Evil Spirits: Intellectualism and Logic

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Evil Spirits: Intellectualism and Logic is a theological treatise by the 20th century American Baptist Association clergyman L. L. Clover. The book seeks to refute secular humanist views regarding evolution, personal sin, and the societal and moral breakdown of Western Civilization.

The book was published through the Louisiana Missionary Baptist Institute and Seminary, an institution which Clover founded in 1952, originally in his own home. At the time of his death in 1975, a year after the publication of this book, Clover had been preaching weeklong revival services in Camden in his native Arkansas. From 1948–1964, Clover was the pastor of the Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in Minden, Louisiana. Thereafter, he was president and president emeritus of LMBIS, a still functioning seminary in Minden. He was a native of Clark County, Arkansas, of which the county seat is Arkadelphia.[1]

According to Clover's denominational colleague, I. K. Cross, the founder of the defunct Eastern Baptist Seminary in Somerset, Kentucky, the book Evil Spirits despite the passage of nearly four decades since its issue "makes a strong appeal to call man back to the authority of the Scriptures ... it bores to the heart of issues that confront all mankind ..."[2]

Clover challenges evolution

Clover contends that human nature is inclined to adopt actions detrimental to the human race. Rejecting the tenets of the Darwinian concept of evolution, Clover said that human nature results from environmental influence but is not created by environmental conditions. "Like the soil that grows thorns and briars without cultivation, much bad seed has been sown in the minds of the people in the last few generations. This has been done through the media of teaching and example."[3]

Clover describes human nature as faulty even in the best of individuals. "The natural man cannot understand spiritual things [and] cannot understand, much less follow, the right way of life."[4] Therefore, Scripture teaches the need of Jesus Christ as the Personal Savior to rescue man from his inclination to fall into sin.

Clover depicts evolution as "nothing more than a hypothesis" or "a guess." Though there are Christian teachers who neither believe nor teach evolution as a fact, Clover said that pro-evolution textbooks work to the detriment of students.[5] He continues: "... A careful study of evolution will reveal many unbridgeable gaps. Many assumptions and guesses with little concrete evidence ..." Clover maintains that life can be derived only from life: "The first life on earth came from a living Supernatural Being that we call God. Jesus was both God and man. ... we all know, beyond doubt, that had His teaching been followed, our world would be almost a heaven on earth. ... 'All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.'"[6]

The British naturalist and evolutionist Julian Huxley, who died the same year as Clover, summarized three choices regarding evolution: "Either it [life] was supernaturally created, or it was brought to the earth in the interior of a meteorite, or it was produced naturally out of less complicated substances." Huxley found the supernatural explanation of the origin of life "counter to the whole of our scientific knowledge." He hence determined that living substances come from the non-living."[7]

Clover said that Huxley's teachings contribute to the moral and intellectual confusion of young people attending institutions of higher education. Evolution, he reiterates, is a hypotheis because there are no witnesses or evidence from the distant past from which to conclude the veracity of the theory.[8]

Clover, who worked with young people through his church and seminary, lists the needs of the young as "understanding, love, sympathy, help, and less criticism."[9] He asserts that Hugh Hefner (1926-2017) and his Playboy magazine and its libertine philosophy encourages young men, particularly at the college level, to view themselves as "pleasure-seeking individuals for whom sex is fun and women are play things."[10] He further decries the inclusion of sexual material in popular films of the 1960s and 1970s. He blames parents for having given "tacit approval of an illegitimate sexual atmosphere."[11]

Clover defends trustworthiness of Scripture

Clover repudiates those who claim that the Bible is not a trustworthy book but one of metaphors and a "modern version of old religious thought that has become outmoded as people become more intelligent." He adds, "Science has become the only Bible that many people are willing to believe, and for them humanism is the only acceptable religion."[12]

Though Clover admits his admiration for scientific research and discoveries, he challenges scientists who proclaim that life came from non-living substance or that the Bible story of Creation and the existence of a supernatural being is mythical. Such scientists, he claims, have departed from their field and "entered the realm of philosophy. ... When people knowingly or unwittingly ascribe all knowledge to scientists, they have become thoughtless and naive." Such a view, Clover asserts, is the problem of the intellect, rather than faith.[13]

Clover writes that the Bible "is far above the imagination of man. Its clairvoyance is astonishing. Its philosophy of life, geared to the best interest of all mankind, has never been equalled by the man-made philosophy."[14] and consistent with Matthew 24:35, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My word shall not pass away."[15]

The Bible is the collective work of some forty different writers over a period of 1,500 years who came from diverse ranks,[16] some well-educated, others farmers or fishermen. Clover rejected the "skeptic [who] says the Bible contains many contradictions; this is said through ignorance ..." Clover asserts that Scripture reveals no contradictions, but "a harmonious completeness!"[17]

Clover rejects the claim of scientists who determine that mankind is the product of chance. The existence of the galaxies, suns, moons, and stars, he finds, is proof of law, design, and intelligence: "To believe that all this came through the medium of chance is to believe there is effect without adequate cause...."[18] Clover challenged evolution with a line from I Corinthians: "For the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God."[19]

