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IMJack
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Here's the question: Is Christianity, as it is practiced today, a monotheism or a dualism?

(Beware: Lots of setup below. If you want to cut to the chase, head to the last paragraph.)

Recently I got my hands on the new Dungeons and Dragons sourcebook, Deities and Demigods. It's all about the roles of divinity and religion in a D&D campaign world, and how the gods of a particular world can screw with your character's life. It also goes into great detail about the gods in the baseline D&D world (Greyhawk), as well as the gods of the ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Nordic pantheons, with detailed descriptions of each god's personality, powers, and game stats as NPCs (so if you've ever wondered just how badly Heironeous will stomp your ass if you go toe-to-toe with him...)

One part that caught my eye in there was the description of the different types of divine structures that people believe in: polytheism (acknowledgement/worship of several gods, which are gathered into wither a "tight" or "loose" pantheon), animism (not worship of 'gods' so much as the worship of the spirits that permeate the world), monotheism, and dualism. Dualism is defined as the belief that there are two diametrically opposed forces or gods that are fighting over the world, and that worshippers must activelly worship one and totally oppose the other. Classic fantasy world setup, good versus evil and no fence-sitting allowed, you know?

There's a bit in the description of monotheism. In a monotheistic religion, there is a demand that people worship only the one god, to the absolute exclusion of all other ideas. It says that such religions are almost dualisms, the way that people are warned away from worshipping any other 'false' idols and told that their souls will suffer for eternity if they stray, and move on to paradise if they are true.

Now this got me thinking. Right now I'm down in Texas, part of the Bible Belt and home of some of the most die-hard protestant Christians I've ever met. My roommate, in particular, is always agonising about being a good Christian and decrying the works of 'Satan'. (He's commented on D&D being 'Satanic' when he's seen me reading the books. I'm pretty sure if he saw the Deities sourcebook, he'd blow a serious gasket.)

Which finally leads me to my point: Many Protestant faiths say that there is a devil that is the enemy of all that is good and will try to corrupt and destroy the world. Many of their beliefs and practices claim to work against this devil, and they eagerly look forward to the day of the final battle between the forces of good, led by their god, and the forces of evil, led by the devil. By this, are they acknowledging the devil as another god? Do modern Christian sects believe in two gods, even though they only activelly worship one?

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Old Post 05-06-02 05:35 #
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Liam
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god Pronunciation Key (gd)
n.
God
1. A being conceived as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe, the principal object of faith and worship in monotheistic religions.
2. The force, effect, or a manifestation or aspect of this being.
3. A being of supernatural powers or attributes, believed in and worshiped by a people, especially a male deity thought to control some part of nature or reality.
4. An image of a supernatural being; an idol.
One that is worshiped, idealized, or followed: Money was their god.
5. A very handsome man.
6. A powerful ruler or despot.

It'll all in how you define God really.

Old Post 05-06-02 05:44 #
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læmænt
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Liam the Bard said:

god Pronunciation Key (gd)

n.

God

5. A very handsome man.


Well I always knew i'm God.

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Old Post 05-06-02 05:57 #
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Zaldron
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OBVIOUSLY 2 GODS. I mean, the whole "the One and only One", "I am the Alpha and the Omega" is just plain marketing.

You're not supposed to say "So yeah, it's either me or the other guy, you know, the one with the horns and the all-night parties, so anyway can I write your name down on my list?".

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Old Post 05-06-02 06:09 #
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læmænt
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http://www.churchofsatan.com/

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Old Post 05-06-02 06:32 #
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Spike
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Church of Satan : fun place, nice people, welcoming atmosphere...

No, seriously, it is!

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Old Post 05-06-02 06:37 #
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Danarchy
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D&D IS the Satan!

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Old Post 05-06-02 07:45 #
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EllipsusD
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Not to be nitpicky... but is dualism defined by the belief of one god over another? I've heard of many forms where the nature of worship is the fact that there are two equal halves maintaining a balance within life an nature, and it is this balance that is importance... not necessarily good v. evil.

