About ten years ago, I was deeply involved with a large religious denomination in my area. Sure, a lot of us come from religious families and attend churches regularly, but I was not the typical, somewhat apathetic North American Christian. The fervor and zeal with which I engaged in my particular church was to be lauded; and that is exactly what happened by the leadership and the other good Christian folk who attended this institution. Then I was challenged. Along came a unique individual who had himself questioned many of the core beliefs of Christianity. What was my first reaction? Run! Push away! Silence this guy! That first reaction was strong and I’m thankful I didn’t give in to it; instead, I began exploring for myself some of the things this guy was telling me.
I didn’t say I began listening to what the guy was saying; I said I began exploring these things for myself. I won’t go into the whole story today but the exploration process was by no means without consequence. Anyone who has ever brought challenging evidence forward to an otherwise passive institution, quickly learns these places have teeth, and they do bite.
THE ERROR OF ASKING QUESTIONS
My desire to understand the questions and find answers kept driving me forward and eventually, the once beloved and gracious Church I had served tirelessly for so many years, no longer wanted me around. I was asked to leave and not come back until I repented of my error. This came from a religious institution that has its tentacles in every level of society. An institution that has built its empire on what it claims to be Biblical Truth. The trouble was, I was not the one in error, at least according to my findings.
THE FALLOUT FROM ASKING QUESTIONS
Now, had I simply questioned a few things and moved on there would have been no problem but instead, I sought answers. I toiled and studied, learned the equivalent of a theology degree in the years before and after my excommunication, and brought my findings to friends and the leadership whom I worked shoulder to shoulder with for years. Once they could no longer accept my influence on their flock I was removed from the fold.
Since that life-changing event, my family has grown despite the trying circumstances. Yet the growth has cost us. My wife Angellah and I lost dozens of friends; the accusations of being a cult leader sullied my reputation for years, and my children were no longer treated with the loving kindness a church gives to young initiates. Our children, who would have likely grown up adopting the philosophies of the Church, felt the sting of religion’s clearly conditional love. But I can’t change what’s done and I think a lot of good has come because of this bold and timely transition in my life. I began to find the benefits from asking questions not many would care to entertain.
THE BENEFIT FROM ASKING QUESTIONS
None of us will dispute that we’re all looking for freedom. Maybe you’re already free and are handling it fine but for many of us, there’s a blockage. We believe we are free because of our beliefs and faith walk, yet our beliefs have in many ways kept us from thinking openly and for ourselves on many issues. In fact, the second-hand beliefs we have claimed as our own have kept us from freedom. The very beliefs that we think provide us true freedom, actually keep us from asking honest questions. This is not freedom.
The profound and life changing benefit of the freedom that has come is far more potent than I ever could have imagined. Freedom to ask questions by being outside of an institution brings freedom to find real answers…without negative repercussions for my family and I. I’ve seen how an unasked question stands to hurt us a lot more than honest inquiry.
The truth is our questions don’t threaten God the way they threaten religion. Through this journey, I not only found my voice to speak out, but I found my own brain to think clearly. I now freely inquire about the most foundational dogmas that have historically propelled the institutional church system towards superpower status. I have been able to explore the Christian devil with no threat of rejection, judgment, or retribution for opposing the system. And it is revolutionary. My children are happier, my relationships are more pure, and my view of the world is more embracing. However, the greatest benefit of all is that my wife and I have become the support to each other we’ve always wanted to be. Somehow, since reducing the influence religion and its’ associated devil have had on my life, I have been able to express myself more openly and honestly. Since exiting stage left to get out of the Christian performance and into reality, life has become more kind. And I am delighted to report that as a rule now, the answers that come to the questions I have no longer scare me. I have learned that if God is real, He/She/It is certainly big enough to handle a few questions from little ol’ me.
