That We Could All Be Like – Satan?

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Today we have a guest post from Bishop Mike T. Young of the Spanish Fork 401st Ward.

http://www.adpulp.com/satan.jpgDuring the Sunday School discussion this week, as it frequently does, the topic turned to Satan and how he’s everywhere and into all our business, trying desperately to lead us astray with the help of The Liberal Media. Honestly, I’m not sure how Satan really made it before the age of television, movies and recorded music. Did Renaissance mothers warn their children of the evils of the lute-players and picket the gay Shakespearean actors?

All this talk about Satan led me to ponder on the subject for some time, and after waking up from my intense pondering I felt warmed by the Spirit, although it could have just been the chili. Satan remains an enigma, but here are a few of my thoughts to help build some discussion.

Let’s face it, Satan is one hell of a dedicated guy, or as my mother would say, “he’s been a real trooper.”

For over six thousand years on earth, The Evil One has shown tireless dedication to The Plan and has played his role of opposition to perfection. Think about that – Perfection. It’s been pure busting-his-hump-evil for all these thousands of years. He’s had no long weekends, no vacations, and has had to serve as a role model for billions of other pathological liars, thieves, psychopaths, and pig-body-snatchers. The only real benefit I can think of is not having to worry about rising health-care costs. That we could all be so dedicated!

Over this time he’s been called the worst of names: The Dragon, the Devil, the Tempter, a snake – and those are just the English names. Rumor has it that the Italians and Spaniards are much harsher.

So, what’s in it for Satan for playing this role perfectly for all these millennium? Eternal damnation. Yup, all this hard work and it’s, “Thanks giving us a perfect 100%, now off to Outer Darkness.” I can’t imagine what this Outer Darkness would be like, other than really crowded. We’ve been told that 1/3 of the pre-mortal spirits choose, for some reason, to go to The Dark Side – way before Anakin Skywalker made it hip.

http://mormonmatters.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/satan.jpgCounting those that have lived on the earth, we would have to be approaching 50 billion full-time evil-doers. That’s more evil spirits than McDonald’s has served in hamburgers. And I believe we’re only counting humans here, not Neanderthals, Cro-Magnons, etc. Regardless, it’s going to shoulder-to-shoulder in that Outer Darkness. Even if Satan was only to give a quick 5-second air-high-five to all these followers, it would take him over 475,000 years. I suppose there won’t be much else to do in The Darkness than gnash teeth, so the high-fives might serve as a welcomed distraction.

Satan’s also had to put up with a real drop-off in main-stream support lately. Back in the day, there were witches, demons, possessed animals, etc., all over the place. Then, people really got it together and started burning the witches. Well, sometime in the eighteenth century the interest in witchcraft as a career really fell out of favor with the ladies. These days, it’s just the nuts that claim to be witches, and anyone that witnesses a body-possession is put away for their own safety. There still exists some childhood fears of monsters, but overall it seems that Satan’s golden years are behind him.

Through all of this general decline in interest, Satan still keeps plugging away. Year, after year.

And just think – all Satan would have to do to completely thwart The Plan would be to sit down and do absolutely nothing. Do no evil, provide no opposition, refuse to do his part – just, do nothing at all. Within a minute, he could turn the whole Plan upside-down and really stick it to the Man. Surely I’m missing something here. It just seems too easy.

So hopefully, Satan doesn’t read blogs and has more evil things to do than surf the Net. I’d hate to be held accountable for providing Satan with the idea of how to wreck The Plan and leave us to our own evil devices. It certainly didn’t work out well for those Lord of the Flies kids. It’d be a dark day indeed if we had to focus on fixing ourselves instead of blaming The Evil One.

Always Feeding the Sheep,

Bishop Mike T. Young

Comments

comments

Comments 47

  1. In all fairness to Satan, I think we humans could come up with plenty of evil on our own even if the dark lord were to take a coffee break.

