Dale Tuggy

Dale Tuggy is Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Fredonia, where he teaches courses in analytic theology, philosophy of religion, religious studies, and the history of philosophy.

495 Comments

  1. Joss
    April 30, 2011 @ 7:11 pm

    Dave,

    Thanks for pointing out my mistake considering the blog. The very inaccurate short possessive “your blog” should instead be the longer periphrastic “the blog you mentioned”. My bad. I apologize to the possessors of the Kingdom Ready blog too.

    I would also like to clear up that you are not responsible for Fortigurn’s actions and your relationship with him is not that of a nanny. You and everyone are responsible only for their own actions, including their reactions, as well as the lack of them. If you have already tried to help Fortigurn and he failed to grow up, you should at least degrade him from any sensitive position, like that of moderator. Other measures would probably be more effective, but I don’t have the whole picture to get more specific, nor I intend to get more involved.

    Ultimately, I didn’t come here to judge, but primarily to read (40 hours of reading just to judge would be unthinkable) and secondarily to contribute. My comments on the quality of the participation are exactly towards the latter, as I’m gonna explain right away (and thank you for asking me).

    The thing is that, if I make a contribution and Fortigurn or anyone else reacts by systematically disrespecting me for any reason (even if I’m totally wrong and he’s totally right) and the moderator of the thread doesn’t remove his messages (let’s say because of lack of time), I expect you and the rest of the participants not to continue writing before publicly separating yourselves from the insulter’s stance, in order to isolate him (and, by doing so, to encourage me not to leave). You (and many others) didn’t do that in this thread and consequently most of the participants left (they are not expected to know what you have done in the past, no matter of the online available info). Nobody participates to have others disrespecting him and in this thread I had to stress that right from the beginning, thus the special nature of my first message (for the most part).

    So, considering my contribution, are you interested in standing up (if needed) for my human right of respect (as I’m gonna do for yours) or did you only get back to defend yourself? 😉

  2. Dave Burke
    April 30, 2011 @ 10:47 am

    Joss,

    I don’t have a blog, so I’m not sure what you’re referring to.

    There is enough info online to prove that you have an impact on Fortigurn and you could at least try moderating his misbehaviour, if you wanted.

    There’s also enough info online to prove that I do this occasionally, but I’m not his nanny and I believe people need to take responsibility for themselves.

    Would you like to make a contribution to this thread, or did you only stop by to pass judgement on everyone? 😀

  3. Joss
    April 30, 2011 @ 9:59 am

    Dave, I’ve been aware of your interaction with Marg, as I came here after reading the respective thread in your blog, so I was expecting better from you. There is enough info online to prove that you have an impact on Fortigurn and you could at least try moderating his misbehaviour, if you wanted. You are the administrator of BTDF, where Fortigurn is a moderator of problematic (-1) reputation. But if you consider each other a brother, that alone should be enough for taking action, like it was enough for Jame Dunkt.

  4. Dave Burke
    April 30, 2011 @ 12:37 am

    Dave Burke was the one who could hopefully bring Fortigurn back to dignity, but instead he got drift himself, fortunately not much. Some credit for considering Marg sincere.

    I’m not sure why I’m considered responsible for moderating Fortigurn’s behaviour, but thanks anyway. If you visit the Kingdom Ready blog, you’ll see that Marg and I have enjoyed some lengthy and very positive exchanges in the past.

    😀

  5. Joss
    April 29, 2011 @ 9:23 am

    After 8 months from the last message, I found this post and spent about 40 hours in a marathon study of the whole thread, with my bible translations open.

    Firstly, I have some comments to make, concerning most of the participants, based not on their opinions, but on the quality of their participation, of course related not to the subject of trinity, but to the subject of demons:

    – Marg, on her 81, is an example of being both true herself and a seeker of truth, more than anyone in this list. After she was left the only believer of the existence of evil super-natural beings, she gradually got tired, and naturally fell in contradicting conclusions and repetitions, failing to pose a serious “defense” to the combined “attacks” of the rest, still she gets the title of the overall best participant.

    – Fortigurn has access to and knowledge of bible related resources at a level the rest in this list should envy, but was totally unable to escape from an unfruitful debate and proceed to a productive discussion or at least communicable teaching, above all having close to zero sense of the concept of respect, treating everyone like a false argument, instead of human, being by far the worst performer and almost a time-waster, having some excuses for that behavior, still badly needing help from an elder. I want to think that, if they ever meet in person, Fortigurn will love Marg on first sight. Until this ever happens, love will remain just a lexicon entry.

    – Cherylu was like an emerging Marg, but lost quickly her patience with Fortigurn, thus failing to offer anything.

    – Dave Burke was the one who could hopefully bring Fortigurn back to dignity, but instead he got drift himself, fortunately not much. Some credit for considering Marg sincere.

    – Jaco has the best knowledge of how an argument can get logically tested and it would be interesting if he had applied his skills, but he had not much more than that, not knowing how to apply them to Fortigurn’s far-from-normalized arguments. Probably lack of experience on Jaco’s part.

    – Robert was the worst performer from Marg’s “camp”, but Fortigurn gets the shameful first prize overall. They both need a seminar on constructive interaction with differently minded persons. In Fortigurn’s case, this is relevant only after visiting the elder.

    – Helez was like an emerging Robert, but wise enough to stop before causing more harm.

    – Jame Dunkt was like Helez from Fortigurn’s side, but with credit for being the only one from that “camp” to publicly rebuke Fortigurn’s misbehavior.

    – Andrew was the best performer from Fortigurn’s side, with extra credit for achieving this in his age. If he focus on truth more than football, his future is bright.

    – Andrewneileen was like a shadow of Andrew, similar shape, but different all the rest.

    – Abel was the most difficult to rate. A rare combination of bad attitude with really constructive messages, some of the best in the whole thread. So he has to visit the elder too, but he doesn’t need the essential seminar afterwards. He is almost like a living seminar, but his negative attitude broadly spoiled his positive contribution.

    – Disciple tried to play the teacher, inadequate for that role, still managed a decent level of participation.

    – Matt was an improved version of Disciple, although not enough to make a difference. He gets credit for properly addressing disfellowship.

    That’s all for now. If anyone reads this, I may consider writing on the subject too. Thanks Dale for hosting all that.

  6. Dave Burke
    August 14, 2010 @ 4:48 am

    Marg, I want to thank you for your patience and persistence with this discussion. I know it’s been difficult for both sides, at times.

    God bless.

    🙂

  7. Marg
    August 13, 2010 @ 9:44 pm

    I think you made a very good comment a few posts ago, Disciple, and I will once again say “Amen” to it:

    Anyway, this is the last comment I will make in this series. I thank you all, and hope that God will assist each of us grow our understanding of his revealed will. (Rom.12:2)

  8. Disciple
    August 12, 2010 @ 11:33 pm

    Sorry Marg, once again you pick & choose what you respond to & ignore the context.

    There is not much I can help you with, until you are able to perceive the scriptural method of establishing foundations. (see earlier posts)

    Having foundations that are a mixture of truth & error is not a safe place to be. The serpent was the father of this form of thinking (Gen.3:4-5), and Jesus speaks of his contemporaries in the same light (see John.8).

    To his contemporaries, Jesus said “Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannnot hear my word.” John.8:43.

    So rare is ‘demon’ possession & it’s resultant influence today that it is only witnessed by the very superstitious or the very ignorant.

    In NT times, ‘demon’ possessed folks were everywhere it seems, and yet we find Jesus healing no mentally ill folks.

    The answer is very plain. The ‘Demons’ in the NT record are not supernatural manifestations, but natural manifestations, as the OT foundations establish. Today we call it mental illness and treat it accordingly.

  9. Marg
    August 12, 2010 @ 2:16 pm

    Are doctrines to be determined on the basis of what “many well-meaning folks, often in their ignorance” may do? Surely not.

    I believe that supernatural spirits exist because the words and actions of Jesus compel me to believe it.

    What’s more, I can see NO scriptural evidence which would contradict that conclusion.

    Certainly, healing of diseases USUALLY comes through the natural means that God has given to our physical bodies for fighting such diseases. And modern medicine can help those natural defenses in that healing work.

    But that does not rule out the possibility of supernatural healing, rare though it should be.

    Jesus healed diseases supernaturally. He ALSO cast out evil spirits by the authority given to him. So did his disciples. They had no difficulty discerning the difference, and neither did the inspired writers – no matter how confused ignorant people may be.

    I’m sure if you really tried you could understand what I am saying.

  10. Disciple
    August 11, 2010 @ 6:31 am

    Marg,

    I’m sure if you really tried you could understand what I am saying.

    Previously in this discussion, we have indentified that most (all) of those occassions where ‘demon’ possession is mentioned, it is related to either; mental illness, or illnesses associated with blockages of the senses (deaf & dumb etc).

    As we have said before, this is in accord with the common understanding of these issues in the 1st century, which came from a Greek & pagan heritage, not from the OT scriptures.

    Today, there is no such common or medical identification as ‘demon’ possession in society. It only exists among superstitious folk, of many belief systems. Modern medical practice deals with illness as either of a physical or mental origin, never ‘demon’ origin.

    What does a believer do when confronted with illnesses today, that were commonly attributed to ‘demon’ possession in the first century, or in the NT.

    Many well meaning folks, often in their ignorance, have turned their backs on modern medicine and chosen a course involving casting out demons as the solution. Sometimes with tragic consequences.

    In my opinion, their supposed choise of ‘faith’ is the product of ignorance & superstition rather than real scriptural knowledge. There are many variants on this, but I will not elaborate at the moment.

    On another issue, when we come to sections of Revelation, a book specifically written to the ‘servants’ of Jesus Christ, if one believes in supernatural demons, then in my opinion one has no chance of properly understanding whole slabs of the book/prophecy, and therefore receiving the blessing it promises. This I believe is the reason why most people are almost completely in the dark on the Apocalypse.

    This same thing goes for many other sections of scripture. Even the subject of temptation and sin, which will critically affect how we understand the efficaciousness of the atoning work of Jesus Christ, is affected by how we understand the topics of ‘devil, satan & demons’.

    For example, what does Heb.2:14 really mean & how was Jesus related to sin. What does ‘sin’ mean in 2.Cor.5:21 & Rom 7.

    Also, how we read of temptation & sin in Genesis 3 will also be affected, and therefore everything else that springs from it. Foundational principles on this subject.

    Belief or otherwise in the existance of supernatural ‘demons’ is really only the side issue here.

  11. Marg
    August 7, 2010 @ 4:34 pm

    I’m not sure I follow your line of thought, Disciple. I’ve been trying to understand what you mean by

    To believe in supernatural demons or not will have a huge impact on how you read the rest of scripture, on how you live, treat medical issues, interpret revelation, understand temptation & sin, and many other things.

    The easiest item to deal with is how I treat medical issues – small and large.

    If I have a cold, I have two objectives:
    1) Avoid spreading it to others, if possible.
    2) Give my immune system a chance to do its job.

    I am grateful to have been free of serious illness all my life (I’m 81); but if I have a medical problem I can’t handle, I go to a doctor.

    Is that different from the way you treat medical issues?

    Jesus did not confuse demon-possession with sickness, so why should I?

    The point remains: Jesus, the Messiah, gave his followers every reason to believe in the existence of supernatural spirits. Therefore, I believe such spirits exist.

    But that belief has no impact (that I am aware of) on the way I live, nor on my understanding of sin, nor on any of the other things you mentioned.

  12. Disciple
    August 3, 2010 @ 4:06 am

    Marg,

    To be honest, I don’t think your conclusion has been established at all. To be called a Christian has really little to do with it.

    To believe in supernatural demons or not will have a huge impact on how you read the rest of scripture, on how you live, treat medical issues, interpret revelation, understand temptation & sin, and many other things.

    This is hardly a small issue.

    The point I did not make clear earlier was that early believers were accepted & baptized and probably included those who believed in supernatural demons. Much education was added later, as disciples grew from children to maturity in the faith.

    Much as the Israelites were ‘saved’ from Egypt at the Red Sea, but needed education in the things of God, so also ‘christians’ of the first century.

  13. Marg
    July 21, 2010 @ 11:13 pm

    One small correction, Abel. You misread the criticism of your story. It fails because

    It does not explain why the Messiah would do something so bizarre as to make a herd of pigs insane, without giving even a hint as to why he did it.

    That is the point. The Messiah’s action would confirm everyone’s belief that supernatural demons were cast out of the men. The Messiah (who knew the Old Testament better than we do) gave no hint that the belief was wrong. Therefore, I can only conclude that it was NOT wrong.

    That makes it unnecessary to explain away all the other passages which refer to demons. So I can accept James 2:19, just as it is written. It doesn’t refer to madmen who CAN believe and tremble, but to demons that DO believe and tremble.

    To be honest, I am happy to leave the subject of demons. Nevertheless, I’m glad that the conversation did reach one worthwhile goal. It has been established that belief in the existence of supernatural spirits has nothing to do with whether or not a person is a Christian.

    And now, I want to say “Amen” to Disciple’s last sentence: “

    I thank you all, and hope that God will assist each of us grow our understanding of his revealed will. (Rom.12:2)

  14. Disciple
    July 16, 2010 @ 7:56 am

    Contrary to popular opinion, there are no OT, NT or Jesus based teachings or expositions on ‘demons’.

    What we have in the gospel accounts is a record of the healing events performed by Jesus. These relate details on the nature & type of illnesses that existed in the first century.

    They are broken into 4 main categories in Matt.4:24. The gospel records show how Jesus healed people affected by each of these types of afflictions.

    No matter how honestly we might think we read the events recorded, everyone interprets the events based upon some criteria.

    I think we all agree that complete scriptural foundations are the preferable way to go, when interpreting events.

    In my opinion, so far, no scriptural foundations to support the pro ‘supernatural demons’ case have been advanced.

    I can’t agree that the explainations offered by the ‘non-supernatural demon’ group ‘add’ things to the word of God. Rather, I believe that they are an attemp to align the events with principles clearly taught in both the OT & NT.

    Anyway, this is the last comment I will make in this series. I thank you all, and hope that God will assist each of us grow our understanding of his revealed will. (Rom.12:2)

  15. Abel
    July 14, 2010 @ 4:43 pm

    Marg,

    You say that I explained the episode of Jesus casting the demons into the pigs, “without giving even a hint as to why he did it.”

    I didn’t just give a hint, I explained explicitly why I thought that happened.

    Many people on this thread have done the same repeatedly.

    I don’t care for doctrines that add to the word of God, which is why I don’t believe in demons.

    If I can be of further help let me know, but I think we have got to a point where we are going round in circles covering the same ground again and again.

    P.S. You still haven’t answered the question I first posed in post #368 and then repeated in posts #451, #458 and #474 – did Luke believe the woman in Acts 16 was possessed by a spirit of Python?

  16. Marg
    July 14, 2010 @ 4:34 am

    I have now read Abel’s expanded version of “The man with the Legion of Demons”.

    The introduction is clear enough. After that, fiction takes over. And although it’s a great story, it leaves the problem untouched. It does not explain why the Messiah would do something so bizarre as to make a herd of pigs insane, without giving even a hint as to why he did it.

    The reason you give is that the man, though already healed of his insanity, continued to feel insane:

    The man now speaking for all the spirits in him, and who had a long experience with them, then asks Jesus that these ‘demons/spirits’ be not sent into a far country, or away into the deep where the man could not be assured of their departure. But rather send them into the pigs nearby to evidence their total removal & non-return.

    Afterwards, the man was found clothed & in his right mind at Jesus feet, no doubt being taught the things of God more perfectly.

    I’ve been trying to imagine what this teaching would sound like. How would Jesus explain that he couldn’t heal the man of all his insanities without tricking him?

    There is certainly nothing in the text – here or anywhere else – to indicate that the man ever understood anything other than what the Bible records.

    I don’t care for doctrines that ADD things to the Word of God. (That’s why I don’t like the doctrine of Tri-unity, either.)

    However, one thing, at least, has been settled. Whether or not a person believes in the existence of demons has nothing whatever to do with his salvation.

    I am leaving this morning for a week’s holiday, but I will keep reading what’s written.

  17. Disciple
    July 13, 2010 @ 7:40 pm

    Marg,

    Could we clear this up once & for all.

    I’ve noticed for a while now, but haven’t commented, that in my opinion your defiinition for the ‘gods’ in the OT does not fully explain the situation, although it is correct in one sense.

    The ‘gods’ were certainly idols, made by men. However, in the eyes of those who bowed down before them, they represented powers in heaven.

    It was these supposed ‘gods’ in heaven that Elijah mocked on Mount Carmel, who are mocked in Isaiah.46:1-2 (Bel & Nebo), or Jesus’ enemies referred to in Matt.12:24 (Beelzebub).

    The point made in the prophets by God is that there is no other / are no other ‘gods’ or powers beside him. All that existed of the ‘gods’ was the man made idol. There was no other power beyond the idol.

    This is the point of 1.Cor.8:4-6
    “….we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.
    For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there are gods many, and lords many,)
    But to us there is but one God, the Father…”

    When we say that the ‘gods’ did not exist, we are referring to the supposed supernatural existance of the gods. No one denies that god=idols existed, as long as we agree that they too were ‘nothing’, but the works of mens hands. We assume you agree with this.

    Now extending the point in Paul’s exposition, we note that he bases his reasoning upon the OT, when we read of his warning against fellowshipping with idol worshippers, their idols or gods.

    1.Cor.10:19-21
    “What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?
    But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with demons.
    Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of demons: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of demons:”

    From this we see that the idols/gods of the nations are called demons. This is the same useage we saw of the word in the book of Acts.

    Here is the important question.

    Do the demons mentioned here refer to actual or imagined ‘supernatural’ beings. We suggest that the testimony is clear, that the demons referred to are imagined ‘supernatural’ beings, and not real.

    If demons are real ‘supernatural’ beings, then they are supernatural ‘gods’, as Paul is using the words synonymously (demons=gods=idols). However, this conclusion would undermine the basis of Paul’s arguement, and all that God in the OT laboured to explain.

    I believe that this is the key to the scriptural useage of the word demon?

  18. Marg
    July 12, 2010 @ 11:37 pm

    I do not have time just now to read all the posts with care. However, Abel is still misquoting what I said about the gods of the Old Testament. So let me try just once more.

    I DO believe in the existence of those gods. The idols WERE the gods. The gods had to be carried; the gods could be burned. Things that don’t exist don’t burn.

    The gods were not like your imaginary banana. They were man-made idols. That’s why they could be burned. Read the Old Testament and see for yourself.

    Dagon was not imaginary either. The Philistines knew that the head and the hands of their god had been broken off. They could see it.

    For that reason, I do NOT believe God was talking about things that do not exist.

    Nor do I believe that Jesus made pigs insane in order to fool people into thinking he was casting out demons.

    Nevertheless, I will read all the posts carefully tomorrow, and see if there is anything that I can learn from them.

  19. Disciple
    July 12, 2010 @ 8:06 pm

    Abel,

    Thanks for the points you make.

    I was going to reference Mark 8 later but I ran out of space, having already written too much. I fully agree with how you explain it.

    What I personally found interesting many years ago, when I abandoned the view that supernatural devil/demons/spirits/agents exist, is how many scriptures now took on a totally different level of understanding.

    To my view, it’s as if certain things are hidden behind doors and can only be seen when the door of understanding is opened.

    But I do understand the struggle that many folks have on this issue, as it is contrary to everything that the majority hold & have always held.

  20. Abel
    July 12, 2010 @ 6:36 am

    Oops – first line of post #474 should read “makes no sense”!!

  21. Abel
    July 12, 2010 @ 6:35 am

    Marg,

    Forgive me for saying, but your answer in post #459 of the question I posed in #458 makes sense.

    I asked if God was endorsing a belief in the Egyptian and Canaanite gods when He spoke and acted as if they existed.

    Your answer was essentially this: “I, Marg, do not believe in the existence of those gods. I believe they were simply idols. Therefore God was not endorsing a belief in them.”

    The problem is that you are only talking from your own current point of view.

    The Egyptians and Canaanites (and lots of Israelites at times!) actually did believe that the gods existed as supernatural beings. They did not know they were only idols.

    In fact until just a few days ago, even you were still questioning whether those gods existed!

    Therefore when God spoke and acted as if those gods existed and people who believed those gods existed heard Him, you could level the same accusation at God that you level at Jesus when you say that they were both endorsing belief in something that did not exist.

    I don’t believe that is the case though – I believe Fortigurn and Disciple have presented excellent cases to show that demons did not exist and to explain why such language was used.

    My own view of the Gadarene incident is that it is a healing miracle similar in nature to the healing of the blind man in Mark 8:22-25.

    You say that, “He could have healed them with a word, as he did natural ailments.” But sometimes even natural ailments required an extra step in the healing process.

    In Mark 8 Jesus gives the blind man his sight back but the man complains that he can only see, “men as trees, walking”. Jesus then performs another miracle and the man can see “clearly”.

    It appears the blind man was probably blind from birth and therefore while the first miracle returned his sight, having never seen he could not understand what he was seeing. The second miracle then gives him the perception to understand what he is seeing.

    Personally I believe the reason the “demons” were cast into the herd of pigs was either to a.) Provide a strong mental confirmation in the sick mens minds that they were healed or b.) Confirm to the local people that the men were healed so that the men could be accepted fully back into society.

    I see the two different incidents as similar because they could not be solved in one step. The blind man required his sight, and the mental capacity to understand what he saw. The Gadarene men required this extra step for the healing miracle to be complete – for them to be fully healed and restoed to society. It makes demons no more real than the OT gods.

    P.S. You never got round to answering: Did Luke think the woman in Acts 16 had a spirit of python?

  22. Disciple
    July 12, 2010 @ 6:23 am

    Marg,

    Now a few questions for you to ponder, if you believe the legion who spoke was actually a supernatural agent.

    How many demons were there, was it really 5,000-6,000 as a legion numbered, or 2,000 being the number of pigs?

    Why didn’t the demons want to be sent into a far country, or into the deep.

    Why did the demons want to be sent into the pigs.

    I suggest that when Jesus asked the ‘man’ his name, and the man said his name was legion. It was the man who spoke here and all along, with all the history of his fears, doubts and ignorance.

  23. Disciple
    July 12, 2010 @ 6:09 am

    Marg,

    RE: The man with the Legion of Demons

    I will now expand on my earlier comments, and apologise in advance for writing so much.

    I’m sure we all agree that it is important to review all 3 gospel accounts (Matt.8:28-32, Mark.5:-15 & Luke.8:27-35) to gain the total picture. This is how I see the story.

    Two well known, insane, unpredictable & exceedingly fierce men met Jesus. They lived in the tombs, and no man went near them for fear of them. These men were commonly believed, and believed it themselves, to be possessed by ‘supernatural’ demons/spirits.

    One of these men (the spokesman) may have suffered from multiple personalities, which made him both violent & unpredictable, inasmuch as he howled & cut himself.

    In the past, people had tried to tame him, binding him with fetters to both restrain & torment him. Chaining, tormenting & punishing such people was a method employed to drive out evil spirits.

    When they met Jesus & his retinue, they ran toward him. The spokesman is singled out in the record, as he appears to have led the other fellow in words & actions. As they came close with the apparent threat of violence, Jesus commanded the ‘unclean spirit’ to come out of the man. Note that Jesus uses the singular, for it really was only one illness/spirit that afflicted him. This caused him to stop in his tracks, & the man was healed of his unclean spirit.

    Jesus work & reputation was well known throughout the land, particularly his power to heal those with ‘unclean spirits/demons’. His claim to be the Son of God was also well known.

    The man, now healed of the unclean spirit then asks Jesus, what have I to do with you, Jesus, Son of the most high. Are you also come to torment me/us too.

    His knowledge of Jesus was sketchy & the effect of the healing was that he was now able to think and act rationally. However, he was still without experience of rationality and the new opportunity the healing provided, and he was still ignorant of much of the truth.

    Jesus then asks him his name. He says Legion, for we are many (for he believed many demons/spirits, possessed him).

    The man now speaking for all the spirits in him, and who had a long experience with them, then asks Jesus that these ‘demons/spirits’ be not sent into a far country, or away into the deep where the man could not be assured of their departure. But rather send them into the pigs nearby to evidence their total removal & non-return.

    We must remember that the man actually believed he was possessed by supernatural demons/spirits, and spoke on their behalf. Although he had been healed, he still needed education & assurance.

    Afterwards, the man was found clothed & in his right mind at Jesus feet, no doubt being taught the things of God more perfectly. Later, he was sent back as a witness to his family & friends.

    I don’t believe Jesus is either endorsing or not endorsing a view on the existence of ‘supernatural’ demons/spirits here or elsewhere. The record in the gospels often records events as they appeared without comment on whether the common perception was correct or not. You will see the same when it speaks of ‘lunatics’, or of the record of healing the lame man at the pool of Siloam, where the scripture records the common belief without comment (John.5:4).

    As I have said before, the interpretation of much of what is written depends upon where you place your foundations. I believe demons/spirits existed, and exist today. I just don’t see the scripture teaching that they are supernatural agents.

  24. Marg
    July 11, 2010 @ 10:30 pm

    Your explanation is interesting, Disciple, and you make some valid points. Let’s update the record as you understand it:

    Two men believed they were demon-possessed. But they were not. They were insane. The “unclean spirits” were just the mental diseases that afflicted them.

    When Jesus commanded those unclean spirits to come out of the men, one man asked that “we” be allowed to enter the pigs instead of being sent away.

    [The pronouns tell me that they weren’t healed yet. Why would “we” (two healed men) want to be sent into pigs?]

    Jesus gave them (the men? the diseases?) permission. He then
    a) healed the men and
    b) made all the pigs insane.

    He could have healed them with a word, as he did natural ailments. But he did something that was deliberately calculated to reinforce everybody’s belief that supernatural demons had been cast out of them and allowed to enter the pigs.

    That needs to be emphasized. What he was endorsing was not a belief in natural phenomena. It was a belief in supernatural spirits.

    I agree with you that:

    As I have said before, the foundations for all Jesus’ teachings & actions are found in the OT.

    That’s why I believe his action was based on the truth – not on pagan beliefs. The men actually DID have supernatural spirits cast out of them, and the spirits were then allowed to enter a herd of pigs, instead of being sent away.

    In other words, the story makes sense, just as it is written. It doesn’t make sense if you try to make it mean what it doesn’t say.

  25. Disciple
    July 10, 2010 @ 6:08 pm

    Marg,

    Yes, I am familiar with the story.

    There were two very sick fellows, not just one. Only one spoke.

    Yes, who spoke. That is the question. Was it a legion of supernatural demons or was it a mentally sick man, who believed believed he had a legion of spirits in him.

    I suggest the later. Why didn’t Jesus just tell him he was mentally sick, and be done with it. Here is the question!!

    You’ll also note, that the record seems to suggest that the demons were sent into the pigs ‘after’ the man had been healed.

    If so, then why did the man ask that the spirits be sent into the pigs. Now this is quite facinating.

    You’ll read in Josephus, and contemporary sources, that some of the Jews of the 1st Century practiced casting out of spirits. One method was to place a bowl of water at a short distance from the ‘possessed’ person, and when the spirit was cast out, the bowl would tip over This demonstated to all & especially the affected person, that the spirit was driven out.

    It appears to me that the man was asking for evidence that he had been healed, and that the ‘spirits’ were not going to come back and haunt him again.

    When it says that they had bound him in chains in the past, this was most probably a method of restraining him while they could drive out the the spirits.

    Anyway, why were their ‘pigs’ in the land. They were unclean & forbidden under the Jewish dietry law.

    Thus in one action, Jesus shows to the man that the legion of ‘unclean spirits’ that had afflicted him in the past were gone forever, and secondly, the animals kept contrary to the law were removed.

    And afterwards, the man was seen ‘in his right mind’.

    That is how I read the record.

    I will be off line for a few days, while travelling. I’m sure others could expand on this just as well as me.

  26. Marg
    July 10, 2010 @ 9:08 am

    Disciple – I am going to go back to the example which is easiest to deal with. And since it is recorded in all three gospels, it can’t be put down to a wrong idea on the part of one person.

    First – as the story is told:
    A man was demon-possessed. Jesus commanded the unclean spirits to go out of him. The unclean spirits asked not to be sent to the abyss, but into a herd of swine.

    Jesus gave them permission. And the “spirits” entered a couple of thousand pigs.

    Your explanation:
    The man was not demon-possessed. He was insane. He had many mental diseases.

    He (not the diseases) asked that “we” be allowed to enter the pigs, instead of being sent somewhere else. It was a delusion on the part of the man.

    Jesus spoke to “them” (the diseases?) and gave them permission.

    Then he
    a) healed the man of his insanities, and
    b) made all the pigs insane.

    This action caused the man and the on-lookers to BELIEVE that unclean spirits had been cast out of the man and allowed to enter pigs, even though nothing of the kind happened.

    Frankly, I do not believe that Jesus would deliberately do something so bizarre, knowing that it would confirm people in a wrong belief.

    So I accept the story as it is told.

  27. Marg
    July 10, 2010 @ 8:35 am

    Matt – Thank you for correcting a misapprehension. I wish someone had explained all that a whole lot sooner.

    Ever since this conversation began, I have been given the impression that anyone who believes that demons exist is not a Christian. That is why my question in so many posts has been: Why would Jesus endorse a belief that would bar them from the kingdom of God?

    Thank you for clearing that up. Believing that demons exist has nothing whatever to do with whether or not a person is a Christian.

    I believe the Bible teaches that demons exist. It is not something I wish, but something that the study of the Bible has convinced me of. My mind is open, but the evidence so far all points in that direction.

    For that reason, I am happy to continue the discussion as long as anybody wants to offer further evidence. And if it is necessary to go over the same thing again (which seems to be the case), I can handle that.

  28. Matt
    July 10, 2010 @ 3:41 am

    Disciple,

    Couldn’t agree more.

    It was by no means my purpose to diminish the value of discussing & seeking the truth on this topic. I just wanted to seek to restore some balance to a rather odd view of the Christadelphian approach to fellowship that some posters seemed to have somehow developed (which is not to criticise them either!)

    Thanks again for your hard work, enjoying the posts.

    M

  29. Disciple
    July 9, 2010 @ 10:22 pm

    Matt,

    I have no major dissagreement with the points you make, or the principle explained in your approach to fellowship matters.

    There are no doubt levels of understanding that we are all encouraged to grow into, as we mature in faith. However, it is incumbent on each of us nevertheless to grow, as the scriptures say; Heb.5:12-6:3 & 1.Cor.3:1-3.

    In the meeting I belong to, if someone started believing in supernatural demons, we would certainly want to know why, and would talk to them at length trying to get to the heart of the matter.

    Instant withdrawal of fellowship is thankfully quite rare, from my experience. I can say that in the few cases I have seen, IMO it has been rather poorly handled.

  30. Matt
    July 9, 2010 @ 10:02 pm

    Incidentally, Robert, I don’t know whether you know any Christadelphians personally. But I must say that the idea that Christadelphians commonly feel repressed under an expediency to “toe the doctrinal party line” for fear of authoritarian reprisals just isn’t something I recognise – partly because of what I wrote in my previous post.. partly because of the following.

    I’ve been blessed to be in the position to spend time with Christadelphians in the UK, North America, Australia, Africa, Russia… and I must tell you that the one thing I see in all these places is a willingness to question, to discuss and debate openly (as openly as national culture allows), to seek the truth from God’s word. To be honest, without these characteristics few would feel the need to join the community in the first place – if we were more driven by the need to “fit in” we would simply accept what is taught by the more mainstream options, and get to be part of a really big group. In the UK I’d like to say the mainstream option is Anglicanism, but sadly it may more likely to be Agnosticism!

