I’ve been writing about the problems some postmodern expressions of Christianity seem to have with the supernatural earlier (see reclaiming supernaturalism 1 and 2) and I’m reminded of the topic now Andrew Jones, the tall skinny kiwi, is blogging about exorcism.
On the lighter side, I must confess that I at first misread the title of his post, and thought it would be about exorcising baptist and catholic demons, which would’ve been a bit surreal and even more freaky I guess… [I once had a muslim tell me that djinns can have the same religions as humans, so you have muslim and christian and jewish djinns, so why not baptist and catholic demons…]
Andrew, who has been travelling around the world meeting all kinds of people in all kinds of situations, has seen way too much of supernatural activity to ever deny the existence of ‘demons’ who influence people. It’s a luxury of our sleepy Western church that’s lulled into materialistic oblivion to be able to deny such a thing I guess, and it’s very comfortable, since it feels very safe to have a worldview without all of these complications.
But my limited experience with those things, about which I won’t elaborate here, has taught me 2 things:
- the standard evangelical demonology might not be completely accurate, but there is something that can’t be denied and that is affraid of the name of Jesus, how weird such a thing may sound even to the more modern materialistic liberal part of myself that feels comfortable in not having to think outside of the boxes of this world.
- I’m not at all prepared to have such an encounter.
I know that this kind of things will be easily explained away as psychological disease, and whatever more, but there’s more than meets the eye, and it is not at all either/or, it can be very well an both/and situation. There is the danger to over-spiritualise everything and see demons and devils where they are not, like some Christians tend to do, but we have to be open and not explain it away if we bump on it.
I also tend to think that some ‘powers’ are less personal than others, but that doesn’t mean they’re less dangerous. Even if ‘mammon’ would be totally not personal, it’s still a strong power that enslaves people, and destroys the planet.
(I still need to read Walter Wink, anyone who wants to buy me his powers trilogy? And anyone has some amount of time in a box to share?)
Another problem is the unbalanced way some charismatics and other weird people seem to handle all of the supernatural, which has done a lot of work to discredit all of it, and makes it look all fake.
But it’s a subject we need to take serious, like Andrew Jones says in his post:
I think that a vigorous study of the Scriptures on how to deal with the demonic should be an integral part of any ministerial training, especially cross-cultural and global missions training. Otherwise we might sending out an army of spiritual wimps into an arena where they will get their ass kicked.
Right now I don’t have much ‘demonology’, except that I know there is something, and that we better take it serious, but that we need to take even more serious the fact that Christ is stronger. Christus Victor!!!
And then there’s the discussion -mainly semantic- about if Christians can be possesed or not. Possesed may be too strong a word, but surely they can be influenced. A theology about such things is not a question of theory we can make out of vague bible verse interpretations, we also have to look at the real world. And it’s true that Christians can be totally distracted by some kind of ‘religious spirit’, and that there can be an active oppressive power present in that. Or, like Mike Morell says in the comments on andrews blog, if you do consider ‘Religion’ one of the oppressive Powers, and Christendom as a particularly nasty manifestation of said Power…well, it makes sense.
It’s a topic I don’t know much about, and that I’m affraid of, also because it’s very ridicule to even believe in it in this world. And still….