Evangelicals and the Realm of the Supernatural


On Saturday, I was out walking my property and something clicked in my head. One of those seemingly obvious bits of insight, yet it only came together at that moment. Call it a Unified Supernatural Field Theory of Evangelicalism, sort of the holy grail of understanding most evangelical churches’ positions on the supernatural.

Consider these passages:

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
—1 Peter 5:8

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
—Ephesians 6:11-12

When you ask many evangelicals to name what opposes them, you’re likely to get a number of answers, but I’m not sure the number one answer would be Satan.

M.C. Escher gets all supernatural

If you read a lot of Reformed/Calvinist books or blogs, Satan is barely a footnote—very odd considering what the Bible says of his place as the prime foe of the Christian. My own experience as part of two large, conservative Presbyterian churches would confirm that Reformed/Calvinist churches tend to place sin over Satan as the primary source of opposition, though sinfulness is a state of being not a personal foe. The Bible, on the other hand, is quite clear (as the two passages above note) that the foe is an entity, the devil.

Consider this: If an enemy drops a bomb on you, the bomb is not your foe; the person who tossed it is. Yet if one reads enough Reformed/Calvinist literature, it’s impossible to escape the reality that the devil doesn’t get much mention, with sin getting almost all the press. This, at least to me, seems a major oversight.

In many other Evangelical churches today, especially nondenominational, the devil gets a minor mention (as does sin), but the real enemy is made out to be negative thoughts patterns and practices. Again, this avoids the very real teaching that our foe is a being.

There’s a reason why these blinders exist.

The problem with these two viewpoints is they both avoid the truth that the enemy of the Christian is a supernatural entity that can’t be dealt with by human knowledge or through behavior modification.  Yet this is how we deal with him in too many of our churches because to deal with him as a supernatural being necessitates holding a worldview that is consistently open to the daily intersection of the supernatural world with our own.

And the supernatural is…well, messy. It involves all sorts of nonrational thinking and practice, which scares the willies out of folks who like to be able to wrap their brains around everything they equate with the realm of God.

So I think that the reason you hear almost nothing about the prime foe of the Christian in large swaths of Evangelicalism is that acknowledging him as a supernatural being mandates believing that the supernatural is the “natural” state of the Christian life. By relegating the devil to a mere mention now and then some evangelicals think they can avoid dealing with the plane beyond this existence. In fact, I would say there’s a distinct inverse relationship: The more an evangelical places the opposition to the Christan in non-demonic sources, the less likely he or she will be to accept visions, charismata, and “mystical experiences” as part of the normal Christian life.

This argument may seem obvious to some of you, but it explains a great deal.

I also find it interesting that we possess this tendency to write off the devil and blame our problems on everything BUT him. Again, though, the Bible clearly states that he and his minions are the foe. And by purposefully downplaying his position as the opponent of the Christian, we naturally underestimate him.

This makes for problems for a Church not given to seeing the devil in his true guise. If anything, the entire book of Revelation depicts an entity doing its damndest, quite literally, to cause as much anguish and horror as possible before it’s cast into the lake of fire. We underestimate such a foe at our own peril, and I would say that, in many ways, we already have. Worse, by underestimating him, we’ve reduced our reliance on the supernatural power available to us Christians to combat the Enemy and use the tools the Lord Jesus gave us to defeat him.

Remember folks: This is not a flesh and blood battle, but a supernatural one.

Tangleknot on Leading the Opponent’s Subjects Astray


Tangleknot writes to his demon nephew, TunglashDearest Tunglash,

How pleased I am to receive your letter from deception school! I trust that your instructors are teaching you the latest techniques. That you should write your chthonic uncle and consider my many millennia perfecting the art would warm my heart if I had one. How good that we can possess the hearts of others then. A proxy is even more diabolically delish!

So you wish to know how to lead the Opponent’s subjects astray. A most worthy question filled with many seemingly simple responses that take years to perfect. Some demons never do, but I suspect that with your heritage, you will do just fine.

Here are a few of my most hellish suggestions. I will leave the details for you to discover as one of my stature cannot give away all secrets lest I find myself in competition with some of my illustrious brethren. And I can’t be having more of that, now can I?

