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‘Harry Potter’ and The Issues Beyond Fiction, Part 4

Another lesson learned from “Harry Potter” discernment: might some Christians only be on alert against bad Things like imaginary “magic,” while practicing their own favorite subtle methods of mysticism supposedly to keep life under control or avoid sin?
| Jul 28, 2011 | No comments | Series:

Signs point to yes: the Magic 8-Ball was based on a "'spirit-writing' device." Could you be contaminated?

Quick quiz for a slow summer Thursday: what do the following things have in common?

  • The Harry Potter series of books and films.
  • Pictures of the devil or creepy creatures.
  • Finery in religious worship services.
  • “Rock and roll” or pop music.
  • The “Magic 8-Ball” toy.
  • Yoga.

They’re all things that have — or that some Christians have argued have — pagan origins and therefore should not be messed with, or at best are suspected to have some kind of latent evil “stuff.” Many such Christians have good intentions behind these beliefs, and rightly claim that other professing Christians aren’t on their guard against stuff that can cause temptation or acceptance of untruth. And as before in this series, I don’t want to question their hearts.

Yet I will question whether these kinds of Christians have considered the implications of this practice. Is this a Biblical view? Again we see that thinking through the Harry Potter issue, beyond just the fiction questions, can help us learn to discern in other ways …

9. Because those who try to avoid bad Things like “magic” in stories may themselves fall into practicing magic and mysticism.

I don’t have a copy of the minutes from Hell’s conference dungeons. But if I were the Devil, or at least an undersecretary in the Lowerarchy, this would be among my top plans for world domination. It seems to be one of the most ingenious conspiracies, so he must be behind it:

  1. Exaggerate my powers. God still owns the world, even under the curse of sin, so let’s help humans forget that little truth so they think God is weaker and I’m stronger.
  2. Let humans assume their own hearts are okay, or at best “neutral” even after Jesus saves them. Instead let them fear mainly books, movies, songs, or other Things.
  3. Keep some of the worst actual Satanic occult stuff deeper in the dark.
  4. And, maybe even better, let other mystical stuff be hidden in plain sight! Infiltrate the Church’s pews, bookstores, and blogs with un-Biblical notions that can only be tantamount to the actual practice of wrong witchcraft.

Such notions can include more-obvious things like televangelist healing crusades, or those silly paper “prayer rugs” that come in the mail. But better still are other seemingly harmless notions that people use to try to avoid all evil influences or to try to control their own lives.

A letter in the mailing actually says, "Psychics, mediums and clairvoyants have no place in God's plan for your life." Whew, I'm glad they know those things are wrong.

What better broad definition of actual witchcraft is there than a desire to control one’s own life or avoid bad Things? All “real” “magic” is made up for that goal. It’s the appeal of real-life Wicca, I’m sure, but frankly also any other religion centered on man.

Sinful humans are surely able to abuse even discernment in mystical ways to try to control. For example, with Harry Potter, the Magic 8-Ball, or yoga, some Christians may worry that any of these Things might somehow contain evil. Optimally he would best check to see if Scripture truly supports the idea that Things can contain some kind of spiritual residue, like germs, or else know his own gifts, history, and limitations and use that to choose what to avoid. But instead, a Christian may base his belief about the Thing’s nature on the testimony of a pagan or the Thing’s supposed history, or even worse, act as if he can avoid the evil, taboo Thing and thereby prevent evil’s influence and protect himself.

"We don't arrest people for being creepy." (... *Click* "Bruce, you know that guy we got in the tank?" "Ah, the creepy one?" "Yeah, better let him go.")

Either way, kazam, the demonic (or fleshly!) deception is complete. Even while trying to avoid supposed magic and evil influences, the Christian has just practiced a form of “magic” himself. Moreover, this kind of thinking is notorious among sincere Christians:

  • Based mostly on Middle-Ages representations of demons as beings who resemble bats or made-up creatures, some Christians believe it’s always wrong to be exposed to such images. Thus an emotional response, that’s creepy, becomes a basis for “discernment,” instead of God’s revealed Word.

Chick tracts: used by God, I'm sure, despite superstitions about Things and myths about "Harry Potter"'s contents.

(Oddly enough, these Christians may believe it’s often okay to show bad stuff. Example: one popular tract artist. But he also spreads myths about the Harry Potter books and other superstitions, based partly on that’s-creepy reasons.)

  • Some Christians act as though trappings of traditional or contemporary worship (yes, I’ve heard this applied to choir robes and electric guitars) have “pagan roots” and will corrupt people. Thus a Thing is shunned because of its supposed origin.
  • In fall 2010, seminary president Al Mohler said something that cloistered secularists found suddenly outrageous: that Christians aren’t too thrilled about bringing yoga into the Church. Yet in many of his defenders’ haste, they failed to clarify for the Church and the world that Christians aren’t afraid of Things like breathing patterns or stretches, but of how they can be abused in ways that displease God. Thus Things are assumed to be evil, rather than objects to be abused.

All these amount to methods of control-my-life-style witchcraft! And whatever you think about Harry Potter or any of these things specifically, a Thing’s supposed pagan origins or “obvious” evil could be far less dangerous than the “angel of light” tricks the Devil (and our flesh!) uses. Christians who only warn against “obvious” mysticism may themselves act like superstitious shamans who shun supposed evil objects. Meanwhile, anti-God mysticism may go through the back way, directly into our hearts, even while we have illusions of safety.

And I haven’t even gone into other frequent ways Christians may, with good intentions, practice “divination” to seek secret things only God can know. (For more, read this guy.)

Rather, it’s enough to recall that sin is sneakier than we think and can infiltrate our lives from within; and that the Devil is not powerful enough to control us through Things, but is likely not so stupid only to make his assaults using obvious means that we could easily avoid.

Next Thursday: how did some Biblical saints handle actual bad stuff? And what about the “someone else used it to sin” objection, or “weaker brothers,” or personal preferences?

E. Stephen Burnett is coauthor (with Ted Turnau and Jared Moore) of The Pop Culture Parent: Helping Kids Engage Their World for Christ, which will release in spring 2020 from New Growth Press. He also explores biblical truth and fantastic stories as editor in chief of Lorehaven Magazine and writer at Speculative Faith. He has also written for Christianity Today and Christ and Pop Culture. He and his wife, Lacy, live in the Austin area and serve as members of Southern Hills Baptist Church.

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Kaci Hill
Member

Dear Stephen,
 
I’m quite disappointed in you. You have posted a Jack Chick tract and have therefore caused me to stumble. I’m going to have to burn my laptop now, as I’m pretty sure it’s now demonically influenced. Moreover, you have not only mentioned Harry Potter and Jack Chick, because you posted a link to something that mentions  Harry Potter, witchcraft, the occult, and the Spirit all at once, I may have confused the works of the Spirit and the works of the Devil. This is not good, and I’m quite sad my brother in Christ would treat me this way. To even entertain thoughts of such ideas is the same as engaging in the ‘craft.  

All of that to say, unfortunately I cannot in good conscience share your link with anyone, because I might spread the demonic influence. Please, Stephen, Christianity has no gray area, and in this time of relativism and postmodernism we cannot be too careful.