    So I just don’t think your charge towards Disciple and Abel that “you would say that, you have to toe the party line” (wildly paraphrased, sorry) stacks up – unless I grossly misunderstood your point. It’s also “ad hominem” for what it’s worth.

    BTW do you belong to a group who hold similar beliefs to yourself?

    Cheers,

    M

  31. Disciple
    July 9, 2010 @ 10:00 pm

    Marg,

    When we come to the writings (letters) of the NT apostles, we again enter a field where supposed supernatural demon/spirit/agent possession is not mentioned. This is much like the OT writings.

    Even the 9 gifts of the spirt mentioned in 1.Cor.12 omits ‘casting out of demons’ as a gift. I suggest it is included in ‘healings’, where it rightly belongs.

    Why are we missing clear instruction in these mostly expositional & instructive writings.

    Perhaps the reason is that the ‘disciples’ of the 1st century had been taught the truth on these matters.

  32. Matt
    July 9, 2010 @ 9:42 pm

    All,

    Firstly thanks everyone for your contributions to this thread, which I’ve been following for a while now. Very thought provoking. Thanks to Dale too for providing a great forum for this kind of stuff.

    _Which_Issue?_
    I’ve been moved to post here because it’s clear to me that there are two questions / issues here, which (a) seem to end up intertwined and not dealt with separately; and (b) because of that they end up probably more emotive than they might perhaps need to be.

    In no particular order, the first issue is the question “Do demons / evil spirits exist as supernatural beings”, which recently has spilled over a bit into “is there a supernatural being called Satan / Lucifer / Prince of Persia / etc. who is a fallen angel” Apologies if I have one or two details there not quite accurate there, but that’s basically one of the issues here, and *some have taken it to be the primary issue* at hand.

    The second issue is something like this: *assuming* demons don’t really exist (as supernatural beings etc.), is this a matter for automatic excommunication / disfellowshipping / denial of the privilege of using the term “Christian”. I believe that for some in this discussion *this* has been seen as the primary issue of discussion.

    For clarity, I feel that both are perfectly valid subjects for discussion, but I also believe they’re separate issues and should be treated as such. Now, I feel that the first issue above is being dealt with by people more capable than I, so I write this post for those in the second group (who see the fellowship issue as key).

    _The_Issue_of_Fellowship_
    Before I go further I should explain that I’m a Christadelphian, which means of course that I also consider myself a Christian (though I always feel uncomfortable saying that out loud I fear others may perceive I’m claiming some achievement or success on my own part!)

    Anyway the key point I want to make is this: there simply is _no_such_thing_ in our community as a central dictat, authority, list, rulebook, or anything of the sort, which delineates exactly who should or shouldn’t be “allowed” to remain in fellowship, and under what circumstances. Honestly, it just doesn’t exist.

    Indeed, the word “excommunicate” simply isn’t one I’ve ever heard in the context of Christadelphians’ dealings with one another. FWIW, it’s a term that was used by an entirely different group to signify removal (by earthly authorities) of a person’s relationship with the Church, and hence God, and a term which may well cause loss of livelihood or even life (just ask Tindale). This just couldn’t be farther from the way things work in the Christadelphian community.

    “Disfellowship” is a word that is sometimes used, but I know I’m not alone in avoiding it as (a) it’s not a scriptural word; (b) fellowship is about giving not taking away – just have a look at how the Gk word is used in the NT, particularly for example in Philippians; (c) John tells us that Fellowship is something that exists between believers, their God, and His son. What arrogance to imagine our decisions could affect that status either way for another believer!

    _Scriptural_Withdrawal_
    That aside, “withdrawal” is clearly something that we are responsible to consider in certain circumstances, with the aim of “winning back” a brother / sister. I think this is evident from the NT, I imagine you’ll agree but do let me know if not.

    Anyway, should we “withdraw” from one another on the basis of the question of demons and evil spirits? Well, it’s been said on here before “that depends”. I’d like to put a bit more flesh on those bones, and remind all of the principle: much shall be expected of those to whom much has been given.

    I once met a faithful Christadelphian who in times of stress – in particular in cases where a series of unfortunate circumstances arise at a similar time – succumbed to a fear of the influence of evil spirits. Anyway, should she be withdrawn from because of this? Absolutely not. Why? Well for one thing, she had held for many decades before she had been convinced from the Bible that they don’t exist (I know this point is contentious here, but it’s not contentious in the story!), and such thought patterns don’t die easily (nor does “the old man” which we seek to put off!)

    Likewise, should I be withdrawn from because I find walking through graveyards at night (not a habit I should add!) rather spooky? Does this mean I really believe in ghosts and evil spirits? Absolutely not!

    If I start to teach false doctrine in the congregation, should I be asked not to? Should the invitation to teach be withdrawn until things are straightened out? Absolutely. I imagine this is not something anyone here will disagree with, but I’ve been wrong before! Should I be withdrawn from? Certainly not immediately. It might be a good opportunity for a chat with one or two elders – perhaps I didn’t articulate myself well and was misunderstood. Perhaps I do actually believe the false doctrine but can be persuaded otherwise. Perhaps it’s not that big a deal and we’ll decide together to live with the differences. Perhaps it is a big deal and we’ll decide together that I’d be better off meeting regularly with a different group of Christians (Muslims?) who share my views.

    Specifically, how would a belief in evil spirits get dealt with? On an individual basis by a member’s own congregation. Honestly it’s difficult to make a universal statement that says more than that, except to say that most Christadelphians I speak to think it’s an important issue. But most I speak to also wouldn’t wish to deny the use of the term “Christian” to someone who believes that way. And hopefully all would agree that it’s simply not in their remit to judge someone’s status or salvation before God based on this or anything else.

    _In_Summary_
    Sorry, I’ve already written too much, but just to underline this, in the Christadelphian community matters of fellowship are considered on a local basis, by an individual congregation, prayerfully and with a careful consideration of scripture, and as they relate to an individual’s circumstances, and above all with the purpose in mind of restoring that person to the warmth of the congregation if at all possible, by God’s grace. Ok so everyone’s human and there are doubtless exceptions where things have not been done quite ideally – but there simply is no central dictat that defines that “if you believe in demons you will be excommunicated, no questions asked, and furthermore you jolly well shouldn’t be calling yourself a Christian.”

    Marg: I for one have been enjoying your openness and honesty, and commend you for opening your scriptures, keeping a reasonably open mind, and discussing issues such as this frankly with other believers. There’s certainly an OT precedent for that: Mal 3:16-18.

    To God be the Glory.

    M

  33. Disciple
    July 9, 2010 @ 9:36 pm

    Marg,

    In Matt.12:22-30
    Was Jesus being accommodating to the Pharisees & the people, or should he has stated plainly that Beelzebub didn’t exist. It would have been much simpler to argue, and truthful.

    In Luke.16:19-31
    Was Jesus being accommodation to the Pharisees when he uses clear detail from their own belief system (see Josephus). Why didn’t he just tell them plainly.

  34. Disciple
    July 9, 2010 @ 8:13 pm

    What Power are these supposed Supernatural gods/devils/demons/spirits supposed to exert?

    Here is God’s clear word on it. A statement that is in accord with everything he has revealed from the beginning.

    Think carefully about what he says …

    Isaiah.41:21-24
    “….Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together. Behold, ye are of nothing, and your work of nought: an abomination is he that chooseth you”

    They cannot do good or evil, they cannot predict the future, they cannot even light a fire, as Elijah mocked … they are nothing but the product of man’s imagination.

    But you might say; in the NT things have changed. They are real, manifesting themselves as doing good & evil, making people deaf, dumb, epileptic, insane, lunatic and even predicting the future.

    Maybe Yahweh in the OT was not telling us everything, or the whole truth. Maybe he was only speaking in degrees in that his power was so much greater than these lesser gods/spirits.

    Were the NT spirits/demons real. Yes they were real things. Were they the product of the influence of supernatural agents. No they were not, as the OT clearly states.

  35. Marg
    July 9, 2010 @ 7:06 pm

    God’s Word is infinite. There will always be something more to learn about our God.

    But when someone tells me I shouldn’t expect to understand it until the right people explain it to me, I am not impressed.

    That’s what the leaders of every exclusive denomination/sect/party tell their followers.

    I have studied everything you and your fellows have written, and TESTED it, because that’s what Paul said to do. And I have learned some things I did not know before.

    But I do NOT believe that God was talking about things that did not exist, and I do NOT believe that Jesus was misleading his followers by endorsing a pagan belief that would bar them from entering his kingdom.

  36. Marg
    July 9, 2010 @ 6:35 pm

    I have answered the first question several times, Abel, but I will try again.

    The one thing we agreed on was that the idols existed.

    If the idols existed, then the gods existed, because THE GODS AND THE IDOLS WERE ONE AND THE SAME THING.

    It was Dagon – the god of the Philistines – that had his head and hands broken off. The Philistines could SEE what had happened to their god. They could SEE his head and his hands. There was nothing imaginary about it.

    Let me repeat: THE IDOLS WERE THE GODS. The two words are used synonymously – in much the same way that “demons” and “unclean spirits” are used synonymously in the gospels.

    We have agreed that the idols existed. Therefore, the gods existed. The idols and the gods were one and the same thing.

    In other words, God was not saying anything that was not true. And neither did Jesus.

  37. Abel
    July 9, 2010 @ 4:12 pm

    Marg,

    You haven’t answered my questions from post #451.

    1. Was God endorsing a belief in Egyptian and Canaanite gods when He spoke and acted as if they existed?

    2. Did Luke think the woman in Acts 16 had a spirit of python?

    3. Why do you think the New Testament should have been written 2000 years ago in another country in a language that would be instantly understandable to you and using customs you would be completely comfortable with?

  38. Marg
    July 9, 2010 @ 2:40 pm

    Let’s not forget that Jesus is the Messiah. He knew the Old Testament a lot better than we do. And he was guided by the Spirit of God, as well. He would not be influenced by Greco/Roman/Pagan thought.

    But let’s suppose everybody else (including the writers of the New Testament) believed that evil spirits existed, simply because they got that belief from the pagan world.

    Surely the Messiah would be aware of that. He knew what they believed.

    Therefore, Disciple, If Jesus endorsed their belief, he was NOT endorsing a belief in natural phenomena. He was endorsing their belief in supernatural spirits.

    So I have to conclude that their belief was NOT a pagan belief, or he would not have endorsed it.

  39. robert
    July 9, 2010 @ 11:54 am

    Abel
    I have 2 questions.
    Are only true christians the ones that will receive salvation?
    Does belief in satan,demons,evil angels or lessor gods disqualify a person as a christian?

  40. Abel
    July 9, 2010 @ 8:55 am

    Robert,

    You are right – we must ultimately rest on the mercy of God for our ultimate reward and not on the decision of one group of christians or another.

    As to your beliefs on this subject, I do not believe they are Christian, I believe they are Greco/Roman/Pagan, but as you say you have no reason to worry about what my opinion is.

    We each have to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

    All the best.

  41. robert
    July 9, 2010 @ 8:34 am

    Abel, disciple
    as i said I dont require the existence of satan,demons or evil angels in my belief if they dont exist it doesnt change a thing.
    But i can not deny their existence because they are literally spoken of and beliefed in by the prophets, by Jesus himself and also the Apostles.
    It wasnt till a discussion i was reading between a CD and christian that i seen the truth about them.It wasnt the christian in this discussion that convinced me, It was the lack of the truth in the explanation of the CD when i researched their explanation. I have read every explanation that a CD gives on this subject and was just baiting you into providing one of those illogical explanations. I have to say they are always interesting but I havent been much of a fiction reader lately.
    As i said to Abel this is not a salvation issue so in no way do i claim your not saved.
    what i wish though is the CD’s would quit claiming their belief must be followed to be a christian.
    If this discussion was in a place where more people could see it i would want all your explanations in it cause it was the catalysis for me seeing the truth on this subject.

  42. Marg
    July 9, 2010 @ 7:39 am

    If this was

    A society where mental illness / hearing of voices is … generally identified and named as forms of spirit/demon possession.

    … then when Jesus gave permission to demons to enter a herd of pigs, the onlookers were not thinking of natural diseases. They were thinking of unclean spirits; and all of them (including the inspired authors) went away convinced that evil spirits (as THEY understood the term) had been cast out of the man.

    The same can be said for other instances where Jesus was obviously dealing (or else pretending to deal) with living, supernatural spirits.

    That Jesus would go so far in accommodating himself to their belief is inexplicable – unless he thought they were right.

    Jesus knew the Old Testament better than any of us do. If the people’s belief was wrong, and if that belief would bar them from salvation, then he was in a position to warn them. Instead, his words and actions encouraged their belief.

    Jesus would NOT have encouraged a belief that would bar his hearers from entering the kingdom of God. Instead, he would have CORRECTED it. After all, he did not hesitate to correct other errors that would keep people from God.

    So what justification is there for erecting a barrier that did not exist when Jesus was on earth?

    [The same thing goes for Trinitarians who tell me that I must believe God is tri-une or I cannot be a Christian.]

  43. Abel
    July 9, 2010 @ 5:57 am

    Robert,

    Ezekiel 28 is yet another chapter from which you can only derive the existence of the evil angel satan by circular reasoning.

    There is no corroborative evidence anywhere in the Bible to indicate that this verse is talking about anyone else other than the king of Tyre.

    If you ask a believer in Satan to tell you where the Bible describes the fall of Satan they will point you to Ezekiel 28, but when you ask them how they know Ezekiel 28 describes the fall of Satan they smile and say “because it describes his fall”.

    This is circular reasoning and is completely illogical.

    If Ezekiel 28 is your best evidence of the fall of an evil angel and it doesn’t even refer to an evil angel or someone called Satan and there is no corroborative evidence anywhere else in scripture to make you even think these verses are talking about this character (especially when the verses ARE addressed to someone else who did literally exist) then you really are clutching at straws.

    Let me see if I can help you understand by looking at the verses you mention (Ez 28:11-19). You may see a pattern develop here:

    Nowhere in scripture are we told that an evil angel was called, “the king of Tyre”. (vs. 12)

    Nowhere in scripture are we told that an evil angel was “full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty”. (vs. 12)

    Nowhere in scripture are we told that an evil angel was in Eden, or covered in precious stones. (vs. 13)

    Nowhere in scripture are we told that an evil angel had tabrets and pipes made inside of him. (vs. 13)

    Nowhere in scripture are we told that an evil angel was a cherubim or that he was anointed or covered anything. (vs. 14) (the only anointed cherubims in scripture were on the Ark of the Covenant covering the mercy seat)

    Nowhere in scripture are we told that an evil angel was on the “holy mountain of God” (Zion in Jerusalem). (vs. 14)

    Nowhere in scripture are we told that an evil angel “walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire”. (vs. 14)

    Nowhere in scripture are we told that an evil angel was perfect “till iniquity was found in [him]”. (vs. 15)

    Nowhere in scripture are we told that an evil angel was “filled… with violence” because of “merchandise”. (vs. 16)

    Nowhere in scripture are we told that an evil angel had his “heart… lifted up because of [his] beauty”. (vs. 17)

    I hope you are starting to get the picture.

    In conclusion, Ezekiel 28:

    1. Doesn’t mention Satan

    2. Doesn’t mention an evil angel

    3. Makes no mention of any characteristics or activities of an evil angel that can be corroborated elsewhere in the Bible.

    4. Is explicitly addressed to someone else completely.

    The only way you can think Ezekiel 28 is about your Satan is if you approach it with preconceived ideas and stories about Satan and then twist the context completely to fit your own unscriptural ideas.

  44. Abel
    July 9, 2010 @ 5:52 am

    Marg,

    I am sorry that nothing has yet been said that has had the power to dispell your belief in demons.

    You say that Jesus spoke and acted as if demons existed.

    We have already seen that God spoke and acted as if the false gods of the Egyptians and Canaanites existed, yet we share the conclusion that they did not.

    Why would it be okay for God to act this way, but not for Jesus?

    We have looked at the example of the woman possessed with the spirit of python in Acts 16.

    You have to ask yourself – did Luke really believe she had a spirit of python?

    There are only two answers and you have to pick one: Yes or No?

    YES! If Luke really believed she had a spirit of python then he also believed in the Greek gods and their mythology. This is an inescapable conclusion and obviously very troubling to have an apostle with the Holy Spirit propounding polytheism.

    NO! If Luke did not believe she had a spirit of python then he was simply describing somone using the language of the time in the knowledge that his contemporary readers would understand what he meant. I propose that this is the truth and that this is what Jesus did.

    Finally I think the root of the problem remains that you believe the Bible should have been written so that it was instantly understandable to someone living thousands of years later so as not to cause confusion.

    Unfortunately if it was written that way it would have been unreadable to the people living at the time!

    The New Testament was written two thousand years ago for people living two thousand years ago. If we therefore come across terminology that is difficult to understand, it is not because the Bible has been written wrongly. We just need to dig a little deeper than the surface to understand how people lived and what they believed and understood back at that time.

    Anyway, I wish you all the best in your studies and I hope you find what you are looking for!

  45. Disciple
    July 9, 2010 @ 3:45 am

    Demon possession = Mental Illness of past ages.

    I hope this will be my final post on this subject, as enough information has been already supplied to get to the heart of the matter for anyone really wanting to know.

    We live in a society where we are almost totally isolated from those who have serious mental illnesses. People with these types of disorders are today in special care. Even until recently, they were in ‘lunatic assylums’, but now we know better, and try and treat them as people with mental illnesses.

    When you communicate with some of these unfortunate people, you will be persuaded that they have more than one personality, which they do.

    Symptoms include a lack of cohesion of thought and rationality, a lack of moral judgement, a lack of shame, words that are ‘from somewhere else’, strange voices and some of them are very strong and almost impervious to pain. (do some research on serious mental illness or talk to someone who works with them)

    It is also a known phenomena, that a relatively high percentage of the general population ‘hear voices’, and sometimes these voices are aggressive, derisive, violent & evil. Again, these voices are the product of mental imbalance, and are now treatable with therapy.

    Now take yourself back 2,000 years to a society inundated with ignorance & superstition, and a belief in fickle gods, evil spirits, demon possessions, lunacy and many other such concepts.

    A society where mental illness / hearing of voices is not clinically identified as an illness, but generally identified and named as forms of spirit/demon possession.

    A society where the affected individuals are in general society, where they speak and act in the most peculiar & irrational way.

    A society where they appear and act as if they are possessed by some strange & unpredictable ‘spirit’, which of course they are.

    When Jesus speaks to, or interacts with, these affected people he sometimes speaks to the malignent spirit that possesses them. It is a real phenomena, and is dealt with as real.

    These ‘spirits’ are part of the affected individual’s organic and mental composition.

    And Jesus healed them all with a word, as Matt.4:23-24 shows.

    Did Jesus ‘endorce’ a belief in demons & spirits by his actions?

    Of course, because they are a real phenomena.

    Did Jesus teach that such demons/spirits are a manifestation of supernatural gods/agents?

    I don’t believe so, and I don’t see support for this.

    As I have said before, the foundations for all Jesus’ teachings & actions are found in the OT.

    The OT is a place where there is not only no endorsement for a belief in supernatual evil spirits/demons/agents, but clear instruction on the singularlity of God in heaven.

    Isaiah.45:21-22.
    “….and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else”

  46. Disciple
    July 9, 2010 @ 1:23 am

    Marg,

    I am sorry, but you seem to have not heard me.
    I have not suggested that ‘demons’ do not exist.

    I have rather stated that I believe that the word demons is used in 2 principle ways in the NT scriptures –
    1) demons are the false gods of the nations
    2) demons are types of mental dissorders in people, that seemed to take on a life of their own.

    I do not believe that in either situations they are supernatural agents or powers.

    I asked for OT evidence, to act as foundations for belief. So far, no one has advanced anything of substance.

  47. Disciple
    July 9, 2010 @ 1:09 am

    Robert,

    You said earlier – “I never use the NT to set the context of a subject unless its sheding light on a prophesy in the OT.”

    This was in the same post that you advanced Ezek.28.

    I took me some considerable effort to explain & show from the surrounding context in Ezekiel, from the history of the nations, and from the very spirit of the way the prophets use language, how I believe the section is to be correctly understood.

    You gave no reasoned response to what I advanced. When I pointed this out, you took the next steps in accusing me of twisting words.

    Sorry, but I don’t acknowledge that type of behaviour as either helpful, or in the spirit of Christ.

    The problem goes much deeper unfortunately, because if you cannot get the fundamentals right on how to interpret even these moderately difficult passages you will end up thoroughly confused when the writings and symbology gets complex.

    I’m more than happy to leave it there with you. You have already judged me unworthy of your time.

    I am more than willing to discuss at greater depth any or all of these matters with anyone really willing to courageously explore the word.

  48. Marg
    July 8, 2010 @ 11:24 pm

    My convictions regarding Old Testament passages may be wrong, Disciple, but my opinion is really not very important. With all due respect, neither is Robert’s and neither is yours.

    The one person who was NOT likely to make a mistake is the Messiah. Nobody knows the Old Testament as well as he did. And no one has denied that he spoke and acted, time after time, as if demons DO exist.

    Why would he talk as if he believed something that would disqualify his hearers from becoming Christians?

    Or, looking at it from a different angle, if Jesus was willing to accommodate their belief that demons exist, why can’t we follow his example?

  49. robert
    July 8, 2010 @ 10:50 pm

    Robert,

    Thanks … you just confirmed what I was saying. No reviewing the scriptures, no context, no reasoned response – just bold assertions.

    Disciple
    And you just confirmed my statement that you twist the truth of of context to promote yourself and your belief.
    Yep your are certainly blessed but by who it up in the air. and your blessing has nothing to do with the truth.
    this discussion has gone nowhere , I am so blessed that i never fell into the CDs trap when looking for a unitarian group a year and half ago. Thank God for giving me the common sense to walk away.

  50. Disciple
    July 8, 2010 @ 10:26 pm

    Robert,

    Thanks … you just confirmed what I was saying. No reviewing the scriptures, no context, no reasoned response – just bold assertions.

    Yes, and thank you, I will have a great night. God has certainly blessed me in numerous ways, of which I am very thankful.

  51. Disciple
    July 8, 2010 @ 10:21 pm

    Robert, you wrote –

    “Neither does (Ezek.21:25, Is.9:6, Dan.8:25). support your claim that a king and prince are the same.”

    Robert, you really need to read & think more carefully before you respond. Please look up the references and understand the contexts and think about what is being said before you comment.

    This is what I wrote –
    “Not sure on that point, as the word ‘prince’ is also used of kings (Ezek.21:25, Is.9:6, Dan.8:25). I didn’t say it refered to the king of Persia, although it may have.”

    The first reference is to Zedekiah, called a prince but who is also a king of Judah. The next two are about Jesus, who is called both a prince and a king.

    Robert, you then go onto to quote the very point and reference that I was making –

    “Now a King can be spoke of as a prince when the point is the power that they rule by is not theirs but belongs to a being greater than they. Daniel 8 shows these clearly”

    For the sake of eticquitte & efficiency it would be a whole lot more productive and respectful if you took a little more time to think carefully before you respond.

    Thanks in anticipation.

  52. robert
    July 8, 2010 @ 10:15 pm

    “Conclusion.
    The subject & message of Ezel.28 is quite clear. The language colourful & poetic. The outcome tragic. But no where is there any support here for a belief in the existance of some supernatural devil.”

    Disciple
    I expected no less from reading the rest of your responses. I know that there is no way anyone could ever change your mind on a belief that could change your whole life if it was found you no longer believed it.
    as for me I will stick to the truth whether or not i find another who sees it. I have nothing to lose like you do.
    Like i said this would be great if it was somewhere other people looking into this subject could find it.
    They would be very impressed with Marg’s honest way of bringing forth the truth and be very disappointed in just how some twist the truth to lead people away from the true context of a subject.
    If Marg wants to continue i will still support her effort but thats all i will do.
    i find it a lost cause if no one other than CDs see it.
    Have a great night

  53. Marg
    July 8, 2010 @ 10:09 pm

    I wonder if we could get back to the one point nobody has denied. Jesus, the Messiah, spoke to people AS IF demons really do exist.

    We have been told that he was just accommodating what people believed, even though he knew that such a belief constituted polytheism and would prevent them from being Christians.

    That makes no sense. Jesus would not deliberately encourage his hearers to retain a belief that would bar them from his kingdom.

    Please remember: he is the Messiah. Nobody knew the Old Testament better than he did.

    So if he was willing to “accommodate” people’s belief in demons, why can’t his followers do the same?

  54. Disciple
    July 8, 2010 @ 9:54 pm

    Robert,

    Thanks for the comments on Ezek.28.

    I recommend that you read the whole chapter, and the surrounding sections and get a better handle of the prophetic style of revelation.

    This is a really good example of how we can all be deceived by presuppositions & beliefs.

    The Immediate Context –

    Ezek.28:2
    “Son of man say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the LORD God; Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God” etc.

    The section is addressed to the ruler of Tyre, a nation that had a long history with Israel stretching back to the days of David & Solomon.

    The Tyrians were allies of Israel for a long time, and involved in trading ventures with Solomon.

    They made themselves & Israel rich by their trading, and by the alliance they had with Israel whereby between them they could control the flow of trade from East to West, on land and sea.

    Tyres wealth had made both king & kingdom the envy of the ancient world, and unfortunately had lifted them up ‘as the heart of God’ V5-6. God goes on to say that he would humble them, and bring them down V7-10.

    They had turned against Israel, and stood with her enemies (Ezek.26:2), and for this she would be judged.

    But what of the language of V.13-14. You will note that V12 says it is a lamentation, which is a song or poem of mourning. It is for the ‘king of Tyre’, and laments his fall from a priveleged, enriched, wise & honourable position.

    Like all songs & poetry, the lamentation uses exagerated terms –

    Eden the garden of God –
    V.13 says “Thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God”. Does this relate to the geographical area of Eden (which even at that time was a very fertile & productive place Gen.13:10 etc), or to the time mentioned in Genesis.

    Let’s look at the surrounding context, to see who else was in Eden.
    Ezek.31:8-9, 16-18 speaks of Pharaoh & Egypt and the surrouding nations as all having been in Eden. The term undoubtedly refers to the geographical area, and the nations are likened to great trees in Eden.

    Thou wast created –
    As were other nations & kings (Dan.4:17). See also –
    Ezek.21:30 = Ammon
    Isaiah.43:1,15 = Israel

    Thou art the annointed cherub the covereth –
    Here it will get sticky, for many mistakenly believe that the cheribum were a class of angels. I believe that the scriptures present them as representative beings, representing the ideal of (& future of) God’s people. See Rev.5:6-10.

    Their human & animal-like features represent characteristics of God’s people & areas of their service.

    That is why cheribum were placed at the entrance of the garden when Adam & Eve were cast out, to preserve the way to the tree of life (Gen.3:24)

    That is also why they were made out of one piece of gold, with the “mercy seat” which represented Christ. They are one with him.

    They were located in the most holy, a place that saints currently have access to through Christ (our mercy seat = place of propitiation), and a place that represent heaven itself (Rom.3:25, Heb.9:23; 10:19-24, Eph.1:3 etc)

    Now back to the lamentation. Ezekiel speaks of the king of Tyres previous position as the ‘annointed cherub that covereth’. He was in league with Israel, called a brother of Solomon (1.Kg.5 etc), and a possessor of part of the promised land.

    He & his kingdom played the part of the covering cherub. The brotherly covenant involved Tyre acting as an outstretched (wings of) northern empire covering Israel, and protecting & enriching her people.

    The language is no doubt poetic, and utilizes poetic licence. This is a common feature of the prophetic style.

    Conclusion.
    The subject & message of Ezel.28 is quite clear. The language colourful & poetic. The outcome tragic. But no where is there any support here for a belief in the existance of some supernatural devil.

  55. robert
    July 8, 2010 @ 9:03 pm

    Neither does (Ezek.21:25, Is.9:6, Dan.8:25). support your claim that a king and prince are the same.
    Now a King can be spoke of as a prince when the point is the power that they rule by is not theirs but belongs to a being greater than they.
    Daniel 8 shows these clearly

    Daniel 8
    23 And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. 24 And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy [7] people. 25 And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace [8] shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.

    and Ezekiel 28 :1-10 also shows this when God speaks of the king of Tyrus as just being a prince because we find in verses 11-19 just who actually is in power and where all the power of the human king comes from.

    The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst [1] of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God: 3 Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee: 4 With thy wisdom and with thine understanding thou hast gotten thee riches, and hast gotten gold and silver into thy treasures: 5 By thy great [2] wisdom and by thy traffick hast thou increased thy riches, and thine heart is lifted up because of thy riches: 6 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God; 7 Behold, therefore I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations: and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy brightness. 8 They shall bring thee down to the pit, and thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas. 9 Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I am God? but thou shalt be a man, and no God, in the hand of him that slayeth [3] thee. 10 Thou shalt die the deaths of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD

  56. Disciple
    July 8, 2010 @ 8:24 pm

    Marg,

    You said and asked the following –

    “However, the passage certainly seems to imply that “the prince of the kingdom of Persia” is not to be confused with “the kings of Persia.”
    Wouldn’t you agree?”

    Not sure on that point, as the word ‘prince’ is also used of kings (Ezek.21:25, Is.9:6, Dan.8:25). I didn’t say it refered to the king of Persia, although it may have.

    We just don’t have enough information to state that it was the current king of Persia, or one of his princes who was being moved. If you look at the history of Persia shortly after this period, you will note that it was a period of many usurpers (princes) claiming the crown.

    You will also note from the ‘context’, that the word is used again in Dan.10:20 as follows –
    “..and now I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come”

    So their is a prince of Greecia as well as a prince of Persia.

    I believe that the angel revelator then goes on to expand on this, when he shows what is noted in the ‘scripture of truth’ (Dan.11:2-3).

    In this, he gives some explaination to his comments (Dan.10:20) as he speaks about the events to follow in the kingdom of Persia & Greece, expanding upon the things revealed in Dan.8:20-22.

  57. robert
    July 8, 2010 @ 8:07 pm

    Genesis 3 states he was in the garden and
    Ezekiel 28 14 “Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire” he was giving power as an ANOINTED cherub.
    as i have said Ezekiel 28 :11-19 can only be addressing a being that is over 3000 years old and we find only spiritual beings can do this.
    this also shows satans(lucifer) fall and cause.
    Btw
    I never use the NT to set the context of a subject unless its sheding light on a prophesy in the OT.

  58. Disciple
    July 8, 2010 @ 7:46 pm

    Robert,

    You make an interesting point when you say –

    “Power was giving to satan and he was giving a delusion that he would believe a lie that he could be greater than his creator”.

    OK, now show me from the OT where the foundations ‘clearly’ show this. No reading backwards from the NT. No assuming the theory first.

    For starters, just the OT, in clear language where this theory exists and is a taught in clear language.

    As said earlier, this is the method used by Christ & his apostles.

  59. robert
    July 8, 2010 @ 6:55 pm

    “What I don’t believe is that these words, or the circumstances in which they are used, refer to any supernatural agency at work.”

    Disciple
    I agree because all power is delegated by The One Supreme Being that created all things and whether it be for good or evil it was ordained by God to fit his overall plan.
    Power was giving to satan and he was giving a delusion that he would believe a lie that he could be greater than his creator.
    This all fits the plan of God and is stated very clearly in the bible.

