the Bible is a dangerous book! it upsets lives....
|Concentrate on single phrases or verses||Know" what the Bible says before reading|
|The More is Better Wheeze||Use a little ingenuity|
|Read everything literally||Persuade readers of their own righteousness|
By a series of accidents which do not need to be explained here I obtained a copy of "Damnation" the quarterly journal for budding demons. One item contained advice on limiting the Bible's power. It is in the form of a book review and is reprinted below.
The Bible is a dangerous book! It has greatly disturbed the rule of His Infernal Majesty. It upsets lives. Most Angels of Darkness know how it can turn ordinary citizens of This World into citizens of the Other Place. It has even done so where no other evangelist was present!
The Devil's Bible is a clear and useful compendium of methods for weakening its influence. Screwtape's book contains many well tried suggestions for ensuring that Christians never really read the Bible for themselves. In this area, as in so many others, the wealth of the western world is a useful ally. The Bible is so easily available that no one values it. Our demonic colleagues in the poorer countries face a more difficult problem. Bibles are difficult to find and expensive, people who have saved up to buy the Book unfortunately usually read it!
In the West another tool in rendering God's Word ineffective has always been the human love of a good fight. The growth of Archaeology and Critical scholarship often provide the excuse that's needed. The author of The Devil's Bible rightly demonstrates how diverting energy and efforts, into "proving the Bible" or conversely into undermining its historical accuracy, can ensure that its impact as the Divine Enemy's word is weakened.
The names of those liberal scholars who have undermined the authority of Scripture will be well known to potential readers of The Devil's Bible. Perhaps less well known but even more effective in the long term have been the unwitting efforts of many "Fundamentalist" authors. Some provide so much detailed argument to prove that Jonah really was swallowed by a big fish that few of their readers ever hear the "still small voice" after all the wind and fire. The "Word of God" becomes mere ammunition in a battle with the infidels, their lives remain as proud, self-righteous and hard as ever and, praise Satan, Jesus though close to their lips remains far from their hearts.
Screwtape's book however does not concentrate long on this rarefied level. It contains many eminently practical suggestions which will work on the ordinary believer to reduce the effectiveness of the Bible.
You can excuse this by calling it "focusing in close" and "taking
notice of the detail". If you can persuade your subject to read without
looking at the context, half your battle is over. Discrepancies will soon seem
"he that is not against us is for us." Luke 9.50
"He that is not with me is against me" Luke 11.23
A specially useful suggestion in Screwtape's book is to combine this with the human love of argument. For example, once you get them fighting over the difference between gifts of the Spirit and fruits of the Spirit, you can be sure that the unity 1 Cor 12 speaks of will be as far from them as will the "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith", that Gal 5.22 promises!
Many Christians think that the Bible says "Money is the root of all evil". (Compare 1 Tim 6:10). The Devil's Bible shows how even this rather trivial example can sow strife among God's people - use it to justify the resentment of the comfortable against the rich, with a little help from us pride, condemnation and greed soon rule!
A whole section of the Devil's Bible is given over to this. Rightly, since encouraging subjects to become more religious whilst they also become less Christian can bring even the strongest humans back into the power of the Infernal Realm.
Application to Bible-reading is simple. Christians know the Bible is the Word of God. Persuade them it is only that, and not also at the same time a human book. Even get them to think that He dictated every word. At first their faith may grow in leaps and bounds. Don't panic! Faith will soon wither in poor soil.
Screwtape cleverly suggests using the Bible against itself. Guide the subject to some of the more vindictive passages of the Old Testament or, for those with feminist leanings, to some of Paul's more misogynist remarks. If you can once get them to really notice a few of these verses out of context, they are safely back on the road to Hell.
(a) There are two main ways forward. Some, accepting each phrase as the word of God, find their own intolerant and vindictive qualities enhanced. They become more and more religious as they become progressively less like Christ. This kind are a fifth column in the Church.
(b) Others become disillusioned. Ensure that they examine words like:
"O daughter of Babylon, you devastator!
Happy shall he be who requites you
with what you have done to us!
Happy shall he be who takes your little ones
and dashes them against the rock!
A Psalm of David."
(Since Demons ought to know the Bible better than their subjects, you should know that this comes from Ps 137:8-9, in training school we all learned other good verses to use.)
Most Christians are revolted by such verses. Quite rightly, they believe that God could never intend them. If you have prepared the ground well, so that the Word of God is identified with the words of the Book, the only option will be to decide that the Bible is not His Word.
Humans love puzzles and prefer ingenious solutions. Make use of this by encouraging the ingenious interpretation of Scripture. Numbers are always a good start. The Bible says the woman Jesus spoke with at the well had had five husbands (Jn 4:18) imagine all the dangerous possibilities in identifying them. (Christian leaders your subject dislikes are a good start!)
Sometimes the Bible warns its readers that they should seek deeper meaning
below the surface. As when Jesus while washing the disciples' feet warns them:
"What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand."
(Jn 13:7) In such cases you should at all costs try to get your subject to read
literally and get them to miss the signs.
Drawing attention to the wrong details is a good ploy.
Of course no Christian can be totally persuaded to this, none fails to recognise that Jesus the carpenter (Mk 6:3) was not a shepherd by trade (Jn 10:11, 14), still less will they think he was a plant (Jn 15:1). But many of the other things the Bible says give scope for creative misunderstanding by literal reading.
If your subject is not yet a Christian try to get their minister to preach literally Jesus' picture of hell in the story of the rich man and Lazarus then get the congregation to sing the old hymn "There is a fountain filled with blood". No one is likely to get converted with such a combination!
As God's word, Scripture is inevitably aimed at helping weak fallen sinners. We must at all costs make it ineffective in this. One neat technique is to persuade the reader that it is others, not them, who are like this. This is easy as humans have an strong capacity to feel self-righteous. Convince your subject they are right and good, Scripture will loose its power to return them to the Heavenly Realm. Remember: A proud reader is a damned reader. A human who will not admit their need of God cannot be saved by him, however religious they are. These will inherit the Kingdom Below!
REO White, Interpreting the Bible Today, Pickering & Inglis, 1982 and Fee, Gordon D. & Stuart, Douglas. How to read the Bible for all its worth: A Guide to Understanding the Bible. 2nd edn. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993 were especially useful in writing the above fictional review. Both give lots of sound advice on rightly handling the Word of truth.
© Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2002
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