Old Post 05-06-02 10:32 #
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dsm
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The real question here is: Is Satan a God?
I've always been taught that Satan is a Demon - the opposite of a God.
Also, afaik Satan was once the Archangel - the second most powerful, errr, "entity" after God, who tried to overthrow God. God punished him by sending him to the Underworld or what became Hell and the Archangel (can't remember his original name - I'm not all that interested) became Satan.
Now according to this, Satan was never as powerful as God and never was a God - only the mightiest angel before God and he became the "boss" of fallen angels - demons.

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Old Post 05-06-02 11:28 #
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Scientist
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I must say IMJack has come up with quite a question. although I consider myself an atheist for the sake of argument I shall give you my thoughts:

Although satan is a very powerful being I agree with dsm. I do not consider him to be as powerful as god. satan is in fact just a fallen angel. His power comes from the fact that he is free from god. I don't think he has more power than any angel just more freedom; he is no god.

Further,
Perhaps the clear distiction between god (truth, good) and satan (deception evil) isn't so clear. Just read the following:

On the Bible
by THOMAS PAINE

"The Church tells us that the books of the Old and New Testament are divine revelation, and without this revelation we could not have true ideas of God.

The Deist, on the contrary, says that those books are not divine revelation; and that were it not for the light of reason and the religion of Deism, those books, instead of teaching us true ideas of God, would teach us not only false but blasphemous ideas of Him.

Deism teaches us that God is a God of truth and justice. Does the Bible teach the same doctrine? It does not.

The Bible says (Jeremiah xx, 7) that God is a deceiver. "O Lord (says Jeremiah) thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived. Thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed."

Jeremiah not only upbraids God with deceiving him, but, in iv, 10, he upbraids God with deceiving the people of Jerusalem. "Ah! Lord God (says he), surely thou hast greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, ye shall have peace, whereas the sword reacheth unto the soul."

Also:
The name Lucifer (this is the name dsm) means light-bearer. This demon was originally an exalted and powerful angel who became the leader of the rebellion in heaven against the authority of God. For his sin of disobedience Lucifer was cast down into a pit, along with those angels who had followed him in the war in heaven. In his fallen condition, his name became Satan.

In Miltons work Paradise Lost he causes Lucifer to declare to his fallen comrades in arms:

The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n.
What matter where, if I be still the same,
And what I should be, all but less than he
Whom Thunder hath made greater? Here at least
We shall be free; th' Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav'n.

Milton's view that Lucifer is a tragic hero because, even in defeat, he maintained his pride and his principles, is a very modern perspective on the Devil. It has Gnostic undertones. The Gnostic belief was that knowledge and freedom are what make us human, and that any authority that prevents us from learning our true nature or choosing our own destiny is evil, no matter how it may characterize itself. From the Gnostic perspective, the angels were slaves before the rebellion in heaven because they never questioned their actions, just as Adam and Eve were slaves in the Garden of Eden because they did what they were told without wondering if it was good or bad.

Two separate Lucifers exist: one a hideous demon of the pit who devours damned souls, and the other a courageous rebel who suffers torments because he will never submit to arbitrary rule.



So god and satan themselfs have dualistic characters.



Lucifer appears as a demon in the Old Testament. He is mentioned by the prophet Isaiah in a tone of poignant regret: "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High." (Isaiah 14:12-4).

Last edited by Scientist on 05-06-02 at 12:04

Old Post 05-06-02 11:59 #
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Captain Red
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my head hurts.

umm anywho, if satan is the oppasite of god... would that mean he's mortal or just imperfect?

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Old Post 05-06-02 12:11 #
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dsm
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Ct_red_pants said:
my head hurts.

umm anywho, if satan is the oppasite of god... would that mean he's mortal or just imperfect?