  60. Disciple
    July 8, 2010 @ 6:37 pm

    Thanks folks for that little display of exuberance, it was facinating.

    After considering the different views, it is quite apparent that to believe or not to believe in the existance of evil supernatural gods/demons/angels will have a huge impact on how you read the many books of the Bible, both OT & NT.

    It will also significantly effect how you read parts of Revelation, which is a book writing specifically to the ‘servants’ of Jesus.

    Is this important, should it worry those who strive to be ‘disciples’ in these latter days?

    It should, as the different ‘world views’ produce quite fundamentally different perspectives, & will either help or hinder in our quest to understand the truth of God.

    For myself, I grew up believing in the existance of supernatural evil powers. Some 30 years ago, after studying the scriptures from front to back (& not visa-versa as is so often done) & seeking to find the faith that was once & for all time delivered to the saints, I came to understand this & many other subjects in what I believe is a more scripturally sound way.

    The Jewish contemporaries of Jesus claimed their beliefs & practices were founded on Moses, and that God was their father. Yet Jesus says of them that they were (children) of their father ‘the devil’ (John.8).

    The challenge for us is to get to the essence of the truth of these and other matters. I discovered a long time ago that people so often do not listen or understand full extend of what is being said. (for eg: Consider Jesus words in Matt.22:31-32, to prove the resurection)

    Finally, let me say this again for I think the point is often missed. As a careful Bible studend, I do believe in the existance of demons, gods, satan & the devil.

    What I don’t believe is that these words, or the circumstances in which they are used, refer to any supernatural agency at work.

  61. robert
    July 8, 2010 @ 4:59 pm

    “That is essentially what your “common sense” is – the application of what you already believe to the new information you receive.”

    Abel
    as I said i spent 46 years as a christian not believing in satan or demons in the literal sense but after thorough reading and research i removed my misconception and replaced it with the truth.
    You dont need to try to explain any other verses that you have gone over in this thread because I read them already.
    I will stand by my statement that”On the other hand you MUST believe they dont exist to have a clear conscience that your are not a polytheist .” because it is your driving factor to keep your misconception and thats ok Because you will be judged on matters of the heart(what type of person you are) not doctrine. There is nobody with 100% true doctrine because the deception has grown beyond recognition. God grace will save you and me both as it does others who have been deceived. It doesnt matter to what degree the deception was because there is no difference btween being slightly deceived or completely deceived because none the less you are deceived.
    Now if you want to discuss what promise that was made to Abraham that has requirements set to be able to partake of that particular promise then lets discuss that. Just dont think the other promise(Grace) has doctrine requirements and CD’s have an exclusive because there will be atheist that will enter the same gate as you and me, as long as they dont have crimes against mankind.

  62. Abel
    July 8, 2010 @ 4:28 pm

    Robert,

    If I have said anything to insult or offend you I apologise. I certainly don’t remember writing anything that could be taken as an attack on your intellect, but if I did you have my apologies.

    I did write that you approach Revelation 12 with preconceptions about the existence of evil angels and I stand by that, but it wasn’t an attack on your intelligence. Lots of clever people have preconceptions.

    My post #428 was simply a tongue in cheek way of pointing out that there is no evidence in Revelation 12 to suggest that the war in heaven should be taken any more literally than the 865 thousand mile tall pregnant woman.

    The only way you can arrive at a belief in one and not the other is to approach the chapter with already developed and preconceived notions of which one exists and which doesn’t.

    That is essentially what your “common sense” is – the application of what you already believe to the new information you receive.

    The problem is that even if Satan the evil angel does exist there is still no basis to believe that the war in heaven is any more real than the 865 thousand mile tall pregnant woman.

    You have differentiated between the two based entirely on presupposition, conjecture and what you term “common sense”.

    If you have spent 46 years of your life investigating the matter you will know that there is only one angel in the whole of scripture referred to as Satan (or “a” Satan) and he was a good, obedient angel of God:

    Number 22:22 “the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary” (the word “adversary” a translation of satan) – (mal’ak Yehovah yatsab derek satan)

    As for the rest of your post, you state that my “explanation of other verses” is “weak beyond common sense and is truly nonsense”.

    I hadn’t explained any other verses, so I’m not quite sure what you’re referring to. I’d be pleased to offer my explanation of any verse you have in mind and I would do it in a polite and non-adversarial manner in the hope of winning you round.

    You also say that I “MUST” believe evil angels don’t exist to preclude polytheism. I would disagree.

    If the Bible taught that evil angels exist and that we should not be polytheistic then I would presume that a belief in evil angels could not be defined as polytheistic.

    However what I find is that the Bible teaches that evil angels do not exist and that is the sole reason why I “MUST” not believe in them.

  63. Marg
    July 8, 2010 @ 4:09 pm

    I’d like to get back to something that is NOT figurative.

    I believe that Jesus is the Messiah.
    I believe he knew the Old Testament better than we do. If anybody knew what would bar someone from entry into his kingdom, he did.

    Therefore, if it is true that believing in the existence of demons bars someone from entering the kingdom of God, then surely Jesus must have known that. And surely he would have been zealous about making people aware that their belief would bar them from his kingdom.

    But his words and his actions show nothing of the kind. In fact, what he did and said would make people think that he agreed with their belief. Never a hint did he give that there was anything wrong with it.

    That is the issue here. I do not challenge anyone’s right to believe that demons do not exist, if that is what they have been taught.

    But I DO challenge the right to bar people from the kingdom of God because they believe what Jesus appeared to believe.

  64. robert
    July 8, 2010 @ 2:16 pm

    “The only reason that you believe it is “common sense” to believe in evil angels and not in 865 thousand mile tall women is that you only approach Revelation chapter 12 with the preconception that these evil angels exist.”

    Abel

    Actually i spent 46 years believing they didnt exist till i read the bible with a completely open mind that the bible was full of literal and figurative that could be determined with the use of a little common sense. You can not provide a truthful defense of these verses without trying to attack my intellect which wasnt even effective to the least part.
    Your explanation of other verses that state LITERALLY the existence of satan and sinful angels is weak beyond common sense and is truly nonsense in it self.
    I do not need for satan to exist within my belief, I just cant ignore the fact he does.
    On the other hand you MUST believe they dont exist to have a clear conscience that your are not a polytheist .
    All I have to do is believe there is only one supreme GOD and He can delegate his power to any being he wants

  65. Abel
    July 8, 2010 @ 1:53 pm

    Robert,

    The only reason that you believe it is “common sense” to believe in evil angels and not in 865 thousand mile tall women is that you only approach Revelation chapter 12 with the preconception that these evil angels exist.

    There is of course precisely the same amount of proof in the Bible to support both the belief in evil angels and pregnant women roughly the size of our sun.

    It just depends what your preconceptions are.

    This is the method I see a lot of believers in satan using. They say it is common sense to see literal evil angels in this chapter, but then when you ask them how they know evil angels exist, they smile and point to this chapter.

    The argument is circular and obviously nonsense.

  66. robert
    July 8, 2010 @ 12:36 pm

    Abel
    There is figurative,literal,past, present and future all through out Rev..
    You cant apply just one to everything, you have to use common sense.
    The first part you believe would come from common sense but the second would just come from nonsense.this is the method i see a lot of trinitarians using.
    Thank you for showing your only defense on these verses.

  67. Abel
    July 8, 2010 @ 12:18 pm

    I completely agree with Robert and I have to say that I just love Revelation Chapter 12!

    Not only does this chapter prove categorically that Satan and evil angels exist but it also proves the existence of my favourite scriptural character – the pregnant woman who is 865 thousand miles tall!

    Verse 1 describes her “clothed with the sun” so she must be at least that tall (probably bigger I reckon) and able to stand temperatures in excess of 5,500 degrees celsius.

    Some people say that the book of Revelation is symbolic and that Satan, evil angels and the pregnant 865 thousand mile tall woman don’t exist but that’s just ridiculous.

  68. robert
    July 8, 2010 @ 11:53 am

    Marg
    I believe Revelation 12:7-9: sums up this whole discussion.
    In it we find the angel Michael given more authority than that of an average angel. His title is exalted above of just being a messenger.
    Then we also find another being whos authority gives him command of angels.
    And this war takes place in heaven.
    This being a war we have an opposing force of God and this force is lead by satan and we also find other angels oppossing God making the fact that they are angels who sinned against God which totally shoots down the CD view by itself.
    They cant use their normal defense that this is speaking of humans because they couldnt explain how humans were in heaven.
    This would just have to be completely ignored to continue in the CD view on this subject and it also shows that all other explaintions that CD’s use of other verses on this subject have a great possibilty of being false.
    This has been a great discussion but i wish it was in a place where more people could acesss it.

  69. Marg
    July 8, 2010 @ 10:14 am

    I agree with much of what you say about angels. But your explanation re “the prince of the kingdom of the Persians” doesn’t seem to fit the context in Daniel 10.

    The command for Gabriel to go to Daniel came at a precise moment. What kept him from obeying it immediately?

    You are imagining that he had a prior command to say/do something to the king of Persia. The king wouldn’t listen, and he (a mere man) was able to prevent Gabriel from carrying out his mission to Daniel for three weeks. That is certainly not explicit in the narrative.

    It doesn’t fit the language, either. The word for “prince” is the Hebrew word sar. It means the head, or chief, of a particular class.

    Granted, the word can be used in a variety of ways; but in the context of Daniel 10, there is a clear distinction between “the prince of the kingdom of Persia” and “the kings of Persia” (v. 13). The Hebrew word for “king” is melech. And the word here is plural, not singular. So the distinction between “prince” and “kings” is too obvious to ignore.

    Michael was “one of the princes”. He was Daniel’s prince (v. 21), the prince of the sons of Daniel’s people, prince of the nation of Israel (ch. 12:1).

    The same word is used to describe “the prince of the kingdom of Persia”. He was (apparently) “one of the princes,” not one of the kings of Persia.

    I am in no position to differentiate between one “prince” and another. Nor can I comment on their duties apart from what is clearly revealed in the context. I think we can safely leave to God the right to have purposes and plans that we do not know anything about.

    However, the passage certainly seems to imply that “the prince of the kingdom of Persia” is not to be confused with “the kings of Persia.”

    Wouldn’t you agree?

  70. Disciple
    July 8, 2010 @ 12:30 am

    Marg,

    I was with you (mostly) till this paragraph.

    “The “prince of the kingdom of the Persians” is not named; but if he could prevent Gabriel from carrying out his mission for 21 days, I conclude that he, too, is a supernatural being.”

    There are no doubts that Gabriel & Michael mentioned in the OT are God’s angels. We are plainly told so.

    In fact Michael is most probably the one mentioned in Exod.23:20-23, who bare God’s name, the same one that Moses saw & heard in the burning bush Exod.3:2-4 & Acts.7:30-35.

    The meaning of ‘Michael’ = ‘one like God’. He is called an archangel in the NT, and a ‘chief prince’ in Daniel, and from the record it appears that he is highest in the hierarchy of angels.

    Also from the record, it is evident that angels have regularly played the part of God’s messengers (which is what the word literally means), in being God’s ambassadors to men (Luke.1:26-37).

    This is not their only function. The word ‘angel’ in both Hebrew & Greek is also commonly used of men, who take on the role of messengers (Mal.3:1 & Matt.11:10 etc). The word ‘angel’ only describes one of their functions, not the totality.

    Other relevant scriptures are Ps.34:7 & Heb.1:7,14, which clearly show that part of their ministry is to care for the people of God. They are called ‘ministering spirits’ etc.

    On top of that, in this age, they are charged with moving the nations in accord with the will and purpose of God, as Daniel shows. (Dan.10:13,0 & also see Dan.2:21-22 with Dan.4:13-14, 17 etc). Angels in this capacity are called ‘Watchers’ & ‘Holy Ones’.
    They perform God’s will and direct nations according the great master plan ordained by Yahweh (Dan.4:17 & Acts.17:6).

    Angels were present at creation, Job.38:4-7, and were part of the heavenly counsel mentioned in Gen.1:6 & 3:23. In Job they are called the ‘sons of God’, and make up the heavenly portion of the family of God (Eph.3:15)

    In the age to come, responsibility for governing the nations will move to the immortalized/glorified saints Heb.2:5 (Rev.5:10), who will be made like unto the heavenly angels (in nature) Luke.20:34-37.

    Divine nature is free from the law of sin & death, which is the natural inheritance of all Adam’s decendants (Rom.5:12 & I.Cor.15:22). All the limiting features of mortal existence will then be eradicated, as I.Cor.15:39-55 states, and as Rev.20:6,14 shows.

    The saints will then be ‘partakers of the ‘divine nature’ (2.Pet.1-4); with a nature like the angels now possess. One of the principle reasons why many Bible students believe that heavenly angels (being now possessing Divine nature) do not, and cannot sin.

    Dan.10
    Now the “prince of the kingdom of Persia” mentioned in Dan.10 is exactly that. He is the ruler of the Persians. What Daniel is being told is that Gabriel was having difficulties moving him in the direction of God’s purpose. He needed assistance from Michael, which he duly received.

    There is nothing to suggest that the ‘prince of the kingdom of Persia’ is a supernatural spirit.

    Gabriel may have taken some time to move him because God (and his angels), limit what means they utilize to move men (James.1:13), leaving room for men to exercise free will to choose good or evil. (Matt.4:1, Gen.22:1 & etc)

    As for Rev.12, I’ll leave that for another time, except to say that the connection between the dragon (Rev.12), the beast out of the sea (Rev.13), the scarlet colored beast (Rev.17), are clearly linked to the 4th beast in the vision of Dan.7. This is one of the keys to understanding the Apocalypse.

  71. Marg
    July 7, 2010 @ 3:56 pm

    What you write is helpful, Disciple. But please remember that I do NOT think the word “spirit” always refers to a supernatural being. Nor do I think it NEVER does.

    Today I have been reading the last 6 chapters of Daniel as a kind of supplement to Revelation 16:14. And now I will be the one who writes too much, because the story is fascinating.

    Chapter 7 records Daniel’s first vision (vv 1-15), as well as its interpretation (15-28). Chapter 8 records his second vision (1-14); and the explanation (19-26) is given by someone identified as Gabriel.

    Chapter 9 records Daniel’s prayer of confession (13-15) and supplication (16-19) to God on behalf of Israel. While he is praying, Gabriel comes again, this time to comfort Daniel and to give him understanding on how his prayer will ultimately be answered (21-17).

    Chapter 10 tells us that something awful has been revealed to Daniel in a vision, something to do with a great conflict (v 1). As a result, Daniel spends the next 21 days grieving (3). Then comes a vision of a magnificent creature (5-9), who strengthens him and speaks to him. We aren’t told who the speaker is, but it seems reasonable to assume it is Gabriel again.

    Then Gabriel says this: “From the first day you set your heart to understand and to humble yourself before God, your words were heard, and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me 21 days. But lo, Michael, one of the princes, came to help me.”

    Michael is identified in ch. 12:1 as “the prince who stands for the sons of your people.” So we have the prince of the kingdom of the Persians withstanding Gabriel, who is finally helped by Michael, the prince of the sons of Israel.

    Gabriel is a supernatural being. He is the angel who spoke to Zechariah (Luke 1:19) and Mary (26).

    The “prince of the kingdom of the Persians” is not named; but if he could prevent Gabriel from carrying out his mission for 21 days, I conclude that he, too, is a supernatural being.

    Michael is called the “archangel” in Jude 9. And John records something remarkable about him in Revelation 12:7-9:

    And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels … And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, which is called the Devil, and Satan, who deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

    Do I believe there are supernatural beings that have an interest in the affairs of men?

    I do.

  72. Archanfel
    July 7, 2010 @ 7:34 am

    Just wondering if anyone here had read the works of Michael S. Heiser. I bring this up because this discussion deals with whether other gods beside YHWH exists and Heiser’s deal with the issue of the Divine Council in the scripture and about the gods of the nations.

    If any one is interested you can read some of His works here.

    http://www.thedivinecouncil.com/

  73. Disciple
    July 7, 2010 @ 4:45 am

    Part B.

    As to the greater question, what must Christians believe, and what must they not believe.

    The evidently simply answer is that they must believe the ‘gospel’ (Mk.16:15-16). Which then raises the larger question, just what is the gospel. This is another question altogether that would require some space to address, as the answer is more complex than is generally believed.

    As to what disciples must not deny / believe, we have a few hints that relate to doctrinal issues that arose in NT times.
    The following are examples.
    1) 1.Cor.15:12-19
    2) 2.Tim.2:17-18
    3) 2.Jn.6-11

    Do they comprise the whole list, or just to problems that faced disciples in the 1st C.

    I believe the correct answer is the former, and the issues listed above are examples for us. See also Acts.20:29-30; Jude 3-4 & the letters in Rev.2:2,14,15,20 etc for warnings and examples of more problems.

    So I am not sure that I can agree with the validity of your earlier question, as below.
    “Question 2: Is there a passage in the New Testament which suggests that belief in the existence of evil spirits is wrong?”

    That is probably why it has been ignored by myself and by others till now.

    Furthermore –
    Reading Hebrews.5:11-6:3, the writer speaks about the need to grow in understanding, from what he terms first principles (milk) to more complicated & as important concepts (meat). He chastises the Hebrew disciples for their lack of growth & maturity.

    The Greek words in Heb.5:14 are facinating(kalou=good & kakou=evil), and would no doubt have confused a young child learning the language. However, the ideas behind them are diametrically opposed, and therefore vital to grasp for an adult. That’s his point I believe.

    Appologies if I have written too much……

  74. Disciple
    July 7, 2010 @ 3:50 am

    Marg,

    Part A.
    Actually the ‘gospel’ pre-dates Christ, as Gal.3:8 and other places show. The gospel preached by Christ and his apostles during his ministry did not include his own coming sacrifice/death, as seen by a comparison between Luke.9:2,6,11 and Luke.10:44-45. That was added to the message later, after his resurection & ascention to heaven.

    However, getting back the main issue. Let’s consider this example –

    Matt.17:15 “Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is a lunatic, and sore vexed…..”

    A comparison with Luke.9:37-43, shows that this same illness is also called “a spirit” by the boys father, then later “the demon”, and then “the unclean spirit” by the writer of Luke.

    Then we are told that Jesus “rebuked” the unclean spirit (Luke.9:42), just as he had earlier “rebuked” the wind (Luke.8:24), and “healed the child”.

    A good example of the point made in Matt.4:23-25, where at least two of these types of illnesses (lunatic & demons) are grouped as part of Jesus’ “healing” work.

    If we believe that the comments of the people, or the commentary of the gospel writers, provides rock solid, unquestionable support for the a belief in supernatural demons/spirits etc, then we must also accept that they believed in folks being ‘moonstruck’, as the term lunatic litterally means.

  75. Marg
    July 6, 2010 @ 8:46 pm

    One argument used during the Trinity debate goes something like this:
    If belief in a Tri-une God is necessary in order for me to be a Christian, why is there no mention of it in the New Testament?

    On the same principle:
    If believing that demons exist disqualifies me from being a Christian, why is there nothing in the New Testament to warn me of that?

    Why, instead, are there many instances where the words and the actions of Jesus encourage me to believe that evil spirits DO exist, and that they are not just inanimate diseases?

    We have agreed, more than once, that the word “spirit” can mean several different things, depending on the context. That is not the issue.

    But the New Testament is where I find the gospel of Christ. Therefore, it can be trusted to give me the knowledge I need in order to be a Christian. Dogmas that are not found there should not be added,/strong> to the gospel message as conditions to salvation.

    That applies to the doctrine of Tri-unity. But it also applies to the teaching that what Jesus was saying and doing with regard to demons was not really true, and I must not believe he meant it, or I cannot be a Christian.

    After all, if he was just accommodating himself to what people believed; and if, instead of correcting them, he was actually encouraging them, then why can’t his followers be just as accommodating?

    I guess that’s my default position.

  76. Disciple
    July 6, 2010 @ 7:29 pm

    Marg,

    Thanks for your thoughts & efforts.

    1) Re: Matt.12:43-45
    Concerning Jesus’ words in the story (parable like) that he told on the unclean spirit.

    Perhaps a review of Matt.13:10-17 might help.
    Common opinion is that Jesus used stories to make things simpler, whereas Jesus tells us here that his words had a twofold design, both to reveal & to conceal. The OT precident for this is well established.

    2) Re: Rev.16:13-14 ‘unclean spirits’ & ‘spirits of demons’
    Why keep defaulting to a view that such terms MUST ALWAYS refer to supernatural powers. As you have said, the terminology in Revelation is highly symbolic by design. Rev.1:1.
    Again, where are your OT foundations for this default thinking? Where is such a belief clearly expounded anywhere is the scriptures?

    3) Evil Spirits.
    Strangely enough, here are two OT examples of ‘evil spirits’ sent from God to punish men. Judges.9:23; 1.Sam.16:14-16,23; 18:10

    Does this pre-suppose that such spirits were supernatural, and that the word ‘spirit’ always means something supernatural? See end note on the useage of spirit.

    4) Lying spirit – 1.Kg.22:19-23.
    Here is a mocking parable from Micaiah to the evil king Ahab. A lying spirit sent from God, to persuade Ahab to fight a battle in which he would be slain, for his evil works.

    5) The word ‘spirit’ has as broard a meaning in the scriptures as it does in english. I will use the book of proverbs because it has a wide range of examples.

    Prov.1:23; 14:29; 15:13; 16:18,19,32; 18:14; 20:27

    A spirit is said to be – hasty, broken, haughty, humble, wounded etc. These are certainly not supernatural manifestations.

    Why therefore should I believe that such terms as ‘spirit’, ‘spirits’, ‘evil spirits’, ‘unclean spirit’, ‘unclearn spirit like frogs’ etc refer to real supernatural powers/agents, with their own agendas, that meddle in the affairs of men.

    Someting not taught in the OT scriptures, not expounded upon in the New, and is perfectly in line with Greek & Pagan mytholody/superstition, the dominant culture of the NT times, as I have stated in earlier posts.

    ……………………….

    Proverbs.24:2
    “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter”

    The challenge for all of us, if we wish to be part of the redeemed, kings & priests of the age to come. Rev.5:10.

  77. Marg
    July 6, 2010 @ 2:06 pm

    The remarkable thing about the statement James makes is that it harmonizes so perfectly with the fear expressed by some of the demons that Jesus cast out. Those demons certainly were not subject to “the truth,” but they could recognize facts. They could recognize, for instance, that they had to obey Jesus, whether they wanted to or not.

    James’ point is that while these poor sick folk could believe in one God, …

    But James doesn’t say the demons CAN believe that there is one God. He says they DO believe it, and they tremble.

    So they should, if the fears already quoted from the gospels are valid.

    That doesn’t sound like mental illness to me.

  78. Marg
    July 6, 2010 @ 9:13 am

    I hear what you are saying, Disciple, and in SOME cases, it would be possible to equate demons with types of disease. But in some cases, that explanation just doesn’t ring true.

    Your explanation of Matthew 12:43-45 has some merit, although the story doesn’t say anything about their ‘unclean’ spirit being “replaced by the spirit of truth for a time.” There is no indication that it was “replaced” by anything. That’s the problem.

    More importantly, I cannot believe that Jesus would use such a graphic description of the unclean spirit’s actions, knowing that it would leave a completely false impression. Things that were clearly wrong were spoken AGAINST, not encouraged.

    I would like to add one more passage to the list already given, this time from John’s writings. In Revelation 16:13-14, John says, “I saw three unclean spirits like frogs …”

    Yes, I know. The language is figurative.

    But in the NEXT verse, John explains what those unclean spirits are: “They are the spirits of demons, working miracles, which go forth to the kings of the whole world … to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”

    By the way, I am not trying to provide “proof positive that supernatural powers/agents were at work.” But the evidence DOES give good reason to believe so. And nothing tells me that such a belief is wrong.

  79. Disciple
    July 6, 2010 @ 2:53 am

    Marg,

    I see you have quoted James.2:19 a few times –
    “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the demons also believe, and tremble” KJV

    So we agree that the demons were believers in the truth, that there is only one God.

    Rather a strange thing for a foreign god or a supernatural power in rebellion against God to do, and even stranger for such to be advanced by James as an example of believing the truth.

    Another way of looking at this is to recognize that the demons referred to the individuals who were so affected. That is, they were possessed/affected by a mental illness/disorder, called a demon in their parlance.

    James’ point is that while these poor sick folk could believe in one God, and often state such a belief in dogmatic assertions, there was not much substance behind their words as they could not practice the works of discipleship, that he identifies. Anyone who has had dealings with the mentally limited & handicapped with recognize this sad trait.

  80. Disciple
    July 6, 2010 @ 1:44 am

    Marg,

    It is not a question of whether demons/spirits existed in the circumstances recorded. It is rather a question of whether the situations described are proof positive that supernatural powers/agents were at work, or do these situations describe natural agents (types of illnesses in our parlance), that were commonly called spirits, demons, lunacy etc in that age, as Matt.4:24 shows.

    These issues are often mistakenly blended.

    Your reference to Matt.12:43-45 is an interesting case to consider. Just what is this “unclean spirit”. Is it supernatural, or is it natural (ie. of this natural order of things).

    Are Jesus words to be taken literally, or is he using a commonly accepted belief or exaggeration to teach some point. (Certainly not unknown in his teaching method cf. Matt.12:24-29 & Lk.16:19-31 & in other parts of Scripture cf. Ezek.29:2-5, Isaiah.14:4)

    Notice from the larger context, the use of the word ‘generation’ in Matt.12:34, 39, 41, 42 & 45. The surrounding theme is all about that ‘evil & adulterous generation’, who had corrupted the truth of God and therefore could not recognize Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God.

    They had repented at the preaching of John.3:5-6, and their ‘unclean’ spirit was replaced by the spirit of truth for a time. But they did not stay the course, but in the end rejected Jesus & his teaching, and so the later end of that ‘generation’ was worse than the first. They rejected Jesus, and had him put to death. They also rejected his apostles & put them to death.

    In the end that generation were judged & rejected by God in the deluge of judgements that came in AD70 (Matt.23:32-36).

  81. Marg
    July 5, 2010 @ 11:03 pm

    Question 2: Is there a passage in the New Testament which suggests that belief in the existence of evil spirits is wrong?

    None that I can find.

  82. Marg
    July 5, 2010 @ 10:33 pm

    Question 1: Do the evil spirits cast out by Jesus and his apostles refer simply to conditions that can be explained naturally?

    There are some, I think, that can’t be explained that way. Two have already been discussed at length – the man in the synagogue at Capernaum (Mark 1:21-28; Luke 4:31-37), and the man (or men) whose demons asked permission to enter a herd of pigs (Mt 8:28-32; Mk 5:2-15; Lk 8:26-35).

    What struck me this time, though, was the fear expressed by these evil spirits. For example:

    “Have you come to destroy us?” (Mark 1:24)
    “And they begged him not to order them to go away into the abyss.” (Luke 8:31)
    “Have you come to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29)

    James was right: “Even the demons believe there is one God, and tremble.”

    Acts 19:13-16 gives us an insight into the knowledge of Jesus that demons seemed to exhibit. Some exorcists had seen the power of the name of Jesus used by Paul, and tried to exploit that power over a man who was possessed by an evil spirit. They said, “We command you by Jesus, whom Paul preaches.”

    The evil spirit said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I comprehend; but who are you?” And the man in whom the spirit was attacked the seven men, overpowered them, and sent them from the house naked and bleeding. And “the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.”

    Was Luke encouraging his readers to believe that demons exist, even though he knew that such a belief would prevent them from becoming Christians?

    The story that bothers me most is the one told by Jesus in Matthew 12:43-45 and Luke 11:24-26. He had already cast out a demon. He had answered the accusation that his power came from the prince of the demons. But now he was issuing a warning to those whose “empty house” is not filled with God:

    When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places seeking rest. Then he decides to go back to the house he came from, and finds it empty and swept and decorated. He finds seven other spirits more evil than himself and they enter into the man. So the last state of the man is worse than the first.

    Jesus, too, seems to be encouraging the idea that living demons exist, and that their wickedness differs only in degree.

    If such a belief is so wrong that it will prevent a person from being a Christian, this behavior on the part of Jesus is inexplicable.

  83. Fortigurn
    July 5, 2010 @ 9:26 pm

    Marg,

    The first statement was based on the first definition provided by Fortigurn, a definition which turned out to be totally inadequate.

    The definition I supplied was from the standard lexicons. It is not inadequate, it is a fact. You reject it only because it disturbs your henotheism.

    I’m also glad we now agree that a polytheist is one who WORSHIPS multiple gods. That was a contentious issue for awhile. Remember?

    That was never a contentious issue. That was never even in dispute. What had to be cleared up was whether or not you believed in multiple gods, and how many of them you worship. After many attempts to avoid the question, and many attempts to mislead us, you finally acknowledged you do believe in many gods, but you only worship one. Which makes you a henotheist. At least Robert acknowledged his henotheism freely, and didn’t try to mislead people.

  84. Marg
    July 5, 2010 @ 12:11 pm

    You’re right, Abel. Those statements ARE contradictory, and I freely admit it. The first statement was based on the first definition provided by Fortigurn, a definition which turned out to be totally inadequate.

    It took some studying to determine [as the later definition confirms] that the demons cast out by Jesus were NOT gods. They were evil spirits.

    So now, because the words “god” and “idol” are used synonymously in the Old Testament, and because I am no longer compelled to believe that demons are necessarily false gods, I am free to accept the fact that the idols WERE the gods.

    I am grateful for the opportunity to learn all that.

    I’m also glad we now agree that a polytheist is one who WORSHIPS multiple gods. That was a contentious issue for awhile. Remember?

    However, henotheists apparently are not allowed to be Christians, either; so it really doesn’t matter.

    I have now finished going through the writings of John, as well as the synoptic gospels. By tonight, I should be able to address the first question suggested in a previous post:

    Do these spirits simply refer to natural conditions? Or are there instances that cannot be explained that way?

  85. Abel
    July 5, 2010 @ 9:22 am

    Marg,

    Thanks for your clarification and apologies if I have accused you of anything you do not believe. I’m glad to hear that you do not believe in lesser deities – my misunderstanding has only come from not being able to understand what you are saying..

    The problem as I stated before must be one of language because I find some of the things you say to be as difficult to understand as my tax return forms.

    What led me to my conclusion that you believed in pagan gods and that you believed demons were gods was your statement in post #372:

    “IF demons existed, then gods existed. Demons = gods.”

    After my post you went on to clarify your position in post #395 by saying that:

    “I do NOT believe that gods = supernatural demons”

    Now I do not mean to sound at all rude, but I have no idea what you mean when you say what appear to me to be completely contradictory things.

    I understand that you use the words “god” and “idol” interchangably so that when you say you believe gods existed you are simply stating that idols existed.

    I would not use that language. I would say that idols exist and gods do not exist. While the word “god” can often actually be referring to an idol it often refers just to the belief in the existence of a supernatural deity. For example, I would say that I believe that the idol of Dagon existed, I do not believe Dagon existed. This is a difference in our language that has created confusion.

    There are obviously other differences because I do not understand your post #372 which predicates the existence of gods (idols) on the existence of demons, and I do not understand how you can say that demons are gods but gods aren’t demons.

    Please explain. Many thanks.

  86. Disciple
    July 5, 2010 @ 9:01 am

    Marg,

    We obviously differ on how we interpret the Exodus record. I see the Magicians as using lying wonders to deceive. The 3 signs they duplicated/imitated were of a type that most stage magicians could perform today. There was nothing supernatural in the magician’s actions, but the application of a practiced art.

