Monday, June 29, 2009

Is Satan Necessary to God's Plan?

In LDS theology it seems that Satan is seen as playing a vital role in God's great plan of salvation. Many people find this idea troubling.

As I have studied the idea of "opposition" and the plan of salvation I, too, have questioned how vital Satan is to that plan. There are two key reasons I have to wonder if he really is necessary.

*It appears to me that opposition exists with or without the influence of Satan
*If he is actually carrying out God's plan, why would he be punished for it?

Now, opposition is a big topic all by itself. I have studied it and discussed it with others and it is really an interesting topic.

First, I think we use the word "opposition" in two ways. 1) the act of opposing, resisting or combating. 2) the state of being opposite (ex. black and white are opposite).

Satan seems to fall under the first definition of opposition. When we think of good and evil we think of opposing forces. Two armies fighting against one another. I think I can argue that this is not necessary to God's plan of happiness.

The second type of opposition we talk about is very natural. In heaven, before we came to earth, it appears that we had agency. If this is true, we also had opposition. At least, our theology tells us that we can't have agency without oppostion. Right? Agency and opposites just seem to be a fact of the universe to me.

If one takes the creation story literally, God made sure this earth contained lots of opposition. He put two opposite trees in the Garden. One would bring everlasting life and the other death. Satan tells Eve that she must eat the fruit of knowledge of good and evil. He is also the one who tells her this is the only way to bring about God's plan (basically). Was Satan telling her the truth??? Why would God set them up like that? Isn't Satan the author of lies, fear, guilt and shame? Would a loving Father set up his children for death?

Alright, I'm getting distracted with too many questions. I hope the reader can fully understand my quandry.

It appears to me that opposition is part of the order of the universe. Opposites don't have to be bad. In fact, they are all true. Black is just as true as white. Is one bad and one good? I don't think so. Cold is the opposite of hot, and I prefer a mixture of the two. We also have pleasure versus pain. But are either one of them all good or all bad? No. They both can be physical, mental or spiritual states of being. There are people who are addicts of pleasure and those addicted to pain. I find it interesting that we want to label everything as good or evil. Why do we have that desire?

OK, the real thing that got me thinking about the necessity of ol' Scratch is this:

Little children are not tempted by him. They are out of his reach! Until when??? Until they are TAUGHT right from wrong! Could that be when they "partake of the forbidden fruit?"
Have we not been told to "be like little children" in order to inherit the Kingdom of God?

Also, Satan is to be bound for 1000 years during the Millenium. He will be bound by the righteousness of the people. But, opposition will still exist under definition #2. In fact, life may go on fairly similar to how it is now but the people will have NO DESIRE to sin.
If Satan was necessary for the Plan of Salvation, then how could he be bound for 1000 years while people are still being born? How does that effect The Plan in their lives? We learn that there will be no sorrow because there will be no death-people will get "twinkled" when they are old.

So, do we really need a Satan at all? Why don't we all just kick him out right now? Instead of fighting him, why don't we just reject him?

We all laugh at Satan for being so stupid and falling right into God's plan, however, he might be laughing at us for being so delusional.


  1. Great post TruthSeekerToo-

    I am reminded of the statement by BY who said;

    "The plan of salvation is calculated to make devils as well as Saints; for bye and bye we shall need some to serve as devils... Do you know the Saints could never be prepared to receive the glory that is in reserve for them, without devils to help them to get it?”

    There is reason to believe that there must be opposing forces for the plan of salvation to work..

    But I love your suggestion;

    "Why don't we all just kick him out right now? Instead of fighting him.."


  2. Hi there truthseeker too

    I'm so happy you have this blog and that the watcher pointed it out.

    I also love your desire to search out truth at all costs. It's a wonderful desire and the ride for me is acturally turning out to be a blast. It's the human emotions (anger, frustrations, lust, uncertainty, forgiveness, love, love etc.) that I'm having a tougher time with.

    When you pointed out the pre-earth opposition, Revelation 20 came to my mind which I place during that time period.

    (New Testament | Revelation 20:7 - 9)7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
    8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
    9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.

    How would that fit into your understanding of Satan and his opposition?

  3. Hi Malachi and Watcher! Thanks for dropping by.

    My thoughts are that opposition exists independently of Satan. So when he is "loosed" that is the people choosing wickedness or rebellion. He only has the power we give him.

    I guess I have a tough time seeing the Eternal God needing Satan for His great plan to work.
    When we had the coucil in heaven the plan was presented BEFORE Lucifer fell. I have to think that the plan fully outlined the "good vs. evil" scenerio.

    Although, we do read in D&C 29:39:
    “It must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet”

    If, indeed, Lucifer had to have the role of Satan for the plan to work, why is he punished for it? Or is he? Is having his own "kingdom" and dominion actually a reward?

    In the creation story, we believe Adam and Eve received 2 opposing rules from God. Were they not transgressors from the moment they received those two rules? Weren't they transgressors without Satan's help?

    Watcher, I guess I don't see the CK the same way as BY. He also saw blacks as eternal servants and women as a means of building your kingdom. I'm not sure how a devil would help me gain salvation. Could you expand on that idea?

    Malachi, this is quite the ride! I admit the more I learn the less I know. The search for truth can be very consuming. But I love it!

  4. Actually the concept that it takes both children of light and darkness for the plan of salvation to work will be addressed in the upcoming parts of the 23 high priests article.

    I would submit that this eternal concept may have been partly what the war in heaven was about...

  5. I love this topic! Needless to say I don't talk about it too much at church.

    Here are some of my thoughts. Little children cannot be tempted, but they still do "wrong" things without ANY influence from Satan. To me this means that we could still have sin and opposition without the devil. Kids just aren't accountable for the wrong things they do.

    If this world didn't have Satan, we would still have sin, but things wouldn't be as terrible as they are because we wouldn't have 1/3 of the hosts of heaven constantly in our spiritual ears pushing us to do wrong and goading us with thoughts in our hearts.

    Perhaps the reason Heavenly Father was planning for a Savior was because He knew Lucifer would rebel and would inescapably drag ALL down to hell with him and make this creation for naught. Hence this earth was an aberration in Eternity and we needed to have an infinite and Eternal sacrifice to cover not only this planet but all others that may in the future have an adversary.

  6. I know this question probably hasn't been resolved completely given the knowledge that has been revealed so far, but I tend to lean toward the idea that an external, personal tempter is not necessary for sin and opposition to exist. This is mostly because of two questions it raises, as well as a Neal A. Maxwell quote. You can see my discussion of it here:

    Nathan Richardson, "Astronauts without Planets," comment 10,

    As for the Brigham Young quote, it may not necessarily be incompatible with the Neal A. Maxwell quote. I read it in context, and it might have been a little tongue-in-cheek, since uses it to make a jab at some apostates who were blabbing about the temple.