By Scott Greer
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made headlines recently when he declared his belief that the devil is a real being who has a presence in the world today.
His interviewer, Jennifer Senior of New York Magazine, was shocked by Scalia’s statements.
But Karl Payne, author of “Spiritual Warfare: Christians, Demonization, and Deliverance,” says the reaction is a sign of how secularized certain segments of American society have become. He believes Scalia is right on the mark.
Senior: You believe in heaven and hell?
Scalia: Oh, of course I do. Don’t you believe in heaven and hell?
Scalia: Oh, my.
Senior: Does that mean I’m not going?
Scalia: [Laughing.] Unfortunately not!
Senior: Wait, to heaven or hell?
Scalia: It doesn’t mean you’re not going to hell, just because you don’t believe in it. That’s Catholic doctrine! Everyone is going one place or the other.
Senior: But you don’t have to be a Catholic to get into heaven? Or believe in it?
Scalia: Of course not!
Senior: Oh. So you don’t know where I’m going. Thank God.
Scalia: I don’t know where you’re going. I don’t even know whether Judas Iscariot is in hell. I mean, that’s what the pope meant when he said, ‘Who am I to judge?’ He may have recanted and had severe penance just before he died. Who knows?
Senior: Can we talk about your drafting process –
Scalia: [Leans in, stage-whispers.] I even believe in the devil.
Senior: You do?
Scalia: Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person. Hey, c’mon, that’s standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that.
Senior: Every Catholic believes this? There’s a wide variety of Catholics out there …
Scalia: If you are faithful to Catholic dogma, that is certainly a large part of it.
Senior: Have you seen evidence of the devil lately?
Scalia: You know, it is curious. In the Gospels, the devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore.
Scalia: It’s because he’s smart.
Senior: So what’s he doing now?
Scalia: What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way.
Senior: That has really painful implications for atheists. Are you sure that’s the – devil’s work?
Scalia: I didn’t say atheists are the devil’s work.
Senior: Well, you’re saying the devil is persuading people to not believe in God. Couldn’t there be other reasons to not believe?
Scalia: Well, there certainly can be other reasons. But it certainly favors the devil’s desires. I mean, c’mon, that’s the explanation for why there’s not demonic possession all over the place. That always puzzled me. What happened to the devil, you know? He used to be all over the place. He used to be all over the New Testament.
Scalia: What happened to him?
Senior: He just got wilier.
Scalia: He got wilier.
Senior: Isn’t it terribly frightening to believe in the devil?
Scalia: You’re looking at me as though I’m weird. My God! 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.
Senior: I hope you weren’t sensing contempt from me. It wasn’t your belief that surprised me so much as how boldly you expressed it.
Scalia: I was offended by that. I really was.
Commenting on the interview, “Spiritual Warfare” author Payne noted Scalia rejects the tendency in modern society to “compartmentalize” religious beliefs as a personal matter that has no bearing on public life.
“If it makes you feel good, that’s fine as far as your personal life goes, but as far as your professional life, it’s seen as hokey,” he said. “But Scalia had the core conviction to declare that he doesn’t ‘compartmentalize’ his religious beliefs from the rest of his life.”
Payne said America “has been thoroughly secularized” through its educational system, beginning with kindergarten.
“The assumption is that the supernatural is not real, so not only is the devil not real, God isn’t real, demons aren’t real, angels aren’t real, they are all thought to be silly,” Payne said.
“As a Catholic, you would believe in that stuff, but as an academic, you can’t. But I thought Scalia’s response was consistent with Catholic teachings,” Payne said.
Payne agreed with Scalia’s assertion that the devil now works covertly in the world, rather than placing himself in situations in which his presence is obvious.
“The devil is not stupid. Why would you, if you were a demon, throw something in somebody’s face if all they’re going to do is ridicule it? It wouldn’t be effective, but what if you could redefine the terms and convince people that the ones who believe in this are silly?” Payne asked.
