Friday, May 05, 2006

Dispensationalism and Satan: Is Satan a Cosmic Tony Blair?

I am reading a recent book on Dispensationalism entitled 'The World is Not my Home:The Origins and Developement of Dispensationalism' (2003 Christian Focus) by Michael Williams. The author is Reformed and from Covenant Theological Seminary. It is quite harsh in its critique of the Dispensational theological system.

What has particularly interested me so far is a chapter entitled 'Satan and the Satanic System.' Williams argues that C.I. Scofield and L.S. Chafer present a picture of Satan that is radically different from the conventional idea of Satan. Rather than taking delight in destruction and chaos, the Dispensational Satan is concerned with establishing order, increasing goodness and progress in order to establish his own counterfeit kingdom in place of God's rule. Williams writes:

"Again, Chafer did not view Satan as an unrelentingly evil being. Satan is to be thought of more as an incompetent bungler than a powerful malevolent force. As an imperfect imitator, Satan is ultimately incapable of realizing his cultural ideal or a moral society under his kingship." (p.50)

Hence, rather than attempting to cause maximum destruction for its own sake, the Dispensational Devil seeks to restrain evil in order to further his willful ends.

As I have not read Chafer's work on Satan, I cannot asses the accuracy of Williams' claims. However, I am quite intrigued by the thought. Although Williams does not agree with this view of Satan, I find it very challenging and feel the urge to asses whether it fits the Biblical portrait of Satan.


nathaniel adam king said...

I think that one cannot ignore the malevolent character of Satan. If he is anything like his demons (which I do believe he is), I don't think it much to assume that he would be find abode in the cemetaries and 'cut himself'. I think this picture of Satan as the exorcist type demon may be quite accurate.

However, we cannot deny either his cunningness and craftiness. The pea-soup spitting demon of the exorcist wouldn't really be one to ask the poignant questions that were asked within the garden. So, I don't think a picture of Satan as a crafty and wise serpant is too far off either...

Which? I dunno...

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Adam.

I do think Satan is a very different kind of being to devils.

If Satan has a kingdom-building agenda, as Dispensationalists hold, it is difficult to see how the chaotic behaviour of devils fits in.

Jesus' comment about a 'house divided' suggests strongly that posession is a part of Satan's operations. Perhaps the kind of destructive behavour shown in the man who cut himself is not the operational norm for demonic posession, but a possible and unintentional outcome of it.

Every Blessing in Christ


Palm boy said...

Wow. That was one sensationalist headline there.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Got your attention then.

Anonymous said...

I have L.S. Chafer's book Satan and the Satanic System. It is very much as described in your blog. If you are interested in a scanned copy of the book email me at a_d3vil_inside at yahoo dot com

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Anonymous, thanks for visiting. I have since read Chafer's book and I think it is very good. What do you think of it?