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Friday, May 16, 2008

What's the deal with Satan?

So I've been reading Milton's Paradise Lost. It's got me thinking about the LDS view of Satan. Several questions have come to mind, so I thought I'd just throw them out there and see what people think.
1. We've had discussion on this blog about how involved God is in our lives. How involved do you think Satan is?
2. What is Satan's ultimate goal?
3. How much of the plan of salvation does he know?
4. Most of the LDS views make him out to seem pretty dumb. How smart is he?
5. How powerful is he?
6. Can Satan still be forgiven and redeemed at some point?


Anonymous said...

James E. Faust, when serving as a member of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, said, "It is not good practice to become intrigued by Satan and his mysteries."
Many of your questions can be answered by visiting the Gospel Topics entry on Satan.

Sarah Lee said...

my own personal answers:
1. As involved as you let him be.
2. I think his ultimate goal is for us to make such a mess in this life, that we are miserable in the next, just as he himself is.
3. I'm sure he knows it all
4. I don't think LDS doctrine make him out to be dumb, quite the contrary. I do think, however, he really thought "his plan" was better, and therefore let his anger get the best of him, and became bitter. I think he was/is very very intelligent. How else would all of us ever be tempted? If you think about it, the plan of salvation isn't really that hard. We are just lazy and too easily tempted. Again, LDS beliefs talk about him being "cunning"... that word does not strike a "dumb" cord with me. If you are cunning you most certainly have to be smart.
5. again, refer to #1 but replace the word "involved" for "powerful".
6. I really don't think so... but maybe... I think that was probably the best question, however, I don't think it will ever be answered... at least in this lifetime.
Sorry for being a blog-stalker, i have no idea who you are... but I thought your questions were very intruiging.

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Dr. B.

Robby C said...

Anonymous, thanks for the concern. I also think it is not good practice for a soldier to go into battle without a knowledge of his enemy and what he is up against.

Sarah, thanks for your insights and for stopping by the "rounds". Feel free to pop in and comment anytime.

Robby C said...

I guess it’s only fair that I give my own thoughts on the questions.
1. I’m not sure Satan needs to be that involved with us. Oh, I think he’ll step in from time to time, but I think we do a pretty good job of messing up on our own. I think our own selfishness is behind most of our sins…the old natural man idea. (Mosiah 3:19, also TPJS pg 187). More about this in #2
2. Here’s the reason I have this question. In the end, Satan gets very few of us. In order for Satan to have claim on one's soul, that person must commit the unpardonable sin. They must RECEIVE the Holy Ghost, have the HEAVENS OPENED UNTO THEM, and KNOW God, and then sin against Him. (TPJS pg 358, emphasis added). Everyone else, will be redeemed and saved in a kingdom of glory…yes, even all those wicked murderous souls. God gets them back. Satan doesn’t get them. So going back to question 1, I don’t think Satan spends much time on a joe blow like me. I’ve never had the heavens opened unto me. Joseph did (D&C 76), Paul did (2 Corinthians 12:2). I haven’t really even had a glimpse, let alone have them opened up unto me. Very few of us have. And when Joseph say “know” God…he means “KNOW” God, not have faith in God. Moses KNEW God (Moses Chapter 1). Satan became very interested in Moses after he came to KNOW God, (Moses Chapter 1) but you and me…we do a pretty good job of messing things up ourselves.
3. I think Satan knows the plan. He was obviously there when it was discussed in the pre-existence. We are told that God’s plan was presented and Satan rebelled and was cast out. How could Satan’s punishment be justified if he didn’t have a full knowledge of what he was rebelling against? So if he knew the plan, then why get Adam and Eve to fall? If Adam and Eve didn’t fall, then the whole plan of God would have been frustrated. This is where question 4 comes in. If he knew the plan and still tempted Adam and Eve to fall that makes him seem pretty dumb.
4. I don’t think Satan is dumb at all, but I think that if he is just messing with people here on earth with no hope of getting any of them that makes him seem pretty dumb to me. What about this? There must be opposition in all things. We had to come here to earth to be tempted and overcome temptation in order to learn and grow so we could be exalted. So why doesn’t Satan just do nothing? Then, in a manner of speaking, Satan’s proposed plan would be in effect. No temptation to do wrong, nobody sins, nobody is lost. Satan’s plan works, Satan wins. But we know the plan doesn’t really work, because without the temptation nobody progresses and grows, so nobody is exalted…but if Satan really doesn’t want us to be with God then he still wins. If stupid less than the dust me can figure this out, why can’t he? See, I don’t think Satan’s ultimate goal is to mess with people here, and maybe try to get them to end up in the terrestrial kingdom; the terrestrial kingdom whose glory, by the way, is so great that it still “surpasses all understanding” (D&C 76:89). No, I just can’t see this being the ultimate goal of Satan. I think he is smarter than that. I think he needs more than that. What, I don’t know. But I think we greatly underestimate him.
5. I think Satan has great power. But I think that this comes back to his ultimate goal. How he uses it and what he uses it for is a mystery to me.
6. I have no idea. Just wondering if any of you out there have heard or read anything.

Dallas said...

