Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Satan is Alive and Well in Virginia Politics

As a man of wealth and taste, Old Scratch has always got lots of different business ventures in the hopper. He recently bankrolled the movie "Orphan," was instrumental in the marketing of sub-prime mortgages, and is in the process of creating the Nickelodeon/Cartoon Network marketing campaign for pediatric Cialis.

But lately, what he's mostly up to is working with both the Democrats and the GOP here in Virginia. How do we know this? Well, first off, we follow the money. Money is a proxy for worldly power, and where there are unusual concentrations of worldly power, we also typically find unusual concentrations of worldly darkness. As Ol' Virginny trundles towards an election that is being pitched as a referendum on the current administration, the wealth of the national parties has definitely poured into the coffers of their state affiliates. We, the citizens of the great state of Virginia, know this because up until today, we've been bombarded by endless TV ads, one after another after another, all professionally produced and focus-grouped. These ads haven't just been for the Gubernatorial race. I've seen slickity TV spots for state delegate. There be money here. And we know what that means.

Secondly, there's the character of what we've seen in Virginia, which is pretty much the same thing we've been seeing in recent national campaigns.

Satan, as we all know, is not a name. It's a title. Ha-Satan means the Satan. In English, it means "The Accuser" or "The Prosecutor." In the ancient Hebrew view o' things, Satan was the member of the angelic court whose job it was to show how inadequate and unworthy our lives had been when we came before God. He was, in terms of heavenly politics, the Patron Demon of Oppo Research.

And Lordy, has his work has been in clear evidence here over the last few weeks. The other day, on one of the infrequent occasions when I watch TV, I watched three consecutive attack ads. Each was functionally substanceless, and instead dripped with poison and ad hominem innuendo. They all followed a familiar pattern. Out of context quotes? Got 'em. Menacing music and blurry, unflattering pictures? Yup. Snarky voiceover? You betcha! Truth and insight and patience and the virtues of civic mindedness were nowhere to be found. The commercial break was impressively toxic, so much so that I felt obligated to just shut 'er off.

With the campaign now at a close, I guess the Accuser's political shop will have to go back to supporting the shouting classes on talk radio and in the blogosphere. Until 2010, that is.


  1. So now, further explain this Satan thing. I never understood where Satan fell in "proper" Christian theology, not with me having been born and raised in the Bible Belt, which, ironically, is probably the least Christian subset in the entire United States. I've not a clue about anything.

  2. @ Jacob: Google "Applied Memetic Demonology," and you'll get a better sense of my perspective.

  3. Good Lord, I don't know if I even want to touch a set of words that big.

    But thanks!

  4. "Google "Applied Memetic Demonology," and you'll get a better sense of my perspective."

    Pastor David, you are a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma of unfathomable proportions.

  5. Actually Jonathan - I fear he is as Jesus said, a child of Satan. But since Satan isn't real, or at lest less powerful than man, it makes no difference to him. We should pray for him, I hadn't realized it was this bad, but I suspected.

    John 8:47 – “The one who belongs to God listens and responds to God’s words. You don’t listen and respond, because you don’t belong to God.” What does this say to you David?

  6. @ Jonathan: I'm not sure I'm really all *that* entertaining...

    @ Mark: You hadn't "realized it was this bad?" Is that actually true, Mark? I think a fair reading of your comment history would belie that claim. Still, "child of Satan" is a new one. I figured you'd get to that eventually. ;0)

    In recognition of your "truth isn't important" schtick, I suppose it's probably moot to note that I never said Satan isn't real...in fact, quite the opposite.

  7. "Pastor Dave wrote March 27, 2009 - But I don't think that Satan has any authority...or any reality...that isn't given to him by human beings. He might be Sin Itself, but if we were all filled with God's Spirit, there'd be no place in the universe for Satan to go.

    He may indeed be the ruler of the darkness of this world. But he is also less than the least of us.

