by Ilil Arbel, Ph.D.
To understand the connection between Christianity and the Old Religion, one must make the acquaintance of the Devil. Satan is an ambivalent fellow, and trying to figure out his character, origin, and relationship to God is difficult.
Here is a sentence from Isaiah, stating with authority that God created evil. “I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I the Lord do all these things.” Clear enough. But if he was created by God, who is always good, how can the Devil be bad?
Again, God wants to be killed in the person of Christ. It is his design, and it is meant for the benefit of mankind. If so, why are those who execute Christ considered “Devilish” for so long? They were doing God’s will!
God is all powerful and all good. However, if God wanted to create a world which was all good, and couldn’t do it, than he is not all powerful. If he didn’t want to make a world which was all good, than He is not all good.
How do you get out of that? You create an Adversary, who is equal to God in power, and is in a constant struggle with Him. But that doesn’t work either. The notion is taken from Persian Dualism, and to true Christians, this is heresy. The solution? God permits the Devil to operate and make man into a sinner. In other words, an evil principle is needed to test men’s faith. This solution works until you ask the next question. Why is the sinner punished for what is permitted by God?
This would lead nowhere. If you continue with the questioning, eventually you will hit the wall — it is so because the Church says that it is so. Well, heresy or not, the Adversary, permitted or otherwise, remained. He had to. He was badly needed.
The Devil has many forms. He has superhuman intelligence and cunning, though sometimes he can be tricked. He is a handsome fellow, unless he transforms himself into an animal or a monster. He can perform miracles. He has tremendous legal expertise. He has scientific knowledge and understands the nature of the universe — and the psychology of men and women. He can be, and often is, quite charming.
During those times, if you were a good Christian, you believed in him. For without sin there is no overcoming temptation, no salvation, no need of a Church. Without Satan, there is no Christianity.
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