Unification Sermons and Talks
by Reverend Young Oon Kim
The Unification Theology and Christian Thought - Part II
An explanation of the Divine Principle from a theological viewpoint by Y. O. Kim
Not completed yet.
1. The Principle Of Creation
2. Polarity: Creator And Creation
3. Give And Take
4. Purpose Of Creation
5. Growth And Dominion
6. The Fall Of Man
7. The Universality Of Sin
8. The Nature Of Sin
9. The Identity Of The Serpent
some more to come...
Growth And Dominion
A. The Biblical Creation Story
Some people may think that God created the universe instantaneously with a sudden and inexplicable miracle of divine power. However, a careful and reverent study of the first chapter of Genesis shows that God works according to principle and law. He would not have created the universe without order. There is order in space and in time. Spatial order can be seen, for instance, in the structuring of the human body and in the arrangement of heavenly bodies. There is order in the form and placement of everything in the universe, from atoms to galaxies. In a general but remarkable fashion, the Genesis creation account clearly resembles the scientific account to be found in the ordinary college textbook: God first created man's environment, the physical world; then He populated the earth with creeping things, fowl of the air and other animals; finally, the creation culminated in the appearance of man.
Since the time of the Christian catechetical school of Clement and Origen at Alexandria, Egypt in the second century, it has been customary to interpret the six "days" of creation as epochs of indeterminate time. Pope Leo XIII pointed out in his encyclical Providentissimus of 1893 that there can be no real conflict between the theologian and the natural scientist while both observe the limits of their respective sciences. He states that the Bible was not intended to teach men concerning the external structure of visible things.
B. Three Stages of Growth
In the creation of the world all things grew through a series of stages. The process of growth is a universal characteristic of the world in which we live; to a certain extent the late 19th century scientists understood this. They saw that there is a gradual ascent in the overall course of the pre-animate and subsequent biological history of terrestrial creation. The age of the fishes, for example, was succeeded by the age of the amphibians and reptiles until the world was ready for the kingdom of the mammals.
The French Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin, who is well-known for his paleontology in China, notes that when observed in terms of millions of years, life can easily be seen to move in a definite direction. To prove this all one has to do is compare moments in the earth's history separated by a substantial interim. Teilhard explains that every ten million years life virtually grows a new skin.
Anti-religious scientists who maintain that development takes place randomly are clearly mistaken. According to Teilhard, from the lowest to the highest level of the organic world there is a persistent and clearly defined thrust of animal forms toward species with more sensitive nervous systems. The divine mind behind creation works according to a plan.
Divine Principle sets forth a model of the creation based on the significance of the number three, symbolic of completion. Not only does scripture offer profuse reference to the number three, but creation itself develops on every level in terms of three stages: formation, growth and perfection. Man passes through three periods of life: childhood (formation), adolescence (growth) and adulthood (perfection). Minerals go through three stages: gaseous, liquid and solid. Not only in growth but in structure as well, three stages occur. For instance, man and animals possess a head, a body and extremities There are three primary colors: red, yellow and blue. Thre are three kingdoms: animal, plant and mineral. And all this exists in a three-dimensional world.
C. Direct and Indirect Dominion
For Christian thinkers there has often been considerable tension between their faith that God rules man and the equally strong belief that man possesses free will. This was the crux of the debate between Augustine and Pelagius. Christians claim that from birth to death man is guided and governed by the strong love of a kind Heavenly Father. On the other hand, no less certain is the conviction that man is the master of his fate and the captain of his soul. Unification theology deals with this question in its penetration of "Direct" and "Indirect" Dominion.
According to Divine Principle, God's rule over man before he reaches perfection is an indirect dominion. Just as plants and animals have to reach a certain level of growth in accordance with natural law before man can harvest or have full use of them, so must we mature spiritually in accordance with divine law before God can "harvest" us. That maturity is achieved as man becomes one with God's heart; when man fully responds to God, God bestows on him His love and His power. This is called direct dominion. It should not be confused with a one-sided domination, but rather understood as a mutual loving companionship. Nor should it be considered as a duty: in fact, it is the crowning jewel in one's interior life, opening on an immense new vista of effervescent joy and seraphic beauty.
For a true union, a perfect subject requires a perfected object; therefore, God, in His perfection cannot relate to man directly until man himself becomes perfect and is capable of a depth of understanding which is more compatible with God's understanding.
