Monday, November 09, 2009

Luther, 'V' and Evangelical Cultural Accomodation

Sometimes thoughts from seemingly unrelated fields of personal study and interest convergent in rather unexpected and enjoyable ways. As many of you know, I've been on a real Luther kick recently (in fact, I'm sitting in Borders considering the purchase of 'Luther for Armchair Theologians - it's got cartoons in it!). I've also been thinking about Christ and Culture with my ACG and have really enjoyed (and been confused) by it all. I like it when things fit neatly into a system, but they rarely seem to. Add too all this the kickoff of the new sci-fi series 'V' on Tuesday night. I loved it, which according to Lynn means it will be canceled in a week or two. What do all of these things have in common? The devil.

Luther seemed far more aware that the devil was active, crafty, mean, and hell bent on destroying God's people and God's work. Reading Luther on the devil is almost embarrassing to our modern evangelical ears, not because he's unbiblical (not on this), but precisely because he is so biblical. Consider just a few verses:

"Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved." - Luke 8:11-12

"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." - 1 Peter 5:8


"We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. " - 1 John 5:19


(see also 2 Thess. 2:9; John 8:44; Eph. 6:12; 2 Cor. 2:11)


We have, as the evangelical church (at least the non-charismatic wing of the evangelical church), underplayed or downright ignored the work and person of the devil. I think this is dangerous.

Now for the connection to 'V'. The devil doesn't announce himself. If you have seen the sci-fi series, you know that the 'visitors' that appear charming, altruistic, helpful, etc., are under their pretty human exteriors reptiles that devour people. They come and offer peace and opportunities, but their hidden agenda is destruction. So it is with Satan. He offers pleasures, opportunities, successes, etc. They seem so good, but beneath the veneer is the devil. (For a really creepy video of the alien baby, click here:)

"And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. " - 2 Corinthians 11:14-15

That sets up the last connection - between Satan and our culture. So many opportunities present themselves to the church. Many are God given opportunities to spread the good news, to shine the light of Christ into our dark world. But, some are not. I'm convinced that many ventures we are tempted by are Satanic ploys to seduce the church, distract the church, sully the church, and if it were possible, destroy the church. I'm not yet prepared to point fingers (except at the pornification of church!), but I'm convicted that in our current lust for success and relevance, we have grown increasingly undiscerning in what open doors we walk through. (I often tell college students that open doors don't necessarily come from God - we all have an open door to prostitution!)

I'd love your thoughts on this. I'll leave you with the apostle Paul's words from Ephesians 6:10-20:

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. "

3 comments:

Mark said...

I think I probably agree, though it might depend on which ventures you have in mind. Certainly I agree that we should not walk through every open door.

I think we teach too little about the world, the flesh and the devil: all three, not just the last one.

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions--is not from the Father but is from the world." 1 Jn 2:15-16

David said...

I loved V, hope it doesn't get cancelled...though a lot of my favorites have been, as well. NBC seems to have made a habit of it, lets hope ABC doesn't follow suit.

Matt said...

So what sort of agency does the devil actually have? Can he make us sin? Can he cause evil? What would it actually mean to not "ignore the work and person of the devil"? And what does it mean to claim the devil has personhood?

Just a few questions. It seems as though paying too much attention to the devil can actually produce harmful effects, in that he seems to provide a pretty easy excuse for sin ("the devil made me do it," right?), and also in that it can lead to a constant magnification of our struggles--i.e. thinking we're such great heroes for constantly and vigilantly fending off the most evil villain of all time.