Discussing
Rick Santorum, Satan and how we should talk about the devil

Paul Vander Klay

JKana
February 24, 2012

Kudos, Paul, on this much-needed expose.

Not too long ago I wrote a lengthy paper on biblical angelology and demonology, and I must say that I do not see where any evangelical Christian can deny the existence of unseen spiritual malevolence. Jesus' and his apostles' ministries were marked by legitimate exorcisms, something that seems to have been explicitly differentiated from their healing ministries per se (see, e.g., Matthew 8:16; Mark 6:13; Acts 5:16). Why, then, should we believe an exorcism ministry today would be illegitimate? Just because we're more "enlightened" about the way the brain works?

Much can be said, of course, about the links between biblical exorcism and the advancements in modern Christian psychotherapy; I will not explore that here. What fascinates me more is how so many people--even some biblically literate Christians--readily discount the possibility of a real-life demonic possession (or even oppressive influence), but they are fully convinced, on the authority of their own dubious "encounters", that poltergeists and other ghostly apparitions are all too real. The irony is that whereas the Bible explicitly affirms one, it seems to implicitly deny the other--and the Bible's perspective is precisely the opposite of our spiritual intuitions! It is actually MORE biblically rational to believe in the sorts of malevolence you see in a movie like THE EXORCIST than to believe in a haunting story like THE OTHERS--at least AS PORTRAYED by such popular accounts. (For my part, by the way, I am inclined to attribute paranormal activity, including the more compelling kind that is "documented" on shows like GHOST HUNTERS to demonic or angelic activity rather than to the spirits of departed humans.)

I sense that this derives from our ontology. We are spiritual creatures--though not MERELY spiritual creatures, since we are persons incomplete without a body, which is different from angels and demons. I suspect that gives us an inborn sense of the presence of spiritual entities beyond our sensory capacities, and that naturally arouses our curiosity. When the Bible talks about angels and demons, we sense in our gut that it is right to speak about other spiritual beings besides us. The big challenge seems to lie in whether we will submit our intellectual curiosities and empirical investigations into the unseen spirit world to the explanatory paradigm of the Bible, instead of leaning on our own wishful thinking.

Apricot
February 24, 2012

I wish politicians would only publicly talk about things that directly relate to how they do their jobs.

Kjml
February 24, 2012

I must be among the minority. I believe the "Father of Lies" is a real entity and that he is perfectly willing to interfere in our lives wherever and whenever he sees fit. If there is Good, then there is Evil. Both are equally real. I have some personal experience that makes it very hard to take the politically correct position that evil in the world is just a product of misinformation or accidental error. IT has a will and it knows full well when it is deceiving us. The biggest joke of all is how well we have been trained to think that Satan does not exist. I don't care who Rick Santorum is, I applaud the courage it takes to call a spade a spade. And I'm sorry that we are all so smug and self-satisfied that we can assume that anyone who believes in Satan would not make a good President. All it takes to be cast into outer darkness around here is to believe in an unpopular idea-- no matter how true. In answer to the question (how should we talk about the Devil), RESPECT and humility would be good places to start BUT with FAITH that our Almighty God is able to protect us.

Paulvanderklay
February 27, 2012

But then how could they get elected? The American people want to know. I suspect more people make their choices based on appearances in People magazine and late night talk shows than positions taken on any given issue.

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