Tag Archives: Deception

Daniel Pipes: Islam’s Inadvertant Patterns

Daniel Pipes is President of the Middle East Forum. His bi-weekly column appears regularly in the Washington Times and in newspapers around the globe, including the Israel Hayom (Israel), La Razón (Spain), Liberal (Italy), National Post (Canada), and the Australian. He has a PhD from Harvard in History and has been an authority on Middle East affairs for years.

I  recently subscribed to his mailing list and am really enjoying his writings. This post came in the other day, having originally appeared in the Washington Times under the title:

Islam’s inadvertent adverse effects on adherents: Strict traditional laws impact modern life”

How does Islam shape the way Muslims live? The religion’s formal requirements are the narrow base for a far wider structure of patterns that extend the formal rules of Islam, stretching them in unexpected and unplanned ways. A few examples:

The Koran strictly bans the consumption of pork, leading to the virtual disappearance of domesticated pigs in Muslim-majority areas, then their replacement by sheep and goats. These latter overgrazed the land which led, as the geographer Xavier de Planhol observes, to “a catastrophic deforestation” that in turn “is one of the basic reasons for the sparse landscape particularly evident in the Mediterranean districts of Islamic countries.” Note the progression from Koranic dietary injunction to the desertification of vast tracts of land. The scriptural command was not intended to cause ecological damage, but it did.

Islam’s unattainably high standards for governmental behavior meant historically that existing leaders, with their many faults, alienated Muslim subjects, who responded by refusing to serve those leaders in administrative and military service, thereby compelling rulers to seek personnel elsewhere. This led to their systematically deploying slaves as soldiers and administrators, thereby creating a key institution that lasted a millennium from the eighth century.

The Ottoman Janissaries were the longest lasting and most important corps of slave soldiers.

Islamic doctrine ingrains a sense of Muslim superiority, a disdain for the faith and civilization of others, which has had two vast implications in modern times: making Muslims the most rebellious subjects against colonial rule and obstructing Muslims from learning from the West to modernize.

Those scriptures also imbue a hostility toward non-Muslims which in turn generates an assumption about non-Muslims harboring a like hostility toward Muslims. In modern times, this projection has created a susceptibility to conspiracy theories which have had many practical consequences: for example, because only Muslims worry that anti-polio vaccinations secretly render their children infertile, polio has effectively become a Muslim-only scourge in 26 countries.

The annual pilgrimage to Mecca, the Islamic hajj, began in the seventh century as a local custom that then became an international meeting that facilitated the transfer of everything from Islamist ideas and political movements (the Idrisis of Libya) to luxury goods (ivory) plants (rubber to Southeast Asia, rice to Europe), and diseases (meningococci, skin infections, infectious diarrheal and blood-borne diseases, and respiratory tract infections, including perhaps the brand-new MERS-CoV).

The hajj grew from a local ceremony into an international event at which many important exchanges took place.

Other Islamic injunctions also have unintended, negative health implications. The imperative for modesty has led some Muslim women to wear full head and body coverings (niqabs and burqas) which cause Vitamin D deficiency, discourage exercise, and are implicated in a host of medical problems, including rashes, respiratory disease, rickets, osteomalacia, and multiple sclerosis.

The daytime fast during Ramadan often leads observant Muslims to exercise less and to “tend to overeat upon breaking their fast, and usually the meal involves heavy, fatty foods that are high in calories,” notes the head of the Emirates Diabetes Society. One survey in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, found 60 percent of respondents reporting excessive weight gain after Ramadan.

Ramadan, ironically, is both a month of fasting and of overeating.

A preference for first-cousin marriages, which harks back to pre-Islamic tribal practices (to keep wealth in the family and to benefit from daughters’ fertility) over approximately fifty generations has led to widespread inbreeding with negative consequences, including about twice the incidence rate of such genetic disorders as thalassemia, sickle-cell anemia, spinal muscular atrophy, diabetes, deafness, muteness, and autism.

With regard to women, injunctions about mahram protection by male relatives, and a vastly lower social and legal status combined to create such inadvertent patterns as physical seclusion, obsession with virginity, honor killings, female genital mutilation, and (Saudi-style) gender apartheid. Polygamy creates permanent anxiety in wives.

