Troubled by demons #LukeActs2014

The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:17-20, NIV)

One of my favorite moments in License to Preach school involved this text.

The teacher of the class was telling us that the devil was not an entity or a personal presence. The devil, he said, was a way of talking about the tendency to evil in the creation.

This caused some distress among my classmates.

The fellow sitting next to me, not willing to challenge the teacher directly, opened his Bible to Luke 10:18, pointed to it, and raised his eyebrows as if to ask, “What about this?” I shrugged my shoulders and suppressed a laugh.

Earlier this week, David Watson, the academic dean at United Theological Seminary, asked on his blog about our belief in the demonic. The conversation on that topic in the comment thread is fascinating reading and well worth your time.

And so, I’m left as I reflect on Luke 10 with a question: Why is it that we have no trouble — well, most of us don’t have any trouble — with the resurrection of Jesus, but we find the existence of demons and the devil such a show stopper?

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3 thoughts on “Troubled by demons #LukeActs2014

  1. Did you know that every Catholic diocese has a person, usually a priest, who is the designated exorcist for that diocese?

    1. In your experience, do parish priests talk of demons regularly? My guess would be that it varies depending on the individual priest’s own views. One observation (which may be wrong) that I have of Catholicism is that it has a lot more room within it for different approaches to spirituality and theology — so long as some crucial things are held in common.

      1. I believe your observation regarding different approaches to spirituality, etc. is spot on. It is like (the overused) metaphor of a big tent. Regarding the other point, discussion of demons is not something I encounter often however, when there is mention of demons or demonic forces these ideas are dropped into conversations as if they are part of a general understanding of things. There is no qualifying of the idea, such as, “some people believe” and that sort of thing. And I have yet to run into a usage of the concept of demons which is metaphoric, if that’s a word. Demons are real and they prowl about the Earth searching for souls, especially doing war against the Church and Christians such as yourself. Accepted knowledge.

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