J Walking

In response to an earlier post on who rules creation, Charity asked whether I was advocating an old heresy:

You are saying that you are a Cathar or Arian? Those are REAL old heresies that believe that this world was created and ruled by an evil god (or Satan) and that all material things are evil. What you have described is just a variation of that belief.

I went back to the source I was quoting in the original post, Greg Boyd, and asked him just that question. Here is his response:

* I’m not saying matter is evil. Matter is GOOD. I’m simply claiming nature has been corrupted by Satan and the fallen Powers.
* The view that Satan is “the god of this world” and “lord of this world” and “in control of everything” and the one who holds the key to death is not a hersey, for this is what the New Testament says about him (2 Cor. 4:4; Jn 12:32; 14:31; 16:11; Heb 2:14).
* Jesus treated all sickness and disease as originating ultimately from Satan, which shows that Satan and demons can affect natural processes.
* The view that the Satan had corrupted nature was the standard view of the early church fathers. For example, Athenagorus, a second century apologist, argued that Satan had been given the responsibility for carrying for the material creation before he fell. Now he uses this authority for evil purposes.
* What sets the NT and the early fathers apart from dualistic theologies like the Cathars and (earlier) the Manicheans was that they held that Satan (or some other evil entity) was ETERNAL, alongside God (though its not certain the Cathars or other dualistic “heretical” groups actually believed this, for the reigning Church accused just about everybody and their grandma of being a Manichean. These groups may have simply believed in a more or less biblical view of Satan, but it contradicted the dominant Augustinian theology of the time, so they were put to death and all their writings burned up).
* Arius’ heresy was not in holding that matter was evil — though he AND THE ORTHODOX FATHERS all tended to devalue it owing to the influence of Platonism. Arius’ heresy was that he so stressed the transcendence of God that he could not accept that the one who became Incnarate was fully God.

This whole area is one of those vitally important and regularly untouched areas of everyday theology. I’m glad we’re having this conversation.

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