    When the Divine signs became more complex, they recognized that this was no trick, but actually the work of God (as they told Pharaoh). If they were truly empowered by some supernatural force, why didn’t they just go on duplicating the signs.

    Paul says in 2.Tim.3:8 that they ‘withstood Moses’, and sets them as an example of those who resist & corrupt the truth.

    On your comment –
    “I have just gone through the first three gospels again, writing down every mention of demons and/or spirits. Anyone reading those accounts without any preconceptions would surely believe that those spirits existed, and that Jesus had total control over them.”

    I disagree with your conclusion on this, as I think you misunderstand why the NT was written. The gospel accounts, along with the writings of the rest of the New Testament, were written to & for believers of the 1st Century, who had already been taught the truth of the word of God. (Gal.1:6-9 & 1.Thes.2:13) As I have already mentioned earlier, these same disciples were taught from the old testament The Apostles teachings were always established & justified by what was previously written (= the scriptures mentioned throughout the NT). That is the true meaning of 2.Tim.3:15-18.

    Does this mean that the scriptures aren’t as applicable for us today. No, I’m not suggesting that at all. What I am suggesting is that our job is to try and understand the meaning of the word as it was originally taught, taking into account intent, context, and background.

    The proper place to start is to begin by establishing our beliefs upon what the word actually says or teaches, by way of solid evidence, from start to finish.

    As for a belief that demons/gods/spirits existed in any form that was supernatural, where is the comprehensive evidence, the developed theme & teaching that explains such a belief. It does not exist in the Bible, but quite remarkably it exists in well documented Greek & Pagan belief systems.

    The closest Bible evidence is circumstantial, & often from affected individuals (the sick & insane). Every scriptural instance of such a supposed manifestation of a supernatural power can be explained as a natural phenomena (illness, deceiver, idol), and quite in line with a 1st century world deeply affected by the dominant influence of Greek superstition.

    Does it matter what we believe on this & other matters?
    I believe so. The scriptures offer plenty of warning about false teachers & teachings, and their devastating affects 2.Tim.4:3-4 & I.Cor.8:4-7.

  87. Fortigurn
    July 5, 2010 @ 4:25 am

    Marg,

    What interests me more, though, is the definition of the word “demon”. Near the beginning of these comments we were given this definition:

    There was no change in definition. The first statement you quote isn’t a definition of the Greek word DAIMWNION, it’s a statement explaining a specific Scriptural application of the word.

    That makes it simple, doesn’t it? Demons = false gods. False gods do not exist. Therefore, demons do not exist.

    Correct. We find this in the Old Testament, and we find it in the New Testament, as the inspired understanding of DAIMWNION. The uninspired pagan understanding of DAIMWNION, is that they are unclean/evil spirits. That is not what God says in the Old Testament, and it is not what Paul says in the New Testament.

    That, by itself, wouldn’t be so bad; but the extension of that conclusion is that anyone who believes demons exist believes that false gods exist. That makes him a polytheist and therefore (if I understand the argument correctly) he cannot be a Christian.

    They wouldn’t be a polytheist unless they worshipped the demons. In reality people like you and Robert are henotheists, as I’ve pointed out, because you don’t believe Yahweh is the only god who exists, you just believe He’s the ‘top god’, who deserves worship while the others can be basically ignored (even though you believe they exist).

    Then came a different definition:

    That is not a ‘different definition’.

    So the conclusion arrived at in quotation 1 is not valid.

    It is valid. That’s how Scripture uses the word DAIMWNION when informing us under inspiration as to what it means.

  88. Marg
    July 4, 2010 @ 9:12 pm

    As you say, “Demons – Part 2” gets more complicated.

    Now we have already seen that the contempory Jews (& Gentiles) were seriously affected by a false belief in ‘gods’, and their power.

    Since we have already agreed that “gods” are nothing, I am going to concentrate on the “evil spirits”.

    And we have already seen that in normal scriptural parlance, the word records what such people said & claimed. But we know that such claims were based upon missunderstanding & false belief, and not truth.

    That’s exactly what I do NOT know. Not yet, anyway.

    Do demons & evil spirits really exist, other than in the imaginations of men & in the vain idols they made to represent them. Show me the foundations for such belief in the OT, and its teachings.

    I am going to refer to one example only, because I think it harmonizes with what the gospels tell us.

    When Moses threw down his rod and it became a serpent, the Egyptian magicians did the same thing. Their rods became serpents, too. But Moses’ rod/serpent swallowed up their rods/serpents.

    You may not see anything supernatural about that, but I do. Magicians as we know them cannot turn rods into snakes. And the snakes were not just illusions. They were real, because Moses’ serpent swallowed them.

    But the lesson was clear: whatever gave the magicians that power was powerless against the agent of Yahweh. The same lesson is seen in the New Testament.

    I have just gone through the first three gospels again, writing down every mention of demons and/or spirits. Anyone reading those accounts without any preconceptions would surely believe that those spirits existed, and that Jesus had total control over them.

    But two questions need to be addressed.
    First question: Do these spirits simply refer to natural conditions? Or are there instances that cannot be explained that way?
    Second question: Is there any clue, anywhere, that the belief of those people in the existence of demons was wrong?

  89. Marg
    July 4, 2010 @ 8:05 pm

    Thank you, Disciple. Your posts are worth reading with care.

    I think we agree on this. The idols represented ancient gods, and the gods were believed to inhabit them.

    Frankly, I don’t believe the gods INHABITED the idols. I believe the gods WERE the idols. The words are used synonymously in the OT.

    However, we can afford to let that pass. The real issue is – Does belief that demons exist disqualify me from being a Christian? That is a serious issue.

    Forgive me for quoting the following paragraph again, but we need to be clear that it is NOT a valid conclusion:

    Helez, Scripture equates demons with false gods. It also tells us that false gods don’t exist. Joining the dots on that one, we arrive at the conclusion that demons don’t really exist.

    I hope we can agree that the following statement is closer to the truth:

    The word DAIMWNION can mean ‘evil spirits’ or it can mean ‘gods’. It cannot mean both at the same time.

    If we take the latter statement as our starting point, we will have some common ground to work with. And yes, I hear what you are saying about the different ways those spirits are described. Okay?

  90. Disciple
    July 4, 2010 @ 4:54 am

    Demons – Part 3.

    Read Matt.4:23-25 and note the words carefully, as it confirms the point that the gospel writers used the common terminology of the day to describe various illnesses…

    Matt.4:24 KJV “…and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with –
    1) divers diseases & torments
    2) those which were possessed with demons
    3) those which were lunatick
    4) those that had the palsy
    … and he healed them all”

    As has been pointed out, it we believe that this says that some were actually possessed by supernatural demons, then we must actually also agree that some were ‘moonstruck’.

    Not only that, but that in common with all physical illnesses, the demon possessed & moonstruck were described as sick, and subequently healed. Terms in modern parlance used to describe all categories of illness, treated by therapy & medicine.

  91. Disciple
    July 3, 2010 @ 7:47 pm

    Demons – Part 2.

    This is where it gets more complicated.

    As we have seen & as the scriptures amply testifies, the culture & belief system among both Jews & Gentiles current in the NT times was highly colored by a belief in demons, gods & evil spirits.

    It was believed that a whole host of gods, demons & spirits regularly meddled in the affairs of men. Under titles such as Beelzebub, Jupiter, Mercury, Python & etc, they interacted & interfered in peoples lives.

    Now we know already that these foreign ‘gods’, and the idols that represented them, were actually nothing, but the imaginations of men superstition. Their only power was with those who believed they were real.

    All power was of Yahweh, and he alone is God, there is no other God in heaven besides him. Isaiah.41:21-24, 45:5-6 etc.

    So whence came all those who mysteriously appear in the gospel records, afflicted with evil spirits and demons. I say mysteriously appear, because they are not mentioned anywhere in the old testament record, covering thousands of years of divine revelation.

    Now we have already seen that the contempory Jews (& Gentiles) were seriously affected by a false belief in ‘gods’, and their power. And we have already seen that in normal scriptural parlance, the word records what such people said & claimed. But we know that such claims were based upon missunderstanding & false belief, and not truth.

    When we come to the gospel records of stated evil spirit & demon possession, what we are reading is the common understanding of their contemporaries. This is what the common people believed, a belief system based not upon OT or scriptural teaching, but upon adopted superstitions.

    You will note that the types of sicknesses attributed to demon/spirit influence fall into a handful of categories; namely types of insanity & madness, epilepsy and vaious illnesses that involved a blockage of the senses (dumb, deaf etc).

    This was the common belief of the people, and was by them attributed to the ‘gods/demons’ of their imagination. See Matt.9:34, 10:25 & 12:22-32 referenced earlier, “He casteth out demons through the prince of the demons”, where this type of thinking is clearly demonstrated.

    Do demons & evil spirits really exist, other than in the imaginations of men & in the vain idols they made to represent them. Show me the foundations for such belief in the OT, and its teachings. That’s how Christ & the Apostles established their testimony, as mentioned earlier, Acts.17:11 – “They seached the scriptures daily” (OT writings).

  92. Disciple
    July 3, 2010 @ 6:58 pm

    Re: Demons – Part 1.

    We are faced with similar challenges to the idols/gods issue when we consider demons. ie; what the majority of people believed in NT times compared to what the truth of the matter is. This is the part that needs careful examination.

    As you point out, the word demons & spirits are used in a number of ways in the NT.

    Acts.17:18 “He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus…” KJV (Here the Gk for gods = demons, or lessor gods in the local belief system)

    Acts.17:22 “Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious” KJV (Gk deisis daimon = litterally ‘fear of demons’)

    It was believed by ancient people that the gods from above came down to the earth and meddled in the affairs of men, manifested themselves in men and as men. Acts.14:11-12, Jupiter & Mercury were major gods to the locals, not lessor gods. Paul says in V15 he preached to gentiles “that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God”

    I believe that the spirit of Python has already been discussed at some length. The issue to remember is that the scripture, when describing events, often records what the local’s believed & claimed, not necessarily what the theological truth of the matter was.

    From the above references, it is clear that in parts of the scriptures, demons were associated with the gods of the ancient world. We already know and agree that they were vanities and nothing. Idols were part of this ancient belief system, but they were nothing but the works of mens hands.

    The only power ancient gods & demons had was from people believing in their existance, but this had no connection to truth. One of Paul’s objectives was to turn people from such vanities of superstition.

  93. Disciple
    July 3, 2010 @ 6:16 pm

    Marg,

    I think we agree on this. The idols represented ancient gods, and the gods were believed to inhabit them. This is what people believed at the time, but it has no relation to truth.

    That is why the scripture mocks idol makers, idol worship & says idols are nothing but the work of men’s hands. The reality stops at the physical idol, no matter what people may have believed.

  94. Marg
    July 3, 2010 @ 4:48 pm

    What interests me more, though, is the definition of the word “demon”. Near the beginning of these comments we were given this definition:

    Helez, Scripture equates demons with false gods. It also tells us that false gods don’t exist. Joining the dots on that one, we arrive at the conclusion that demons don’t really exist.

    That makes it simple, doesn’t it? Demons = false gods. False gods do not exist. Therefore, demons do not exist.

    That, by itself, wouldn’t be so bad; but the extension of that conclusion is that anyone who believes demons exist believes that false gods exist. That makes him a polytheist and therefore (if I understand the argument correctly) he cannot be a Christian.

    Then came a different definition:

    The word DAIMWNION can mean ‘evil spirits’ or it can mean ‘gods’. It cannot mean both at the same time.

    So the conclusion arrived at in quotation 1 is not valid. The word “demons” can mean (and usually DOES mean) evil spirits, and not “gods”.

    By the way, those aren’t the only definitions offered for the word “demons,” but they are enough to establish that the word does not always (or even usually) mean “false gods.” Its USUAL meaning is “evil” or “unclean” spirits.

  95. Marg
    July 3, 2010 @ 4:37 pm

    I agree, Disciple, that Yahweh is the ONLY power. All other gods are just idols – inanimate, powerless. And Paul assures us that idols are NOTHING. They have no value at all. They are not “lesser” gods. They are “no” gods.

    But whatever you worship is your god, no matter how “nothing” it may be. When Israel forsook Yahweh, their God, and made Baal-berith their god, they did an obnoxious (and silly) thing. They forsook the only true God for an idol – a “nothing” – a “no god”.

    But it would be incorrect to say that the idol did not exist. The god Dagon, for instance, had his head and his hands broken off. Something that can have its head and hands broken off exists. It isn’t just a figment of the imagination.

    However, if you choose to believe that the idols were one thing and the gods another thing, that is your choice. It just doesn’t make sense, in my view.

  96. Disciple
    July 3, 2010 @ 5:30 am

    Yes, some might suggest that in contrast to Yahweh, all these lesser god’s had only limited power in comparison. A scale of lesser dieties & powers, in rebellion against the all powerful Yahweh. Yet Yahweh himself says, beside him there is no other power.

    But in believing in lesser dieties you would fall into the same ignorant thinking pattern that many ancient peoples held; that life, experiences & battles were a contest between the fickle whim of the god’s.

    You get a sense of this in 1.Sam.4:5-9 and again in Elijah’s mocking words in 1.Kg.18:27.

    Elijah also said “How long halt ye between 2 opinions?” It is not a contest of power, but of truth. The god’s of the nations are vanity, the work of men’s hands & imaginations.

    It is a mistake for Bible students to take pre-set beliefs on demonology, demi-god’s & fallen angels, and then retro-fit them into the narrative of the Old Testament.

    If we believe that the Bible is the word of God, then we should read & study it from front to back, not visa versa. Build from foundations to roof. That is the key to finding the truth. It is even the method Jesus employed Luke.24:25-27, and the real meaning of ‘scripture=writings’ in the famous 2.Tim.3:16

    We might ask, why are there no fallen angels or demons mentioned in the OT, which was the sole revelation to God’s people for 1500 years prior to the NT?

    We also know from Jewish writings between the testaments that Greek thinking and belief had permeated Jewish philosopy & religion in the centuries before Jesus was born. Read parts of the Apocrypha (Bel & the Dragon etc).

    This is reflected in Jewish beliefs in the NT regarding Beelzebub, a Philistine lord of the flies (2.Kg.1:2).

    See Matt.9:34, 10:25 & 12:22-32. Did Jesus really believe that Beelzebub, the Philistine god, existed. For the sake of his arguement against the Jews he demonstrated their foolishness Mk.3:22-30

    Jesus use of personification when addressing either false belief in Beelzebub, spirits or supposed demon possession carries little weight. We might as well say that the same of the storm, that Jesus’ rebuked Mk.4:39.

  97. Disciple
    July 2, 2010 @ 6:58 pm

    Just how many God’s/god’s really exist. If we are truly students of the Bible, then we should listen to the whole counsel of God, not just the parts that suit.

    Sure, many ancient people believed that lot’s of gods existed, and made idols to represent them. Just because Yahweh judges them/destroys them (the idols, and what they represented to those who made them), it is hardly cause to say they had real existance other than in idols or in men’s imaginations.

    Isaiah.45:22 “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God (EL or Power), and there is none else”

    Isaiah.46:9 “Remember the former things of old: for I am God (EL or Power), and there is none else: I am God, and is none like me”

    These references, and the many others like them, hardly leave any room for group of lesser gods.

  98. Marg
    July 2, 2010 @ 5:39 pm

    Just for the record, I respect Robert’s right to his opinion, but I do not agree.

    The word “gods” and the word “idols” are used synonymously in the Bible. The two words refer to the same thing.

    So Dagon was the god of the Philistines. Sure; he was just a man-made idol. But the Philistines made that idol their god. It was their GOD whose head and hands were broken off.

    A god that loses his head and his hand is obviously just an idol. But that idol/god certainly did exist.

    In other words, it makes no sense to say that idols existed but gods didn’t.

  99. robert
    July 1, 2010 @ 1:37 pm

    Abel
    To be completely honest i have to say i dont think these gods of others nations still exist because in Psalm 82 i see Yahweh passing judgement on all of them and taking back possession of the nations they were to govern.
    So not knowing when this judgement took place makes it hard to tell if the idols spoken of still had a god. The only being i still see after this judgement is one called Wisdom which we know was with Yahweh before creation which Jesus also confirms this being in Luke 7:35
    But wisdom is justified of all her children.
    and is witnessed by
    Matthew 11:19
    The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.

    This is higher being then an angel and is personified as a female as is the Holy Spirit and in my opinion is probably the same.
    Since there is no definition other than god for beings higher than angels this must be a lessor god and Jesus may have been exalted after his resurrection to this status too.
    So while i see the trinity of 3 equal beings being false and believe in the unitarian belief of One Supreme God i cant deny that there was and still may be lessor gods who serve Yahweh. this would put Genesis’ use of “US” in the creation in a light that makes sense without holding to the false trinity which is something i have never really seen a unitarian truthfully address.

  100. Marg
    July 1, 2010 @ 8:14 am

    Perhaps we do have a language barrier. But let’s try again.

    You believe that idols = gods, and you also believe that gods = supernatural demons.

    No, Abel, I do NOT believe that gods are supernatural demons. If I have learned anything from this study, it’s that the OT gods were IDOLS – man-made IDOLS. THAT’S ALL.

    Therefore, all the things you have accused me of “thinking” are not true. I won’t waste time going through them all, but I will quote one, just for clarification.

    When Isaiah says, ““And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of mens hands, wood and stone: therefore have they destroyed them.”
    you think it means, “Although they have cast their gods into the fire: they were supernatural deities, not just the work of mens hands, wood and stone: therefore they haven’t destroyed them.”

    That is exactly what I do NOT think. I believe the passage means just what it says. The gods were burned, because they were no gods. They were just the work of men’s hands. They were utterly worthless. They were NOT supernatural deities.

    Once more, Abel, I do NOT believe that gods = supernatural demons. I believe that the idols were the gods. The two words are used interchangeably throughout the Old Testament, and that settles the matter, in my view.

    I hope that is couched in language you can understand.

    Have fun with your income tax. There are thunder storms forecast for the next day or so, so I plan to turn off my computer. That may give us time to understand each other’s language better.

    After that, maybe we could deal with another area of confusion. I have noticed that the definition of the word “demon” has evolved over the course of the blog. That needs to be clarified.

    On the other hand, if you want to end the discussion, that is entirely up to you. I consider the study to have been worth while, and thank you for your input.

  101. robert
    July 1, 2010 @ 8:13 am

    Abel wrote:
    Robert,

    Your post no. 373 is essentially a formula to prove the existance of anything that doesn’t exist.

    Abel
    It has nothing to do with what doesnt exist,It has all to do with NOTHING COMPARES to the Supreme God Yahweh. There is no god other than Yahweh when compared,there is none besides Yahweh with the power of Yahweh.
    Your the one who thinks he can hold a bunch of pretend bananas and eat one.
    This is about speaking of something that exist as something that doesnt compare as a Man might say to his wife no other women exist for him or there is none other than her.
    So please dont try to twist my words to fit your failed arguement.

    I noticed you never addressed these verses

    Exodus 12:12
    For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord.

    Exodus 15:11
    Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?

    This is a stupid comparison if there is no other gods

    Exodus 18:11
    Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them.

    This is also a stupid statement if there is no other gods

    Exodus 20:3
    Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

  102. Abel
    July 1, 2010 @ 5:30 am

    Marg,

    You have written a lot since my last post, and I have to file a tax return this morning and then go on holiday so I’m not going to have much time to answer.

    You state:

    “All through the Old Testament, the word “idols” and the word “gods” are used interchangeably. Therefore, I take them to be the same thing. I see no reason (right now) for separating the two.

    Therefore, IF demons existed, then gods existed. Demons = gods.

    Is that a reasonable conclusion? If not, why not?”

    This is possibly the worst conclusion I have ever seen in my life. The two paragraphs of your argument bear no relation to each other.

    The term “gods” in the Old Testament refers to a pagan belief in an imaginary deity. The only way these false non-existant deities had any form of physical representation was as an idol made of wood.

    This is why Isaiah says that men can make gods and men can burn gods.

    Clearly men cannot make demons or anything else supernatural.

    The only way your supernatural demon gods can therefore exist is if men make them. Please show us how men can make supernatural beings from wood and stone.

    Anyway, back to your “reasonable conclusion”.

    You say that “if demons existed, then gods existed. Demons = gods.” This is illogical. It’s like saying if fairies exist then the Loch Ness monster exists. Fairies = Loch Ness monster.

    Furthermore from the scripture we have looked at it is clear that demons don’t exist and neither do false gods.

    Therefore your conclusion fails logically and scripturally on all levels.

    I have to get a move on so I’ll just pick up on a couple of other things.

    You state:

    “On that we certainly do agree. “Idols” and “gods” are synonymous words.”

    This is where our language barrier comes into play.

    You believe that idols = gods, and you also believe that gods = supernatural demons. Therefore you must believe that:

    gods = idols (wood)
    gods = supernatural demons
    supernatural demons = idols (wood)

    Your conclusion then is that both gods and demons are actually physically just pieces of wood and not spirit beings at all. This is not what you claim to believe even though the equations above are your own.

    Can you see this? Can you actually see that your own arguments are completely contradictory and ultimately self defeating?

    To make any kind of sense you have to change your argument to something like:

    gods = idols + supernatural being

    You cannot say that idols = gods unless you also accept that the gods are not supernatural at all and are simply made from wood.

    You cannot seem to grasp that while idols exist, the supernatural deities they are supposed to represent do not exist. Hence they are called, “no gods”. No wonder God in Deuteronomy 32:21 is angry that people were worshipping nothing instead of worshipping him.

    Your post no. 386 shows our language barrier again, but this time I concede maybe I have been sloppy. In that post you quote me as saying: “[an idol] cannot be the representative of a god.” To have been clearer I should have said “of a REAL supernatural god”.

    To address your question: “Are you seriously suggesting now that Dagon had no more substance than your imaginary bunch of bananas?”

    If I carved a small wooden bunch of bananas which I adored as if somewhere else in the universe my bananas existed then Dagon and my bananas would be identical.

    I would have a piece of wood that looked like a banana and the Dagon worshipper would have a piece of wood that looked like a man-fish. Aside from the pieces of wood though neither the bananas or the man-fish would exist. They would both be figments of our imaginations.

    Finally (I have to go) what really lets you down is what I’ve said before about your desire to believe in demons utterly destroying your belief in the Word of God:

    When Paul says, “they be no gods, which are made with hands”

    you think he means “they are gods, which are made with hands”

    When God says, “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me

    you think it means, “I am God, there are other gods; I am God, and there are plenty like me”

    When God says, “They have made me jealous with false gods”

    you think he’s saying “They have made me jealous with real gods”.

    When Isaiah says, ““And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of mens hands, wood and stone: therefore have they destroyed them.”

    you think it means, “Although they have cast their gods into the fire: they were supernatural deities, not just the work of mens hands, wood and stone: therefore they haven’t destroyed them.”

    Presumably your Bible begins, “At the end, God destroyed the heaven and the earth” and He then went on to say “Let there be darkness”.

    If you cannot grasp the sense of some of the simplest passages in scripture and if your understanding of the Bible is quite simply back to front, then there really is little point continuing the discussion.

    I still cannot decide whether you are actually being genuine or whether (as I initially concluded) you are just a wind-up merchant wasting everyones time.

    Your understanding of the Bible is apparently so poor, your exegesis so dire and your grasp of logic so appalling that it is easier for me to conclude that you are simply wasting everyones time with arguments you know to be ridiculous than to believe that you are actually serious about any of this.

    You remind me of the old Douglas Adams quote about a man who, “then goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed at the next zebra crossing.”

  103. Abel
    July 1, 2010 @ 5:29 am

    Robert,

    Your post no. 373 is essentially a formula to prove the existance of anything that doesn’t exist.

    Your argument is that if idols are described as nothing but exist, then anything else described as nothing must also exist.

    If this is the kind of Biblical exegesis we can expect from you then it is no wonder you have strayed so far from explicit Biblical teaching.

    Not only have you proved the existence of demons to yourself, you have also gone on to prove the existence of fairies, jabberwockies and the loch ness monster.

  104. Fortigurn
    July 1, 2010 @ 12:57 am

    Marg,

    That is the point exactly. They were worthless – worth nothing.

    No, that is not what it is saying. This is what it is saying.

    Heb “what is not a god,” or a “nondeity.

    Two alternative ways of combining these first two lines are:

    * You worshiped worthless idols
    and made me jealous and angry.

    * You made me jealous and angry
    because you worshiped worthless idols
    which are not gods at all.

    Bratcher, R. G., & Hatton, H. (2000). A handbook on Deuteronomy. UBS handbook series (548–549). New York: United Bible Societies.

    By the way, we need more rain where I am. Should I pray to Thor, or Vishnu?

  105. Marg
    July 1, 2010 @ 12:29 am

    Deuteronomy 32:21 is worth repeating, Abel.

    They have made me jealous with false gods, enraging me with their worthless gods;

    That is the point exactly. They were worthless – worth nothing.

    And that is what Paul meant when he said that idols are nothing. They have no worth at all.

    Nevertheless, we agreed that “idols definitely exist.”

    So I am still waiting for your answer to the question, Are you seriously suggesting now that Dagon had no more substance than your imaginary bunch of bananas?

  106. Fortigurn
    June 30, 2010 @ 11:41 pm

    Marg, I am not contradicting Abel. He is denying that the idols represented real gods who actually exist. I agree with him on that. He is objecting to your false equivocation of ‘idols = gods’, as am I.

    So my question remains: Are you seriously suggesting now that Dagon had no more substance than your imaginary bunch of bananas?

    Yes. Enjoy your henotheism while I enjoy my Christianity.

    Robert,

    NO they are just opinions of men who may or may not have an agenda.

    Sorry Robert, they are professionally qualified Hebraists, and you can check their translation with a range of standard lexical tools. It is not possible for this to be a global conspiracy of Hebraists to deny your interpretation.

    You have given me no reason to take you seriously. Like Marg, you just keep making things up.

  107. robert
    June 30, 2010 @ 11:34 pm

    The notes in question are explaining what the Hebrew means.

    NO they are just opinions of men who may or may not have an agenda.
    There is way to much clear on this subject to let an uninspire human dictate a contradition to things that need no explaining because a 1st grader could understand them.
    Lexicons,concordances and dictionaries are written by men who wouldnt dare let them contradict tradition or their own personal beliefs.
    You cant deal with the truth so you find ways to twist it beyond recognition.
    AND I CANT DEAL WITH A PERSON WHO DOES THIS,SO FAREWELL I will just ignore you so i can still follow this discussion

  108. Marg
    June 30, 2010 @ 11:29 pm

    Abel – Fortigurn isn’t helping you by contradicting you.

    The pagan gods were only idols …
    … he [Paul] is saying that a sacrifice offered to an idol is nothing and that an idol is nothing and therefore cannot be the representative of a god.

    But from Fortigurn

    Idols are not called ‘gods’ because they literally were gods, they are called ‘gods’ because they represented gods. That’s it. Idols are idols and gods are gods.

    However, the evidence is on your side, Abel. It was the god of the Philistines that lost his head and his hands. The idol was the god. And that pattern is repeated continuously throughout the OT.

    So my question remains: Are you seriously suggesting now that Dagon had no more substance than your imaginary bunch of bananas?

  109. Fortigurn
    June 30, 2010 @ 11:23 pm

    Robert,

    Footnotes are written by men who are in no way inspired or by my opinion even qualified to make such a interpretation.

    The notes in question are explaining what the Hebrew means. This isn’t about interpretation, it’s a simple matter of language. When you’re professionally qualified in Hebrew, let me know.

  110. robert
    June 30, 2010 @ 11:22 pm

    Footnotes are written by men who are in no way inspired or by my opinion even qualified to make such a interpretation.
    this they have in common with many.
    The plain truth is set in front of your face but you are blinded by your own opinion of yourself

  111. Fortigurn
    June 30, 2010 @ 11:18 pm

    Robert,

    They are false gods when they are compared to Yahweh. their power is subject to the supreme GOD.THIS DOESNT SAY THEY DONT EXIST

    Please read the footnote and commentary I provided. That’s exactly what it’s saying.

    Yes since the bible states other gods are under the rule of a supreme God which makes the bible thoroughly henotheistic then goes to say that if i follow the truth of the bible i must be henotheistic.

    Thanks for being honest. Marg, take note.

  112. robert
    June 30, 2010 @ 11:12 pm

    Deuteronomy 32 (New English Translation):
    21 They have made me jealous with false gods, enraging me with their worthless gods; so I will make them jealous with a people they do not recognize, with a nation slow to learn I will enrage them.

    Fortigurn
    They are false gods when they are compared to Yahweh. their power is subject to the supreme GOD.THIS DOESNT SAY THEY DONT EXIST

    “Ah, so you’re a henotheist like Marg. ”

    Yes since the bible states other gods are under the rule of a supreme God which makes the bible thoroughly henotheistic then goes to say that if i follow the truth of the bible i must be henotheistic.
    While i am unitarian when it come to the ONE SUPREME GOD YAHWEH. THERE IS NONE LIKE HIM

  113. Fortigurn
    June 30, 2010 @ 10:56 pm

    Robert,

    There is nowhere in the bible where it states that other gods dont exist, only they fail in comparison to the One Supreme God YAHWEH.

    Ah, so you’re a henotheist like Marg. That explains everything.

    Deuteronomy 32 (New English Translation):
    21 They have made me jealous with false gods, enraging me with their worthless gods; so I will make them jealous with a people they do not recognize, with a nation slow to learn I will enrage them.

    The footnote on ‘false gods’ says:

    Heb “what is not a god,” or a “nondeity.

    Here’s the UBS translator’s handbook on the passage:

    Two alternative ways of combining these first two lines are:

    * You worshiped worthless idols
    and made me jealous and angry.

    * You made me jealous and angry
    because you worshiped worthless idols
    which are not gods at all.

    Bratcher, R. G., & Hatton, H. (2000). A handbook on Deuteronomy. UBS handbook series (548–549). New York: United Bible Societies.

    This is Christianity 101, Robert.

  114. robert
    June 30, 2010 @ 10:50 pm

    Exodus 15:11
    Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?

    This is a stupid comparison if there is no other gods

    Exodus 18:11
    Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them.

    This is also a stupid statement if there is no other gods

    Exodus 20:3
    Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

    WHAT IN THE HECK IS GOD WORRIED ABOUT HERE, should i direct him to you so you can straighten him out.

    There is nowhere in the bible where it states that other gods dont exist, only they fail in comparison to the One Supreme God YAHWEH.

  115. Fortigurn
    June 30, 2010 @ 10:46 pm

    Robert,

    YOU CAN NOT EXECUTE JUDGEMENT ON SOMETHING THAT DOESNT EXIST.

    No one is saying you can. But you can speak of executing judgment on something that doesn’t exist, when you mean that what you’re going to do is prove that it’s powerless and you are supreme.

  116. robert
    June 30, 2010 @ 10:25 pm

    Exodus 12:12
    For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord.

    Fortigurn
    YOU CAN NOT EXECUTE JUDGEMENT ON SOMETHING THAT DOESNT EXIST.
    Dont try to say they were men because that was adressed separately in this verse

  117. Fortigurn
    June 30, 2010 @ 9:40 pm

    Robert,

    Anyway I was just stating Marg Made her point clearly, whether you admit that or not is your business.

