Last week’s blog saw a great debate in the comments section on Halloween. Battle lines were clearly drawn and few were neutral on whether Halloween is inherently evil or not. Thanks to all who participated. This week I would like to pursue the subject of resident evil a little further. A couple of decades ago Frank Peretti wrote a novel called This Present Darkness. It was a huge best seller in Christian circles and sold over 2 1/2 million copies even though it was an absolutely dreadful piece of literature. In fact, it might be the most poorly written book I have ever read. It had terrible dialogue, weak character development and a disjointed plot. But what it did do was introduce us to a look beneath the surface as to what the world might look like if you could see how the natural world and the spiritual world interact. It was a great concept for a novel… too bad Peretti couldn’t write worth spit.
The story was set in the fictional town of Ashton and unfolded as a tale of how demons were trying to run angels out of town so that new age philosophies could be introduced into the local college. Despite the book’s inadequacies it accomplished the task of opening the eyes of Christians to the powers of darkness that lurk beneath the surface of our present age. I am certainly not one for looking for demons under every rock, but the bigger problem today is that many fail to see them anywhere. French poet Charles Pierre Baudelaire once said, “The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world that he doesn’t exist?”
I really don’t want to re-open the Halloween debate but my biggest frustration is with Christian parents that cannot see how dressing our kids as ninjas and letting them go door to door could possibly be anything other than adorable. Is it possible that we could be sowing the seeds in our children that there is nothing wrong with a little entry level paganism? Look at how Harry Potter introduced an entire generation to soft core sorcery. At some level do we start to sanitize witchcraft and the occult at an early age so that if they are confronted with something really sinister later in life they won’t even recognize it for what it is? The house around the corner from me was decorated like a cemetery for Halloween. It had a skulls and ghouls and tombstones. I am pretty sure it was not the actual gate to Hell, but it sure looked like it. Sure, you could have your kids take a pass on that house, but that is not what happened. It was the most visited house on the block. It drew kids like a magnet. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the midst of the Garden of Eden had the same enticing effect. Evil is usually tantalizing, not repellent.
Let’s try to move the discussion in another direction. My question is; at what point do we end up entertaining evil spirits through our adult amusements? What we know from scripture is that there was a war in heaven between Lucifer and his angels and Michael and his angels. (Rev 12) Michael defeated Lucifer and cast him and one third of the angels down to the earth… not to Hell. These fallen angels became demons and are loose on earth. The simple math tells us that somewhere in the cosmos there are two angels for every one demon. When Jesus walked the earth He made no bones about the existence of evil spirits. One quarter of His ‘healings’ actually were deliverances where He cast evil spirits out of people. These people ranged from the wildly crazy Madman of Gadara, to people who looked like they were just sick, to children who were deaf, mute or epileptic. This should give us pause to think that many of the things we see around us are not psychological or medical at their root but demonic.
For me an even more fascinating example is in Matthew 16. Jesus asks the disciples who people think He is. Peter responds, “You are the Christ the Son of the living God”. Jesus is genuinely impressed. “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my Father in Heaven”. Peter is pumped. He got one right and was finally tracking with the Master. Six verses later, count em six, Peter rejects Jesus plan to suffer and go to the cross. “But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matt 16:23). Ouch! One minute he was hearing from God and the next he was hearing the voice of Satan himself.
What we learn from this story is how easily demons can influence our thinking, words and actions. If Frank Peretti over-emphasized the role of demons in our world, most Christians have under-emphasized it. The bible refers to the day we live as “this present evil age”. No, it is not all evil, but because evil spirits are still loose in the earth, any time we entertain them we invite them to bring mayhem into our lives.
Anyone who has travelled the third world quickly becomes aware of the resident evil that holds these cultures in bondage. Hindu India is under an intense spiritual bondage that effects almost every aspect of their society. You cannot worship 330 million different gods and not invite demons to dinner. (In reality it is not really known how many Hindu gods there are, but it is a lot.) Unless you have actually been there in person and witnessed it you really have no basis in which to argue that what they are doing is not worshipping demons.
The animism in Africa, spiritism in Latin America or Buddhism of Asia are all deeply rooted in the same. The AIDS crisis in Africa has a prevailing spiritual root. The witch doctors tell HIV positive men that the only way to be cured from the disease is to sleep with a virgin. This immoral demonically influenced ignorance succeeds only in producing another AIDS victims. Two million Africans die of AIDS every year leaving behind another 2.5 million new AIDS orphans. That is the fruit of just one of the faces of evil. I won’t even get into the tribal genocide that has been seen in many of these same countries.
If we think these same kind of doorways to the demonic do not exist in western culture you have to look no further than what is happening with internet pornography. Pornography leads men (mostly) down a destructive path of sexual fantasy that will ensnare their lives, ruin their marriage, family, career and in the case of child pornography land them in jail. Serial rapist/murderer Ted Bundy told Dr James Dobson that his dark murderous rampage all began with soft core pornography that lead him down the most vile of paths. Too often we miss the important caution signs along the way.
The faces of evil that we worship in our culture look nothing like Krishna or Kali or Ganesha. They look more like Captain Morgan (alcohol), Mary Jane (drugs), Hugh Hephner (porn), Goldman Sachs (greed), Harry Potter (sorcery), Quintin Tarantino(Hollywood immorality), Henry Morgenthaler (abortion), Ellen DeGeneres (homosexuality), Dungeons and Dragons (internet occult), Grand Theft Auto (internet violence),etc. etc. etc. Make no mistake about it, the demon gods that hold us in bondage are no different in our culture, we just call them by different names.