Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Now you might be wondering what Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory have to do with hell and eternal punishment. Bear with me and hopefully I can explain the relevance.
I got an e-mail a few days ago in which the sender stated “Your latest series forces serious re-evaluation of many Christian doctrines.”
Call me arrogant, call me cocky, call me anything you like but if what I am suggesting in this series is anywhere close to the truth, then what this person said is absolutely true. And to add more fuel to the fire, when this series ends we are probably not done because there are some other “issues” waiting to be addressed as well. As strange is it may, this article entitled Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory just might show the need for doctrinal re-evaluation as much as any other article in the series so far.
Before we get to Willy and his factory let me present a scenario and then ask you a rather weird question. Christianity claims the following scenario literally happened. “Satan,” a.k.a. the Devil and Lucifer, was an angel created by God who rebelled against God at some point, out of a desire to be like God and with the intent to usurp God’s power and authority. Despite knowing what would happen based upon His omniscience, God still went ahead and created Satan regardless, fully aware of what Satan would do and what would happen as a result.
This is probably a ridiculous question and it isn’t the weird question I mentioned but ….
Why didn’t God just create everything and everyone else and forget about creating Satan?
Wouldn’t that have saved a lot of trouble? No Satan, no angelic rebellion, no snake acting as Satan’s agent, no fall, no original sin, no need for hell and eternal punishment. All of that could have been avoided if God had simply skipped over Satan and left him out of the creation process. I am sure it probably isn’t that simple but it’s something to think about (or not).
Apparently my idea didn’t cross God’s mind or for some reason he rejected the idea so this same Satan, a.k.a. the Devil, a.k.a. Lucifer, was created and then convinced a third or so of all the angels to join him in his rebellion. Not satisfied with a third of the angels, Satan then disrupted matters even more, through the agency of a “snake” in the Garden of Eden. Satan, by way of the snake, tricked Eve into eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil contrary to the command that God had previously given.
Eve then gave the fruit to Adam who wasn’t deceived or tricked but apparently chose to deliberately rebel. Adam went ahead and ate the fruit, bringing about the fall, demise, etc. of all humanity. This is very strange behaviour because if Adam wasn’t deceived then we have to assume that he was very aware of what the consequences would be and he knew that eating the fruit could not possibly bring about what was supposedly promised by the snake, representing and acting on behalf of Satan, a.k.a the Devil, a.k.a. Lucifer. This would lead us to wonder why Adam would go and do this, if he was totally aware of the situation and the futility of his actions but we will leave that enigma for now.
I realize that there’s actually no weird question in those last few paragraphs as weird as the story is. Be patient because the question is coming. Actually you don’t’ have to be patient because here it is.
Who “possessed” Satan, a.k.a. the Devil, a.k.a. Lucifer first? Was it Israel/the Jews/Judaism or Christians/Christianity?
By possessed I mean, who knew about him first, who wrote about him first and which religion was he first part of? To use a buzz word today, who was first conscious of Satan, was it the Jews or Christians? A more succinct and better way of putting would be as follows, “Whose world view included Satan first, Christianity or Judaism?
That may be a question that you have never thought of and now that I have brought it up, you may be wondering why I would bring it up at all. You may also wonder what that has to do with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Hang in there, the connection is coming.
The obvious answer to all of our questions is as follows: Israel/the Jews/Judaism “possessed” Satan long before Christianity, in fact long before Christianity ever came into existence. They apparently wrote about Satan in the Old Testament since Christianity uses a couple of passages from the Old Testament to support their doctrines concerning Satan. The Old Testament was written anywhere from 400 to 1500+ years before Christianity emerged and so Satan was a part of Judaism long before Christianity was a sparkle in its mother’s or father’s eye, if it had a mother or father, which would have been Judaism. Satan was part of the world view centuries before the Christian church was born into existence. Even the word Satan is, in fact, the English version of the Hebrew word “satan” pronounced saw-tawn in Hebrew.
This may all seem rather trivial but let’s really think about this. For perhaps hundreds and hundreds of years before Christianity came into being, the Jews possessed many written documents/books which became the Jewish Bible and the Old Testament in the Christian Bible. One of those documents/books described the events in the Garden of Eden. That would be, of course, the book of Genesis. They had other documents/books in which Satan was spoken of, i.e. 1st Chronicles, Job, Psalms and Zechariah. They possessed two books in which Christianity claims we can find the story of the rebellion of Satan, those being Isaiah in the 14th chapter and Ezekiel in the 28th chapter.