Although orphans enjoy an honored status in Islamic law (kafala), that honor is tied to a tribal structure incompatible with modern society, resulting in Muslim orphans today persistently discriminated against, even by Muslims in the West.

Islam’s scriptures have provided the base from which many other patterns evolved, including: the establishment of dynasties through conquest, not by internal overthrow; recurrent problems with dynastic succession; power leading to wealth, not the reverse; the near absence of municipal governments; inadequate regulation of cities; laws arising from ad hoc decisions, not formal legislation, reliance on hawalas for money transfers, and the practice of suicide terrorism.

Inadvertent patterns, sometimes called Islamicate, change over time, with some (slave soldiers) becoming defunct and others (polio) starting only recently. These patterns remain as powerful today as in premodern times and are key to understanding Islam and Muslim life.

Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2014 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.

Related Topics:  Islam, Middle East patterns This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.

A Novel Situation

Some time back I was asked to read a new Christian fantasy novel for the purpose of possibly endorsing it.

I have a general policy of not doing this, because it always ends up taking a lot of time away from my WIP, mostly because of the angst and mental distraction these efforts stir up in me. I’m very picky about my reading, especially when it comes to Christian works, and unfortunately I often find myself at odds with the doctrines presented.

I tell myself that many people would just set that aside and if they liked the story in general would go ahead and endorse it. I tell myself I should do that as well. It’s not my job to run around setting people straight in regards to their supposed doctrinal deficiencies.  And many times there are things in the story that I like. Can’t I just overlook the parts I don’t?

Yes, if I were simply reading the piece for pleasure. But to put my name on it in an endorsement? Therein lies the rub.

My own purpose in writing in the fantasy genre is to illuminate spiritual truth, particularly as regards the Angelic Conflict, one of the least studied, least understood, and, I think, least believed of Christian doctrines. Of course, the conflict itself and the way it’s carried out – primarily by deception – guarantees its true nature will not be well-known, or even believed. Of all doctrines it has been most distorted and/or buried. And that comes as no surprise since the kingdom of darkness works hard to do just that.

One might argue that in a fantasy novel, where good and evil are often set against one another in a rough parallel to the angelic conflict, what matters most is the characters and their actions, the plot and the world, not the specifics of explanation for the battle or the parameters for the set-up of the fantasy novel’s world…

Except… that’s kind of the whole point of writing a fantasy, in my view.

The world we live in and its parameters are based upon the angelic conflict. Understanding this conflict changes one’s perception of God, of man, of the work of Christ on the Cross, who He is, what His purpose is, who we are as part of His Church, and what is going on around us every day.

We are constantly bombarded with the lies of the kingdom of darkness, because as even human advertisers and propagandizers  will tell you, that is the way to change people’s thinking; or to keep their thinking from changing, depending on your objective.

Worse, even as believers in Christ each of us still has a sin nature, that part of us that is drawn to those lies, always ready to latch onto them. Indeed, for most of us, God is hard at work stripping away the lies so He can replace them with truth.

The lies have power and I believe we who have learned to see them, are not to simply ignore them, skipping over them as if they don’t matter… I believe God holds us accountable for our actions in regards to them.

So, in regards to the novel in question, I hit a spot that was, in my understanding, completely wrong.  I reacted. I wrote at length in the notebook I keep when reading books. I paced about the house, asking God what I was to do.

Was I being arrogant? Making a big deal out of nothing? Should I just set this aside and move on? I’d like to help the author and the publisher and the field of Christian fantasy in general. Maybe the parts I read didn’t mean what I thought they meant. Maybe the author didn’t mean any more by them than just to provide an explanation for the storyline. Most people aren’t even going to think twice about it or even take note I’m sure. Surely I was just being too rigid and inflexible.

But this is an outright insult to my Lord and Savior! Even if it was done unknowingly. How can I put my name on it as recommending it, when it does that? How can I put my name on it before the angels who are watching?

Well, that was Saturday.

Sunday morning I awoke double-minded as ever. Surely it was enough to have seen the false concepts, but I needn’t be militant about it, right?

As I drove to church I asked the Lord for answers. What was I to do about endorsing this novel? “You know how weak and easily confused I get,” I told Him. “I don’t want to make a stand when no stand is required. Please make it clear to me.”

