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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"Magnificent Malevolence" (Derek Wilson)

TITLE: Magnificent Malevolence
AUTHOR: Derek Wilson
PUBLISHER: Oxford, England: Lion Fiction plc, 2013, (240 pages).

This book continues the tradition of CS Lewis's "Screwtape Letters," where the perspective of life comes from the devil and his evil followers. While there are similarities, there are differences that make this book unique. The chief character is Crumblewit, the equivalent to Wormwood in Lewis's work. Wilson has also expanded the coverage and applied it to historical milestones and eras from 1942 to the present. The task of Crumblewit is to destroy the spiritual life of mankind. With each change of eras, as the contexts change, so does the methods and strategies used by Crumblewit to dissuade, deceive, distract, and demoralize man from pursuing their true God.

  • 1942-1944: Crumblewit describes how his career as a tempter begins, albeit humbly in a sack, with anonymity as a way to go undercover in the business of tempting the unsuspecting humans.
  • 1944-1948: the strategy is to manipulate a preacher by the name of Little Bratt to be busy about the less important things, and for political leaders to be engaged in controversy and politics of land and power.
  • 1949-1956: Crumblewit works on a strategy of taking Christian truths and distort them. He influences a Dr Xavier Oliphant mentally bully all others to submission, and to keep all debates at an intellectual level, away from anything resembling the gospel. 
  • 1956-1958: Infiltration is the strategy preferred over confrontation. This is also the period of the ecumenical movement in which lots of efforts and resources are put to unite the Christian Church. The tactic is to maneuver unwitting spies and agents into the Church. Rise of the social gospel.
  • 1958-1960: Against the tide of unity movements, the devil works on disunity from the inside, and turn leaders toward peripheral issues rather than the core gospel. They mislead people to render authority and allegiance to institutionalized authority. They deceive churches from depending on the Bible as the sole authority. They create dissent through inflighting, disdain, and isolates Christians into their various camps.
  • 1961-1967: With the growth of movements like the charismatic movement, Crumblewit has to change strategies.
  • 1968-1975: Using temptations of busyness, focus on miraculous works, and all kinds of distractions, Crumblewit and his team seek to separate the Church people from God, the true source of Power.
  • 1975-1985: With the Cuban missile crisis as a political backdrop, three new strategies are adopted to stem the tide of the Christian growth. First is to exploit the political ideal of freedom, and cause people to promote sexual promiscuity and immorality. Second, promote consumerism and acquisitions as a way of life. Third, instill some loyalty to a warped sense of democracy.
  • 1986-1988: With the rise and pervasiveness of technology. Crumblewit adapts his strategies accordingly. Substitute church going with tele-evangelism. Promote programs that distort life. Make people believe in fictional tales. Infuse secular philosophies into music and the arts.
  • 1989-1995: With widening rich-poor divide,  misinformation and individualism are worked through.
  • 1996-2000: Continue the focus on meaningless things, like dropping AD/BC conventions, making people more judgmental, giving Bible fundamentalists a bad reputation.
  • 2001-Present: Greed and other methods continue to be used to stumble the Christians.

Wilson is well aware of the historical movements from WWII to the present and adopts the book accordingly with a keen understanding of what works and what does not work when it comes to stumbling the Church. Written with some sarcasm of the modern Church as well as hints of what the Church has done well, there are some common lessons that one can learn from.

First, the power and place of prayer continues to be the key strategy Christians use against the wiles and deceptions of the devil. Time and again, whenever the people of God pray, the devils are unable to gain much headway or foothold into the Church or Christian communities. Prayer blurs the radar screen of Crumblewit and his associates. Second, with each changing era and cultural changes, the enemy adapts accordingly. It reminds us how quick and adept the evil one is when it comes to developing new tricks to instill old ideas. The times may change. The strategies may vary, but the objective to halt the kingdom of God remains the same. Third, evil is real. Often the way the enemy tries to hit the Christian communities is not from the outside, but very much from the inside. That is why disunity and the seeds of discord are often used by the devil.

Derek Wilson is a popular historian, and is able to harness this strength very well here. In a book like this, he has managed to inject some humour in an otherwise serious matter. Readers will find this book filled with insightful observations about the ups and downs of the Christian Church through the years from 1942 to the present. It is hoped that by learning from the past, one will learn to be wise about the present and the future. One more thing. If there is one thing readers can take home from this book, it is this. Temptation is real, and it often comes to a place near you, even inside you.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Kregel Publications without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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