To go even further, before any part of the TaNaKh, i.e the Old Testament, was written down, I think we can safely assume that stories like the events in the Garden of Eden and the supposed rebellion of Satan, a.k.a. the Devil and Lucifer, would have been passed down orally from one generation to another. It is unimaginable that Adam and Eve wouldn’t have talked about the Garden and all that happened with their kids and grandkids etc. How would it be possible that Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham and Moses wouldn’t take about and, in fact, warn their kids and grandkids about humanity’s greatest enemy, Satan? Adam, for example, had 950 years to share his stories. Using standard biblical chronology, Satan was known, described and talked about for some 4000 years before Christianity came on the scene and for at least 1500 years or so by the Jews prior to the beginning of the Christian church, if we count from around the Exodus story.
Based on all of that, wouldn’t you think that Christianity’s version of Satan would resemble somewhat closely, Judaism’s version of Satan since Christianity’s main source for their version is SUPPOSEDLY, Judaism’s Bible, i.e. the Old Testament with a few bits and pieces thrown in from the New Testament? Wouldn’t it make sense that the Jewish version would get passed along and absorbed by Christianity? Further, most fundamental Christians believe that the Bible doesn’t contradict itself so there has to be harmony between the two testaments. Therefore I would think that the perception of Satan within Judaism and Christianity would be very similar.
However, as logical as that may sound, nothing could be further from the truth. Christianity’s version and Judaism’s version of Satan make you wonder if they got their versions from different parts of the universe. You would think it impossible that they are reading the same verses in the same Bible. Apparently the story of Satan that got passed down through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses and prophets like Isaiah and Ezekiel was all wrong and for the 1500+ years preceding Christianity’s existence, the Jews believed something totally wrong when it came to Satan. Then suddenly, miraculously, Christianity showed up to set the record straight. I am not sure who in Christianity knew the truth when it came to Satan, a.k.a. the Devil, a.k.a. Lucifer but obviously somebody did and whoever he, she or they were, they were able to set Christianity straight and show them how totally wrong the Jews had been for 1500+ years. I know that some might suggest that it was Jesus who straightened out the Jews but if so, it was sure done rather inconspicuously and perhaps rather secretly. It also didn’t create much of a reaction based upon the complete and utter silence regarding this in the Gospels. It also couldn’t have been all that important since the apostle, Paul, for example, doesn’t seem to mention it at all.
However, since it was Satan’s rebellion that supposedly started this whole mess and since hell was supposedly created for Satan and all the other rebellious angels originally, I don’t think we would be wrong to assume that the origins of and the fall of Satan should be a rather important topic when it comes to hell and eternal punishment.
To show you how much Christianity’s version differs from Judaism’s let me turn to Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. Many within Christianity believe Ezekiel 28 contains an allegorical reference to Satan. Isaiah 14 is said to be an even more direct reference to Satan and his fall because we find the name Lucifer used in the King James Bible and we have all been taught that one of Satan’s aliases is Lucifer. However, I happen to have a book entitled The Living Nach (Later Prophets). It is a Jewish publication containing a translation of and a commentary on the Major Prophets from the Bible. The commentary is based upon the commentary of Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, a world famous Jewish rabbi who passed on in 1983. When I turn to Ezekiel 28 and read the text and then the commentary in The Living Nach, I find that this section does indeed contain an allegory involving the King of Tyre but it sure isn’t about Satan. In fact, there is no mention of Satan at all. The King of Tyre is said to be an allegory for ADAM! When I turn to Isaiah 14, Lucifer is not mentioned at all, because Rabbi Kaplan wasn’t using a Latin translation to come up with Lucifer which is where Lucifer actually comes from. Instead Rabbi Kaplan properly interpreted the Hebrew word, heylel that supposedly means Lucifer, as shining one or morning star. Again he saw this as an allegory but again it had absolutely nothing to do with Satan. This time the allegory was a reference to Nebuchadnezzar.