Hmm, good question.
I would interpret it simply as meaning that his powers are the opposite and his "flesh" is the opposite. I'd say "imperfect" as the general belief is that Satan is immortal.

The name Lucifer (this is the name dsm) means light-bearer.

Yes, I remember that I was told the meaning of the name in my Latin class years ago, but I'm pretty sure that Lucifer wasn't his name before the rebellion - nevermind, it doesn't really matter what his name was, what matters is that I managed to get my point across.

About the actual topic question: I don't really care if Christianity is a dualism or not, but I just don't see Satan as a God. I don't don't know what the "official" interpretation is and I don't care either.

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Old Post 05-06-02 12:43 #
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Insomniak
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Alanis Morissette is God. :P

heh...dogma ruled

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Old Post 05-06-02 14:09 #
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Rellik
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Satan is God's bitch. Thing I always wondered is if you go to heaven eventually you are reborn, but you go to hell forever, isn't there a chance that eventually all the souls will be trapped in Hell? I mean, we all screw up now and then, and according to the whole "thou shalt not kill" thing a whole lot of people are going to hell every year. :p

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Old Post 05-06-02 19:03 #
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dsm
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The idea I have in mind is that you're in Heaven/Hell for a "designated" period, before you're reborn on Earth (or some other planet in the universe where there's life).

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Old Post 05-06-02 22:25 #
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IMJack
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I've got my own theory about the whole "Hell and the Devil" thing. I believe God is willing to forgive anybody who'll feel sorry and make up for whatever bad stuff they know they did. I agree with the theory that Hell is, for the most part, a temporary thing. A soul will work off the debt of their own remorse and then move on. You'd have to be a truley heinous offender to be trapped down there forever.

I also have this funny little theory about people who don't feel sorry for things they did in life. There are people who do bad things without realizing what they're doing is wrong. There are other people, such as professional soldiers, who could possibly justify a lifetime of what could be called 'sin'. In either case, these people would get an afterlife duty serving as the punishers and wardens of Hell. Like I told someone on this board sometime back, if pain and destruction were the key skills of your life, then pain and destruction shall be your duties after death.

I don't buy into the theory of the Devil leading the forces of evil to destroy the world. The way I see it, when Lucifer rebelled against Heaven, he got busted down for it and got the rather unpleasant job of playing chief warden of Hell while he cooled his heels. It's a dirty job, but hey, somebody's gotta do it.

And if anybody's gonna bring the world to its end, it'll be the best and worst of mankind.

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Old Post 05-06-02 23:51 #
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Danarchy
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Satan is a funny concept. He is hardly ever mentioned in the OT. The only part he is really in is Job, where he plagues the poor sod to no end. And even then, he's not really considered a demon or any kind of evil entity at all. In fact, it even implies that he was hanging out in Heaven at the time:

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came amonge them. The Lord said to Satan, "Whence have you come?" Satan answered the Lord, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it." [Job 1:6-7]

Now, in that passage, it actualy flat out tells you that he was walking about on God's creation. What in the Nine is he doing walking around when he has his Inferno to tend to?

As far as I care to know, the whole concept of Lucifer and Satan and all that razzamataz was made up by John Milton, though it was probably Catholic dogma before that. Never in OT does it state that Satan is Lucifer or that he is evil. Its not until the NT where Satan is presented as an evil character at all. It is he who tries to tempt Jesus with eternity in exchange for his sacrifice. But still...who says he's not working for the Big Guy?

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Old Post 05-07-02 00:18 #
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fodders
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Two Gods, Father and Son

"Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee."

To adequately set forth the wealth of evidence in support of the belief that God and Christ are two separate and distinct personages and Gods, it would be wise to begin with the most basic or obvious fact: God is the Father, and Christ is His Son.

This fact is so basic and comprehensible that it is often overlooked and taken for granted during discussions about the separateness or oneness of God and Christ.