So then maybe an hour or so later, about halfway through the message, which was on discernment – how God goes about developing in us the ability to see with spiritual eyes instead of natural eyes – Pastor John said, “So I’m faced with a novel situation. Will I trust this (new) person’s standards or my own?”

A novel situation? Pastor John rarely uses this word, and Sunday it leapt out at me. Yes I knew he meant “new” situation, but the personal double entendre was clearly from the Holy Spirit.

Not long after that, Pastor said, “There’s more going on here than meets the eye. Angels are checking out how you treat the Word.” He’d not mentioned angels in some time. Yet I’d thought of them the night before.  “They’re with you here, in class,” he said, “and outside of class, rubbernecking to see how (what you learn here) is working in your life…”

Then he quoted I Th 5:20, (Wuest translation): “Stop counting as nothing the divine revelations from the pulpit.”

And elaborated: “This is talking about when you know the Holy Spirit is pointing out truth from the Word, but you ignore it. With discernment it’s great to see the truth in a situation, but then it calls upon us to make decision about how to apply it.”

Could the message have been any more pointed to my situation? Yes. It could:

“We are to cultivate the ability and practice of examining everything carefully…to determine what’s true and false.” Examing everything. Carefully.”

Then he had us go to 2 John, pointing out as we turned there, that the various letters of the New Testament are addressed  differently, some to the church in general, some to specific congregations, some to individuals like Titus and Timothy.

This one was addressed to “the chosen lady.”  The chosen lady???

And in it, the Apostle tells her, “Don’t let false teachers into your house.” (vs 10)

“These are people,” said Pastor John, “who go out and try to teach what they think is right but don’t check with the Word. ‘Do not receive him into your house and do not give him a joyful welcome. For the one who welcomes him, participates in his evil deeds.’”

“When you’ve discerned something to be bad in your life,” said Pastor, “you’re to actively hold back from it.”

So. I had my answer. Not the one I wanted, but clearly my answer, nonetheless.

He could have talked about loving the brethren, putting the needs of others before your own, treating everyone in grace, not being legalistic and self-righteous… But he did not. And I do not believe that was “coincidence.”

Update: the Mystery Project continues

Well, my Big Project is nearly done. I believe I will have it finished tomorrow. Pictures to come.

Eventually.

I’ll give you a hint: it’s something for my grand-daughter…

I also again got in my two hours of writing on Sky so I feel pretty happy about that! But now I am very tired, and once again… no continuation of America Lite, though that too is still coming…

Oh, but did you happen to notice? Now ABC has reported the “breaking news” that… THERE WAS NO PROTEST OUTSIDE THE BENGHAZI CONSULATE the night it was attacked.  “We’ve not heard anything like this!” cried Diane Sawyer.

No? I posted that bit of information here on Sept 18… Courtesy of McClatchey and Fox…

 

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”  ~ Mt 7:15

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Here are some typical pictures of wolves in sheep’s clothing:

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And here is a picture of what wolves in sheep’s clothing REALLY look like:

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 You will know them by their fruits, not their looks. Not their personalities or mannerisms, not by the way they talk nor even many of the words they say some  cases… It may take a lot of time for fruits to be manifested. Hence the need to be well-schooled in the Word of God, lest we be taken in by their big brown eyes, sweet faces and soft, fluffy wool.

“You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thron bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit.” ~ Mt 7:16,17

A Self-Made “Man”

 

I thought I was done with my musings on the nature of Satan for the moment, but some of the comments on previous posts, plus my discovery of this last bit of excerpt from Chafer’s book Satan, has convinced me there’s at least one more post to do on this subject.

Maybe I’m misreading things, but people seem very reluctant to admit that Satan could possibly want to build and order and do “good” things. Several commenters keep coming back to him as ruiner, render, devourer.

I have no argument with that. In the end that’s exactly what he is. Right now that’s exactly how he feels toward God, God’s plan and ways and God’s people.

He’s the roaring lion walking about seeking someone (in context, some believer in Christ) to devour …

But what exactly does “devour” mean. After all, he’s not a literal lion. So how might he go about devouring?

