Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Fighting the Demonic

There is frustration in evangelical religious circles because people don't believe in the devil. Barna Research says "Nearly three out of five adults (58%) say that the devil, or Satan, is not a living being but is a symbol of evil. (2001)"

The Bible says there is a devil. There is evidence of the devil, so why don't people believe in the devil.

Here's my question (and note I am asking what the church can do because it is the only thing I can change): If the church believes in the demonic, why don't pastors (at least in my group) have any idea of how to combat them?

I am seminary trained. I would think "Fighting the Demonic" would be a class. That may sound ridiculous. But then we wonder why the majority of people don't believe inthe demonic. The church doesn't believe in the demonic or at least refuses to face them.

There are some basics -- rebuke the devil and he will flee. I get that, but it seems a little vague. The Bible has several instances of demon possession and exorcism. But we totally ignore that. Why?

There are people in our church who have faced down the demonic. They aren't experts but they are quite sure they have been in the presence of the demonic and have rebuked them.

In Waking the Dead, John Eldredge touches on what I would think would be the next step for me. Finding out the names of the demonic. Not like Fred or Ashley, but like anxiety, depression, doubt, lust, anger, ... He says that every angel he has read about was created for a specific task. Perhaps each demon has a specific task.

He goes on to talk about a small group of friends who are committed to praying for each other as a group. They gather regularly to name the demonic and to pray it out.

CS Lewis, in his book The Screwtape Letters (which I didn't really enjoy), tells of demons like this. Also the poorly written This Present Darkness gives what could well be a balanced view of fighting the demonic.

The problem is as soon as you enter that realm of teaching, you are on the edge of the "wacko" label. The devil absolutely doesn't want us to believe in him. He has been successful.

What are the next steps for learning to battle the demonic?

I haven't wanted to do a lot of teaching on hell because I have felt we are trying to scare people instead of intice people with Jesus. But the demonic is the enemy. And Christianity is a battle. We need to know more about how to face it.

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