I highly suggest you remove this post and have both your site and your computer purged of all evil. I suggest a laying of hands and anointing oil. Please consider these things the next time you post. I shall pray for your restoration today.
 

In Christ.

Galadriel
Guest

Now, just so everyone recognizes it–
SHE’S BEING SARCASTIC, PEOPLE.
Where’s the winking smilie when you need it?

Kaci Hill
Member

I suppose I’ve been around too long for very many people to bite. 0=)
 
In all fairness, I really don’t have a problem with people getting the impression they shouldn’t read or watch something. That may well be the Spirit’s leading, and no one should try to convince them otherwise. Like I said below regarding yoga: It really falls under the category of the Spirit’s individual leading and whether or not our conscience is affected by it. If you can’t watch Harry Potter (or read Jack Chick tracts) in good conscience, then don’t. 
And if I’m honest, it took me awhile to feel comfortable writing the bit about laying of hands or the demonic/divine influences, because I really don’t have a problem with it. And I’ve had a teacher offer to exorcise my laptop. So there you go–Some of those arguments, under the right circumstances, I’d actually make myself. Have made. 
How did Paul put it? “And if anyone thinks differently, the Spirit will instruct him” (my paraphrase).   If we’re into something we shouldn’t be out of ignorance, I have to trust he’ll eventually convict us of it.

Sally Apokedak
Guest

That Chick tract is just sad.

I am a little confused about the yoga business. Isn’t yoga a spiritual exercise that is at odds with Christianity? Why would we need to explain why Christians don’t do yoga? Do people really think that Christians should practice yoga?

Kaci Hill
Member

I know several dancers who use yoga as exercise, and one friend (who I can’t ask to comment right now because she’s on her honeymoon) in particular has had the discussion more than once.  My understanding is that there are basically two kinds: the actual yogas performed by Hindus and others (which, if you want, I’ll go find my book on the subject) and the simple exercise techniques used for strength.

I guess in my head it’s a bit like anything else: incense can be used to worship God or gods; a book of prayer can be used as a teaching tool, prayer, meditation, or spellbook of incantations; instruments, the human voice, and dancing can be a method of worship or simple entertainment; standing at attention or bowing the knee can be respect or worship. Meditation centers the mind either on the things of God or of the world.
 
That’s all I’ve got offhand.
 
Oh, here go. I skimmed this, but it appears similar to what I was thinking of from the Hinduism book.  From the site:
 

In Hinduism, there are four main ways to reach towards the divine reality, whether the ultimate goal is a better life, union with the divine, or a release from life. The ways are called yoga, a word similar to the English term “yoke.” And, just as yoke implies a burden or a discipline of actions, so too does yoga. Each yoga puts on its followers a set of actions that help lead the practitioner towards their goal. The yogas are: Jnana yoga, Bhakti yoga, Karma yoga, and Raja yoga. The first three are discussed in the Bhagavad Gita, while the fourth derives initially from the Yoga Sutra. These are all spiritual approaches to understanding the divine world; what we in the west generally term yoga–forms of physical exercise and control of the body–is properly known as Hatha yoga. It has no spiritual impact.

Granted, we could probably argue back and forth on the physical discipline, as discipline is a spiritual thing to be attained.  But if it’s really a practice not even a practicing Hindu would consider one of the “spiritual paths,” I’m not sure why a Christian should either.  Again, I haven’t put too much into it, and my study of Hinduism was primarily concerned with understanding a world where Hinduism is the primary point of perception. If I ever considered doing yoga, I’d give it a sterner look.
 

R. J. Anderson
Member

Good series, Stephen. I particularly like your point about Christians trying to practice a kind of “holy divination”. Isn’t this similar to the appeal of gnosticism to the Colossian church? The desire to have a mystical knowledge or insight that other Christians didn’t possess?

On a tangential note, I’ve spent my life attending conservative evangelical churches, and Jack Chick tracts creep me out. They always have. I got more terrified (read: screaming nightmares for weeks), and had a stronger sense of evil and oppression, from reading his “Exorcists” comic at a friend’s house when I was ten years old than from any other experience in my life. Even though that was thirty years ago, I still feel like throwing up every time I see his artwork. It brings all those horrible images that frightened me so much as a child flooding back again.

Does that mean I believe Jack Chick is demonic or that there are evil spirits inhabiting his tracts? No, he’s just an ordinary man, and I’m sure he means well, and no doubt there are a number of subjects on which we would agree. On the other hand, the things he gets wrong and the way he mishandles sensitive subjects are so egregious I think they actually do serious harm to the cause of Christ, and I would never feel comfortable about handing out one of his tracts, regardless of the subject matter.

Sally: It’s possible to practice yoga simply as a physical exercise — a set of stretches to help your balance and flexibility. It can, I’m told, be very beneficial for the body. The difficulty is finding a yoga class which doesn’t include the mystical elements, but they do exist. However, some Christians might fear that participating in even a purely physical yoga class might become a stumbling block for others who don’t understand the difference, so they abstain. Others might take part in a physical yoga class at their local gym because their doctor recommends it, but do so discreetly without making it into a divisive issue. It seems to me that this is another “meat offered to idols” matter, where each Christian must be settled in his or her own conscience.

Nissa Annakindt
Guest

‘Christians don’t/can’t….’
practice yoga, read Harry Potter or other fantasy not written by C. S. Lewis, have same-sex attraction/gay identity, be divorced, be Catholic, drink a beer……
Sally, there are such a lot of Christian denominations (and ‘non-denominations’) who believe in Christ and follow the teachings of the Bible, yet who have very different views on stuff like yoga.
It’s just my opinion, but I think we need to be really careful about talking about what all Christians do/don’t do.
When I was in college I practiced yoga exercises and even did some meditations (which were free from anything I recognized as spiritual, but seemed more like a discipline of the mind.)  I was devoutly conservative Christian and was even considering a career with Wycliffe Bible Translators (I was a Lutheran at the time.)
I’m a big fantasy fan and read authors from J. K Rowling to Mercedes Lackey to Diana Paxson (who was leader of a neopagan religious group.)  I don’t think reading about make-believe magic is as harmful as reading non-fiction works promoting the real-life culture of death. But that’s just my opinion.


Sally Apokedak
Guest

When I said that Christians don’t have to explain why they don’t practice yoga, Nissa, I didn’t mean that no Christian has ever mistakenly practiced yoga. I meant that the practice of yoga and the practice of Christianity are at odds with one another. The fact that you practiced yoga in college doesn’t change my mind about that. 

Sally Apokedak
Guest

Kaci,
I know that Wikipedia is not a trusted source, but at least we can say that some people disagree with the idea that some forms of yoga are not spiritual exercises. Whoever wrote the Wikipedia entry seems to think there is quite a bit of spirituality involved in Hatha yoga. 

The writer at this site—ABC of Yoga—also thinks there is spirituality involved. “Hatha Yoga’s Relaxation Exercises will open the energy channels, which in turn allows spiritual energy to flow freely.”
 
