Accomplished singer-songwriter Dolly Parton – the Queen of Country Music – is warning the world that “Satan is real” in her new Christmas special “Dolly Parton’s Mountain Magic Christmas” on NBC and Peacock.
Parton is one of the most accomplished artists of all time having sold over 100 million records worldwide and received certified-gold, platinum and multi-platinum awards.
Twenty-five of her singles have reached No. 1 on the Billboard country music charts and she has earned nominations for the Golden Globes, garnered 11 Grammy Awards and 50 nominations. She’s been inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
And now, she’s warning the world: “Satan is real.”
In the new Christmas special on NBC, Parton performs her hit song “Go to Hell” which was first released in her 2003 album For God and Country.
The song often repeats the refrain telling Satan to “go to hell.”
“You’re a cheat, you’re a liar, you’re a scoundrel and a thief,” Parton sings towards the beginning.
Around halfway through the performance, Parton pauses to give a brief sermonette to her choir, and all her viewers.
“My brothers and my sisters,” Parton begins. “I’m here to tell you that Satan is real. He is real and walking around amongst us trying to destroy everything that’s good and beautiful. He wants to break our hearts and minds, destroy our dreams and plans. He wants to tear us up into little pieces, break us down and send us straight to hell.”
Parton then adds, “My God can do anything. My God can heal the sick, mend broken hearts and take our souls to heaven.”
In a more offbeat and curious part of her message, Parton addresses Satan and says, “In God’s name I rebuke you. I stand up in His name, look you in the eye and laugh in your ugly face.”
After the mini-sermon, Parton continues, singing, “Get thee behind me, Satan, just leave me alone. Take your drugs and your alcohol, your lust and your greed.”
You can watch the show clip here:
In the book The Faith of Dolly Parton, the star shares that “a belief in God is essential.”
“You have to believe in something bigger than yourself,” Dolly says. “We grew up believing that through God all things are possible.”
So, what should the discerning Christian think about Parton’s new Christmas special?
On the one hand, it’s certainly a good thing for a major celebrity to remind the world of the reality of Satan and hell.
From the very first chapters of the book of Genesis, Scripture teaches about the reality of Satan and his schemes to deceive and destroy the world. In addition, Jesus Christ frequently taught about the Devil and hell.
In speaking to some of the Jews, recorded in the Gospel of John, Jesus said:
You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44 ESV).
In a world full of sin and evil – it’s actually difficult to believe that a real Satan intent on corrupting hearts and destroying lives does not exist. For when we see and stand aghast at the evil in our world, it’s easier to make sense of it if “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness” (Ephesians 6:12).
Therefore, we can be grateful Dolly is reminding us – and warning the world – about the Evil One.
And yet, in Dolly’s remark about looking the Devil in the eye so she could “laugh in [his] ugly face,” it easy to feel a little offput and uncomfortable at the jest.
In essence, the remark seems to dismiss and discredit the Devil as if he was some negligible and minor power.
But instead of “laughing” at the Devil, Scripture tells us to put on “the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11 ESV).
To stay consistent with the more ancient imagery, one doesn’t fasten on a sword, take up a shield and secure tight a breastplate of armor against a minor and powerless foe – only against one that is formidable and capable of killing and destroying.
In this sense, perhaps it is unwise to “laugh” off the Devil. Instead, maybe we should diligently prepare, “take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit” in order to do battle with the Evil One (Ephesians 6:17 ESV).
At the same time, we should also remember that even though Satan is real, and he is powerful, we serve a God who is infinitely stronger than Satan could ever hope to be. And it’s this God – one of power and might – who we serve.
In the Screwtape Letters, theologian and author C.S. Lewis wrote, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.”
While we acknowledge the power and deceit of the Devil, we know that our God has the final victory. And with his help, we can have that victory too. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
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