Platt’s Devilish Satire Makes You Think
- Monday, May 21, 2012
Author: Richard Platt
Title: As One Devil to Another
Publisher: Tyndale House
Do you ever wonder if hell’s demons are working overtime on you?
If Richard Platt’s As One Devil to Another is any indication, the stronger our faith, the harder Satan’s minions conspire to dissuade and corrupt us.
Fans of the legendary C.S. Lewis will recognize this as the plot for his satirical The Screwtape Letters. And indeed, you could dismiss Platt’s first novel as merely a variation on Lewis’ theme. But whether you’ve read the book upon which it’s based or not, As One Devil to Another can stand on its own merits, and does so quite well.
Even experts on Lewis’ writings hail Platt as a worthy heir to Lewis’ literary throne. Because just as Screwtape Letters is iconic, Platt’s work convincingly reads as Screwtape’s updated version, employing its clever correspondence technique, albeit tweaked for believers navigating a post-Christian culture.
We’re never really introduced to Slashreap, who writes most of these letters as a manager of demons to his protégé, Scardagger. Yet we learn much about him as he critiques his apprentice’s perverted successes and failures in sadistically manipulating mortals. Slashreap also lectures on how demonic evil powers attempt to accomplish hell’s nefarious objectives in God’s creation.
Since this is written for today’s world, don’t expect any of Lewis’ eloquence. Platt’s dialog is as scathing as it is wickedly provocative. After a while, this correspondence becomes less literary and more literal; it’s easy to imagine demons conferring with each other about how they dislodge from our hearts and minds the very truths in which Christ wants us to abide.
Indeed, Platt makes a considerable effort of exploring how Satan uses ubiquitous elements of our modern culture against our faith. Technology, sex, class warfare, wealth, knowledge, pride, and greed all exist in the arsenal Slashreap explores for Scardagger. But most of us evangelicals already know about this nefarious arsenal, so Platt takes things a step further and extrapolates hell’s fiendish designs for the sexual revolution, the Internet and social media, homosexuality, higher education, plastic surgery, materialism, modern art, the abuse of classical literature, self-love, and even cancer treatments.
Indeed, theologically-speaking, some of us may not wholly embrace Platt’s more curious assertions.
For example, he seems to suggest that the better alternative for cancer victims is to deny themselves medical treatment that could cure them, or at least defer death. Many of us believe instead that the advancements made by modern medicine to combat cancer are gifts from God as he reveals the truths of science to doctors and researchers.
In addition, Platt rightly points out that homosexuality is a sin like any other, instead of a particularly vile kind for which some churchgoers hatefully spurn its practitioners. But in making that point, he intimates that believers with homosexual tendencies needn’t seek the Lord’s freedom from those tendencies unless they put them into practice. Surely any “cross,” as Platt puts it, should be targeted for sanctification, just like any other “cross,” such as gluttony, adultery, and greed.
More theological conflict may surface if you hold a strong position in the debate between free will and predestination. However, this might not be entirely unintentional on Platt’s part. As he points out in Slashreap’s correspondence, we evangelicals find it far too easy to argue over hermeneutical semantics, instead of deploying our faith on loving God and our neighbors more fully.
And that’s Platt’s point. We let all sorts of things consume our theology and our lifestyles that we forget some of Christ’s most direct instructions to us.
Which makes the work of hell’s Slashreaps and Scardaggers that much easier.
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