Ground Zero with Clyde Lewis 1-31-2014

I talked to Clyde Friday night about the many astonishingly demonic stories appearing in the news lately.

Criticizing Pastors, Conspiracy Theorists and Serving the Body

by Cris D. Putnam

This post comes from several responses I have made recently on facebook and in emails concerning topics like prophecy, the NWO, transhumanism and various other conspiracy theories. I have always been interested in weird stuff and trade in ideas outside the box of most folks. I have found that there is a considerable body of Christ followers that share my off beat interests and I have made it my ministry to serve them. Because I know that I lean toward “conspiracy thinking” I found this podcast The Umbrella Man and Conspiracy Thinking  by Christian philosopher Kenneth Samples very interesting and a little convicting. If you are a conspiriologist, I suggest giving it a listen and examining yourself.

Even so, I think the Bible supports a conspiratorial worldview in the sense that we are engaged in spiritual warfare with powers and principalities (Eph 6:12) and that things are seldom as they seem on the surface e.g. “And no wonder! For Satan himself is disguised as an angel of light” (2 Co 11:14). We are called on to be “shrewd as serpents and as harmless as doves.” (Mt 10:16) Yet we need to be very cautions about potentially making false accusations and doing the devil’s handy work as an “accuser of the brethren” (Rev 12:10). It is important to make a distinction between what is speculation and what is known with certainty. In conspiracy forums, too many times, I see theories become absolutes.

I also bring this up because several well meaning folks have lamented to me that pastors are avoiding a certain topic or asking why they are afraid to preach about “insert favorite conspiracy theory here.” I think we need to be more charitable with our pastors and remind ourselves of their role. Pastors have to deal with families, marriages, divorces, adultery, problems with kids, people with cancer and other diseases, deaths, horrible sins of all sorts, so remember the very painful and difficult realities of daily existence are always in front of them. Those items alone can be overwhelming for a pastor. When you spend your day consoling a parent whose baby just died, driving to a nursing home to comfort a stroke victim and then perhaps conducting  a funeral or maybe a wedding, an issue like “Prince Charles could be the antichrist” seems fanciful and unimportant. We must acknowledge that a lot of this sort of information is speculative. Topics like the NWO, the nephilim, or even the prophecy of the popes are on the fringe and frankly there is a lot of nonsense mixed in with the material which is valid. Because it is important for pastors to maintain a level of credibility in dealing with the hard issues of regular life, I cannot fault them for being hesitant to  jump on the bandwagon. However, that is where there is room for Christians with those interests to make a contribution. If this is your area of interest, then it is your ministry and you are called to do it with excellence (1 Cor 10:31). That means you should do your best to think critically and parse the information you present for accuracy. There is certainly a role for “out of the box thinking” but always remember, no matter what you do, you are serving the Lord and you are a minister, so take your ministry seriously.

For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body—so also is Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. So the body is not one part but many. If the foot should say, “Because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body,” in spite of this it still belongs to the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I’m not an eye, I don’t belong to the body,” in spite of this it still belongs to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But now God has placed the parts, each one of them, in the body just as He wanted. And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? Now there are many parts, yet one body. So the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” nor again the head to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, all the more, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are necessary. And those parts of the body that we think to be less honorable, we clothe these with greater honor, and our unpresentable parts have a better presentation. But our presentable parts have no need ⌊of clothing⌋. Instead, God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the less honorable, so that there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same concern for each other. So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.(1 Co 12:12-26)

Book Review: The Bondage Breaker by Neil Anderson

This essay will first give an overview and summary of The Bondage Breaker, and then it will offer several key points of analysis. The first point of analysis will be Satan’s status as accuser, which naturally leads to how one interprets several pertinent passages of scripture. Drawing on a critique by Elliot Miller of the Christians Research Journal, the issue of the sin nature and the believer and the demonization of believers will be examined. The issue of ancestral curses will be examined along with Andersen’s hermeneutic of exclusively using the epistles for spiritual warfare theology. Finally, my personal experience will be discussed. The paper will attempt to show that this book is overall quite sound and that it has been of enormous benefit to my own journey.

