Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Is Satan winning the numbers game?

You have a completely defeated being who, according to Christian theology, is nevertheless alive and well on planet earth and is doing all he can to ruin the eternal existences of as many people as possible, and is successfully seducing a lot of people into sin and damnation. That doesn't look, at least at this point, like total defeat to me. If the people who die having accepted Christ's atonement are saved, and people who die without having accepted Christ's atonement are lost, then it looks as if the devil is beating God in the numbers game.
How can this be?

Well, it's easy to see what the Calvinist answer is. But where do you go if you don't want to go there? At least you can see the argument from exclusivism to Calvinism.

12 comments:

amtheomusings said...

People in general are absurd.

bossmanham said...

God allows free will. If people don't listen to God, then He actualizes their choice. The game isn't about numbers, it's about God defeating His enemies and saving those who have come to Him. There may be more souls in hell than in heaven (although I'm not sure that's the case). I agree with William Lane Craig in that I think God has created a world in which the optimal balance of saved v. unsaved is reached.

Andrew said...

I had similar questions a little while ago and addressed them in this article:

http://mrhackman.blogspot.com/2010/01/if-thats-winning-id-hate-to-see-what.html

I fail to see how God gets to claim a victory if the vast majority of his interests are demolished. It may be that God gets the last blow, but Hell is the victor of souls.

Of course, i do not believe any of that.

Steven said...

Satan has no victory over the elect.

Blaise Pascal said...

Sin always implies a free decision to do wrong and a knowledge of it. Otherwise one cannot incur any guilt. Satan is a seducer. He can only show you possibilities of how you can sin (i.e. of how you can actualize the evil that you have kept in your heart). He only shows how evil the world really is. Thus, the main responsibility for going to hell lies with the individual sinner and not Satan. The Sinner goes to hell on his own merits and not on Satans. Therefore Satans victory consists in not more than this that there many people who choose to be bad.

But i think he has positive function too. By bringing out the evil that is in you, he clearly shows how far you have distanced yourself from God. This gives you an opportunity to turn back and repent. If the evil in us had been kept hidden from our sight, we would have been in an even more miserable situation, beeing evil and not knowing it and having no chance to better our selfes.

Walter said...

Sin does not send you to hell, God does. All you have to do to become God's enemy is not believe tall tales written by ancient men.

Edward T. Babinski said...

bossmanham said... "If people don't listen to God, then He actualizes their choice."
AND...
Blaise Pascal said... "Satan shows you how you can actualize the evil in your heart."

That's a double-whammy, BOTH God AND Satan, a dynamic duo, are out to help us "actualize" every evil. I guess that explains everything.

Wait a sec, why all this work, with both God and Satan needed to actualize evil? And why does a "good" God want to actualize "evil" in the first place, even working with Satan to do so?

Edward T. Babinski said...

“SATAN,” ACCORDING TO HARPER’S BIBLE DICTIONARY

(In Job 1-2 and Zechariah 3:1-2) Satan is depicted as a member of God’s court whose basic duty it was to “accuse” human beings before God. He is clearly not at this point an enemy of God and the leader of the demonic forces of evil, as he becomes later... It should be noted that ‘the serpent’ of Genesis 3 is never in the OT identified as Satan.

It is during the late postexilic period (after ca. 200 B.C.) and in the intertestamental literature that one first finds the development of the idea of Satan that is assumed in the N[ew] T[estament] writings. Probably under the influence of Persian ideology, there developed in Hebrew thought the idea of a dualism rampant in the created order--a dualism of good versus evil. There existed already the idea that God had a heavenly host, a group of messengers to carry out his work and orders. The Persians also believed in a ruler over the powers of evil, who had many servants in this realm known as demons. The Hebrews could easily understand and assimilate such thinking into their already existing ideas, but they had not yet developed any idea of a major being as a leader of the forces of evil...