    Marg is still making the same point I debunked several times earlier. Idols are not called ‘gods’ because they literally were gods, they are called ‘gods’ because they represented gods. That’s it. Idols are idols and gods are gods. These are not synonymous terms. A picture of a unicorn doesn’t mean unicorns exist, but that’s the kind of reasoning you’re asking us to accept. It’s irrational.

    What both you and Marg are still ignoring is that the Bible states clearly that other gods do not actually exist. It doesn’t just say they are nothing, it says they don’t exist.

  118. Marg
    June 30, 2010 @ 7:10 pm

    Let’s check the things we agree on, Abel.

    The pagan gods were only idols and are always equated with idols.

    On that we certainly do agree. “Idols” and “gods” are synonymous words.

    We now seem to agree that idols definitely exist but gods other than God do not exist. As Paul says, they are nothing.

    Agreed: Paul certainly said that idols are nothing.

    If idols are called nothing but physically exist, then if my bananas are also nothing the same applied reasoning should be applied.

    Now you’ve lost me. I thought we agreed that “idols definitely exist”. Have you changed your mind?

    Are you seriously suggesting now that Dagon was just as imaginary as your bunch of bananas?

  119. robert
    June 30, 2010 @ 5:55 pm

    Abel
    I see no reason why you shouldnt, there fat free.

    Abel your going to have to do better than that, Because idols were nothing but would be edible if they were made from a banana and wouldnt be fat free then.
    Anyway I was just stating Marg Made her point clearly, whether you admit that or not is your business.

  120. Abel
    June 30, 2010 @ 5:40 pm

    Robert,

    I am pretending to hold a bunch of bananas.

    It could be said that my bananas are nothing.

    If idols are called nothing but physically exist, then if my bananas are also nothing the same applied reasoning should be applied.

    By your reasoning then my bananas exist.

    Why can’t I eat one?

  121. robert
    June 30, 2010 @ 3:34 pm

    Marg
    I do see your point.
    this is what i would call applied reasoning on the usage of the word “nothing”
    Idols are nothing but they physically existed so it stands to reason if gods are nothing the same applied reasoning should be applied.
    We are all nothing when compared to Yahweh but I know that i physically exist.
    When this word is used its normally used in the sense of a comparison to the power of Yahweh and when it says there is none other it means there is none others that compare to Yahweh. There is only One Supreme Being and thats Yahweh but that doesnt mean there arent other beings who have been given the title of god with powers that only a god could possess. we know even humans has this title and we have seen humans with powers given to them. Now introduce freewill given to all created beings and you have those who have the choice to oppose YAHWEH. Here you will find the false gods,satan and demons.
    Keep up the hard work Marg, you are making your points clearly. all yours again

  122. Marg
    June 30, 2010 @ 2:41 pm

    Just to make sure, I went back to find your statement that

    We now seem to agree that idols definitely exist

    Do we still agree on that?

    But Paul says that idols are NOTHING. They are worthless. And that is the testimony of Yahweh all through the Old Testament. Whether they are called idols or gods, they are worthless. They aren’t alive. They can’t hear; they can’t help.

    But we have already agreed that they EXIST. Haven’t we?

    I’ll wait until that point is cleared up before going on.

  123. Marg
    June 30, 2010 @ 2:26 pm

    Thanks, Abel. I will tell you what my present understanding is, one thing at a time.

    All through the Old Testament, the word “idols” and the word “gods” are used interchangeably. Therefore, I take them to be the same thing. I see no reason (right now) for separating the two.

    Therefore, IF demons existed, then gods existed. Demons = gods.

    Is that a reasonable conclusion? If not, why not?

  124. Fortigurn
    June 30, 2010 @ 12:59 pm

    Abel, you’ve identified precisely the problem on which I have commented several times now, and it’s satisfying to note that I’m not the only one who can see it.

    Personally I, like Fortigurn, am coming to the belief that you do believe in these other gods and that is why you are couching your language so as to be almost unintelligible.

    Again, I’m glad it’s not just me who sees it that way. This is why I became convinced that Marg is just winding us all up. Or perhaps she’s a Mormon.

  125. ghostbuster
    June 30, 2010 @ 8:27 am

    I thought the following from the NET Bible Study Dictionary might be relevant to the discussion:

    “The original meaning of the term seleniazomai, “moon-struck,” is connected with the popular belief, widespread and of strange persistency, that the moon, in certain of its phases, is injurious to human beings, especially in the case of diseases of a periodic or remittent character. There are no data by which to determine whether, in the New Testament times, this particular word represented a living and active belief or had passed into the state of usage in which the original metaphor disappears, and the word simply indicates the fact signified without reference to the idea embodied in the etymology. We still use the word “lunatic” to signify a person mentally diseased, although we have long since ceased to believe in the moon’s influence in such cases.”

    http://net.bible.org/dictionary.php?word=Lunatic(K)

    Could not have Christ and the Gospel writers used “demon-language” in a similar way? This seems even more likely considering the fact that the OT doesn’t appear to sanction a belief in the literal existence of such beings.

  126. Dave Burke
    June 30, 2010 @ 7:26 am

    Abel, I’m really enjoying your contributions to this thread.

    😀

  127. Abel
    June 30, 2010 @ 5:26 am

    Marg,

    I think we are running into some sort of language barrier here.

    I honestly have no idea whether you believe in pagan gods or not.

    One minute you appear to say you do not:

    “The idol IS the god. And Paul says that an idol is NOTHING – just as the Old Testament assures us”

    “Agreed: gods = idols. Personifying them does not pretend that they are anything other than man-made idols.”

    “They were valueless – nothing – no gods at all.”

    And then the next minute you appear to be claiming they do exist:

    “The idols ARE the gods. They are one and the same. If one exists, so does the other.”

    and

    “Whether there was a spirit associated with any idol is another question.”

    You are basically stating (or at least appearing to state) two diametrically opposed arguments.

    Before we go any further can you please clarify exactly what you believe. Do you believe in gods other than Yahweh or not?

    Personally I, like Fortigurn, am coming to the belief that you do believe in these other gods and that is why you are couching your language so as to be almost unintelligible.

    I think this is also why you don’t like the word “polytheism”, because the dictionary definition of a polytheist is one who believes in more than one god – whether or not they worship them. All the true followers of Yahweh in the Bible are provably monotheistic.

    The other problem I find with your arguments is that you appear to be clinging to your belief in demons and pagan gods with more energy than your belief in Gods Word.

    God says that He is the only God. You seem to question this.

    God says only He can see the future. Again, you seem to question this.

    Which is more important to you? God or demons?

    You say that the woman with the spirit of python must have had a demon because she had the ability of “divining”.

    I have met clairvoyants in my life. I don’t believe they have any special power, I believe them to be charlatans. But I would still describe them as clairvoyants because that is what they are. I am not legitimising them by saying that.

    I have seen magicians on television. I don’t believe they have any special powers, or that they can really perform magic. But I can still describe them as magicians without doing so.

    To say that this woman made money by “prophecying the future” (a power we know only God has) is not to say she did it any more acurately than a carnival fortune teller peering at a crystal ball. It doesn’t cast any legitimacy on her by describing what she was doing.

    To say that this woman was possessed is also to say that Luke held a belief in the Greek gods. You can’t say the one without accepting the other. She couldn’t have had a spirit of python if Python and Apollo didn’t exist.

    If you think that she was possessed by a demon that had nothing to do with Python and Apollo then you have to explain why Luke describes it specifically as a “spirit of python” when he knew it wasn’t – and funnily enough you are then having to explain why “divinely inspired writers described things that they knew could not possibly be true” – something you say you find disturbing.

    Furthermore, when you say, “Frankly, Abel, I am disturbed by the implication that divinely inspired writers described things that they knew could not possibly be true.”

    Matthew in Matthew 4:24 describes people as “lunatick” – a word describing a pagan belief in a connection between madness and the phases of the moon.

    Do you think Matthew believed that the moon controlled mental illness? Do you perhaps think that Matthew believed in the Moon God (His name is Allah by the way)?

    Old Testament writers like Samuel referred to such things as “the god of the philistines” exactly as such, even though they only believed in one God. They did so not because they believed in the god of the philistines, but to simply describe the belief of the philistines.

    You may be “disturbed” by this method of writing, but it permeates the whole of the Bible. You again seem to be leaning away from the Bible and more into the arms of your demons.

    To summarise my questions:

    1. Do you believe in more than one god – yes or no?

    If your answer is “yes”, how do you reconcile that with Gods statement that he is the only God? Is God a liar?

    2. Do you believe Matthew believed in the Moon God? Do you believe Luke believed in Apollo?

    If your answer is “no” then how do you reconcile this with your statement that divinely inspired writers couldn’t possibly use language descriptive of somthing they didn’t believe in?

    3. What do you call “magicians”?

    If your answer is “magicians” – how can you possibly say that – surely you are lending credence to a belief in pagan magic!

    Please try and clear some of these riddles up for us.

  128. Fortigurn
    June 30, 2010 @ 12:26 am

    Marg, Abel is arguing completely consistently. The real problem is you aren’t. Your false equivocation of the idols with the gods is just one example. Your refusal to use original source language words with their proper definitions is another.

    Wrong. I believe she WAS possessed. She was possessed by a spirit that enabled her to bring much gain to her masters by divining (soothsaying; prophesying).

    So you believe that an evil spirit which could tell the future (something God says only He can do), helpfully possessed this woman and dutifully provided her with accurate predictions to make her masters rich, and then just as helpfully made her go and tell people that Paul was preaching the true gospel?

    Frankly, Abel, I am disturbed by the implication that divinely inspired writers described things that they knew could not possibly be true.

    We have been over this several times. Apart from accommodation (which you claimed to agree with, then didn’t, then did, then didn’t, then did, and now don’t again), what is the real issue?

    Just for the record, I believe the Bible to be true. I understand the meaning of personification, and I understand figurative language; but straightforward narrative I take to be straightforward narrative.

    But you don’t seem to understand how accommodation is used in straightforward narrative.

    Anyway, you’re a henotheist. You don’t believe there’s only one God, you believe many gods exist, you just choose to worship one of them instead of all of them.

  129. Marg
    June 29, 2010 @ 12:08 pm

    You argue persuasively, Abel, but not always consistently.

    We now seem to agree that idols definitely exist, but gods other than God do not exist. As Paul says, they are nothing.

    .

    Correction. The idols ARE the gods. They are one and the same. If one exists, so does the other.

    Also – Paul did NOT say that the gods are nothing. He said the IDOLS are nothing. But that does not mean the idols did not exist. We have already agreed on that.

    So when Paul used the word “nothing,” he was talking about what they were worth. They were worth nothing.

    And that is what Yahweh is talking about in Isaiah 46. These gods (a.k.a. idols) could not hear, could not help. They were valueless – nothing – no gods at all.

    Here then we have direct evidence of a divinely inspired writer describing someone as possessed when both Luke himself and both of us know that she could not possibly have been possessed.

    Wrong. I believe she WAS possessed. She was possessed by a spirit that enabled her to bring much gain to her masters by divining (soothsaying; prophesying).

    Frankly, Abel, I am disturbed by the implication that divinely inspired writers described things that they knew could not possibly be true.

    Just for the record, I believe the Bible to be true. I understand the meaning of personification, and I understand figurative language; but straightforward narrative I take to be straightforward narrative.

  130. Abel
    June 28, 2010 @ 2:51 pm

    I haven’t written on forums like these for about 5 years but I remember I once posted an answer to a forum and got the error message: “Your post is 13,642 characters too long” – and I think the character limit was 5000 already…

  131. Abel
    June 28, 2010 @ 2:30 pm

    Hi, I’ve just read that post over and although it’s not perfect – it was rushed – it will have to suffice.

    I hope my main points came across which is that:

    1. The Bible speaks to us in the language of its time. (Hence no mention of schizophrenia, psychosis, epilepsy etc.)

    2. Divine writers use the language of the day, even though they know that taken under a microscope it is technically incorrect, under the correct impression that their meaning will be understood by their contemporaries (ie Matthew referring to a lunatic, even though he did not believe the moon controlled peoples behaviour, Luke referring to the spirit of python etc.). Living 2000 years later we must consider their words more carefully to come to a correct understanding.

    3. Demon possession is another term for mental illness (“He hath a devil, and is mad”). If you remove the episodes of demon possession from the Bible then it appears Christ healed no-one with a mental illness.

    4. James is using the word “demons” to refer to demoniacs/madmen and does so as a literary device which his contemporary readers would understand. He is no more trying to encourage a belief in demons than Luke is in Apollo or Python.

    5. This explanation is consistent with the Old Testament, New Testament and even with today.

    When people with demons made statements like, “I know who you are, the Holy One of God” this, like the words of the woman with the spirit of python, is easily explained. Whilst they were afflicted with mental illness they could still hear about the incredible miracles that Jesus was performing and they had no inhibitions to prevent them from shouting out what they had previously heard. No supernatural intervention necessary.

    John 7:26-31 shows mentally well people in Jerusalem debating whether or not Jesus was the Christ so it takes no leap of imagination to consider that mentally unwell people would be able to hear and consider the same things.

    Finally, even physical illnesses were sometimes termed spirits even though it is clear they were not supernatural episodes, for example Luke 13:11 “And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.”

    This is simply the language of the day coming through again.

    Anyway, I have written enough.

  132. Abel
    June 28, 2010 @ 12:03 pm

    Marg,

    We seem at least to be making some headway.

    We now seem to agree that idols definitely exist, but gods other than God do not exist. As Paul says, they are nothing.

    That still leaves us with the problem of demons and evil spirits, and I applaud your desire to find an answer to the problem that is scripturally consistent.

    In the following text devils = demons = devils. Same Greek word.

    I would like to present some evidence that these demons were simply mental illnesses. You say in your previous post that Jesus made a differentiation when he gave his disciples authority to heal all diseases and to cast out unclean spirits and conclude that he was differentiating between physical illness and demons. I believe and hope to prove that he was saying to his disciples “I give you power to heal physical illnesses and mental illnesses too”.

    In John 7:19 Jesus says to the Jewish people in the temple: “Why go ye about to kill me?” The people, unaware of the plots to kill Jesus answer: “The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee?”

    They clearly didn’t think he was demon possessed, they just thought he had said something crazy. They already knew about the feeding of the five thousand which is referred to in this chapter. They were simply saying, “You’re mad – who’s trying to kill you?”.

    Similarly the Jews say to Jesus in John 8:48, “Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?” Because of the things Jesus was saying, they threw at him a racial insult and an accusation of being mad.

    Finally in John 10:20 we have the third accusation thrown at Jesus which fleshes out exactly what they had been saying to him: “He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him?”

    Here “having a devil” is directly paralleled with being mad. (Greek definition: to be mad, to rave; of one who so speaks that he seems not to be in his right mind).

    Mark 5:15 and the parallel account in Luke 8:35 both tell us that when the man possessed by Legion was healed he became “in his right mind”. This is exactly what we would expect – that previously he had “not been in his right mind” – the very Greek definition of madness we have just read.

    Matthew 8:16-17 reads: “When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.”

    Here we find being possessed by demons in Matthew paralleled with having infirmities and sicknesses in Isaiah. Nothing to do with actually being possessed by a real supernatural being.

    In Luke 10:9 Jesus dispatches the 70 to “heal the sick”, but when they come back in verse 17 they say, “even the devils are subject unto us through thy name”.

    If we use your own strict differentiation between sickness and demons, Jesus had not sent them out to cast out demons – he had sent them to heal sick people. The only way this makes sense is if being possessed was actually just a type of illness – mental illness.

    Even in the Old Testament when someone has an “evil spirit” it was definitely not a demon.

    1 Samuel 16:14-16 give an account of an evil spirit that troubled King Saul. Not only does it carry all the traits of a mental illness, but it is described as an “evil spirit from the Lord” – so it could hardly have been a demon!

    Finally to try and draw a parallel in the chapter in Acts we have been looking at, you have agreed that other gods do not exist and that gods are not inlolved in possession, yet in Acts 16:16 Luke describes the woman “possessed with a spirit of Python”. In Greek mythology Python guarded the oracle of Delphi until he was killed by Apollo. Apollo took control of this shrine which made him the god of prophecy.

    This “spirit of Python” then is to be associated with the Greek god Apollo who we can both agree did not exist – therefore when monotheistic Luke wrote about the spirit of Python, he too realised that neither Python or Apollo existed – he was simply relating the story in the language of the day.

    Here then we have direct evidence of a divinely inspired writer describing someone as possessed when both Luke himself and both of us know that she could not possibly have been possessed.

    If I could underline that paragraph I would.

    With the above evidence in hand then I believe it is possible to understand very easily what James was talking about when he wrote, “the devils also believe, and tremble.”

    James is writing to Jewish Christians living outside of Israel and is in this section encouraging them to do good works. He says in verse 19 that simply believing in God is not enough – they should be living Godly lives, and to make a dramatic comparison he states “the devils also believe, and tremble.”

    Taking into account what we have read we can now understand this to mean, “even madmen can believe there is one God and tremble”. This is either an exaggeration for point of emphasis or a statement of fact referring to the times when people with mental illnesses told Jesus, “I know who you are, the Holy One of God” etc.. He is saying there is nothing special about simply believing in God and that knowledge cannot do anything for you unless you do something with it.

    James is simply using the language of the day to describe mental illness, just like Luke used the language of the day to describe the charlatan slave girl, and it would have been read at the time in that way. There is no indication that either writer or the readers really believed in demons or demon possession.

    I have to dash, so I’m going to post this without reading it through (maybe a mistake!) so forgive me if there are any errors. If my formatting is rubbish, it’s because I’m rubbish at formatting.

  133. Marg
    June 26, 2010 @ 9:45 am

    Abel – I’d like to respond now to your earlier post regarding idols/gods/demons.

    The pagan gods were only idols and are always equated with idols. Nowhere are we told that they are spiritual creatures.

    Agreed: gods = idols. Personifying them does not pretend that they are anything other than man-made idols.

    … he [Paul] is saying that a sacrifice offered to an idol is nothing and that an idol is nothing and therefore cannot be the representative of a god.

    I agree. The idol IS the god. And Paul says that an idol is NOTHING – just as the Old Testament assures us.

    But I don’t think that means the idols did not exist. In fact, we have agreed that they DID exist.

    We have also agreed (I think) that idols (a.k.a. gods) were not involved in cases of demon-possession. Instead, the words demons and spirits are used interchangeably, many times. And, according to Fortigurn,

    The word DAIMWNION can mean ‘evil spirits’ or it can mean ‘gods’. It cannot mean both at the same time.

    That, by the way, indicates that the following argument is based on inadequate data:

    Helez, Scripture equates demons with false gods. It also tells us that false gods don’t exist. Joining the dots on that one, we arrive at the conclusion that demons don’t really exist.

    But the “demons” that were cast out of people were NOT “false gods”. So believing that such demons exist does not equate with “polytheism,” no matter how you define the word.

    Were those demons just natural diseases, then?

    Some of the incidents could arguably be explained that way, but certainly not all. The man in Luke 4:32-36 is one example. And wherever we read of Jesus casting out demons/unclean spirits, we ALSO read of natural diseases being healed.

    The same distinction is seen in the commission given to the twelve apostles. Jesus gave them authority to heal all diseases; but he ALSO gave them authority to cast out “unclean spirits” (Matthew 10:1), a.k.a. “demons” (Luke 9:1).

    Given all the evidence, I am satisfied that when James said, “Even the demons believe and tremble,” he was stating a fact.

    This subject does have a connection with the trinity debate, but this post is long enough.

  134. Marg
    June 25, 2010 @ 7:36 pm

    Good reasoning, Abel. I agree that your explanation is possible.

    It doesn’t seem to fit Luke 4, though. And I am impressed by the way BOTH passages fit James 2:19.

    You didn’t say whether you think those demons/unclean spirits should be called “gods”. Should they?

    One otherthing. I agree with you that in 1 Corinthians 10 Paul was saying idols are nothing. In fact, he uses those exact words in chapter 8.

    Does this prove that idols do not exist?

  135. Abel
    June 25, 2010 @ 7:09 pm

    If the girl who was saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, which shew unto us the way of salvation” was really possessed by a demon then you would have to accept that it was the demon saying those things.

    If so:

    1. Why would a demon that is antagonistic towards God be saying something positive about God – surely you’d expect the opposite, like “These men are preaching a false god and bring death.”

    2. If the demon said that Paul and Silas “shew unto US the way of salvation” then that means Paul and Silas were preaching a message of salvation that was available to demons. Where is the proof of that?

    Lastly, you say “nobody was paying money for it” but that’s not true – it’s clear that Luke was aware that she earned money for her masters so its probable he witnessed her earning money – probably from doing just this.

  136. Marg
    June 25, 2010 @ 5:57 pm

    I’d like to look again at Acts 16 before responding to your last post, Abel.

    Your explanation is possible, though not probable. I can’t imagine why the girl would keep repeating those particular words, day after day, nor why her lords would allow her to. After all, nobody was paying money for it. It doesn’t really make any sense. But I agree: it’s possible.

    A similar incident is recorded in Luke 4:31-36. Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, and a man with an unclean demon cried out, “What have we to do with you, Jesus? Have you come to destroy us? I know you; you are the holy one of God.”

    Jesus said, “Be silent and come out of him.” (The demon was speaking through the man’s voice; but Jesus addressed the unclean spirit, not the man.)

    And the demon came out of the man, throwing him on the ground but not injuring him. The astonished onlookers said, “He commands even the unclean spirits, and they come out.”

    BOTH of these incidents harmonize perfectly with James 2:19. The demons believe that there is one God. They know that they will sooner or later be destroyed. And they tremble.

    By the way, would you call these unclean spirits “gods”? I wouldn’t.

  137. Abel
    June 25, 2010 @ 11:42 am

    Believing that idols exist does not make one an idolater, I agree. But believing in the existence of other gods would put a person in direct conflict with Gods written word.

    Isaiah 46:9 “Remember the former things of old, For I am God (el), and there is no other; I am God (elohim), and there is none like Me,”

    If you are to say that there are other gods then you call God a liar.

    The other quotations from my last point back this up.

    If a god can be thrown in a fire then it is an idol, not a real god.

    If these gods are described as “no gods” then it is because they are not really gods.

    If a man can make a god, then it is not a god.

    The Bible is consistent and clear in this. Just because something is called a “god” does not mean that it actually is a god. The pagan gods were only idols and are always equated with idols. Nowhere are we told that they are spiritual creatures.

    As for 1 Corinthians 10, Paul actually answers your question for you, but I think you may gloss over his answer and miss it.

    1 Cor 10:19 “Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything?”

    Answer: “No” (first word of verse 20)

    If the answer is “No” then he is saying that a sacrifice offered to an idol is nothing and that an idol is nothing and therefore cannot be the representative of a god.

    Pauls argument is that by breaking bread we associate ourselves with Christ, just as previously the people of Israel ate of the sacrifices as prescribed by Moses and associated themselves with the altar of the Temple.

    In a similar way by eating the sacrifices offered to idols they were associating themselves with those idols and Paul says that this is wrong.

    But on the specific point of whether there was anything special about the actual meat of the sacrifice he says categorically “No” and on the question of whether an idol is anything (the Greek means “a certain one” i.e. an actual god) the answer is a categorical “No.”

    So whatever Paul then goes on to say about demons you should already be aware that he is not talking about extant supernatural beings because he has already said “No I’m not saying that”.

    Finally just because Paul uses the word “demons” does not mean that he thinks demons exist. Fortigurn has already explained that Pauls use of the word demons is to denote false gods. And hopefully you will still remember enough of my last post to remember that I was able to prove that the Bible repeatedly refers to non-existant gods as “gods”.

    I am not calling you an idolater, nor will I use the words polytheism or henotheism (had to look that one up!) but I will say that if you continue to believe in multiple gods – whether or not you worship them does not matter – you are in disagreement with the Bible and the very words of God. I hope you won’t stay in that position for long.

  138. Marg
    June 25, 2010 @ 10:18 am

    You do write a lot, Abel, but at least it is readable.

    Just for the record, I believe Dagon was an idol. He was inanimate. I don’t know what he was made of, but he was made by human hands. We agree that idols = gods.

    I am not so sure about the converse, but that can wait.

    Whether there was a spirit associated with any idol is another question. Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians 10 seems to suggest so, but that, too, can wait.

    What I am anxious to mention is something that should have occurred to me long ago. I am fully persuaded that the Bible is inspired – BOTH the Old and the New Testament. And experience has convinced me that the Bible contains sufficient information to interpret itself, if we are willing to let it.

    So I plan to stick with biblical terms, instead of wasting time on words like “polytheism”.

    Oh, sure; polytheism exists. The Athenians were obviously polytheists. But that is not the word Luke uses to describe them. He says Paul saw the entire city given over to idolatry. That’s a biblical word, and it appears often enough in the Bible to make it easy to understand.

    An idolater is one who worships idols. He serves gods other than Yahweh. So Israel at one point forsook Yahweh, their elohim, and made Baal-berith their elohim instead. Instead of serving Yahweh, they served Baal-berith.

    That’s idolatry. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s one idol or many.

    I think most of us agree that those idols really did exist. But that doesn’t make us idolaters.

    From now on, then, arguments based on arbitrary definitions of non-biblical words do not exist. And I think you understand how I am using that word.

    Go ahead and write, Abel. Shorter posts would be welcome; but make them as long as necessary to make yourself clear. I will do the same.

  139. Abel
    June 25, 2010 @ 7:56 am

    I write too much

  140. Abel
    June 25, 2010 @ 7:56 am

    Marg,

    The point of presenting 1 Samuel 5 is that I propose to show that God Himself takes an inanimate idol and makes it appear that this idol bows down and worships Him. This could clearly be seen as reinforcing a belief in the non-existant god Dagon and is something you claim a human writer like James, or Paul in Acts, or Jesus as he cast out “demons” would never do unless he truly believed those things were real.

    The point I would like to prove then is that if this is the manner in which God Himself deals with false non-existant gods, then it is entirely appropriate for men sent in His name to deal with them in a similar manner.

    This argument would obviously fail however if it were true that Dagon was in fact a real god, which you appear to believe based upon the fact that Dagon is referred to as the “elohim” of the Philistines.

    However “elohim” is repeatedly used in scriture to refer to non-existant gods and I would like to go on to prove that.

    In Isaiah 37:19 we have these words: “And have cast their gods (elohim) into the fire: for they were no gods (elohim), but the work of mens hands, wood and stone: therefore have they destroyed them.” In other words false gods are just that – they are not supernatural, they are the work of mens hands made of wood and stone. The idol is equated with the god and both are considered to be made by mankind – nothing to do with demons. You can throw the idol into a fire and you will destroy the god because the god is an flammable idol – not a demon.

    Jeremiah 2:11 says of the Israelites who had rejected God to serve false gods, “Hath a nation changed their gods (elohim), which are yet no gods (elohim)? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.” In other words the pagan nations around Israel worship gods which do not exist. Israel had rejected God to worship those which are “no gods” and which could not profit them.

    Isaiah 46 is a perfect chapter for you to read from start to finish as it describes exactly how the pagan elohim are created and how they compare to God. Please read the whole chapter, but I will quote just two verses:

    Isaiah 46:6 “They lavish gold out of the bag, And weigh silver on the scales; They hire a goldsmith, and he makes it a god (el); They prostrate themselves, yes, they worship.”

    Isaiah describes how men make themselves gods – note that he uses the word “god” and not idol. He is describing men making gods. To Isaiahs mind the idol and the god are the same thing because there is in fact nothing else – no demon, no supernatural being, nothing.

    Isaiah 46:9 “Remember the former things of old, For I am God (el), and there is no other; I am God (elohim), and there is none like Me, ”

    Here God Himself states that He is God and there are no other gods. This is fairly black and white when it comes to dismissing any belief in other gods.

    Isaiah 44 is another fantastic chapter for you to read. It describes a man chopping down a tree and using some of it to make a fire to warm himself, some of it to bake bread “And the residue thereof he maketh a god (el), even his graven image” It speaks of his ignorange in worshipping the same inanimate material he has used for making a fire.

    None of these chapters mention these idols or gods as referring to actual existant demons or gods. In fact in every case they ruthlessly state the opposite. The god is said to be an inanimate idol – it is never once anywhere said to be a supernatural being.

    This is followed up consistently by the New Testament preaching of Paul when a man who made idols brought against Paul the following accusation in Acts 19:26, “Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:” According to Paul then, idols do not represent real demons or gods, they are simply inanimate objects made by men which are worshipped as if they are real gods.

    Hopefully you can see from the above that scripture consistently uses the word elohim (or theos in the Greek) to describe false non-existant gods and that just because an idol or the god of a country is referred to as “elohim” does not mean that it is a real god or demon or that it exists in reality as anything other than an inanimate idol made by a human craftsman. The Old and New Testament and provably consistent in this teaching.

    Isaiah 46 is especially helpful in stating that there are no gods other than Yahweh.

    At this point I may be labouring the point, but I would like to point out that your own post number 353 is also in favour of the above scriptural position.

    You state that, “I don’t remember its (Dagon) ever being called an idol”, and you go on to conclude that Dagon must therefore be a god.

    But 1 Samuel 5:3 says, “behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the LORD.”

    If Dagon was a god and we are not talking about an idol then you have to conclude that the Philistines actually witnessed a physical living demon god that looked like a half-man, half-fish lying on the floor worshipping God, and on the second day you have to conclude that God murdered this demon by chopping off his head and his hands. You then have to explain why on earth the Philistines continued to worship Dagon even though they knew he was dead.

    The other conclusion, which I propose is thoroughly consistent with the other passages of scripture we have looked at, is that when you read “Dagon” the Bible is referring to an idol and nothing more. “Dagon”, “god of the philistines” and “idol” are interchangeable descriptions of the same thing. Dagon was not a demon or god but was in fact made from wood and stone and is only referred to as elohim because that is how the Philistines thought of him, not because he was a real god.

    With this in mind then we come back to our examination of 1 Samuel 5 and find that God was in fact animating an inanimate idol of a non-existant god and personifying it as if it were bowing down and worshipping Him. This obviously warrants the accusation that God was reinforcing the Philistines notion that their god was real, but dare you bring such an accusation against God Himself?

    What we find then is that even though it does not make immediate sense to you that God or Jesus or the apostles would work in this way, there is a clear divine precedent set by God Himself for the examples of personification of non-existant beings you have been discussing in the New Testament.

    We as believers are told explicitly that there are no other gods other than our God Yahweh.

    Worshippers of other gods or believers in demons are shown that those forces they believe in are utterly powerless before the might of Yahweh – as a method of bringing them to Yahweh and out of unbelief.

    While these methods may not appear immediately obvious and acceptable to our 21st century minds, you have to remember that the most recent passages of scripture were written almost two thousand years ago in another country and in another language. The enormous cultural and historical gulf between us sometimes requires that we not approach passages from our own point of view only, but take into serious consideration the point of view of the people living at that time.

    Their world-view was vastly different to our own and they were often very simple and utterly uneducated. The preaching methods employed may cause us some initial confusion, but what I hope I have proved is clear is that if there is divine precedent for an action then we are not in a position to argue against it. We must accept it as the truth and then learn why God would choose to work in such a way.

    The truth that God-willing you will one day come to appreciate is that there are no demons. There are no other gods than the God of Israel. There are no evil angels and there is definitely not one called Satan. There are no supernatural forces of any kind in this universe that are attempting to prevent us coming to God. The only barrier between ourselves and God is our own sinful nature and it is this which Christ overcame in his life and death. Through a clear understanding of scripture, repentence, baptism and faith in Christ we can be saved and that barrier between us and God will one day be removed for ever.