In the context of the verse where this appears (1 Pe 5:8), the believer has just been told to humble himself, to cast all his anxiety on the Lord, to be of sober spirit (not letting emotions get the best of him) and to be on the alert because his enemy the devil is on the prowl seeking to devour him.

Since Rev 12:10 says that Satan is in heaven accusing the brethren day and night before the throne, and since he is a creature who can only be in one place at a time, clearly this roaring lion is not Satan himself, at least in the vast majority of cases.

Instead it would be his minions and the world system he has devised. The word for “devour” — katapino — means to drink down, swallow down, devour.

When you drink or swallow or devour something, it becomes a part of you. Its original form is broken down, changed to other things and assimilated into the body. That is, it becomes part of the body. So the believer’s thinking — because the spiritual battle we’re in is all about thought, the source of action — and motivation and way of living — is drunk down, swallowed up, changed to something else.

Changed to the system of thought the world advances, one that exalts self and opposes God, though it may not always be obvious that’s what it’s doing. Because very often it includes God, the Bible and even Jesus Christ in its subtle methods of exalting self and opposing God. That’s the nature of a counterfeit, to include as much truth as possible into the lie, because the more it looks and sounds like the real thing, the more people will be deceived.

Consider Chafer’s observations regarding Satan:

“His own terrible sin before God would not be condemned in the eyes of the world, for it is that which they most idealize and praise.

In his sin he aspired to that which is highest, and proposed to realize his ideal by his own self-sufficiency and strength.

Are those not worthy goals in our world today? Aren’t we forever being told, even as Christians, that we must strive for excellence and offered myriad ways of doing so in our own strength? Don’t we have and venerate all sorts of competitions to determine who is most excellent? (Especially now that Olympics Season has begun!)

Chafer continues:

“True, he has lowered his Creator, in his own mind, to a level where he supposes himself to be in legitimate competition with Him, both for authority over other beings and for their worship.

“Yet this unholy ambition and disregard for the Creator is a most commendable thing according to the standards of the Satanic order (ie, the present world system).

“In the language of the world, Satan is simply “self made” and every element of his attitude toward his Creator is, as a principle of life, both commended and practiced by the world.

“Though hiding himself, Satan has had the satisfaction, under limitations, of governing the affairs of men; and the delight, to a large extent, of receiving their worship.

If people — including Believers in Christ — are admiring and living by his ideas and his values, then they are essentially worshipping him even if they don’t realize it. And in that regard they have been “devoured”.

 

 

Satan is Not God — and it Irks Him

Over the weekend I received a comment on my post last week Demonism or the Depravity of Man? from a reader that raised a good point and which I’d like to address.

My reader said this in regards to the post:

“I can agree with you that people have a very misguided view of the innate goodness of man.

I’d have to disagree with Chafer about Satan. In John 8:44, Jesus says to the Jews, “You belong to your father the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. …” They wanted to carry out the desires of the devil and indeed they did most brutally murder him. That doesn’t sound like “And certainly he does not prompt them; for they are the natural fruit of an unrestrained fallen nature…”

Man is depraved and therefore a useful tool to carry out the devil’s desires.”

In my original post I was pointing out that contemporary portrayals of Satan and demons as vile, murderous beings bent only on gross evil and the torment of hapless souls were not accurate. To do so, I used some quotes from a book called Satan by Lewis Sperry Chafer.

But I see from the above-quoted comment that there is more to the matter than I discussed, and that Chafer has presented.

I think the best encapsulation of Satan’s nature now is that he is consumed with exalting himself and attacking God. He hates God and wants to do anything he can to thwart His will and plans. Satan wanted desperately to get our Lord to sin before he reached the cross, or, failing that, to kill Him outright before He could do the work He’d come to do. Because once Jesus Christ reached the cross and bore the sins of the world, it was over for Satan, although it’s clear he’s still in denial about that fact.

Currently he also attacks Christians, in whom God lives, in any way He can. He might use a religion to do that, such as Islam, whose Koran instructs its followers to kill Christians.  Or he might choose to do whatever he can to mess up their service and their witness, either by thwarting them, persecuting them, even killing them, or by drawing them away from truth with a counterfeit and duping them. These latter mostly involve the nice guy Satan, or, in light of having just watched The Incredible Hulk, how about the Bruce Banner version?

