12.8.09

Poor little misunderstood satan

What is really funny about this article from Joseph at Good Jesuit,Bad Jesuit is that I get calls from mothers all the time who tell me that their sons are really good boy who just fell in with bad people. "He didn't mean to sell those drugs to those school kids 'case he wanted to he needed to..." I have from time to time listened patiently what a good Christian this fellow or that fellow is, to the point where I had to ask the mother "...You are aware that he killed two people?"... Satan is just a poor guy wrongly judged.

August 12, 2009

All these centuries, the devil simply has been misunderstood.

So says Henry Ansgar Kelly, an Iowa-born scholar in Omaha this week to argue for an angel he says popular culture incorrectly portrays as the pitchfork-toting root of all evil.

Kelly, a UCLA English professor schooled at Creighton University in the 1950s, spoke during a four-day international Catholic biblical conference that wraps up at the Jesuit campus today.

Although Kelly, 75, did not complete his priestly training, he has traced sources from the Old Testament to the present and has written three books on the devil.

His talk Monday was titled, “Lucifer: the Good, the Bad, and the Really Bad.”

The Fonda, Iowa, native challenges the notion of Satan (or Lucifer) as a fallen dark angel who tempted Adam and Eve into committing the “original sin” and who now runs Hell and tempts humans to sin.

Not everyone at Monday’s workshop was swayed, though. Theology experts can be a tough crowd.

Aiming to be historically accurate yet entertaining, Kelly admitted that Satan was hugely disliked and overzealous in his role as “tester” of goodness. But he likened him to an “obnoxious government heavy” rather than a prideful rebel against God.

“In fact, he is not God’s enemy but rather functions as his attorney general and is no more evil than, say, John Ashcroft or Alberto Gonzales,” said Kelly.

The modern characterization of Satan, Kelly contended, is based upon misinterpretations of the Bible by the early fathers of the church and, later, media exaggeration.

“No one has been slandered more by the pen,” Kelly said.

Why is he so bent on correcting the devil’s reputation?

By making Satan God’s enemy, Kelly says, the church has turned Christianity into a dualistic religion, where there is a good God and an evil angel.

He said people instead should focus on the causes of bad behavior: Be more accountable; don’t blame it on an invisible force below.

Enough, Kelly said, of the excuse: “The devil made me do it.”

Fr. Michael Kolarcik, S.J. of Regis College in Toronto agreed with Kelly’s understanding of Satan as a prosecutor of sorts in the Old Testament.

But, Kolarcik said, Kelly did not convince him that an external influence did not change Satan to be, in the New Testament, a diabolical figure that intends to hurt human beings.

Fr. Richard Clifford,S.J., dean of the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, aligned himself with Kolarcik. He smiled, though, and applauded Kelly’s effort to shatter the image of a caped fire-blower.

“He does like to push the envelope,” Clifford said of Kelly, a colleague he once studied with.

Both Clifford and Kolarcik, among about 30 in the Monday workshop, said they appreciated exposure to fresh ideas. Kolarcik even ordered Kelly’s latest book: “Satan, A Biography.”

Kolarcik noted that years ago, he questioned a colleague’s near obsession with the study of angels. Later, books and movies galore surfaced on the celestial figures.

“You want to know what people are thinking,” said Kolarcik.

Fr. Daniel Harrington,S.J. professor of New Testament at Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Mass., in a book review called Kelly’s “biography” of Satan both challenging and delightful.

“It raises serious questions about an aspect of Christian theology that even recent popes have admitted needs further study and clarification.”

Link (here)

A lengthy interview with Kelly (here)

Blogger Note: Gee, I wonder why this guy is a former Jesuit?


Satan has been trying to convince the world he doesn't exist since the Garden of Eden. So, OK he does exist but he is just a regular guy...Right? The emphasis above is mine.

I love it when these "Bible scholars say the Bible is wrong" imagine God making a mistake! Whodathunkit? This is truly satan at work...

Thanks Joseph!

Jhesu+Marie,
Brantigny

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