Stephen,

Why would any Christian who is only stretching and breathing choose to fool us all by calling what he’s doing yoga instead of calling it stretching and breathing? What can possibly be gained by naming our stretching exercises the exact same thing as the Hindus call their spiritual exercises that usher them into altered states of consciousness? 

Go to this page and just scroll down and read the paragraphs of summaries. 

Is stretching and then claiming to be doing yoga different from eating chicken, and calling it a sacrifice to Satan? Eating chicken is lawful, but once I name my chicken a sacrifice to Satan, I have entered into sin. Hasn’t a Christian calling his exercises yoga aligned himself with demons? Hindus aren’t worshiping nothing. They are worshiping demons. Christians are not to be yoked with demons. (yoga means yoked, btw, and it’s an apt description of people who go into altered states of consciousness. They are yoked with demons. This is why centering prayer is so wrong–it’s yoga under a different name.)

Rebecca,

Christians were not to eat meat sacrificed to idols. (Acts 15:29 and 1 Corinthians 10:18-23). Eating meat that had been sacrificed and was then sold in the marketplace was fine. But going to the sacrifice and eating was not fine.

Stretching and breathing is fine just like eating meat you buy in the marketplace is fine. But I think yoga is like eating at the table of demons.

The point of yoga is not stretching and breathing. It’s all about entering into a state of tranquility apart from Christ. This is sin. Even the yoga classes that are just exercise are about de-stressing. And to try to de-stress through Hindu techniques is sinful. God tells us how to deal with our anxiety and how to find the peace of God which transcends understanding. (Phil. 4:6&7)

Leanna
Guest

Did no one else find the linked divination discussion article a little off?

Arien
Guest
Arien

I found it to be off as well. I’d have to read through it again to give reasons, but while I don’t have Bible verses to counter many of his points, he doesn’t have them to make them, so we’re even there. 🙂 Also, whenever people start telling me God can’t work in a particular way without backing it up with reasons like ‘it’s against His nature’, I tend to disagree. And I’m pretty sure that using people’s feelings to communicate with them is not against God’s nature.

A. T. Ross
Member

I really appreciate the anti-gnostic, anti-mysticism approach to dealing with the Potter books in these posts. Very insightful.

Incidentally, Christians also denounced the invention of the radio and the television as being satanic, on the basis that the Devil was the “prince of the air,” and thus we cannot employ the airwaves without falling under his dominion.

And as an example of the “it’s creepy” approach to fiction with magic in them, I give you a quote from anti-Potter catholic writer Michael D. O’Brien:

“Interestingly, from the moment I began to read volume one, I too was hit by an unexpected spiritual disgust, along with the sense of an oppressive presence that I had come to recognize over the years as the proximity of adverse spirits . . . . from the day I opened the first page and began to read, a cloud of darkness and dread descended, which was held at bay only by increased prayer . . . .” (Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture, p. 12). 

Arien
Guest
Arien

I would be careful about dismissing that quote as merely an ‘it’s creepy’ thing. Without knowing more about the man, how can you say whether he’s hypersensitive and ‘feeling’ demons in every corner or if he’s genuinely feeling a caution from the Holy Spirit? For all you know, the man has dealt with many demons before and actually does know what it feels like. Now, given the way it’s worded, I’m inclined to think he is hypersensitive, and even if he wasn’t, it wouldn’t automatically mean the Harry Potter books are bad, merely that particular copy may be. How and why the copy would be ‘bad’, I don’t know, but we don’t really know how demons work anyway, do we?

Now, about your second comment here, speaking in tongues does not trace back to the Oracle of Delphi, although there are superficial similarities.  It traces back to the early church (Paul’s letters, 1Co 14:5 is a good one) and Pentecost (Acts 2). Also, whether opening your Bible and reading random verses comes from a pagan source or not (are you sure it does? I’m not sure how you’d know), does that mean that God can’t or doesn’t speak to people that way? Of course not! Who are any of us to say that he doesn’t? Now, it certainly is something that requires discernment, as God may not speak to you that way at any particular time, but that doesn’t make it invalid. I’m sure some people take that too far, but, of course, you can go too far the other direction, too. Now, treating these things as rites or rituals that will earn you God’s favor or whatever is obviously wrong, but how do you know which people are doing that unless you happen to know them?

A. T. Ross
Member

Too many people see demons crawling under every rock and tree, and all too readily (in my humble opinion, as someone who really does believe in physical demons and angels) assign mood shifts and emotional states as sensing dark presences. So that’s one suggestion not to take O’Brien’s comment seriously. I happened to get an elated emotion when reading the Potter books – can I then argue that God sent angels to surround me to lift up my spirit as a sign that the Potter books were God’s gift to mankind? Now, if every Christian on earth who ever set eyes on the books got a dark feeling, maybe the suggestion could be lent more credence. But the world isn’t divided into Christians who get a bad feeling (and who therefore are right) and Christians who are irresponsible, compromised, liberal, unseeing, blinded fools caught up in the deep spiritual trap of Potter. :p

Far be it for me to open a large can of worms that is off topic, but speaking in tongues actually does originate with the Oracle of Delphi. I refer not so much to the expression as to the behavior of bursting forth with strange words in no human language. That is an ancient pagan practice which held no precursor in Old Testament Israel and there is zero evidence was practiced by the church at all. 

It is now known that this ecstatic bursting forth with stranger syllables is a natural phenomenon triggered by an overwhelming experience of pent up emotion and has little connection to the spiritual realm. Also, Christian philologists have examined Glossolalia and confirmed that it is not a language at all. There is no example of this sort of behavior anywhere by the Apostles or their parishioners. What we do see is people speaking calmly and rationally in other human languages – in fact, in many cases the speaker is unaware they are speaking another language at all, God simply works it so that the hearer discerns what the speaker is saying in their own language. Now this understanding of speaking in tongues I happily affirm.

As to the origins of the random-verse-of-the-day, the Church fathers spoke against this practice (even though God certainly can use it and did so to convert Augustine). The Christians brought it into the church when Gentile converts, accustomed to doing it to their own holy books, began teaching the Churches how to do with with the Bible. And it really is a form of divination, because it is an attempt to get at God’s will outside of the proscribed means of reading the whole book in context. The whole thing in context is God’s revealed will; His special will for your or my life is one of the secret things we cannot access (Deut. 29:29). We are simply to understand God’s story and His principles and then apply them to our lives in faith that God will bless it (James 5, for instance, or this wonderful little book). 

Esther
Guest

I would be careful about dismissing that quote as merely an ‘it’s creepy’ thing. Without knowing more about the man, how can you say whether he’s hypersensitive and ‘feeling’ demons in every corner or if he’s genuinely feeling a caution from the Holy Spirit? 

Please show scripture where a “caution from the Holy Spirit” is exemplified. It is my understanding that if a “caution” is felt, it will be backed up by written scripture. Please show scripture that backs up a caution that might be felt when approaching a fiction book of any kind.

