In traditional theology, Satan is a critical figure. In order to make any sense at all of the typical depiction of God and how He operates, it is necessary to have someone or something to blame for the obviously lousy outcome to the creation of mankind that Orthodoxy projects. When God creates man and then ends up committing the vast majority to eternal punishment, the obvious question is why. Unfortunately, Satan as a foil for God does not really provide the answers.
First of all, we have the fact that Satan is a supposedly created being, subordinate to God in that respect. How can a creature created by an omnipotent God disrupt God’s plan and purpose in creation? In order to answer this issue, the church turns to the concept of man’s free will. Free will suggests that God is “hands off” in some sense allowing things to go astray if man is misguided, and Satan provides a convenient source of misdirection. Unanswered in this approach is the question of why God allows something which does not ultimately and logically lead to what God intended in creation. Is God in control or not, and does He have a plan?
Secondly, if God ultimately consigns men to Hell, then that final outcome is God’s doing. Orthodoxy teaches that Satan causes men to suffer eternally or that sinful men actually choose their own horrendous fate. However, the traditional picture of a universal judgment before God shows clearly who is in charge when the final sentence is handed down. Since Satan is to be consigned to Hell after this judgment, it is evident that he is not calling the shots. As the one ultimately in control, God must bear responsibility for the outcome.
When all is said and done then, Satan does not answer the unanswerable questions raised by Orthodox fundamentalism. As in all such theology, basic questions about God, His nature, and His purpose remain an unresolved mystery.