How Could Satan Be A God?
Could Satan Be A God?
This next point is hard to see for many who believe in Satan. It is difficult to see that if you or I believe in Satan we believe there is another God. That makes two and that makes the God of the Bible a liar or a delusional deity. Shall we take a moment and think about what a God is? Well, for our purposes and according to Scripture, if you or I take the idea of an imaginary friend and say that imaginary friend brings me health, or brings me pain, if that imaginary friend can possess my soul or read my mind, if that character that I created in my mind is said by me to be able to appear in the form of an angel on one day and the form of a serpent on another, or if I say that wisp of a thought that became real to me in my mind can affect nature, kill, destroy or raise a spirit from the dead, then I have made that imaginary being into a God. Even though I say it is not a god I have made it into one. Even though the imaginary friend is not in any way real, it is a god of my making. Like it or not, all the false non-existent Gods of the “other” nations, those entities that the nations believed had an influence over their world, they are gods. These Gods of other nations became the Satan and demons of Christianity. And the Satan character was part of that group. Deciding Satan is not a god because we don’t think he is, means nothing. It is the Scriptures that are the source we must consult to find out what a God is. First and foremost, those writings teach that the Gods of other nations don’t exist but they also teach, if we ascribe God-like abilities to other beings of our own making, we make those beings to be a god. No matter how small or insignificant we say they are compared to the God of the Universe, we still believe them to be gods. Now we have two Gods. One that is or may be real and a second one that we created. Of course we typically don’t worship the lesser god but the point is we believe there is another.
The Satan we find in common religion is simply a composite of many other false and non-existent Gods from many ancient nations. Finding the Satan connection to the ancient idea of two Gods or even several gods, helps to explain how Satan is not real.It also sheds light on the reasoning that if we think he is real then we believe in two Gods.
Let’s go through some of the highlights of this no Satan idea. As I mentioned, this is not a new idea; the earliest theologians and philosophers discussed the fact of Satan being a second god to those who believed in him along with believing in the God of the Bible. Celsus, a second century philosopher spoke against the Christian belief in Satan seeing Christians as having a blasphemous belief in two Gods.
As I referenced above, the earliest accounts of Hebrew thinking show us there was no belief in a second lesser and ultimately more sinister deity. These folks learned about their one God and accepted that man makes evil or God makes evil…no reference to a maniacal angel who was trying to destroy God and capture souls of men.
However, in the 6th century BC, a bunch of Hebrew people were taken captive by the powerful Babylonians. You might remember the song “By the Rivers of Babylon …we remember Zion.” Well it was there in Babylon that the Hebrew captives longed to get back to Jerusalem, to the Holy Land. But while there in Babylon for almost two generations they were introduced to what you and I are told is Satan. In this nation of Babylon there were many ideas of many Gods, some good and some bad, the Hebrews didn’t take to all of them so much but the slow retrograde in maintaining a philosophy of One God took a serious slide while in exile. When the Persians took over where Babylon left off the captive Hebrews accepted a Persian theological shift. This was largely due to our old Jewish captives enjoying a status change and they became more like settlers in Persia than the captives they were in Babylon.
Well as anyone who has gone to a new land and settled there can tell you, assimilation takes place for even the most rigid of expatriates. Persia was very ecumenical and embraced all religions so the Jews were allowed to enjoy some of the traditional ways of worship. These same assimilating Jews were also in for another “privilege” they were now exposed to the seductive religion of the Persians. Part of this Persian way was to adhere to a Zoroastrian philosophy. Zoroaster was the king of dualism, although in comparison to the rest of the world the dualism of Persia was veiled in a cloak of monotheism. Persian dualism seemed monotheistic when held up against the many gods of most other nations. The Jews in the foreign land of acceptance found a new way to think and this new way nestled deep into the religious structure of a people who meant well. Indeed they meant well but they fell to their own desire to protect the way they felt about their loving God, Yahweh.
About this Zoroaster. Zoroaster was an ancient Persian philosopher and theologian. Very interested in the Gods, Zoroaster’s penchant for spiritual things caused him to become a pioneer towards monotheism. Everyone else had numerous gods to deal with in their pantry of deities so Zoroaster had a vision. In his vision he saw only two deities. There was one good god and there was one bad god. Z’s vision showed these two deities in a cosmic battle. The vision revealed to Zoroaster that the Good God would eventually defeat the bad God but it was clear there were indeed only two competing entities in the cosmos, not hundreds as was the norm for other cultures. Zoroaster had set things up for the Hebrew captives/settlers to feel better about their situation. They began to muse as to how their loving God could have sent them into captivity. That just didn’t seem like a thing their good God would do. So, many of the Hebrew exiles adopted the idea that there was a second being that is like God and had power to inflict evil upon them. They picked up the idea that there exists a good God and there is a bad God. Once they embraced that belief the melting pot had reached its perfect temperature to add the rest of the ingredients about this other evil being. A whole lot of Persian ideas were thrown into the pot.
The religious leaders in the Jewish culture connected strongly with the Magi teachers in Persia. From this connection to Persian religious leaders the Pharisees grabbed onto the second evil God teaching and worked to develop it in light of their nation’s previous monotheism. Shrouding the idea of a second god-like being in religious language and piety, the religious leaders began to infuse their culture with this belief. It just so happens that the Pharisees were the group who came out of Persia with the most clout to direct religious thinking. Once released from Persia the Jews were sent back to Jerusalem where they began to rebuild their culture in the Holy Land. Leading the “revival” was the Pharisees and they hastily started their system of instruction called the Synagogue. This system of religious instruction powerfully impacted a people who had virtually been cut off from their heritage. There heritage included a true monotheism but as a result of their timely exile to Babylon and Persia, dualism began to percolate.
It is needful to consider the timing of certain snippets of instruction that came from the prophets of Israel. During this very pivotal time of shifting philosophies about where good and evil come from, the prophet Isaiah tries to tell the Hebrews repeatedly that there is only on God. Isaiah the prophet explains that the God of their fathers does both the evil things, such as sending a nation into captivity, and the good things, such as liberating a captive people. We can read about this in chapter 45 of Isaiah. Alas, Isaiah seems to have had little effect with his wise words. The Pharisees stealthily applied their thinking to the religious institutions they established and they handily steered the religious thought towards a second entity that is like God. They maintained the Persian idea of a second lesser god that can do many of the things God can. This concept was toothless had the religious leader not convinced the people that the evil one could do no harm to them if followers of God will only do all the things the religious leaders tell them to.
If only the Hebrew people would have rejected the mystical theology of the Persian Pharisees, if only the Jews would have forced the power hungry religious leaders to abdicate their self-imposed positions of authority, if only…Then the inculcations, the subtle penetrations of senseless teachings about Satan being a real entity would have been averted. Perhaps the idea of two gods would have found a way into the religion of Christendom in other ways but if only all the pieces were not as they were things might make more sense…but that wish is fruitless because what is is what is. Can’t change history. But if we understand it we certainly can change much of what we think and believe. Especially in light of the fact that the Bible doesn’t teach Satan to be real.
Next we will look at the meaning of the Hebrew word for Satan and find out those famous Pharisees,,,yes the ones preachers like to hate were great satans themselves. Yes the deceiver was not a cosmic creation, it was a human group that chose to add their ideas to a simple concept about the adversary.
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