Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

How you like me now, Satan?

May 31st, 2009 by G.

In Sunday School the talk turned to the council in heaven and Satan’s competing plan of salvation. Why, the teacher asked, does God allow Satan to try to sabotage God’s plan?

Several common-sense answers were suggested, mostly variations on the Mormon response to the problem of evil. God wants Satan to try us so we can learn and grow, God wants us to have evil offered to us so we can choose good, etc.

I raised my hand. “I think God lets Satan meddle with his plan to show how much better God’s plan is to Satan’s. Nothing Satan can do can hinder it. Satan is defeated utterly.” Silence. My perspective, apparently, was a unique one.

But I still cling to it, like I cling to my guns and my religion.

We’re told that Satan’s plan lost because he lost the vote in the council of heaven. But so what? Democracy isn’t how we decide on salvation. The real proof of God’s plan is that Satan is given every opportunity and every power to destroy it and Satan fails, completely, utterly, eternally. We have our finicky sensibilities these days, where we like to think of God as meek and kind and patient and he is all those things, but he’s not only those things. God is master, and he will prove it to the last soul and the last syllable. Two-thirds of the hosts of heaven is not enough. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. Christ shall put all things under his feet. Every devilish boast will turn to ashes in the devil’s mouth and every devilish plot will come to less than nothing.

Why does God let Satan try us? To crush him.

Comments (20)
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May 31st, 2009 20:08:04
20 comments

Wm Morris
May 31, 2009

I think Satan also serves as an illustration of the true horror of being denied (or actually denying yourself) progression, narrative, physicality. That’s why he is so utterly defeated — he has no more story. And that’s why all those who think that Satan is the more interesting one are wrong. God’s not the one experiencing stasis. No matter what Satan tries, he always ends up in the same state.


Bookslinger
May 31, 2009

I forget what blog I read it on (I’ve slept since then), but someone suggested that if Satan and the demons wanted to thwart the plan, they should all leave us alone and stop tempting us.

So somehow, Satan, his followers, and all their post-expulsion-from-heaven behavior are actually _part_ of the plan. And if you extrapolate that backward, the war in heaven was part of the plan too. And if that was part of the plan, Satan’s rebellion was part of the plan.


Vader
May 31, 2009

Excellent thoughts, Wm. Morris. I once had a brief debate with a classical deist who was very upset at my suggestion that perfection can be dynamic. I had quoted X.J. Kennedy’s Nothing in Heaven Works As It Ought:

http://www.thehypertexts.com/X%20.%20J.%20Kennedy%20Poetry%20Picture%20and%20Bio.htm

which I like very much.

Still, I feel like I’m in no position to say “Neener neener neener” to Satan quite yet.


Rameumptom
June 1, 2009

Satan had a plan? According to my scriptures, there was only ONE plan: Heavenly Father’s. The only issue brought before the Council was, “Whom shall I send?” Who would be the Savior? That Satan wished to alter God’s plan to fit his own program does not make it a plan. Nor did we vote on Satan’s “plan.” We only sustained Jesus as our Savior. Why? Because God chose Jesus (Abraham 3). We did not get to choose our Savior. God did the choosing. We only got to sustain Jesus in the position.
I really wish the Church could move on from the wrong doctrine taught in “My Turn on Earth!” It’s almost as ghastly as the wrong doctrine in Saturday’s Warriors.

Does God use Satan to try and tempt us? Yes. But I think he only enhances the process. He is the catalyst. If it weren’t for Satan as catalyst, we’d find something else. I don’t think it was Lucifer that makes a person stub their toe and then scream epithets out of their mouth regarding the pain, for instance. And if I’m thinking naughty thoughts inside the temple, is it because I brought Lucifer in there with me, or is it just because I’m naughty? Satan might enhance my temptations and the bad habits, but he is not the one who maintains my bad habits. I do that on my own.


Bookslinger
June 1, 2009

Ram, I’m not sure what doctrines you’re referring to in regards to “My Turn on Earth” and “Saturday’s Warriors”. I’ll grant that it might not have been a vote per se. But we did make a choice in the pre-mortal existence, to keep our first estate. And it was the choice to side with Heavenly Father and Jesus in the big division that took place.

I would also quibble, logically, that Satan’s desired alteration of Heavenly Father’s plan constituted an altered plan, or Plan B, or Plan A’ (Plan A Prime).

And you’re right that God chose Jesus and we sustained. But there was plenty of choosing going on, on the part of all parties.

Also, please be a little lenient in regards to creative license in regards to the two plays. Lots of stuff in the scriptures is allegorical and figurative, so let’s grant the same thing to playwrights. Neither of those two plays claim that their pre-mortal scenes and concepts were universal or exhaustive, so I can be open to the idea that those things might have happened in some form or other at least in some individual circumstances.


Adam G.
June 1, 2009

Ram Man,
that’s a much-needed corrective. Yeah, I don’t think it was really a vote either. But that’s how people think about it sometimes. Also, its undeniable that apostles and prophets refer to ‘Satan’s plan’ as shorthand for the idea of stripping us of free agency.


