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A Study Of Demon Possession, Exorcism, And Spiritual Warfare From A Lutheran Perspective

Would it surprise you to learn that our church fathers wrote quite extensively about such things as demonic possession, evil spirits, exorcism, pagan idolatry, and spiritual warfare?

Back in 2015, I once wrote...


Let's face it, most Christians (and particularly Lutherans from what I've personally experienced in the short time that I've been one) tend to immediately downplay any possibility of demonic, evil entities let alone the kind of spiritual warfare you always see in horror movies. I always found that to be rather odd though, considering we Christians believe, teach, and confess that the Word of God is true in every respect, and that it clearly talks of a being called Satan who also has legions of demons at his disposal who serve him in an effort to seek, kill, and destroy others (1 Peter 5:8) if not just merely wreak havoc in their daily lives in an attempt to turn them away from Christ. On the other hand, I guess it makes some sense for that to be the general consensus though since the only people who ever really talk about things like "demonic possession" and such within Christ's Church seem to be the "Spiritual-Gifts-Signs-And-Wonders" kinds of Christians who we usually tend to distance ourselves from for obvious reasons anyway. The point I'm trying to make here is that I think we would be wise to at least acknowledge the reality of demons and evil spirits as agents of the devil in this present life more so than we have in these post-modern times.


Clearly, we've looked at the reality of demonic, evil forces and spiritual warfare from a Lutheran perspective
, but today I'd like to dig a little deeper.

That's because I'm preparing to read Rev. Dr. Robert H. Bennett's follow-up to his critically acclaimed book "I Am Not Afraid: Demon Possession And Spiritual Warfare" titled "Afraid: Demon Possession and Spiritual Warfare In America" that has been described as "a fascinating and unnerving book, Afraid is a must-read that equips Christians to recognize the devil's influence in our society."

Other endorsements stand out too...


 
"Drawing especially on Luther, Lutheran hymns, and Lutheran pastoral experiences, Bennett addresses the reality of dark spiritual forces. Most importantly, however, he reminds us that we should ‘tremble not’ for the devil. Christ is victor: we need not be afraid." 
-- Craig S. Keener, F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary 

"Dr. Bennett has written an intriguing and much needed work. He addresses quite practically the spiritual warfare in which American Christians in particular find themselves enmeshed. Our enemy is cunning and would happily divert us at any cost from what finally defeats him. Constantly, Dr. Bennett calls us back to the divinely powered Means of Grace, the Word and Sacraments of Jesus, and the unspeakable comfort of the sinner's free justification. Here is a distinctively Lutheran approach to the spiritual battle and it is much needed." 
-- William Weedon, LCMS Director of Worship and Chaplain of the International Center

"Robert Bennett describes real events and actual confessions people have shared with him of demonic encounters -- in America, in our modern age. Summoning demons, interacting with 'ghosts,' and holding séances led to what many may call horrifying hallucinations and even schizophrenia. But for many Americans, these things are their spirituality. How can we break free from the despair and crushing fear that such encounters can bring? How do we come to the aid of our neighbors who are lost in Satan's deceptions? Bennett points us to the only way out: God's grace and the medicines He gives to His people. Afraid is wonderfully written, faithfully confessed, and frightfully good. Dr. Bennett carries the reader through the spiritual chaos wreaking fear upon our culture, our neighbors, friends, and family. As you make your way through each chapter, Dr. Bennett skillfully weaves Scripture in and out of real-life stories, teaching doctrine and holding forth Jesus Christ as the only true exorcist. Through His ordinary Means of Grace, Jesus stills every rustling leaf in the wilderness, things that go bump in the night cease, and unclean spirits are cast out. The baptized have nothing to fear." 
-- Rev. Dr. Tony Sikora, Senior Pastor, Hope Lutheran Church 