For all you know, the man has dealt with many demons before and actually does know what it feels like. Now, given the way it’s worded, I’m inclined to think he is hypersensitive, and even if he wasn’t, it wouldn’t automatically mean the Harry Potter books are bad, merely that particular copy may be. How and why the copy would be ‘bad’, I don’t know, but we don’t really know how demons work anyway, do we?

Yes, actually, we can discover “how demons work” by reading scripture. Anything else we decide to believe about demons is something we’ve made up or picked up from another, less reliable source. Scripture gives us all we need to know about demons. Things I know from scripture are: 1) demons exist, 2) Jesus can handle it 3) nowhere does scripture suggest that a) demons can be attached to things or that b) a person can “feel” them and scripture is clear that 4) I shouldn’t be “praying” (i.e. talking, commanding or worrying about) to demons. If you can show scripture that refutes any of this, I’d be interested in seeing if it is a hermeneutically correct use of that scripture.

Also, whether opening your Bible and reading random verses comes from a pagan source or not (are you sure it does? I’m not sure how you’d know), does that mean that God can’t or doesn’t speak to people that way? Of course not! Who are any of us to say that he doesn’t? Now, it certainly is something that requires discernment, as God may not speak to you that way at any particular time, but that doesn’t make it invalid. I’m sure some people take that too far, but, of course, you can go too far the other direction, too. Now, treating these things as rites or rituals that will earn you God’s favor or whatever is obviously wrong, but how do you know which people are doing that unless you happen to know them?

It doesn’t even matter whether “opening your Bible and reading random verses” comes from a pagan source. What matters is that it is not a way that a written communication of any kind should be used, nor is it the way God intended for us to use His written communication (if you think differently, please site scripture to back up your thought). If your boyfriend/lover/husband/partner were to write you a letter, would you open it, close your eyes, and point to a random sentence in it to try to ascertain his meaning? Or would you read the whole thing, start to finish, and gather his meaning from that?
Neither should we use God’s Word to us in such disrespectful way. He wrote it, from beginning to end, with a meaning in mind for it. We are sinning when we use it to “divine” guidance and direction that He did not intend for it.
Can He use our fumbling, sinful attempts to “divine” things? Of course. He can and does use anything. Does that mean we should make a practice of violating both the principle of written communication AND the principle of avoiding mysticism AND reverence for God’s clear communication to us by using scripture to “divine” guidance and direction outside of it’s clear message? No. Unequivocally no. Where grace abounds, should we sin more? No–Romans 5:20-6:1.
I look forward to your scriptural citations.

Arien
Guest
Arien

Please show scripture where a “caution from the Holy Spirit” is exemplified. It is my understanding that if a “caution” is felt, it will be backed up by written scripture. Please show scripture that backs up a caution that might be felt when approaching a fiction book of any kind.

The place I would expect to see things like ‘cautions from the Holy Spirit’ is Acts, and the way Acts is written prevents that from happening. It doesn’t tell you what people felt, or thought, or anything else like that. How did Peter know Ananias and Sapphira were lying? We don’t know. Maybe God told him with words, maybe he didn’t. It also isn’t mentioned in any of the letters, but it would only be mentioned there if the people it was written to were dealing with it wrongly or something like that. And you can’t possibly have Scripture to back up everything; the Bible would have to be endlessly huge to specifically cover everything we encounter in life. So no, I don’t have Scripture to back up feeling a caution when approaching a fiction book, but neither is there any (that I know of) that says it can’t/won’t happen. And just because the Bible doesn’t say something doesn’t make it false.

Yes, actually, we can discover “how demons work” by reading scripture. Anything else we decide to believe about demons is something we’ve made up or picked up from another, less reliable source. Scripture gives us all we need to know about demons. Things I know from scripture are: 1) demons exist, 2) Jesus can handle it 3) nowhere does scripture suggest that a) demons can be attached to things or that b) a person can “feel” them and scripture is clear that 4) I shouldn’t be “praying” (i.e. talking, commanding or worrying about) to demons. If you can show scripture that refutes any of this, I’d be interested in seeing if it is a hermeneutically correct use of that scripture.

Okay, apparently I wasn’t clear enough. I didn’t mean that we don’t know anything about how demons work, but that there is a lot  that we don’t know. And while I mostly agree that the Bible gives us all we need to know about demons, that doesn’t mean that there is nothing else we can learn about demons. Certainly anything from outside Scripture has less authority and certainty, but that doesn’t make it false. Of your points: 1 and 2, I agree. 3a, while nothing says they can be (although one could argue that in the case of idols, such things did happen), nothing says they can’t. Also, I have heard of cases where a demon or some other sort of evil spiritual presence certainly seemed to be attached to an object and/or location, but since that’s feelings and experiences, which you don’t seem to consider valid, I won’t bother giving specifics unless you ask for them. 3b, I disagree. In Acts 16:16-18 Paul somehow knows that this girl has a demon, although nothing she says or does seems to indicate this. He may not have sensed it, but it was communicated to him somehow. And again, just because the Bible doesn’t mention it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. 4, what Scripture do you have to back that up? How did Jesus cast out demons? He talked to them. How did the disciples cast out demons? They talked to them. How did Paul cast the demon out of the girl in Acts 16:16-18? He talked to it. He commanded it, specifically. All the examples we have of people casting out demons (that I can think of) involve speaking to the demon. Jesus even asks at least one what its name is! And in Mark 16:17, Jesus says that those who believe in him will cast out demons. Sounds like we’re supposed to talk to them (at least sometimes) to me.

It doesn’t even matter whether “opening your Bible and reading random verses” comes from a pagan source. What matters is that it is not a way that a written communication of any kind should be used, nor is it the way God intended for us to use His written communication (if you think differently, please site scripture to back up your thought). If your boyfriend/lover/husband/partner were to write you a letter, would you open it, close your eyes, and point to a random sentence in it to try to ascertain his meaning? Or would you read the whole thing, start to finish, and gather his meaning from that?
Neither should we use God’s Word to us in such disrespectful way. He wrote it, from beginning to end, with a meaning in mind for it. We are sinning when we use it to “divine” guidance and direction that He did not intend for it.
Can He use our fumbling, sinful attempts to “divine” things? Of course. He can and does use anything. Does that mean we should make a practice of violating both the principle of written communication AND the principle of avoiding mysticism AND reverence for God’s clear communication to us by using scripture to “divine” guidance and direction outside of it’s clear message? No. Unequivocally no. Where grace abounds, should we sin more? No–Romans 5:20-6:1.
I look forward to your scriptural citations.

