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Christian personalities

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Satan: All points of view

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Overview:

Satan is a.k.a. as The Devil, Beelzebub, Lucifer, Mephistopheles, Prince of Darkness, Accursed Dragon, Foul Spirit, Satanic Power,  Master of Deceit, etc.)

There is no consensus in North America about the nature of Satan. A 2002-AUG poll by Barna Research showed that:

bulletMost American adults (59%) consider that Satan is simply a symbol or concept or principle of evil, not an actual personality. Three in four Roman Catholics believe this; 55% of Protestants agree.

bulletA minority of adults (34%) believe Satan to be a living being with supernatural powers. 1

Some of the concepts that people hold about the devil are:

bullet Most conservative Christian churches teach beliefs that are grounded in the 1st century CE -- that Satan is a profoundly evil, fallen angel who is totally dedicated to the destruction of everyone's lives. He is a supernatural being who "walketh about, seeking whom he may devour," and is aided by countless demons. He and his demons are all pervasive. They engage in world-wide "spiritual warfare," and are a continual threat to all. They can dwell within people, and can control their mind as in demon possession.

bullet Liberal/progressive Christian churches tend to view Satan as a principle or concept of evil, without any physical existence or personality. They acknowledge that Jesus and his disciples believed in the presence of a living entity called Satan. They realize that the gospel writers wrote of exorcisms which drove indwelling demons from within people. But they attribute these beliefs to the pre-scientific level of knowledge in the Gallilee and Judea at the time.

bulletArchaeologists and anthropologists, religious historians and other researchers have traced the development of the concept of Satan from its origin in  the Zoroastrian religion, via the ancient Babylonian Empire, to ancient Judaism, and finally into Christianity and Islam.

bullet Most present-day religious Satanists belong to religious groups such as the Church of Satan or the Temple of Set. Most of the former are Agnostics; they do not believe in Satan as a living entity or as a God; they view Satan as a basic force or principle of nature. Members of the Temple of Set recognize the ancient Egyptian god Set as a deity. Both groups' beliefs about Satan have little in common with Christian beliefs.

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Topics covered in this section:

bulletIntroduction: Bible passages about Satan; Attributes of Satan

bulletBeliefs about Satan:
bulletBy the general population, and

bulletBy liberal Christians, conservative Protestants, and Roman Catholics

bulletThe development of the concept of Satan:
bulletBefore 300 BCE to 100 CE

bullet100 CE to the present time

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Related essays in this web site:

bulletDemons
bulletDemon possession and Exorcisms

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Reference used:

  1. "Americans Draw Theological Beliefs From Diverse Points of View," Barna Research Online, 2002-OCT-8, at: http://www.barna.org/cgi-bin/

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Site navigation: Home page > Christianity > Christian personalities > here

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Copyright 1998 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2012-DEC-16
Author: B.A. Robinson

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