Last night my wife and I finally had a chance to sit down and watch Nightline’s recent “Satan debate” (if you haven’t had a chance to watch it, you can see the entire debate here). Arguing for the existence of Satan were Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle and Annie Lobert, founder of the ministry “Hookers for Jesus.” Arguing against the existence of Satan were Deepak Chopra, and “Bishop” Carlton Pearson. Though I’d like to do a more in-depth analysis of the debate, here are some initial thoughts:
Neither Pearson or Chopra had any sort of consistent argument and both came dangerously close to going so far as to say that evil does not exist. Chopra articulated this a bit more clearly than did Pearson by saying that everything is a continuum and/or there are competing forces, “creative evolution” and “entropy” that need each other to keep existence in balance. No, it doesn’t make sense.
Chopra made the audacious claim that “All belief is a cover-up for insecurity.” An astute audience member pointed out that this was simply Chopra’s belief and therefore subject to the same critique. Chopra tried to weasel his way out of this by saying that if something is true, then we don’t need to believe in it. The problem, of course, is that Chopra has no ground except for personal perception to say what is and what isn’t true. Couple this with his idea of “enlightened consciousness” versus “primitive beliefs” and your left with nothing more than subjective picking and choosing. Pearson said: “When you change the way you look at things the things you look at change.” For both Pearson and Chopra, man is the arbiter of reality.
Both Pearson and Chopra undermined the idea of any objective truth, continually saying things like “that’s true for you,” that’s “your truth,” etc. I believe it was Pearson who said “perception is the ultimate reality” and Chopra said “God is as you are.” It doesn’t take a theologian to realize that both Chopra and Pearson hold everything up to themselves. It is the height of hubris. Man is the yardstick, nothing/no one else. For Chopra, this means there is no such thing as “salvation” as most of us understand the term, for Pearson, it seems to mean that everyone will be saved.
Being consistent with this approach (we determine what is best for us and is therefore “true,” Pearson picks and chooses Scriptures by his own admission. Rather than standing under the authority of the Bible, Pearson has placed himself in the position to choose what to believe and what to reject. One of the many problems with this, of course, is that Pearson himself does not understand Scripture. As Pastor Driscoll pointed out, Pearson does not understand the Bible’s depiction of Satan. Even after being corrected by Driscoll, Pearson continued to present Satan as the mirror image of God, omnipresent and even omniscient. This is not how Scripture presents Satan.
Unwittingly, Chopra himself confirmed Scripture and the evil nature of our unsaved souls. He said: “I don’t trust my mind. My mind is full of contradictions . . . but I do trust my spirit” Jeremiah 17:9 says: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
Ultimately, the debate was as much about God, specifically about Jesus as it was about Satan. While Satan was the entry point of the discussion, the true nature of the debate was about the authority and reality of the Bible and the nature of God. Driscoll highlighted this by beginning and ending with Jesus.
Though I am only in the candidate phase, I am humbled to be a part of Acts 29 and stand beside men like Mark Driscoll, proclaiming Jesus at every chance.