Divine law or divine principle is a guide for man during the process of growth. Man's spiritual maturation through the formation, growth and perfection stages follows the pattern of physical growth through childhood, adolescence and adulthood. The three stages, though not sharply divided, of course, are nevertheless apparent; they flow into one another on a continuum with perfection not being a static state, but rather a new awareness, a new dimension of heart. The period before perfection, when God only governs man indirectly through divine principle, is called God's indirect dominion. The principle operates of its own accord to supervise and direct the spiritual development of man, much as natural law govens the workings of the physical universe.
However, man's spiritual growth follows a different pattern than that of physical creation; while the things of the material world grow to maturity according to the autonomous power of the principle, man does not grow to maturity automatically. Had he, then we would be living in an ideal world. Man must himself contribute to this growth by his own conscious, creative effort; he must become a partner with God in his moral, intellectual and intuitive development. That is, the creation process is not completed until man has fulfilled his own portion of responsibility.
Figuratively speaking, we may say that God does 95% through the principle, but of man is required the 5% which will bring all things to fruition.
Why then, we may ask, is it necessary for man to go through a period of indirect dominion? Why is it obligatory for man to fulfill his "5%" of personal responsibility?
God is a responsible being; man is created in His image, also a responsible being. Man is challenged to become a co-creator with God and to earn his right to become lord of creation. Indeed, if one is to assume dominion over any aspect of creation, then that person himself must at some time participate in creation. Professor Brunner has pointed out that in man God created something special; he is distinct from other earthly creatures because of the divine likeness bestowed on him by God; and this divine image is most aparently expressed in his power to rule over other creatures. So in God's sight man must first learn to rule himself-to actually create himself-before he can have the right to assume a true dominion of creation. This is the condition set by God.
God created man to be subject over the entire universe. In God's mind each man's life is very valuable because no two persons are alike; each has a unique role to fulfill. Each in his perfection is to be the lord of creation.
Hence the value of a perfected person-one who is spiritually alive-is precious to God. It is this type of person whom He dreamed of having as His child-and never saw it fulfilled; whom He sought over the centuries to pour out His love to but was consistently rejected; and whom God is seeking now-to redeem a bound and exploited creation. This is the person who is qualified to be lord of creation. This is the person who will penetrate direct dominion.
Accordung to the Genesis creation account, God looked on all that He had made and beheld that it was very good (1:31). This may well represent what creation originally looked like from the divine perspective; but we contemplate the world around us and are filled with dismay. There is an obvious gap between the ideal and the actual, the Biblical vision and the human situation. Understandably, in 1948 when the World Council of Churches opened its constituting session at Amsterdam, the theme was "Man's Disorder and God's Design".
When good King Uzziah died, the prophet Isaiah saw a vision of the Lord lifted upon high, this vision clearly depicts the polar nature of religious experience: on one hand he was inspired to hear from the seraphim that the whole earth is filled with the glory of the Lord of hosts; on the other hand, no less real and no less important was Isaiah's abject confession: "Woe is me ! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips...." (6:5)
In his Theology of the Old Testament, Professor Walter Eichrodt of Basle carefully analyzes what he calls "the pessimistic critique of the human heart", which was characteristic of Semitic religion as a whole and Hebraism in particular. According to the Jewish scriptures, he points out, there is an infinite gulf between the all purposeful God and impotent man; the whole of the creation is sunk in sin and guilt. Man rebels aginst the unconditional authority of God and his individual actions are often affronts to the divine will. The cosmic order has been disrupted by human contempt for the sacred, with man deliberately hardening himsell against positive impulses. He becomes virtually enslaved to sin, and this inner proclivity toward evil reveals active opposition to God and worse, actual enmity towards God.
The Universality Of Sin
According to Eichrodt, the common Hebrew word for sin means to go astray or to miss the mark. Men contravene an unconditional Ought, thereby transgressing divine law and becoming spirirual criminals. They wander from the path of righteousness, breaking the covenant binding God and mankind together and becoming estranged from the Most High. Every circumstance of man's existence seems to be at odds with his original destiny. Sin separates man from God.
Personal and collective sins, whether committed by the individual or perpetrated by the nation, are alike condemned by the Old Testament priest and denounced by the canonical prophets. The Ten Commandments, aside from purely ritualistic matters, deal primarily with individual wrongdoing: disrespect for parents, lying, stealing, murder, adultery and covetousness, for example. >From the prophets came hard-hitting denunciations of social sins like oppression of the poor and unprincipled international relations. Biblical religion is as much interested in social righteousness as in individual rectitude.
Though there were sometimes said to be rare exceptions such as Enoch, Noah, Job and King Hezekiah (men whom the Talmud considered wholly righteous), most often the Bible insists upon the universal rule of sin over the human heart. A New Testament writer sums up the virtually unanimous verdict of the scriptures: "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (I John 1:8) In one of the older standard books on systematic theology, Professor Charles Hodge said: "What the scriptures so clearly teach is taught no less clearly by experience and history. every man knows that he himself is a sinner. He knows that every human being whom he ever saw is in the same state of apostasy from God.... We have no account of any family, tribe, or nation free from the contamination of sin. The universality of sin among men is therefore one of the most undeniable doctrines of scripture, and one of the most certain facts of experience."
Particularly important in regard to scriptural belief in the universality of sin is the fact that the key proof texts come from a wide variety of writers. One is not surprised to learn that the unknown old cynic who wrote Ecclesiastes would say, "Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins." (7:20) Isaiah speaks in the same vein: "All we like sheep have gone astray. (53:6) In the Psalms we read, "If thou, O Lord, shouldst mark iniquities Lord, who could stand?" (130:3) Even the compiler of the royal annals includes the observation: "... there is no man who does not sin...." (I Kings 8:46)
In the New Testament too, men of markedly differing temperament and outlook share the same basic conviction at this point. Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels exclaims. "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone." (Mk. 10:18) The Epistle of James observes, "For we all make many mistakes." (3:2) I John insists, "If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar."(1:10) And of course , Paul's opinion is clear enough: "... all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)
Christians theology affirms without hesitation the utter goodness of God and the thorough-going sinfulness of man. This apparent contradiction is resolved by referring the original sin by which the first couple, Adam and Eve, separated themselves from God. This primal sin flows from our first parents and infects us with an incurable malady. Because of what happened in the Garden of Eden, generation after generation suffers from a sense of guilt. No one has been born free of this hereditary taint: the apostasy from God is complete.
According to the Jewish Talmud, the rabbinical schools of Shammai and Hillel (prominent just before the time of Jesus) debated over whether it would have been better if man had never been created in the light of his subsequent sins and tribulations. After two ancia half years of argument, the majority of rabbis voted with Hillel that the creation of man was a tragedy. In line with this bleak opinion was the rabbinic view that from birth man is subject to an evil impulse, and that a good impulse from God is not granted to him until he is thirteen when he becomes a legal member of the synagogue. The Talmud would have us understand that while the evil impulse is king over all two hundred and forty-eight organs of the body, the good impulse is little better than a prisoner in jail. In stressing the grip of sin on the human personality, Paul was in agreement with a large number of the rabbis of his own time.
The Nature Of Sin
The Carden of Eden incident in the book of Genesis has long been considered of crucial importance for the Hebrew-Christian understanding of human nature and its interpretation has been a matter of acrimonious debate. Of those who claim to take the Bible literally often an exception is made with the Adam and Eve narrative; Philo among the Jews and Origen among the early Christians treated the narrative as pure allegory. Augustine, who was particularly important in working out the traditional doctrine of original sin, represents the majority position, arguing that the Eden account should be taken both literally and symbolically; that is to say, taken partly as historic fact, partly as spiritual truth.
Unification theology states that the fruit of the tree of knowledge is a symbolic expression. It is reasoned that even fallen parents would never test their children with deadly poison, so how could God do this? In addition, the eating of a literal fruit could hardly be the cause of the inherited sin which affects all humanity. Jesus said, "Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man." (Matt. 15:11) This discussion of the validity of kosher law is inapplicable to the Fall.
If the fruit is not a literal apple, fig or grape (some of the aditional conjectures), what does it symbolize? In the garden Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed. After eating the fruit, they realized their nakedness , felt shame, and concealed the sexual areas of their bodies (Gen. 2:25, 3:7). These actions suggest the symbolic meaning of eating the fruit. It is human nature to conceal anything that is wrong or defective. Had they eaten an apple, they would have covered their mouths or hid their hands. However, Adam and Eve covered the lower parts of their bodies, indicating that they had had a sexual relationship outside of that ordained by God. Their sudden experience of shame became an instinctive response to their loss of innocence.
In referring to their sexual actions, the Hebrews (as well as men of other cultures) commonly spoke of eating or picking a fruit. In the Bible and elsewhere "to know" a woman means to have sexual relations with her (Gen. 4:17, 25, 19:8). It is clear that to "eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil" means to have sexual relations.