Brief Summary

Neil Anderson is genuinely concerned with freeing folks from spiritual bondage to fear, depression and addictions through the provision of Christ who is the bondage breaker. The book begins by addressing some common misconceptions held by sincere Christians. He argues that many of us actually have an unbiblical worldview influenced by naturalism. For instance many think that demons were active during the first century but their activity has subsided. This is a non-starter if one accepts Ephesians 6:12 as part of their worldview. Similarly many believe that medical science has proven all such demonic phenomenon to be mental illness. In fact he argues that a biblical worldview will recognize that all problems are spiritual. There is no psychological problem which is not spiritual and vice versa. He also argues that it is a common misconception to think that Christians cannot be affected by demons. Furthermore demonic influence need not be overtly obvious it is often subtle deception. He argues that freedom is not gained by a power encounter rather a truth encounter. Affirming the truth of Christ’s victory is the primary defense against the enemy’s intimidation.

The second chapter is focused on the issue of worldview. He argues that the western world is experiencing a paradigm shift away from naturalism toward the embrace of New Age spirituality and mysticism. Yet it is more correct to see it as a two tiered system with the natural rational world on bottom acting within the laws of science and the transcendent spiritual realm in which modern man relegates the supernatural. Westerners living in this secular two tiered paradigm are actually in the excluded middle which is in fact reality. Many Christians live as though the supernatural has no effect on their lives and are deceived by the culture. The primary spiritual battle is in the mind. Satan seeks to promote selfishness and self-centeredness. The way of Christ is to deny yourself. Anderson makes an important distinction between self-denial and denying one’s self. Self-denial is regularly practiced by narcissistic persons who want to be thin or physically fit. It still is self-focused for self-gratification. Anderson contends, “To deny ourselves is to deny self-rule. Dying to self is the primary battle of life.”[1] He exhorts the reader to sacrifice the pleasures of the world to gain the eternal. The Christian life is one of humble service and has no room for worldly egotism.

Much of the battle for the Christian is in recognizing their identity in Christ. Chapter three presents a list of important scripture passages which assert the believers acceptance, security and significance. He explains that people who are demonically oppressed have a hard time acknowledging their worth and position in Christ. Anderson explains that when one accepts the Gospel and is born again a transformation begins and the believer is no longer subject to the law of sin and death. An important line in the book contends, “It is not what we do that determines who we are. It is who we are that determines what we do.”[2] This runs counter to conventional cultural wisdom but is coherent with biblical revelation. He then resents a dialog with Dan which illustrates the process of someone coming to understand this truth. It is largely a battle for the mind.

Chapter five codifies the teaching on the believer’s authority in Christ with a discussion of the relevant passages and principles. Believers carry Jesus’ authority, the right to rule, and power, the ability to rule. Luke 10:17 is a foundational passage where the disciples realize that the demons are subject to them. He also argues from Ephesians 2:5-6 that because we are seated with Christ at the right hand of God that through him we have authority over the demons. He lists four essential qualifications: 1) Belief; 2) Humility in that one can do nothing without Christ; 3) Boldness (2 Timothy 1:7); 4) Dependence in that our authority is in God’s calling. We put first things first.[3] Chapter six encourages the reader that Jesus will protect.

Anderson makes a very apt analogy to germs and disease. Most people are aware that we are always surrounded by invisible bacteria and germs that can potentially make us ill. Even still, we do not live in constant fear and apprehension because we trust that a reasonable level of care and sanitary practice along with our natural immune system will keep us healthy. When people do become hyper-vigilant in this area it can lead to paranoia and paralyzing fear. Michael Jackson’s practice of wearing a mask in public bore the brunt of many jokes but is an unfortunate example. This transfers nicely to the believer’s position with demons. We know that they are all around us influencing our world but we trust in Christ and by the daily maintenance of our spiritual condition that they cannot harm us. The discussion of the spiritual armor in Ephesians six reveals that these elements are received at salvation and much of our battle is in claiming and believing our position in Christ. Prayer is our greatest defense against spiritual blindness. The next couple chapters cover some tempting errors.

The occult is an old temptation which promises power through secret knowledge. It is expressly forbidden in the Bible and is identified as demonic. Even so, it is being repackaged as “spirituality” and is more popular than ever. At the time of Andersen’s writing the New Age movement was gaining popularity but today it is the norm. Oprah Winfrey has almost single handedly made alternative spirituality the main stream. He then covers temptation by breaking it into three categories: 1) the lust of the flesh; 2) the lust of the eyes; 3) the pride of life. The latter entails the temptation to take charge of one’s own life and supplant God’s role. Anderson advises that one capture every thought because the battle always begins in the mind. The solution is submission to God. He teaches, “Submission to God involves more than confession. It requires genuine repentance which means a change of mind and way of life.”[4] Confession without repentance is empty. Freedom requires change. Next, he covers the discouragement by accusation. One of the enemy’s common strategies is to confound the believer by destroying confidence.