Alison Moore Smith
June 3, 2009

Adam, fwiw, I don’t think the silence necessarily means that no one else shared your thoughts. Sometimes it just means there is nothing to add. :)


Wm Morris
June 3, 2009

Duplicate comment because the previous one had the wrong e-mail and is going to be trapped in your spam filter:

I should add that related to my comment above — this very failure is what keeps Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series from being on of the major achievements of American literature (that and his post-accident insertion of author). I see it mainly as a failure of nerve on his part, a play for literary respectability, but perhaps it’s simply that he has the wrong core ideology when it comes to this idea of progress vs. stasis.


lamonte
June 3, 2009

Adam – I like your answer. I regularly teach a temple prep class for anyone preparing to go to the temple. Our first lesson focuses on the Plan of Salvation and that question always comes up. I will definitely keep that answer in my responses.


Adam G.
June 3, 2009

Wm. Morris,
I’d like you to elaborate on the Dark Tower. On your blog?


Wm Morris
June 3, 2009

Maybe on my blog. But the gist is this

****Major Spoilers****
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I’m of those who believe that the Dark Tower series loses its way towards the end of The Wolves of Calla. The first reason is because King gets all post-modern and inserts himself as a character (and in particular in relation to the terrible accident where he was hit by a van while out walking). Although I’m by no means against postmodern play with the concept of author, it just isn’t a good fit in this series, imo.

But the real issue is that the story ends (well, the real ending — not the ending to placate the “genre” readers that King provides but then rants on about he doesn’t want to provide it — and again not in an interesting postmodern play kind of way) by circling back to its beginning. The gunslinger wakes up in the desert and has to chase the The Man in Black all over again. I see this as a metaphysical cop out. But I admit that may be because I have a Christian-centric view of narrative and even worse a Mormo-centric view of narrative and progression. By recycling back to the beginning, one loses the narrative tension — the universe saving urgency of the whole series. Now if it were to spiral up instead, that’d be a different story.

The one thing that King sort of gets right, though, is the relatively easy disposal of The Man in Black aka Randall Flag aka Walter Padick, etc. And that relates, imo, to your original post above. Once you understand how pathetic your enemy is, it’s not hard to take him out. The triumph over the Crimson King is more complicated and I’d have to reread the final book to discuss that cogently. I do remember being disappointed by how it happens, though.


Carol Brown
June 3, 2009

I suspect that there are eternal laws that even God must follow. Truth, justice, mercy, charity (the pure love of Christ), purity, and agency are a few of them. God would not be God if He took away men’s agency, nor would He be God if was hateful, cruel, unmerciful, and injust.

Because God chooses to obey each law perfectly, He can rule and reign with great compassion and wisdom. As any loving parent, He longs for us to use our moral agency wisely. Because He cannot think, speak or behave wickedly and still be God, I doubt that He could continue to be God and take from us our moral agency.


Eric Nielson
June 3, 2009

Is it silly to think that Satan has his agency to, and simply chooses to do what he wants (evil) in spite of God?

This whole thing of God “allowing” evil when he could stop it puts God right back in the evil business.

So God “allows” evil because he can’t stop it absolutely. It exists whenever there are free agents involved who choose evil, in spite of God’s efforts to stop it.


Latter-day Guy
June 3, 2009

Adam can always be counted on to supply warm fuzzies. ;)

This is a very interesting concept, and it dovetails nicely with some ideas in the OT.


Mark D.
June 3, 2009

The answer is simple. God doesn’t “let” him. God simply finds it more expedient to fight the battle by other means.

It is not like evil would cease if the devil didn’t exist.


Mark D.
June 3, 2009

Of course this is one of those areas where theological absolutism is positively incoherent…If we could be saved any faster than we are now, we would be done already.

The whole idea of a “heavenly economy” means that resources to advance the cause are not infinite relative to the size of the task at hand.


Bookslinger
June 3, 2009

Mark D:, but time is a local-only phenomena. It exists in this bubble (and likely in similar bubbles) but not outside this mortal/temporal bubble in which we currently find ourselves. At the end of this bubble’s existence “time shall be no more.”


Mark D.
June 3, 2009

Bookslinger, For various reasons related to causality, free will, and divine character I find the idea that “time shall be no more” (in a literal sense) to be logically incoherent.

This question is at the root of the debate surrounding Open Theism. See the recent New Cool Thang post on the subject for example.


Adam G.
June 4, 2009

“Of course this is one of those areas where theological absolutism is positively incoherent…If we could be saved any faster than we are now, we would be done already.

The whole idea of a “heavenly economy” means that resources to advance the cause are not infinite relative to the size of the task at hand

I agree with the first half but not the second. I find mind-boggling the idea that God could have saved us all and avoided the whole earthly mess if only He had a few more angels or a little more power. Maybe that’s not what you meant?


fawn
June 8, 2009

“God forbid.”
To Adam G who started this: i believe you are right on. Only i just would never do anything to taunt Satan…not even in the title of a blog. Thank you.

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