My first piece of advice is to stoke the fires of wanting more. More what? It does not matter. Even wanting more of the Opposition can be turned to our advantage if the subject of your deception has little understanding of the Opposition’s Handbook. And how many of them are delightfully ignorant in that regard! In pursuit of more they will discover some of our most brilliant traps. How I thrill to their cries of anguish as they tumble in! Even more, I relish the quiet ones who, once trapped, have no understanding how quickly their life force drains away or how soon they will find themselves face to face with you and me.

On the other cloven hoof, some respond best to little. Watching them giggle with glee over a breadcrumb when they can have the entire loaf—ah, such fun. They believe themselves so strong, so clever to have discovered some fragment of truth. And how they run with it, creating for themselves such wickedly vain imaginings. I will give the Opposition his due: He certainly made them a creative lot. Using that to our advantage makes for all manner of entertainment. I so love a good fabrication. Nothing like weaving grandiose hoo-ha out of a single sentence of their Handbook taken out of context.

Both of these strategies work well as distractions. Any distraction will do, though. When the Opposition wants them to be doing A, B, and C, make sure they do X, Y, and Z, instead. Do remember that the most effective X, Y, and Z have the appearance of A, B, and C. Some subjects will see through wasting time watching our television, but if you entice them to waste time watching Opposition television, then you dramatically increase your effectiveness. And do run them around. Multiply the number of conferences they attend, the programs they develop, the showcases for smoke and mirrors that are this season’s de rigeur Opposition events. Run them ragged. Soon A, B, and C will be distant memories.

For those who fancy themselves leaders within the Opposition forces, toss in a little taste of power. Give them a false miracle or sign now and then. Make it seem like it came from within the leaders themselves. Nothing like a spittle-spewer who  demonstrates a few faux acts of power to drive everyone into a frenzy. And get those leaders talking about mantles, swords, crowns, and armies. Elevate them to the status of generals. Get them whooping and roaring and battle-crying and shofar-blowing—I promise that you’ll just adore the cacophany of it all! I know I do. And when they are sufficiently ready to burst from the splendor of their noise, sic them on each other. Oh yes, the Opposition used that on a few of our manipulated armies millenia ago, but two can play at that game.

In the category of “Everything old is new again,” I love to trot out gnosticism. How these humans love deep secrets! Once the schisms set in, convince them that only their side knows the most profound mysteries of their Handbook. Or better yet, abandon all references to the Handbook and finagle a few false prophets to deliver new revelations of doctrine. For example, His Infernal Majesty continues to plumb the classics. Consider his devastatingly effective statement in the Garden of Eden. That one still slays them today, especially when delivered from the mouths of one of their self-appointed prophets. Best of all, a little stoking on your part will have them disdaining all correction. They’re the only ones who know the real truth. Or should I say, lie?

Oh, before I forget, you have bleached and ironed your Sunday best, correct? Always remember to add just enough hellfire for the proper amount of glow. And lose the name “Trish.” Proper Oppostion forces don’t go by “Trish.” I suggest “Restoration.” Has a nice ring to it. That way you can have them restoring all manner of things that were already restored by the finished work of the Opponent’s Right-Hand Man. Again, distract, distract, distract.

I see that you are taking a class in Magicks for the Foolish taught by my compatriot, Scarloin. Oh, he is a right foul piece of filth that Scarloin. Patented the prayer hankie idea just minutes before I could. (Though I must say, my bottle of Jordan River water has been doing better business of late). The more we can get the Opposition’s subjects to worship the created rather than their creator, the more our kingdom will grow. While we both know that rabbit’s feet and horseshoes no longer hold sway over them, they’ll easily trade those superstitions for more spiritualized ones. I suggest you whisper into their ears to put their trust in mantras, secret phrases, gyrations, keywords, and using their handbook as a talisman. Convince them that doing so will release power (because as you know, they all thirst for power). Then sit back and enjoy the show. I do.

Employing any number of these suggestions will be like yelling “Fire” in one of their crowded megachurches. All the running and screaming…nothing quite like it, is there, my boy? Pandemonium is such a beautiful word on the lips. Even more beautiful when enacted. And isn’t that what we’re all about?

Oh, these are such good times for us. Better to not let the rumors of their end quell your enthusiasm for your studies, Tunglash. Just do as I say and you’ll graduate with honors. Then their world is your oyster.

And stick a tack on ol’ Scarloin’s throne for me, will you?

Your doting infernal relation,


When the Devils Know Your Name


Any military commander worth his salad will tell you the key to battle is to neutralize threats. Whether  by outright attack, supply line disruption, or distracting threats so they turn their attention elsewhere, systematically taking out each threatening unit wins the war.