By the way, the Hebrew word heylel which is translated as shining one or morning star actually refers to the planet Venus and though we can’t go into it here, there is a great reason why Nebuchadnezzar would be compared to the morning star. If you are wondering how we got Lucifer in Isaiah 14, here is how it happens. In Roman astronomy, Lucifer was the name given to the morning star (the star we now know by another Roman name, Venus). The morning star appears in the heavens just before dawn, heralding the rising sun. The name derives from the Latin term lucem ferre, bringer, or bearer, of light." Once we had a Latin translation of the Bible, we got Lucifer and instead of it meaning the morning star, it morphed over the centuries into a proper name of Lucifer, a.k.a. the Devil, a.k.a. Satan, number one enemy of God.
So, the two passages that Christianity claim are all about Satan and his rebellion have absolutely nothing to do with Satan according to a world famous Jewish rabbi and in fact are about Nebuchadnezzar and Adam. And we wonder how we could end up with up a distorted concept about God, hell and eternal punishment?.
Within Christianity, the concept that an angel could try to convince human beings to disobey God and not be a “fallen angel” would seem ludicrous. It is, however, entirely plausible within Judaism. To be blunt, Judaism would reject Christianity’s version of Satan completely. There is no room within Judaism for an angel rebelling, let alone a third of them. Angels were holy, are holy and will be holy so to suggest that a third of angels rebelled with Satan would be a rather strange fairy tale to Jews. And yet Judaism speaks of Satan as an adversary, opposer and hindered and yet in no way sees Satan in rebellion to God. How is this possible?
Believe it or not, that finally brings us to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Willy Wonka’s factory produced the greatest chocolates and candies in the world. The factory was top secret, no one entered and no one left. However a contest was held in which the winners were going to be given a tour of the factory and assuming they followed the rules that were laid out regarding their tour, they would receive a lifetime supply of chocolate when the tour ended. One rule was that they could not eat anything in the factory without express permission.
Five children were selected as winners and they, along with one adult that accompanied each of them, were to given a tour of the chocolate factory. However, before the tour occurred, each of them was visited individually by a nefarious character named Mr. Slugworth. He offered each of them a bribe if they would steal a brand new candy soon to be released by Willy Wonka, called an Everlasting Gobstopper. Mr. Slugworth apparently wanted to get the sample so he could produce and market the candy before Willy Wonka did. (Not that anything like that could happen in real life today.)
When the children arrived for the tour, rather ironically, Willy Wonka gave them each an Everlasting Gobstopper based on an agreement that they would never show it to anyone else. We will skip the details but during the tour each of the kids broke the rules and 4 of them suffered rather dramatic consequences. They all ended up okay but of course they lost the lifetime supply of chocolate. One child, Charlie, broke the rules by drinking some Fizzy drink but he didn’t seem to suffer any consequences so no one seemed to be aware that he had broken the rules.
When the tour ended and the others had left, Wonka said good-bye but Charlie asked for his lifetime supply of chocolate. Wonka then revealed that he knew Charlie broke the rules by drinking some Fizzy drink and therefore, Charlie wouldn’t be getting his lifetime supply of chocolate either. Charlie regretted what he did but his grandfather who accompanied him, got mad, and told Charlie that they would get back at Wonka by giving Mr. Slugworth the Everlasting Gobstopper that Wonka had given to Charlie. However, just before they left, Charlie realized that no matter how we feel, there is no justification for breaking rules and stealing so Charlie went to Willy Wonka’s desk and returned the Everlasting Gobstopper. Wonka then reacted with joy and informed Charlie that he had won the contest which was actually to find an honest child who would replace Wonka so he could retire.
Then a most amazing thing happened. Wonka asked his assistant, Mr. Wilkinson to join them and when Wilkinson appeared, it was, in fact, Mr. Slugworth. He had been working for Willy Wonka all along. Slugworth’s mission was to test the children to see how they would respond.
Any child who in fact, broke the rules or went so far as to bring Slugworth an Everlasting Gobstopper was dishonest and would be rejected as a replacement for Wonka. Remember also that it was Willy Wonka himself who gave each child an Everlasting Gobstopper, making it even easier for them to succumb to the bribe they were offered by Slugworth.