THE BENEFIT IN NOT BEING AFRAID OF THE TRUTH
Isn’t it a little scary perhaps to ask; Is God real? Does unconditional love exist? Why did God create evil?... These are only a few of the questions that seekers have asked since the moment of man’s consciousness. And yes, they are big questions. However, when I started asking the really big question of whether Satan was real or not, I even surprised myself. It began to move me to consider just how far into every aspect of life the answer to this question could go. Even introducing the question to family and friends brought strong responses. Those retorts showed me the impact of Satan not being real would run deep. Some would say, “Of course Satan’s real, are you trying to tell me there’s no evil in the world, if God is real Satan has to be real.” Others would protest, “How can you say Satan’s not real, the New Testament tells us he’s real?” But I’ve found they are missing something and perhaps are simply afraid to explore a really important belief to see if things are as they have been taught.
It was only because of my quest for freedom from man-made religion that I was even able to ask such a thing. When I pondered the impact on my life, the lives of those around me, and the lives of all humanity, I was breathless…but not too out of breath to start on a journey to find some answers. The possibility of the Satan not existing brought thoughts such as; if there is no Satan then why would anyone choose God? If Satan’s not real then man becomes responsible for evil. Without Satan, all false religions and doctrines of demons are just fabrications of man and not satanic corruptions. Religions that are not approved by Christianity are not designed by the Devil to snatch people away from God’s Kingdom. And not least of all, if Satan disappears from religious dogma then people are free to explore the Creator as truly sovereign. This God can be seen as an expressly single deity in the supernatural realm. There are then no other Gods to blame evil or destruction on. And that was one of the primary messages the God of the bible tried to get across in most of the writings we call the Bible today. We have no evil yang to pit against the benevolent cosmic yin. A force that many identify the God of Scriptures to be.
The first time I mentioned the possibility Satan is not real to Angellah, she wisely said, “You better be sure Jim before you start upsetting people’s apple cart.” And she couldn’t have been more correct. This could get serious I thought. But I had slowly come to realize that the Satan Jesus knew was far different than the Satan I had been shown by culture and religion my whole life. .And so it began…I needed to see if what I was thinking and if what others had claimed about Satan’s non-existence was accurate or not...according to the Bible. I was asking the big question, “Is Satan Real?” I was still a little nervous about the answers I might find but I had to know. I just had to find out if everything I was taught about the cosmic force of evil since childhood was true or not. It wasn’t easy asking a question many of us have been taught not to ask. But I was asking it and found out the benefit in asking the big questions was that it evolves a person. I was now able to ask but not be afraid of what I might find. Now, I could search until I had evidence, besides traditional religious teaching to back up my findings.
THE BENEFIT OF GETTING ANSWERS
I am a long way from the institutionalized religious guy I once was, and that may be one of the biggest benefits from asking questions. But what of the answers? What did I come up with?
This is now my third volume on the topic and by far one of the most waited for by readers. It explains every occurrence of Satan in the Gospels. This volume can be read without going through the first two volumes. The series however, started with Volume 1, Satan Christianity’s Other God. In it, I laid out some very foundational and simple evidence from Scripture and history. That first volume showed how the foundational beliefs about Satan are not from the Bible. Together we went through mountains of information to show Lucifer is not a fallen angel. And we saw the famous “anointed cherub” was nothing more than a once mighty king. This great covering King, was not a supernatural angel who lived in heaven before being cast out. We also touched on virtually every situation and occurrence found in the Hebrew Scriptures that are usually said to be about Satan. If indeed Satan is real, then God was either deluded or He lied about being the creator of evil. The end result showed there is no Satan. Should God also be accused of lying when He claimed to be the only supernatural being in existence?
THE DIFFICULTY IN HAVING TWO GODS
One of the most difficult pills to swallow was brought forward in Volume 1. That huge pill is; Christendom may be a religion of dualism and indeed have two Gods. To believe in a supernatural Satan along with a supernatural God, proves to be different from simple monotheism. It’s like having two gods.
