Christian Mythology and The Image of Satan

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William
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Christian Mythology and The Image of Satan

Post #1

Post by William »

'The Devil's cleverest wile is to make men believe that he does not exist. '—Charles Baudelaire.


[Assuming Actual Evil is a real thing;]

QFD: Is there a good case for thinking Satan is a real entity?
We have all heard Christians make this claim;
“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist”

Or:

QFD: Is Satan a symbolic representation of evil, portrayed through fictional imagery of Christian Mythology?

Re Christian Mythology:
["The greatest trick Christians ever played was to convince the world the Satan did exist"]

What is your position on the QFDs, and why?

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Re: Christian Mythology and The Image of Satan

Post #2

Post by William »

QQS: "How many times is Satan mentioned in the bible?"
There are many names for the devil. You may have heard Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub, and Diabolos. He is also referred to as Belial, Prince of Darkness, Prince of demons, Angel of the Abyss, Father of lies, Accuser, Adversary, Evil One, Destroyer, Slanderer, and Ancient serpent. Many of these titles come from the Scriptures.
The word “satan” is a Hebrew word meaning "adversary" and "accuser".

Many religions describe the devil as an angel, demon, or minor god. In the Hebrew Bible, Satan is an angel who tests man for various reasons. In the New Testament, Satan is found or mentioned 36 times and is portrayed as an evil, rebellious demon who is the enemy of God and mankind.
QQS: "How many times did Jesus mention Satan?"

Matthew Gospel
Biblical Jesus: It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?

Biblical Jesus: When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.


Biblical Jesus mentioned Satan often enough that we might easily have the impression that he thought of Satan as an actual real being.

But is this really the case, or did Jesus think of Satan along the lines of;

"The Devil, also referred to as Satan, is best known as the personification of evil and the nemesis of good people everywhere. "

In other words, an invention of imagery which was only ever meant to personify [through fictional imagery,] the existence of evil [actually real].

Biblical Jesus often used parables in the same manner [as fictional imagery], and his use of Satan in said parables, strengthens the idea that Jesus considered the character to be a fictional representation of actual evil.

Recently a Christian Member of this Message Board and I were discussing how Jesus referred to Peter as "Satan."

Me: Jesus told Peter to get behind him, and called Peter "Satan".
“But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”


So therein we can see Biblical Jesus recognizes the spirit behind the action


The Christian: Christ told SATAN to get behind him. He was speaking to Satan when He said "get thee behind me Satan", who was using Peter to try and stumble Christ.


I lean more toward the idea that Satan is actually a real person, but a fictional representation of the reality of evil.

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Re: Christian Mythology and The Image of Satan

Post #3

Post by JehovahsWitness »

William wrote: Sat Nov 06, 2021 2:50 pm

Is there a good case for thinking Satan is a real entity?
Yes, the bible reports Jesus as confirming his existence.

William wrote: Sat Nov 06, 2021 2:50 pm


Is Satan a symbolic representation of evil, portrayed through fictional imagery of Christian Mythology?
No, scripture depicts Satan as an intelligent spirit creature rather that symbolic of the concept of evil.



JW
Last edited by JehovahsWitness on Sun Nov 07, 2021 2:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
INDEX: More bible based ANSWERS
http://debatingchristianity.com/forum/v ... 81#p826681


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Re: Christian Mythology and The Image of Satan

Post #4

Post by Miles »

William wrote: Sat Nov 06, 2021 2:50 pm 'The Devil's cleverest wile is to make men believe that he does not exist. '—Charles Baudelaire.


[Assuming Actual Evil is a real thing;]

QFD: Is there a good case for thinking Satan is a real entity?
Evidently not. One would have to be in the minority of Christians to think so.

" Four out of ten Christians (40%) strongly agreed that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.” An additional two out of ten Christians (19%) said they “agree somewhat” with that perspective. A minority of Christians indicated that they believe Satan is real by disagreeing with the statement: one-quarter (26%) disagreed strongly and about one-tenth (9%) disagreed somewhat. The remaining 8% were not sure what they believe about the existence of Satan."
source

QFD: Is Satan a symbolic representation of evil, portrayed through fictional imagery of Christian Mythology?
It appears that at least 50% of Christians seem to think so---see linked quote above.




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Re: Christian Mythology and The Image of Satan

Post #5

Post by William »

The early Christian writers devoted pages to their discussion of the work of Satan and devils. They saw their presence both in idols and in philosophers. Whence did this belief originate? How far is it an essential element of Christianity? Is it an inseparable part of biblical belief? These questions are not academic. Among the rank and file of Christians to believe in a personal devil is often made a test of orthodoxy. This article of Dr. Caldwell's is the first of three in which he traces the history of the doctrine of Satan in the Old Testament, in the inter-biblical literature, and in the New Testament. ~Source Link
The idea of Satan seems to have superstitiously evolved with Christianity. To the Hebrews, Satan appears to be fictitious imagery personifying evil.

It is likely then, that those Jews listening to Jesus never thought that Jesus was referring to an actual real person.