If Christian theologians get hold of this story they would have to rewrite the entire script. They would alter the story and turn Slugworth into a reprehensible traitor out to destroy his “boss.” This new Slugworth would be the Christian Satan, a.k.a. the Devil, a.k.a. Lucifer. He would be doing everything and everything to destroy his boss and everyone else.
Jews on the other hand see it very differently and they ALWAYS have. Wilkinson, also known as Slugworth, also known as Satan has always, is now and will always be working for and on behalf of Willy Wonka, a.k.a. God. The idea that God made an angel that suddenly rebelled and disrupted God’s plans to the degree that Satan supposedly disrupted God’s according to Christianity is so far-fetched to Jewish belief that it is borders on insanity. To think that such a thing could happen to an omniscient, omnipotent God is simply impossible. Satan has, is and always will be in the employ of God doing exactly what God wants him to do. By the way, this is the Satan that you read of in Job.
No allegory is perfect but in this story, Willy Wonka is God, Wilkinson, a.k.a. Slugworth is Satan, and you and I are Charlie and the other kids and adults. And as you will find out as is expressed in a quote from a Jewish website at the end of this article, Satan is often simply a “desire” found within you.
The Hebrew word “satan” means adversary, hindered, opposer or accuser. When we hinder or oppose someone we hold them back. We are trying to make it difficult for them to do something. “Satan” is purposefully making things difficult for us according to Jewish theology but he is doing that based upon the purposes of God. We can never choose to do good unless the choice to do evil is also available. Free will doesn’t exist unless there is a choice. Without the sensation of hot, the sensation of cold is meaningless. Wet means nothing if dry does not exist. Feeling full after eating too much is relevant only because we can also experience a lack of food and feel hungry. Love requires hate to have true meaning and like it or not, good requires the existence of evil to have any meaning.
Christian theology for the most part cannot deal with the idea of God creating “evil” despite the fact that the Bible states that to be the case in Deuteronomy and Isaiah and so they NEED the bad guy, the antithesis of God whom they call Satan, a.k.a. the Devil, a.k.a. Lucifer to deal with the evil. This problem arises because of the theology Christianity has formulated over the centuries and the resulting world view. Christianity’s theology forces it to create someone who that can be blamed for what it deems to be evil, sin, etc. Judaism’s theology does not. Christianity’s version of “evil” leads to eternal punishment. Judaism’s version of evil is very different.
Fundamental Christianity needs a bad guy to explain and justify their theology. Christianity can’t have God causing humanity to fall and end up in hell. That would be unthinkable so it needs the ultimate bad guy, Satan, a.k.a. the devil, a.k.a Lucifer. However, if there is no hell and eternal punishment then I don’t need to create a devil to pile all the blame on.
Pardon my choice of words here but this is a perfect example of “bass-ackwards” biblical studies as a friend of mine has been known to put it. This is what happens when you take a doctrine that isn’t in the Bible and then try to find a way to insert it into the Bible to “prove” your doctrine. This is what you end up with.
You drag doctrines from other religions etc. into your religion, and then alter, edit and morph them into something you can somehow claim to be divine and include in a doctrinal statement. You ignore the interpretation of passages such as Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 that have been around for centuries before you came on the scene and instead you make up new ones. You take verses out of context, you ignore the culture that the passages were written in and “Voila!” you have fashioned the ultimate bad guy out of nothing substantial at all. One might even say you have played “God” and created a being out of nothing!
Of course to do this, you must totally distort the meanings of Hebrew and Greek words. Your translators will end up having trouble keeping everything straight and will keep changing the way they translate certain verses. And ultimately you will have to affirm that the people who wrote 75% of your Bible and who speak the original languages apparently don’t have the foggiest clue when it comes to a lot things, and specifically Satan, in this case.
There is so much more we could say about this and the role the Jewish version of Satan plays in this world but this has become rather lengthy. Christianity and Judaism both claim that their God is all-knowing, present everywhere and all powerful. Based on that description of God which Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory storyline makes more sense to you? Forget for the moment, if you can, what you have been taught from a pulpit. Go inside yourself for a moment and see which storyline your heart says is more likely to be true. Is it the one in which Mr. Slugworth turns out to be working for Willy Wonka all the time or is it the storyline that Christianity would have to rewrite where Mr. Slugworth is the ultimate traitor seeking to destroy Willy Wonka and everyone else as well?
