How many of our fundamental beliefs would Satan disagree with? He knows Jesus personally,
witnessed creation and saw Jesus die and return to life. He certainly believes Jesus is returning and even knows that “his time is short.” He knows that man without a Saviour is lost and hopeless and that he cannot attack anybody under God’s protection (he might even have the “scars” to prove it). If Satan were examined on our fundamental beliefs, he would be deemed a member in good and regular standing. He even reads the Bible.
Statements of belief are necessary insofar as they help us keep track of our journey. When they become static tests of faith, set in stone, they are no better than stagnant pools of dead decomposing faith. God, humans and our relationship cannot be reduced to mere abstractions just as staring at a movie poster for ninety minutes is not the same as watching the movie itself.
Even marketers know that treating people as logic machines is the most intractable folly. Why then do we mistake debates for evangelism and arguments for Bible study? We’ve all encountered evangelists who’ve “armed themselves with scripture” and are ready to “hit with verses” and so never listen or answer real questions. They’ve studied the Bible, not looking for God but for answers to give when questioned. Instead of it being the story of God’s engagement with a sinful perfidious world, the Bible becomes a reference book to confirm fundamental beliefs and prophecy charts.
No wonder we baptize people only to have them walk out the back door while we celebrate high baptismal figures in our conference reports. Evangelism is about winning minds and not debates. The church was built to make disciples and not adherents. Sabbath school is meant to engage the whole mind not make sure we all believe the same thing we always have. Our obsession with abstraction insulates us from Jesus: we are like a wraps his pills in plastic before swallowing them and doesn’t understand why he isn’t getting better.
When last did you really care about the person sitting next to you in church or are you interested in preserving orthodoxy? Do you care for the community because you want to make it a better place or are you just collecting baptisms? Is your church a place where people can be open about their shortcomings or is it an enclave of quivering members fearful lest they slip up and are kicked out?
Remember, Satan is a member in good and regular standing.