BY CHAD BIRD
This is in an excerpt from a speech delivered to the graduating class of Discordia Seminary. After some preliminary remarks, the speaker, a renowned devil named Lietongue, went on to say the following.
Brothers, the rich and diverse education you have received has more than adequately prepared you for the ministry of temptation to which you have been called. Besides your core classes on Twisting Scripture and Introducing Heresy, you have also studied Immorality Rationalization, the Inculcation of Church Division, and much more. All of these will, of course, aid you in your service to our Father below.
Some of you, however, may be floundering in this vast sea of knowledge. You’re wondering, “How will I ever keep it all straight?” To assist you, therefore, allow me to take this opportunity to summarize for you the three main objectives of your office. I assure you that if you keep this triad of goals ever before your eyes, you will successfully shepherd your flock into the arms of our Master.
- With regard to evil, your objective is not merely to tempt humans to do bad things. Yes, of course, there is profit in theft and adultery and such, but only if you follow through to the next step. A murderer, for instance, is no good to you if he later regrets his action and returns to the Enemy. What have you then accomplished? In fact, that murderer may well be even harder for us to reach if he confessed to the Foe and tasted the poison of his forgiveness. Your first goal, therefore, is not simply to lure people into evil, but once they have committed some wrong, to convince them that they are so bad, so corrupted, so shamed, that the Enemy wants nothing to do with them anymore. Enlarge upon their guilt. Emphasize divine justice. Erase the word “Father” from their hearts and in its place write, “Judge.”
- With regard to good, your objective is not merely to prevent humans from doing what is right. In fact, it can be to your advantage when they are engaged in so-called righteous deeds. There will be occasions when you applaud their efforts to be faithful spouses, loving parents, hard workers, and the like. Co-opt these good works. Use them to your advantage. Tell the humans that the more they do for their God, the more their God will love them. In so doing, ever so subtly, you will begin to convince them that there is a direct correlation between his acceptance of them and their performance of good. Pride will naturally grow from this assumption, as will their understanding of their status before him. Before long, every good deed will, in their mind, move them closer to their Lord. At the same time, they will begin to disdain those whom they see as morally inferior to themselves. As you know, we were able to do much in this respect with the Pharisees. Make it your goal to breed more of these zealots for the church. People will do good things; make sure those good things become the source of their hope for divine approval.
- Finally, and most importantly, there is that sinister proclamation of our Enemy that you must silence at all costs. You know what I’m talking about. Every class at Discordia Seminary is crafted so as to aid you in muting, corrupting, and twisting this message. Our Foe claims that because of the death and resurrection of he-who-will-not-be-named, he has already made everything right between him and humanity. In his disgusting words, he has “reconciled the world to himself.” He claims to love them unconditionally, forgive them freely, welcome them wholeheartedly, all because of this so-called son. Thankfully, this proclamation is not only foolish to us; it is diametrically opposed to human experience as well. It is unreasonable to them that an innocent man should die in the stead of guilty men, that they should be loved even while they hated the lover. Your daily task is to undermine what our Enemy calls “grace.” Redefine it as “spiritual power.” Reinterpret it as “earned acceptance.” Make it contingent upon human cooperation. Warn that its promulgation will produce lawlessness. I don’t care how you attack it, just that you attack it. If there is one overarching purpose of your calling, one primary reason for the existence of your office, it is the eradication of the message that our Enemy is defined by grace.
Brothers, I applaud the work you have done to reach this milestone. The world is waiting for you. Go forth and labor zealously. Our Father will be watching.
Chad is an author and speaker who's devoted to honest Christianity that addresses the raw realities of life with the liberating Gospel of Jesus Christ. Chad has served as a pastor and assistant professor of OT theology, contributed hymns to the Lutheran Service Book, and cohosts the podcast “Forty Minutes in the OT.” He holds Master's degrees from Concordia Theological Seminary and Hebrew Union College. In addition to writing the books, Christ Alone and The Infant Priest, he has contributed articles to Modern Reformation, The Federalist, Concordia Pulpit Resources, and other journals. His new book with Eerdmans, Night Driving: Notes from a Prodigal Soul, is now available for pre-order at Amazon. His writings and other resources can be found at his website, chadbird.com. Chad and his wife, Stacy, enjoy life together in the Texas Hill Country.