  141. Fortigurn
    June 24, 2010 @ 11:51 pm

    Ok it’s official, Marg is a henotheist. Now it all makes sense.

  142. Marg
    June 24, 2010 @ 7:24 pm

    Oops. Let’s try that again.

    You have given a very clear explanation of Acts 16, Abel, and one that deserves further study. Thank you.

    As for your question:

    Do you believe that the statue of Dagon in 1 Samuel 5 cut off its’ own head and hands and bowed down before the ark of the covenant or do you believe that God did that to it?

    I believe that Yahweh, the only true God, did that. He showed his power over Dagon, the god of the Philistines. And the Philistines knew who was doing it: “…his hand is heavy on us and on our god” (v. 7).

    Did Dagon exist?

    Certainly the idol existed, as we all agree (I think). But I don’t remember its ever being called an idol. It was called the god (elohim) of the Philistines, the god on whom the hand of Yahweh was heavy. And God’s supremacy was made manifest in what happened to that god.

    Personally, I don’t believe Yahweh was showing his power over a non-existent god. But I think I understand your line of thought.

  143. Marg
    June 24, 2010 @ 7:23 pm

    You have given a very clear explanation of Acts 16, Abel, and one that deserves further study. Thank you.

    As for your question:

    Do you believe that the statue of Dagon in 1 Samuel 5 cut off its’ own head and hands and bowed down before the ark of the covenant or do you believe that God did that to it?

    I believe that Yahweh, the only true God, did that. And the Philistines KNEW who was doing it: “…his hand is heavy on us and on our god” (v. 7).

    Did Dagon exist?

    Certainly the idol existed. I think we all agree on that. But it was called the god (elohim) of the Philistines, the god on whom the hand of Yahweh was heavy. And God’s supremacy was made manifest in what happened to that god.

    Personally, I don’t believe Yahweh was showing his power over a non-existent god. But I think I understand your line of thought.

  144. Abel
    June 24, 2010 @ 11:07 am

    If I may pose a question to Marg:

    Do you believe that the statue of Dagon in 1 Samuel 5 cut off its’ own head and hands and bowed down before the ark of the covenant or do you believe that God did that to it?

  145. Fortigurn
    June 24, 2010 @ 10:23 am

    Abel, that’s a very cogent explanation which makes a lot of sense and agrees with the Biblical record.

  146. Abel
    June 24, 2010 @ 10:14 am

    I would like to add my interpretation of the episode in Acts as I too believe Luke wrote exactly what happened. I just believe that as it happened 2000 years ago it is probably worth doing some further historical and Biblical investigation so that I can understand exactly what did happen. Feel free to criticise or comment on my conclusions.

    I hope to answer all of Margs questions:

    1. Why was girls description of Paul and Silas so accurate?

    2. Why when the spirit of python was removed from her she was no longer of any value to her masters?

    3. Explain Pauls actions.

    The KJV describes the woman as a “damsel”, but another translation of damsel is slave, which is precisely what she was. She was owned by her “masters” and made them “much gain” with her so called prophecies.

    Her skill was to speak without moving her lips and using a strange voice make it sound like a voice was coming from deep within her making obscure prophecies – as if she were posessed by this spirit of python. The guillible citizenry would then pay her masters (worshippers of Apollo) for the interpretation of these prophecies. Remember this is her stated job – making money for her masters.

    Marg states that this womans accurate decription of Paul and Silas is inexplicable and thus must have come from a demon, but in reality the source of the information is glaringly obvious. The whole point of Paul and Silas’ presence in Phillipi was to publically preach the word of God which they did regularly – so it is not at all surprising that the girl – or her masters – had heard about them. Paul and Silas were very likely the talk of the town with their new preaching effort and subsequent conversions, and these masters simply wanted to cash in on the act. Again we are told that this was the whole purpose of having this girl as a slave – to make money – not to go around making accurate free prophecies.

    To say, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, which shew unto us the way of salvation” was not to have any special demon-given knowledge – it was simply to repeat in public the very words that Paul and Silas had already publicly preached. There is nothing even remotely miraculous about her knowledge.

    The difference is that this girl – or her masters – were only interested in making money from the situation.

    It is no wonder that Paul was fatigued by having this woman following him around doing this weird act, confirming what he was preaching and trying to make money out of it – it made him appear in agreement with worshippers of a pagan god and with a group of conmen. It is also most likely that she would guide listeners to her masters who would go on to tell people that the God Paul and Silas preached was really their God Apollo.

    By removing the spirit of divination/python, Paul simply removed her ability to throw her voice. Marg states that it is inexplicable why removing her ability to perform ventriloquism would make her worthless to her masters, but it appears pretty clear at this point. Without that skill she could no longer appear to be posessed, and without that ability she could no longer be a part of the scam her masters were conducting.

    Note that the masters of the slave were not “amazed that their god had been defeated” or “distrought that their demon had been exorcised” but rather they were upset when they saw that “their hope of gain was gone”. Note that their “hope of gain” is directly connected to her following Paul around doing the ventriloquist act. They were running a con and were angry when Paul ruined it because it cost them money.

    The answers to Margs questions then are:

    1. Her description of Paul and Silas was accurate because it was the very description that Paul and Silas had given to her. She was repeating back their own words.

    2. Her masters found her of no value once she lost the ability of ventriloquism because she could no longer play her vital role in their scam. They had probably paid a lot of money for her because of her ability and now she was just an ordinary slave girl.

    3. Paul took action because her actions made him appear to be in league with worshippers of a false god, because she was distracting people from his preaching and to demonstrate that the God he preached was not Apollo and was in fact the one true God.

    It is worth remembering that this is not the first time that God has chosen to show himself as superior to false gods – the plagues of Egypt were sent to show Gods superiority to the gods of Egypt. 1 Samuel 5 shows God abasing the idol of Dagon before the Ark of the Covenant. God at those times did not simply point out that these gods did not exist, He personified them and then defeated them one by one to show that He is the only true God.

    This act of Pauls then is consistent with the way God treats other false gods throughout the Bible and it cannot be said that there was anything miraculous about the slaves ability that would indicate she had any form of supernatural benefactor.

    As an aside on the whole issue of whether demons cause illness or not I thought this verse may be of help:

    Exodus 4:11 “Who hath made mans mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord?”

  147. Marg
    June 24, 2010 @ 4:38 am

    Thanks, Dave. That’s clear; but it doesn’t explain why the girl’s description of Paul and Silas was so accurate, or why, when the “spirit of Python” was removed from her, she was no longer of any value to her masters. Neither ventriloquism nor pretending to have a demon can account for that.

    Nor does it explain Paul’s actions, which Luke describes in detail.

    I believe Luke describes this woman as others believed her to be.

    I believe Luke wrote exactly what happened. I guess we’ll have to leave it at that.

    A more serious passage is James 2:19. IF belief that demons exist is a serious error, then we have to assume that James did NOT believe demons exist. It would also mean that his readers SHOULD NOT believe it.

    In that case:
    James said something he did not believe.
    He knew his readers DID believe it, wrong though it was.
    But he said it anyway, without given a single hint that he didn’t believe it, or that there was anything wrong with it.

    James was writing to Jewish Christians – not “superstitious heathen and the apostate Jews”. IF what they believed was fundamentally wrong, it is unthinkable that James would say something that would support their wrong belief.

    I find it a lot easier to believe that he meant exactly what he said. Is that a reasonable conclusion?

  148. Dave Burke
    June 24, 2010 @ 2:39 am

    Marg:

    I’m hoping you will explain Acts 16:16-23 for me. No one else has.

    The Greek says “a spirit of Python.” Python was another name for the Greek god Apollo, given to him after he slew a massive serpent at Pytho. Thus, people believed she was possessed by a spirit of Apollo. (Question: does Apollo exist?)

    “Pythonists” (i.e. people who claimed to speak through a spirit of Python) were common in the ancient era. Plutarch mocked them as frauds, writing:

    It is foolish and childish, to think that God, as the ventriloquists formerly called Eurycleans, and now Pythonists, should hide himself in the bodies of the prophets, using their mouths and voices as instruments to speak with, for this was done by turning their voices down their throats.

    Eurycles was an early “Pythonist”; Aristophanes refers to him as a ventriloquist who pretended to have a “demon.” Tertullian also writes about his experience with Pythonists; he, too, believed they were mere ventriloquists.

    I believe Luke describes this woman as others believed her to be.

  149. Dave Burke
    June 24, 2010 @ 2:27 am

    Marg:

    Thanks for the soccer update, Dave. I believe you are an Australian, so I presume Australia is in mourning.

    Yep, I’m Australian but Australia is not in mourning; soccer isn’t the biggest game in our country, and we’ve just had a change of Prime Minister, so the headlines are dominated by politics right now!

    🙂

  150. Fortigurn
    June 24, 2010 @ 2:11 am

    Marg,

    I’m hoping you will explain Acts 16:16-23 for me. No one else has.

    Another bad habit you have is repeating yourself and justifying it with the claim that no one has ever addressed a particular point regardless of the fact that they have, sometimes more than once.

  151. Fortigurn
    June 24, 2010 @ 2:10 am

    Marg,

    I’m sure some of the readers, at least, can see a difference between “you claimed he would never do this,” and “Everywhere else in the NT it seems to refer to unclean spirits.“

    Walk me through it. If the latter statements is true, would Paul have ever used DAIMWNION to refer to gods? If DAIMWNION is ‘just another word for evil spirits’, would Paul have ever used DAIMWNION to refer to gods?

  152. Marg
    June 24, 2010 @ 2:00 am

    Thanks for the soccer update, Dave. I believe you are an Australian, so I presume Australia is in mourning.

    I am a Canadian. One wag has a theory as to why soccer is lost on adult Canadians. It’s hilarious, but too long to quote. However, the kids love it. So the future of soccer in Canada is in their hands – which, if he understands the rules – they are not allowed to use.

    I’m hoping you will explain Acts 16:16-23 for me. No one else has.

    A certain girl brought her masters a lot of money by means of a “spirit of divination”. Her words regarding the identity of Paul and Silas were perfectly accurate; but after she had repeated them for “many days,” Paul was distressed.

    He turned to the spirit and said, “I charge thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.”

    And it came out, leaving the masters with no more hope of profiting from their slave’s supernatural ability. So they had Paul and Silas thrown into jail.

    That “spirit” was not a natural disease. Whatever it was, Paul ordered it to come out of the girl and it obeyed – just as the demons (spirits) obeyed Jesus.

    So I conclude that the girl’s supernatural spirit was similar to the demons/spirits that Jesus gave his disciples authority to cast out.

    I also conclude that the spirit actually did exist.

    Is that conclusion JUSTIFIED?

  153. Marg
    June 24, 2010 @ 1:45 am

    I’m sure some of the readers, at least, can see a difference between “you claimed he would never do this,” and “Everywhere else in the NT it seems to refer to unclean spirits.

  154. Dave Burke
    June 24, 2010 @ 1:22 am

    Marg:

    By the way, Andrew, my sister has been following the football, and thinks it would be great (though extremely unlikely) if the final game were to be between the Socceroos and the All-whites.

    Too late! We beat Serbia 2-1, but it wasn’t enough to keep us in the Cup. The 4-0 loss to Germany sealed our fate. 🙁

  155. Fortigurn
    June 23, 2010 @ 9:33 pm

    Marg,

    This is something I did NOT say, in ANY of the posts you quote.

    So when you said ‘Everywhere else in the NT it seems to refer to unclean spirits’, you didn’t really mean it? Marg, you’re contradicting yourself repeatedly. You held out against this statement for days.

    However, you have made your point. The demons referred to in 1 Corinthians 10 are the ones the nations are sacrificing to when they sacrifice to idols. That implies that they are gods.

    Yes they are gods. They are not demons.

    And although the idols are nothing (ch. 8), the demons are something Paul does not want the Jewish Christians to have communion with.

    They are not demons, they are gods.

    Since the demons that Jesus cast out were unclean spirits, I assume that the demons in 1 Corinthians 10 were also spirits. That would make sense.

    No it does not make sense. I have been through this with you time and time again. The word DAIMWNION can mean ‘evil spirits’ or it can mean ‘gods’. It cannot mean both at the same time. Paul is using it here to refer to gods. That’s it.

    Let me repeat: I am learning. And I am glad of everything I learn.

    Actually I am increasingly of the opinion that you’re just trolling.

  156. Marg
    June 23, 2010 @ 6:58 pm

    This is significant, since you claimed he would never do this.

    This is something I did NOT say, in ANY of the posts you quote.

    However, you have made your point. The demons referred to in 1 Corinthians 10 are the ones the nations are sacrificing to when they sacrifice to idols. That implies that they are gods.

    And although the idols are nothing (ch. 8), the demons are something Paul does not want the Jewish Christians to have communion with.

    Since the demons that Jesus cast out were unclean spirits, I assume that the demons in 1 Corinthians 10 were also spirits. That would make sense.

    It also fits James 2:19. James says that the demons believe there is one God, and tremble.

    And please – don’t tell me again that James was saying something he didn’t believe – something he knew his hearers should NOT believe because it made them polytheists – but he said it anyway, without explaining that he didn’t believe it. That is an insult to James.

    Let me repeat: I am learning. And I am glad of everything I learn.

    By the way, Andrew, my sister has been following the football, and thinks it would be great (though extremely unlikely) if the final game were to be between the Socceroos and the All-whites.

  157. Fortigurn
    June 23, 2010 @ 10:53 am

    I don’t think it’s a fine detail to be able to sort out if you’re a monotheist or a polytheist. Marg has demonstrated a studious determination to ignore entire posts which deal patiently and in detail with her questions (including quotations from the relevant literature), which make questioning her sincerity entirely valid.

  158. Dave Burke
    June 23, 2010 @ 8:54 am

    I believe Marg is sincere. Plenty of us are still working on the finer details of our faith. It’s not always possible to have all the answers at one’s fingertips.

  159. Fortigurn
    June 23, 2010 @ 5:47 am

    Abel, reviewing the previous discussion I am inclined to believe your second suggestion has some merit. Marg is at best a henotheist, but not a monotheist.

  160. Abel
    June 23, 2010 @ 3:41 am

    Fortigurn – you are the victim of a wind-up merchant.

    Nobody in their right mind could say in the same breath, “I believe they [other gods] exist” … “I do not believe IN them.”

    You’re either arguing with a mental patient or someone who has deliberately set out to waste your time.

  161. Fortigurn
    June 22, 2010 @ 11:50 pm

    Marg, we can start with your post #315.

    Certainly, it is possible for the word “demons” to refer to gods. That’s the way the pagan philosophers used it. Everywhere else in the NT it seems to refer to unclean spirits.

    This was my reply, post #316:

    No it doesn’t. I have been through this with you several times, and posted the specific verses. Paul himself uses the word DAIMONION specifically for gods.

    You have consistently refused to acknowledge that DAIMWNION was used in the LXX and in the New Testament to refer to gods.

    #252: False gods = idols; demons = evil spirits.

    #263: However, just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the pagan philosophers were right in equating “demons” with “foreign gods”

    #293: These verses, plus at least three others, indicate that demon is just another name for unclean spirit.

  162. Fortigurn
    June 22, 2010 @ 11:49 pm

    Marg, we can start with your post #315.

    Certainly, it is possible for the word “demons” to refer to gods. That’s the way the pagan philosophers used it. Everywhere else in the NT it seems to refer to unclean spirits.

    This was my reply, post #316:

    No it doesn’t. I have been through this with you several times, and posted the specific verses. Paul himself uses the word DAIMONION specifically for gods.

    You have consistently refused to acknowledge that DAIMWNION was used in the LXX and in the New Testament to refer to gods.

    #252: False gods = idols; demons = evil spirits.

    #263: However, just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the pagan philosophers were right in equating “demons” with “foreign gods”

    #293: These verses, plus at least three others, indicate that demon is just another name for unclean spirit.

  163. Marg
    June 22, 2010 @ 9:49 pm

    Andrew, you are bright enough to recognize the value of defining terms. So let’s define “polytheism”.

    According to the dictionaries I have looked at, a polytheist is someone who believes in or worships more than one god. That is the normal definition of the word.

    The Egyptians were polytheists. So were the Babylonians. So were the Athenians. They believed in and worshiped many gods.

    Hindus today are polytheists. They HAVE many gods; they BELIEVE IN many gods; they WORSHIP many gods.

    The Hindu gods are like the gods of the Old Testament, made with human hands. I believe they exist, but I do not worship them. I do not believe IN them. I believe in ONE God, and in his Son, Jesus Christ.

    One more thing. The first word in the Decalogue says, “You shall have no gods except me.” It does NOT say, “You shall believe that no gods exist except me.”

  164. Marg
    June 22, 2010 @ 3:23 pm

    …that Paul uses the Greek word DAMWNION for the false gods of the heathen. This is significant, since you claimed he would never do this.

    Please tell me the post where I made such a statement, and I will certainly retract it.

  165. Abel
    June 22, 2010 @ 3:14 pm

    What a weird thread this has descended into!

    A monotheist who vehemently denies polytheism and yet believes vehemently in more than one god;

    someone who believes in angels materializing and dematerializing to have sex with women (they can’t materialize anymore though – presumably their tardis is broken);

    and a debate about what the word “exist” means.

    Please carry on for another 300 posts – this stuff is pure gold!

  166. Fortigurn
    June 22, 2010 @ 1:06 pm

    Marg,

    That’s enough until I can either defend that position or change it.

    Out of all that you missed the most important point, which is that Paul uses the Greek word DAMWNION for the false gods of the heathen. This is significant, since you claimed he would never do this. It is clear that to Paul a DAMWNION was nothing more than a false god of the heathen.

    You have a right to use historical documents if you wish to, andrewneileen. My own experience (in conversing with Trinitarians) is that anyone can come up with a historical document that will prove his point, no matter what it is.

    That isn’t actually true. What is happening here is that you do not understand how historical documents are used to establish the socio-cultural context of a text. This is an issue I covered in some detail earlier in this thread, using quotes from the standard scholarly literature. It stops people just making things up.

  167. Marg
    June 22, 2010 @ 9:11 am

    You have a right to use historical documents if you wish to, andrewneileen. My own experience (in conversing with Trinitarians) is that anyone can come up with a historical document that will prove his point, no matter what it is.

    Tell me if I understand you correctly:
    James did NOT believe that demons exist.
    However, he thought that his readers DID believe that demons exist.
    He did not correct their wrong belief, but rather used that wrong belief to make a point.

    Do you argue this way? If you do, then I have no idea whether what you are saying is what you really believe, or just “rhetoric”.

    I am satisfied that James meant exactly what he said.

  168. Marg
    June 22, 2010 @ 8:45 am

    Thank you, Andrew. I am trying to understand your views, as well. One thing I know: There are a whole lot of things I don’t know, and I am trying to learn.

    We both agree that physical idols representing gods existed.

    Great. We have some common ground to work from. The question is – what did those idols represent?

    I have just been looking at the two places where Paul uses the word demons in his writings. The most comprehensive is 1 Corinthians 10, and I have been reading that chapter in several translations, as well as in a Greek Interlinear.

    It seems clear to me that if you want to know what Paul thought about demons, you have to read what he says about idols, too. Having communion with demons is associated with idolatry. So chapter 8 is helpful, too.

    I am not yet ready to defend what I am seeing right now, but I will tell you what I think, and let you study for yourself to see if you come up with something different.

    I conclude from chapter 10 that the idols themselves are nothing. But pagans who sacrifice to idols are actually sacrificing to demons (v. 20). Anyone who joins in their sacrificial meals is, in effect, having communion with demons.

    That doesn’t mean that it is always wrong to eat food that has been sacrificed to idols, or that was meant for that purpose and discarded. All food comes ultimately from God and can be eaten freely by someone whose conscience is clear.

    BUT – and this (to me) is important. If the person I am eating with tells me that this food has been sacrificed to idols, then I should abstain from eating it – NOT because I am obligated to, but out of love for the person I am eating with.

    The same principle is found in 1 Corinthians 8 and in Romans 14 and 1 Timothy 4:1-5. I should not be governed by a list of rules. I should be governed by the law of love.

    That’s enough until I can either defend that position or change it.

  169. Andrew
    June 22, 2010 @ 4:37 am

    Marg,
    I think your right that our understanding of the word ‘exist’ is of central importance here. We both agree that physical idols representing gods existed. What I’m still unclear about is whether you believe that the actual gods represented by the idols existed (i.e. as real, supernatural entities)
    From your strong denial that a belief in demons constitutes polytheism, I would assume that you do not believe that these gods literally existed as supernatural deities. Forgive me for still being so unclear about this, as I know that you have already tried to make yourself as clear as possible.
    As always, with love in our Lord

  170. andrewneileen
    June 22, 2010 @ 1:44 am

    Marg

    James was a Jew and we don’t have to suppose a knowledge of Greek philosophy; we can just consider the Jewish literature extant and their representations of Demons to get a feel for their importance. This is important because Jewish ideas of the origin of demons are different to Christian ideas. On the other hand, Galilee was a multi-cultural area with Greek speakers and cities with Greek speaking populations such as Sepphorus in the vicinity. So we can legitimately look at wider cultural ideas.

    andrewneileen

  171. Fortigurn
    June 21, 2010 @ 9:59 pm

    Marg,

    He did not have to resort to pagan cosmogonies to tell his Jewish readers that faith without works is dead.

    Evidence please. You keep making these dogmatic statements without evidence. You say Jesus couldn’t have done this, Paul couldn’t have believed this, James would never have done this, it’s an insult to claim that, it’s wrong to say this, but your arguments have no logical coherence, you just keep throwing these statements out there.

  172. Marg
    June 21, 2010 @ 8:05 pm

    James was talking to Jewish Christians – NOT Greek philosophers. He did not have to resort to pagan cosmogonies to tell his Jewish readers that faith without works is dead.

    In fact, to accuse him of such a tactic is an insult. He would not make a statement that might lead someone to THINK he believes something he does not believe at all.

    Nor would I.

  173. andrewneileen
    June 21, 2010 @ 5:26 pm

    Marg

    Fairies are not comparable to demons in terms of the belief systems they bring to the rhetoric of James. Demons have a credibility in the cosmogonies around at the time which James is trading upon in his argument. So the seriousness is preserved.

    andrewneileen

  174. Fortigurn
    June 21, 2010 @ 12:11 pm

    Marg,

    But the idols had to be carried, and you don’t have to carry things that don’t exist.

    No one is saying idols don’t exist. Idols are not gods and gods are not idols. Idols represent gods. You need to decide once and for all if you really believe there is one God, or if there are other gods as well. The Bible never says that the gods existed. It says categorically that they don’t exist.

  175. Marg
    June 21, 2010 @ 10:30 am

    Thank you, andrewneileen, for your thoughts on James 2.

    I like the way the JB translation begins verse 18: “This is the way to talk to people of that kind.”

    So if someone claims to have faith, without anything in his life to prove that the faith is living, you can say,

    You say you have faith and I have good deeds; I will prove to you that I have faith by showing you my good deeds – now you prove to me that you have faith without any good deeds to show. You believe in the one God – that is creditable enough; but the demons have the same belief, and they tremble with fear.”

    We can (as Andrew suggested) talk about fictional fairies as though they were real. But would you ever say, in the context of a subject as serious as this one, “Even the fairies believe and tremble”?

    I don’t think James would do anything like that, either.

  176. Marg
    June 21, 2010 @ 10:04 am

    I understand what you are saying, Andrew. Yahweh is the ONLY true God, and we agree on that.

    But is it accurate to say that false gods do not exist? Is it possible that we understand the word “exist” differently?

    When David’s enemies fled and left their gods behind, David burned them. Does something that needs to be burned exist? As I understand the word, things that don’t exist don’t make much of a fire.

    Maybe Isaiah 46 will help. The gods mentioned in v. 1 had to be carried. They were just a burden. Yahweh, on the other, carries his people.

    So he challenges them (v. 5): “Who can be compared with Yahweh?”

    He goes on to show that gods made of gold or silver are worthless. They can’t save anyone in trouble. So I am God, none else, and there is none like me.

    The gods (obviously idols) had no value at all. On THAT, I would agree. But the idols had to be carried, and you don’t have to carry things that don’t exist.

    You see my problem, I’m sure. And these are just two of countless examples. The gods existed, as I understand the word. But they were worse than nothing, so far as value is concerned.

    You have a point regarding 1 Corinthians 8. The subject is eating foods offered to idols. Idols are called gods, all through the OT. So these idols are so-called gods. And there are many such gods, Paul says. But to us, there is only ONE God.

    Whether or not Paul thought idols exist, he did seem to think that the fortune-telling spirit he cast out of the girl in Acts 16 was real.

    So maybe the problem lies in our understanding of the word “exist”. I don’t know how you understand the word, but that is not really important. Such a difference in understanding certainly would not hinder me from closing with “love in Christ”.

  177. andrewneileen
    June 21, 2010 @ 1:55 am

    Marg,

    Commentators recognize that James uses hypothetical voices in his argument, but they will disagree on what voices say what. So my anaylsis is in line with standard commentary.

    My analysis takes out Jms 2:19 from the ‘demons exist, the Bible says so’ armoury. But this doesn’t mean demons do not exist. You just have to move the battleground on to see if there is a more robust basis.

    Looking back over the posts the debate on demons arose over this issue of taking language at face value. I agree on this but would say take language in its social context and my analysis of James doesn’t violate the principle.

    What do the posts show is the strongest argument for the existence of demons? Is it the one that takes up the most time?

    andrewneileen

  178. Andrew
    June 21, 2010 @ 1:37 am

    Marg, thanks for clearing that up. It surprises me to find that you believe that the gods that Yahweh declares are false, are real. You said: “I believe that the gods of the OT did exist, precisely because God has so much to say about them.”
    But I would argue that God has so much to say about them because it is so important for him to tell us that he is the only God, that they are not real! Yahweh does not say he is the only important God or the only strong God; he says that he is the only God full stop. I don’t see how you could come to the conclusion that any of the other gods mentioned in the Bible are real without discarding passages such as…
    “Yahweh, He is God; there is no other besides Him.” Deuteronomy 4:35
    “Yahweh, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other.” Deuteronomy 4:39
    “See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me” Deuteronomy 32:39
    “You are great, O Lord God; for there is none like You, and there is no God besides You” 2 Samuel 7:22
    “For who is God, besides Yahweh? And who is a rock, besides our God?” 2 Samuel 22:32
    “Yahweh is God; there is no one else.” 1 Kings 8:60
    “O Lord, there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You” 1 Chronicles 17:20
    “Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.” Isaiah 43:10
    “‘I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me.” Isaiah 44:6
    “Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none.” Isaiah 44:8
    “I am Yahweh, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God.” Isaiah 45:5
    …and from the New Testament…
    “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God” 1 Timothy 1:17
    For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” 1 Timothy 2:5

    When I consider 1 corinthians 8 I must firstly think: “What does Yahweh say about other Gods? Well, he says that there are no other gods so what Paul is talking about cannot be real.” It helps that Paul says “there are many so-called ‘gods'”. If Paul said “there are many real Gods apart from Yahweh” I would be a bit disconcerted to say the least.

    I will respond to your final conclusion in a later post, that’s all from me for now.

  179. Fortigurn
    June 20, 2010 @ 10:50 pm

    Marg,

    Like Andrew I want to be clear about what you really believe. You keep saying that other gods actually exist. This is not the position of the Bible.

    You are also misreading Paul in 1 Co’rinthians 8. He does not believe other gods actually exist. He starts by saying there is only one God (unlike what you are saying), then says there are many ‘so-called gods’, and then says that to us there is one God. He also says that there are some who do not have this knowledge, which is why they are sensitive about idols, because they believe those gods really exist.

    Certainly, it is possible for the word “demons” to refer to gods. That’s the way the pagan philosophers used it. Everywhere else in the NT it seems to refer to unclean spirits.

    No it doesn’t. I have been through this with you several times, and posted the specific verses. Paul himself uses the word DAIMONION specifically for gods.

    What I DON’T know is whether “gods” and “unclean spirits” are mutually exclusive terms. Any thoughts on that?

    Yes they are. I have been through this several times.

    I do conclude, though, that IF demons are gods, and IF believing that they exist constitutes polytheism, then Jesus and James and Paul were all encouraging polytheism.

    Would you consider that a fair conclusion?

    No, this is a false conclusion. It is not logically coherent. I have explained why several times.

  180. Marg
    June 20, 2010 @ 10:28 pm

    Thank you, Andrew. You express yourself well. I am not following the world cup (although I like soccer), but – Yay, New Zealand! How are they doing?

    Just for the record, I believe that the gods of the OT did exist, precisely because God has so much to say about them.

    Paul believed they existed, too, if 1 Corinthians 8 can be taken at face value. There are MANY gods, he says; but for us there is ONE God. My sentiments exactly.

    I also believe that unclean spirits (aka demons) exist. Why? Because of the way Jesus acted. You know what I mean by that.

    Besides, he also gave his apostles authority to cast out unclean spirits, AS WELL AS the authority to heal diseases. There is always a clear distinction between healing natural diseases and casting out demons.

    I like your analogy of a monkey knowing how to hold a pen – although you are aware that it falls far short of what James is saying. Anyone familiar with monkeys would understand that a monkey CAN hold a pen. Only those who believe that demons exist would understand that demons CAN believe – and tremble.

    That is why what James is saying sounds like a serious statement of fact. If he knew that his readers believe that demons exist, he was certainly encouraging them to continue in that belief.

    I’m sorry my words confused you. The fact is, I am learning from this conversation, and the words “the images of the gods” roused my curiosity. I don’t know what it means, but it MIGHT mean that the idols were simply concrete images of something not visible. I’d like to look into that further.

    Certainly, it is possible for the word “demons” to refer to gods. That’s the way the pagan philosophers used it. Everywhere else in the NT it seems to refer to unclean spirits.

    What I DON’T know is whether “gods” and “unclean spirits” are mutually exclusive terms. Any thoughts on that?

    I do conclude, though, that IF demons are gods, and IF believing that they exist constitutes polytheism, then Jesus and James and Paul were all encouraging polytheism.

    Would you consider that a fair conclusion?

  181. Marg
    June 20, 2010 @ 9:16 pm

    Andrew – I apologize. Your post did not come up on my computer until I posted my last. Forgive me. I will study what you say before trying to answer.

  182. Marg
    June 20, 2010 @ 9:14 pm

    I’m still waiting for your thoughts, Andrew. If you prefer to be silent, I can understand; but I’m still hoping to hear from you.

    In the meantime, I was reminded recently of a “Peanuts” comic strip that I saw years ago. Snoopy is on the roof of his doghouse, typing. Charlie Brown asks him what he is doing.

    Snoopy: I’m writing a book on theology.
    Charlie: I hope you have a good title for it.
    Snoopy: I have the perfect title: Has It Ever Occurred to You That You Might Be Wrong?

    It’s something we all need to be reminded of occasionally.

  183. Andrew
    June 20, 2010 @ 8:48 pm

    Marg,
    sorry for the delay in my reply. exams and the soccer world cup (go new zealand!) have been occupying my time.
    Thank you for clearly answering my questions about your beliefs- I think you have done a commendable job of defending your position and I have seen that there is much more to the issue of demons than I would have originally thought.