Excellent thoughts so far, here are my takes on this. One thing we have to remember is D & C 76 25-26 “And this we saw also, and bear record, that an angel of God who was in authority in the presence of God, who rebelled against the Only Begotten son whom the Father loved and who was in the bosom of the Father, was thrust down from the presence of God and the Son, And was called perdition, for the heavens wept over him—he was Lucifer, a son of the morning.”

Three things from these verses 1- he was in authority, 2 – he was in the bosom of the Father, 3 - the heavens wept (as far as I know we were in the heavens also. So we might have wept also. Humbling to think.)

#4 Often we concentrate on Satan’s goal of getting everyone back and looking the agency. However Moses 4:1 also states, “give me thine honor.” He wanted honor, while Christ wanted the Honor to go God. Think of it from his point of view. He has been working hard for countless eternities, or eternal rounds, now he is at the onset of yet another eternity, looking at all the work needed. So he is really smart.

#2 As far as how well he knows the plan, here is my analogy for that. DO NOT TAKE THIS THE WRONG WAY. But think of us all at a meeting where Gordon B. Hinckley and Christ unveil two different models of how to return to God the Father. Than Gordon is cast out. How would we feel? I mean Satan got 1/3 the host of man. Gordon had 1/3 the membership of the church join under his reign. He knows the plan very well. (Side note to the easily offended, I believe that Gordon Hinckley was a prophet of God and he never lead the LDS Church astray! It was just an analogy!)

#6 Warning Crazy Dallas Theology follows. There has to be some sort of spiritual cellular remembrance from the pre-existence to this life. That is why some people are Born into the Covenant and other aren’t. Basically how much hard work we did in the pre-existences. But as far as Satan and Son’s of Perdition. That is what Black Holes are for. To rip apart every atom from the other so they have no spiritual cellular remembrance of each other. Than these cells can go through the process of line-upon-line, precept upon precept. Until they are a new organism and progress from there.

Dallas said...

Robby, you said, “How could Satan’s punishment be justified if he didn’t have a full knowledge of what he was rebelling against? So if he knew the plan, then why get Adam and Eve to fall? If Adam and Eve didn’t fall, then the whole plan of God would have been frustrated.”

This has actually got me thinking. What if the Plan of Salvation as we understand it is just how it happened? What if all Satan knew was that they weren’t supposed to eat the fruit? Than he was trying to get them to do otherwise to make them fail. It goes down to the whole lesser of two evils. For example I was three minutes late to work today and my supervisor really like punctuality. He was at the door and asked someone else what time it was so it was obvious I was late. Which is the lesser evil being late or speeding? This could be how the garden works. What if Adam and Eve after being in the Garden for a while they knew it was better not to eat the fruit and not be able to multiply? I think there would have been an intervention, with a well done good and faithful servant, here is what is going to happen now.

This didn’t happen so we don’t have to discuss it at length, but it is one way we could answer your questions above.

Dallas said...

Okay, I got thinking again. About Satan's ultimate goal. I'll have to agree with Robby on that. It can't be to get each of us to become a Son of Perdition. I think it is what we have talked about in Future Hall of Famers and Purpose of Life Threads.

Possibly his goal is to make us cruise at a lower altitude. If he can't be at God's right hand side, than no one can, and as long as we are cruising at the lower altitude, we aren't actively helping others. So we all lose.

BTW in my first post on this subject, I wrote it than tried to add the numbers as an afterthought. They really don't line up that well. Oops.

Robby C said...

Dallas, Interesting idea about the plan. I'm quite open to different ideas on how things went down in the garden of eden. It could be a possibility that God never intended for Adam and Eve to partake of the fruit as you stated. But then we get into a whole foreknowledge of God discussion. If he did know they would partake of the fruit but presented a different plan to fool Satan, that seems a bit deceptive. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with God not being completely honest and up front about his plan.
Brigham Young had a different take on the Garden of eden that seems to leave satan out of the picture completely. (The Teachings of Brigham Young Vol.3 pg 88)

Dallas said...

Do you have the date on that sermon? I don't have that particular book, but I have others it might be in.

Robby C said...

The sermon was given on April 9th, 1852. The Wilford Woodruff account is the one I was refering to. I think it reads slightly different in the Journal of Discourses.

Robby C said...

"Possibly his goal is to make us cruise at a lower altitude. If he can't be at God's right hand side, than no one can"

I still don't know if I can buy this as Satan's ultimate goal. Yeah, I'm sure he was pretty ticked for a while when he got kick out of heaven and had the "if I can't be at God's right hand, no one can" attitude. But doing that for thousands of years. I can stay mad for a while, but six thousand that's a grudge. I just can't see Satan spending all this time trying get us to cruise at a lower altitude when we still will receive a kingdom whose glory is greater than we can even imagine. (Even if we slip from our terrestrial cruising altitude to a telestial one.) I just think Satan is to smart (and selfish) to spend so much time keeping us down when there is really nothing in it for him. See, I would think that he would spend more time trying to exalt himself (whatever that means???) by building his kingdom. This seems to be a problem though, since very few of us have enough light or knowledge to become sons of perdition. Maybe there are other ways he can build his kingdom. Anyway, I just can't see why he would spend so much time on us when there is nothing in it for him.

Now that being said I want to clarify something. While I don't think that Satan personally spends much time on us, I do think his followers are working on us quite a bit, but that may be a topic for another post.

Weston Krogstadt said...

If we knew just how much he knows, we wouldn't be able to sleep at night.