Well, there are quite a few verses that are often quoted by themselves (John 3:16), and many more that are clearly usable on their own (much of Proverbs, for instance, as well as many of the Psalms). As I’ve said, flipping open your Bible and reading a random passage requires discernment, as many verses shouldn’t be used by themselves, but even amongst those, there are many that could apply to a particular situation. It is always dangerous to apply Scripture outside its intended purpose, but that doesn’t make it always wrong. And I’m not sure that it’s disrespectful to open the Bible and read a random passage. What about times when you don’t have a specific Bible study plan you’re following? What about times when someone just pulls a Bible off the shelf and it falls open to a verse with something the person really needed to hear? Proverbs 16:33 seems to suggest that God has no problem with controlling ‘random’ things to get the desired result. With your letter example, I might do both. First you read the whole thing, of course, but some parts I might read over and over again. I might just look at a random part of it just to read the words of the person I love. Reading the whole letter gives you the meaning of the whole letter, sure, but often individual parts of a letter will have their own meaning. How do you know that the wisdom and guidance isn’t from God, and that the Holy Spirit didn’t guide the person doing it to that verse and that use of it? And really, I wouldn’t call it divination; or at least not the way I would do it. The reason I want guidance from God is so I can do what He wants me to do, whether or not it’s going to be comfortable or pleasant. We have many examples of godly people asking God what He wanted them to do, and while I can understand not thinking that flipping your Bible is a very effective way of doing so, I expect that most people who do that don’t know of a better way. I can see how someone might do it as divination, but does that make it wrong for anyone to do? I guess I don’t see how it’s sinful unless the attitude is wrong, even if it is, perhaps, not useful. I’d be interested in seeing some Scripture that you think indicates that it is wrong.

Looking at what you’ve said here, I don’t see any allowance for God to speak personally to His children. You seem to believe Scripture means one thing and one thing only to everyone and everybody, and somehow I doubt you’d accept any other method (such as feelings or a quiet voice in your head). But what kind of person wouldn’t try to communicate personally to those he loves? And you’d want to talk with anyone you loved enough to die for, wouldn’t you?

Leanna
Guest

Just to clarify, Stephen, the other article didn’t come across as “Scripture first”, it came across as “God never will speak to you in any other way beyond an audible voice or the Bible”. That was my issue with it (and I think Arien’s too). I definitely don’t think “feelings” should ever take precedence over what God has revealed in His Word.
Nice summary, btw. 🙂

Esther
Guest

Arien;
Please understand that I am enjoying our conversation and do appreciate your interaction: these are important concepts which we are all responsible for before God. That is why I may come across as harsh and overly passionate about it. I hope I do not, but please try to read what I write as if we are friends, and not adversaries.

The place I would expect to see things like ‘cautions from the Holy Spirit’ is Acts, and the way Acts is written prevents that from happening. It doesn’t tell you what people felt, or thought, or anything else like that. How did Peter know Ananias and Sapphira were lying? We don’t know. Maybe God told him with words, maybe he didn’t. It also isn’t mentioned in any of the letters, but it would only be mentioned there if the people it was written to were dealing with it wrongly or something like that.

So you’re saying that God left something out of the Bible? It’s not clear and sufficient? And are you also saying that because He left it out, we get to “infer” things that aren’t there?
What if your SO’s letter said something like “Let’s meet for coffee to discuss the organization of the event”. Would it be a correct interpretation if you said to yourself after reading that “Oh! Finally here it is…his proposal! See, he really just left that part out, and he MEANS to ask me to marry him”. How foolish. If God didn’t SAY that there were “cautions” to be experienced, nor does He give instruction on how to handle them in Acts or other places, then it’s very possible, even probable, that there ARE no “cautions” we can trust, nor should we make a practice of seeking them.

3a, while nothing says they can be (although one could argue that in the case of idols, such things did happen), nothing says they can’t. Also, I have heard of cases where a demon or some other sort of evil spiritual presence certainly seemed to be attached to an object and/or location, but since that’s feelings and experiences, which you don’t seem to consider valid, I won’t bother giving specifics unless you ask for them.

“Nothing says they [demons] can’t [be attached to objects]”. Nothing in the Bible says they can or can’t, we don’t even have an example of it in scripture. So how can you know? What citations can you give that show that they can–in other words, to what authority do you appeal for knowledge of the theory that demons can attach themselves to objects? Is that authority valid–as valid as scripture written by the Person Who created demons? If there is no way to know, why would you act as if they can? Did God leave this out of scripture, too? If they can attach themselves to things, where is scripture that tells us how to deal with them?

In Acts 16:16-18 Paul somehow knows that this girl has a demon, although nothing she says or does seems to indicate this. He may not have sensed it, but it was communicated to him somehow.

Scripture is actually quite clear concerning the evidence Paul used to discern that the girl had a demon–and it wasn’t “feeling” or “caution”. This is sloppy hermeneutics. Verses 17 and 18 give the evidence for her possession–and everyone knew it, not just Paul. Furthermore, he let her continue to be possessed and to annoy him for DAYS before he did anything about it!

How did Jesus cast out demons? He talked to them. How did the disciples cast out demons? They talked to them. How did Paul cast the demon out of the girl in Acts 16:16-18? He talked to it. He commanded it, specifically. All the examples we have of people casting out demons (that I can think of) involve speaking to the demon. Jesus even asks at least one what its name is! And in Mark 16:17, Jesus says that those who believe in him will cast out demons. Sounds like we’re supposed to talk to them (at least sometimes) to me.

Again, sloppy hermeneutics. What is DESCRIPTIVE in scripture is not necessarily PRESCRIPTIVE. By your reasoning, I could righteously go and hang myself, simply because Judas did. Yes, Jesus talked and commanded demons–His right and prerogative. Not PRESCRIPTIVE for us. Same for Paul…just because Paul did it, does not mean it is something for all other disciples to do–Paul was an apostle. Further: if you’re going to use Mark 16:17 as prescriptive for all believers, then I need to ask you–when was the last time you picked up a dangerous serpent or drank poison?
If I ever meet a demon personally, I will know what to do about it. I will pray–to JESUS, Who knows how to handle them. Oh, and by the way–can a demon attach to any book? Like…could a demon attach to THE BIBLE? Why or why not–cite scripture.

Well, there are quite a few verses that are often quoted by themselves (John 3:16), and many more that are clearly usable on their own (much of Proverbs, for instance, as well as many of the Psalms). As I’ve said, flipping open your Bible and reading a random passage requires discernment,

I don’t think your definition of “discernment” and my definition of “discernment” are the same. How do you define it? More importantly, how does God define it? As for John 3:16–yes, it is often quoted by itself, seldom randomly, and most often completely out of context with a meaning that it does not carry at all.

And I’m not sure that it’s disrespectful to open the Bible and read a random passage. What about times when you don’t have a specific Bible study plan you’re following? What about times when someone just pulls a Bible off the shelf and it falls open to a verse with something the person really needed to hear? Proverbs 16:33 seems to suggest that God has no problem with controlling ‘random’ things to get the desired result. With your letter example, I might do both. First you read the whole thing, of course, but some parts I might read over and over again. I might just look at a random part of it just to read the words of the person I love. Reading the whole letter gives you the meaning of the whole letter, sure, but often individual parts of a letter will have their own meaning. How do you know that the wisdom and guidance isn’t from God, and that the Holy Spirit didn’t guide the person doing it to that verse and that use of it?

