“What happened to the Devil, you know? He used to be all over the place. He used to be all over the New Testament.” Justice Antonin Scalia commented last month in a New York Times Magazine interview.
“So what happened to him?” His interviewer asked. “He just got wilier.”
Here’s what intrigued me. Justice Scalia was offended that the journalist thought he was weird believing in the Devil. His response is worth quoting: “Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the Devil? I mean, Jesus Christ believed in the Devil! It’s in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the Devil! Most of mankind has believed in the Devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the Devil.”
Whatever we may think of Justice Scalia, I think he has a point. The Devil is alive and well. If he’s still prowling around like a roaring lion (I Peter 5:8) or subtly sneaking up on people like a snake (Gen 3), then his job description hasn’t changed. He still wants to demean God or to make people not believe in God (or in the Devil). He’s wily.
If we’re in touch with reality, perhaps similar to what Justice Scalia refers to as mainstream America (and we would add many parts of the world), then we must live with a recognition of the Devil. Anglican author, J.I.Packer once noted that “Satanology” is a field of study that the academics have pooh-poohed, yet it is necessary for a full picture of the life we have with Christ.
“The Devil paid us a visit” was what my Anglican sister in Christ, Rosemary Mbogo, told me after the terrible political riots in Kenya a few years’ ago. Our fellow believers in the Global South know all about the Devil. Perhaps we can learn a lesson from them and from Justice Scalia as we consider how carry out God’s plan to reach the nations. Maybe we need to re-look at what the Scriptures teach us: “…through death Jesus might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15).