Monday, March 5, 2012
Why Satan is more powerful than God: a brief (and hopefully) thoughtful critique
First, the (kinda cool) image:
I will be responding to each line. First, a summation.
There are numerous assumptions either hidden or shown via this picture. The classic "problem of evil," which cannot be dismissed these days, seems to be one such assumption. This is not a negation of the problem of evil, nor is it in anyway praising it. I realize and have struggled with the problem of evil in the past, though mostly due to not having a developed theodicy and simply not knowing how to respond to objections.
But, the issue is not about heaven or hell, or Satan being more powerful or intelligent. It seems to be far more indicative about the nature of God, and how this person sees him.
I'm not certain I disagree. However, the verses cited in support do not necessarily support an eternal conscious existence. The verse cited in Romans specifically mentions death, not hell. Revelation is an ambiguous passage that simply states that there are people outside the gates -- gates that never shut. I'm currently reading a book by Brad Jersak called "Her Gates Never Shut" that explores the concept of Revelation and the 'gates that never shut.' More to come.
This does not necessarily support the idea of "hell" as "hell" or hades, is thrown into the lake of fire earlier in chapter 20. Which leaves it open for a possible discussion as to what happens. Many would disagree, but I think there is plenty of room for interpretation.
There are MANY other verses that support the idea of God desiring/willing that all men would be saved. Arminians wouldn't disagree, nor would Calvinists (though they have a different take on the phrase "all men.")
I Timothy 2:4 speaks of God's desire to save all men/ Romans 11:32 speaks of having mercy upon all/ Lamentations 3:22 & 3:31-33 speak about God not rejecting forever and being bountiful in love/ The (almost annoying) cliche verse John 3:16.
I'm not certain much more needs to be said. Just that God's love is far greater than one verse. I'm also not convinced that this a secondary goal or desire of his, and indeed I would question the assumption that God's primary goal is to glorify himself. But that is a conversation for another time between friends (hopefully) over alcohol.
Wikipedia is not a necessarily valid source of information. I prefer redditt. There are many books written about Biblical prophecy, and simply reading them for yourself is best.
In short, this line ought to be dismissed until actual evidence is offered.
I would argue that there are some great reasons (somewhat controversial reasons) that support this claim. But, sure, I don't disagree about what Christ's death accomplished. I prefer the classical view of the atonement versus Penal Substitution, but I'm not interested in dying on any particular hills this evening.
I'm not certain Luke 13 is necessarily a parable or not. Instead, it seems that again Jesus is drawing a specific parallel between the people who claimed his name and did not act according to his teachings and the people who acted in accordance with Christ. In fact, I think verse 30 (which was not cited) sums up the entire thrust of the section:
"Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”
See the story of Jacob and Esau, as one the lesser will rule the former. And yet they were reconciled at a later time.
This fits perfectly with the parable about the sheep and goats in Matthew 25. It does not seem to speak specifically about eschatological judgment, or even "hell", but of right action inspired by the Holy Spirit. This is, of course, based on the brief memory of an F.F. Bruce commentary on the NT where I think he mentioned something along those lines. I could be mistaken, but it seems to make some sort of sense right now. If shown wrong, I'll re-write. We are very quick to jump upon any teaching about 'hell', but we're also very quick to miss the simplicity of many parables. I think this is a classic example.
So, indeed, v30 of Luke's gospel doesn't necessarily explain eschatological judgment, but provides us with what Christ preached about how we are to act now in accordance with his teachings. Reversalism seems to be the main thrust of the passage, and is amply supported by multiple other Scriptures.
I think all Christians would dispute this. My analysis is very brief and simplistic, and I attempt no caricature.
Calvinists would say that God chose specific people in accordance with his purpose and for his glory. This includes only the elect. They would say that God only intended to save the remnant, and thus this satisfies his plan of which the elect are saved.
See John Piper, Wayne Grudem and Gordon Clark.
Arminians would affirm that God loves everyone, but allows for human freedom and rejection. God does accomplish his plans, but human freedom trumps His ultimate desire for the salvation of all men. His plan to save all according to his foreknowledge, and the fact that all will eventually know of God, is complete. That some do not go to heaven is on the shoulders of those that refuse the free gift of grace, but God's plan on offering salvation is complete.
See Roger Olson, Jacob Arminius, Howard Marshall and Thomas Oden.
Universalists (specifically Christian and exclusively through Jesus) affirm that God accomplishes his entire will, and that He factored human freedom into his sovereign will, or that through the unlimited election of all souls in compliance with the 4 other points of Calvinism, all shall be saved. This concludes the simple fact that He will save everyone in the end.
I think this option has a lot more weight than previously thought.
See Thomas Talbott, George MacDonald and Robin Parry.
All of the three systems triumphs over Satan, as Satan is genuinely defeated in the end -- either through imprisonment, ultimate death or reconciliation. The elect is saved. All of humanity is without excuse to reject God. All of humanity, regardless of Satan's attempts, will be saved.
Either way, the question is answered and the assertion is ultimately insufficient in it's overall critique.
For a different and more Reformed perspective, check out this link from my friend Brandon: