Am I Really One With Satan?

Courtesy of Pixabay

I’ve often been accused of being one with Satan. Given that the satan—or, ha satan in Hebrew—can translate to “the accuser,” I find this deliciously ironic. Nevertheless, it seems to be some Christians’ favorite thing to say about me. Case in point, check out this “review” of my latest book “Heretic!”:

“This is a demonic lie. It directly goes against the very words of Jesus and it is a Gospel of the spineless who are not willing to face the hard truth. It’s an affront to Jesus’ work on the cross. It is deceptive, a completely perverted understanding of the Gospel. And people who spread these lies are one with the devil.”

Nice, huh?

So, given that this is a pretty harsh critique of what I believe, allow me to distill the theology I espouse in the book so that y’all can see if what I’m saying is really satanic or not. I’ll allow you to draw your own conclusions.

Point 1: Following Jesus

No matter what we conclude theologically, we should follow Jesus in how we treat one another. Above all else, we should love our neighbor as ourselves and we should love God. We should also love our enemies, should reject retribution as a means of achieving peace, and should lay down our weapons in exchange for self-emptying love.

Point 2: Reading our Bible

If we are going to read our bibles—and I believe we should—we need to allow Jesus to show us how. No matter how we define the Bible, no matter which books we include or exclude, we need to listen to our rabbi.

Point 3: God is Like Jesus

I contend that the way God behaves is exactly like Jesus. Hence, if something is found in Scripture that doesn’t line up with the nonviolent messiah from Nazareth, then it’s probably wrong. Now, that doesn’t mean I’m a Marcionite—one who chucks out the entire Old Testament as well as some of the New—it just means all of Scripture needs to be read in light of Christ.

Point 4: Universalism in the Early Church

Historically speaking, Universalism was taught in the early church. That doesn’t necessarily mean the fathers and mothers who taught this doctrine were correct—although I think they were—it just means that’s what they taught. Nothing more, nothing less.

Point 5: The Cross is Sacrificial

I admit, the cross is sacrificial in nature. I just don’t think it is a sacrifice that changes God’s mind about us. Rather, it is a sacrifice that subverts this “traditional” notion, one that, in essence, changes our mind about God. In other words, contrary to the archaic understanding of “sacrificing to the gods,” God incarnates God’s self in the form of a human and is offered TO US! And in doing so, we are saved, not from some speculative afterlife or from God’s vengeful thunderbolt, but from ourselves, our sin, the satan, and the powers and principalities that structure our messed-up world.

Point 6: Free Will

I believe in free will. Now, that doesn’t mean I buy the post-Kantian stock line that our volition is found in the complete spontaneity of the will. This is not what the Bible teaches. Instead, I believe that through the power of the Holy Spirit we are set free. That is to say, we begin as enslaved humans—tied up, mimetically, with each other and with our power structures—and then are liberated by the Risen Lord.

Point 7: The Wrath of God

I believe in the wrath of God—sort of. I just don’t believe the lie that God’s wrath is like ours. Instead, I believe God’s wrath—if we even want to call it that—is a gracious wrath that stems from God’s eternal outpouring of love. To believe otherwise, it seems, is to be in contradiction with the New Testament claim that “God IS love.”

Point 8: The Second Coming

If Christ is coming back, then he is not coming back in the manner many say he is; that is, like a bad-ass Pride fighter who desperately needs his enemies to bleed. Rather, if Christ is coming back then it will be consistent with what we see in the Gospels. To suggest otherwise is to not allow Jesus to speak for himself.

So, what do you think? Do I sound like someone who has pledged his allegiance to Satan? Does this sound like it stems from the spirit of accusation? Or, rather, does it sound like actual good news? I’ll let you decide.

You can pick up my new book here. Now through the end of April, it is only 99 cents on Kindle, and all royalties will be going to the Preemptive Love Coalition, whose mission is to offer emergency relief and aid to those torn-up by war. How satanic, I know!