Satan is an accuser. In fact, that is what the term means in Hebrew. Satan and his minions will tempt and then accuse. The strategy is to make one despondent and ineffective. One should claim the truth that there is no condemnation for those in Christ (Rom 8:1). He makes the important distinction between conviction and accusation by appealing to 2 Corinthians 7:9-10. He also dispels a common misunderstanding about the unforgivable sin. Many falsely believe they are beyond redemption due to blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Proper exegesis reveals that this was actually the sin of those who accused Jesus of working miracles by the power of Satan. Andresen argues that the unpardonable sin is rejecting the witness of the Spirit, which is necessarily impossible for a Christian. The enemy thrives on deception.

Satan’s number one strategy is deception. Anderson discusses a plethora of manifestations in three categories: self-deception, false prophets/teachers, and deceiving spirits. Our primary defense is to take every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:5). There is an excellent discussion on signs and wonders and discerning the counterfeit from the real. Spiritual discernment involves examining one’s motives and the goal is to distinguish right from wrong in order to humbly obey. He moves into controversial territory by arguing that demons can indwell believers. He addresses the argument that the Holy Spirit and a demon cannot dwell in the same place with, “Satan is the god of this world and ‘the prince of the power of the air’ (Eph 2:2). Thus Satan and his demons are present in the atmosphere of this world, but so is the omnipresent Holy Spirit—which means they sometimes coexist.”[5] This seems fair enough God is allowing their existence for now. Chapter 12 examines many pertinent Bible passages and offers client testimony. Anderson then lays out his steps to freedom.

Chapter 13 presents the seven steps to freedom. The first step is to renounce all past or present involvement with occult practices and non-Christian religions. The second step is to open one’s eyes to having been deceived by the world system and coming into truth. Step three involves forgiving others and letting go of all bitterness so Satan cannot take advantage (2 Cor 2:10-11; Eph 4:31-32). Step four entails submission to proper authority. The fifth step is repentance from pride and selfishness. The sixth step involves confession and repentance in submission to God (Jms 4:7; 1 Jn 1:9). In the seventh step Anderson exhorts one to, “renounce the sins of your ancestors as well as any curses which may have been placed on you by deceived and evil people or groups.”[6] This entails ancestral curses and demonization which will be further discussed in the next section. Each step includes appropriate prayers and practical advice on working through the issues. He also advises that the battle is never over; walking in freedom requires maintenance by walking in truth, confessing and repenting as necessary. The book concludes with some advice on helping others to find freedom.

Critical interaction

Satan’s foremost device is deception and this is necessarily so because in reality he is a defeated foe by the cross and his days are numbered. The extent of his defeat is controversial. Like Bubeck Anderson thinks, “Satan now has access to our Father in heaven,”[7] but it seems to me that he was cast out after Jesus death and resurrection (Jn 12:31). I believe he lost his official capacity in heaven (Col 2:15). The Amillennialist would actually take this even further to argue that Satan is bound in chains (Rev 20:2-3). However, this is one the best arguments against Amillennialism because post cross 1 John 5:19 says, “…the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” Even more, Revelation 20:3 says that Satan is bound so that he will “not deceive the nations any longer” but Paul says he blinds the minds of unbelievers (2 Cor 4:4).  While this seems devastating to Amillennialism, we must reconcile Jesus’ remarks in Luke 10:18 and John 12:31.  I believe that the best course is to see the war in heaven described in Revelation 12 as roughly coinciding with the ascension and that Satan was subsequently banished from heaven.  Accordingly, I do not believe Satan is in the role of the accuser in the divine council as presented in the book of Job and Zechariah.

Eliot Miller wrote a scathing critique for the Christian Research Journal called, “The Bondage Maker: Examining the Message and Method of Neil T. Andersen.”[8] A primary criticism is that Miller thinks Anderson believes that, “Christians no longer possess a sin nature.”[9] This seems misplaced because Anderson never directly says we do not have a sin nature. His evidence appears to be cherry picked and misconstrued. For instance, he quotes this from The Bondage Breaker as evidence, “At salvation God changed our very essence; we became ‘partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust’ (2 Peter 1:4).”[10] He quotes from other books as well but none of the statements seem to fully add up to the charge. In fact, Anderson explicitly argues against it:

Being a saint or a child of God doesn’t mean that you are sinless (1 John 1:8). But since your old self has been crucified and buried with Christ, you no longer have to sin (1 John 2:1). You sin when you choose to believe a lie or act independently of God.[11]

Elliot accuses Anderson of confusing legal status before God with actual holiness.[12] However, Anderson fully acknowledges the need for sanctification. He writes, “Being alive and free in Christ is part of positional sanctification, which is the basis for progressive sanctification.”[13] Theologian, Millard Erickson writes, “Sanctification is a process by which one’s moral condition is brought into conformity with one’s legal status before God.”[14] Indeed, there seems to be a lack of clarity between positional justification and actual sanctification but the error is Miller’s not Andersen’s. Anderson specifically acknowledges the distinction.