Although the majority Catholic, Protestant and Jewish opinion on the Fall does not consider it in terms such as this, there have been some who have attempted to demonstrate such a relationship.
Cardinal Jean Danielou, an expert on early Christian literature and a member of the French Academy, in his small book on Genesis asserts, "A majority of critics underline the fact that the sin has a sexual character." He goes on to explain that the Eden story represents a Jewish attack on the Canaanite cults which involved worship of sacred and trees as well as the use of sacred prostitutes. However, one need not necessarily asume that the Genesis narrative originated as a denunciation of Phoenician phallic worship, even though it may have been used for that purpose later. References to lust are likewise found in the commentaries on the Eden story in the Jewish apocalypses and Christian literature that later appeared in the subapostolic and patristic ages.
Nor can the unusual praise given to the practice of religious celibacy be ignored. Not only did Paul encourage chastity but Jesus also pointed out that there are some who are eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Hinduism, Buddhism and many forms of Christianity have taught that for the true seeker the highest path involved sexual abstinence, necessarily implying that marriage does not have the sanction of God but is a compromise for those who are unable to realize such a path. Such religions hint that there is something fundamentally wrong with sexual desire. Does this not suggest that the original and originating sin is sexual? Does this not mean that marriage as we know it has never meant all that God intended?
Even the rite of circumcision can be related to the Fall of man if one sees its deepest meaning. According to Genesis, Abrahan instituted this ceremonial act as a visible sign of the covenant binding the children of Israel to their God. The most obvious significance of the act is cultic, that is, the separation of Hebrews from others. Some modern commentators have tried to explain that the rite was designed for hygienic reasons but this modern view contradicts the Biblical explanation. Others treat it as part of very ancient puberty rituals by which a youth was recognized as an adult but that too is not the meaning given by Abraham. Certain anthropologists suggest that the rite was originally considered an act of symbolic castration. Something about sex is felt to alienate man from God. By cutting off his foreskin, he indicates his determination to cut off any ties he has with Satan. For Divine Principle, circumcision represents symbolic restitution for the original sin of Adam and Eve.
"Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it." (Gen. 1:28) This passage indicates God's intention to bless Adam and Eve in marriage. Marital love was to be sacred, and that blessing is the highest given by God; when a man and woman unite in perfection, they are in a sense a new, higher being even closer to God. Adultery in the Talmud is considered such a serious sin that it can only compare with idolatry and murder. It is obvious that the sexual action of Adam and Eve must have taken place outside of marriage and that this action was the original sin.
Although the books of the Old Testament are little concerned with the sin of Adam (which has led more than one scholar to deny that it was a matter of concern for the Hebrews), the apocryphal book of Ecclesiasticus, Ben Sirach, the pseudepigraphal Book of Enoch and the apocalyptic literature of the Intertestamental period (quite ingeniously at times and not without fancy) devote considerable length to its discussion. However, the most valid and important exegesis is found in the New Testament itself. In Romans, Paul wrote:
Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.... Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men; so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. (5:14, 18)
Thus, we are told that the original sin is the cause of all subsequent transgressions and is responsible for the spiritual death and misery of all mankind. This has led both theologian and lay Christian alike to wonder how a single sin, whatever its gravity, could corrupt the entire human race. Professor Hodge compares it to one puncture of the eye which causes permanent blindness or to a single perforation of the heart which brings life to an end for the whole body. Several rabbis compare it to a poison whose effects is passed on from one generation to another. Psychoanalysts have often traced severe mental disturbances back to a single psychic shock. One could further say that it is like the contamination of a water supply at its source which inevitably affects an entire city or like a disease that enters the roots of a tree and gradually infects every branch and leaf. In the family tree of mankind Adam and Eve were the roots.
The Identity Of The Serpent
The Biblical story relates that a serpent in the Garden of Eden tempted Eve to eat fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil even though God had forbidden it. She succumbed to the temptation, ate of the fruit and gave some to Adam. God had warned that if man ate of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil he would die. Because of their disobedience Adam and Eve were cursed and cast out of Eden.
