Heat & Serve


Hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 5:5)

Back in the old days the church didn’t mess around. If you were screwing around, you would first be pulled aside and given a warning. If that didn’t work, a couple of the boys would visit you to explain your situation more completely. If that didn’t convince you, you’d get hauled up before the entire tribe and given a major dress-down. And if that didn’t work. . . . Back in the old days the church had connections. None of this pussy-footing around with sin issues. You got your mandatory warnings, but if they didn’t turn you around, you were up for some serious woodshed time. Back then the church meant freaking business.

Back then the devil worked part-time for the good guys. Sure, he kept his night job as the deceiver and accuser of humankind, but he also did a few errands for the church when they needed him. As a demolition specialist, Satan provided the necessary muscle for particularly incorrigible cases. Nobody, but nobody could put the screws in a guy like the devil.

This thing brings up a host of theological questions. Can a person be corrupt enough to feed to Satan and still be saved? (The idea’s encouraging in a perverted sort of way.) Who gets to decide that a handover should be made in the first place? How do you actually make the handover? Does it involve contacting the devil directly or do you deal with his agent? Is Satan required to take the job or can he pass on it (say he’s busy rehearsing the Antichrist Superstar)? What if you make a mistake and hand over the wrong guy?  Can you issue a pardon after the fact? Maybe the oddest theological implication of all is that the devil appears to be good for something. Granted, it’s a pretty narrow skill set, but we should give the devil his due.

Of course, these days we don’t need the devil’s disciplinary delivery services. We have a much better sin-management plan than they used to have. Back then it was repent or die. Back then morality was graded on the pass/fail system. These days we grade on a curve. Probably a good thing for most of us, though reinstating the old system would make for easier church parking.


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