Another major criticism offered in the article is that Anderson teaches, “Christians can be and often are demonized (indwelt and controlled by demons).”[15] Miller argues that it is not possible, “The presence of the Holy Spirit within believers — which is not conditioned on their obedience — guarantees this (2 Cor. 6:14-18; cf. Matt. 12:43-45; 1 John 4:4; 5:18).”[16] While this seems like a good argument, others disagree. Unger contends,

The claim that the Holy Spirit could not dwell in the same body with an evil spirit overlooks an important theological observation. It might with equal cogency be asked how the Holy Spirit can dwell in our bodies, which are still possessed of the old nature and therefore subject to sin. Yet He does because of our redemption and the presence of the new nature.[17]

It is ironic that Miller was arguing against Anderson insisting on the presence of the sin nature. This seems inconsistent with his argument that the presence of the Spirit precludes demonization. While I never felt completely controlled, my personal experience is that I definitely experienced hearing voices and internal presence of evil spirits which could manipulate my body as a new convert. Because this happened to me, I side with Anderson and Unger.

Like Bubeck, Anderson also believes in generational curses and ancestral demonization. This seems to assume that one’s acceptance of Christ does not break the connection. Anderson writes:

Iniquities can be passed on from one generation to the next if you don’t renounce the sins of your ancestors and claim your new spiritual heritage in Christ. You are not guilty for the sin of any ancestor, but because of their sin, you may be vulnerable to Satan’s attack.[18]

Yet, we know that Christ’s salvific work is complete so it does not seem justified to believe in ancestral curses. It may be that demons are territorial and the perception of ancestral curses may have more to do with proximity or where one resides than any spiritual connection. Demons may simply lie and use an ancestral curse as a ruse to instill fear and in so doing manipulate. It seems likely that is nothing more than an issue of convenient proximity as families have relational contact. Some of Andersen’s weaknesses may derive from his neglect of the Gospels.

Anderson believes one should only derive methods for spiritual warfare from the epistles. He argues, “We should derive our methodology for dealing with the kingdom of darkness primarily from the epistles rather than the Gospels and the Book of Acts.”[19] His rationale is that the events in the Gospels were prior to the cross and necessarily under the old covenant. However, this argument does not apply to the book of Acts at all in fact by his own reasoning Acts should be definitive. Yet he cautions, “There is some disagreement among Christians about how much method and theology we should extract from this important book.”[20] I wonder does he question the inspiration of Acts. It seems to me that proper exegesis of Acts should provide our principle models. It is authoritative scripture. What is even more perplexing is in the very same section Anderson breaks his own rule when it suits his purpose:

If you were successful in casting a demon out of someone without his or her involvement, what is to keep the demon from coming back when you leave? Unless the individual assumes responsibility for his own freedom, he may end up like the poor fellow who was freed from one spirit only to be occupied by seven others who were worse than the first (Matthew 12:43-45).[21]

Maybe that would only occur under the Old Covenant? Of course he does not consider that because the Gospels are important for deriving our methodology and he is mistaken and inconsistent for saying they are not.

PERSONAL APPLICATION

I personally came to Christ after being involved in the occult and being demonized. It was this book The Bondage Breaker that helped me to break free. I must admit I was pretty credulous as a new Christian and I was suffering with substance abuse issues and relying on alternative spiritual ideas I picked up from Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. My drug use opened me wide to the influence of demons. I have examined myself critically trying to ascertain if it was simply my own mind malfunctioning due to chemicals or whether it was actual demonic influence. I am convinced that I experienced things that were not a product of my own mind and were necessarily external to me. There came a point where I was able to claim scriptural truths in my own defense and had actual arguments with the “voices.”

I am sure the secular therapists would have labeled me as only insane and in a sense I was for a while. While my sanity was surely lacking in some areas, I was still demonized. I heard internal voices directing me to do things that I had no desire to do. I do not believe they were from me. In fact, they tilted their hand by revealing information that I had no way of knowing that was later verified. However, I also experienced the influence of other spirits who seemed to direct me toward the straight and narrow. I am hesitant to trust any of it in light of, “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Co 11:14). However, some of the messages I heard have influenced me for the better. Since, then I have pursued biblical studies and theological training with a passion and I have never had a serious temptation for over five years. Most folks who behave as I did are dead or in prison. Through God’s grace I am alive and well. I would have never thought this level of freedom was possible. I know it must be God’s grace because there is no other viable explanation. I believe this book helped me and that it can help others find that freedom as well.