As he sees his time coming to an end however, (particularly in the Tribulation period), he will abandon his outwardly respectable veneer and show himself for the monster that he is, so unhinged he’ll order his minions to attack the very grass of the field, just because God made it.

Which would be the huge green guy version, going about roaring and smashing things in his rage.

This is all in Chafer’s book; he is not saying Satan never indulges in gross and immoral sins, just that he has given us a skewed view of his personality and his purposes. A view that sees him as gross and immoral and not only incapable of producing any of the good things in the world, incapable of even liking the good things.

I think he does like the good things, just as long as he doesn’t have to acknowledge them as coming from God. In fact, I think he even sees himself as good and right, someone who truly wants  to make everything in the world work well, because it reflects well on him as the leader. His goal is to be like God, as I’ve said, and thus to show himself able to do everything God can do. And before sin appeared, God’s kingdom was righteous and well-ordered.

But Satan isn’t God. So when things don’t go as he likes — as they inevitably will — he’ll throw a fit, and do whatever his deranged nature prompts in the midst of his fury. [Back to The Hulk again]. For now, being restrained by the hand of God, he cannot act freely, but during the Tribulation, when that hand of restraint is removed, and he grows more and more desperate to accomplish his goals, his true nature will be revealed.

Designer Faith

I thought I was done with the Barna survey, but it seems I am not. Because in thinking about the last two bits of information, in addition to something else I came across yesterday, I find I’m being led to do at least one more post on this subject.

I was initially surprised to learn that the Barna Group’s numbers indicated that more than half of self-identified born again believers and almost three quarters of American adults don’t believe Satan is real,   then not so surprised upon learning how very few Americans — even among the born again Christians — hold to a Biblical worldview any more. The lack of a Biblical worldview in part explains the disbelief in Satan… but how is it that so many of our countrymen lack one?

The other thing I came across yesterday was an opinion regarding the controversy over whether the Bible is to be taken literally or figuratively, and that kind of clarified things for me, especially taken in combination with one last bit from the Barna Group’s research.

The writer of the opinion did not believe that basic Bible stories were to be taken as literal, real, historical events but were merely instructional tales. Or at least some were. Others might not be. In any case, the individual defended this viewpoint with the claim that there are many things that can’t be known and thus chose not to question everything and demand that all be defined.

This was not the first time I’ve encountered the opinion that spiritual things are not to be questioned too closely, nor defined in too much detail. It always sounds lofty and somehow more spiritual than the mundane, prosaic activity of trying to make everything fit.

But yesterday, it finally  dawned on me that a person with this viewpoint is primarily concerned with what they believe the Bible says, not what it actually says. And by choosing not to question or seek to define their terms, they pretty much cut off all chance of finding out what it really says.

Imagine  if a scientist did that!  

— Oops!  I forgot! Some of them do!

Okay but they’re not supposed to, and many of them don’t. The whole point of science is to find out about our world, and the way to do that has always been to question and define. The way to understand anything is to do that, even the word of God.

Especially the word of God, I would say.

Which is why I advocate learning from a pastor who has been rigorously prepared in the original languages, the historical settings at the times of writing, and the various categories of doctrines as they are found and/or developed throughout the Bible. You can’t just sit down and read it for yourself without knowing any of these other things and expect to really understand it in depth. Yet that is what many do.

Or so I had thought. In fact, it would appear that most don’t really read it at all…

Last year, an article in USA Today last year called Designer Faith  reported on another Barna Group survey which found that “people no longer look to denominations or churches”  for their theological edification but have made of it a do-it-yourself project. Or, as the article was subtitled, “are tailoring religion to fit their needs.”

“By a three to one margin (71% to 26%) adults noted that they are personally more likely to develop their own set of religious beliefs than to accept a comprehensive set of beliefs taught by a particular church.” 

When it comes to the born again Christians, the number decreases, but not by much and still makes the majority for  61% of them favor an “a la carte” approach to the development of their theological beliefs. 

Worse of all, “leading the charge in the move to customize one’s package of beliefs are people under the age of 25, among whom more than four out of five (82%) said they develop their own combination of beliefs rather than adopt a set proposed by a church.”

As George Barna said, “America is headed toward being a country of 310 million people with 310 million religions.”

