The story is told of three apprentice devils being trained by Satan. ‘What are you going to try today?’ asks the leader.(Christopher Ash, The Priority of Preaching, p 65)
The first apprentice replies, ‘I’m going to tell them there is no God.’
‘Well,’ says Satan, ‘you can try. A few fools will believe you. But the universe shouts the existence of God. There is evidence all around and you’ll not do very well. Indeed, even in the secular twenty-first century you may find your self witnessing the slow death of atheism. Any other ideas?’
The second apprentice tries this: ‘I’m going to tell them there’s no judgment.’
‘That’s a better idea,’ says Satan. ‘You will persuade more people of that, especially some of the clergy. But human beings have a gut sense of accountability, that actions have consequences. They know what it is to feel guilty even when there therapists tell them not to. So I think you’ll find it an uphill struggle. Anyone else have an idea?’
The third apprentice pipes up, ‘I’m going to tell them there’s no hurry.’
‘Brilliant,’ says Satan. ‘That is just what you want to say. You will have great success. Let them listen to the word of God and whisper in their ears, “This is good stuff. One day you ought to do something about this. But tomorrow will do.”’
HT: Charles Sebold.