CONCLUSION

This paper offered a summary and analysis of The Bondage Breaker. In offering a brief summary, the paper sought to illustrate the value of the book by showing how it provides a systematic way to break free from spiritual oppression. Critique was offered in that I disagree with Anderson on Satan’s access to heaven, ancestral curses, and only using the epistles. The work of one of his staunches critics was examined and although some valid observations are made it seems to be somewhat misrepresentative. I agreed with Anderson against his critic that believers can indeed experience a high level of demonization if they open the door through sin. This is born out in my own experience. I was grateful to have this book in my own struggle. In the end, it seems that this book has stood the test of time and is still aiding in setting captives free.



[1] Neil T. Anderson, The Bondage Breaker (Harvest House Publishers. Kindle Edition 2006), 39.

[2] Ibid, 51.

[3] Ibid, 87.

[4] Ibid, 150.

[5] Ibid, 186.

[6] Ibid, 239.

[7] Andersen, Bondage, 186.

[8] Elliot Miller, “The Bondage Maker: Examining the Message and Method of Neil T. Anderson (Part 1),” Christian  Research Journal, http://journal.equip.org/articles/the-bondage-maker-examining-the-message-and-method-of-neil-t-anderson-part-1- (accessed 08/13/2011).

[9] Ibid, 1.

[10] Andersen, Bondage, 48.

[11] Ibid, 49.

[12] Miller, “Bondage Maker,” 4.

[13] Ibid, 12.

[14]Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1998), 980.

[15] Miller, “Bondage Maker,” 1.

[16] Elliot Miller, “The Bondage Maker: Examining the Message and Method of Neil T. Anderson (Part 2)” Christian Research Journal, http://journal.equip.org/articles/the-bondage-maker-examining-the-message-and-method-of-neil-t-anderson-part-2- (accessed 08/13/2011).

[17]Merrill Frederick Unger, What Demons Can Do to Saints, Originally Published: Chicago : Moody Press, 1977. (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 1991), 60.

[18] Ibid, 240.

[19] Ibid, 255.

[20] Ibid, 256.

[21] Ibid, 257.

Book Review: The Adversary the Christian Verses Demon Activity

This presentation will first give a broad overview and summary of The Adversary by Mark I. Bubeck and then it will offer several critical points of analysis. The first point of analysis will be that although the book is over thirty years old it is still relevant today and perhaps its topic is more exigent.  Next, a discussion on the topic of sorcery will be offered, focusing on the wide cultural acceptance of pharmacological solutions to spiritual problems. Criticism is offered in that his exegesis of Job 1and Revelation 12 does not reflect a sound hermeneutic in light of John 12 and Luke 10. Furthermore, the idea of ancestral demonization has little biblical support. Still yet, it will be argued that many of Bubeck’s critics misrepresent his teaching. Overall, the book is biblically sound and has a great deal to offer the reader in search of strategies to battle Satan and demons.

Brief Summary

The book begins by establishing the biblical basis for the topic of spiritual warfare. Accordingly, Ephesians 6:12 is presented as foundational by indicating that the battle is primarily against the spiritual forces of darkness rather than flesh and blood. Bubeck writes that the battle is on three fronts: the world, the flesh, and the devil. Accordingly, the book is organized as such and chapter two addresses the flesh. While Paul uses the term in different ways, it often refers to man’s fallen sinful nature. Romans 7:23 speaks of the raging carnality which plagues man until he is born again (Jn 3:6-7). Bubeck lists the most common offenses and exposits their primary biblical texts: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, quarreling, jealousy, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envy, murder, drunkenness, and reveling. Giving way to any of these is an invitation to demonic attention. Bubeck proposes three steps toward overcoming the flesh: 1) a commitment to honesty; 2) dying to self; 3) walking in the Spirit. He includes an appropriate prayer one can employ to this end.

