posted on Feb, 18 2006 @ 04:42 AM
According to the Bible, Methuselah lived to be 969-years-old, but Satan is certainly much older than that. The exact birth, patronage, and age of
Satan are unknown - but give the Devil his due; he’s been around for quite some time. The entire concept of the Devil - an immoral polar opposite
to God - is a uniquely Christian idea. Other religions, including Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism, tell stories of mischievous, naughty spirits that
cause trouble from time to time, but a singular entity devoted to evil is a purely Christian creation. The thesis of this editorial is that Satan’s
presence and strange quest for evil helped transform Christianity from a small, offshoot religion into the most dominant faith on earth.
Now, questions regarding Satan’s origins and ancestry are very important, for they provide clues about his motivation and degree of power in
the Christian theology. Is Satan an equal of God? Is he the exact antithesis of God? Is he a celestial free agent or always under God’s control?
Ancient civilizations viewed good and evil as part and parcel, two sides of the same coin. They believed the two worked in unison. Originally our
Judeo-Christian theology thought the same thing. In the Old Testament, God represented both good and evil. He wiped out all of humanity, sans Noah
and his kin. He turned Lot’s wife into a smoldering pillar of salt. He flew into angry rages and needed to be calmed by His prophets. But God’s
personality underwent a metamorphosis in the New Testament. Rather than representing both good and evil, God became only an agent of only good.
Evil, terror, pestilence, and death became the province of Satan, a creature largely ignored in the Old Testament, probably because God Himself
claimed responsibility for Satan’s duties. In the New Testament, Satan is an evil force, arguably second just to Jesus Christ in terms of
In the early days of Christianity, Satan was viewed as God’s equal, the yin to his yang, someone uncontrollable - even by God Himself. This was
a fear-mongering tactic used by missionaries to convert the pagans - they’d preach to a largely uneducated, rural populous that Satan was a cunning,
powerful deity plotting their ruin and destruction, responsible for all the evils of the earth. Only Jesus, they preached, could protect them from
this sinister creature. This served as a powerful caveat for conversion, for although heavenly salvation is a nice thing to look forward to, it
can’t be appreciated until after one dies. Your conversion to Jesus, by contrast, protected you and your loved ones from Satan while you’re alive
and can appreciate it. As a nightmarish foil, the character of Satan played a pivotal role in Christianity becoming the most dominant religion on
earth; he was the difference-maker that separated Christianity from all the competing faiths. But a vexing problem existed with the idea of Satan as
a complete free agent, wholly unanswerable to the deity who made him: It meant that either God was impotent to prevent evil or indifferent to our
suffering, for either He lacked the power necessary to protect us from Satan’s evil transgressions... or He just didn’t care enough about us to
intervene. So by the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Renaissance, mainstream Christianity moved away from Satan as an autonomous
equal to God, portraying him instead as either a fictional literary device or a defrocked angel of minimal importance. Modern Christianity has almost
completely removed Satan from theological discussion and today, you’re more likely to find Satan impishly lurking as a cartoon character in a
television advertisement than as the focal point of a church sermon. Coinciding with the Devil’s demise as a ‘real’ creature, Christianity’s
success as an evangelical faith capable of widespread conversion has plummeted... and other religions, such as Islam, have taken its place.
Why did Christianity become the single most dominant religion of the Western world, utterly devouring everything in its path? How did Christianity
emerge as the greatest, most successful religion ever devised by humankind? Why not Judaism? Why not Islam? Why not Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism,
Shintoism, Zoroastrian, or Animism? In the field of sociology, we believe that all human actions can be explained, so the reason behind
Christianity’s success is certainly of academic interest to all those with even a modicum of interest in religion. So what makes Christianity so
successful? Christianity’s ethics and morals aren’t stridently dissimilar from Judaism, its faith in God and desire to convert nonbelievers no
different than Islam. But the one Christian concept that was completely unlike all others was the idea of the Devil - a fallen angel who steals souls
and feeds on carnage and evil. Historically speaking, Satan made Christianity what it is today and deserves nearly as much credit for its success as
Jesus Christ. This might not be music to the ears of those deafened by ethnocentrism and their own personal biases, but it’s the truth nonetheless.
Christianity owes the Devil a tremendous debt of gratitude.