  2. Didn’t Crowley in Good Omens find that humans were far more creative in being evil than anything the demons could come up with? I’d believe it. 🙂

  3. Opposition comes the moment we are confronted mentally with a CHOICE! Not necessarily from an entity or power from the dark side. Opposites exist. Any scientist will tell you that from the smallest matter / element in the universe is divided into either positive or negative catagory. All energy is either positive or negative. On and On and so forth. We don’t realize HOW powerful we are with the ability to CHOOSE every moment…our very thoughts, actions, whatever is in our hearts and minds is manifested into one or the other.
    Yes, there is the “god” of darkness…I had to battle with him once in a spiritual joust…verbally…with my “will” and choice to cast him out of my life using the name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Ghost. It would take volumes of blogs to tell my testimony in full. But my important point today is to remember we ONLY HAVE to remember a few most important points…
    God and Jesus & Holy Ghost ALWAYS have MORE POWER and AUTHORITY.
    WHEN righteously exercised the Mel. Priesthood can be used (in most circumstances) to access that authority and power to expel evil or at least hold at bay for self preservation.
    We can GET ON OUR KNEES, pray for deliverence..asking for LEGIONS of ANGELS to dispel evil from ourselves / around us..begging God for help and additional protection. It’s hard, but IF we concentrate on God and DO NOT FEAR, it will work.
    and finally in the (brief overview)…at ANY GIVEN MOMENT…
    when evil power is around us..(even IF we have sinned or allowed evil in through pornography or bad thoughts or not keeping every covenant made in the TEMPLE of the LORD)..we CAN TURN around from it, and RETURN to the LORD humbly INSTANTLY begging with a repentant attitude and action..and God is so loving and merciful…will help us fight ANY power of the Devil, his minions, demons, whatever.
    YES, the bad guy and his army exists. And all opposites to Christ and His Kingdom and Eternal LAW and Light, Truth and Love exists as well…so CHOOSE THEREfore whom YOU will worship and think about. One side OR the other.
    Every moment. YOU are CHOOSING. YOU are empowered / have the right..CHOOSE Carefully. Yield to the enticing of Holy Ghost.
    Bad guy can NEVER MAKE you DO anything..beware His slippery slope towards the dark side. ANYTHING NOT leading TO Christ
    is ANTI-Christ. It’s that simple.
    I bear witness dear brothers and sisters.
    God loves you. LEARN to CHOOSE carefully and correctly.

  4. In exploring this topic, my goal was to form a discussion around the need for a literal Satan. The major point being that when taken literally, Satan could easily wreck the entire Plan, not by providing opposition, but by NOT providing opposition, since there’s really nothing in it for him.

    With this in mind, is there room to view Satan as a metaphor for evil and look inward for solutions to evil? Does it really detract from the gospel to view this struggle between good and evil as a struggle to master ourselves, rather than projecting this struggle literally onto mysterious beings? Does this just provide an excuse for continued evil? Can there be real ownership of evil acts with Satan always standing in the middle?

    How would it affect our understanding and practice if Satan was understood to be simply the dark side of humanity? That in each of us we have the capability to perform great good, or great evil, without the prodding of The Evil One?

    Today, not many of us would argue in support of witches and demons and pig-possessions, despite the very literal belief of these in the not-so-distant past. Does it really lessen the impact of the teachings of Christ to remove the literalness of the Master of these witches and demons?

  5. Danger, Will Robinson! Aren’t there a bunch of scriptural passages warning that one of Satan’s strategies it to get people to preach that he doesn’t exist?

    So I wonder why it’s so important to have a testimony that there really is Lucifer/Satan/The Devil… besides the minor fact of simply knowing the truth… konwing who your enemny is in this world where the “War in Heaven” is still underway. Also, there seems to be a philosophical battle between those who want to declare that mankind is inherently good or inherently evil. Ignoring Satan tends to accept the latter, doesn’t it? And isn’t that part of what’s wrong with the world today? We expect the worst from people and, therefore, we usually get the worst. And then we accept the worst. Why should we encourage people to change?