His views on demonization don’t come largely from books but from 25 years of helping hundreds of people tormented by spiritual oppression.
“I personally believe that demonic deception is increasing, even within the Christian church, and that the worst of this deception is still to come,” he said.
But he said that if God “allows demonic activity to increase until His return, I believe He will also train up and equip a growing number of His children to faithfully and effectively contend with the powers of darkness who oppose His plans and people.”
“Too many North American churches are well on their way to becoming the same spiritually dead museums as Western European churches,” he warned.
Payne serves as pastor of leadership development at Antioch Bible College, near Seattle. He is the founder of Transferable Cross Training Foundation and the chaplain for the Seattle Seahawks NFL team. He received his Masters of Divinity and Doctorate of Ministry from Western Seminary in Portland, Ore.
Here’s what readers are saying about his book “Spiritual Warfare”:
- “Dr. Payne’s ‘Spiritual Warfare: Christians, Demonization and Deliverance’ will help anybody who doubts that they are under a spiritual attack. I always knew there was spiritual warfare but did not understand it. He put it all in perspective and helped me defeat it!”
- “I have read a number of books on spiritual warfare that fall short on relevance and application, but I am pleased to say this one is on the mark, a must buy. It is an easy but engaging read that rings true with life. This book will turn on some lights and vital insights or how get out of being beat up but to fight the good fight. Dr. Payne not only knows what he writes and speaks about but he lives it out every day.”
- “Dr. Karl Payne’ book, ‘Spiritual Warfare: Christians, Demonization and Deliverance,’ is one of the most powerful, truthful and effective tools a Christian needs within his/her personal library. I purchased this book hoping to learn from Dr. Payne, about the concept and reality of spiritual warfare. I have faced much of what others describe within the book and now, I feel I have an in-depth grasp of how to combat the battles of the world, the flesh and the devil. Upon first receiving the book in the mail, I meant to start slow and progress through the book in pieces, yet the next thing I knew I was past page 50, engrossed by the reality of spiritual warfare and excited for the lessons described by Dr. Payne, who is quick to remind readers, Jesus Christ has won the war and has given Christians the necessary tools to live a life of victory while here on earth. Dr. Payne deserves to be more than commended for sharing his voluminous insight with readers about this very overlooked topic. Do yourself and those you love a favor, purchase this book and some for loved ones, to become better equipped for the unseen warfare that hinders Christians from living the life Jesus has called us to live.”
- “I was given this very helpful biblically based book after a confusing experience I had with a friend who I knew to be a true believer in Christ. I had always been told that believers can only be oppressed by evil, but never possessed. Yet this friend was experiencing something beyond oppression. She was being tormented by evil that would not permit her to read her Bible, nor even hear other believers when we would pray with her. She was crying out for help as she was slowly being destroyed, but I didn’t know how to help her. Some would say she was crazy and needed mental health care, but I knew this friend very well and that was not the case. Others would say she must not be a true believer, but again I knew from years of close friendship as prayer partners that also was not true. Karl Payne explains very clearly exactly what this friend was experiencing, a level of demonic attack that he calls ‘demonization’. He explains that demonization is different than oppression and possession. From his many encounters with true believers that have suffered from demonization, Dr. Payne exposes the tactics that demons use to try to destroy Christians. He goes beyond describing to explaining step by step how we can help those who are experiencing this kind of attack. His approach is biblical and supported every step of the way by scripture. I believe that every Christian needs to be wise regarding the schemes of our enemy, and I am encouraging every believer I know to read this book. Thank you Karl Payne for your willingness to speak out on this often unpopular and usually misunderstood topic with sound Biblical wisdom.”
The title is published by WND Books.
Joseph Farah, the founder and chief executive officer of WND and WND Books, said he gives copies away to people all the time when he hears about cases of spiritual oppression and demonization.
“I can’t tell you how many people have told me it has helped them immensely in understanding the reality of spiritual warfare,” Farah said. “And that’s exactly why we believed this book is what is needed in our world at this unique time in history.”