Though a man may be both a father and a son, reason dictates that he can neither be a father, nor a son, unto himself (the terms "father" and "son" define the relationship between two separate persons. One may be a father to a son, and a son to a father, but not a son or a father to oneself). As such, if it can be established that God is the Father of Christ, and Christ is God's Son; they, then, cannot be the same personage, but must be considered as two separate and distinct beings. And, since they are both Gods and Lords, they must be seen as separate Gods and Lords, and there must be more than one God and Lord.

However, certain feminist of late have claimed that the masculine or patriarchal references to God as the Father are an inaccuracy of scriptural transcription and translation.

They contended that the references to God in masculine terms are the workings of an exclusively male clergy who wished to retain power unto themselves.

They have also asserted that God is either gender neutral or multi-gender.

Some have even argued that God is a woman.

The more ardent of these feminists have interpreted, and have even taken it upon themselves to re-write the bible so that those passages which speak of God as the Father are read in generic terms (such as "the Holy One"), or in multi-gender terms (such as "Father/Mother)."

It would be contrary to the intent of this chapter to examine this issue in detail. It is, however, important to note that this argument calls into serious question the inspired nature and divine authenticity of the Holy Scriptures. It also impugns the character of its scribes and authors--including Christ the Lord, who on many occasions spoke of God as " Father", "your Father", "our Father", and his "Father"; as well as God, himself, who referred to Christ as His Son (this assumes that Christ and God have been correctly quoted).

I freely admit that since this text relies heavenly upon the scriptures as evidence in support of the claims being made, that only those who question not the verity and accuracy of the references to God as the Father, and who hold the Bible to be the inspired words of God, will accept as valid the scriptural evidence presented. To those who oppose this belief, I am rendered mostly helpless in making my case--at least on this particular point.

There are also some who will contend that the Father/Son relationship between God and Christ is one of a figurative and not literal nature; and as such, they will claim that there is a part of God which is the Father--which part, one would assume, is the Begetter or Creator, and He functions in a paternal and patriarchal role; and there is a part of God which is the Son--which part, one would assume, is the begotten or created, who functions in a dependant or subordinate role; and in this sense He (God) is able to be both Father and Son unto Himself.

This claim is not only difficult to conceptualize, but it implies that God is not, or was not always complete as a God; nor is He, or was He wholly developed. It suggests that there is a part of God which did not at one time exist, but was conceived and born as a Son unto that Fatherly portion of Himself. It also suggests that that portion which was born as a Son unto the Father had need to be nurtured and developed by the Father(11), thus implying that there is a portion of God which has had need of nurturing and development. Under these assertion, God, is, or was not fully complete, perfected, or eternal--an assertion not compatible with revealed truths, nor acceptable to those who may unknowingly have suggested it.

Besides, evidence will be presented in this and other chapters which will show the relation between God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ to be more than just kindred attributes possessed by God himself. God will be seen to have been as much a Father to Christ--and in much the same way--as mortal men are fathers to their offspring. This being true, there is reason to conclude that God and Christ are two separate and distinct personages and Gods.

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Fod's page Son's place De Man's place
You are my opponent, but not my enemy, for your resistance gives me strength. Your will gives me courage. Your spirit ennobles me. And, although I aim to defeat you, should I succeed, I will not humiliate you, instead I will honour you..For without you, I am a lesser man.

Old Post 05-07-02 01:50 #
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IMJack
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Not to knock your copy and pasting skills, fods, but I'm not talking about the separation of godhood between the Lord and Christ. I'm talking about Satan as a god diametrically opposed to the Lord. If you count the Lord and Christ (and for some of us, the Holy Spirit as well) as separate gods, it isn't a Dualism; rather, it is a very small Tight Pantheon setup.

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Old Post 05-07-02 02:12 #
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nxn
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One God or two?
none really.

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Old Post 05-07-02 02:52 #
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IMJack
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orion said:
One God or two?
none really.

I really wish people would read the question before replying. Ah well.