It’s kind of amazing and at the same time creepy to see things playing out as the Bible warns.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires… ”    ~ 2 Ti 4:3

Barna: Minority Believe Satan is Real

Yesterday I posted a bit about my thoughts regarding the depravity of man, and touched on some insights given by Lewis Sperry Chafer in his book Satan, regarding the latter’s motivations and methods of operation, motivations which did not include trying to get men to commit gross sins like cannibalism and tortuous serial murders, but if anything would be trying to keep them from doing so. His primary goal is to take God’s place by acquiring the worship of God’s creatures, and proving that he can do just as good a job as God can. In fact, a better job.

In order to accomplish that, he has been willing, as Chafer pointed out, “to be ridiculed by the world as a being without reality… an imaginary fiend, delighting only in the torment of unfortunate souls; making his home in hell,” a metaphor, as it were, for “all that is cruel and vile.”

I have observed that he has had success in this area amongst the general run of people.  In fact, I noted in my post on What the Night Knows, this very fact was addressed by Koontz himself through the words of one of his characters. This character, a priest to whom the novel’s protagonist goes for help, informs us that the idea of demons and such is merely part of the silly superstitions of the past, that they do not exist, and that, in a world “of nuclear weapons, we don’t need Hell and demons, succubi and incubi and hungry vampires on the doorstep. We need food banks…thrift shops, homeless shelters and the courage to express our faith in social action.”

Indeed, we do live in the age of science where the immaterial and spiritual is supposedly not allowed to intrude on our rigorous scientific experiments. Only physical and material evidence will be accepted as proof of the True and the Real. Which in itself is clearly the handiwork of Satan. Because even if that view means he has to work in the shadows, disallowed as the powerful and brilliant creature that he is, it also means his nemesis — The One True God — is disallowed.

Thus I should not have been surprised by the results of a survey on worldview among Christians done by The Barna Group in 2009. Barna is  one of the leading research organizations investigating trends in Christianity and religion in the United States today, and their survey revealed that “just one-quarter of adults (27%) are convinced that Satan is a real force.” 

Okay, but that includes unbelievers, who have been blinded by the very creature they’re being asked about, so that shouldn’t be too surprising. But among born-again Christians it would be a different matter, right?

Sadly, no.

Despite much clear scriptural evidence for the existence of this greatest of all creatures to come from the hand of God, this one who rebelled against Him, and took at least a third of his fellow angels into rebellion with him,  less than half of self-identified “born-again Christians” believe he is real.

 A mere 40% of them.

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.  ~2 Co 4:3,4

We know that…the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.   ~I John 5;19

Demonism or the Depravity of Man?

A month and a half ago, I did a post on the Dean Koontz novel What the Night Knows in which the villain, a nightmarishly cruel, self-absorbed, power-lusting, bitter, angry, hateful, lonely, unloved and unlovely psychopath, is urged along his path of the “art” of murdering families by a demon named Ruin. (Demons, says the narrative, are sometimes named for the sins they “most  particularly advocate — names like Discord, Envy, Jealousy or like Perdition, Disease, Ruin.”)

This got me to thinking about the depravity of man, the implication here being that on his own, man could never be as bad as someone like Koontz’s villain, Alton Turner Black. Or Jack the Ripper. Or Nero. Caligula. Ted Bundy. Adolph Hitler… No, man would need the help of a demon to be that bad.

Whenever there’s a story — fiction or real life — about a really nasty psychopath, the suggestion almost always arises that he’s demon possessed. I’m guilty of falling into that thinking myself, most recently regarding the “South Beach cannibal” down in Florida.

Lately I’ve been rethinking that.

Part of the reason for that is because of teaching Ive received from a book I’ve been studying called Satan, by Lewis Sperry Chafer (written in 1919, reprinted ins 1964). It’s fantastic.

Chafer  was a prominent dispensational theologian in the early 20th century and founder of Dallas Theological Seminary in Texas. He was mentored by C.I Scofield (of  Scofield Bible fame), and was in turn a  mentor of Colonel R.B. Thieme, Jr. I was introduced to Chafer’s work immediately after my salvation, when the man who led me to the Lord and taught our college and home Bible studies used Chafer’s book Major Bible Themes as a his class outline. Additonally, my first Bible was one of those above mentioned  Scofield Bibles.