Satan and his cohorts then came to represent the powers of evil in the universe and were even known in Jesus’ time as the Kingdom of Satan, against which Jesus had come to fight and to establish the Kingdom of God...

Edward T. Babinski said...

Some people believe in the Devil. So do I, in a way. He could be nothing more than one of God’s staff members, the one who on Judgment Day will take the fall for war, famine, tooth decay, etc. (In fact, “Armageddon” is probably Aramaic for “reshuffling the cabinet.”) He could be just random badness, the absence of goodness: evil doesn’t have to unionize to be effective. I just do not believe that old Splitfoot has a hot line to everyone’s id and makes us go all steamy with evil thoughts when the fancy strikes him.

James Lileks, “The Devil, You Say,” Fresh Lies

Edward T. Babinski said...

Christians say multitudes of people are already in hell for “not having accepted Jesus”or for “falling away” after having tasted salvation (see the Book of Hebrews), or for petty offenses like adopting “unorthodox creeds” such as Unitarianism instead of Trinitarianism, or for being descended from two folks in “Eden” who ate “forbidden fruit,” an offense to which God reacted quickly, not allowing them to eat the fruit of eternal life and staining the souls of their children’s children forever with “original sin.” (“Original sin” is not a Jewish concept by the way, but a strictly Christian one, thanks to St. Augustine who also came up with the concept of “infant damnation” as a corollary.)

Keeping in mind the shortness of God’s temper in the Bible, how He punished human beings without waiting very long, compare that with the fact that God continues to give “Satan” a free pass, letting Satan remain “the prince of this world,” a being who has allegedly offended God since before creation, and in more than just petty ways, like attempting a direct overthrow of heaven (or so goes the myth).

How did the Devil’s name get pushed to the last page of God’s “Must Remember to Chain Up in Hell List,” instead of the first? According to Christians, a vast multitude of human beings are already roasting in hell. So why does God show so much long suffering toward the Devil--a being who presumably knew better about good/evil, God and the truth, long before anyone else? Yet this same God has demonstrated far less relative patience with us lowly mortal humans who aren’t “in the know” concerning nearly as many things as Devil is, and who couldn’t have offended God nearly as badly as Satan, i.e., how do you compare taking a bite out of a piece of fruit with a full scale attack on heaven?

Also, some verses in the Bible state that God Himself sent lying spirits, plagues, curses, and also set up temptations to humanity, which raises the question, what if God had something to do with Satan being tempted to “fall” in the first place?

And is “evil” really the perfect device for polishing human beings such that God “in his wisdom” had to keep the Devil around to “polish” humanity’s souls? If so, then why is Satan called “evil” and not “God’s Course Scrubbing Pad and Soul Polisher that really Gets the Rust Out?” Heck, why not make Satan a saint since God apparently “needs” Satan to stick around doing “Satanic” things, inspiring and doing enough “evil” for His “Divine Plan” to work correctly?

With God’s temper flared so easily, it does seem that the Devil would have pissed the Lord off supremely by now, and wound up roasting like a chestnut on God’s open fire, or chained to the edge of a black hole for eons, and not allowed any further contact with any other parts of God’s creation. But instead God “needs” him around? Hmmm. Maybe God Himself needs a scapegoat? Or maybe Judeo-Christian theological God-talk evolved during the time of inter-testamental Judaism (a time when they began elevating “Satan” to the god of this world) and Christian times, and they discovered that a theological scapegoat was needed to keep their Biblical God’s hands looking relatively clean.

Sharon Mooney (edited by E.T.B.)

Edward T. Babinski said...

The Christian Bible says the most injurious things about Satan, but we never hear his side. We have none but the evidence for the prosecution, and yet we have rendered the verdict.

And who prays for Satan? Who, in eighteen centuries, has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most?