Please note that I carefully delineated the type of “random” reading of scripture that is prohibited: I said “random reading of scripture FOR GUIDANCE AND DIRECTION”. Certainly, you might read a random passage from your lover’s letter just to remind yourself of what he said, but that would indeed be AFTER you read it in context, and therefore WITH context in mind. And as far as your final question above, I can turn that question around with equal veracity: How do you know that the wisdom and guidance IS from God, and that the Holy Spirit DID guide the person doing it to that verse and that use of it? How can you know FOR SURE? Because, you see, I’m quite willing to use scripture that way IF I CAN BE SURE. Then, I can again follow Judas’ example without fear of retribution or blasphemy. After all, my bible fell open to that verse this morning when I pulled it off the shelf–“Judas went and hanged himself”. And just to make sure, I shut it and opened it again, and the verse that popped up was “go thou and do likewise”.??? 
For clarity: scripture cannot be used “randomly” for guidance and direction, divorced from its intended context and meaning. Proverbs, by the way, is not random, and using principles from it is perfectly acceptable BECAUSE of the genre in which it is written. And of course it is fine to be encouraged by a certain passage of scripture, even if short–it’s just not a righteous use of scripture to use it as an “omen” as in my example above.

And really, I wouldn’t call it divination; or at least not the way I would do it.

Really? Well, if the “way you do it” is anything like the above example involving Judas, then yes, it is properly called divination. However, I am willing to hear what your method is, and we can both refer to the rules of hermeneutics and interpretation and decide whether your method is valid.

Looking at what you’ve said here, I don’t see any allowance for God to speak personally to His children. You seem to believe Scripture means one thing and one thing only to everyone and everybody, and somehow I doubt you’d accept any other method (such as feelings or a quiet voice in your head). But what kind of person wouldn’t try to communicate personally to those he loves? And you’d want to talk with anyone you loved enough to die for, wouldn’t you?

The only reason you don’t see any allowance for God to speak personally in what I’ve said is because we haven’t discussed that aspect yet. Scripture MEANS one thing, and one thing only to everyone and everybody. BUT it is APPLICABLE to many, infinitely many, lives and situations.
I do not discount feelings or quiet voices. I have had experience with them. However, my experience with them only proves more surely that I need to TEST EVERYTHING. I go to scripture to make sure that any feelings or quiet voices stand up to the whole counsel of scripture, because I have had both feelings and voices that did stand up, and those that DID NOT–and because I listened and acted when I should have been testing, I was led astray. Thankfully, God used that, too–but I’m learning that there is another source of feelings and voices–i.e., my own sinfulness–that is not to be trusted.  The only way for me to be SURE something is from God, is to test it by the Word.
The “feeling” that a certain copy of a book has a demon attached is completely untestable by scripture (well, so is the structure of an atom: however, that is testable by other means). Therefore, that “feeling” can be safely ignored…its source is something BESIDES the Holy Spirit. Truth ALWAYS trumps experience. ALWAYS.

Arien
Guest
Arien

<blockquote>So you’re saying that God left something out of the Bible? It’s not clear and sufficient? And are you also saying that because He left it out, we get to “infer” things that aren’t there?
What if your SO’s letter said something like “Let’s meet for coffee to discuss the organization of the event”. Would it be a correct interpretation if you said to yourself after reading that “Oh! Finally here it is…his proposal! See, he really just left that part out, and he MEANS to ask me to marry him”. How foolish. If God didn’t SAY that there were “cautions” to be experienced, nor does He give instruction on how to handle them in Acts or other places, then it’s very possible, even probable, that there ARE no “cautions” we can trust, nor should we make a practice of seeking them.</blockquote>

Did God leave stuff out of the Bible? Of course he did! Read John. Not only does he jump around all over the place, but at the end he even says that he left out a bunch of stuff (John 21:25). As for the bit in Acts, the stuff that was ‘left out’ was stuff that the writer couldn’t possibly know without God telling him. Which, of course, God could do, but he clearly didn’t. And if you’re talking about my suggesting that some things might not be mentioned because there was no need at the time, I’m not sure how that’s so improbable. And what I’m saying is that where the Bible is silent, we have only our reason and hints from other parts of the Bible to go on. Further, the Bible is quite clearly not in and of itself clear (that’s part of why there are so many Christian denominations). Sufficient, well along with the Holy Spirit, yes, to a certain extent. You don’t need anything else, but there are, of course, other things that can help. Exegesis, for instance.
Anyway, as for the letter example, that’s a bit absurd. Just because my theoretical SO doesn’t tell me that she had coffee with a friend doesn’t mean she didn’t. And so if that friend happens to tell me she did, I would, quite reasonably, assume that was indeed the case. And since I not only find the idea of ‘cautions’ from God probable, but know of times where it both happened and worked out well, I would therefore assume, in the lack of evidence to the contrary, that God does indeed use them.

<blockquote>“Nothing says they [demons] can’t [be attached to objects]“. Nothing in the Bible says they can or can’t, we don’t even have an example of it in scripture. So how can you know? What citations can you give that show that they can–in other words, to what authority do you appeal for knowledge of the theory that demons can attach themselves to objects? Is that authority valid–as valid as scripture written by the Person Who created demons? If there is no way to know, why would you act as if they can? Did God leave this out of scripture, too? If they can attach themselves to things, where is scripture that tells us how to deal with them?</blockquote>

How do I know? I don’t. From the experience of others, however, I have reason to believe that demons can indeed become attached to objects in some form. Is it as valid as Scripture? No, but that’s true of pretty much everything. Now, it certainly might not work the way I think it does, and I know that, which is why I’m perfectly willing to revise my opinion on it if I should see a good reason to do so. The reason I mentioned the possibility is because far too often I see people acting as if they know with certainty something that we really don’t actually know, and it looked like a case of that to me. I still don’t think that’s actually what was going on in the situation that brought it up. As for how to deal with them, the same way as you would if they weren’t, I assume. If, as you suggest later in your comment, praying to Jesus will work for a demon under normal circumstances, why not other times?

<blockquote>Scripture is actually quite clear concerning the evidence Paul used to discern that the girl had a demon–and it wasn’t “feeling” or “caution”. This is sloppy hermeneutics. Verses 17 and 18 give the evidence for her possession–and everyone knew it, not just Paul. Furthermore, he let her continue to be possessed and to annoy him for DAYS before he did anything about it!</blockquote>

Yes and no. You’re right that it wasn’t as good of an example as I thought it was at first, and I should have taken a closer look at it. But it still doesn’t tell us how Paul knew (although, looking over it, your idea does seem likely) or even that it was common knowledge. After all, when a demon is cast out of someone, you know it was there before it was cast out, right? And it’s possible that the writer of Acts was using information obtained later. Not that any of this matters much, really, as it does seem more likely that it was common knowledge.

