The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Mother knows best

Devil enters kitchen debates

My mother and I hold good-natured kitchen debates on the devil. She says the devil exists and can influence a person's behavior. I maintain the devil is a metaphor for understanding the existence of evil — more the result of human choice rather than some personification of evil such as the devil. Would you shed some light on our debate?

Mother knows best. She is expressing the New Testament understanding that asserts humans make choices for which they are held accountable. The excuse "The devil made me do it!" doesn't cut it.

A prayer in the "Burial of the Dead" service says: "So we may see in death the gate to eternal life" (Lutheran Book of Worship, 207). Is eternal life a future state to be entered only upon death? May I believe my knowledge of God as revealed in Jesus Christ is eternal life that I may live in now?"

You may not only believe it, you should believe it. John's Gospel describes eternal life as the reality of living in and with Jesus, and it happens as soon as one receives the gift of believing. Death can neither change nor cancel this (John 11:24-26, 17:2-3).

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