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Old Post 05-07-02 03:11 #
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fodders
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IMJack said:
I really wish people would read the question before replying. Ah well.
I read it, and considered and wondered..."a monotheism or a dualism?", and decided that you were confining it to God and satan, whereas I added the Trinity, God, Jesus and satan, you may consider I just cut 'n paste, but I spend hours digesting what I find and use what relates best to my view, love reading, hate typing :)

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Fod's page Son's place De Man's place
You are my opponent, but not my enemy, for your resistance gives me strength. Your will gives me courage. Your spirit ennobles me. And, although I aim to defeat you, should I succeed, I will not humiliate you, instead I will honour you..For without you, I am a lesser man.

Old Post 05-07-02 04:35 #
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Danarchy
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But do you always have to overshadow me in the process?

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Old Post 05-07-02 07:14 #
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Scientist
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the_Danarchist said:
Satan is a funny concept. He is hardly ever mentioned in the OT. [...] As far as I care to know, the whole concept of Lucifer and Satan and all that razzamataz was made up by John Milton, though it was probably Catholic dogma before that. Never in OT does it state that Satan is Lucifer or that he is evil. Its not until the NT where Satan is presented as an evil character at all. It is he who tries to tempt Jesus with eternity in exchange for his sacrifice. But still...who says he's not working for the Big Guy?

Didn't you read my post?


Scientist said:
Lucifer appears as a demon in the Old Testament. He is mentioned by the prophet Isaiah in a tone of poignant regret: "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High." (Isaiah 14:12-4).


Isaiah (OT) tells us lucifer:
-has fallen from heaven. Also lucifer wants to ascend into heaven, which all tells us he's not in heaven anymore.
-wants to be higher than god, which means he feels rivalry towards god. (that's just evil)

Old Post 05-07-02 10:17 #
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Black
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Wow... I was fairly surprised to see anyone make a reference to the actual Satanist religion even though it really hasn't anything to do with this particular post. I'm part of the official Satanic religion as I'm sure others are so in either case it seems reasonable to post for whatever reason. I'll get back to this topic but I've run out of time. : (

Black

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Old Post 05-07-02 14:29 #
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Scientist
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Does he always make an announcement before he makes a post?

Old Post 05-07-02 14:54 #
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fodders
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He is a satanist, so obviously has to make "portends of doom" 1st :)

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Fod's page Son's place De Man's place
You are my opponent, but not my enemy, for your resistance gives me strength. Your will gives me courage. Your spirit ennobles me. And, although I aim to defeat you, should I succeed, I will not humiliate you, instead I will honour you..For without you, I am a lesser man.

Old Post 05-07-02 17:29 #
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Danarchy
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Scientist said:

Didn't you read my post?



Isaiah (OT) tells us lucifer:
-has fallen from heaven. Also lucifer wants to ascend into heaven, which all tells us he's not in heaven anymore.
-wants to be higher than god, which means he feels rivalry towards god. (that's just evil)


Note that it says nothing about Lucifer being Satan, or Lucifer being any kind of a powerful entity at all. That still makes my post valid.

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Old Post 05-07-02 19:32 #
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dsm
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fodders said:
He is a satanist, so obviously has to make "portends of doom" 1st :)

There are three kinds of Satanists I know of:
(1) The regular Satanist who just minds his/her own business.
(2) The moronic Satanists who go out and burn down churches - in other words: morons breaking the law.
(3) The total lunatic Satanists, who go out and "sacrifice" innocent people (described in the thread "Satanists, murderes, oh my").

I hope for his own sake that he's in the first category.
/Me sharpens his combat knife and prepares for a stealth operation

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When he comes back you grab him and I will take his lunch money

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Fod's page Son's place De Man's place
You are my opponent, but not my enemy, for your resistance gives me strength. Your will gives me courage. Your spirit ennobles me. And, although I aim to defeat you, should I succeed, I will not humiliate you, instead I will honour you..For without you, I am a lesser man.

Old Post 05-07-02 20:32 #
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