<blockquote>Again, sloppy hermeneutics. What is DESCRIPTIVE in scripture is not necessarily PRESCRIPTIVE. By your reasoning, I could righteously go and hang myself, simply because Judas did. Yes, Jesus talked and commanded demons–His right and prerogative. Not PRESCRIPTIVE for us. Same for Paul…just because Paul did it, does not mean it is something for all other disciples to do–Paul was an apostle. Further: if you’re going to use Mark 16:17 as prescriptive for all believers, then I need to ask you–when was the last time you picked up a dangerous serpent or drank poison?
If I ever meet a demon personally, I will know what to do about it. I will pray–to JESUS, Who knows how to handle them. Oh, and by the way–can a demon attach to any book? Like…could a demon attach to THE BIBLE? Why or why not–cite scripture.</blockquote>

Ah, no, not really. Hanging yourself is never suggested to be the right way to do anything. Yes, Jesus had the authority to do what he did. Yes, Paul did as well. How do you know we do not? And if that’s the wrong way for us to do it, then where in the Bible does it say how we should do it? You seem to think that this is a problem in the case of demons attached to objects, but not demons possessing people. As for Mark 16:17, it is clearly for all believers. Looking at both the English and the Greek, the believers who Mark 16:16 are saying are saved are quite clearly the same people who these signs are supposed to be following. The Greek word is exactly the same. If we aren’t supposed to be able to cast out demons, then apparently we aren’t going to heaven, either. As for the last time I picked up a deadly serpent or drank poison, I never have. Do notice Jesus doesn’t say that we should go about doing it. But God certainly is capable of saving me in such a situation, so I’m not really worried about that.
As for demons attaching to the Bible, it wouldn’t surprise me either way. It isn’t the physical book that’s holy, it’s the words, but you never know. As for citing Scripture, there isn’t any Scripture either way on it. Also, I would like to point out here that the only times you’ve quoted Scripture in this comment are when you’re using the ones I mentioned. For someone who is so insistent on me using Scripture to show that my points are valid, you aren’t using it much yourself. So, in anything you say to respond to this comment, please use Scripture. Otherwise this isn’t going to go anywhere, since we seem to have extremely different ideas about things the Bible doesn’t talk about.

<blockquote>I don’t think your definition of “discernment” and my definition of “discernment” are the same. How do you define it? More importantly, how does God define it? As for John 3:16–yes, it is often quoted by itself, seldom randomly, and most often completely out of context with a meaning that it does not carry at all.</blockquote>

Oh, bleh, I’m not good at defining things. What I mean by ‘discernment’ in this case is that you have to discern whether or not the verse is actually God speaking to you. For instance, if it is ‘Judas went and hanged himself’, I’d say it isn’t God. And if the next one is ‘Go and do likewise’, it definitely isn’t from God. As for how God defines it, I don’t know. He hasn’t told me. Nor do I expect Him to.

<blockquote>Please note that I carefully delineated the type of “random” reading of scripture that is prohibited: I said “random reading of scripture FOR GUIDANCE AND DIRECTION”. Certainly, you might read a random passage from your lover’s letter just to remind yourself of what he said, but that would indeed be AFTER you read it in context, and therefore WITH context in mind. And as far as your final question above, I can turn that question around with equal veracity: How do you know that the wisdom and guidance IS from God, and that the Holy Spirit DID guide the person doing it to that verse and that use of it? How can you know FOR SURE? Because, you see, I’m quite willing to use scripture that way IF I CAN BE SURE. Then, I can again follow Judas’ example without fear of retribution or blasphemy. After all, my bible fell open to that verse this morning when I pulled it off the shelf–”Judas went and hanged himself”. And just to make sure, I shut it and opened it again, and the verse that popped up was “go thou and do likewise”.??? </blockquote>

I don’t know for sure, and I don’t need to. Usually, though, it’s pretty easy to tell whether it means anything or not, but it depends. And just to clarify, I don’t suggest basing your decisions off of random Bible verses, at least not usually. As for your example, God does not ever tell you to hang yourself, so you can know WITH CERTAINTY that God is not telling you to do that. He might be telling you to laugh, though. 🙂 Anyway, I guess I don’t see how using a random Scripture verse when you can’t decide is worse than picking randomly any other way.

<blockquote>For clarity: scripture cannot be used “randomly” for guidance and direction, divorced from its intended context and meaning. Proverbs, by the way, is not random, and using principles from it is perfectly acceptable BECAUSE of the genre in which it is written. And of course it is fine to be encouraged by a certain passage of scripture, even if short–it’s just not a righteous use of scripture to use it as an “omen” as in my example above.</blockquote>

Indeed. And where in the Bible does it say that Scripture can’t be used that way? That is your opinion, not, as far as I can tell, anything with more backing than that.

<blockquote>Really? Well, if the “way you do it” is anything like the above example involving Judas, then yes, it is properly called divination. However, I am willing to hear what your method is, and we can both refer to the rules of hermeneutics and interpretation and decide whether your method is valid.</blockquote>

Not the ‘way I do it’, the ‘way I would do it’. I haven’t done anything like that for some time. So, really, I think you should define what you mean by divination, since I wouldn’t call even the Judas example divination. According to the dictionary I looked at, divination involves attempting to foresee the future. Which, as I have said, I have no interest in. The way I would do it would be to open my Bible without trying to open it to any specific place, and possibly point to a section, but maybe not, and look around. If there happens to be anything connected to whatever it is I’m dealing with, I’d consider it. Then move on. The last time I did that, there was certainly no part of the Bible that would have, in context, told me with any certainty, but, looking back at it, the choice I made was definitely the right one. Was it because of looking at random Bible verse? I can’t say. I really don’t think it’s useful very often, but I don’t think it’s wrong.

<blockquote>The only reason you don’t see any allowance for God to speak personally in what I’ve said is because we haven’t discussed that aspect yet. Scripture MEANS one thing, and one thing only to everyone and everybody. BUT it is APPLICABLE to many, infinitely many, lives and situations.
I do not discount feelings or quiet voices. I have had experience with them. However, my experience with them only proves more surely that I need to TEST EVERYTHING. I go to scripture to make sure that any feelings or quiet voices stand up to the whole counsel of scripture, because I have had both feelings and voices that did stand up, and those that DID NOT–and because I listened and acted when I should have been testing, I was led astray. Thankfully, God used that, too–but I’m learning that there is another source of feelings and voices–i.e., my own sinfulness–that is not to be trusted.  The only way for me to be SURE something is from God, is to test it by the Word.
The “feeling” that a certain copy of a book has a demon attached is completely untestable by scripture (well, so is the structure of an atom: however, that is testable by other means). Therefore, that “feeling” can be safely ignored…its source is something BESIDES the Holy Spirit. Truth ALWAYS trumps experience. ALWAYS.</blockquote>

Oh, well there’s the problem then. Okay, look; if you open to a random Bible verse, and you think it tells you to make one choice instead of another, does that mean you think the verse means that you should make this choice? No, just that you think it’s applicable. Would you still consider it divination if someone asked God to show him a verse applicable to some situation or belief or whatever, and then started looking randomly? Suppose this is a new Christian, without anyone around he can ask for help, and he’s been confronted with a belief or whatever that he isn’t sure about, and wants to check the Bible. How would you suggest he proceed?
And why does everyone seem to assume that I wouldn’t be checking this stuff against Scripture? Of course I’d do that, and not doing that is wrong! Of course, you don’t always have time for a thorough check, but that’s part of why you study the Bible, so that you get to the point where you’ll usually know if something is un-Biblical without looking it up.
And really, where in the Bible does it say that because a feeling isn’t testable by Scripture means it isn’t from the Holy Spirit? You may be right, but it seems like an awfully blanket statement to be making without direct Scriptural backing.
And finally, yes, truth trumps experience, because if the experience isn’t truth, than it was clearly perceived wrongly. But I fail to see what that statement has to do with what you said before it.