What I like about Chafer’s work is how Scripture-based it is, and how clear;  he sets the various applicable verses in comparison and draws what seem to be the obvious conclusions.

In this case, talking about Satan’s plans, he cites the passage in Isaiah 14 where Satan’s motivations are clearly stated:

 “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars (angels) of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly (of angels) in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I WILL MAKE MYSELF LIKE THE MOST HIGH.”

In other words, he wants to be like God. Not a fiend. Not a destroyer, per se. But like God. He wants authority, control and worship.  His motivation is to oppose God and exalt himself, to take God’s place, and his primary method is deception. Chafer describes it thus:

“He who was the measure of perfection, full of beauty and wisdom; he who made the earth to tremble; who shook kingdoms; has been willing to be ridiculed by the world as a being without reality, that he might , in the end, realize his own deepest desire.

“Again, his own subjects (unbelievers and ignorant believers) have strangely neglected the plain teachings of Scripture on his real power and authority.

” To them he has been an imaginary fiend, delighting only in the torment of unfortunate souls; making his home in hell, and himself the impersonation of all that is cruel and vile: when, on the contrary, he is real, and is the very embodiment of the highest ideals the unregenerate world has received; for he is the inspirer of all those ideals.

“With his own he is not at enmity, and he, like the most refined of the world, is in no sympathy with the grosser forms of their sin. He would hinder those manifestations of evil if he could. And certainly he does not prompt them; for they are the natural fruit of an unrestrained fallen nature…”

Matthew 7:21-23 confirms this last, stating:  “For from within, out of the hearts of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, amplifies this, speaking of man in his natural state: 

“As it is written, there is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.

Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace have they not known.

 There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Having read that, cannibalism seems to fit right in. Yet how many of us reading the above passage would almost instinctively attribute such traits to other people, to another society in another time? Or even, unthinkingly, to demons?

We live in an era that promotes the good of man, the universal brotherhood of man. So many of our countrymen are engaged in making the world a better place, bringing about justice for all, perhaps even believing or at the least, assuming that their good intentions and efforts will ensure them a place in heaven. Or good status in their next life, if that is the direction of their beliefs. Of at the least make their life worthwhile if they think this is all there is.

In our times, people are outraged and incensed should someone even say something bad about another (unless the “other” happens to be George W. Bush :-)) . Oddly, should they happen to eat someone or shoot a bunch of them in a public venue, there doesn’t seem to be outrage so much as hand wringing and wonderment over what could have driven that poor perpetrator to do such a thing. Was it Sarah Palin? Talk radio? Incivility in public discourse?  Western Imperialism? Poverty? Drugs? Racism? Demons?

Never is it  just the fact that people — all people — are depraved and where’s the big shock when they act like it?

And yes, I do mean all people, for even us Christians still have that depraved nature inside us — that power that is totally against God, seeks always and insidiously, every chance it gets, to exalt self, and inevitably at times gets the better of us.

“For you were called to freedom, brethren (note Paul is talking to Believers– Christians); only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

“But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. (Note that we have a choice!) For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. (ie, Godly things, like love your neighbor as yourself).

I’m not saying there is no demon possession. There is. But it’s done with a purpose, under the authority of the Prince of this world, the one who possesses all the kingdoms of the world (Lk 4:5-7) And his purpose is the same as that of our flesh: to oppose God and exalt himself. And his means of executing his purpose is almost always deception.

If he can get us to think we’re not that bad, not as depraved as the Bible says we are, well, then we won’t think we even need a Savior; or if we have believed, won’t understand what that Savior has truly done for us; won’t have the gratitude we ought to have; will think more highly of ourselves than we ought… won’t realise our need for the complete and total overhaul in our thinking and motivation that can only be effected by our daily immersion in God’s word.

Nor the ease with which we can be led astray, by others or by that deceitful power within ourselves.

Halloween

Years ago, in the distant past, when I was a young girl, I couldn’t imagine not wanting to go trick or treating on Halloween. I fretted ab0ut growing up and not being able to do it any more, because it wasn’t a thing “grown-ups” did. I loved running around in the dark from house to house, especially when one of the houses was “spooky”. I loved the wind, the dark scary shapes, the huge orange orb of a full moon. Oh what a sacrifice that was going to be, not to be able to do that. In fact, I thought, maybe I would never give it up!

