One of my favorite authors is C.S. Lewis (of The Chronicles of Narnia fame). His story is a complicated one, yet inspirational. He grew up in church and feeling it a laborious duty, walked away as a teenager – embracing atheism, only to return to Christ and become a renown Christian apologist and author. His story reveals the creativity, grace and sovereignty of God. God did not require Lewis to abandon who he was at his core, but used his brilliance and love of debate, literature, nature, and even mythology to create some of the greatest Christian classics of all time.
Among these books is his satirical, fictional novel, The Screwtape Letters
Written as a series of letters, Screwtape, a senior demon, teaches his nephew, Wormwood how to go about using certain subtleties in tempting a Christian to sin and turn against God.
While I am not one to believe that there is a devil behind every evil, sometimes circumstances are too perfect, the chaos too organized, the timing of things too well orchestrated to not wonder if there is indeed something (or someone) pulling strings behind a curtain somewhere.
I am reminded of the truth of Ephesians 6:12
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
So, inspired by Screwtape Letters, I share below. As you read keep in mind that this is a conversation as I imagine occurring between a mentor demon and his student (thus the “Enemy” mentioned is God)
Mentor Demon: I see you’ve been working for decades behind the scenes to destroy this place.
Student Demon: Yes, but I can’t seem to get a foothold. I’ve thought I had them once before, but they keep enforcing this dreadful thing called “prayer”. It’s so noisy, and frustrating. I can’t think straight when they do it. And, it calls on Him. We simply can’t win against Him.
MD: Let me give you a hand. If you really want to destroy, you have to avoid the obvious. The Enemy’s devoted ones see the obvious. Actually, the somewhat devoted ones’ do too. They pride themselves on what they don’t do, how they abstain, but constantly focus on the errors of others. Work with that. Pride. That’s some of our finest work. Keep them focused on the sins of others so they don’t see their own.
Sin. Our greatest contribution.
SD: But, that only affects one or two, maybe a few more. How do I break up this whole thing???
MD: Mob mentality.
SD: Mob mentality?
MD: Yes. Our Vainglorious Brilliant Master initiated this thing years ago. In pride, he believed he was equal to The Enemy, so he led others like us to believe the same. It was soooo much fun roaming the earth, wreaking havoc… I digress.
But yes, use mob mentality. It only takes a few to lead others astray. Use their television shows, their news, their friends, their leaders, their pastors. You have to make sure it’s the charismatic ones though. The persuasive ones. The ones’ people are drawn to. Use the gift He gave them and twist it to our advantage. If you can get one who has a history of speaking truth (blech, who likes truth??), and twist his or her mind, it’s more effective. Then, the others will follow them like sheep to our slaughter (that’s what The Enemy calls them anyway in His dastardly Book of our destruction).
MD cont’d: They will follow. Their talking points will sound the same. Their logic will be illogical. But, the sheep won’t care. They love their idols, I mean, leaders. Just don’t tell them that they’ve made idols of their leaders, then they will wise up. They hate idols, but as long as we can make them believe that only others have idols then we can gather more.
The mob mentality worked before. Remember? That’s how we were able to get the Israelites to pick Saul as their king, even after The Enemy TOLD them what would happen (eye rolling, head shake).
We used mob mentality to kill The Enemy’s Son. We used a few religious leaders, people that others respected, and turned them against Him. Those sheep are so fickle. Just a week prior they were worshipping Him. (laughing smugly) So fickle. Throughout history you see it… Civil wars, oppression, genocide…”There is nothing new under the sun.”
SD: Wait. Isn’t that in the Book?
MD: Yep. You have to read it. Must be well versed in it. Don’t have to believe it, but you need to know how to use it against them. Always just enough truth to make it palatable, but with a twist. Make them believe they are brilliant for the “new” revelations.
MD: As I was saying, we used mob mentality to get them to release Barabbas in exchange for Jesus (I hate saying his name – I refuse to bow I don’t care what that Book says). It didn’t even make sense. All He did was GOOD – helped people, healed people, preached about awful things like repenting and loving The Enemy and others, and eternal life with Him. But, we used the few to turn the tides.
SD: But, He rose…
MD: Yeeeeah. We didn’t think that through all the way…
SD: But, this mob mentality has worked against us too.
MD: Yes, but the key is you have to evoke the right emotion.
SD: What is that?
Make them fear everything. People who don’t look like them, think like them, believe like them, live where they live. Fear. Make them fear losing- their rights (which totally flies in the face of His instructions), their comfort, their money, their stuff, their status quo, their way of living.
Fear. Everything. With fear we gain a foothold. And can turn the most rational ones to irrational because we make fear irrational. We take a normal emotion that is supposed to help them, and exaggerate it. We are SOOOO good at that. Remember, we can’t really create anything. So, we magnify it, distort it, and use it to our advantage.
SD: Then what?
MD: We wait. It may take 1 week or 1 year or 1 century. But we can’t do anything until HE lets us (I don’t know why our Prideful Master agreed to those terms). But, when He lets us. Go for it.
SD: So, do you think now is the time?
MD: Maybe? But we have been lured before, different wars, civil unrest. Right now, we have people groups against other people groups. One group of the Enemies followers against another. Use differences to your advantage.
SD: Mob mentality. Fear. Is there anything else?
MD: Oh, there are lots of things. But those are other lessons. But 2 more things you need to do – keep them from repenting and forgiving.
SD: I’m confused.
MD: Are you so dull?(laughing) (I took that from the Son. Sometimes, He had some of the best one-liners). Think about it. What destroys individual relationships? How have we turned mother against son, husband against wife, friend against friend? Cause one person (or party) to offend another. Then, get the offending party to refuse to see their sin or accept responsibility for it. Even better, convince them to justify it.
OR get the offended to refuse to forgive, to want to see the offender suffer. Either way, you win. But, if you can influence both parties, that’s even better. This works so well with individuals, imagine what you could do when you combine it with mob mentality based in fear. The possibilities of destruction are endless. Whatever you do…DON’T LET THEM PRAY.
SD: Is that it?
MD: Like I said. There is much more. Keeping them from empathy, compassion. Using selfishness, and self-preservation as their primary goal – just don’t let them know it’s selfishness. You have to disguise it as something noble, such as caring for their families, or pursuing their version of “God’s best”. So much more. But, that’s enough to get you started.