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Re: Christian Mythology and The Image of Satan

Post #6

Post by tam »

Peace to you,
JehovahsWitness wrote: Sat Nov 06, 2021 3:14 pm
William wrote: Sat Nov 06, 2021 2:50 pm

Is there a good case for thinking Satan is a real entity?
Yes, the bible reports Jesus as confirming his existence.

William wrote: Sat Nov 06, 2021 2:50 pm


Is Satan a symbolic representation of evil, portrayed through fictional imagery of Christian Mythology?
No scripture depicts Satan as an intelligent spirit creature rather that symbolic of the concept of evil.



JW

I think you meant "No (comma), scripture depicts Satan as an intelligent spirit creature rather than symbolic of the concept of evil.

(Just in case anyone out there is wondering how a misplaced or absent comma can truly change the meaning of a sentence).


And yes, I agree that there is good reason to consider the one called Satan, as a real being. Christ referred to him as a real being.

He is referred to as a real being in the book of Job as well... as the one accusing Job.



**

William said:

The idea of Satan seems to have superstitiously evolved with Christianity. To the Hebrews, Satan appears to be fictitious imagery personifying evil.

It is likely then, that those Jews listening to Jesus never thought that Jesus was referring to an actual real person.
Is this an assumption that the "Hebrews" all thought and believed the same thing? But even at that time, the Jews had different (even contradictory) beliefs and sects. Judaism today is splintered, the same as every other religion.


It is apparent that at least some Jews believed the one called Satan (the Adversary) was a real being, which is how Christ spoke of that one. The first disciples and all the apostles were Jewish, and both Luke and Matthew write of Christ being tempted by and having a conversation with the Adversary (Luke 4 and Matthew 4). And of course there is the account in Job, and also Zechariah 3, and the account from Jude (brother of James, servant of Christ) who also speaks of Satan as a real being. Paul was also a Jew and he spoke of the Adversary as a real being (2 Corinth 2:11), Peter was a Jew and spoke of the Adversary as a real being (1Peter 5:8), James also (James 4:7).

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Re: Christian Mythology and The Image of Satan

Post #7

Post by William »

[Replying to Miles in post #4]
Is there a good case for thinking Satan is a real entity?
Evidently not. One would have to be in the minority of Christians to think so.
That isn't even counting non-Christians as well.

" Four out of ten Christians (40%) strongly agreed that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.” An additional two out of ten Christians (19%) said they “agree somewhat” with that perspective. A minority of Christians indicated that they believe Satan is real by disagreeing with the statement: one-quarter (26%) disagreed strongly and about one-tenth (9%) disagreed somewhat. The remaining 8% were not sure what they believe about the existence of Satan." source
Is Satan a symbolic representation of evil, portrayed through fictional imagery of Christian Mythology?
It appears that at least 50% of Christians seem to think so---see linked quote above.
Then we can at least take from this, that it is not something one has to believe, in order to be a Christian.

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Re: Christian Mythology and The Image of Satan

Post #8

Post by William »

[Replying to tam in post #6]
It is apparent that at least some Jews believed the one called Satan (the Adversary) was a real being,
Yes. This pattern continues through the advent of Christianity. Some do. Some don't. Some haven't made up their minds.
which is how Christ spoke of that one.
It is a matter of interpretation as to whether biblical Jesus believed that Satan was a real person.
The first disciples and all the apostles were Jewish, and both Luke and Matthew write of Christ being tempted by and having a conversation with the Adversary (Luke 4 and Matthew 4).
Unfortunately this is not directly from the mouth of biblical Jesus so can be placed to one side until information is found where Jesus tells it that Satan is real.
And of course there is the account in Job, and also Zechariah 3, and the account from Jude (brother of James, servant of Christ) who also speaks of Satan as a real being.
Again, while the authors of these accounts might 'speak of Satan as being real' it cannot be ascertained that this was the impression they were intending to give. It may be that since Christianity first popularized the imagery of Satan, that folk have been able to read it in that way, getting that impression.
Paul was also a Jew and he spoke of the Adversary as a real being (2 Corinth 2:11), Peter was a Jew and spoke of the Adversary as a real being (1Peter 5:8), James also (James 4:7).
Assuming you are interpreting these authors correctly, this only shows us that a certain type of Jew with these beliefs were able to get their works into print. We don't see anything authored by Jesus, [just people telling us what he said] nor anything authored by some of the other disciples who's writings didn't make the list of what goes in the bible and what stays out.

But since we do know that with both Judaists and Christians there are those who do believe and those who do not believe Satan is a real person, we can conclude that it is not something which someone has to believe in order to be a Christian or a Jew.

It is just extra stuff for those who need extra stuff for whatever personal reasons, to believe in.

For example;

Mary was molested by her paternal Grandfather.
While this has affected Mary's relationship with her Grandfather and Mary felt that the molestation was evil in nature, Mary still loves her Grandfather, athough not as much as she once did.

Mary becomes a Christian.

In order to maintain her love and forgiveness for her grandfather re his actions against her, she learns to see that it was not really his actions against her at all, but that it was Satan's actions against her, using her Grandfathers body in order to do so.