About
Matthew J. Distefano is the author of four books, including the recently released "Heretic!: An LGBTQ-Affirming, Divine-Violence Denying, Christian Universalist's Responses to Some of Evangelical Christianity's Most Pressing Concerns," out now on Quoir Publishing. He is married, has one daughter, and likes to spend his free time hiking, gardening, and cooking. You can read more about the author here.
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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • The Mouse Avenger

    I think it sounds like very good news, indeed. 🙂

  • soter phile

    you said: “we should follow Jesus in how we treat one another.”

    Jesus is pretty harsh on pastors and teachers – especially ones he thinks are misguided.
    A quick pass at Mt.23 disabuses any notion of a merely gentle Jesus.
    It’s almost as if the group most apt to draw his ire are teachers & leaders (Mt.18:6-7).

    Jesus: very, very gentle with most outsiders & “sinners”…
    but really hard on leaders, pastors, power-brokers…
    and often his own disciples… (e.g., the “get behind me, Satan” thing your here title invokes).

  • Harsh is fine in my view.

  • soter phile

    Yet you said: “So, given that this is a pretty harsh critique of what I believe…”

    Maybe the better question for us all: How do I fare in the face of Mt.18:6-7?

  • A text without a context is a con. – Jarred Saul McKenna

  • soter phile

    That quote fails its own criterion. It’s self-refuting.

    Unless, of course, one presumes a diligent reader will actually read the quote in context…
    which takes me back to my question regarding Mt.18… in its context.

  • What I mean is that I don’t understand how the context of Mt 18 gas anything to do with this.

  • soter phile

    Mt.18:6: “whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

    If your critics are correct, this verse applies to you – and would be a rather direct rebuke from Christ.
    If they are not, then possibly this verse is a direct rebuke to them.

    Either way, the call for personal relationship & restorative healing (throughout the chapter) is very much germane to any such discussion of substantive divides within the Church – especially the culminating reminder (v.21-35) that every one of us has a much greater debt to God than those we are tempted to hold against one another.

    So, unless you believe Jesus’ Bride is meant long-term to be a broken, splintered, self-maligning mess… union with Christ (the goal of the Church & the opposite of being “one with Satan”) presses this corrective for all involved.

    Or to flip your title: ‘are we really one with Christ?’

  • I’m not sure how I’m causing anyone to sin.

  • soter phile

    I’m not trying to argue with you.
    I’m simply pointing at the quote with which you began this article.

    If that criticism is NOT correct, of course you’re not causing anyone to sin.

    However, if that criticism IS correct (i.e., “spreading lies”, “complete perversion of the Gospel”, etc.), it’s hard to fathom how that’s not directly in the purview of Jesus’ condemnation in Mt.18:6. It certainly would get Paul’s most strident remarks as well (Gal.1:6f).

    So… again… just calling for self-reflection in the face of hard statements for teachers in Scripture.
    And then celebrating things like Romans 8:1.

  • Ivan T. Errible

    Anyone who cares whether or not you’re satanic is an idiot; you and the Fundiegelicals deserve each other.

  • In Paul’s day, the false gospel he was talking about was the one that stemmed from James and the Jerusalem church. Here’s what was being taught: In order to be a Christian, one had to first take on Jewish cultural markers. They were A) male circumcision, B) keep a kosher table, and C) keep the Sabbath. This created dividing lines between Jewish Christian and Gentile converts. But, of course it would. Could you imagine, as an adult man, having to have the tip of your penis cleaved off in order to join the Christians? Could you imagine being a Gentile and having your Jewish Christian brothers and sisters getting up and sitting at a different table from you? Not good. Is that the sort of theology I’m teaching? No, it isn’t.

  • Who said I care? In fact, I put this type of shit on the back cover of my new book because I think it is pretty damn funny.

  • summers-lad

    No, you’re not one with Satan, you’re one with Beelzebul. Oh sorry – Jesus corrected those who said that to him.
    Seriously, your summary of your book is an excellent statement of faith and one which I very much agree with.

  • Lol