    Maybe I misunderstood? [bold mine]

    Can you please tell me what John 8:47 says to you? pretty please... :)

    Please note, I said "I fear you may be a child of Satan"

  8. Mark sounds like either a lunatic or a jerk. Or both. Unless he's joking, in which case I'll feel bad for writing this.

  9. @ Mark: Yup. That about sums it up. Evil has no power over this world, none at all, that is not given by us. Were it not for humankind's embrace of darkness and the deep shadows of our sin, evil would have nowhere to go. 'Cept for the fiery fiery Eterna-furnace.

    In saying that, I am not saying that Evil in all of it's forms is not real. Quite the contrary. It is very, very real. But it is also utterly dependent on our brokenness. We are the battlefield, Mark.

    And you said, specifically, "I fear he *is*.." Not "may be." One is qualified, one is a more definitive statement. Although if you feel like walking that one back a bit, I'm happy to let you do so. ;)

    Since you asked so nicely:

    John 8 as a whole text discusses the place of the Father of Lies as the Spirit who governs those who aggressively resist Christ's message of grace. This immediately follows Christ's intervention to save the life of an adulteress.

    They do not hear Jesus and love him, (Jn 8:42) but instead attack his message of redemption (Jn 8:1-12). From their presuppositional position of reflexive legalism, they can't hear what he's saying, and instead accuse him of being demonic and outside of the true faith. (Jn 8:48-49)

    What it says to me, particularly in light of our conversations, is that human defiance of Christ's grace remains as fierce now as it was then...and for pretty much the same reasons.

  10. "@ Jonathan: I'm not sure I'm really all *that* entertaining..."

    Sure you are. At least to me. Then again I do have ADD and like bright shiny things. Hmmm...

    Seriously though, Pastor, where else is one going to read about the election in Virginia and "Applied Memetic Demonology" all in one post? Why at "Beloved Spear", that's where! ;o)

    That's entertainment...perhaps even "infotainment".

  11. That about sums it up. Evil has no power over this world, none at all, that is not given by us.

    So God does not control evil, man does?

    We are the battlefield, Mark.

    I agree, I hate when that happens ;)

    and for pretty much the same reasons.

    What reasons do you think, considering the context of the verse - responding or not to God's word?

    Is it True or False that there are only two types of people in our world - those who belong to Satan and those who belong to God? I ask with the understanding that no man knows to whom any other belongs.

    Although if you feel like walking that one back a bit, I'm happy to let you do so. ;)

    Yes, I will walk back on that one -my apologies, thanks for being so kind.

  12. @ Mark: No. Human beings do not control evil. Evil controls us. Unless God controls us, in which case evil has no power at all. It might break our bodies, sure, as it controls other human beings. But Evil with a capital E cannot stand in the light of God's glory.

    False. There are those of us...very, very few...whose will is fully conformed to the love of God. In most of us, the battle rages. Parts of us belong utterly to God's grace and lovingkindness. Parts are dark and hateful. Luther was simul justus et peccator. Even the Apostle Paul had his thorn.

  13. Dave - thanks for the reply. Just so I understand you regarding your answer (False); are you saying no one goes to Hell?

    Who among us is not "simul justus et peccator"?

    Interesting take on Pauls's thorn - I tend to think it was the leader of the false teachers. From the central theme of the letter; Paul defending his authority and the Corinthians’ acceptance of false teachings and practices. No where else does Paul use the word “messenger” to refer to anything other than a personal entity. but this is another post...

  14. @ Mark: We all go to Hell. There's not a single one of us who will not be tested by the fires of God's wrath. I'm sure that clears things up for you. ;)

    Interesting theory! My interpretation tends to revolve more around his assertion that the thorn is "in his flesh," (2 Cor. 12:7) and that it is related to a personal weakness (2 Cor. 12:8-10). The text strongly implies a something like that, which Paul couldn't shake but that he recognized as an impediment to his ministry.

    Pitch up a post on it...it's worth discussing.

  15. We all go to Hell. There's not a single one of us who will not be tested by the fires of God's wrath. I'm sure that clears things up for you. ;)

    good lord...clear as mud as usual around these here parts. ;)