Chapter two is concerned with the world, as rendered from the Greek word kosmos. It describes the dominant order or spiritual system of things that is opposed to God and the Lord Jesus Christ.[1] He discusses the relevant passages and establishes that this is indeed the case (Jn 12:31; 1 Jn 2:16; 5:19).  The fact that Satan tempted Jesus with all the kingdoms of the world is particularly convincing as it would have not been a temptation had they not been Satan’s to give. Bubeck teaches that, “The world system exalts its own intellectual system and rejects God’s truth as foolishness (1 Cor 1:18–31).”[2] This truth is easily seen in worldly skepticism and parody of Christians. Furthermore, the world system tempts believers to conform to its ungodly worldview. Believers are exhorted to resist and conquer the world and its lies by belief and regeneration (1 Jn 5:4–5). Jesus has overcome the world on our behalf and we overcome by the renewal of our minds through God’s word (Rom 12:2).

Chapter four is a thorough examination of the pertinent texts which form a composite picture of Satan and his kingdom. He outlines Satan’s original position as guardian cherub in the garden of God (Eze 28:12–17) followed by his rebellion and fall due to his excessive pride (Is 14:12–15). He lists the many titles a descriptive names: adversary, accuser, Lucifer (light bearer), dragon, devil (slanderer), murderer, liar, deceiver, “prince of the power of the air”, destroyer (Abaddon, Apollyon), tempter, “evil one” and “god of this age.” He is powerful and has a kingdom (Mt 12:26). His sphere of activity is the earth (Job 1:7; 1 Pe 5:8). He entices man to sin by planting false ideas, causes sickness and suffering, holds the power of death (Heb 2:14) and specializes in accusing (Rev 12:10). He is ultimately destined for utter defeat (Is 14:15; Rev 20:10). He is a defeated foe and the Christian can resist him through employing his spiritual armor (Eph 6:10–18).

Chapter five examines our spiritual armor as described by Paul in Ephesians 6. It is especially noteworthy that we do not find special rituals or prayers for casting out demons; rather we see the helmet of salvation which a believer always has on, the sword of the Spirit which is God’s word available for us to study and the belt of truth which represents accurate knowledge through study. There are two extremes which must be avoided. One the one hand, many do not take the subject seriously and on the other some become overly interested and enticed by occultism. There are multiple layers of personal spiritual beings in which a believer does battle. Chapter six exhorts the reader to claim his authority and not be paralyzed by fear. The authority of Christ enables believers to overcome. Satan deceives and lies and tempts one to pride. There are degrees of conflict which characterize the enemy’s activity. It is often very subtle.

Chapter six is an important one as it is where he explains his views on the various levels of demonization believers and unbelievers experience. In order of intensity, the levels are oppression, obsession and possession. The first, oppression, is experienced by all believers and it is an outward attack. The second, obsession is a twofold term in that it can refer to a believer with an obsession to study the occult or the obsession of a demon with a particular believer. Of the latter category Bubeck argues that “Paul’s thorn in the flesh a messenger of Satan” is an example (2 Cor 12:7-10). The third level is possession and Bubeck argues that the biblical materials are somewhat vague here. He states, “The way the Greek language handles this problem is to call such people demoniacs or that they ‘had a demon.’”[3] Unbelievers are possessed either by invitation or folly. He argues that Mark 9:21 supports the idea that children can be possessed by ancestral wickedness. Although he argues Christians can be severely afflicted and challenged, he clarifies that he does not think born again believers can be possessed in the same sense that an unbeliever can.

He then transitions to the importance of sound doctrine and the practice of doctrinal praying. Jesus’ use of Deuteronomy during his desert trial is a model of using doctrinal truth in spiritual warfare (Mt 4:1–11). Doctrinal praying is the practice of praying the objective, absolute truths of the Bible to address specific needs. Chapter eight offers further exhortation to pray aggressively for intercession. He provides example prayers and anecdotal accounts of encounters. He teaches that one needs to be specific and forceful standing firm in warfare prayer. This prayer discussion reaches an apex with chapter nine concerning bold confrontation.

In the ninth chapter he relates a chilling story about his own daughter’s demonic oppression. He argues that all believers have the authority that Jesus invoked in confronting demons. He laments that many believers live in denial that their loved ones might be demonically oppressed. His daughter’s story seems genuine and honest as it is not particularly flattering for a pastor to confess. He confronts the spirits commands them to desists and binds them in the name of Jesus. He warns the reader not to make too many assumptions as these situations are unpredictable. He then lists a series of practical dos and don’ts which seem prudent if not essential. The focus expands to the issue of church wide deliverance.