The topics covered in volume one were vast, thorough, and completely supported by scripture, scholarship, and history. Light bulbs went on in minds all over the world after seeing the path dualism took coming out of Persia. Leaving with the repatriated Jews in the 6th century BC, and then journeying on to the Hellenistic eras, the idea of Satan found its way into Christianity as it moved into the first century. This brought many readers to a new and refreshing place in their belief about God, humankind, and the understanding of many things related to evil, Satan, hell, death, and life
THE BENEFIT OF CONNECTING THE DOTS ON SATAN
Many of us have had question upon question as to how this idea of a literal Satan made its way into Christianity. Not surprisingly, the idea entered common Christianity today through the New Testament. But how did it pass from a once truly monotheistic ideology to this confused doctrine of an evil being who can steal souls from God and torture conscious souls in Hell for eternity? How did true Monotheism become a dualism or even an illogical henotheism? The second volume in this series, “Imagine There’s No Satan – How Satan Got Into The New Testament”, brought further mountains of evidence and logic to the field of satanology. Volume 2 provides many of the connecting strands to see how this Persian offspring of dualism, developed and gained strength as it was nurtured in Greek and Roman culture. Cultures that influenced first century Christianity in ways you and I have not been made aware of.
The freedom to ask the big question, of whether or not Satan is real, brought us to learn in Volume 2 where the dead go. Along with finding the dead go nowhere but are actually dead, we uncovered the fascinating facts that Satan does not fuel psychics and spiritists. Nor does Satan raise dead souls to communicate with the living. Volume two uncovered powerful testimony as to why we cannot get a doctrine of Satan from the New Testament. We were also shown clearly how we have held the New Testament up to a standard it was not intended to be held to. Because of this, we have adopted some erroneous doctrines and beliefs while misunderstanding the message of the New Testament and misapplying the instruction contained therein.
Volume 2 of this series gently brought us along the journey of discovery. In this paradigm shifting work, we saw how and why the doctrine of Satan gained such power in the religious thinking of the masses. It has been said that religion is the opiate of the masses but maybe we should say, “Belief in Satan is the opiate to the masses!” If we investigate Christendom’s snowballing journey through history, we soon determine the belief in Satan and Hell has inspired powerful churches and empires to gather helpless sheep in every age. This fact reveals that indeed, the false belief in the Devil has altered the collective consciousness of the masses in many ways.
Overall, the great benefit of getting to the bottom of the Satan question and having a new perspective is the freedom one finds to be human. With that, we can finally enjoy the freedom to understand how the authors of the Bible intended the terms for Satan, devils, and demons to be understood.
THE BENEFIT OF A FRESH PERSPECTIVE
Who of us can’t benefit from a fresh perspective once in a while? Seeing “Satan” in the New Testament, through the eyes of the author who originally spoke the words, is truly a welcome view. The optic I bring to this third volume, “Who’s The Devil Jesus Knew?” will prove to give the reader some very clear answers to the “Well What Abouts”. We talked about the Well What Abouts in the last volume. These are the poorly thought out platitudes about Satan and demons that are thrown at devil-deniers by ardent believers in a real Satan. The believer will be heard to say, “Well what about the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness?” Or, “Well what about when Jesus cast the demons into the swine?” Or “Well what about the demons that cry out and say ‘Jesus you are the Son of God’?” These Well What Abouts are about to be resolved.
THE BENEFIT OF FREEDOM
In this Volume, the exploration pays off and answers are in no short supply. You are about to enjoy a catalogue of explanations that cover every reference to Satan in the New Testament. Together, we will see there is a way to make sense of the Satan in the Gospels. The Bible you have sitting on the shelf may indeed use the words Satan, devil, demon, and unclean spirit. But I assure you, even though those crisp white pages are full of English words, something about understanding the Satan has been missed. It seems those words have fallen short of explaining the Hebraic meaning underlying the words and terms passed on to us. The resulting English translations have slightly missed how the original speaker intended his words to be understood. But we can move towards a safer understanding of Satan.
As you leaf through this volume and explore the explanations that I offer for New Testament references to Satan, I would like you to keep something very important in mind. Be assured that even if my explanation takes you away from what you have believed about Satan before now, take heart because you are on your way to freedom. A freedom that has been out of reach until now. A freedom that offers some of the greatest benefits you have ever imagined possible. Join me on this quest for freedom and I guarantee you will grow in ways that will enrich your life. It won’t be long and you will understand the Creator better, as you enjoy the unabashed truth about who and what “the satan” really is.
Copyright © 2011 James R. Brayshaw
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Published September 11, 2011