Today’s topic was “How Can I Resist Evil” at the Hope Lutheran Church’s Alpha class. This was supposed to explain to us what it meant to recognize evil and how to best counter this evil when we come across it. I’ll go into some of the explanations of evil (Satan) and what it is we are supposed to do with that evil.
Well first off she started the sermon with a logical “proof” that was apparently self-evidently true. “If there is an absolute good, then there logically has to be an absolute evil” and that is why we must accept that there is an evil “force” out there that is out to get us. The problem with this is obvious first off, this only applies if you believe in an infinite good in the first place and there is no maxim that says there must be an absolute evil as an entity. As darkness is absence of light, evil could be the absence of good in this example; and it certainly isn’t sentient. However, she labeled this evil as Satan as laid out in the bible and went through pains to show that god was “perfect” and Satan was created from god; therefore Satan is less than god and is not as powerful. She reiterated this time and again most likely in case someone asked the obvious question: “if god is all powerful why does he suffer Satan or evil?” Well that question still stands, but we’ll get to some of the most grievous contradictions later, but for now we are supposed to understand that Satan is powerful, but not ALL powerful. It’s “Common sense” as she says that Satan has to exist in this fashion. Problem here is of course, we all accept that “Evil” or “Bad” exists….but not everyone attributes a sentience to that evil. That’s……weird.
But god made Satan.
Anyways, Satan is leading demons and is fighting a spiritual war against the forces of heaven. We poor hapless humans are caught in the cross fire and have to do what we can to defeat the demons. I know you’re probably thinking this is all figurative, but it doesn’t seem so. There are actually demons out there, they are actually cast out of people, and they are actively here to harm you and me. This is interesting stuff if we’re supposed to rely on evidence and be critical thinkers concerning the bible.
Evidence I ask? Well she’s got it in spades! The bible is our evidence for Satan, so we can easily prove the bible correct by using the bible. No problems there. The other piece is its tradition. All Christian teachings throughout the ages have had some sort of devil figure either in literature or art that showcased the battle against evil. If Christian theologian’s and writers believed in Satan during the Middle Ages and before, then obviously it must be true. Another bit was that not everyone believed in demons back during 1st century Palestine. She mentioned a ruling class that didn’t believe in the dogma of the religion, but ran the churches for profit. She reviled them as “Fakers” and since they didn’t’ believe in the devil (or god) then obviously Satan was winning over them. Evidence for this is in the bible which can readily be fact checked with the bible. Really, this is the other piece of evidence, discounting that other more coherent and older religions have claims just as similar or different as you can imagine. This one Christian doctrine is the True One.
Moving on to more relevant sources of evil, she mentioned that demons and Satan are constantly in action all around us! She used the example of the copying machines in the church. Whenever an important outreach event is about to happen there always seems to be a problem with the copying machines. There is no way it is a coincidence since it always happens whenever the church has need of them. It’s not as if the additional use and constant attention have anything to do with jam-prone machines in the first place, no! It’s demons and/or Satan. A Christian radio station wouldn’t show up in a woman’s car, as it kept fading out to icky talk radio. Again, Satan at work, trying to turn this woman away from god! Pornography shows up on a church members’ computer that he knows he never viewed (It was later found out to be a computer virus). SATAN put that virus there! You get the picture-anything that we don’t want to happen is Satan, anything we DO want to happen is god. Very, very flimsy stuff.
Now we move on to another part that I especially had to snicker at. She warned against people turning away from god in a search for more power via the occult. She mentions astrology, sorcery, witchcraft, wiccans; these are all forms of Satan that seek to take power away from god and into human (Satans!) hands via super natural methods. She particularly pointed to astrology and Wicca as a very harmful thing and how it was a disgrace that so many young women in particular were turning to Wicca and that right here in Des Moines (!) there were these groups going on! She marked them all as evil and said those of us who may or may not have looked at the horoscope/astrology/Wicca/sorcery/etc. should pray for forgiveness. ? I’d hate to know what she thinks of Harry Potter or World of Warcraft.
One example she gave was of a bright young woman who claims to be a “witch” and wanted to cast spells to help people. She thought that it was so sad that this girl was so bright, yet was leading down a path of evil. I mean, we all know how fickle young girls are and they may be trying to do something “Good” and may do something bad with their spells! They should certainly stay away from this kind of thing, because sorcery in the hands of a young person is dangerous. One question I wish I could have asked the pastor: How is that any different than prayer? If a young girl wielding sorcerous powers is so dangerous since she’s wont to use her powers for evil, how is that any different than praying to god for a boy to like her, or a Facebook post to be erased? It’s the same thing, just not the pastor’s flavor. I don’t know what is more troubling the fact that this pastor thinks astrology and sorcery are a threat to her church as real things or that she can’t tell the difference between her prayer and another form of “prayer”. Oh and she mocked the psychic hotline as people that are silly and are misled…kind of like calling in to BTN or Pat Robertson or any other Christian prayer group, don’t you think?
Ok winding down now, we go back to Genesis and the idea of original sin and how Satan is there to trick Adam and Eve. Now I read some the wording here and god says basically “don’t eat this fruit, or you’ll die”. Then Satan the snake comes up and says “Hey Eve, you should totally eat that fruit because it’s good, etc.” So Eve does. And they don’t die. Did god LIE to them? Beh,semantics.
Anyway, the reason I bring this part up is to show how backwards this thinking is in the Christian religion. God made a tree that would doom Adam and Eve. God makes Satan, knowing he’s going to trick the humans, and has Satan go do his trickery thing. Then god punishes everyone, but it’s not a curse. He CURSES Satan by doing the snake thing, but here merely JUDGES the humans with all the original sin, etc. So it’s a JUDGEMENT when god does something evil, but a CURSE when Satan does it. Oh sorry, you weren’t cursed with cerebral palsy, you were JUDGED! Get it right. One way to look at this scenario is that god created a situation in which he knew he was going to have to bring the pain down on Adam and Eve, and he conveniently made Satan his scapegoat. Satan technically told the truth, eat the fruit and you will know right and wrong. They did, and it made them recognize that they were “naked” if you take the bible in its figurative language. Then they were punished for it. The reason this scapegoating type thing is important is because the pastor said that is what Satan does. He points fingers, he shoves the blame away, the same way a person does when they do something wrong. However, this is exactly what god has done if you are going to maintain an internally consistent story. He creates a no win scenario, blames it on Satan, beats HIM down, then smites some humans. Who is the real evil one here?
But we can all relax! All this is alright because Jesus died on the cross for all our sins. All the apples eaten, the demons in copier machines, the pornography on computers, and yes depression (she blamed clinical depression on Satan too) are all simply water under the bridge. Just arm yourself in the breastplate of righteousness, the helm of salvation; the shield of faith (No science and reason getting in here!), and the Sword of Spirit and you can never be defeated.
Or reasoned with as a rational human being, you take your pick.