It seems to me that much of what the church has said about the fall of Satan over the years is based on figurative (specifically: anagogic) interpretation of Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 24 rather than literal interpretation.
Indeed, if we were to restrict ourselves to literal interpretation there would not be much we could say about Satan’s fall at all. As, at face value, these verses are not about Satan, but rather, the Kings of Tyre and Babylon.
How ironic then, that it’s self identified “literalists” who are most committed to the figurative sense of Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 24, and visa versa.
I have been exploring Christian art based on the book of Revelation this weekend and, in the process of revisiting the text, I’ve been struck with how the two horned beast, the one that is given the number 666, is distinctly subordinate to both the seven headed dragon and the seven headed beast that comes out of the sea. This contrasts significantly with more modern conceptions that seem to place the two horned beast front and centre. Indeed it seems to me, that in terms of resonance with Greek mythology, we should be looking more to the Hydra myth than the Pan myth when we think of Satan.
I ask this question because it came to mind after some Atheists I know started talking about Satanism, LaVey and the Hebrew roots of the word Satan.
I couldn’t help thinking of this image, “Get Thee Behind Me Satan” by James Tissot. It illustrates the incident when Jesus called Peter a Satan, that is, an adversary or accuser. The context? Peter had affirmed Jesus as Messiah, and Jesus immediately predicted his death, the conjunction of which Peter reacted against. It seems Peter had messianic expectations that were more traditional, more militant, more self-righteous, than Jesus.
The image that often lurks behind this Satan language is a court room drama, where their is a defendant, an accuser, and a judge. The accuser was not necessarily evil, but he was no friend of the defendant, innocent or otherwise.
Now, few would argue that a lifestyle licence is Satanic (least of all LaVey!), but what about a lifestyle of legalism? The accuser is aiming to bring you down whether you wander to the left or the right of the justice. Jesus recognized this. Peter wasn’t tempting Jesus to go soft. No, he was tempting him to attack his enemies in self-righteous fury.
So it makes me wonder. Fundamentalists often accuse Liberals or being satanic, but isn’t the converse equally justified? Jesus seemed to think so. If memory serves me right he called the Pharisees satanic more often than Sinners. And you know what, when I present this image of a self-righteous Satan to Atheists, often they find sin and Satan a lot less attractive. Funny that.
Is this how you imaging Eve? In researching Christian art I frequently come across highly sexualized interpretations of the temptation of Eve, with artists playing up the possibility that original sin was related to sexual knowledge.
Often this atmosphere is eccentuated by having the snake draped over Eve in ways not normally witnessed outside of exotic nightclubs.
However, given that God instituted marriage in Genesis 2, before sin emerged in Genesis 3, it is clear that this view is seriously unscriptural; that sex was originally sacred, not sinful; that God, not Satan, sexed Eve and Adam up for one another. If sin is related to sex, it is only in the way sin distorted sex.
Sacred is sex without self-centredness.
Do you think Christianity teaches two opposite and equal deities?
A word from Isaiah:
I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the LORD, do all these things.
Where does Satan fit then?