  6. So you’re puzzled why Beezlebub would continue fighting the bad fight after all these millennia? Apparently you haven’t heard the explanation from the Brethren that SATAN ACTUALLY THINKS HE CAN WIN. That’s right, he can see the future enough to know he must stop people like Joseph Smith as he utters a simply boy’s prayer in the woods, but somehow he can’t see the future enough to realize that he’s going to be the loser when this game is over.

    To that comes the retort that Satan is just doing all this wreaking havoc and tempting people out of spite; he knows he’s going down but, because misery loves company, he wants to take down as many with him as he can. This could even be considered his revenge against us two-thirds down here for throwing him and his one-third out of Heaven. So maybe it’s irrational for him to do it, but people sometimes do irrational things out of hatred and spite, like flying planes into buildings full of people. Sure, maybe he’s had a few millennia to get over it already, but the fact that he hasn’t just shows how prideful he is.

  7. Bishop Young

    Thanks for being with us! I have really enjoyed your post today and have been an avid follower; I even quoted you in a previous post here on MM

    http://mormonmatters.org/2009/04/27/are-we-going-to-be-eunuchs-after-this-life/

    My question to you is maybe God knew us so well in the pre existence and knew that Lucifer was tenacious and couldn’t sit around doing nothing? So even though he knows that if he stopped it would spoil the plan he can’t. He has Satan ADHD attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

    Or maybe he prods him from time to time with a hot iron and gives him raw meat.

  8. “In exploring this topic, my goal was to form a discussion around the need for a literal Satan. The major point being that when taken literally, Satan could easily wreck the entire Plan, not by providing opposition, but by NOT providing opposition, since there’s really nothing in it for him.”

    If Satan exists, the stories tell us he is smart. Does the above add to the list of reasons there is no “Plan”? Or are there other possible reasons, the big-brained evil one would not provide opposition?

    I’d like to bear my testimony, I have no clue.

  9. “So you’re puzzled why Beezlebub would continue fighting the bad fight after all these millennia? Apparently you haven’t heard the explanation from the Brethren that SATAN ACTUALLY THINKS HE CAN WIN.”

    Add that to the list of reasons there may not be a Plan. Despite being one of the most intelligent spirits and thousands of years of experience teaching him he can’t win, he thinks he can win? The only way he wins is that he makes others miserable like himself. Shallow victory, but the only one he can muster, imo.

  10. Apparently you haven’t heard the explanation from the Brethren that SATAN ACTUALLY THINKS HE CAN WIN.”

    Are you or they saying he is mildly retarded and believes he can overcome the strength and powers of the supreme being of the universe

  11. I think people intuitively realize that even without a personified Satan, there could be evil and good…so I think that, regardless of how many people believe in a literal Satan, they live lives where it doesn’t matter and Satan may just as well be metaphoric.

    But I don’t think it’ll be so easy to get people to LIVE as if satan is metaphor to the point where they BELIEVE it.

  12. Dear Bishop: Whether we take Satan literally or not, He still has his influence and powers that affect the boundries of His kingdom, and those who chose to follow him in the flesh knowingly. In my previous comments time slot, I did not have time to testify about ALL the horrific personal experiences.
    NO delusion, as there were witnesses in several. No imagination…no ficticious figment of drug haze. Nada.
    Just years of ALL sorts of “beyond the netherlands..VEIL..with training in the RULES, who they are, what they look like, how they behave, and their MISSION…..to plague, deceive and DESTROY. Why would the BAD guy have titles, if not as ruler over those “MISSIONS”….like THE DESTROYER; FATHER OF LIES;
    etc.????????? He is literal, and I did not live metaphors to a point of belief. He just opposed me and my family..step by step…..each progressive point…as I tried to follow Christ and be a ‘orthodox’ disciple / LDS.
    As for the NEED for him and his minions……I am grateful for all the opposition and direct confrontation.
    Because of it I am stronger, wiser, wary, more able to understand my brothers and sister’s battles & weaknesses..I could not need or appreciate my Savior without his opposite..Lucifer. I could not understand my place of mortality and the fullness of our probationary plan..my fleshy & carnal burden is BUT, a quicker ‘Push’ for me to hang on to the Rod of Iron with bloody fingers and teary eyes.
    Satan is NO metaphor. He GETS from our misery and failure.
    Jesus Christ LIVES and is OUR REDEEMER.
    That opposition is perfection by law in God’s plan.

