I just completed a wonderful book by M.Scott Peck entitled “People of the Lie”
Because I am convinced of the relevance, power, and truth in this great work I want to suggest it to you. However, I do so with a warning. This book (as the author himself notes) is dangerous. It must not be used to judge but to bring about transformation. Having said that let me tell you a little about the book and what I gleaned from reading it.
To put it plainly, this book is about a “psychology of evil.” Dr. Peck is himself a psychologist and writes from a Christian vantage point. He has a wonderful heart for those who suffer from clinical disorders and an even better eye to separate root causes from surface facades.
In this book, Dr. Peck teaches us what it means to understand evil in this dark world and the role it plays in each human’s life. If the truth be known, we all suffer from some “disorder.” It’s simply one person’s propensity, circumstances, and inner strength (innate or learned) to deal with these disorders that distinguishes the healthy from the unhealthy.
What this book has helped me to see is how evil affects us all. Evil attacks us from birth. It comes at us from all sides – waging war against our true selves. Evil stacks the cards against us and strategically seeks to overtake the fortress of our hearts. Why? Because Satan knows something we too often forget. That life is a long war for the soul. The soul isn’t won in a single battle. War is won over time with much planning, and strategy. You don’t go for the kill right away, rather, you chip away at the heart until it is vulnerable. And when it is vulnerable, you don’t choke to the finish. No, you come to its aid and ask for it to kill itself, so you can inherit the dark places. Then you have won (or lost). Life for no life at all.
And that is how evil works – externally to internally. External factors become internal possessions locked away in the dark recesses of the heart. (Side note – God works in the oppisite manner, internally to externally.) And once this happens, the evil within rails against any and all attempts to deal squarely with the real issues. Evil’s worst enemy is light (or truth). Evil will fight against any temptations to deal with the core issues – the early external experiences with itself that caused the vulnerable heart to be won in the first place.
Hard concept I know, but one we must grasp as the community of faith at large. If we are to be compassionate we must be first truthful, for compassion comes from discontent with a lie. Take me for example – my compassion (what little I possess) desires to see the poor valued in this country. Why? Because I have become discontent with the lie that “you get what you deserve.”
We must become discontent with the lie. What lie? The lie that says 20 million people in America suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder. 14 million Americans suffer from depression. And they suffer because of the lack of serotonin in the brain.
Is this a lie? Yes. Either that, or God makes less serotonin now than He ever has in history. It’s a lie, and Jesus is the answer. I refuse to believe it for 3 main reasons.
1> God gave an answer to this worlds ills in Jesus Christ before the fall of man ever happened. Not 50 years ago when mankind invented psychology.
2> Jesus has practical answers for change in his curriculum for Christ-likeness. When we walk in his way, he heals us.
3> The solution is too easy. St. Anthony calls Christ’s way the “Furnace of Transformation” Jesus offers no cover-ups. Quiet the opposite – he is the great Exposé – shedding light on truth and darkness. Grace is not the eradication of sin – Grace dealt quite squarely with sin – and painful is an understatement.
When will Christians become discontent with a lie, and therefore become compassionate for the hurting in our society. Millions hang in the balance. Millions seek cover-up solutions to their pain. Millions have “wide path” options for recovery laid before them. When will the disciples step up and walk along the narrow path with the hurting? Who will go through the fire and into the furnace with the socially-ill?