If you are need a little more proof regarding the “Jewish version of the story,” I end with these words from a Jewish website. (Hashem means “The Name” and is a Jewish way of saying God.)
[beginning of quote] “Satan is not, as the Christians think, a rebellious angel. How impossible! The angels are spiritual and holy, without any physical or unholy presence, and the presence of Hashem's holiness permeates them entirely. Angels, unlike humans, are therefore constantly and fully aware of Hashem's Presence everywhere. Could you stay dry in the ocean? An angel could not stop being holy, and can do no wrong. There is holiness everywhere in Creation, everywhere in the universe, and angels are made of the same thing. An angel could not stop serving G-d even if he tried….
So now we have to revise our understanding of Satan. Satan is not a fallen angel. Satan is merely an angel with a dirty job. Satan does not have a rival kingdom. Satan is not in competition with G-d, and Satan does not want followers or worshipers. He's not even happy when people obey him and sin…. So, no, Satan does not wear a red suit, or carry a trident. Nor does he wear a business suit. Satan is a force of evil in the world that we must resist. Satan most often appears as a desire within you. Of course, there is no shortage of things in the world to tempt us to sin….
And Satan has many "helpers," many of whom don't even know they are helping him. A shady-looking character in the street walks over to you and offers to sell you some stolen property, for example. He's not Satan. He's someone who has not resisted Satan, and has decided to do evil. He's now trying to tempt you to sin, but not because he wants you to sin per se. He personally has something to gain from your sinning….
Likewise, the snake in the Garden of Eden was not Satan either, though confused Christians think it was. The snake had his own motivations, which I will not go into now. He was what the Torah calls a "Seducer," someone who, for whatever reason, tries to get other people to sin….
None of us are capable of destroying Satan. What we are expected and commanded to do is to gain the upper hand over our personal Satans. And Hashem helps us do this, constantly. The Talmud says that the Evil Inclination constantly attempts to destroy us spiritually, and Hashem constantly helps us and gives us the means with which to overcome our Evil Inclinations….
When this world comes to an end, and the Next World begins, the Day of Judgment will take place. After that, Satan's work will be done. There will no longer be sin, and there will no longer be death. All judgment will have been passed and performed. There will no longer be any need for a Tempting Angel, an Angel of Death, or a Prosecuting Angel. Satan will cease to exist. It will not be a sad day at all.
Nor will it be unfair treatment of Satan. It will be like turning off a machine. Angels are not like humans, with human emotions and desires. They exist merely to follow Hashem's instructions, for the greater glory of Hashem.
That's the reason we exist too -- to follow Hashem's instructions for the greater glory of Hashem. So Satan was created to struggle against us, and we were put into this world to struggle against Satan.
But that was not the purpose of our being created. When the struggle is over we will begin to receive the reward for having struggled. We will be brought in to the Next World, and the struggle will end.
That's when the good times will begin.” [end of quote]
So what did I hope to accomplish in this article? First let me say what I wasn’t trying to accomplish. I didn’t write this as a blanket endorsement of Judaism’s view of Satan. That discussion will wait for another day. I wrote this article to show you how strange Christianity’s concept of Satan is compared to Judaism and how far Christianity has strayed from Judaism’s concept, yet they both are using the same texts to a great degree. I wrote this to show you what I think happens when it comes to man-made doctrines and how much Christianity has to create new interpretations of certain passages in the Bible in order to support their doctrines which, to use that word again, have been created “bass-ackwards” in my opinion. If you do some research you will find that a very good case can be made for the following: Much of the Christian concept of Satan may have come from Zoroastrianism, a Persian religion. I think it is entirely feasible that Christianity’s Satan did indeed arise out of the influence of Zoroastrianism but I would also suggest that Judaism wasn’t as immune from Zoroastrianism’s influence as some Jews may think. As much as the following messes up our theology, be it Jewish, Christian or anything else, doctrines and beliefs are not static and absolute. They may seem so at any particular point in time but they actually change over time due to a variety of influences including other groups of people with different religious views that we come in contact with.
What I hope you come away with from this article is the possibility that if Christianity’s view of Satan is man-made and has little if any support in the Bible, then it is also possible that Christianity’s concept of hell falls into the same category.
Blessings, shalom, namaste