You Wait 4000 Years for a Demon then Hundreds Show up at Once
Reading the New Testament we see demons cropping up all over the place appearing to cause all sorts of physical and mental disabilities, usually by possession. The church today has demons for everything, responsible for diverse problems such as physical ailments, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, financial poverty, new age and pagan philosophies, even picking your nose.
A member of my last church stood up and told the congregation that the devil caused him to crash his car!!! Many will tell you that if you don't tithe, the devil will steal your possessions and finances. Well perhaps I should get should get an exorcist to sort my house out because last month I spent £1000 getting my car fixed, the fridge died, the tumble dryer stopped working, and the microwave started a load of psychedelic arcing.
Leaders of the Word of Faith movement often accuse those that point out the flaws in their doctrines or those that question the 'signs and wonders' movements that swept Toronto, Pensacola, and Brownsville as being possessed by religious spirits.
You may call me an unbelieving cynic but before you do, let me take you on a journey through the bible gateway and I'll show you something that is rather odd.
Let's do this exercise together:
Open up the link http://www.biblegateway.com/
Select a random bible translation. For today, my preferred weapon of choice is the NIV. Note: We are going to look at the Old Testament ONLY.
Enter 'demon' in the search box and see what comes up. I get only two references: Deut 32:17 and Psalm 106:37. In both these cases, the demon is a reference to a false pagan god of the surrounding nations. But we know they are not gods and idols are nothing. Nobody in their right mind today would believe that Zeus, Apollo, Thor or Woden were real gods or real beings would they? Just man made fantasies to explain creation in the absence of a knowledge of God.
Enter 'devil' in the search box. I get nothing. Devil does not appear anywhere in the OT. My electronic Tanach or Jewish Bible comes up with nothing either.
Let's try 'evil spirit'. Now I get six references in 1 Samuel and one reference in Judges. All the Samuel references are concerned with Saul and they explicitly state that this evil spirit came from the Lord. So if from the Lord, that can't be sent from Satan can they? Furthermore, if one looks at Saul's symptoms, they look very much like a bi-polar disorder. Now if we understand that this spirit is not a self aware independent entity, but instead a mental condition that God gave in judgement, then we have no demon here. Likewise the 'evil spirit' in judges was also sent from the Lord and looks very much like God simply stirred up a bad relationship between Abimelech and the men of Shechem.
How about 'unclean spirit'. The NIV gives me nothing, no hits at all. My Tanach gives me one reference in Zechariah 13 where God says He will purge the land of evil, false prophets and false idols. The unclean spirit is not in the plural, but in the singular, implying that the general spirit of evil will and sin will be purged. We quite comfortably accept the term 'spirit of Christmas' to mean a general atmosphere or collective consciousness, so I see no reason why this Zechariah reference should not be interpreted in the same way.
Search 'lying spirit'. I get four references; two in 2 Kings 22 and two in 2 Chronicles 18. All of them refer to the lying spirit from false prophets and refer to the same event. This lying spirit also comes from the Lord. Indeed two uses are where God Himself says He will be the lying spirit!!! No demons here then either.
'Bad spirit' comes up with nothing and so does 'opposing spirit'. Perhaps you could think of more spirit variables and let me know what you find, but I'm bored now.
I think we can safely say that demons and self aware, self conscious evil spirit beings simply do not exist in the Old Testament. Surely this should start some alarm bells in your head?
To Deliver or Not to Deliver?
Now I've heard Christians tell me that the New Testament supersedes the Old and so very few of them ever look at it unless they are trying to turn Genesis into a scientific paper that is. But I don't agree. The NT was written by Jews; Jesus said the OT all talked about Him. So to me the OT is the authority on all matters and the NT must be interpreted in the light of the OT and Jewish culture if we are to understand it.
Of course Jesus on numerous occasions delivered those who were 'demon possessed'. Or did He? Was he instead delivering them from mental illnesses? The important requirement for healing is that the healee believes. Jesus couldn't do much in Nazareth because of their unbelief.
Consider the case when the Pharisees got a bit uppity when Jesus told the crippled man that his sins were forgiven. Was it easier to say “son your sins are forgiven” or “pick up your mat and walk”? Why the question? The man like many others believed that sickness was a result of sin. We know and Jesus knows this is not the case. Sickness is caused by bacteria, viruses, and inherited genetic markers. So if this man believed he needed his sins to be forgiven to get well, Jesus went along with it. In the same way if people believed that they needed to be delivered from demons to get healed, Jesus went along with it.
I once posed a question in the forums asking those who believed that sickness was caused by Satan or demons, exactly how did they manage to do this and what are the biological processes which occur? Can a demon meddle with the DNA of viruses, inject bacteria into our systems, change our bio chemistry to create toxins? Can a demon match up an individual human egg with an individual human sperm at the point of conception to cause a person to be created inheriting certain parental genetic markers that result in a congenital illness? Nobody was able to provide any kind of answer. Not even a “Well they just can even though we can’t understand how.” Which suggests to me that they just can’t.
Pagan Beliefs R Us
Put yourself in the place of Israel 2000 years ago. God hasn't spoken for 400 years, you don't have access to scripture as a common man, and all the pagan nations including Romans and Greeks keep telling you about demons and evil spirits. Four hundred years is plenty of time for evil spirits to be absorbed into the national consciousness.
It's the same today with the church. It loves its pagan Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies. We deck our halls with boughs of holly and dig up a tree at Christmas time and decorate it with commercial tat. We've even abandoned the timing of Christ's birthday to coincide with the rising of the sun god Ra. The word 'Church' is derived from the Celtic 'Kirk or 'Circ' meaning circle as in pagan circle. Even the altar is pagan. As for demons dragging the 'unsaved' to hell for torture by fire and hot pokers up their bottoms – pagan idealogy.
Something went badly wrong with the early church in Rome when ravenous wolves came in. What we got was:
Christianity = Christ + pagan belief systems and symbology
Instead of what we should have which is:
Christianity = Judaism – the Law + Jesus fulfilling the Law on our behalf.
So in summary if the early church hadn't adopted pagan idealogy we would be taking the OT much more seriously than we do, and we would celebrate Jewish festivals ordained by God rather than pagan festivals ordained by the fantasies of men.
The Old Testament just doesn't believe in demons which should have a significant impact on our doctrines, but this fact is something that the church largely ignores.