    You said: “‘There are many gods.’ They do exist. But they know that in reality there is ONE true God, and they shudder.”
    Could you please clarify this? It seems that now you are agreeing that demons are gods, although I got the impression earlier that this was something you denied. Also I was confused by your answer about Old Testament idols. Surely you don’t believe that all of the ‘spirits’ behind these false gods were real? Forgive me if I’ve misinterpreted your posts.

    re: james 2:19. As I’m sure you’re aware, the context of this chapter is very important. Others have already given their explanations of this passage, so I’ll keep mine short. James is writing to a group of people who obviously struggle to apply any good works to their beliefs. When he says “You believe that there is one God. Good!” he recognizes the importance of this belief, as many other people of the time would have had a belief in other, pagan gods. But in saying “Even the demons believe that-and shudder” he is highlighting the fact that anyone can have the right belief- anyone at all- but without works their faith is dead.
    I see it as the equivalent of someone saying “So you know how to hold a pen- congratulations. But even a monkey can hold a pen. Unless you know how to write with it, your knowledge is worthless.” Of course the difference is that monkeys really do exist, but I think you’ll get my drift.
    Although this answer probably won’t satisfy you, I think you need to revise your statement that just because James talks about demons as real (in ONE verse) this means that he believed in them. As we have seen, Yahweh talks about false gods as real numerous times but this doesn’t mean that he thought they were real or was reinforcing polytheism. Likewise I could talk about witches and ghosts in great detail, even creating stories about them in which they are very real, and not believe in them or expect others to.

  184. Fortigurn
    June 20, 2010 @ 7:57 pm

    Marg,

    What anyone reading the passage would take from it is that James believed demons DO exist, or he would not mention it.

    That’s like saying God Himself must believe the gods of the heathen exist, or He wouldn’t mention them.

  185. Fortigurn
    June 20, 2010 @ 7:56 pm

    Marg,

    Thank you, Andrewneileen. That is a very convoluted explanation, but you deserve top marks for originality.

    It is not a convoluted argument (there’s nothing convoluted about ‘James is doing here what he has already done previously in the chapter), and it is not original. All the way through James 2 it is clear he is repeatedly setting up hypothetical questions.

    Even if he were, there is no logical reason why he should mention demons AT ALL, unless he believed that they exist.

    That is a logical fallacy, specifically the fallacy of the non sequitur. The conclusion does not proceed logically from the premise, because you have not reached this conclusion from a process of logical reasoning.

    The reference to demons is perfectly in line with what James is saying. You’ve ignored the first part of the verse, ‘You believe that God is one‘, and straight after that there’s a reference to demons. This makes perfect sense in the context of talking about people who aren’t real monotheists, and who believe in demons as a result.

    To have James assume that someone else would say something like that, even though James himself knew better, seems a bit far-fetched. Surely he would not deliberately manufacture a hypothetical conversation that supports something he considered wrong.

    He already did:

    James 2:
    18 ]But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.”

    James clearly didn’t believe in that. He corrects it in the very next verse.

  186. Marg
    June 20, 2010 @ 6:20 pm

    Thank you, Andrewneileen. That is a very convoluted explanation, but you deserve top marks for originality.

    I fully understand the argument James is presenting. But I can see no indication that James is putting words into someone else’s mouth.

    Even if he were, there is no logical reason why he should mention demons AT ALL, unless he believed that they exist.

    To have James assume that someone else would say something like that, even though James himself knew better, seems a bit far-fetched. Surely he would not deliberately manufacture a hypothetical conversation that supports something he considered wrong.

    What anyone reading the passage would take from it is that James believed demons DO exist, or he would not mention it. The context certainly does not require it.

  187. andrewneileen
    June 20, 2010 @ 5:43 pm

    Marg,

    You ask another andrew about Jms 2:19. But here’s my input.

    It is argued that James pre-supposes the existence of demons, and as an inspired author, we must accept this pre-supposition.

    If we focus on this single verse, James’ apparent assertion could establish a belief in demons on his part. However, the context of the verse indicates that James is conducting an argument with hypothetical opponents, and that this verse is part of the opponent’s argument. This part of his letter is structured in the following way:

    “A man may say…” (v. 14)

    “Yea, a man may say…” (v. 18)

    “But wilt thou know, O vain man…” (v. 20)

    The first man (v. 14) presents a “faith only” position.

    The second man presents a “works” position and James counters the first and second man with a “faith with works” position.

    James counters the arrogance of the “I have faith” man in v. 17 when he says, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone”. He then introduces an argument from another type of man, one who bases his confidence primarily in works, so that he can show the vulnerability of the “I have faith” claim.

    This “faith only” man is wide open to attack by those who place their confidence in works. James produces the “works” argument from “a certain man” in v. 18-19. What does this opponent say?

    Firstly he argues,

    “Thou hast faith, and I have works…”

    Here the “works man” addresses the “faith only man” as the one who has claimed to have faith. In contrast, he claims to have works. His position is one that values works above faith in some way. His next statement builds on his emphasis on works:

    “Shew me thy faith without thy works”

    Here he challenges the “faith only” man to show him his faith without mentioning any works. By this he is aiming to prove that works are what count. He goes on,

    “I will shew thee my faith by my works”

    James’ “works only” man has “faith”, but it consists in his works. His argument now adopts a sarcastic tone toward the “faith only” man:

    “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well”

    Here he continues to address the “faith only man”, who believes (has faith in) in God. Continuing the thrust he says,

    “…the demons also believe (have faith) and tremble”

    This statement belongs to James’ “works only” man and it is part of his rhetorical argument that aims to ridicule the “faith only” man.

    The next verse has James pick up the gauntlet and address the “faith only” man.

    “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”

    James puts to one side the argument of vv. 18-19, as he gives more examples of how real faith gives rise to works and is manifested in works. This stress places faith to the foreground, with a natural consequence of works.

    From this analysis, the following points emerge:

    • In v. 19 James does not express a belief in demons on his part; he reproduces a hypothetical argument voiced in his day.

    • In v. 19 James constructs a rhetorical comparison for effect, and the effect he is trying to elicit is the recognition that there is more than just believing in God.

    • In v. 19 James’ comparison has a sarcastic overtone – ‘even the demons believe’.

    On the basis of these exegetical points, it is clear we have a mention of demons not dissimilar to Jesus’ mention when in argument with the Jews of his day over Baal-Zebub. Jesus’ arguments also deployed effective comparisons using the Jewish belief in Baal-Zebub. We cannot therefore use this verse to establish a Biblical belief in demons, and we cannot use it to establish a belief that James personally held.

    andrewneileen

    Fortigurn – I accept your clarifications

  188. Marg
    June 19, 2010 @ 10:40 pm

    I think I’ve addressed all your points Andrew, and I am really interested in your thoughts. In particular, I’d like to know how you understand James 2:19.

    James said that the demons believe there is one God, and they shudder. [Well they might!] So James certainly believed in the existence of demons.

    The question is – Does that belief make James a polytheist?

    A more important question is – Do we both believe that the New Testament is inspired, just as well as the Old?

  189. Fortigurn
    June 19, 2010 @ 8:35 pm

    Robert, nothing you’ve written with regard to the LXX actually addresses my point. The LXX continues to be used in text critical and translation studies, because of the value of the access it provides to an alternative Hebrew textual tradition, and as a source for understanding how the Jews understood their own language.

  190. Fortigurn
    June 19, 2010 @ 8:11 pm

    Andrew,

    He uses too much late rabbinical material though; I think we should contextualize the texts only with known extant 1c. material.

    The rabbinical material I used was only for the purpose of demonstrating that the Christadelphian interpretation is not unique to us, nor historically novel. Late as it is, the rabbinical material I used is perfect for that purpose. I never said that this proves this is how the Jews understood satan in the 1st century.

    2. There is a literary context to add, i.e. the genre of Job is different to that of Matthew 4/Luke 4 and different again to 1 Peter.

    I have made specific reference to the importance of literary genre, especially with regard to the synoptics.

    The centuries that separate the OT book of Job and the gospels and the intervening Second Temple literature change what we can reasonably say about the identity of Satan in the OT and NT.

    I mentioned this specifically, identifying the change of views concerning satan and demons in the intertestamental literature.

    Christadelphian thinking on Satan is more diverse than indicated. ‘Evil inclination’ and personification is not the only explanation offered – and it depends on the text. So, for instance, it doesn’t fit the lightening falling from heaven text. And quite a few others.

    Evil inclination and personification were not the only two Christadelphian interpretations listed. I listed all of our standard interpretations.

  191. andrewneileen
    June 19, 2010 @ 4:48 pm

    Hello

    I was looking at the Satan/Demon posts, and I wanted to add…

    1. Fortigurn talked about placing the material in a social context, and this is a correct hermeneutic for these texts. He uses too much late rabbinical material though; I think we should contextualize the texts only with known extant 1c. material.
    2. There is a literary context to add, i.e. the genre of Job is different to that of Matthew 4/Luke 4 and different again to 1 Peter. The centuries that separate the OT book of Job and the gospels and the intervening Second Temple literature change what we can reasonably say about the identity of Satan in the OT and NT.
    3. Christadelphian thinking on Satan is more diverse than indicated. ‘Evil inclination’ and personification is not the only explanation offered – and it depends on the text. So, for instance, it doesn’t fit the lightening falling from heaven text. And quite a few others.
    4. The gods behind idols don’t exist obviously (aside: the Babylonians welcomed Cyrus, so Isa 46 is not about Cyrus’ capture of Babylon which was peaceful). But if you affirm that demons exist autonomously, you need some sort of theogony to account for them.

    Andrew

  192. robert
    June 19, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

    Fortigurn
    Aquila was certainly not a jew and we dont know really that much about the Essene sect as just how hellenized they were.
    as for Symmachus we dont have but fragments and a few mentions by early church fathers.we do have the latin vulgate which was said to have used this translation also but have no idea to what percent. the fact is we have no idea just when and where the other books of the greek OT completely originated . i think we should always take what the hebrew says ovr what the greek says when the hebrew is verifiable which is the case of most of it.

    According to Bruce M. Metzger[1] the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures prepared by Symmachus followed a “theory and method …the opposite of that of Aquila, for his aim was to make an elegant Greek rendering. To judge from the scattered fragments that remain of his translation, Symmachus tended to be paraphrastic in representing the Hebrew original. He preferred idiomatic Greek constructions in contrast to other versions in which the Hebrew constructions are preserved. Thus he usually converted into a Greek participle the first of two finite verbs connected with a copula. He made copious use of a wide range of Greek particles to bring out subtle distinctions of relationship that the Hebrew cannot adequately express. In more than one passage Symmachus had a tendency to soften anthropomorphic expressions of the Hebrew text”. However, Symmachus aimed to preserve the meaning of his Hebrew source text by a more literal translation than the Septuagint.

  193. Fortigurn
    June 19, 2010 @ 12:44 pm

    Robert,

    Actually the legend of the LXX only mentions the first 5 books as being translated by the Jewish.

    I’m aware of that. I’m also aware that the term ‘Septuagint’ was typically applied only to the Greek translation of the Pentateuch, until well into the 5th century. However, I’m accommodating Marg’s use of the term.

    No one knows who translated the rest or whether if they were just greeks who knew some hebrew.

    Actually there’s a lot of information on that (look up the translations of Aquila and Symmachus, as well as the Qumran literature).

    Who ever it was certainly missed alot of the meanings of a lot of hebrew idioms and hebrew meanings of words.

    Or they were working from a different Hebrew manuscript tradition. Regardless, my point remains.

  194. robert
    June 19, 2010 @ 11:16 am

    “This is irrelevant. It still tells us what the Jews who translated the LXX understood the word DAIMWNION to mean.”

    Fortigurn
    Actually the legend of the LXX only mentions the first 5 books as being translated by the Jewish.
    No one knows who translated the rest or whether if they were just greeks who knew some hebrew. Who ever it was certainly missed alot of the meanings of a lot of hebrew idioms and hebrew meanings of words.

  195. Fortigurn
    June 19, 2010 @ 1:41 am

    Marg,

    You are probably aware that the Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Hebrew text. If the translators ADDED a phrase to the Hebrew text, I wouldn’t call that “original”.

    My interlinear Hebrew Bible says, “…a people who continually provoke me to my face, sacrificing in gardens and burning incense on the bricks,” The word “devils” does not appear anywhere in the passage.

    This is irrelevant. It still tells us what the Jews who translated the LXX understood the word DAIMWNION to mean.

    So is there another place where the Bible says that unclean spirits (aka demons) do not exist?

    I gave you several.

  196. Marg
    June 19, 2010 @ 1:14 am

    You mentioned another passage, Andrew.

    In fact, compare Isaiah 65:3 in your Bible to the original septuagint. “A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick” – the septuagint adds “upon altars of brick to devils, which exist not”

    You are probably aware that the Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Hebrew text. If the translators ADDED a phrase to the Hebrew text, I wouldn’t call that “original”.

    My interlinear Hebrew Bible says, “…a people who continually provoke me to my face, sacrificing in gardens and burning incense on the bricks,” The word “devils” does not appear anywhere in the passage.

    So is there another place where the Bible says that unclean spirits (aka demons) do not exist?

    If I have missed any of the points you made, Andrew, please let me know.

  197. Fortigurn
    June 18, 2010 @ 10:01 pm

    Marg,

    1 Corinthians 8:6 bears repeating. There are many gods and many lords, says Paul. But for us there is ONE God and ONE Lord.

    “There are many gods.” They do exist. But they know that in reality there is ONE true God, and they shudder.

    You really believe there is more than one God?

  198. Fortigurn
    June 18, 2010 @ 10:00 pm

    Marg,

    This is personification, and the imagery is tremendous.

    Hold that thought. You clearly don’t mind the Old Testament doing something which appears to reinforce polytheism.

    The question is – are the demons behind the idols real?

    There is no talk of ‘demons behind the idols’ from one end of Scripture to the other.

  199. Marg
    June 18, 2010 @ 5:06 pm

    “Even the demons believe and shudder.”

    There is evidence of that in the gospels. Unclean spirits recognized the authority of “the sent one of God,” and obeyed his words. They even recognized the authority of Paul, another “sent one”.

    But I’d like to look at some more passages in the OT that have a bearing on the subject.

    Dagon was the god of the Philistines (Judges 16:23). When the Philistines defeated the Israelites and put the ark of God beside Dagon as a trophy of war, Dagon ended up with his head and his hands broken off, and only the fishy body part left.

    Did Dagon exist?

    When Jacob fled from Laban (Genesis 30-36), Laban chased him and accused him of stealing his gods. Jacob gave him permission to search for them, because he didn’t know Rachel had stolen them. Laban didn’t find them; Rachel had hidden them in her camel’s saddle and then sat on it.

    Did those gods exist?

    1 Corinthians 8:6 bears repeating. There are many gods and many lords, says Paul. But for us there is ONE God and ONE Lord.

    “There are many gods.” They do exist. But they know that in reality there is ONE true God, and they shudder.

  200. Marg
    June 18, 2010 @ 4:25 pm

    I think Isaiah 46 is next on the list, Andrew. So here goes. (Part 1)

    (vv. 1-2) Bel and Nebo were Babylonian gods. When the Babylonians fled from Cyrus, they carried their gods with them. Their gods couldn’t do anything to help them. They were just another burden to be carried.

    Yahweh describes those gods as “bowing” and “stooping,” ALONG WITH their worshippers. They were all going into captivity together, humiliated and helpless. [This is personification, and the imagery is tremendous.]

    (3-4) The children of Israel, on the other hand, do not carry their God. Instead, their God carries them. Big difference.

    (5) So – Who can be compared with Yahweh? [Answer given in v. 9.]

    Verses 6-7 show the contrast. Men get a goldsmith to make a god out of gold or silver. They worship it and carry it. They invoke it, but it never replies. It never saves anyone in trouble. So?

    (9) I am God, none else, and there is none like me.

    The gods that are made by human hands are idols. But I think there is more to it than that. The idols are images of the gods, if I understand Isaiah 21:9 correctly. The idols themselves are without life; but in worshipping the idols, pagans believe they are worshipping spirits.

    If that is true, then Isaiah 46:1 is something more than personification. Not only the idols, but the spirits portrayed by the idols, are humiliated.

    The graven images of gods were to be burned (Deuteronomy 7:25, 12:13). So when the fleeing Philistines left their gods behind, David burned them (1 Chronicles 14:12). The idols themselves were called gods.

    That links up with Acts 17:16-18. Paul saw a city full of idols, and proclaimed the gospel to anyone who would listen. Some pagan philosophers wondered if he was talking about foreign “demons” because he talked about Jesus and the resurrection (not an idol).

    The question is – are the demons behind the idols real?

    Apparently James thought so. In talking to those who claimed to have “faith” but had no righteous “works” to go with it, he says, “You believe that God is one. Good for you. Even the demons believe, and shudder” (James 2:19).

    Given the context, what reason would there be for James to make such a statement, unless it was true?

  201. Fortigurn
    June 18, 2010 @ 6:48 am

    Marg,

    These verses, plus at least three others, indicate that demon is just another name for unclean spirit.

    In the synoptics and some of Acts, yes. I have already said this repeatedly. BUt it is not the meaning of DAMWNION in the Old Testament, nor in Acts 17, nor in Paul’s letters. In all of thosde texts, the word DAIMWNION refers to the false gods of the heathen.

    Jesus would not grant the request of something that did not exist.

    I agree. He granted the request of the man.

    Nor would he give his apostles authority over something that does not exist.

    I agree. He gave them authority over all sickness and disease.

  202. Marg
    June 18, 2010 @ 3:40 am

    I understand what you are saying, Andrew. If someone thinks he has had a certain experience, I can’t very well contradict him. If someone says he received

    a vision from the virgin Mary saying that God is three and not one

    I can’t tell him he did not have such a vision – although I might suggest that the Bible is a better guide than visions.

    Just for the record, I have had NO visions about unclean spirits, and I have had NO experience to convince me that demons exist. In fact, I think that anyone today who claims to be casting out demons is a fraud.

    My conviction that unclean spirits DO exist comes from the Bible.

    Yesterday I spent some time reading all the passages that equate demons with unclean spirits. Here are a few of them.

    Matthew 10:1 tells us that the Lord called his twelve disciples and “gave them authority over unclean spirits, so as to cast them out.” Mark 3:15 says he gave them authority to cast out demons.

    Mark 5:1-14 tells us that the demons asked for permission to go into a herd of pigs (v. 12). Jesus gave them permission, and the unclean spirits came out of the man (v. 13).

    The parallel story in Luke 8:26-35 says that Jesus charged the unclean spirits to come out of the man (v. 29). People came and “found the man from whom the demons had come out, seated and clothed and of a sound mind, at the feet of Jesus. [I love that.]

    These verses, plus at least three others, indicate that demon is just another name for unclean spirit. If this is what the people of that day thought, then the biblical evidence says they were right.

    Some of these stories might be interpreted as a particular way to describe the healing of a natural disease, but some can’t. Jesus would not grant the request of something that did not exist. Nor would he give his apostles authority over something that does not exist.

    Thank you for answering my question, Andrew, and I will continue with yours. But that’s enough for now.

  203. Marg
    June 18, 2010 @ 3:24 am

    I understand what you are saying, Andrew. If someone thinks he has had a certain experience, I can’t very well contradict him. If someone says he received

    a vision from the virgin Mary saying that God is three and not one

    I can’t tell him he did not have such a vision – although I might suggest that the Bible is a better guide than visions.

    Just for the record, I have had NO visions about unclean spirits, and I have had NO experience to convince me that demons exist. In fact, I think that people today who claim to be casting out demons are frauds.

    My conviction that unclean spirits DO exist comes from the Bible.

    Yesterday I spent some time reading all the passages in the NT that refer to both the casting out of demons and the casting out of unclean spirits. I’m not going to refer to them all, but here are some that I think are worth noting.

    Matthew 10:1 tells us that the Lord called his twelve disciples and “gave them authority over unclean spirits, so as to cast them out.” Mark 3:15 says he gave them authority to cast out demons.

    I don’t think Matthew and Mark were recording a vision. The power Jesus gave them over demons/false spirits was real, and they exercised that power in their ministry, just as Jesus exercised it in his.

    Mark 1:23-28 tells us about Jesus casting out an unclean spirit, while vv. 32-34 tells us that he cast out many demons, and wouldn’t allow them to speak.

    Mark 5:1-14 tells us that the demons asked for permission to go into a herd of pigs (v. 12). Jesus gave them permission, and the unclean spirits came out of the man (v. 13).

    The parallel story in Luke 8:26-35 says that Jesus charged the unclean spirits to come out of the man. Later, people came and “found the man from whom the demons had come out, seated and clothed and of a sound mind, at the feet of Jesus.” [I love that. That’s where I want to be.]

    All of these verses (plus Luke 9:42 and Mark 7:25-26) indicate that demon is just another name for unclean spirit.

    Some of these stories could be interpreted as a particular way to describe the healing of a natural disease, but some can’t. I do not believe that Jesus would grant the request of something that did not exist. Nor do I believe that he would give his apostles authority over something that does not exist.

    Thank you for answering my question, Andrew, and I will continue with yours. But that’s enough for now.

  204. Andrew
    June 17, 2010 @ 5:30 pm

    Marg,
    “My question is, Why would it be important to show that he had power over things that do not exist?”
    This is a bit of a leading question. It’s clear that the people of the time believed that demons really did exist, so to them this question would be irrelevant. What they saw was Christ having power over literal demons. What I see, with the benefit of hindsight and a scriptural background, is Christ demonstrating a principle in a manner the people could understand.
    Let’s put it in a modern day context. I have a friend that believes in literal demons, largely because she has spoken to people who claim to have them. Now, what is the best way for me to approach the subject?
    a) “don’t worry, your ‘demons’ are actually a figment of your imagination, supported by a misinterpretation of certain Bible passages and centuries of false teachings purported by the christian church”
    or
    b) “don’t worry, through Christ you can overcome all things”
    I can’t very easily explain to someone that something they believe they experience is not what they think it is. In the same way, if somebody tells me they recieved a vision from the virgin Mary saying that God is three and not one, I can’t refute what they claim to have experienced. This is turning into a bit of a ramble sorry, I’ll stop there.

  205. Fortigurn
    June 17, 2010 @ 10:29 am

    Marg,

    Let me clarify a few things. I believe that those idols WERE real.

    The quotes provided were talking about gods, not idols. Do you believe the gods of the heathen exist or not? Do you believe there is one God, or do you believe there are many gods?

    When you say this:

    But I am not a polytheist. For me (as for Paul) there is ONE God and ONE Lord.

    Do you mean you recognize other gods exist, you just don’t worship them as yours?

    Therefore, IF AND ONLY IF such a belief constitutes polytheism (something I vehemently deny) THEN AND ONLY THEN was Jesus encouraging a belief in polytheism (something I likewise deny).

    No, that is false. I have been through this several times now. The people who viewed Christ’s actions did not believe that these were gods. They believed they were evil spirits. Therefore, Christ casting them out did not constitute a reinforcement of polytheism, it constituted a demonstration that demons were to be considered of no account.

    This is precisely why the rest of the New Testament, written for mature Christians, pays no attention to evil spirits. The only people who do are those who are scared of them and don’t believe God has the only supernatural power in the universe. For such people, life is just a huge gamble between who is currently in control. Some days it’s demons, some days it’s God.

  206. Marg
    June 17, 2010 @ 9:13 am

    Thank you, Andrew. I appreciate your way of communicating. Here goes.

    How are New Testament passages of Christ dealing with demons any different to Isaiah 46:1, where Yahweh treats Bel and Nebo as real

    Let me clarify a few things. I believe that those idols WERE real. Nobody could LOOK at them and consider them to be non-existent – except in one way.

    That’s the way Paul did it in 1 Corinthians 8:5-6. ”There are many gods and many Lords,” he says; “but FOR US there is ONE God and ONE Lord.”

    I intend to come back to this, but I want to refer to the last sentence:

    Will you dare claim that God was encouraging people to believe in polytheism?

    Let’s get things straight, for Fortigurn’s sake. I am not the one who teaches that believing in the EXISTENCE of demons or idols or false gods constitutes polytheism.

    Let me word that differently. I believe that those idols DID exist. I believe that the spirits Jesus and his disciples cast out WERE real.

    But I am not a polytheist. For me (as for Paul) there is ONE God and ONE Lord.

    Once again: I have NEVER said that those who believe demons exist are polytheists. I don’t believe it.

    However, I DO say this: Jesus and his disciples cast out spirits (aka demons). That cannot be denied. Jesus not only did it himself, he gave his 12 disciples the same authority, and Paul exercised it too.

    Surely that would encourage the belief that the spirits they were casting out were real.

    Therefore, IF AND ONLY IF such a belief constitutes polytheism (something I vehemently deny) THEN AND ONLY THEN was Jesus encouraging a belief in polytheism (something I likewise deny).

    Forgive me Andrew. I don’t think you need all that. But maybe Fortigurn does.

    I want to answer your question about Isaiah 46:1 in more detail, but this post is long enough. I just want to repeat something we both believe. What Jesus did showed him to have power over everything, including demons. He is Lord of all, and I gladly acknowledge him to be that.

    My question is, Why would it be important to show that he had power over things that do not exist?

  207. Andrew
    June 16, 2010 @ 10:58 pm

    Marg,
    thanks for your explanation. It’s pretty interesting to think that
    Yahweh would use demons to execute his will, and a point I hadn’t thought
    about before. My first thoughts about this are that it seems somewhat
    perverse, for lack of a better word, that God would use completely opposed
    to him and communicate with them as he does in 2 Chronicles 18:18-22. But
    then again, God uses all kinds of humans, good and bad, for his work too.

    What I don’t understand is why Yahweh would use demons in place of angels
    (which can be equally injurious as in the passover, cited in psalm 78:49)
    or even his own holy spirit, which works judgement on men as well as goodness.

    Anyway, I’m happy to leave the first point there. We both agree that spirit
    is a slippery term and I don’t have enough knowledge to make any strong argument
    about it in relation to demons at this time.

    Would you care to answer my next question then,
    *How are New Testament passages of Christ dealing with demons any different to
    Isaiah 46:1, where Yahweh treats Bel and Nebo as real
    (You will have read Fortigurn’s expansion of this argument as well:
    “God speaks of the false gods of the heathens as if they literally exist, when in fact He has declared that they do not, and describes inanimate idols as having life when they are obviously dead. He describes Himself as coming to visit judgment on the gods of the Egyptians (Exodus 12:12, Numbers 33:4), challenges the false gods of the heathen to worship Him (Psalm 97:7), describes the idols of Egypt as trembling at His approach (Isaiah 19:1), describes the gods of the Babylonians as bowing down and kneeling in submission to Him (Isaiah 46:1), says He will punish the gods of Egypt (Jeremiah 46:25), and says He will starve (or ‘weaken’), the gods of the heathen (Zephaniah 2:11). Will you dare claim that God was encouraging people to believe in polytheism?”)

  208. Fortigurn
    June 16, 2010 @ 10:57 pm

    In the Old Testament, there is no ‘unclean spirit’ as a supernatural evil being. The single instance of the term ‘unclean spirit’ in English translations of the Old Testament occurs in Zechariah 13:2. Here it does not mean a supernatural evil being.

    The phrase the unclean spirit is literally “the spirit of uncleanness” and is probably parallel in structure with the “spirit of compassion” in 12:10; that is to say, it is an impulse that leads people to perform unclean acts rather than a personal evil spirit that causes a person to become ritually unclean as often in the Gospels.

    See also the notes on 12:10. The Hebrew word for unclean refers to ritual uncleanness, and hence also to those actions offensive to God which cause ritual uncleanness.

    Clark, D. J., & Hatton, H. (2002). A handbook on Zechariah. UBS handbook series (328–329). New York: United Bible Societies.

  209. Fortigurn
    June 16, 2010 @ 10:53 pm

    Marg,

    Good. We can forget about the word “demon” and concentrarte on the word “spirit,” which is common to BOTH the Old and the New Testament.

    You are still thinking in English. We have to focus on the Greek word DAIMONION, which translates various Hebrew words in the Old Testament, and is used for ‘demons’ and ‘gods’ in the New Testament.

  210. Fortigurn
    June 16, 2010 @ 10:50 pm

    Marg,

    I have not checked to find out exactly what Hebrew words are translated as demon in the Septuagint, but I will try to do that soon.

    The Greek word DAIMWNION occurs in the LXX in the following passages:

    * Deuteronomy 32:17: translation of Hebrew ‘sedim’, paralleled with ‘elohim’
    * Psalm 106:37: translation of Hebrew ‘sedim’
    * Isaiah 13:21: translation of Hebrew ‘serim’
    * Isiah 34:14: translation of Hebrew ‘sair’
    * Isaiah 65:3: no equivalent word in the Hebrew

    Here are the meanings of the Hebrew words in question:

    * Sedim: god
    * Serim: goat, goat idols
    * Sair: goat, goat idols

    The following information is important:

    Kaufmann (p. 65, fn. 1) says, “When the gods of the nations are called š?dim it is not meant that they are evil spirits, but that they are insubstantial shades, ‘no-gods,’ with neither divine nor demonic functions.”

    Harris, R. L., Harris, R. L., Archer, G. L., & Waltke, B. K. (1999). Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (electronic ed.) (906). Chicago: Moody Press.

  211. Marg
    June 16, 2010 @ 10:23 pm

    Good. We can forget about the word “demon” and concentrarte on the word “spirit,” which is common to BOTH the Old and the New Testament.

  212. Fortigurn
    June 16, 2010 @ 10:09 pm

    Marg,

    The Old Testament was written in Hebrew. “Demon” is the transliteration of a Greek word. It is really not surprising that the Greek word does not appear in the Hebrew OT.

    You’re missing the point. Andrew is pointing out that no Hebrew word for ‘demon’ occurs in the Old Testament. He is right. I already pointed this out myself in post #279.

    Freedman, D. N. (1996). Vol. 2: The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (138–139). New York: Doubleday.

    Use of the term demon in relation to the OT is problematic for 3 reasons: First, it does not seem that there is a single term in biblical Hebrew which can be consistently and unquestionably translated as “demon” (Caquot 1971: 118).

  213. Marg
    June 16, 2010 @ 3:57 pm

    I’d like to go back to an earlier post for a minute, Andrew. You said:

    The word demon does not even appear in the Old Testament!

    The Old Testament was written in Hebrew. “Demon” is the transliteration of a Greek word. It is really not surprising that the Greek word does not appear in the Hebrew OT.

    I have not checked to find out exactly what Hebrew words are translated as demon in the Septuagint, but I will try to do that soon.

    In any case, I think it is fair to say that the evil spirits (which are called demons in the NT) are basically the same in both languages.

  214. Marg
    June 16, 2010 @ 3:53 pm

    Hello, Andrew. I have just read everything that has appeared since I left this morning. Now I want to address the questions raised in your last post.

    In Mark 5 the terms demon and evil spirit do seem to be used synonymously- but I think it’s too big a step to say that they are always synonymous.

    You’re right, of course; but the evidence is more substantial than that. There are at least two other places where the two words are used in the same context to describe the same entity.

    In fact, if you read each passage which speaks of a demon being cast out, and then read each passage where a spirit is being cast out, you will find a correspondence that is hard to escape. But we’ll leave that for now. Your point is well taken.

    In the old testament, if demons are always also evil spirits, then who sends them? Surely satan, right? Please correct me if I’m wrong but from an outsider’s perspective that seems to make sense.

    I would leave out the word “always,” but apart from that, I think you are right.

    Luke 11:15-20 seems to support that view. It tells the story of Jesus casting out a demon. Some of the onlookers accused him of casting them out by Beelzebul, the prince of the demons.

    His answer was (vv. 17-20), “… A kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation … If Satan be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? … [The relationship between Beelzebul and Satan can be left until later.]