"Afraid reads like a fast-paced novel. You will learn more about the devil and God’s grace in this book than from watching a lifetime of TV preachers. After you read Afraid, you will never pray the same way again, 'Let your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me!' Afraid serves as a wakeup call to all Christians about the spiritual realities that surround us and our children. Bennett explains the importance of centering spiritual care on Scripture, the Catechism, and the hymnal so that you never need to be afraid. Afraid will open your eyes to the spiritual universe all around you. It will also give you comfort as you cling to Christ and His Word and His church." 
-- Rev. Ross Johnson, Director of Disaster Response, LCMS Office of National Mission

"Afraid? Jesus is Lord. Finally, a much needed approach that points the church to dwell not on the devil and his lies, but rather on Jesus as Lord, who has conquered sin through His Gospel. Bennett calls upon the church to be thorough in her catechesis and so awaken to our Lord Jesus who is present through His divine service to comfort His people and free them from all their fears. As the stronger man, Jesus gives His gifts, namely Absolution, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, whereby the strong man must flee. This book is no theology of glory, but rather one of the cross in which the Christian church is exhorted to renounce syncretistic practices that give ground to Satan and remain faithful to her exclusive claim of Jesus as Lord. Study questions, stories, and cultural beliefs defined make this book a balanced biblical approach to the occult, useful to missionaries, seminarians, pastors, and laypeople alike." 
-- Ted Krey, Regional Director of Latin America and the Caribbean, LCMS Office of International Mission

"While church attendance is on the decline in North America, fascination with spirituality is not. Armed with the Holy Scriptures and Lutheran theology, Robert Bennett has provided a book that will help readers understand the reality of the demonic that pervades the re-emergence of paganism in our culture. In a conversational style and with judicious use of case studies, Bennett has provided both pastors and laypeople with a useful resource for better understanding that the battle in which we engage is not against flesh and blood but spiritual forces of darkness. Pastors who are increasingly confronted with circumstances marked by demonic activity will find Bennett’s advice for spiritual care both sober and sound." 
-- John T. Pless, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions and Director of Field Education, Concordia Theological Seminary


Obviously, the man has credentials and a life's worth of experience, but more importantly, he has the respect of layman and his fellow peers for his faithfulness to the Word of God and to the Confessions.

I'll admit, there's a part of me that's a little hesitant to begin reading this book given the subject matter, but I also know I need to read it right away given the subject matter.

I don't believe I've ever shared this here before, but I've personally come face-to-face with what I would call "pure evil" in my life on a couple of occasions, and they were both horrific experiences where the the only logical explanation is to attribute them both to demonic entities and the direct influence of Satan.

Does that make me a "Christian kook" to some? Yes, probably. That doesn't mean it isn't true though.

So, as I prepare to start reading this book myself, here's an appropriate 60-minute sermon by Dr. John Kleinig on this topic of spiritual warfare that I think you'll enjoy...


AUDIO: Sermon by Dr. John Kleinig on Spiritial Warfare (Ephesians 6:10-20)


This is most certainly true.

At this point, it's worth reminding ourselves what Martin Luther said about the subject of spiritual warfare too.


"...sin, death and the Devil were not a theological problem to be solved -- they were enemies to be fought against. The problem of evil is not primarily a problem within the sphere of the intellect, and it would be foolish to try to solve it there. The true fight is not carried out with syllogisms, but with prayer and preaching."


It's a fascinating subject for sure and one that I think is often downplayed or outright ignored by most Christians today.

Do yourself a favor and spend some time looking into Dr. Bennett's research on all of this that he's done for us from a distinctly Confessional Lutheran perspective.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, the devil, demon possession, exorcism, and spiritual warfare are real, and it's about time we are healed of our collective "spiritual amnesia" when it comes to such things.



NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just your average everyday Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to "Confessional Lutheranism" and one who recently escaped an American-Evangelical-Non-Denominational mindset a little more than 4 years ago now despite being a Christian my whole life. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way back into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with the Bible, our Confessions, and Lutheran doctrine in general (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can not only correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1), but repent of my sin and learn the whole truth myself. With that in mind, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavily influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I will defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!

About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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