and the rest of the angels defeated Lucifer and banished him to Shoal, or the place of the dead. Lucifer becomes the great adversary to all, or Satan (comes from the Hebrew “HaSatan” or THE Adversary).
Cristus Victor and the end...?
Another challenge I have with not talking about Satan is why does Jesus go down to Hell for three days prior to being raised to heaven. If Satan/ Evil has no power, then what is the purpose of Jesus going into the darkness of Hell? My favorite theory of how Jesus saves us is called Cristus Victor. It says Jesus was made fully human and fully divine to destroy the evil that kept attacking the humans. Jesus basically went undercover; tricking evil into thinking he was weak and pathetic. Then when Jesus died, Satan took his soul thinking it was a human soul. Jesus, in his full divinity broke the chains of death and destroyed the power of Evil on our lives. He saved the souls that were wrongfully imprisoned in hell and broke the gates allowing all those souls to be free from death and damnation. He becomes our savior and our victor. It works well for my son’s view of the world; there are good guys and bad guys. The good guys sometimes get trapped by the bad guys but always break free and save everyone else.
What does your faith say about the Devil? Does he exist? Does he have power over us? What is our power against him?
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