Really, though, I don’t think this discussion is going to go anywhere. We seem to have fairly contradictory views about a lot of things, which makes it hard to discuss things.

Oh, and, um, how do you get the quote thing to work? The button that seems like the right one looks to effect everything, no matter what I do, and my attempt to make it work anyway doesn’t work. I assume I’m missing something obvious… Use a different browser, maybe? 

Esther
Guest

 
There are so many theological and biblical problems, Arien, with this post, that in order to avoid a) hijacking the comment thread further from the point E. Stephen is making in his article and b) continue on with the things God has given me to do IRL, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to quote only that with which I can agree; then I’m going to suggest some reading material for you; lastly, I will do as you ask and quote several (though not all) scriptures that tell us about, well, scripture, and how we are to treat it, take it, and let it communicate to us. Further than that, I will not engage in this conversation—it is not my place to instruct you from afar in doctrine when I have other jobs to do and God is sovereign and will leave nothing undone in teaching you all you need to know.
>>Exegesis, for instance.<<
Precisely. Have you studied the process of exegesis, perchance? It’s a rhetorical question, no need to answer. Acts 17:11, 2 Timothy 2:15
>>that God does indeed use them.<<
Never argued that He doesn’t. He does. 1 Thessalonians 5:17
>>Ah, no, not really. Hanging yourself is never suggested to be the right way to do anything.<<
Precisely my point. However, your suggestions of how we should take scripture and add to it our own ideas and nudges and cautions would, should I decide to subscribe to them, allow me to take these scriptures as if it WERE the right way to do something. Revelation 2:18-19
>>You seem to think that this is a problem in the case of demons attached to objects, but not demons possessing people.<<
There is. That’s right.
>>As for Mark 16:17, it is clearly for all believers. Looking at both the English and the Greek, the believers who Mark 16:16 are saying are saved are quite clearly the same people who these signs are supposed to be following. The Greek word is exactly the same.<<
Then we can also handle snakes and drink poison, and, in fact, should. To prove we are believers. I’m cool with that. All I’m asking is consistency.
>>Do notice Jesus doesn’t say that we should go about doing it. But God certainly is capable of saving me in such a situation, so I’m not really worried about that.<<
I did, in fact, notice that. Applied to ALL the scriptures in this reference, it certainly makes sense. And I agree…God IS capable of saving us should we meet such a situation.

>>So, in anything you say to respond to this comment, please use Scripture.<<
Please see below.
>>Oh, bleh, I’m not good at defining things. What I mean by ‘discernment’ in this case is that you have to discern whether or not the verse is actually God speaking to you. For instance, if it is ‘Judas went and hanged himself’, I’d say it isn’t God. And if the next one is ‘Go and do likewise’, it definitely isn’t from God. As for how God defines it, I don’t know. He hasn’t told me. Nor do I expect Him to.<<
Actually, I agree…it isn’t God who would tell someone to hang themselves, especially by the method of divination used when someone pulls a Bible off a shelf and lets it fall open to a verse which they then use as guidance and direction. But I don’t agree because it’s what YOU say. I agree because that is BAD exegesis, and very efficient, but blasphemous, divination.
God does define discernment in scripture. Best we use His definition. 1 Kings 3:9
>>Anyway, I guess I don’t see how using a random Scripture verse when you can’t decide is worse than picking randomly any other way.<<
I agree. So don’t pick randomly. Proverbs 3:6
>>Of course, you don’t always have time for a thorough check, but that’s part of why you study the Bible, so that you get to the point where you’ll usually know if something is un-Biblical without looking it up.<<
I agree.

>>Oh, and, um, how do you get the quote thing to work? The button that seems like the right one looks to effect everything, no matter what I do, and my attempt to make it work anyway doesn’t work. I assume I’m missing something obvious… Use a different browser, maybe?<<
The quote icon does indeed look as if it makes everything a quote, until you put your cursor where you want the quote to end, and click the quote icon again, which toggles it off. Sorry, don’t have a scripture for that one ;P
Suggested reading: any systematic theology. Wayne Grudem’s would appeal to you. And don’t feel you have to read the whole thing…you could probably just read Part 1: The Doctrine of The Word of God, and get plenty of help with making your foundation more sure. Suggested viewing: Herman Who? From Wretched Radio, http://www.wretchedradio.com.
Scriptures on scripture—in no particular order:
2 Peter 1:20–21 (ESV)
20knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.
21For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 4:4 (ESV)
4But he answered, “It is written, “ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
John 6:63 (ESV)
63It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
The entirety of Psalm 119
Jude 3
Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)
5Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV)
15Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
Hebrews 4:12–13 (ESV)
12For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
13And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Acts 17:11 (ESV)
11Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
Acts 20:32 (ESV)
32And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
1 Peter 1:25 (ESV)
25but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
2 Timothy 3:16–17 (ESV)
16All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
17that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
And now, I withdraw from this aspect of the conversation, and wish you Godspeed, knowing that He who calls you is faithful. I thank you for the discussion!

Arien
Guest
Arien

Yeah, that’s mostly what I had a problem with as well. Thanks, Leanna; I’ve never been good at putting things like that simply. 🙂

The other thing I had a problem with, though, was the whole ‘divination’ thing. He seems to assume that the only reason anyone would want God’s help with decisions is to be absolved of responsibility. The reason I want God’s help with decisions is because I don’t want to go off my own way; I want to go God’s way. I don’t see that as divination. Think about missionaries; most of them, as far as I know, believed that God was calling them to be a missionary, usually to a specific place. I don’t think they got that just from reading Scripture. Usually it involves a strong burning desire to help whatever group of people, and a conviction that God wanted them to do it by being a missionary. And I don’t think that qualifies as divination either.

Izzy
Guest
Izzy

*Is a long-time lurker on the site, and first time poster*
I’m afraid I’m mostly with Arien on this. (Wow, this is the first time I’ve ever disagreed with the SpecFaith writers on something! It feels weird. o.O ) For one thing, I do think that God and the Holy Spirit can personally lead us through a sort of “nudge”. But it is much different from just a feeling. I suppose it’s the same sort of thing you get which Stephen mentioned – about how, if God doesn’t want you to do/watch/read a particular thing, he’ll show you. That said, I have seen people confuse their own feelings with this; and that is something you have to be careful to avoid. Also, while I do believe in these sort of “nudges”, I don’t believe they should replace the Bible. And any “nudge” that contradicts scripture obviously wouldn’t be from God.
I believe Christians have the power to cast out demons, because I believe Christ gave that to us. I agree with Arien on that – I don’t see why that scripture would be referring to Christ and the apostles only.
I’ve seen this site many times say that we Christians can do things since the Apostles and Christ did them. I don’t see why this example should be the one exception.
Plus, after as much spiritual problems my family has had in our own house, I’ve gotten the chance to see my dad, mom, and myself effectively cast spirits out.