Fate of modern man

Clover describes modern man as "stubborn, with his seared conscience, blind eyes, worldly wisdom, and earthly interest" and unable to explain the evidence for the existence of God. Clover asserts that the "inexorable laws of nature" are reflected in "the sands of time", "the low rumble of thunder," and the "beauty in the golden sunset."[20] To buffet this argument, Clover cites Psalm 19: "The heavens declare the glory of God: and the firmament showeth His handiwork."[21]

Clover writes that the skeptic cannot see the evidence of a "great, supernatural Being [with] eyes blinded to spiritual things by the god of this world. His thinking is confused by the wisdom of this world, and some have their conscience seared by a hot iron." Clover writes further that the skeptic is "obstinately fighting an inner conviction that would lead to God" and instead is driven by the "desire of the flesh."[22]

Clover argued that "feel-good" preaching is disastrous to the souls of mankind because it "will never name sin, will never hurt feelings, [and gives] the worldly church member the feeling that all is well and brings a smug smile of approbation to the face of Satan. [Meanwhile], sin is going on a rampage. It now enjoys a freedom and popularity in our nation far beyond the fondest dream of the lowest, incorrigible reprobate. ..." [23]

Clover asserts that a nation cannot survive on materialistic prosperity alone. The greatest danger, he determines, lies from the lack of spiritual values. "Strange as it may seem, when there is an abundance of material blessings, men seem to feel no need for God."[24]

From the excesses of material wealth, Clover turns to the essentials of salvation of mankind. "Man appears to believe profits and pleasures should be the animating purpose of his existence. Jesus, being aware of man's nature and wishing to halt him in his mad rush for wrong things, asked the following pungent question:[25] 'For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul.'"[26]

Though human nature is depraved, writes Clover, not all are "incorrigibly wicked." Formerly, he notes, moral and social inhibitions worked to control the worst instincts of human nature. "The great leader and ally of depraved nature," he write, is the demon spirit of antichrist. Now ... the fences of inhibitions are being torn away; thus giving more and more power to this demon spirit..."[27]

Clover sees Western Civilization "drifting to the brink of dreadful castastrophe." Such is not "melancholy pessimism," he maintains, but an "alarming fact." He continues: "Man does have a soul. The salvation of that soul is not a myth that originated in a cave of cliff dwellers. ... It is a living, pulsating reality. ... the crying need for our world."[28]

Clover maintains that the accumulation of luxuries and formal education has not cured the ills of society. Instead, such ills have multiplied and become "more audacious and malicious." He asserts that education and prosperity are desirable in themselves but cannot replace God. Professional educators who deny the existence of God are, in Clover's words, "unintentionally detrimental" to the best interests of society.[29] Clover questions the thrust of education, citing II Timothy: "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."[30]

Clover discusses the meaning of success from the standpoint of eternity, citing the biblical story of the rich man and the beggar. While the rich man was a great success for a time and the beggar a failure, the difference between the two is seen in the word "eternity." Clover writes, "Time is fleeting [as] in an old hymn, 'Moments are passing and deathbeds are gathering; gathering for you and for me...' The man in torment [had] blinded his eyes to the saving grace of Jesus Christ."[31] Clover describes millions of people as having in common: "an indifferent, critical, and rebellious attitude toward things spiritual and eternal." The world, he asserts cannot give inner peace; only the Almighty can heal the heart.[32]

Clover writes that Christianity made Western Civilization the greatest in the world. "Where is it that you find hospitals and rest homes even in small cities? Where is it that you find institutions of education which surpass anything the world has known? ... The spirit of Christianity is both progressive and benevolent, as well as religious and moral," he concludes.[33]

See also


  1. Billy Hathorn, "Austin Toliver Powers and Leander Louis Clover: Planting the American Baptist Association in Northwest Louisiana during the Middle 20th Century," North Louisiana History, Vol. XLI (Summer-Fall) 2010, pp. 140–142.
  2. Preface, Evil Spirits Intellectualism and Logic, (Minden, Louisiana: Louisiana Missionary Baptist Institute and Seminary, 1974), 108 pp.
  3. Evil Spirits, pp. 12-13.
  4. Evil Spirits, pp. 20–21.
  5. Evil Spirits, p. 26
  6. Evil Spirits, pp. 31–32.
  7. Evil Spirits, p. 26.
  8. Evil Spirits, pp. 26–27
  9. Evil Spirits, pp. 12–13
  10. Evil Spirits, p. 18.
  11. Evil Spirits, pp. 18–19.
  12. Evil Spirits, p. 33.
  13. Evil Spritis, pp. 34–35.
  14. Evil Spirits, pp. 40–41
  15. Matthew 24:35.
  16. Evil Spirits, p. 41
  17. Evil Spirits, p. 41.
  18. Evil Spirits, p. 44
  19. 1 Corinthians, 3:19
  20. Evil Spirits, p. 65
  21. Psalm 19
  22. Evil Spirits, p. 66
  23. Evil Spirits, p. 71
  24. Evil Spirits, p. 72
  25. Evil Spirits, p. 85
  26. Book of Mark, 8:36
  27. Evil Spirits, p. 80.
  28. Evil Spirits, pp. 85–86.
  29. Evil Spirits. p. 86
  30. II Timothy 3:7
  31. Evil Spirits, p. 103
  32. Evil Spirits, pp. 105–106.
  33. Evil Spirits, p. 94.