Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Number of the Beast

Yes, that reference tells you that I've been playing way too much Guitar Hero III.

I've been thinking about this a while now, and have decided that I would start this venture for my own personal growth. I want to reexamine some of the questions I was asked during my inquisition at my last church where I was asked to resign (they didn't call it an inquisition, it was called a "conversation"...but what else is it when you are being pelted with questions, you have to answer, and there is no further exchange besides moving to the next question in order to find some way underhanded way to boot you from a church?). I've already talked some about how I answered about Heaven, Salvation, and "The way, The truth, and The life" passage here (mostly in the comments section). But I've been revisiting in my head and in my journal some of those questions I was asked, and how I answered them. I don't feel the need to justify my answers, but wanted to examine what they were and perhaps expound on them more. Perhaps even a conversation or 2 will take place that will help these thoughts in progress develop even more.

One question that I was asked is, "do you believe in Satan/the Devil?" (Not sure exactly which word they used?)

Something about myself is that I am aware that everything in our lives seems to be a reaction to something else. Usually something happens in our lives and the choices we make afterwards in how we act and what we believe, usually stem from that one or series of occurrences! For me, the idea of Satan and the power that he had had been force-fed to me most of my church-going life. Somewhere along the line (not sure when), I decided to stop giving Satan so much credit.

So how did I answer that question? I said, "I choose not to acknowledge him in my personal life because... (we'll get to that in a second), but do not completely deny his existence." So that was my general answer. I did go into a little more detail, but will go into even more detail here. Know that I am answering the question the same...just now in more detail.

Growing up in churches, ALL I ever seem to remember hearing about is "hell this, and Satan that." I was asked the other day when I "decided to follow Jesus." I replied, "every day!" Not satisfied with the answer the pastor clarified, asking, "when I was baptized." I said, "when I was 14." I was then asked what made me make that decision to "ask Jesus into my heart." I replied, "guilt, fear, keeping my butt out of hell!" Now I didn't say these things in my inquisition, but this is part of a better understanding of what I did say. To me, there is a big difference between "getting saved" and, "deciding to follow Christ". If you can't feel my tone, I'll give you a break and let you know that, like most PoMo people, I really don't like the way these statements have been used in the modern era. I think that what they have come to mean is something far less that what Christ offers, and what the Cross means!

Anyway, somewhere along the way I decided that we (Christians) had been giving Satan too much power, far more than I think God would give him. Now, there is far more to the understanding of Satan than they teach you in Sunday School. The history (not the story of Lucifer-Satan-Devil that tradition has passed down to us, but the historicity of Satan and his historical development) is very interesting. I'm not saying that such a being doesn't exist, I'm just saying if you study the Bible closely, and study the history of comparative religions you will find that the way society and Christianity in particular uses and understands Satan, is not always how he was understood by our ancestors. So that eventually came to play a part in my already developing understanding of Satan, and in relation, sin.

The bigger part that informed my choice of personal approach to Satan in my own life was the religious language that I would hear being used by many Christians. It seemed that every time someone made a mistake or "sinned" (I say it that way as to leave what the definition of sin is open to interpretation and free from my judgementalness), they would lay the blame on Satan. "Satan made me do it," or "I was tempted by the devil." No one seemed to want to take responsibility for their own actions, iniquities and failures. Those statements say to me that, "I am subjugate to a more powerful spiritual force, and what can I do about that? So, chalk up my mistake to failing to defeat this greater force and I'll take no responsibility in my actions."

Eventually I started to see myself falling into this same trap. But the Christ I was reading about gave us power over our own actions. He also called us to take responsibility for our actions or in actions, and to reconcile ourselves to those we hurt before "coming to the alter". (perhaps more on that in another post). So I decided to stop giving the devil so much credit for my mistakes, because then I was only giving him and my sinfulness more power than it deserves.

So, I chose not to acknowledge Satan in my personal life. Each mistake that I made, each person that I hurt was a result of my own actions/in actions and my own choices! I no longer accepted that I was some sort of victim of a greater ineluctable being. So thus, the answer I gave, "In my own personal life, I chose not to acknowledge/accredit Satan for my own wrongdoings."

Now I did addendum this thought by saying that I don't discourage others from acknowledging Satan. If it helps them come to terms/understand evil in this world, and entices them towards action against it, then I encourage it! If it keeps them from being crippled by self-inflicted guilt in their lives, then I embrace them in that understanding. But I do encourage people to take responsibility for their iniquity, and not to give Satan more credit and power in their lives than he deserves!


  1. Good post. Part of the issue that you ran into has a lot to do with geography.

    You run more into the attitude you described in the South than you do out here in the West. I tell you this to bring you hope - a lot of followers of Jesus do not buy into the "Devil is attacking me" mentality.

    I do believe that Satan exists. But I would agree - we have choice.

    I have a post that will be coming out in January that deals with the issue of choice. My mentor, in fact, once told me "Satan is not omnipresent. If someone tells you, 'Satan is attacking me' they are either the anitchrist or a liar..."

    The attitude you mentioned boils down to - what? anyone? - pride.

    I could go on, but you get the drift...

    - Shadraq

  2. Justin,

    I prayed for you today. It seems that much has been "done" to you and like most of us, there is a lot of bitterness to shed. God bless,


  3. Thanks to both of you for your comments.

    I'm glad that a lot of what Christianity is like here in the south is not present elswhere in America. I thank God for that! I look forward to that post of yours. Choice is a big thing that I'v been journaling about lately. It shall be interesting to see where we intersect in our thinking.

    Thanks for your thoughts and prayers. I hope this didn't coem accross as bitter. I certianly didn't mean it to, but I can see how jokingly refering to my questioning as a trial and inquisition would sound like that. Honestly, there probably is more bitterness in me than I would like to admit, but I've come a long way! But I have seen as time has gone on, and as I've been able to freely express myself and my " situation", that much of that bitterness has passed. All that's left is what remains in the absence of closure. That one I'm still waiting on:)

    Your continued prayers are always appriciated!

    thanks to you both
    peace and love

  4. i stumbled across your blog tonight. i like this post. and i like your response to LT.