Satan’s Not the Problem

Dana Carvey and the ‘Church Lady’ sketches always made me laugh, especially when she referenced Satan. During a Christmas-themed December broadcast, using a magnetic spelling board, she rearranged letters spelling “Santa” to reveal “Satan.” There are a lot of serious Christians who do the same thing. Satan isn’t behind everything. We give him way too much credit.

C.S. Lewis wrote this about the devils in the Preface to The Screwtape Letters (1942):

There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.

I’m certainly no literary competitor to Lewis, but I believe there is another error, and that is to pin everything on the devil. He’s only one fallen angel who has no more power than any other angel.

Rick Santorum’s 2008 speech about Satan is getting a lot of attention by the media. Here is some of what Santorum said:

“Satan is attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity, and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that has so deeply rooted in the American tradition.”

“This is a spiritual war. And the Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country — the United States of America. If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age? There is no one else to go after other than the United States and that has been the case now for almost 200 years, once America’s preeminence was sown by our great Founding Fathers.”

Here’s my problem with his comments. He should not have blamed Satan; he should have blamed those who have steadily taken our freedoms away, weakened our resolve, broken our economy, spent us into debt, created millions of hopeless dependents, wrecked our education system, and left us disillusioned about the future.

Santorum let our nation’s political, social, and cultural saboteurs off the hook by blaming Satan. There are sinister forces at work in America, and they don’t need Satan to exact their will on us. They’re to blame, and that’s where Santorum and the other candidates should focus their attention. This is how the book of James makes the case:

“But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death” (James 1:14–15).

The lust for power in fallen creatures is man’s great sin. Today’s institutional leaders believe they can be gods if given enough power, control, and money. It’s up to us to show them that they are wrong.

Let’s not give these guys a way out by giving them Flip Wilson’s Geraldine Jones defense: “The Devil made me do it.” No he didn’t. You did.