Thursday, December 17, 2009

Satan as a Sincere Agent of Choice

(The following is an interesting take - one with which I don't agree totally, but one that is thought-provoking, nonetheless:)

I agree that Satan was a key player in the early stages of the Great Plan. In it, he seems to have realized that God’s plan had too much risk and pain involved, and so he devised changes that would ensure safety and security, in exchange for two things: some agency, and God’s throne. Agency and security cannot co-exist easily. In a realm where we would live in security and little agency, we cannot become as God is, and so we would require a replacement for Elohim that we could emulate. Lucifer becomes the example to follow in this instance.

Lucifer took with him those that feared risk, failure and pain. With the right press, God could be made to look like an evil rich guy running a sweat shop in Nicaragua.

Satan doesn’t push sins on us. He pushes choices upon us. Opposition. He provided the opposition and choice in the Great Council, and he does so now. The temptations and evils are already in place in the world without him. He just uses them as a catalyst to get people to follow his lead.

I truly believe that Satan, as with any of us who commits sinful and/or evil acts, has what he thinks are good intentions. He is trying to save us from a bad plan that promises to punish and enslave many (at least in his view). And if in attempting to save us (by drawing us away from God and towards him) we suffer some, it is God’s fault.

Comment #40 by Rameumpton on Mormonism's Satan and the Tree of Life, Part 1 - Ronan (By Common Consent)


adamf said...

That is interesting, although I agree with you, in that I don't agree. :)

Imho, Satan was not a key (read: vital) player at all. The very idea that a "satan" character is necessary is offensive to me, given that if it was, then his "sacrifice" would be greater than the Atonement. The idea of a Satan being necessary also does not make sense given that Satan is not THE source of evil, just as God is not THE source of good. I think opposition/evil/choice exists independently of lucifer.

Blake said...

I believe that you are correct that God uses Satan as the agent to promote agency. 2 Nephi 2 makes it clear that the opposition provided by Satan is necessary to provide the "enticement" to provide the ability to choose between good and evil. If we possessed freedom in the preexistence then it is of a more limited nature than the full moral freedom provided by the choice between good and evil in the context of a person embodied in a mortal body.

Thomas Parkin said...


I agree with this, with the addition that Satan's own choices have been, whatever his intent, truly evil, and that the process of his mistakes has made him a deeply evil and repugnant being, beyond what we can imagine. ~

adamf said...

Re: Blake - I'm totally fine with the idea "that God uses Satan as the agent to promote agency," as long as that does not mean God NEEDS Satan to promote agency... if that makes sense...

Papa D said...

Thank you, everyone, for your comments. You've highlighted the central concerns I have with the way the original quote was worded.

To Thomas' point about Lucifer's choices making him a truly evil person regardless of original intent, I believe that is a critical aspect of our theology that truly is unique and important. When we believe that all of us really do have the potential to becomes gods OR devils, it makes agency mean something in a very real way - a way that simply is missing in the rest of Christian theology.

Ryan said...

A bit late, perhaps, but this is a subject I've thought about a bit as well...

The thing I realized eventually is that Evil exists independently of those who do evil -- it is simply the act of misusing our stewardship in any way (money, power, bodies, agency, trust, relationships, you name it).

It then follows immediately that this life, with its rampant evil and challenges, is a vital testing ground. We simply can't be trusted with all the Father hath until we've proven that we would not misuse it, most likely after hard lessons learning not to.

The son of the morning has simply proved, more than any other being, that he cannot not be trusted with power.

As for being "necessary" in the Plan, temptations can only amplify tendencies and weaknesses that already exist, so it makes our probation vastly shorter to have them around... but I think temptation exists in some form whenever there is a stewardship that can be misused.