  13. Sharon: “I could not need or appreciate my Savior without his opposite..Lucifer”

    Why would the wonderful, loving example of Christ require evil to be meaningful? Seriously. I don’t need to see a child starve to death to be thankful for food. I didn’t need something tragic to happen at my child’s sporting events to find enjoyment and pleasure in attending. In fact, I can think of very few instances in my day-to-day life where there’s really any opposition at all.

    I’m with James in that I have a hard time imagining the knows-it-all Satan putting up with any Plan that would involve him getting thrown to outer darkness. If his power can be completely subdued today, why would he believe this would change for the better in the future.

    Satan with ADHD is funny, but wouldn’t you at least need a body to have a neural disorder?

  14. Greg: “Also, there seems to be a philosophical battle between those who want to declare that mankind is inherently good or inherently evil. Ignoring Satan tends to accept the latter, doesn’t it? And isn’t that part of what’s wrong with the world today? We expect the worst from people and, therefore, we usually get the worst. And then we accept the worst. Why should we encourage people to change?”

    How does not blaming Satan for evil result in declaring mankind inherently evil? Do you really expect the worst from all the people you know? That would be a real downer, honestly.

    I know very, very few people that I would label, ‘evil.’ In fact, I can’t think of one that I personally know. Now, of course I know imperfect people (…raises own hand…), but inherently evil? Surely I’m not alone in considering nearly everyone that I know as basically, ‘good,’ and trying to be better.

  15. Harold: “To that comes the retort that Satan is just doing all this wreaking havoc and tempting people out of spite; he knows he’s going down but, because misery loves company, he wants to take down as many with him as he can. This could even be considered his revenge against us two-thirds down here for throwing him and his one-third out of Heaven. So maybe it’s irrational for him to do it, but people sometimes do irrational things out of hatred and spite, like flying planes into buildings full of people. Sure, maybe he’s had a few millennia to get over it already, but the fact that he hasn’t just shows how prideful he is.”

    So back to my original question – why wouldn’t Satan just end it all by sitting down? If Satan’s playing the opposition, he’s doing this in complete obedience to the Plan – a critical part of The Plan. Why not opt out and bring the Plan down, if that’s really his goal?

  16. Stupid question, but is the “Bishop” thing real, or is that just your schtick? I assume, since you are all tongue in cheek, that that is also tongue in cheek.

  17. Cowboy – In what specific cases in your day-to-day life do you need conflict of opposites?

    While growing up, I was continually warned that I did NOT have to experience bad influences to understand the good. I didn’t have to drink alcohol to experience it, I didn’t have to steal to value honesty.

    I can understand the simplicity of focusing on an Evil One, but I’ve never found myself thinking, “Aha! There’s the work of Satan in my life!” I make good choices, try to follow the examples from great teachers like Christ as best I can. I even make bad choices – but they’re my choices. Satan didn’t step harder on my foot to speed on the freeway. I did, and I take responsibility for it myself.

    Would it serve to lessen guilt by blaming Satan? Are the evils perpetrated by men any less, or more, evil if influenced by Satan? Would it really be fair to be placed up against an immortal like Satan, with billions and billions of evil spirits on this earth to decide our eternal fate?

