Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Angels and demons

11"Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:11-12

Angels and demons at war

As a fundamentalist Pentecostal I once believed that all of life's events both personal and on a global scale had one of two forces orchestrating them from behind the scenes. There were the spiritual representatives of God; angels, and then there were the representatives of the ruler of evil Satan; demons. Although the Old Testament does not dwell on demons much it seems to me that this is more of a fascination for the various authors of the New Testament. It is in my opinion a doctrinal belief developed specifically by Christians. In contrast to the Old Testament; the New Testament is rife with demonology and their many workings behind the scenes. 

When I was a believer I viewed the Old Testament as what was to come and the New Testament as the fulfillment of the former. I never thought to think that the New Testament was purposely fabricated to conform to the O.T. As an atheist I can see how many of the so called prophecies and promises from the O.T. that Christians claim, are done so out of context and were not meant for modern day believers. But in my deluded mind I believed every word of the scriptures unquestionably as the true word of God. 

Satan and his angels cast down to the earth

7"Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him." Revelation 12:7-9
 
Because of verses like this and others similar to it mine was as Carl Sagan's best seller is titled truly a demon haunted world. I saw the activities of Satan in everything and everywhere at all times, and I saw what I thought to be God's great plan unfolding through various experiences in my life and ministry. I became so obsessed with the topic of spiritual warfare and so knowledgeable about demons that it became my specialty. My ministry was what is known in charismatic circles as a deliverance ministry. I exorcised demons from people I believed were either oppressed or possessed and appeared to have great success at it. Never once did I think that what I was seeing was nothing more than the manifestations of psychosomatic disorders, or the result of psychotic delusions brought on by extreme indoctrination.

I was constantly in a battle for my mind. I fought every bad thought or idea that did not seem to come from God. I rebuked the presence of what I considered in those days to be evil emotions when in reality they were nothing more than normal feelings influenced by circumstance. I saw the devil and his demons waging a personal war against me and thought myself to be on the front lines of this imagined spiritual battle. I constantly prayed for spiritual renewal and strength confident that the Lord would hear and rejuvenate my spirit. 

I always prayed for and imagined the angels encamping themselves around me helping and protecting me as I carried out through my ministry what I believed to be God's work. In those days logic and reason meant nothing to me. The bible had taught me that human reason was no match for the wisdom of God. Like atheists I was comfortable with not knowing certain things like who created God or where did God come from etc. But unlike atheists I did not seek answers to my ignorance nor demand proof. I was content with the biblical explanation that God was the alpha (beginning) and omega (end) of all tings. Faith has no need for reason and logic has no place in belief when those beliefs are held as true unquestionably on the authority of ancient texts.

20"Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe." 1 Corinthians 1:20-21

This is the main reason you couldn't get through to a true fundamentalist as I was. I saw any knowledge that contradicted my beliefs as originating from the devil or his cohorts to deceive me and pull me away from what I believed to be the absolute  and undeniable "truth." Ironically the bible is full of texts that I use against believers because they reflect what I consider to be truths that are backed by science and just plain old fashioned observation or naturalism.

Breaking the chains of superstition

The worst part about being severely deluded is when you are hit with the truth and you come to the realization that no amount of mental gymnastics or apologetics could rationalize the insane and irrational. You can't make sense out of nonsense without sacrificing your integrity and your objectivity regarding the matter. Today my favorite biblical quote is from the book of 1 Corinthians 13:11

11"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me."
 
Although the chapter that this verse comes from is about the virtues of love, I feel that in the search for knowledge and truth this verse is most fitting. I have remained true to the principles set out in this verse. The days of believing in ancient myths and superstitions have passed. It is time to stop acting like a child and start thinking and living as an adult with all of his/her mental faculties in order.

Note: All biblical quotes are taken from the New International Version


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