I don’t like the war with satan language

Not only do I not believe in a being nearly co-equal with God engaged in a battle with God spanning the cosmos whereby souls hang in the balance, but the illogical bad theology it takes to suggest we are the warriors in such a battle wherein if we lose, souls go to hell mystifies me and makes my head hurt.

Yesterday, I heard a statement suggesting we were engaged in a war with Satan for souls. Since when? Does this really make sense? Doesn’t God call? Hasn’t Christ already won the battles?

This militaristic language does not belong in Christianity, in my opinion, not because it is about war and fighting and stuff like that, but because the theology behind it is ludicrous.

We are at war, but we are war with ourselves.

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12 Replies to “I don’t like the war with satan language”

  1. Theologically I always understood the synoptic exorcisms as the ‘tying up of the strong man’ or Satan and the crucifixion as the final victory. Some people need to read their Bible more I thinkā€¦and take a good hermeneutics class.

        1. Um, me. Me. I wrote the book. Proposing all but one of the exorcisms in Mark are political in nature. The only one ritualistic is Mark 9.

  2. Joel,

    There is certainly bad theology that goes along with the use of such language, but I find your perspective to be no less problematic; for it amounts to liberal reductionism.

    Len Sweet is right– if there is no radical evil that exists behind the human situation, then the only way to explain the Holocaust is that Hitler exterminated six million Jews because he was only working out his own personal problems.

    1. I didn’t say radical evil doesn’t exist. I believe it does and it a great, ever extending amount.

      I just don’t believe in the Dante version of the man with a pitchfork.

  3. Consigning others to hell has more to do with politics than it does with theology. Finding an enemy with which to do battle is a common strategy in maintaining nation-states. As post-9/11 events in Washington clearly illustrate, a constant state of war also becomes a way to consolidate power in the executive. When one realizes that church leaders are often as megalomaniacal as those wielding secular power, the notion of claiming one’s enemies are the spawn of Satan makes perfect sense.

  4. It makes us feel good. It makes us feel important. It lets us further divide the world into those who are others, an therefore not as good as we are.

    It lets us brand traitors.

    We know war. We understand war. War is works. We like works.

    Grace is weird. Grace doesn’t make a lot of sense. Grace doesn’t mean that we get to claim credit for wins or brand people on the other side as traitors.

    If we’re involved in a war, then I get to be a champion, a superhero, maybe even a Jedi or something … God probably really needs me. If we’re not at war, then … ummmm … what do I do now? Just be thankful? What’s that all about?

    Sure, we can give lip service to being thankful, but God really loves me because of how much better I am at calling out traitors in our midst (you know, like gay Christians, stay-at-home dad, Democrats, people who drink, watch cartoons, or dance, that kind of thing) than other people are.

    I really like your point. You’re spot-on.

  5. That is the scenario with the Savation Army. Army, soldiers, officers, blood and fire, spiritual warfare. Of course, it is a hold over from 19th century London, and William Booth’s fight as a pseudo general with addition. I wish they’d move into the 21st century.

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