Satan’s “Evangelism,” Part 1

15Mar09

On a lark while at the Salvation Army yesterday (scoring Vera Wang and Ann Taylor dresses for a song), I picked up a copy of the 1989 classic Satan’s “Evangelistic” Strategy For This New Age, by Erwin W. Lutzer and John F. DeVries. Fifty cents is a fair price to pay for laughter.

For those just tuning in: I am, for all practical purposes, an atheist. Not quite a militant one, but certainly somewhere beyond the “fundamentalist agnostic” description I tend to give census-takers. It’s not that I’m convinced God does not exist; it’s just that I don’t care.

Having dated a couple guys whose families were up to their ears in New Age woo, however, I am wholeheartedly convinced that the overwhelming majority of it is nonsense.

Verily! So much for all that.

At first, Lutzer and DeVries’ charming tome isn’t too bad. Only a few small things bothered me:

(page 16) “Satan promised Adam and Eve that they could set up a rival kingdom; they could be their own God. The teaching is not, “You shall be like gods” (as in the King James Bible), but rather, “You shall be as God” (Elohim).

…”Elohim” is plural, you illiterate hack.

(page 29) “Truth always has a narrow focus because there is usually only one right answer to most questions. Two plus two equals four. Only one number satisfies the equation. But false answers are endless. Indeed, there is almost an infinite number of wrong answers to the simplest mathematical equation.”

Like this one?

There are exactly infinity minus one wrong answers to “the simplest mathematical equation” (by which I assume they mean 2 + 2 = 4, though really 1 = 1 is simpler). There aren’t “almost an infinite number.” There are infinity minus one, a very specific number. That’s like saying there are “somewhat less than one correct answers to 2 + 2 = ?” Wrong.

But what should we expect? These guys aren’t scientists – and Alhamdullah for that, or we’d have no hilarity. I’ll just quote:

(page 38) “One book says that crystals emit subatomic particles that affect the energy vibrations of the body. Thus crystals can help your body become better “aligned” with itself and induce physical healing. Seminars are available on how to choose the crystal that is right for you.

“Another expert explained that crystals have power to be programmed like a computer chip through the power of our own concentration. They can also magnify our moods. If we are depressed, they will respond to our depression; if we are joyful, they will magnify our joy. And if we are living with self-incrimination (guilt), there are crystals that can take that away too.

“Do crystals work? Like other relics, beads, and occult objects, those who put faith in crystals get results. Time magazine quotes one woman as saying that she was healed from a fungus and stomach trouble by the subtle energy of crystals. Hundreds of others give similar testimonials. Satan makes these objects work.”

[insert spit-take here]

It was going so beautifully: “so many people believe stuff that sounds like utter nonsense with absolutely no evidence. Clearly, you’re all suffering from supernatural delusions.” Then, from the left, MASSIVE TRAINWRECK: “in fact, what REALLY makes it all work is this OTHER supernatural delusion!”

It’s like telling a roomful of people that they’re all nuts for believing, a la The Secret, that with enough positive thought they’ll all wake up blonde pop stars…because everybody knows Jessica Simpson is actually made of fairy dust.

Still, let me give props where they’re due. I understand the constraints of the material. These two aren’t arguing for the observable, measurable, and (reasonably) predictable over supernatural delusion; they’re arguing in favor of one particular supernatural delusion over infinity-minus-one others. They can’t take the obvious route. If they argue that crystals and humming are all supernatural delusions, the reader might do them one better and apply the arguments to God and Jesus too – an obviously (for an evangelist) unacceptable outcome. So they walk the fine line of arguing against infinity-minus-a-handful supernatural woo concepts, yet for a handful of equally supernatural woo concepts.

Not easy, certainly. BUT HILARIOUS.

Stay tuned. I’m sure it gets better.

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