  18. Bishop Young (if that’s your real name),

    Why doesn’t Satan just sit down and foil the plan? That’s kind of like asking why the terrorists don’t just sit down and stop bothering Israel, since Israel owes its continuous existence to the fact that it can point to the legions of terrorists constantly trying to do them violence on a daily basis to justify their current system of virtual apartheid. If the terrorists stopped bothering Israel, then Israel would no longer have the ability to say that it needs its current system of segregation and militarization — or even its own state — for the Jews to survive. Turning into pacifists would be the best way for the terrorists to conquer Israel. If Islamic fundamentalists launched a continuous pacifist-style peaceful protest, like Gandhi or MLK, the current apartheid system in Israel would disintegrate within 10 years or less. But they don’t do it. Why? I’ll tell you why. Because the terrorists are so full of hate, they’ve ceased to be rational. And it’s exactly the same with Lucifer.

    Also, as a Bishop, surely you must be familiar with the teachings of the Brethren that not all temptation comes from Satan. We tempt ourselves. We tempt each other. So I don’t know where you get your Mammoth-sized assumption that the Brethren have said we NEED Satan to tempt us all in order for THE PLAN to work.

    Here’s a hypothetical to demonstrate that last point. Let’s say Satan gives up tempting people. The next day, Angelina Jolie, in all her busty nude glory, throws herself upon you. (Sing a hymn.) You think because Satan has “given up” you will not be tempted in that situation? You think, like Joseph of Egypt, you could easily run from Potiphar’s wife because Satan isn’t there to put naughty thoughts in your mind? Of course not. You’re a natural man, an enemy to God inherently. You have hormones. You have animal instincts. You will experience plenty of temptation even with Satan sitting on the sidelines.

    So there’s a huge gaping fallacious (not to be confused with fellatio, which is an unholy and impure practice) assumption in your thinking. Satan sitting down would NOT end all temptation in the world, and therefore would not thwart THE PLAN.

    That being the case, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named works overtime to get as many souls as he can. If he were to sit down, he’d still get to roast souls in He[ck] as a result of man-made temptation. But if he “puts his shoulder to the wheel” so to speak, he gets even more. And that’s important because remember there’s going to be a final battle of good and evil after the Millennium. And whoever wins that battle is the final winner.

    Lastly, the Devil doesn’t know he’s going to lose that final battle of good and evil because he thinks the Bible’s end-of-days prophesies are either biased pro-God propaganda, or the result of dehydrated nomadic prophets drinking a little too much peyote juice in the desert.

  19. Harold – some interesting points here.

    I’m not aware of The Brethren stating that our ‘sins’ can be attributed to our animal instincts and hormones. That would actually be refreshing to hear. We’re in complete agreement on that point.

    On another point, do you really feel that you’re an, ‘enemy of God?’ Do you think that your children are your enemies is they don’t follow your guidance 100% of the time? I think that’s a very extreme outlook on our condition as mortals. Wouldn’t any loving father look upon their children (even during times of non-perfection) with compassion and love – certainly not as an ‘enemy?’ Why would a God create a situation where he knowingly places children into a circumstance where perfection is impossible, and then label the children as, ‘enemies,’ when perfection is not achieved? Does that make any rational sense to you?

  20. “Does that make any rational sense to you?”

    Does God need to make sense? Does the atonement “make sense” or have we just accepted it because that’s the way it appears to be?

  21. Bishop Young (if that’s your real name),

    You stated: “On another point, do you really feel that you’re an, ‘enemy of God?’ Do you think that your children are your enemies is they don’t follow your guidance 100% of the time? I think that’s a very extreme outlook on our condition as mortals. Wouldn’t any loving father look upon their children (even during times of non-perfection) with compassion and love – certainly not as an ‘enemy?’ Why would a God create a situation where he knowingly places children into a circumstance where perfection is impossible, and then label the children as, ‘enemies,’ when perfection is not achieved? Does that make any rational sense to you?”

