Essay / Uncategorized

Saving Emily Rose

The two extremes of our culture are on display in how they deal with demons. Our culture is awash in the assumption that smart people are all naturalists. Naturalists believe that nature is “all there is, was, or ever will be” (to paraphrase Carl Sagan). As a result many folk have intellectual guilt when they trust their own observations and decide that matter and energy in mindless motion cannot account for all they see. However, since our government schools will not allow the intelligent discussion of the Divine (or the infernal) most Americans are left to construct their own theology. Men and women will do theology even if forbidden to be educated in the science and so we are left with notions of the supernatural no more sophisticated than references on the Simpsons and movies can make it. This leads to near-insanity as religious groups who cast out demons of fat, philosophy, and just about anything else testify.Can we believe in demons without going mad? The simple answer is yes. All traditional Christians have believed in demons and the stronger the church age the more sane the discussion. It is when the church is in decline that you get the half-Christian rants of folk like King James (yes that King James) on the doctrines of witch craft and demons. Normal Christian ages are in contact with main stream church thinking and so develop a moderate approach to the supernatural.What is that? It is a view that keeps four things in mind. First, God is good and is the author of no evil. Demons were created by God and so are not perfectly evil. They exist so there is goodness them. No evil being can be perfectly evil (logically) since existence comes from a good God. So as was mentioned by a previous post, the Devil and demons are not the opposite of God and His holy Angels. They are degenerate angels . . . good code gone bad to become the worst virus in the operating system of the cosmos. Second, some evil is caused by fallen nature. The fine workings of the cosmos were messed up by human sin. As a result people are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Fecundity becomes cancer. The design of the Universe is consuming itself. Demons need not be blamed for this sort of evil.Third, if demons act, they act through control of the soul of a man. Demons are not material. They may be able to imitate bodies, but they are never really incarnate. They do not really understand human feelings (as the Incarnate God does) and so are not able to love us. (Angels are not cut off from the Divine so they can experience love of humanity through their love of a God who does know our state.) I have seen things not best accounted for by natural events. I have personally seen exorcisms that brought relief to the person involved. If demons are real, and the witness of Scripture is plain that they are, then being open to intelligent (though diabolical) agency in some areas is logical. I would suggest that good pastoral discernment be applied when evil seems beyond the normal capacities of the person involved. “Big” showy manifestations like those in the film (and those sometimes found in the Bible) are real, but may not be the most serious kind. Demons do not want to be found out. Their control must be subtle or can be removed. In my tradition, the Sacraments of the Church are means of grace to keep the spirit of man fresh and alive. For all Christians the grace of God is available as a power the Devil and his hosts cannot bear.  Frequent, meaningful worship is a good way to avoid the sort of easy-to-manipulate spirit demons like. I would also advise avoiding evil. To go to an evil place or to intentionally engage in evil activity is always an invitation for bad things to happen. Frequent confession of sin and a humble heart are places unkind to the diabolical. Our chief personal foe in the Church is never any human being. Every human being, no matter how low, has a chance at redemption and the image of God stamped in his soul. The only intelligences beyond redemption (of which we are aware) are devils. Our naturalistic culture prides itself on its reason, but the best selling books and movies are hardly ever secular. When Dan Brown can write a book that justifies the worship of Lucifer, then there is a yearning for spiritual things that is not being met. The Devil is happy to meet it as the consumption and control of human souls is the only selfish pleasure he can know. To ignore him, or become overly concerned about him, is all the same to him. I dislike even this post as the diabolical delight in any press no matter how negative. Their cause is hopeless, lost, and foolish. The redeemed need not fear the devil for Michael the great angel and all the hosts of heaven are enough to guard the elect of every nation. Behind the Heavenly Hosts stands the All Powerful, All Wise, and (best of all) Loving Father. In the Name of His Son, Jesus Christ every devil in the air must flee and bow the knee.Jesus Christ is Lord!  Ritual bias alert: The film that provoked this discussion was made by a Biola graduate.

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