So a few weeks ago I was reviewing some recent, secondary literature on the famous scene of Peter’s rebuke in Mk 8:33 (“Get behind me, Satan!”). My own interests were in the language of interscholastic (as in Hellenistic philosophical schools) rebuke and frank criticism. However, during this survey, I quite unexpectedly came upon a passage which caught my interest as a Mormon. The source is Hans F. Bayer’s Das Evangelium des Markus (Witten: Brockhaus, 2008), a volume in the Historisch-Theologische Auslegung series for the NT. The context of the passage is the exegesis of Peter’s rebuke and his misunderstanding of the concept of a messiah. Bayer first points out that Peter’s political messianic expectations clouded his own rebuke of Jesus’ assertion that he must suffer and die. He then discusses the theological implications of such misguided messianic hopes.
“Above all, this notion at the same time unwarily and perfunctorily flouts the fundamental problem of alienation from God. Furthermore this expectation underestimates the power of Satan. The divine way goes to the root of this problem.
Every religion or philosophy of life which over-plays or makes light of these root issues of the fundamental alienation from God and the power of Satan (e.g. Palestinian Judaism, the Koran, the Book of Mormon, Buddhism, the doctrine of Confucius, Hinduism; cf. also for example the Stoic philosophy of life), ultimately defies the sovereignty of God and his will, as in the case of Peter. Here also there is fundamental fact that the individual, from his own idealistic perspective, does not require a vicariously suffering Messiah. Only from the revealed perspective of God does the individual recognize his grave alienation and enmity toward God (the burden of sin) as well as the power of Satan. From this he realizes that he is existentially reliant upon the vicariously suffering and, moreover, ruling Messiah.”
I am no specialist in German translation so this rendering is a bit slavish and rough. Also I am not a theologian so I may have botched some technical terms. That being said, what is Bayer suggesting here? Why would Bayer include the Book of Mormon in the list of works, disciplines, or philosophies which either over- or under-play humankind’s alienation from God and the power of Satan? Does the BOM over- or under-play these two issues? Does it over-play the one and under-play the other?
I suppose that the statement surprised me because I think of the BOM as pretty heavy handed when it comes to the notion of humankind’s alienation and dependence upon divinity and the influence/power of Satan. Maybe Bayer is confusing some other Mormon theological developments or ideas bandied about from time to time (humans as divine entities, spirits as co-eternal with God, abolition from the concept of hell, Satan and Jesus as bros, etc.) with what the BOM itself offers.