    Your statements are so full of errors I don’t know where to begin. First, No, I don’t feel I’m an enemy to God, because I’ve submitted myself to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, as the scripture says we all must do. Second, “no,” I don’t consider my children enemies if they don’t follow 100% of what I say, but that’s not what the scripture says in the first place anyway. Yes, of course God looks at us with compassion and love, which is why he has given us a means to overcome our natural mortal tendencies toward lust, pride, revenge, greed, gluttony, etc., all of which come simply by virtue of our spirits inhabiting mortal bodies with appetites and desires. Lastly, God doesn’t label us as “enemies” when we fail to achieve “perfection.” But then again, that’s not what the scripture says in the first place either.

    Your arguments and reasoning would be much more persuasive if you didn’t distort and read statements into scripture that don’t appear there in the first place. Ever heard of the “Straw Man” fallacy? If not, see your paragraph above for an excellent example.

    Seeing the way you’re prone to argue that the scriptures say a host of things they don’t actually say, I fear for the welfare of your flock, and I am beginning to think you are one of those wolves in sheep’s clothing that Jesus warned us about.

  22. Bishop Mike:

    Lehi further opines that that you are correct in that man is the agent of choice and action, but Satan appears as the merchant of possibilities. In other words, you have your chips, ie, your time and agency, and you may invest them as the “actor” in a variety of causes:

    “Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” (2 Nephi 2:27)

    Suffice it to say, if we discount Satans influence on our thoughts, attitudes, actions, by positing human tendencies towards heinousness, then might we also discount Gods ability to influence our thoughts, attitudes, and actions by positing the opposing human tendencies towards munificence. In other words, this could serve as a slippery slope towards atheism.

    A question I have, that does not challenge the existence of Satan, is “how” does Satan influence. What are the mechanics and processes he utilizes. Is he responsible for some of my bad thoughts? At a time when I was convinced in the truthfulness of the Mormon Church I had a fairly unique theory on this having to do with secret combinations and so forth.

  23. “A question I have, that does not challenge the existence of Satan, is “how” does Satan influence. What are the mechanics and processes he utilizes. Is he responsible for some of my bad thoughts?”

    All questions that are unknowable mysteries. How can Satan be at all? How can we, or space exist. Our reasoning is not much use in the things of God. How much sense can we make of anything even existing? We’ve all thought of the universe existing because we are here and yet where does it end? How can anything exist and be infinite? It’s all beyond us. My head is hurting, I’m going to eat some Oreos.

  24. Harold – I certainly didn’t mean to offend. When you state that, “You’re a natural man, an enemy to God inherently” I understood your use of ‘inherently’ as meaning a permanent and inseparable element. If you meant something differently, then I misunderstood, as it appears is the case. I disagree with the use of ‘inherent enemy,’ strongly and do not believe we are inherently God’s enemy. But, it appears now that this is also your position – so we’re in agreement on that.

    I see no straw man. I argued that we are not always an enemy of God, that perhaps at times with – or without – the influence of Satan, we act in opposition to God’s will as given in the scriptures. I feel that more often than not, it’s without supernatural influence – which it seems that you also agree can be the case. I really don’t see us too far distant on this.

  25. Cowboy – Some great thoughts there. I found especially interesting:

    “Suffice it to say, if we discount Satan’s influence on our thoughts, attitudes, actions, by positing human tendencies towards heinousness, then might we also discount Gods ability to influence our thoughts, attitudes, and actions by positing the opposing human tendencies towards munificence. In other words, this could serve as a slippery slope towards atheism.”

    Does positing that treating Satan as a metaphor and not a literal supernatural being also discount God as a literal being? Do we have to limit God’s power and influence when limiting Satan’s? The scriptures are full of metaphors. Granted that Satan is usually not presented as so, but like you also state, how exactly should we believe that Satan does influence us? Is it more effective in the long run to believe that people’s poor decisions were caused by a supernatural force, rather than mostly by human failings? Is it lesser to believe that by following Christ’s example we mostly just overcome our own natural tendencies, rather than the influences of Satan?