Bubeck’s discussion of revival and his reservations concerning the charismatic movement will be discussed below in the critical interaction section. Chapter 11 turns to practical application in discussing the tools of our warfare. Accordingly, he uses Dr. Victor Matthews’ “The Daily Affirmation of Faith.”[4] This affirmation is commended to be read aloud on a daily basis by those engaged in intense warfare. He then offers a warfare prayer also by Matthews. He also provides a list of symptoms which are indicative of demonic affliction. Furthermore, he includes some statements of renunciation and affirmation for those with potential ancestral demonization. The last chapter discusses the need for Christian unity. He points out those passages on spiritual warfare like Ephesians 6 are addressed to churches not individuals.  He appeals to the imminence of the Lord’s return and encourages unity for the purpose of battle. In the end, we stand together in victory against the devil and his designs.

Critical interaction

Although written in 1975, Bubeck’s book still seems current. If anything, the cultural trends discussed have only been exacerbated by an increasing skepticism on one hand and naïve openness on the other. Increasing skepticism is seen in that many theologians, especially in the mainline liberal denominations, have written Satan and demons off to superstition. Naïve openness manifests in an open embrace of demonic spirits by New Agers and even worse by undiscerning charismatic Christians. Amongst the emergent church movement, there is a growing yet troublesome emphasis on experience which could lead many otherwise doctrinally sound evangelicals astray. Bubeck writes, “Today man’s debate centers upon whether you are a ‘biblical supernaturalist,’ or an ‘investigating supernaturalist’ who wants to experiment with occult phenomena or dabble in the various branches of sorcery and witchcraft.”[5] Apart from the small naturalist segment of the population, this has held true. While there has been a revival of naturalism in the new atheist movement it is relatively fringe as most people find it a woefully inadequate worldview. Gary Habermas’ research indicates that there is a paradigm shift occurring in which the paranormal is becoming normal.[6] In fact as the evidence mounts, naturalism is becoming increasingly marginalized. The cultural embrace of the occult is ubiquitous.

The use of psychoactive drugs in the occult world is self-evident and undisputed. Thus, it seems prudent to look at less obvious manifestations. Secular society has effectively denied the very existence of the spiritual life. The forced secular indoctrination of school children and wide spread acceptance of Darwinism has alienated a vast segment of society from peace and soundness of mind. Instead of turning to God who loves them and wants to give their lives the significance and joy that they rightly perceive as missing, the vast majority are turning to sorceries. Bubeck writes:

It is interesting that the Greek word translated witchcraft or sorcery in our English texts is the word pharmakia, from which we get our English word pharmacy, referring to drugs. The use of drugs for sensational, mind-expanding experience is a form of sorcery. Drug experimentation is a fleshly sin which leads on into deeper bondage with Satan’s kingdom.[7]

 

While recreational drug use is a huge problem, it seems that the charge of sorcery applies to the perfectly legal and government sponsored variety as well as the illicit. In a 2004 Washington post article I read that “One in 10 American women takes an antidepressant drug such as Prozac, Paxil or Zoloft, and the use of such drugs by all adults has nearly tripled in the last decade, according to the latest figures on American health released yesterday by the federal government.”[8] Of course there are beneficial healing uses of psychiatric drugs but in the days gone by someone with an emotional pain or need might seek the counsel of her pastor or petition God in prayer as the first course of action.  Today it is the action of last resort if it is even considered. Christians should be following the teaching of our Lord Jesus who taught, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Mt 6:34). Most drugs are not really solutions; they merely offer temporary relief while the root problem worsens. It seems correct to extend the charge of sorcery to some forms of psychiatry. While the majority of Bubeck’s exegesis is sound, exception is taken with a few of his conclusions.

Bubeck believes that Satan still has access to heaven based on the divine council scene in the first chapter of Job and that he will not be cast out until the tribulation.[9] First, “Satan” in the divine council scene of Job 1 is not a proper name but a title “the Satan.” It means “the accuser” and Hebrew Bible scholars are divided on whether this is one in the same as the devil in the New Testament. Still yet, I tend to agree that “the Satan” is the same entity due to Revelation 12:10 which identifies the devil as the “accuser of our brothers.” But the vision in Revelation 12 is clearly a flashback which includes the birth of Jesus and Satan’s expulsion from heaven is also presented in the past tense. John chapter 12 is decidedly conclusive to this matter:

“This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die (Jn 12:30-33).

 

Referring to his impending passion, Jesus said very clearly that now the ruler of this world is cast out. Not in the distant future end times. Jesus said it was “now”, way back then. Luke 10:18 also seems to hint at Satan’s expulsion in response to the proclamation of the Gospel. Satan and his minions only have the power that we give them by sin and fear. This is why Paul describes them as “weak and worthless” (Gal  4:9). Satan’s days in the divine council are over; he is no longer in God’s immediate presence accusing. Still yet, many have criticized Bubeck of giving too much power to the enemy but often they misrepresent him.

