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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

March 20, 2009 at 4:29 PM

The fuss about Satan

A decidedly un-Christian exercise

The story about the debate about Satan (” ‘Nightline’ to take on Satan, Local News, March 18) was interesting at one level — that anyone would have such a debate is an intellectual curiosity. But what was lacking was the obvious sense that this “debate” is a profound embarrassment to the city of Seattle as well as the grand historic religion of Christianity.

More than 2,000 years ago, a much-more-sophisticated version of this thinking was popular. It was called Manichaeism. This ancient religion believed that reality included two equally powerful forces — one creative and one destructive. At some level this is just a perversion of Hindu religion. In the West, though, Manichaeism had a following for a time but was eventually formally rejected by Christianity as a heresy.

The idea is that Christianity traditionally believes in an all-powerful and loving creator, and the notion that there could be an evil force that could compete with an all-powerful god is logically absurd. To believe in a literal devil indicates that one is not a proper Christian. So I don’t know what they are doing over at Mars Hill, but if this is part of it, then whatever it is it is not Christian.

It is embarrassing to all of Christianity that supposed Christian leaders here would actually perpetuate such an un-Christian idea — a formal and ancient heresy in fact. So our good Rev. Mark Driscoll (of Mars Hill) can perpetuate this lie (heresy means lie) but in doing so he must take a stand in which he declares that St. Paul was wrong.

Further, all of this is deeply intellectually embarrassing to intelligent religious people the world over. The heretical Christian view that Satan is evil personified is itself mere confusion without any scriptural basis — because it is not a Jewish or Christian idea but a disturbingly perverse version of Manichaeism.

In fact, the original stories about Satan are about a servant of God who acts a bit like God’s district attorney. Satan challenges our claims of righteousness and shows where we fail, and he does this at God’s behest.

Shame on all of them for perpetuating such tired old nonsense, let alone the lie that there is anything Christian about it!

— The Rev. Dr. Richard Curtis, Seattle

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