Well…maybe not everything. But certainly a lot of it. It turns out that church history has, not one, but two major traditions about the Devil. The one everyone knows comes to us from Augustine. The lesser known tradition comes to us from Irenaeus. Augustine is such a towering and influential figure, his version became dominant. A big part of the difference comes in the way the conflict is framed. In the Augustinian account, it’s Satan vs. God. In the Irenaean account, it’s Satan vs. Adam and humanity. There’s much more to be said, but I’ll direct you to Episode 47 of the Pastor Theologians Podcast. It’s an interview with my friend and colleague Gerald Hiestand. Gerald did his PhD on the Irenaean account of Satan. Personally, I find it quite compelling. Click here to take a listen and leave a comment to let me know what you think.
Dr. Matt O’Reilly is Lead Pastor of Hope Hull United Methodist Church near Montgomery, AL, a fellow of the Center for Pastor Theologians, and Adjunct Professor of New Testament and Pastoral Ministry at Wesley Biblical Seminary. He is the author of Paul and the Resurrected Body: Social Identity and Ethical Practice and The Letters to the Thessalonians.