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Are Christians Afraid To Talk About the Devil?

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  • Are Christians Afraid To Talk About the Devil?

    I don't think its universally true, and there are certain areas within Christianity where its not true at all, but it seems like a lot of people get skittish when the subject of the Devil comes up. Has anyone else noticed that or am I just imagining things?

    For instance, in apologetics, very rarely do I hear people talk about Satan and his effect on this world system, especially in regards to issues like the Problem of Evil. Now, I don't think that Satan has to be referenced when dealing with the Problem of Evil, and in fact, I can see why people would find it unnecessary to refer to him at all, but its interesting to me that his role in producing or influencing the evil that is done in this world is rarely mentioned at all when the issue is discussed.

    We're all aware of that famous quote by C.S. Lewis,

    There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.
    And to be blunt, in my experience, this divide often seems to fall in line with, I don't know, the intellectual acuity(?) of a particular church. I'm familiar with some churches where members could recite whole books from the Bible through memorization, but a deeper understanding of the text, especially in relation to the original languages or historical context is little evidenced. These same places often avoided deeper theological discussions which they seem to consider ivory tower-ish, and impractical in the real world application of Christianity. And a real world application does seem to be their main focus; Basically, bringing the Bible to the people (the common man on the street) in a simple to understand and relatable way. These churches seem to like to talk about Satan and demons a lot.

    On the other hand, I'm familiar with other churches that are steeped in an intellectual appreciation for doctrine and dogma and whatnot. They often have a strong focus on tradition, church history, and theology. These churches seem to (in my opinion) almost avoid talking about Satan and demons. As though they were side concerns that Christians shouldn't spend hardly any time focusing on.

    What are your thoughts?
    Last edited by Adrift; 11-16-2014, 12:50 PM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Adrift View Post
    And to be blunt, in my experience, this divide often seems to fall in line with, I don't know, the intellectual acuity(?) of a particular church.
    I am interested if you see any correlation between the attitude towards discussion about Satan and his effects and the attitude towards discussion about the Spirit and its effects.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Paprika View Post
      I am interested if you see any correlation between the attitude towards discussion about Satan and his effects and the attitude towards discussion about the Spirit and its effects.
      Yeah, I think I could say that I see that correlation, but of course, its entirely anecdotal. Non uh...intellectual (?) Christians seem much more...spiritual, I guess, than their book wormy brethren.

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      • #4
        Ever since I first read C.S. Lewis's statement about being a "magician," I've always felt that he was wrong. Being interested in demons is not whatsoever the same as being a magician. That's like saying Jesus was a sorcerer because he cast them out.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Obsidian View Post
          Ever since I first read C.S. Lewis's statement about being a "magician," I've always felt that he was wrong. Being interested in demons is not whatsoever the same as being a magician. That's like saying Jesus was a sorcerer because he cast them out.
          I think "magician" is just a literary turn of phrase (The Screwtape Letters is a work of fiction after all). All those who don't believe in the devil are not materialists either.

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          • #6
            Well, I also meant to argue that being highly interested in demons is not wrong, and not any sort of error. Ignoring them, on the other hand, is error. So C.S. Lewis's entire point was incorrect.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Obsidian View Post
              Well, I also meant to argue that being highly interested in demons is not wrong, and not any sort of error. Ignoring them, on the other hand, is error. So C.S. Lewis's entire point was incorrect.
              Well Lewis said "excessive and unhealthy interest", not highly interested. Have you ever met someone who wouldn't stop talking about Satan where they basically saw Satan in just about every shadow? I have. I found it to be excessive and unhealthy.

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              • #8
                Justice Scalia had an interesting exchange in an interview on this general topic: http://nymag.com/news/features/anton...10/index3.html

                Bold is interviewer; regular text is Scalia.

                [Leans in, stage-whispers.] I even believe in the Devil.

                You do?
                Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person. Hey, c’mon, that’s standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that.

                Every Catholic believes this? There’s a wide variety of Catholics out there …
                If you are faithful to Catholic dogma, that is certainly a large part of it.

                Have you seen evidence of the Devil lately?
                You know, it is curious. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore.

                No.
                It’s because he’s smart.

                So what’s he doing now?

                What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way.

                That has really painful implications for atheists. Are you sure that’s the *Devil’s work?

                I didn’t say atheists are the Devil’s work.

                Well, you’re saying the Devil is *persuading people to not believe in God. Couldn’t there be other reasons to not believe?
                Well, there certainly can be other reasons. But it certainly favors the Devil’s desires. I mean, c’mon, that’s the explanation for why there’s not demonic possession all over the place. That always puzzled me. What happened to the Devil, you know? He used to be all over the place. He used to be all over the New Testament.

                Right.
                What happened to him?

                He just got wilier.
                He got wilier.

