“Our policy, for the moment, is to conceal ourselves,” allows C. S. Lewis’ demonic Screwtape. “Of course this has not always been so. We are really faced with a cruel dilemma. When the humans disbelieve in our existence we lose all the pleasing results of direct terrorism and we make no magicians. On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and sceptics” (The Screwtape Letters, p. 39). Which calls for a calculated choice between the options, as to which best serves their purposes at a given time.
Screwtape then expresses the hope that a means can be derived by which they can manipulate humans, without belief in their existence. While there appears to be significant success along this line, since it is reported that a large percentage of Americans think Satan is not personal but a symbol of evil. However, there is considerable ambiguity.
Granting that Satan is exceptionally clever, we would assume that he employs diverse means to accomplish his evil intent. As cited above, this might be by way of intimidation. If so, then with very aggressive activity. In other instances, by maintaining a very low profile. When so, not so easily discernable. It remains to explore this thesis in greater detail.
As for the former, the following may serve as cases in point:
(1) Terrorism. Especially that which is inflicted on non-combatants. As when a bomb is exploded in a public market.
(2) Satan worship and activity. Recalling one of my former Nigerian students, who was believed to have been killed and his body mutilated by a satanic cult.
(3) Abortion for convenience. Thus serving in a way similar to infanticide in antiquity. Recalling former president Clinton’s observation that most Americans would prefer that abortion be legal, safe, and seldom. A recent study found that 84 % favored significant restrictions, including a majority of those who identify themselves as strongly pro-choice.
(4) When chaos reasserts itself. As set over against the divinely appointed order in creation. Hence, applicable to both natural and social disorder.
(5) Theophobia. Consisting of that which attempts to erase any awareness of the divine presence. Whether through persuasion or oppression.
(6) Cultivation of hate. An intense aversion and hostility toward others. Often driven by fear and/or anger.
(7) Deceit. A concerted effort to deceive, as set over against the quest for truth. As evidenced in the highly biased reports which often plague our partisan agendas.
As for the latter, these examples may suffice:
(1) Religious ritual void of practical application. Such as solicits the protest, “Away with the noise of your songs! I cannot listen to the music of your harps. But let justice flow like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:23-24).
(2) Moral platitudes. When calculated to give the impression of piety, while allowing for perverse behavior.
(3) The lesser good. Since it is more often the lesser good than the blatant evil which detracts us from the greater good. That is, to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
(4) Humans come of age. The notion that with humans having come of age, religious beliefs are antiquated. Not uncommonly associated with some form of utopian fantasy.
(5) Idolatry. The worship of some aspect of creation rather than the Creator. Said in Jewish tradition to result in a plethora of evil practices.
(6) The antichrists. Of which it is said, “Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist” (2 John 7).
In conclusion, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God” (Eph. 6:12-13).
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