By Beth Snodderly, D.Litt. et Phil.
God wants his children to be known as peacemakers. Jesus is the Prince of Peace.
Greg Boyd wrote in a Sept. 2010 ReKnew blog that, “A number of scholars have argued that the whole point of the book of Revelation is to vindicate God’s sacrificial lamb-like way of overcoming evil. That is, God’s way of defeating evil by being willing to die, rather than conquer with violence, looks like it loses throughout history, but all will see that it triumphs in the end.”
One of these scholars is Sigve Tonstad, author of the book, Saving God’s Reputation. He points out that as a deceiver, “Satan wins support for his cause and programme by something other than what he truly represents. If this is the case, simple demolition of the deceiver will not suffice unless or until his true character has become manifest” (p. 129). If God were to simply demolish the devil, those who have lent their support toward the evil one by believing his lies would then continue to believe the lies about God’s character.
Erich Sauer (The King of the Earth, p. 73), writing after the violence of World War II, explained his view that Satan’s area of power had been granted to him legally before his fall. (“The whole world lies in the power of the evil one,” 1 John 5:19.) Sauer believes it is God’s plan to take back the rulership of the world from Satan in a way that is “legal” and that reflects God’s justice. This meant, according to Sauer, that God would have to take the rulership of the world back without force, through the free choices of human beings who have to decide for themselves which ruler to follow. This was obviously a big risk for God, as Gregory Boyd points out (Satan and the Problem of Evil, p. 86). By creating humans and putting them in charge of the world, God was setting up a counter Kingdom and throwing out a challenge to Satan. The serpent’s insinuation to Eve was Satan’s initially successful response to that challenge. But God struck back with a long-term plan, first mentioned in Genesis 3:15, to defeat the dark prince of this world and restore the world to what it was originally intended to be, under the rule of the Creator-King.
Satan has to wait until humans give him an opportunity to act (Trevor Ling, The Significance of Satan, p. 38). God likewise has chosen to limit himself to acting when intercessors and his obedient people pray, “let your kingdom come; let your will be done” (Matthew 6:10).
Beth Snodderly is the RWI's Theologian in Residence and Chair of the Advisory Board.