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I heard somewhere (can't remember where) that Satan is more of a term than a person. In other words, Satan is not so much a fallen angel, person, or being, but rather a designation for evil.

Is this a standard position of any churches or denominations?

If so, please clarify where this idea comes from and what backing (if any) it has from Scripture.

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If such a group exists, there is no guarantee that it justifies its position on the basis of Scripture (what counts as scripture for this unknown group?) –  Alypius Apr 7 '13 at 6:45
This page covers the topic well. Basically, Satan is not Lucifer. Satan, meaning adversary, is that which is against God. Satan is not a person. This is not an answer; that's why it is in the comments. –  fredsbend Apr 7 '13 at 7:26

2 Answers 2

This is a typical "enlightened" / liberal view.

Here is a resource that can help: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devil_in_christianity

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Bible Churches, which are often non-denominational do NOT subscribe to the point of view you state. I'd also argue that the majority of Protestants especially Baptists, the largest Protestant denomination in the US) definitely do think Satan is a person on average. –  Affable Geek Jul 14 '13 at 13:28
The only sentence I agree with is that this is a fairly typical ultra-liberal position –  Affable Geek Jul 14 '13 at 13:29
thanks @AffableGeek, the comment was from "my experience" but I agree that it was unnecessary. I edited my answer –  Greg Bala Jul 17 '13 at 17:26

Some claims that "satan" simply means "adversary" - the "nay-sayer" or the "voice of opposition" - rather than a specific person... and certainly not the embodiment of evil.

E.g. God plans to do something, and all the minor gods and angels agrees... except one, who voices his opposition against the plan. Then he is "satan" - God's adversary, the one who disagreed with God... this time. Another time, it may be a different one of God's advisers that voices opposition and becomes "satan".

There are some stories from the Bible (like the story about Job) which make more sense with this view, that "satan" just refers to whomever opposes/disagree/questions God at the moment, rather than one particular entity. It certainly explains why God seems to repeatedly allow "satan" into His midst, and use him as an adviser along with other advisers.

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Could you cite any sources, or at least traditions which hold to this view? –  Jas 3.1 Apr 8 '13 at 20:24
Sorry Baard. But the question was about what traditions(I.E. denominations) teach this doctrine, it's ok to clarify what they teach only in context of who they are. –  2tim424 May 8 '13 at 21:19

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