    Attributing too much influence to Satan, it seems to me, provides an excuse or crutch for the heinous acts that humans perpetrate upon themselves. If an enormously powerful, supernatural force that has the advantage of thousands of years of experience can influence us so greatly, is that really a fair deal for us?

  26. We’re taught that God is the source of all that’s good while Satan is the source of all that’s evil. By denying the latter half of that doctrine, do we diminish the role of God in being the source of all that is good?

    It seems to me that the basis of your argument, Bishop, is that if Satan became a pacifist he would be at least as effective, so why isn’t he smart enough to be a pacifist? So this makes me wonder if, in general, you are inclined to be a pacifist. (Nothing wrong with that if you are. It would explain why you’re so determined that pacifism would serve Satan better than what he’s doing now.)

    But can pacifism be useful if it isn’t even fully-informed? I’m glad someone else brought up the example of terrorism because I didn’t want to be accused of “thread-jacking.” So, let’s take one example: In 1993 some foreign terrorists tried to knock down one of the World Trade Center towers onto the other one. Generally, the people of America didn’t understand our “enemy” in 1993. We thought that “we caught those guys” and the towers were safe. Then in 2001 we got a big wake-up call. Suppose we’d actually known more about our enemies during those 8 years. Suppose we knew they were in the middle of the desert training people how to hijack planes. Suppose we knew that some of them were taking flight lessons. Suppose we really understood what we were facing. Would the tragedy of September 11th have been prevented?

    So, we can ignore Satan all we want but wouldn’t knowing what we’re up against be better for us? We’re here to experience the three types of conflict: Man vs. Nature. Man vs. Himself. Man vs. Man. As for that last one, let’s change it to “Man vs. Satan” for a moment. If we just ignore that such a conflict exists aren’t we just setting ourselves up to be blindsided?

    When it came to September 11th, our enemies had a tremendous advantage because, somehow, the American people were convinced that the enemy didn’t even exist. Or, at the very least, our middle-eastern terrorist enemies just weren’t capable of doing anything significant on our soil. So, of course, it’s a great strategy. “Don’t be afraid of me. Don’t prepare yourself for the day that I attack. I don’t even exist!” The pacifist might say that “We brought September 11th upon ourselves. Our behavior on the world stage made it so that America deserved that attack.” And that seems to parallel your statement, Bishop, that “Attributing too much influence to Satan, it seems to me, provides an excuse or crutch for the heinous acts that humans perpetrate upon themselves.”

    If you look up “Satan” under Gospel Topics at LDS.org you’ll find a lot of interesting talks by the likes of James E. Faust, Marion G. Romney and others. They make more sense than this thread.

  27. “We’re taught that God is the source of all that’s good while Satan is the source of all that’s evil.”

    I accept Lucifer as a real entity, but that sentence is not what the Church teaches.

  28. Okay… so maybe I’m not getting it. This is the first line of the First Presidency message from the January 2007 Ensign, written by James E. Faust:

    “I feel impressed to sound a warning voice against the devil and his angels—the source and mainspring of all evil.”

  29. Greg, I am probably being nit-picky, but adding “here in mortality” or “here on Earth” or something similar would be fine with me. Based on our overall theology, I think that’s much more accurate than leaving such a modifier off the more comprehensive statement. That way, even those who interpret the Fall narrative figuratively can agree with what you say as a mythological construct.

    I believe in a real, literal devil (as taught in Mormonism), but I also believe too many people (even members) take the “devil made me do it” approach too much. I can accept the figurative interpretation for those who need to posit the struggle between good and evil as internal, even as I understand the concern that doing so opens the possibility of making God figurative, as well.

    Having said that, if we broaden the definition of “Devil” in the same way we broaden the definition of “Godhood” (as a title or condition, as opposed to one isolated Being), I can accept that concept without the modification. I just think Mormonism is open to multiple views on this issue, depending totally on how the statement is framed – given how different our view of Godhood is than other religions.

