I have recently been reading some posts on Lesley and Red's blogs about whether they believe in a personal devil. As a child, I was fascinated by a wonderful illustration in my children’s bible of the devil tempting Christ in the wilderness to throw himself off the highest mountain. Christ was rather conventionally depicted with flowing hair and a white robe and he wore an expression of disapproval, like a severe school teacher who is not amused by the latest attempts to disrupt classroom discipline. The devil was a rather glorious figure; he was hovering majestically in the air indicating all the cities and temples of the world, with wings outstretched. You could definitely see the appeal, and later helped me to understand Blake’s assertion that Milton wrote in chains and fetters when writing of God and at liberty when he described the Devil.
I think there are dangers associated with believing in a "personal devil", such as the tendency to demonise others or to simplify human complexity or fail to seek for the human rather than supernatural reasons that lie behind evil. However, I think there is also a problem in discarding the idea of a personal devil. We might argue that once the Devil loses the "D" and becomes "evil", then God may just pick up an "O" and come to equal all that is "good". I am not saying that this view of good and evil is wrong, but it is not really a personal faith.
So, what is my view? Well, I am not saying it is necessarily correct, but I do see the devil as a metaphor. I find it hard to believe the devil is a created being, an angel who fell and set himself up in opposition to God. I see that story as a myth, one which tries to explain that evil exists as a result of creating a universe in which choice and free will exists. However, I do believe in the existence of pure evil and in a source of pure evil which is contrary to all that is holy and Godly. I also believe that that source of evil can influence our thoughts and actions, if we open ourselves to it; is that close enough to "the devil"? I think it is.
(You may like to read a Ugandan perspective here at the Ugandananglican.)