Last time I checked, we Christians were at war. Do we realize how ardently the Devil and his minions hate us? To them, we are the enemy as much as they are ours. Just as we have been given weapons of war to wage battle against the chthonic, so the legions of hell marshal their power against us. And their tactic is the classic one: neutralize threats.

Here’s the worst thing that anyone can say about you or me as Christians: “You’re no threat to the Devil.”

Sadly, I believe that large swaths of the American Church are just that. The Enemy distracts us with consumerism, entertainment, fads (even church-related ones), and an all-consuming loathing for anything that even remotely borders on boring. We know the entire storyline behind Lost, can name every contestant on the last American Idol, can’t wait to plop down a small fortune on the next iteration of Xbox or Playstation, spend more on movie theater tickets or DVDs than we drop in the offering plate, and generally run willy-nilly after umpteen thousand things that neutralize our threat on the grand cosmic battlefield. Warring in prayerWithout even breaking a sulfurous sweat, the dark principalities and powers have rendered millions of American Christians fat, lazy, double-minded, and utterly worthless for battle.

But not everyone.

In writing this, I realize that some of the most encouraging words we can give to a fellow believer may be difficult to receive. They may be true in the utmost and a genuine balm to the soul, but that doesn’t make them any less hard.

This post is an encouragement to those who are still a threat, but it’s a realistic encouragement, words of hope that may sound like words of despair at first, but only to those who lack perseverance.

Some of us still threaten hell. Here’s an easy check to tell if we do: We’re being opposed by the Enemy at every turn.

If our lives are peaches and cream most of the time, if we’re poster children for the American Dream, then we’re not a threat. The demonic doesn’t take us seriously, because if it did we’d be feeling and seeing the attacks.

Two Scriptures:

Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
—Acts 19:13-16

Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.
—2 Corinthians 11:23-28

When you’re a threat to the devils, they know your name. They knew Paul’s. He later regales us in 2nd Corinthians 11 with a staggering list of ways in which those evil forces dealt with his threat to their hellish mission.

Now who here volunteers to share the trials of Paul?

It’s a hard word of encouragement, isn’t it?

I can tell you that the closer you are to the heart of the Lord in the work you’re doing for the Kingdom, the more brutal the battle. Things will go wrong that you never expected because the Enemy wants nothing more than to neutralize your threat.

In the grand cosmic battle, evil attempts to take out the Christians it knows by name by attacking what is dearest to them: their families. The Enemy loves to go after children and spouses. It’s the hellfire way to napalm the biggest threats.

With children, the Enemy hurts physically or emotionally. Debilitating sickness or injury in a child will often be all it takes to remove a Christian parent who is a genuine threat. Death of a child, too. As a child gets older, rebellion works just as well. Nothing breaks a parent more than to watch a child go down in flames.

With spouses, the Enemy’s first line of attack is dissension. Turning a spouse against the person who is a threat wounds deeply, often because the spouse has been the only source of consistent support outside of the Lord. The height of wounding would be discovering a spouse’s affair. Fray that most precious bond and many threats to hell will wilt. The Enemy will also resort to physically or mentally wounding a spouse if the marriage is a strong one that would not ordinarily succumb to dissension.

Lastly, the Enemy will assault the threat directly. I believe this is often the last resort because indirect threats can be more effective. The most common lines of attack come against the threat’s livelihood, reputation, and/or physical and emotional health. The Enemy may also try to kill the most powerful Christians simply to curtail that threat’s continued assaults.

We see these attacks playing out in the life of Job. This righteous man buried his children, witnessed his livelihood stolen, had his wife turn against him (“Curse God and die!”), and suffered gruesome physical torment. The unmarried Paul, lacking any indirect chinks in his armor, instead weathered relentless assaults against his person and reputation.

If you are not in obvious sin and are being attacked on every side, the devils know your name. Many of the attacks I outlined above may be your daily bread. You are well acquainted with grief.

Don’t even consider giving up. Instead, I tell you, rejoice! For the devils know your name! That means more than you can imagine in a world where most people receive little more than a “Who are you?” brush-off from the forces of hell.

You see, the Devil has a list. Akin to the FBI’s, it’s filled with the names of his Most Wanted. And it’s no coincidence that the names on the Devil’s list are also found in the Lamb’s Book of Life.