Could it be . . . Satan?

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felixfabulous
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Could it be . . . Satan?

Post by felixfabulous » 04 Sep 2019, 08:47

So, upfront, part of my faith deconstruction involved abandoning the idea of a literal Satan. I see the idea as an archetype of human evil, but do not believe in a literal devil (I think that humans can be evil enough on their own without having Satan tempt us).

In Sunday School I was thinking: "Can there be a plan of salvation without Satan?" I don't think so, he seems as integral as anyone to testing and tempting people so that they can be obedient and return to God. If he was not there, how would people be tempted? I also never understood in our theology how Satan knows the plan of salvation, must realize he is essential to it, but can't help himself in tempting people, even though he is furthering the plan.

I grew up in the 80s in Utah County in the middle of the Mormon Satanic Panic. It was a scary time to be a kid, people would get everyone riled up at church about supposed Satanic cults that were doing human sacrifices in all of our favorite hiking spots. I would fake sick to get out of going to church and FHE because I was scared that they were going to talk about Satanism again. Although I eventually mostly got over the paralyzing fear, I remember sitting through a lot of lessons that were fear-based and went on and on about the power of Satan and then ended with "but Christ has more power and we won't be under Satan's control if we follow him and obey the commandments."

I just finished the documentary Hail Satan. To spoil it, modern Satanists are atheists who have embraced the Satanic iconography to push for the removal of religion from the public square (after school Bible clubs, 10 Commandments monuments at statehouses, etc.). They also get a thrill out of really scaring and offending Christians, especially conservative Evangelicals. Most of what they do is offensive and in poor taste, but it is an effective tool and they seem to be rallying a lot of atheists to their cause (and they seem to be having a lot of fun doing it).

Satan seems to be a key part of our theology and an important tool. He is always blamed for increased secularism and general opposition to the Lord's work. I'm not sure if we will ever abandon this idea since it's pretty entrenched. My hope is that we will get away from using Satan as a scare tactic. I think it's ultimately more useful to talk about how evil can happen with things like the holocaust where big institutions and systems are built up on evil premises and a lot of good people do nothing or get stuck being a cog in the machine. What structures are in place now that harm people? Sex trafficking, predatory lending, drug trade, etc. I feel like when the discussion shifts to this focus, we can actually work toward solving these problems instead of just blaming Satan's power and thinking the only solution is to be more righteous.

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Rumin8
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Re: Could it be . . . Satan?

Post by Rumin8 » 05 Sep 2019, 11:55

felixfabulous wrote:
04 Sep 2019, 08:47
So, upfront, part of my faith deconstruction involved abandoning the idea of a literal Satan. I see the idea as an archetype of human evil, but do not believe in a literal devil (I think that humans can be evil enough on their own without having Satan tempt us).
I did the same during my deconstruction process as well.
felixfabulous wrote:
04 Sep 2019, 08:47
Satan seems to be a key part of our theology and an important tool. He is always blamed for increased secularism and general opposition to the Lord's work. I'm not sure if we will ever abandon this idea since it's pretty entrenched. My hope is that we will get away from using Satan as a scare tactic. I think it's ultimately more useful to talk about how evil can happen with things like the holocaust where big institutions and systems are built up on evil premises and a lot of good people do nothing or get stuck being a cog in the machine. What structures are in place now that harm people? Sex trafficking, predatory lending, drug trade, etc. I feel like when the discussion shifts to this focus, we can actually work toward solving these problems instead of just blaming Satan's power and thinking the only solution is to be more righteous.
I couldn't agree with this more. In today's world it's often easier to blame others for our own shortfalls. Blame the teacher or school for your kid not doing their homework. Blame the friends for "being a bad influence." Blame Satan for all the ill in the world. Blame Satan for why I can't get the name of the church correct.

I've never taken the next step to wonder what it would actually mean when I do not believe in a literal Satan. Weird. Food for thought.
"Moderation in all things, especially moderation." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Be excellent to each other." - Abraham Lincoln to Bill & Ted

Roy
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Re: Could it be . . . Satan?

Post by Roy » 06 Sep 2019, 13:05

felixfabulous wrote:
04 Sep 2019, 08:47
If he was not there, how would people be tempted?
Because people are tempted to do all sorts of things on a sliding scale of badness - all by themselves. I do not believe that Satan must exist for God to redeem us from a fallen state. This goes back to theories on the atonement. Some may require an adversary, others do not.
felixfabulous wrote:
04 Sep 2019, 08:47
I just finished the documentary Hail Satan. To spoil it, modern Satanists are atheists who have embraced the Satanic iconography to push for the removal of religion from the public square (after school Bible clubs, 10 Commandments monuments at statehouses, etc.). They also get a thrill out of really scaring and offending Christians, especially conservative Evangelicals. Most of what they do is offensive and in poor taste, but it is an effective tool and they seem to be rallying a lot of atheists to their cause (and they seem to be having a lot of fun doing it).
I too saw the documentary. I think the problem is that those Christians that are the loudest about restoring the bible and prayers into schools would be the most offended if you had the Koran or a Muslim prayer in schools. Since the government cannot support one religion over another, if one religion receives some sort of privilege from the government then all others religions should receive the same or a similar privilege.
felixfabulous wrote:
04 Sep 2019, 08:47
Satan seems to be a key part of our theology and an important tool. He is always blamed for increased secularism and general opposition to the Lord's work. I'm not sure if we will ever abandon this idea since it's pretty entrenched. My hope is that we will get away from using Satan as a scare tactic.
In a way, it is the ultimate conspiracy theory. Imagine that there is a shadowy figure with his controlling tendrils embedded into the world political apparatus, the banking system, all trade and commerce. He tricks people into focusing on money and physical needs, and all the while he has his eye on the long game, the amazing of eternal souls to do his bidding. "Could it be … Satan?" If this were true, then the ultimate priority would be to defeat this figure. It is intensely compelling for those who believe it. But how could we defeat him? We teach that Jesus, our champion, will defeat Satan when the time is right and it is our purpose to make ourselves holy and to build up his church until his return. We believe that this is the only path of safety and any one that argues otherwise is under Satan's influence (knowingly or unknowingly).