Professor F.R. Tennant of Cambridge University has written an exhaustive study of the Fall story using as his sources the Bible, the Talmud, extra-canonical Jewish and Christian literature and the writings of Church Fathers prior to Augustine. In his work, he reminds us that the serpent in the Garden was far more than an ordinary reptile. As the scriptures report, he was a speaking animal, more clever than any other beast of the field, who became the crawling creature in consequence of the punishment for his temptation of Eve. For Tennant, the Biblical account points back to a more primitive legend in which the serpent was a supernatural being who offered to mankind the gift of knowledge of sexual love. Clearly no animal can tempt man in the manner the Bible suggest.
The book of Revelation speaks of "that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world". (Rev. 12:9) Such a passage brings together the last book of the Bible and the first. According to the commonly accepted Christians view, Satan was the serpent in the Garden of Eden. But such an identification did not originate with the Church. In post-Old Testament writings the serpent is the instrument employed by the devil to tempt Eve: the Apocalypse of Moses, the Conflict of Adam and Eve, the History of the Creation and of the Transgression of Adam, the Narratio Zosimi and certain rabbinical literature. In the Book of Wisdom, the Vita Adae and elsewhere, the serpent is completely identified with Satan. A verse in the Book of Enoch mentions Gadreel as the tempter of Eve and in the Apocalypse of Abraham he is called Azazel, a serpent in form but with hands, feet and wings. Rabbi Hoschaia describes the serpent as a double-horned creature, walking upright as a stick, with hands and feet which angels cut off as punishment for the Fall.
Some historians of religion, particularly of a liberal Protestant persuasion or of a rationalist temper, have maintained that the Hebrews did not conceive of Satan as the fallen archangel or the arch-enemy of Yahweh until after the Babylonian conquest, or even as late as the Persian period. It is said that at that time the exiles came in contact with the highly developed demonology of the Middle East and the dualistic theology of the Zoroastrians, who interpreted all existence as a conflict of cosmic proportions between the good God of light, Ahura Mazda, and the evil god of darkness, Ahriman. The Yahwist history of Hebrew origins, of which the Garden of Eden story is a part, is usually ascribed to the reigns of David or Solomon. It is argued that for this reason, Satan could not be the tempter referred to, because the whole idea of such a demonic power did not appear among the Jews for several centuries. Furthermore, in the one Old Testament book (Job) where Satan plays a prominent role, he is interpreted as a public prosecutor in the celestial court, a servant of Yahweh-not an archdemon or a rebellious and fallen archangel. How then can it be maintained that Satan tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden or that he was responsible for the Fall and origina1 sin?
We do know that demonology goes back to the earliest days of the Hebrew people as it does in all primitive cultures. One class of these devils that inhabited desolate places have been described as goat-shaped beings connected with fertility of the fields. These fertility spirits were placated by sacrifices during the Sinai Wilderness period. Isaiah 13:2l refers to them dancing in the ruins of the once-powerful Babylon. Lilith, associated with them, was conceived by the Babylonians as a wilderness-dwelling storm phantom. tom. The spirit Azazel (Lev. 16) deserves particular notice because of his part in the Day of Atonement ritual: one he-goat chosen as a sin offering was sacrificed for Yahweh; a second was driven into the desert as an offering to Azazel. In later Judaism his name was attached to the leader of the fallen angels. While Walter Eichrodt strongly protests efforts to interpret this demon as an embodiment of Satan, it is possible that Azazel was one of several pseudonyms for the devil of the New Testament.
Tne Talmud adds many details about demons but it is difficult to decide which are early ideas and which represent much later theological development. God is said to have turned the worst of the men who built the tower of Babel into apes, spirits, demons and night devils. Another opinion was that Adam and Eve mated with spirits and produced demons. Lilith was sometimes said to have been Adam's first wife.
Scholars like Edward Langton assure us that Satan as distinct human personality appears in only three Old Testament passages (Zechariah 3:1, job 1 and 2, I Chronicles 2l:l)-all of which are of post-exilic origin. This would seem to make any Hebrew identification of the tempter in Eden with Satan quite Imposslble. Nevertheless, several points can be made to resolve this difficulty. That the Hebrews believed in demons or malevolent spirits from time immemorial is granted by all the scholarly authorities. That the serpent in Genesis has extraordinary features of a demonic nature is likewise generally admitted. There is also the fact that the sacred Hebrew literature was strongly influenced by the party which so emphasized the sole reality and power of Yahweh that they consciously suppressed all ideas suggesting the existence of an anti-God force that could threaten the divine sovereignty. This might help to explain why the book of Job treats Satan as a servant of God instead of His chief foe. But when the Yahwist group lost their power as a result of the Assyrian conquest, Babylonian and Persian influence brought ancient religious ideas into the open and provided an atmosphere for their clarification.
