Last week the Pope made headlines when he made reference to the Devil. Many were surprised that such a liberal minded Pope still had “old fashioned” or as the media likes to put it “old school” ideas about the Devil.
What got very little attention, surprisingly, was that a little earlier this month the Catholic Church had an Exorcism convention for those involved in getting rid of the Devil from where he’s unwelcome. Apparently there are hundreds of official exorcists available, Priests and lay people who help, who can be called upon for such things.
The Devil, while at least theologically speaking, is a concept that has news outlets like the Washington Post all in a tizzy. Yet a real live version of the movie The Exorcist playing out in various places doesn't get anyone’s attention. Peculiar, eh?
To be fair, the exorcists have been there for a while, and when anyone finds out about them, they are rightfully awed. But what is news is how this Pope has captured the public’s attention with various popular statements, and here it seems he has an opinion that is far more conservative than people expected.
The personification of the Devil seems odd; we all sense a part of ourselves that leads us in directions that our conscience doesn't want us to go. We know that exists. But an identifiable entity that can be lurking behind the wall? That seems superstitious.
Keep in mind that despite the Biblical references to the Devil, or Satan in Hebrew, being part of the Old Testament, the Jewish view of Satan is very different than the Catholic version. The Jewish version considers Satan not a “fallen angel” but an angel just like all the others. One created by the Almighty that exists for a purpose designed by God. The Creator wants us to be challenged and to have to make moral choices in life. That’s what life is all about. He wants us to want to commit adultery. He created us this way. And He wants us to control and conquer that desire.
So whether or not you personify the force in the universe that draws us to do the wrong thing, or whether you call it a different name; it’s all the same.
Old school or new school, we all have those choices to make.