  30. I ran across Alma 5:40 over the weekend… “For I say unto you that whatsoever is good cometh from God, and whatsoever is evil cometh from the devil.” Sure, you can nit-pick this concept, but it appears that this is what the church is teaching. Throughout the ages, prophets have known that some kind of “history” exists before we were born spiritually and before the Father created all of those worlds without numbers. At the same time, information about all of that has been restricted. So I’m not sure that it’s necessary to add “here on Earth” to Alma’s statement. Too much scrutiny gives Satan an excuse to say, “Hey, I didn’t invent evil. There must have been some source of evil before me. Stop blaming me!” And I suppose that runs right in line with his “I don’t exist” philosophy.

  31. Greg:

    Moroni Chapter 7 also teaches this concept quite emphatically. “what the Church teaches” is a highly ambiguous statement, but I can confidently say that The Book of Mormon teaches this concept.

  32. Greg, that verse can say exactly what I said.

    I’m not arguing against the main idea, and I’m not “nit-picking” the general concept. I’m just saying it’s hard to say that Lucifer is the author of all evil eternally, given our overall theological construct.

  33. So, maybe this is like the closing credits of a movie which say something like, “Walt Disney Pictures is the author of this motion picture for copyright purposes.” The individual who “invented” Mickey Mouse is dead but some other entity controls the copyright on all of the material he created. So, is Satan a “title” which is passed on to whichever being is currently in charge of evil? If so, it doesn’t matter. He’s still “our” devil to oppose.

    I don’t think it’s necessary to think this hard about the devil. And I think we’re being way too nit-picky when we start to distinguish between what the Book of Mormon teaches and what the church teaches.

  34. The other problematic thing with our devil obsession is the tendency to lump anyone who opposes us into the devil’s camp. So, just because someone is not for us or doesn’t see things our way, they are somehow Satanic (??). Seems a little self-serving and hyperbolic.

  35. You can have that one without attributing it to me. I wouldn’t want to be the “source and mainspring” of false doctrine if this gets out of control!

  36. Bishop,

    Great Post! Love it. A bit of humor, but really an interesting topic.

    You’re assuming the Prince of Darkness is never taking vacations or weekends off. What is your source for that?

    My theory is he jumped into action right away, Garden of Eden, then Cain, and really put his time in while young and made a lot of progress until the flood when he lost his business and had to start all over again from scratch. But by putting in long hours century after century, he can now let the evil machine go and not have to go into the office everyday anymore. The internet does enough work for him in putting evil thoughts in people’s minds he doesn’t have to go around whispering in ears as much, which seems less efficient than using technology.

    Think about it, he has the market on evil stuff. School age kids don’t say, “Cain made me do it” or “Hitler made me do it” – no no no, its ALWAYS the devil caused everything bad that ever happens, even if he wasn’t around when it happened. And he gets bragging rights for eternity, no matter how bad the other evil spirit followers try to be. He’s setup the perfect pyramid scheme – which those things are also satanic (see…he gets props for everything) – and he has plenty of followers doing his work but he gets all the credit. Do you know the names of any of his angels?? Nope. Lucifer gets all the credit.

    I’m guessing he is banking on the fact that even after the millennium, when his young proteges who were born into mortality will have a physical leg up on him … and he won’t be the most powerful evil one anymore… he’ll still always be the one talked about throughout the bible and throughout history and throughout all eternity.

    People say he can’t win, but that depends on what battle he is trying to win. I mean, come on…he’s had eons to think things through… he’s had to have read the other teams’ playbook (it is on the internet ya know). So he must know defeating the Heavenly Father of Truth and Light is impossible, but what about the God of Outer Darkness and all those banished there? He can win that fight and have his kingdom and have a mighty big brag-wall of all the things he gets credit for doing throughout earth’s history. And, in all seriousness, I think he’s interested in getting as many of us to fall into his kingdom as he can, so that is worth fighting for.

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