                Isn’t it terribly frightening to believe in the Devil?
                You’re looking at me as though I’m weird. My God! Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the Devil? I mean, Jesus Christ believed in the Devil! It’s in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the Devil! Most of mankind has believed in the Devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the Devil.
                Don't call it a comeback. It's a riposte.

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                • #9
                  Good thread Adrift. To answer the question: without a doubt! My impression is that Christians have no problem with Satan engaging in the affairs of ancient man as illustrated in scripture. The problem is correlating Satan with our modern world today. It's too embarrassing of a subject because it gets a lot of scorn and ridicule today. I sometimes think that the eschatological belief that Satan is locked up is a way to solve that problem for modern Christians.
                  "I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole, it was like... we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment." - Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State (source).

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by seanD View Post
                    Good thread Adrift. To answer the question: without a doubt! My impression is that Christians have no problem with Satan engaging in the affairs of ancient man as illustrated in scripture. The problem is correlating Satan with our modern world today. It's too embarrassing of a subject because it gets a lot of scorn and ridicule today. I sometimes think that the eschatological belief that Satan is locked up is a way to solve that problem for modern Christians.
                    How common do you think that eschatological belief is though? I suppose most Evangelical Protestant Christians probably don't share that belief. I'm uncertain about other strains of Protestant Christianity, or the RCC and Orthodox Christians.

                    Oh, also, why do you think some Christians may find it embarrassing? I have a few ideas myself, but I'm interested in what others think.
                    Last edited by Adrift; 11-16-2014, 03:31 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Adrift View Post
                      How common do you think that eschatological belief is though? I suppose most Evangelical Protestant Christians probably don't share that belief. I'm uncertain about other strains of Protestant Christianity, or the RCC and Orthodox Christians.

                      Oh, also, why do you think some Christians may find it embarrassing? I have a few ideas myself, but I'm interested in what others think.
                      Do be honest with you, almost every Christian I've encountered about the subject on this particular board has that belief. Maybe the Christians that don't hold that belief just don't talk about it much here. I also have a tendency to think that Tweb is a general representation of Christian belief throughout the world. Maybe I need to stop that.

                      To your second question; I think it's because "the Devil" has been so caricatured in such ridiculous ways in our culture that it's hard for anyone to get past those stereotypes when discussing Satan.
                      "I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole, it was like... we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment." - Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State (source).

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by seanD View Post
                        Do be honest with you, almost every Christian I've encountered about the subject on this particular board has that belief. Maybe the Christians that don't hold that belief just don't talk about it much here. I also have a tendency to think that Tweb is a general representation of Christian belief throughout the world. Maybe I need to stop that.
                        Well, this website was founded by members who advocated Preterism (if I'm remembering correctly, that's one of the reasons they were banned or left thelogyonline.com to begin with), so that would explain why that particular eschatological view may be popular here.

                        To your second question; I think it's because "the Devil" has been so caricatured in such ridiculous ways in our culture that it's hard for anyone to get past those stereotypes when discussing Satan.
                        Hmm, yeah. Good point. The reason I think it may be embarrassing to some Christians is because,

                        1.) In this post-modern, post-New Atheist world, belief in God can be a controversial subject. Add to that the belief that Jesus is the "way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." you're dealing with a pretty exclusivist ideology which makes a lot of people uncomfortable. You might still get away with a nice discussion about God and Jesus, but throwing the Holy Spirit, angels, demons, and devils into the mix is just a step too far.

                        2.) Biblical descriptions of demonic activity like possession are now viewed through the lens of modern medicine as mental illness. So what once was attributed to demons is now attributed to psychiatric episodes. That isn't to say that mental illness doesn't exist, I believe it does, its just that its not uncommon to read interpretations of the Gerasene demoniac suffering from schizophrenia or what have you. So Christians are embarrassed to mention possession because it makes them look like superstitious kooks.

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                        • #13
                          I think the bulk of mental illness (if not all of it) is caused by sin and/or demons.

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                          • #14
                            I'm not afraid to talk about the devil - I just don't find many opportunities where it's necessary. I'd much rather talk about Jesus.
                            "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Adrift View Post
                              I don't think its universally true, and there are certain areas within Christianity where its not true at all, but it seems like a lot of people get skittish when the subject of the Devil comes up. Has anyone else noticed that or am I just imagining things?[\quote]
                              I think that a dichotomy does exist among churches. My view may be a little different. One error is to ignore Satan altogether (even though they may believe he exists), and the other is to ascribe too much to him.

                              Satan is not the source of all evil or sin. He did incite it in Adam and Eve. But, as Paul says, You once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh” (Eph. 2:2–3a). The spirit of Satan is at work in those who reject Christ, but we are all subject to other aspects. The world, the flesh and the devil, suggests to me that much more of our problems - particularly as believers - is wanting what the world offers, and wanting to satisfy the desires of the flesh. Satan is the least of those three areas, especially among Christians.
                              Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

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