I too do not see this changing much anytime soon. For one, it is effective. I once read a quote in reference to some conversion tactics employed during the middle ages. It reads, "Love makes the best converts, but fear makes the most numerous."

Also we have LDS scripture to contend with:
And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance. Yea, they are grasped with death, and hell; and death, and hell, and the devil, and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God, and be judged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment.
According to the BoM (which we believe to be the "word of God") Satan not only exists but he also actively trying to convince people that he doesn't exist in order to lull them into a false sense of security. I would not know how to even begin to have this conversation with a more orthodox TBM individual. I even get weird looks and pushback when saying that the church is not perfect.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Could it be . . . Satan?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 07 Sep 2019, 08:11

I don't know if Lucifer / Satan was a pre-existent spirit - or a fallen angel - or a mythological character - or a metaphysical symbol of the "natural (hu)man" - or something else.

I do believe most people have the capacity to do bad and even evil things, so I don't have a problem with symbolizing that as an entity - as long as the possibility of it being symbolic is maintained. However, when it is used as a scapegoat ("The devil made me do it," or, "Satan is making those evil people believe differently than I do.") - that is when I have a problem.

The concept of a living devil can be used to avoid responsibility for beliefs and actions, and it can breed self-righteousness and judgmentalism.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Havefaith
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Re: Could it be . . . Satan?

Post by Havefaith » 08 Sep 2019, 10:55

I have been thinking about this satan idea. So there was an experience on my mission that involved our whole zone. So we had, what some may say, a sucsesful month during this time. Its been a long time but if i remembee right we had 30 baptisms iin that month. It was an exciting time for our zone.
After the month was over i remember getting together as a zone and the zone leaders telling us that the missiin president told us that satain is going to work on us very hard now because he doesnt like that we weee so sucessful. Well we had very few baptisms that next month. I cant remember the mumber but our baptism numbers were about a third of the previous month.
Was that really satan that caused the numbers to be lower. Im thinking there had to be at least other factors. Maybe people just were not as receptive that month. Maybe the sucsessful month was a lot of hard work from previous months. So at the end of that sucsessful month we were all stating over with nothing in our teaching pool. Honestly i can remembeer if that happened in my conpanionship. But im thinking its possible. I dont know if this happened either but maybe missionaries in my zone became prideful and didnt try as hard or maybe they were just tired.

Roy
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Re: Could it be . . . Satan?

Post by Roy » 08 Sep 2019, 15:47

I assume that the view of Satan running the world and pulling the strings of the corrupt sectarian ministers had a purpose for a time when we were separating ourselves from the world both physically and spiritually. I believe that an "us against the world" mentality has usefulness in unifying a people. That idea was significantly softened in the temple endowment dramatization but old habits die hard.
Havefaith wrote:
08 Sep 2019, 10:55
After the month was over i remember getting together as a zone and the zone leaders telling us that the missiin president told us that satain is going to work on us very hard now because he doesnt like that we weee so sucessful.
I was told a story from my aunt and uncle. They were going through a stressful time with more chores and tasks than they had time. They were not spending time together as a couple and had begun arguing. They decided that Satan was trying to sow discord in order to undermine their marriage. They redoubled their efforts and after a month or two the husband was given a high profile calling in the bishopric. They felt that Satan was trying to hurt their marriage to the point that the husband would not be able to accept such a demanding and time consuming calling. I felt it was fascinating that they were able to successfully blame their marital problems on a third party and move forward with renewed unity.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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felixfabulous
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Re: Could it be . . . Satan?

Post by felixfabulous » 10 Sep 2019, 08:23

Great discussion. I think the Satan idea can be a good motivator and would only cause harm in people not taking responsibility for actions or blaming decisions by others (like the decision to leave the Church) on them being totally influenced by Satan.

Codependent
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Re: Could it be . . . Satan?

Post by Codependent » 16 Sep 2019, 17:04

We are told Satan will be bound for a thousand years (during the Millennium). What reawakens him. Ok, wrong words, what unleashes him? Actually I forget the actual phrase, but the idea is that people will let evil creep into their lives - without Satan. In the future, at least, Satan will not be necessary for evil to exist. Good enough reason for me to think he is not a necessary ‘Father of Lies’ today.
Further complicating Satan’s role is our creation story that says our world only became possible because Eve and Adam detected some truth in what Satan said. Satan also provided (provides) the sorrow, pain and sin that is the grist to happiness, health and virtue, which otherwise would not exist. In other words, everything has its opposite.

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