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Devil’s Due

Jean-Luc Picard
Image via Wikipedia

A number of years ago, I met a young Christian who was telling me his story about how he used to be addicted to drugs, alcohol, and sex. He told me that his life was spiraling out of control and no one he could do could save him. Then along came Jesus to the rescue. Now that he was “Born Again” his life had gotten so much better and he couldn’t have done it without Jesus. So I had to tell him about the one true God, Jean-Luc Picard.

The story that this Christian told me is a very popular narrative and I have heard it or some variation of it many times. Of course Jesus had nothing to do with the Christian’s recovery and Captain Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation made the best argument against Jesus saving these people’s lives.

There was an episode called Devil’s Due in which the Enterprise received a distress single from a planet that was suffering from mass hysteria. The people on the planet have lived in peace and relative harmony for a thousand years and now all of a sudden everyone was in a panic and violence was breaking out. According to the Bible… I mean “ancient scrolls,” a thousand years ago there planet was at war fighting over resources, there was lots of pollution in the air and water, and the planet was in general bad shape. Then the Devil came and offered them a thousand years of peace in return for their immortal souls at the end of the thousand years. Well, now the end of days has arrived and the people of this planet feared the Devil’s return to collect.

Captain Picard of course tried to reason with them and to assure them that there is no Devil, but the people on the planet insisted that they could not have saved themselves and that the story about the Devil was real. To Captain Picard’s surprise, the Devil actually showed up.

Picard of course had to challenge the Devil in a sort of trial and at one point he had the planet’s president on the stand for questioning. He asked him about the state of the planet prior to the deal with the Devil. Again, the president was convinced that the Devil saved the planet and that they couldn’t have done it without the Devil’s help. When Picard asked the President about the actual nuts and bolts of the changes that occurred, the truth was revealed.

Did the Devil wave her magic hand and stop all wars? No, the leaders of the various nations got together and realized that they could not keep fighting over resources so they made a series of treaties. Did the Devil wave her hand and magically clean up the air and water pollution? No, the people switched from an industrial based society to an agrarian based life. Did the Devil hand out food to the hungry? No, with the new agrarian lifestyle they had plenty of food to feed the hungry. Did the Devil “even so-much as pick up a single piece of trash?” The answer to all of the questions was obvious. The Devil didn’t do damn thing, it was the people of the planet that did all the work “all by themselves.”

Now, swap out the Devil for Jesus and the planet’s problems for the problems of drug addicts, alcoholics, etc. Did Jesus magically suck the poisons out? Did Jesus flush away the hidden stash? Did Jesus even pour a single glass of alcohol down the drain? No, the addict did it all, all by his or her self.

All Jesus actually did was to provide an excuse for the addict to decide for themselves that it was time to clean up their act. Jesus at best is a placebo and at worst, Jesus acts as a replacement addiction. Christian simply trade one addiction for another.

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