Furthermore if Mary believes that Satan is a real person, she can believe that one day Satan will be punished for molesting her.

In reality, the process is no different from the Christian Satan Mythologic Imagery representing evil rather than an actual real person...apart from, having Satan be a real person means that someone actually pays for the crime eventually.

Maybe in that, it is just the Fathers way of tying loose ends which occur through individual belief systems.

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Re: Christian Mythology and The Image of Satan

Post #9

Post by Miles »

William wrote: Sun Nov 07, 2021 4:21 pm [Replying to Miles in post #4]
Is there a good case for thinking Satan is a real entity?
Evidently not. One would have to be in the minority of Christians to think so.
That isn't even counting non-Christians as well.

" Four out of ten Christians (40%) strongly agreed that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.” An additional two out of ten Christians (19%) said they “agree somewhat” with that perspective. A minority of Christians indicated that they believe Satan is real by disagreeing with the statement: one-quarter (26%) disagreed strongly and about one-tenth (9%) disagreed somewhat. The remaining 8% were not sure what they believe about the existence of Satan." source
Is Satan a symbolic representation of evil, portrayed through fictional imagery of Christian Mythology?
It appears that at least 50% of Christians seem to think so---see linked quote above.
Then we can at least take from this, that it is not something one has to believe, in order to be a Christian.
That would be my conclusion. In fact, considering the huge variation in Christian beliefs, there seems very little that could or could not be believed and still qualify as Christian.

With "45,000 denominations globally*" Christianity is indeed a do-it-yourself religion.


* source



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Re: Christian Mythology and The Image of Satan

Post #10

Post by tam »

Peace to you,
William wrote: Sun Nov 07, 2021 4:47 pm [Replying to tam in post #6]
It is apparent that at least some Jews believed the one called Satan (the Adversary) was a real being,
Yes. This pattern continues through the advent of Christianity. Some do. Some don't. Some haven't made up their minds.
Okay.

Might help to be reminded that everything that I posted came in response to the claim you made here:
The idea of Satan seems to have superstitiously evolved with Christianity. To the Hebrews, Satan appears to be fictitious imagery personifying evil.

It is likely then, that those Jews listening to Jesus never thought that Jesus was referring to an actual real person. - WILLIAM
**
which is how Christ spoke of that one.
It is a matter of interpretation as to whether biblical Jesus believed that Satan was a real person.
As I said, He spoke of the one called Satan as a real person.

The first disciples and all the apostles were Jewish, and both Luke and Matthew write of Christ being tempted by and having a conversation with the Adversary (Luke 4 and Matthew 4).
Unfortunately this is not directly from the mouth of biblical Jesus so can be placed to one side until information is found where Jesus tells it that Satan is real.
This was in direct response to your claim above in the bold. Because certainly there were Jews who believed that the one called Satan was a real being. You seem to be in agreement with this.
And of course there is the account in Job, and also Zechariah 3, and the account from Jude (brother of James, servant of Christ) who also speaks of Satan as a real being.
Again, while the authors of these accounts might 'speak of Satan as being real' it cannot be ascertained that this was the impression they were intending to give. It may be that since Christianity first popularized the imagery of Satan, that folk have been able to read it in that way, getting that impression.
Combine it with the rest, considering that they spoke of Satan as being real (that Christ spoke of Satan as being real, that the Jews who listened to Him also spoke of Satan as being real).
Paul was also a Jew and he spoke of the Adversary as a real being (2 Corinth 2:11), Peter was a Jew and spoke of the Adversary as a real being (1Peter 5:8), James also (James 4:7).
Assuming you are interpreting these authors correctly, this only shows us that a certain type of Jew with these beliefs
And that was my point. There were indeed Jews who believed that the one called Satan was a real being.
It is just extra stuff for those who need extra stuff for whatever personal reasons, to believe in.

For example;

Mary was molested by her paternal Grandfather.
While this has affected Mary's relationship with her Grandfather and Mary felt that the molestation was evil in nature, Mary still loves her Grandfather, athough not as much as she once did.

Mary becomes a Christian.

In order to maintain her love and forgiveness for her grandfather re his actions against her, she learns to see that it was not really his actions against her at all, but that it was Satan's actions against her, using her Grandfathers body in order to do so.

Furthermore if Mary believes that Satan is a real person, she can believe that one day Satan will be punished for molesting her.

In reality, the process is no different from the Christian Satan Mythologic Imagery representing evil rather than an actual real person...apart from, having Satan be a real person means that someone actually pays for the crime eventually.
1 - Mary could forgive her grandfather anyway, for whatever reason he did what he did.

2 - There's really no need to come up with a bogeyman called Satan. Other spirit beings (demons, unclean/lying spirits) are mentioned as being real as well, and in this there are other witnesses to Christ having a conversation or rebuking them. (Mark 5, for instance. Also Luke 10: 17-20) So if not "Satan", Mary could have blamed one of these other spirit beings, and if she needed someone to be punished, then she could still have one of them pay for the crime eventually.

The point being that there are are actual evil beings, unclean spirits... meaning there is just no need to invent a make-believe bogeyman and call it Satan.

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