Lucifer, the Morning Star, Satan, The Devil, ruler of hell, fallen angel…. There’s a lot of different ways to talk about the theological bad guy, and a whole lot incorrect “common knowledge” that is more dramatically useful than theologically sound.
From here on, if I make a statement and don’t link to a source, I’m going off of the tradition.
For example, my impulse was to write “the Big Bad” or some similar thing– and it’s true enough, but given that the same impulse would have me refer to God as “the Big Guy,” it implies a similarity of power that is incredibly wrong– it mis-locates the battle field. You might most usefully think of Himself as light, and all evil as a lack of light, but this light will let you choose to remove Him from your life. Which is what the fallen angels (C&C: Demons for a brush-up if needed) did– they’re evil because they were given the choice of the God they knew (in mind-blowing detail), and chose the “no God” option. Lucifer isn’t on par with God, he’s just the leader of those angels who chose against Him– more like an evil Saint Michael with half the army.
That leads to another dramatically powerful storyline: Re-conversion. The idea of converting Lucifer back into a good angel, usually by the love of a good woman– or of an angel becoming fallen because of the love of a woman. While I do appreciate that they usually use Michael (a summary of their traditional opposition, I have no idea how generally accepted the Jewish sources listed are) for those stories, God is outside of time and the angels are with Him– the same not-in-the-time-stream that we’ll be in when we’re dead. Not happening. And my head hurts just thinking of how much of the various stories we’ve been granted is Himself trying to explain concepts in a way that we can grasp the important parts, to promote understanding.
Understanding is another thread; some popular stories try to fit Lucifer into the “just on different sides” pattern– rather like how in war movies they’ll emphasize that the guy in a different colored uniform is still a human…. You’ll note that this is not all that commonly done with someone like the Nazis, and even more rarely then with someone who chose to actively do, on screen, all the things that make the Nazis such popular stand-ins for personified evil in an age that doesn’t much care for calling things evil. Even the worst of the Nazis, the worst of the Japanese soldiers in their treatment of the people of the Philippine Islands, the worst of any group of humans doing things so horrific even typing it out will give you nightmares… is still a changable human, and is operating with the same limitations of information as any other. Any living person can repent and change– and we all should be familiar with how easy it can be to fool yourself.
The fallen angels knew exactly what they were doing, couldn’t have been lying to themselves, and still made their choice. The Nazis and other similar groups most likely were lied to, including by themselves, and including willful blindness. This is not to make their evils any smaller or less horrific, only to try to convey that the gut-level horror we feel when considering them is to the part of them that is like the fallen angels.
He is the Father of Lies; maybe it’s like how eyes in absolute dark will seem to see light, a person must imagine some good when faced by a literal person of evil.
Father of Lies– there’s another name for Lucifer; or maybe “another title” would be the way to put it. Lucifer isn’t a name-name, it’s a description-name, a title. It’s his Morning Star description as rendered by the Vulgate– a description that’s also used for Jesus and other exceptionally bright, shining things, such as Venus– and it has a sort of poetic meaning along the lines of “he who was awesomely brilliant and now laments that loss.” Angels do tend to have fittingly descriptive names, but I couldn’t even assure you that Raphael is a name, rather than a description. (God Heals.)
He, and his demons, are often shown in stories as offering information.
Beyond the question of how the hey you expect a demon to be held to a bargain– who are you going to call to enforce it? The FBI? Jesus? Holy I am altering the deal. Pray I do not alter it further, Batman- we know from the Bible that Lucifer doesn’t have superior knowledge. He tried to tempt Jesus. You know, Jesus? God the Son?
The only way that makes sense is… well, I’ll quote Aquinas, who was quoted in the Catholic Answers link right above:
The minds of demons are utterly perverted from the divine wisdom; they at times form their opinion of things simply according to the natural conditions of the same. Nor are they ever deceived as to the natural properties of anything, but they can be misled with regard to supernatural matters. For example, on seeing a dead man they may suppose that he will not rise again, or, on beholding Christ, they may judge him not to be God. (ST 1:5)
So the old “deal with the devil” thing is about as sensible as doing a deal with a drug smuggler, alone, in the middle of nowhere.
I’m sorry I’ve got to cut it off here, but I must either cut it short or double the length; sorry it’s so abrupt. Next time, I plan to do the Devil’s Advocate!