During their exile, Hebrew religious leaders confronted a Zororoastrian theology specifically designed to explain the problem of evil in the most dramatic fashion, this brought to the forefront those elements of the traditional Hebrew faith previously played down in order to emphasize the exclusive power of God. The result is not new and foreign ideas transplanted on Hebrew soil, but old and widely-accepted beliefs which at last have an opportunity to appear above ground. Awareness of Satan surfaced.
During the Intertestamental period, particularly in Jewish apocalyptic literature, much thought was given as to the nature of the Satanic sovereignty as well as the character of Satan's agents. The new Testament comes out of this background.
In the Synoptic Gospels both the lesser evil spirits and Satan play prominent roles. If one were to read the Gospel of Mark alone, it would seem natural to think that Jesus was as well known for his power as an exorcist as for his ability in religious teaching. In Matthew and Luke the temptation of Jesus by Satan includes the idea that the devil has complete authority over the kingdoms of this world. Paul describes Satan as the "god of this world" and the Fourth Gospel refers to him as the "ruler of this world".
However, for at least two hundred years-since the Age of Reason-there have been fewer and fewer educated Western people who have accepted the existence of malevolent or benevolent spiritual beings other than God and the immortal souls of departed humans. That fact alone separated the 18th 19th and 20th centuries from all previous ages. As Professor Henri-Irenee Marou of the Sorbonne wrote, aside from theologians and others steeped in ancient writings, the reality of Satan is seldom consided these days.
M. Marrou, however, added that besides historians of ideas and traditionalist theologians, masters of the spiritual life still take Satan seriously. For Christians and many others, one such master of the spiritual life is Jesus of Nazareth. If it is true that Christ believed in the existence of demonic spirits, then most Christians would reconsider denying Satanic reality as part of either a scholary or popular demythologizing of the New Testament. The usual argument is that Jesus accommodated himself to the language and religious convictions of his hearers. That supposition is, of course, patently false. He contradicted the highly treasured beliefs of both the Sadducees and Pharisees on such matters as the validity of the Mosaic Law concerning food regulations, the Sabbath and divorse. If he did not believe in the existence of Satan and the demons, it is very likely that he would have said so. In his book on demonology, Langton therefore concludes: "...it seems to be the indubitable fact that Jesus did believe in Satan as the personal head of the kingdom of evil which is opposed to the reign of God in the lives of men. If His language is not to be held to imply so much as this, it is difficult to see why Christ's belief in a personal God may not be eliminated also...."
Someone, perhaps C.S. Lewis, has quipped that since Satan is the father of lies, his most effective deception has been to tell people he doesn't exist. If we are not looking for him, he can do his work without much fear of discovery. If physical objects can skip our notice simply because we are preoccupied with other matters, how much more difficult it is to perceive spiritual reality which we cannot easily see or hear or touch.
In line with the above remarks, it is fairly obvious that since the Renaissance and even more since the Age of Reason, Western man has largely restricted his attention to the temporal rather than the eternal the material rather than the spiritual the human instead of the divine. This intellectual climate itself has distorted our vision. In this sense, the age of the machine and the technological revolution has been a curse as well as a blessing. Nicolai Berdyaev predicted that with the decline of the West, a new Middle Ages would be born. He did not think of a retum to the past as such but of a reawakening of the human spirit to important dimensions of existence which we have overlooked in our preoccupation with material progress. In such an age God and Satan might again become as real as they once were for St. Anthony or St. Thomas, Maimonides and Avicenna, Roger Bacon and Swedenborg.
It is also imperative to distinguish the actuality of Satan from popular misconceptions handed down to us from folklore. There has been widespread attack upon belief in devils because it is easy ridicule folk legends about spiritual realities. Those who believe in Satan have objectified his existence by describing him in language drawn from the physical world. For example, Satan is supposed to have horns and a tail, yet otherwise look like a human being; if we have never seen such a creature and no one can point him out to us, we reasonably doubt his very existence. It is important to recall that he is an expert at disguises and that he appesirs in a variety of ways depending at least in part upon what we expect. Baudelaire, the poet-and for a time a confirmed Satanist reminds us, "The devil's first trick is his incognito. "If he sometimes manifests himself in a manner which makes his identity crystal-clear, more often he appears masked in an attractive form.
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