Bubeck has been widely criticized for overemphasizing demonic influence. In reading some of the criticisms on the internet, the majority seem unfair. For instance, Miles J. Stanford seems to charge Bubeck with saying believers can be possessed. He argues, “These demon deliverance leaders formulate imaginary demons in Christians, names and all; and then imagine victory over them. This seems to be a case of straw man burning because Bubeck explicitly writes:

It is my conviction that no believer can be possessed by an evil spirit in the same sense that an unbeliever can. In fact, I reject this term altogether when talking about a believer’s problem with the powers of darkness. A believer may be afflicted or even controlled in certain areas of his being, but he can never be owned or totally controlled as an unbeliever can.[10]

 

His critics, while often well intended, seem to be mischaracterizing his work. One wonders if the critics simply ignore his admonitions to doctrinal prayer. There is a difference between demon oppression and possession that is overlooked. However, the idea of ancestral demonization is promoted in the book. Most dubious is that his evidence for it comes from the demons, “One wicked spirit claimed to have been working in the ancestral line for over five hundred years.” [11] He argues that they attach to families and ancestral blood lines and that children and grandchildren are under the curse of their distant relative’s actions.[12] There does not seem to be much biblical basis for it.

In trying to examine Bubeck’s claim of ancestral demonization, the biblical evidence is scant. One can establish that children can be demonized by the incident in Mark 9:21 but this says nothing about why. While the Old Testament infers generational curses (Ex. 34:7ff), Ezekiel 18 seems to mitigate this as an ongoing phenomenon, “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (Eze 18:20). In light of this passage, I am skeptical of ancestral demonization but open to explore the evidence. Still yet, if Christ’s salvific work in a believer’s life does not break ancestral curses, then, Christ’s work on the cross in one’s life is incomplete. However, we know that Christ’s redemptive work is complete (Heb. 9:11-12; 25-28). While he may have experiential and anecdotal support, it does not seem prudent to accept the word of demons at face value.

Bubeck laments that revival had not come to our nation. That was in the 1970s and it seems that the situation has only worsened since then. He seems especially concerned with the charismatic movement and rightfully so. He mentions, “…its emphasis upon experience and its lack of stand on objective, doctrinal truth.”[13] This situation has also escalated since his writing. The modern antics of Rick Joyner, Todd Bentley and the new apostolic reformation are promoting a dangerous heretical mysticism.[14]  Any time that experience is elevated above revealed truth, Satan is given an opportunity to deceive. Theological liberals and charismatics share an inappropriate emphasis on God’s immanence and on human experience. The counterfeit replaces esteem for Christ with self-esteem and sound doctrine for esoteric speculations. Both seem to have lost their way and run off the road into a ditch. Perhaps “pit” is a better choice of words.

 

CONCLUSION

            This paper offered a summary and analysis of The Adversary: The Christian Versus Demon Activity. After offering a brief summary, the paper sought to illustrate the value of the book by establishing its relevance. Critical analysis was offered concerning the idea that Satan still has access to God’s throne room and the idea of ancestral demonization. It was argued that many of Bubeck’s critics misrepresent him and that the book is largely sound. It has excellent examples of warfare prayers and prudent advice. The relationship between these points was shown. This book has great relevance to my personal testimony. In the end, it seems that this is a book I will keep on my shelf for further reference.

 



[1]Mark I. Bubeck, The Adversary: The Christian Versus Demon Activity (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1975), 46.

[2]Ibid, 50.

[3]Ibid, 85.

[4]Ibid, 136.

[5]Ibid 15.

[6] Gary Habermas, “Paradigm Shift: a Challenge to Naturalism,” Bibliotheca Sacra (146:584 Oct-Dec 1989), 437.

[7]Bubeck, The Adversary, 30.

[8] Shankar Vedantam, “Antidepressant Use By U.S. Adults Soars,” Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A29751-2004Dec2.html (accessed 7/29/2011).

[9] Bubeck, The Adversary, 61.

[10]Bubeck, The Adversary, 87.

[11]Ibid, 147.

[12]Ibid, 87.

[13]Ibid, 130.

[14]Chrystal Whitt, “Rick Joyner, Todd Bentley, and the New Apostolic Reformation,” Apprising Ministries, http://apprising.org/2010/06/12/rick-joyner-todd-bentley-and-the-new-apostolic-reformation/ (accessed 7/28/2011).