We may not pay him reverence, for that would be indiscreet, but we can at least respect his talents. A person who has for untold centuries maintained the imposing position of spiritual head of four-fifths of the human race, and political head of the whole of it, must be granted the possession of executive abilities of the loftiest order. Not only that, but Satan hasn’t a single salaried helper, while the Opposition employs a million.

Mark Twain
____________________________

MAY THE HIGHER POWER WIN

I cannot find either Satan or Him
In this troubled heart.
Nor have I found a concrete way
To tell the two apart.

Through the myths, I hear the legends.
Through the songs I hear the praise.
Through “Glory God” and “Satan Rules”
I still hear but one phrase.

Have mercy on my troubled soul,
Whoever bids the lot.
And may the Higher Power win,
If it’s a soul I got.

Norbert Thiemann
____________________________

Dyslexic Christians Sell Their Souls to “Santa.”

Edward T. Babinski said...

As Lanning sums things up, “The fact is that more crime and child abuse has been committed by zealots in the name of God, Jesus, and Muhammad than has ever been committed in the name of Satan.” [Kenneth Lanning, “Satanic, Occult, Ritualistic Crime: A Law Enforcement Perspective,” The Police Chief (Fall 1989)]

E.T.B.
____________________________

Some Christians like to pretend that the majority of the United States is comprised of “Satanists.” That way they can excuse the fact that Christianity doesn’t work.

Fredric Rice (featured at http://holysmoke.org/quotes.htm)
____________________________

DEVILS DEVILS EVERYWHERE, SO THROW A POT OF INK!
The Father of Protestant Christianity, Martin Luther, saw “Satan” lurking everywhere and once boasted about throwing an inkpot at old Split-foot himself. (The following quotations, unless otherwise stated, are from Table Talk, a volume in The Collected Works of Martin Luther):

Snakes and monkeys are subjected to the demon more than other animals. Satan lives in them and possesses them. He uses them to deceive men and to injure them.

In my country, upon a mountain called Polterberg, there is a pool. If one throws a stone into it, instantly a storm arises and the whole surrounding countryside is overwhelmed by it. This lake is full of demons; Satan holds them captive there.

Demons are in woods, in waters, in wildernesses, and in dark pooly places ready to hurt and prejudice people; some are also in thick black clouds, which cause hail, lightning and thunder, and poison the air, the pastures and grounds.

How often have not the demons called “Nix,” drawn women and girls into the water, and there had commerce with them, With fearful consequences.

I myself saw and touched at Dessay, a child that had no human parents, but had proceeded from the Devil. He was twelve years old, and, in outward form, exactly resembled ordinary children.

A large number of deaf, crippled and blind people are afflicted solely through the malice of the demon. And one must in no wise doubt that plagues, fevers and every sort of evil come from him.

Our bodies are always exposed to the attacks of Satan. The maladies I suffer are not natural, but Devil’s spells.

As for the demented, I hold it certain that all beings deprived of reason are thus afflicted only by the Devil.

Satan produces all the maladies that afflict mankind for he is the prince of death.

(Who needs modern medicine or sanitation practices? What we really need, according to Luther, are more exorcists to heal “all the maladies which afflict mankind.” Yet even the “apple” of “God’s eye,” the ancient Hebrews, did not enjoy unparalleled good health judging by the lengthy number of illnesses mentioned in the book of Deuteronomy. And what about Luther and Calvin’s devilishly recurring stomach and bowel problems? Dare I suggest that the early invention of Ex-lax and Pepto-Bismol might have proven more helpful to mankind than some of Luther and Calvin’s teachings?--E.T.B.)

I would have no compassion on a witch; I would burn them all. (Luther, Table Talk)

When I was a child there were many witches, and they bewitched both cattle and men, especially children. (Luther, Commentary on Galatians)

The heathen writes that the Comet may arise from natural causes; but God creates not one that does not foretoken a sure calamity. (Luther, Advent Sermon)

Martin Luther

[For further quotations like those above, see Heiko Oberman, Luther: Man Between God and the Devil]