Later, as a Christian and mother, and Sunday school teacher, I hosted Halloween parties at our house for the Sunday school kids and their friends. They dressed up, dunked for apples and played other games, ate pizza and then I and some other moms escorted them about the neighborhood so they could run in the dark from house to house and enjoy the scary effects some of the neighbors devised. (Too scary in some cases — one man, dressed as a gorilla with glowing eyes, came to the door to hand out candy and my son wasn’t having a thing to do with that… WAY too scary for him at his very young age.)

It was a time to get together, dress up, play games, carve pumpkins and run about in the night geting candy. Harmless. We all knew what we believed with regard to the spiritual realm and it wasn’t like we were worshiping the devil or anything. It was just a fun, cultural thing….

And yet…

And yet as the years have passed my acceptance became ambivalence and lately, the ambivalence is turning to active dislike.

I read an article the other day that  Halloween is now the second biggest holiday celebration — in terms of money making —  in this country, second only to Christmas. (There’s something disturbing about that juxtaposition.) When I went looking, I couldn’t find that particular article, but turned up another, written today (Sunday, Oct 30) that cites the National Retail Association as their source for this same claim. According to Neilson research, we’ll buy about 600 million pounds of candy for this day, and spend even more decorating our homes and buying/making costumes.

People say we love Halloween so much because we’re still kids inside. Because we love to dress up. Because it’s a time to be together, something to do as a family. As a neighborhood.

Others say everyone loves to be scared.  Sorry, no. I detest being scared. I detest having horrid, bloody images burned into my brain that will float around with me for years. Which is why I won’t go near the chain saw massacre haunted house things. But those are huge money makers as well.

Yes, I did say above that I liked spooky houses, but that’s fake spider webs with fake spiders in them, grinning jack-o-lanterns, shadows, fake bats, spooky ridiculous music, and glowing eyes that are electric and not set in the skull of some powerful predator slowly stalking me. In other words, it’s really fake-scary. I like pretending something is scary. I have no use at all for things that are really scary.

Fear is a sin. Anxiety is a sin. So is being terrified. Yet we have as the second biggest money maker, a holiday that celebrates fear. Or is it fake fear?

And yet… for all the scary stuff, kids get candy. And, at the same time, they learn gradually that all this scary stuff… zombies, witches, monsters, vampires, devils, demons, evil spells, evil powers, mummies, ghosts… aren’t real. That all that supernatural evil stuff is just silly, harmless stuff.

Well, I don’t believe in ghosts or vampires or zombies, but I do believe there are witches and evil, clever, powerful supernatural beings at work in this world. The Bible says there are:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of this wickenss in the heavenly places (atmosphere).”  ~ Eph 6:12

Halloween makes all that seem silly and ridiculous. Satan is reduced to an absurd figure with horns, a forked tail and red skin, who roams about in a red cape with a pitchfork. Witches run about with long noses and pointed black hats. Everyone laughs and has fun. Kids get candy.

It reminds me of the post I did on Hopi religious ceremonies for the kids, where every time the kachina shows up, the kids get the equivalent of candy. Thus they come to associate the kachina with gifts and good things and pleasure. So Halloween, I think, moves kids to associate demons and dark forces and witches and vampires and even death as not real, and also, as fun, as something pleasant and tasty.

And there’s just something off about that. When I think about us as believers in Christ being royal priests, being in union with the God of the universe, children of God, beneficiaries of His grace and created to be the means by which God would solve a great battle waged against him by evil angelic beings… it doesn’t seem right to engage in a holiday that seems deliberately crafted to meld the real with the make believe, and wrap it all in the guaze of fun and togetherness and the Pavlovian reward of … candy!

Not that I’m going to go on any anti-Halloween crusade. I just don’t like it. But I think I may have some legitmate reasons for feeling as I do.

UPDATE: While dinking around on the internet after posting this, I came across this blog from a former Wiccan, now Christian who wrote a series on the origins of Halloween in Samhain, a Celtic religious end of harvest festival. Very interesting. You can read Part 1 HERE.  There are three parts and they’re all quite interesting, especially where she points out the counterfeits with Christianity.