    If that is the case, I have to ask myself why the only person mentioned sending evil spirits in either Testament is God (Judges 9:23, 1 Samuel 16:14-23, 1 Kings 22:22-23, 1 Chronicles 18:21-22, Psalm 78:49)

    Good question, Andrew!

    I think there is a clue to the answer in Jesus’ next sentence:
    “… But if by the finger of God I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God is come upon you.”

    Satan is the prince of the demons; but Jesus is stronger than he (as the rest of the story makes absolutely clear). He can command the demons, and they obey him.

    So if God commands evil spirits, for some purpose of his own, they will obey him – whether they like it or not.

    There are other possibilities, but that is the one that I find most satisfying, and it fits what the Bible says.

    That’s enough for one post.

  215. Fortigurn
    June 16, 2010 @ 1:27 pm

    Fahlbusch, E., & Bromiley, G. W. (1999-2003). Vol. 1: The encyclopedia of Christianity (794). Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leiden, Netherlands: Wm. B. Eerdmans; Brill.

    In contrast to the surrounding Canaanite world, OT ? Israel lay under the claim of the first commandment (Exod. 20:2–3) and thus was prohibited from making representations of demons.

    Instead, the demonic was consistently integrated into the belief in Yahweh, so that the God of Israel was the author of both good and bad.

    Hawthorne, G. F., Martin, R. P., & Reid, D. G. (1993). Dictionary of Paul and his letters (210). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

    The LXX used demons (daimonia) to designate heathen gods, as an epithet of contempt. Judaism in the Hellenistic era took up the term and used it to designate evil supernatural beings who caused physical harm in all sorts of ways.

  216. Fortigurn
    June 16, 2010 @ 1:22 pm

    Freedman, D. N. (1996). Vol. 2: The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (138–139). New York: Doubleday.

    Use of the term demon in relation to the OT is problematic for 3 reasons: First, it does not seem that there is a single term in biblical Hebrew which can be consistently and unquestionably translated as “demon” (Caquot 1971: 118).

    Second, many terms thought to refer to demons are either hapax legomena or appear only in a few instances.

    Third, the English term demon is used to refer to two very different concepts—evil spirits and neutral “anonymous gods” or spirits (daimons). Both understandings have been applied to the OT.

    Freedman, D. N. (1996). Vol. 2: The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (140). New York: Doubleday.

    Finally, it should be recognized that there is no connection in the OT between the figure of Satan and the demons referred to above. While one late text (1 Chr 21:1) has Satan as a proper name for an independent being who acts in what could be seen as a demonic manner, “The Satan” in the OT serves primarily as a judicial “adversary” acting at God’s request (Job 1; Zech 3:1).

  217. Fortigurn
    June 16, 2010 @ 11:36 am

    Marg,

    What pagan philosophers said about Paul’s preaching should NOT take precedence over what Jesus taught, both by word and by action.

    You are missing the point. The passage in Acts demonstrates the lexical range of the word. It is utterly fatal to your theory that the Greek word DAIMWNION can refer to gods. This is why you deny the fact. This Bible passage shows us that the Greek word DAIMWNION can refer to gods. Even if we didn’t have this passage, we would still have Paul’s own use of the word with the same meaning. Are you going to call Paul a ‘pagan philosopher’?

    However, just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the pagan philosophers were right in equating “demons” with “foreign gods”

    No Marg, you still don’t understand. I am not saying that they equated ‘demons’ with ‘foreign gods’. I am pointing out that the word DAIMWNION includes ‘gods’ in its lexical range. I have told you this more than once.

    Let us further assume that the disciples of Jesus (who were followers of Yahweh) agreed with the pagan philosophers.

    No Marg, you are just demonstrating you still don’t understand the word, let alone the subject. I have never said that the disciples believed DAIMWNION meant ‘gods’.

    If that is so, then Jesus was encouraging a belief that you have identified as polytheism. The Messiah (according to your reasoning) was encouraging polytheism in his followers.

    This is false. I have already explained why your argument here is flawed. Look at what I wrote in post #261.

    1. The Old Testament authoritatively defines ‘demons’ as the false gods of the heathen which do not exist.
    2. The LXX used the Greek word for ‘gods’ when translating the Hebrew word for ‘demons’.
    3. During the intertestamental era, the idea of supernatural evil beings who possessed people and/or caused disaster and illness was introduced to Judaism, largely through Persian influence, and became a part of Second Temple Judaism. People abandoned the Old Tesament teaching that God is the only supernatural agent of disaster.
    4. Despite this, belief in such supernatural evil beings was still rejected by certain Jews even in the first century.
    5. The synoptic gospels and Acts, written as narratives for non-Christians and immature Christians, record events phenomenologically, relating the beliefs of the participants in the narrative. In the narrative, Jesus is seen to accommodate certain false beliefs, and even used them in his parables to make various points.
    6. However, the synoptic writers still include indications that these beliefs concerning supernatural evil beings were false, and in Acts we find that the Greek word used for ‘demons’ still retained its original meaning of ‘god’, or ‘lesser divine being’.
    7. In John’s gospel, written for mature believers, there are no records of demon possession and all illnesses are treated strictly as having occurred naturally.
    8. In Paul’s letters, we find that he never speaks of demons as supernatural evil beings, nor speaks of anyone being possessed, nor speaks of anyone being exorcised, nor speaks of any office of exorcist. Instead he explicitly defines ‘demons’ as the false gods of the heathen, quoting the Old Testament to define them.

    I can see you still haven’t read that.

    THAT is the question you steadfastly refuse to address. What Jesus did and said ENCOURAGED their belief that demons exist.

    It is a complete falsehood for me to say that I refuse to address this. I have addressed it half a dozen times now. I have addressed it in particular detail in post #261. It is, as Andrew says, no different to the Old Testament referring to the gods of the heathen ‘bowing down’, ‘stooping’, or ‘trembling in fear’, despite the fact that we know full well that the gods of the heathen don’t exist.

    God speaks of the false gods of the heathens as if they literally exist, when in fact He has declared that they do not, and describes inanimate idols as having life when they are obviously dead. He describes Himself as coming to visit judgment on the gods of the Egyptians (Exodus 12:12, Numbers 33:4), challenges the false gods of the heathen to worship Him (Psalm 97:7), describes the idols of Egypt as trembling at His approach (Isaiah 19:1), describes the gods of the Babylonians as bowing down and kneeling in submission to Him (Isaiah 46:1), says He will punish the gods of Egypt (Jeremiah 46:25), and says He will starve (or ‘weaken’), the gods of the heathen (Zephaniah 2:11). Will you dare claim that God was encouraging people to believe in polytheism?

    I am still waiting for a response from Andrew, who was honest enough to admit that there is New Testament evidence which would lead a person to believe that demons DO exist.

    You won’t acknowledge that.

    This is utterly false. Not only have I acknowledged it, I have made it clear that there were plenty of people in the New Testament era who believed in demons, including people who followed Christ during his ministry.

    You even quote Packard’s article defending the Trinitarians’ lack of clear evidence for their dogma, in order to support your OWN lack of clear evidence. Just another red herring.

    That is actually a lie. Firstly, Packard was not defending the Trinitarian’s lack of clear evidence for their dogma. Secondly, I did not appeal to any such defense in order to support my own lack of evidence.

    I have presented you with evidence repeatedly, and you keep refusing to address it. I quote statements from the Old Testament, and you say they are wrong. I quote statements from Paul, and you say they are false. The problem is, as Andrew has demonstrated also, that you are treating the Bible as consisting of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and interpreting it according to your own ideas, without even attempting to acknowledge the rest of the books and what they say on the subject under discussion.

  218. Fortigurn
    June 16, 2010 @ 11:36 am

    Marg,

    What pagan philosophers said about Paul’s preaching should NOT take precedence over what Jesus taught, both by word and by action.

    You are missing the point. The passage in Acts demonstrates the lexical range of the word. It is utterly fatal to your theory that the Greek word DAIMWNION can refer to gods. This is why you deny the fact. This Bible passage shows us that the Greek word DAIMWNION can refer to gods. Even if we didn’t have this passage, we would still have Paul’s own use of the word with the same meaning. Are you going to call Paul a ‘pagan philosopher’?

    However, just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the pagan philosophers were right in equating “demons” with “foreign gods”

    No Marg, you still don’t understand. I am not saying that they equated ‘demons’ with ‘foreign gods’. I am pointing out that the word DAIMWNION includes ‘gods’ in its lexical range. I have told you this more than once.

    Let us further assume that the disciples of Jesus (who were followers of Yahweh) agreed with the pagan philosophers.

    No Marg, you are just demonstrating you still don’t understand the word, let alone the subject. I have never said that the disciples believed DAIMWNION meant ‘gods’.

    If that is so, then Jesus was encouraging a belief that you have identified as polytheism. The Messiah (according to your reasoning) was encouraging polytheism in his followers.

    This is false. I have already explained why your argument here is flawed. Look at what I wrote in post #261.

    1. The Old Testament authoritatively defines ‘demons’ as the false gods of the heathen which do not exist.
    2. The LXX used the Greek word for ‘gods’ when translating the Hebrew word for ‘demons’.
    3. During the intertestamental era, the idea of supernatural evil beings who possessed people and/or caused disaster and illness was introduced to Judaism, largely through Persian influence, and became a part of Second Temple Judaism. People abandoned the Old Tesament teaching that God is the only supernatural agent of disaster.
    4. Despite this, belief in such supernatural evil beings was still rejected by certain Jews even in the first century.
    5. The synoptic gospels and Acts, written as narratives for non-Christians and immature Christians, record events phenomenologically, relating the beliefs of the participants in the narrative. In the narrative, Jesus is seen to accommodate certain false beliefs, and even used them in his parables to make various points.
    6. However, the synoptic writers still include indications that these beliefs concerning supernatural evil beings were false, and in Acts we find that the Greek word used for ‘demons’ still retained its original meaning of ‘god’, or ‘lesser divine being’.
    7. In John’s gospel, written for mature believers, there are no records of demon possession and all illnesses are treated strictly as having occurred naturally.
    8. In Paul’s letters, we find that he never speaks of demons as supernatural evil beings, nor speaks of anyone being possessed, nor speaks of anyone being exorcised, nor speaks of any office of exorcist. Instead he explicitly defines ‘demons’ as the false gods of the heathen, quoting the Old Testament to define them.

    I can see you still haven’t read that.

    THAT is the question you steadfastly refuse to address. What Jesus did and said ENCOURAGED their belief that demons exist.

    It is a complete falsehood for me to say that I refuse to address this. I have addressed it half a dozen times now. I have addressed it in particular detail in post #261. It is, as Andrew says, no different to the Old Testament referring to the gods of the heathen ‘bowing down’, ‘stooping’, or ‘trembling in fear’, despite the fact that we know full well that the gods of the heathen don’t exist.

    God speaks of the false gods of the heathens as if they literally exist, when in fact He has declared that they do not, and describes inanimate idols as having life when they are obviously dead. He describes Himself as coming to visit judgment on the gods of the Egyptians (Exodus 12:12, Numbers 33:4), challenges the false gods of the heathen to worship Him (Psalm 97:7), describes the idols of Egypt as trembling at His approach (Isaiah 19:1), describes the gods of the Babylonians as bowing down and kneeling in submission to Him (Isaiah 46:1), says He will punish the gods of Egypt (Jeremiah 46:25), and says He will starve (or ‘weaken’), the gods of the heathen (Zephaniah 2:11). Will you dare claim that God was encouraging people to believe in polytheism?

    I am still waiting for a response from Andrew, who was honest enough to admit that there is New Testament evidence which would lead a person to believe that demons DO exist.

    You won’t acknowledge that.

    This is utterly false. Not only have I acknowledged it, I have made it clear that there were plenty of people in the New Testament era who believed in demons, including people who followed Christ during his ministry.

    You even quote Packard’s article defending the Trinitarians’ lack of clear evidence for their dogma, in order to support your OWN lack of clear evidence. Just another red herring.

    That is actually a lie. Firstly, Packard was not defending the Trinitarian’s lack of clear evidence for their dogma. Secondly, I did not appeal to any such defense in order to support my own lack of evidence.

    I have presented you with evidence repeatedly, and you keep refusing to address it. I quote statements from the Old Testament, and you say they are wrong. I quote statements from Paul, and you say they are false. The problem is, as Andrew has demonstrated also, that you are treating the Bible as consisting of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and interpreting it according to your own ideas, without even attempting to acknowledge the rest of the books and what they say on the subject under discussion.

  219. Fortigurn
    June 16, 2010 @ 7:18 am

    Marg,

    Thank you for telling me that

    a belief in supernatural beings which possess people and cause illness would not necessarily result in excommunication in the Christadelphian community.

    The “not necessarily” might leave room for concern, but you seem to be allowing that perhaps supernatural beings can possess people and cause illness.

    On the contrary, I believe no such thing. In the Bible, we only find that belief among the superstitious heathen and the apostate Jews, neither of whom could accept God as the only source of supernatural power (just as you).

    The distinction I made was between holding such a false belief, and actively teaching it. I have sympathy for those who are insufficiently spiritually mature so that they still cling to such superstitions, and I believe that those who are deluded into holding such apostate beliefs should be treated with care, like sick people. But if they start teaching these beliefs formally and trying to convince others of them, they become false teachers and should be dealt with as the New Testament instructs (I realise you have previously expressed your disagreement with New Testament teaching on this point, so we don’t need to go through it again).

    They can also cause abnormal behavior, as in Acts 17. The girl had a spirit that allowed her to foretell the future. Paul recognized it as a supernatural spirit (not something that could be explained naturally) and he told the spirit to leave her.

    Do you really, honestly, believe that there was a supernatural spirit which gave this girl the power to tell the future? God says explicitly that He is the only one who can do this.

    Whatever pagan philosophers thought, Jesus cast out demons, and he cast out unclean spirits. I think the two terms are synonymous.

    The problem is that you literally do not understand the words you’re talking about. You’re making up your own ideas because you’re refusing to address the words the Bible actually uses. This is why when I quote Paul’s own use of the word for ‘demons’, you dismiss it as what ‘pagan philosophers thought’.

  220. Fortigurn
    June 16, 2010 @ 7:12 am

    Marg,

    The one thing I would mention is that the word “spirit” is used in several different ways. That has probably occurred to you, as well. Context is the key.

    You should not be looking at the English word ‘spirit’. The English word ‘spirit’ is irrelevant to this discussion. As I have told you more than once before, the Greek word translated ‘demons’ in the New Testament is the word you should be looking at.

    I have even explained to you more than once how this word is used. It is used to mean ‘supernatural evil beings’, and it is used to mean ‘gods’. I have pointed out that the Greek translation of the Old Testament uses it of gods, the Greeks to whom Paul spoke in Athens used it of gods, and Paul himself in his own letters used it of gods.

    I have also pointed out that in the synoptics and Acts it is also used of supernatural evil beings the superstitious heathen and the apostate Jews believed in.

    You keep ignoring all this Biblical evidence.

  221. Marg
    June 16, 2010 @ 7:06 am

    And now I have to apologize to you, Andrew. I didn’t see your post until AFTER I had answered Fortigurn. My fault.

    I am taking my sister to Portage shortly, but I will answer your questions when I get back.

    The one thing I would mention is that the word “spirit” is used in several different ways. That has probably occurred to you, as well. Context is the key.

  222. Fortigurn
    June 16, 2010 @ 7:02 am

    Marg,

    Sorry – I will be more explicit about what you apparently did not read.

    No, you’re just repeating what I already read,.

    The Greek word for demon and the Greek words for [unclean] spirit are used interchangeably in the New Testament (see Mark 5:12, 13; Luke 4:33-35; Luke 9:39-42). Jesus had the authority to cast out unclean spirits, also called demons (a Greek word used in the Greek New Testament). He gave the same authority to his disciples.

    This is a false equivocation. The Greek word DAIMWNION is the word you should be looking at. That is the word used for demons in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures.

    In the Old Testament, “familiar spirits” were responsible for fortune tellers, among other things. The woman at Endor is an example of that.

    This is irrelevant. The word for ‘familiar spirits’ is not the same as the word for ‘demons’ in the Old Testament, nor in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, nor in the New Testament. You are looking at the wrong word.

  223. Fortigurn
    June 16, 2010 @ 6:59 am

    Andrew,

    I disagree with Fortigurn here-
    I think you did a good job of outlining how you see demons to be portrayed in the Old Testament.

    She didn’t address a single one of the words used to describe demons.

    So God creates evil and sends evil spirits-

    I pointed this out previously, and none of them would touch it.

  224. Marg
    June 16, 2010 @ 6:58 am

    Sorry – I will be more explicit about what you apparently did not read.

    The Greek word for demon and the Greek words for [unclean] spirit are used interchangeably in the New Testament (see Mark 5:12, 13; Luke 4:33-35; Luke 9:39-42). Jesus had the authority to cast out unclean spirits, also called demons (a Greek word used in the Greek New Testament). He gave the same authority to his disciples.

    In the Old Testament, “familiar spirits” were responsible for fortune tellers, among other things. The woman at Endor is an example of that. The evil spirit that Paul cast out of the girl in Acts 17 was similar. She lost her ability to foretell the future when the spirit was cast out.

    Experiences connected with evil spirits were well known in the Old Testament, just as they were in the New. But it is equally true that NOT EVERYBODY was bothered by evil spirits. The ones who were prone to such possession seemed to be worshipping idols.

    That is my answer to Andrew’s first objection. I will now wait until he responds before going to the next.

  225. Andrew
    June 16, 2010 @ 6:40 am

    Marg,
    Thanks for your argument. I disagree with Fortigurn here-
    I think you did a good job of outlining how you see demons
    to be portrayed in the Old Testament. In Mark 5 the terms demon
    and evil spirit do seem to be used synonymously- but I think it’s
    too big a step to say that they are always synonymous. In the old
    testament, if demons are always also evil spirits, then who sends them?
    Surely satan, right? Please correct me if I’m wrong but from an outsider’s
    perspective that seems to make sense.
    If that is the case, I have to ask myself why the only person mentioned
    sending evil spirits in either Testament is God (Judges 9:23, 1 Samuel
    16:14-23, 1 Kings 22:22-23, 1 Chronicles 18:21-22, Psalm 78:49)
    Yahweh also tells us in Isaiah 45:7 “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace,
    and create evil: I the LORD do all these things”
    So God creates evil and sends evil spirits- does he create demons and send demons?
    Your thoughts, please

  226. Fortigurn
    June 16, 2010 @ 5:36 am

    Marg, I read that. My point remains. You spent your time addressing a word which is not under discussion. Nothing you wrote actually addressed any of Andrew’s points at all. You said you would deal with them one at a time, and promptly avoided all of them.

    This was his very first point:

    *If demons existed in the Old Testament, why are they not written about as they are in the gospels, as a part of peoples’ lives? Can you reconcile this? (I can- because the Israelites had not yet developed the belief in supernatural demons)

    You didn’t address that. You didn’t address anything he wrote.

  227. Marg
    June 16, 2010 @ 4:47 am

    Brandon accused you of not reading, Fortigurn. I can see why.

    My words to Andrew were, “I’ll wait for your response before continuing.”

  228. Fortigurn
    June 15, 2010 @ 11:47 pm

    Marg, you have successfully avoided any discussion of what the Old Testament says about demons. The word for ‘familiar spirits’ is not the word for ‘demons’.

    You also provided no answer to these questions posed by Andrew:

    *If demons existed in the Old Testament, why are they not written about as they are in the gospels, as a part of peoples’ lives? Can you reconcile this? (I can- because the Israelites had not yet developed the belief in supernatural demons)
    *How are New Testament passages of Christ dealing with demons any different to Isaiah 46:1, where Yahweh treats Bel and Nebo as real?
    *What are your thoughts on Isaiah 65:3 from the LXX which states that devils do not exist?
    *What are your thoughts on Isaiah 45:7 which states that Yahweh alone creates all good and evil?
    *Do you not agree that in the Old Testament Yahweh…
    a)describes demons/devils as false Gods, and
    b) tells us that he alone is God?

  229. Marg
    June 15, 2010 @ 9:17 pm

    Thank you, Andrew. You’re absolutely right. I will deal with those points, one at a time.

    If demons existed in the Old Testament, why are they not written about as they are in the gospels, as a part of peoples’ lives? Can you reconcile this? (I can- because the Israelites had not yet developed the belief in supernatural demons)

    I hope you will forgive me for referring to Mark 5 again, but I must start by establishing that the word “demons” (v. 12) and the term “unclean spirits” (v. 13) are used synonymously – both here and elsewhere in the NT. So I am going to look at what the OT says about “spirits,” in the bad sense. Okay?

    The word often used in the OT was generally translated “familiar spirits”. There were a bunch of things that went together – mediums, fortune-tellers, and so on, all connected with the worship of idols. But the spirits themselves were not idols. They came WITH the idols.

    If you want to check the list of things that went together and that were an abomination to God, read Deuteronomy 18:10-11; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Kings 23:24 (in the good story about Josiah); Isaiah 8:9 (which is just a reminder not to have anything to do with magicians and fortune-tellers and such).

    Don’t forget, the Israelites learned something about magicians in Egypt. Again, associated with idols. But they had real power, and they gave Moses a bad time for awhile.

    1 Samuel 28 tells the story of Saul after the death of Samuel. Saul was scared, and he asked his servants to find a woman with a “familiar spirit,” so he could ask her what was going to happen. They took him to the woman at Endor, and he asked her to bring up Samuel.

    Whether the apparition was really Samuel doesn’t matter at the moment. She was a woman with a familiar spirit, and either Samuel himself, or the woman by means of that familiar spirit, told Saul about the future.

    The girl in Acts 17 apparently had the same kind of spirit. She could foretell the future. But Paul recognized the source of her words, and ordered the spirit to come out of her. It did, and she could no longer foretell the future – much to the anger of her owners.

    So these evil spirits were present in BOTH the Old and the New Testaments, but they were not the common experience of everybody in EITHER dispensation.

    In Matthew 10:1 we read of Jesus giving his 12 apostles authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, AND to heal every disease and bodily weakness. Two different things. Some human beings are sick, and some are possessed by evil spirits, and some are not troubled with either one.

    Mark 1:23-27 tells the story of Jesus commanding an unclean spirit to shut up and come out of a man. [Actually, the man’s words are quite similar to the words of the girl in Act 17. Both are saying what is true, but there is something evil behind it.]

    Anyway, the spirit came out of the man. And the on-lookers were amazed that Jesus could command even the evil spirits, and they obeyed him.

    That brings us back to what you said at the beginning, and something I believe with all my heart. The purpose behind it all was to show that the Messiah is Lord of all. Amen, brother.

    My question is – what purpose would there be in showing that he has power over something that does not exist?

    I don’t know whether this answers your first objection or not. I’ll wait for your response before continuing.

    And love in Christ to you, my teen-aged friend. It is a thrill to an old woman (I’m 80) to see in some one who is young a desire to learn and to know and to do the will of God. I am still learning.

  230. Andrew
    June 15, 2010 @ 7:10 pm

    Marg,
    I don’t have a definitive answer to your question of whether Christ was ‘reinforcing’ a belief in demons with his actions. As I have said before, I only have two points to make regarding this;
    A) Christ’s actions demonstrated a more important principle at hand- that he was given authority over all things
    B) I don’t see a difference between this and Isaiah 46:1 where we read of false gods as real. Was Yahweh reinforcing a false belief here? I don’t think anyone would argue that.

    So that’s my two cents worth. I’m sure others who have a stronger knowledge of the scriptures could make more convincing arguments concerning Christ’s actions but me- I’m just a teenager and have lots to learn myself.

    That’s all I have to say about Christ and demons (apart from my aforementioned point that had Christ decided to confront the false belief in supernatural demons at that time, it would have undoubtedly bogged him down and halted the effective teaching of the gospel).

    What I do feel strongly about, however, is that the Old Testament provides ample evidence that negates belief in demons. As far as I’m aware, you haven’t responded to any of this evidence, simply bringing us back to the New Testament. I would really like to hear your thoughts on these points I have made:
    *If demons existed in the Old Testament, why are they not written about as they are in the gospels, as a part of peoples’ lives? Can you reconcile this? (I can- because the Israelites had not yet developed the belief in supernatural demons)
    *How are New Testament passages of Christ dealing with demons any different to Isaiah 46:1, where Yahweh treats Bel and Nebo as real?
    *What are your thoughts on Isaiah 65:3 from the LXX which states that devils do not exist?
    *What are your thoughts on Isaiah 45:7 which states that Yahweh alone creates all good and evil?
    *Do you not agree that in the Old Testament Yahweh…
    a)describes demons/devils as false Gods, and
    b) tells us that he alone is God?

    I implore you, please respond to these points before dragging us back to the gospels.
    Love in Christ.

  231. Marg
    June 15, 2010 @ 12:43 pm

    Thank you for telling me that

    a belief in supernatural beings which possess people and cause illness would not necessarily result in excommunication in the Christadelphian community.

    The “not necessarily” might leave room for concern, but you seem to be allowing that perhaps supernatural beings can possess people and cause illness.

    They can also cause abnormal behavior, as in Acts 17. The girl had a spirit that allowed her to foretell the future. Paul recognized it as a supernatural spirit (not something that could be explained naturally) and he told the spirit to leave her.

    Whatever pagan philosophers thought, Jesus cast out demons, and he cast out unclean spirits. I think the two terms are synonymous.

  232. Marg
    June 15, 2010 @ 12:17 pm

    What pagan philosophers said about Paul’s preaching should NOT take precedence over what Jesus taught, both by word and by action.

    However, just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the pagan philosophers were right in equating “demons” with “foreign gods”

    Let us further assume that the disciples of Jesus (who were followers of Yahweh) agreed with the pagan philosophers.

    If that is so, then Jesus was encouraging a belief that you have identified as polytheism. The Messiah (according to your reasoning) was encouraging polytheism in his followers. I don’t believe it.

    THAT is the question you steadfastly refuse to address. What Jesus did and said ENCOURAGED their belief that demons exist.

    I am still waiting for a response from Andrew, who was honest enough to admit that there is New Testament evidence which would lead a person to believe that demons DO exist.

    You won’t acknowledge that. You simply repeat a number of statements that do not help in any way to solve the problem.

    You even quote Packard’s article defending the Trinitarians’ lack of clear evidence for their dogma, in order to support your OWN lack of clear evidence. Just another red herring.

  233. Fortigurn
    June 15, 2010 @ 3:46 am

    Marg, please read this passage.

    Acts 17:
    18 Also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him, and some were asking, “What does this foolish babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods.”

    What does the part in bold say?

    * foreign gods
    * evil demons

  234. Fortigurn
    June 15, 2010 @ 3:46 am

    Marg,

    We seem to be back to demons = false gods. Therefore belief in demons = polytheism.

    You are going around in circles, Fortigurn. If belief in demons is polytheism, then Jesus was confirming them in their polytheism.

    You are still not reading what I write. These are the facts, yet again:

    1. The Old Testament authoritatively defines ‘demons’ as the false gods of the heathen which do not exist.
    2. The LXX used the Greek word for ‘gods’ when translating the Hebrew word for ‘demons’.
    3. During the intertestamental era, the idea of supernatural evil beings who possessed people and/or caused disaster and illness was introduced to Judaism, largely through Persian influence, and became a part of Second Temple Judaism. People abandoned the Old Tesament teaching that God is the only supernatural agent of disaster.
    4. Despite this, belief in such supernatural evil beings was still rejected by certain Jews even in the first century.
    5. The synoptic gospels and Acts, written as narratives for non-Christians and immature Christians, record events phenomenologically, relating the beliefs of the participants in the narrative. In the narrative, Jesus is seen to accommodate certain false beliefs, and even used them in his parables to make various points.
    6. However, the synoptic writers still include indications that these beliefs concerning supernatural evil beings were false, and in Acts we find that the Greek word used for ‘demons’ still retained its original meaning of ‘god’, or ‘lesser divine being’.
    7. In John’s gospel, written for mature believers, there are no records of demon possession and all illnesses are treated strictly as having occurred naturally.
    8. In Paul’s letters, we find that he never speaks of demons as supernatural evil beings, nor speaks of anyone being possessed, nor speaks of anyone being exorcised, nor speaks of any office of exorcist. Instead he explicitly defines ‘demons’ as the false gods of the heathen, quoting the Old Testament to define them.

    But if it is NOT polytheism, what reason is there for excommunicating someone who believes that they exist?

    It is polytheism to believe in what the Bible itself defines as the false gods of the heathen which do not exist.

    I note that you have completely ignored the post I made a long time ago in which I made it clear that even a belief in supernatural beings which possess people and cause illness would not necessarily result in excommunication in the Christadelphian community.

  235. Fortigurn
    June 15, 2010 @ 3:36 am

    Marg,

    I fully understand the idea of accommodation, Fortigurn. I taught junior high science. I never spoke to my beginning students in technical language that they did not understand.

    Great.

    But I did NOT!!! encourage them to retain concepts that were just plain wrong.

    Ok, so does the sun go around the earth? On Joshua’s ‘long day’, did God make the sun and moon stop moving? Is the ‘firmament’ a solid mass like polished brass, floating above the earth, with ‘windows’ which open and close to let water through when it rains?

    I also understand what Packard was defending, and I think you do, too. Read his last paragraph. He was defending the Trinitarians’ lack of direct biblical evidence for their dogma.

    Actually I don’t see that at all.

    If you don’t have clear scriptural evidence, you fall back on the words of someone else who doesn’t have clear scriptural evidence.

    I do have clear Scriptural evidence. It’s so clear that you refuse to answer very simple questions when they are presented to you.

  236. Fortigurn
    June 15, 2010 @ 2:28 am

    Marg, your recent posts remind me of that one episode of Shazam!, where Debbie’s parents have warned her not to ride with Tom on his motorcycle, because he is reckless. It’s Billy’s job to help Debbie to realize that when her parents don’t let her do certain things, it’s because they love her.

    Debbie realizes this when Tom and his buddy swipe a six-pack of beer from a gas station, and almost get mangled by a large truck!

    Moral: When a parent sets rules and regulations, it really is a form of expression of their love and concern. Sometimes the hardest thing for them to say is “no.” But we can be sure that most of the time there’s a good reason for it.

  237. Marg
    June 14, 2010 @ 1:35 pm

    We seem to be back to demons = false gods. Therefore belief in demons = polytheism.

    You are going around in circles, Fortigurn. If belief in demons is polytheism, then Jesus was confirming them in their polytheism.

    That is an insult to the Messiah.

    But if it is NOT polytheism, what reason is there for excommunicating someone who believes that they exist?

  238. Marg
    June 14, 2010 @ 1:28 pm

    I fully understand the idea of accommodation, Fortigurn. I taught junior high science. I never spoke to my beginning students in technical language that they did not understand.

    But I did NOT!!! encourage them to retain concepts that were just plain wrong.

    I also understand what Packard was defending, and I think you do, too. Read his last paragraph. He was defending the Trinitarians’ lack of direct biblical evidence for their dogma.

    Interesting, isn’t it? If you don’t have clear scriptural evidence, you fall back on the words of someone else who doesn’t have clear scriptural evidence.

  239. Fortigurn
    June 14, 2010 @ 1:22 pm

    Marg, please read this passage.

    Acts 17:
    18 Also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him, and some were asking, “What does this foolish babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods.”

    What does the part in bold say?

    * foreign gods
    * evil demons with god-like power who possess people, no really they do, you just can’t tell when it happens!

  240. Fortigurn
    June 14, 2010 @ 1:20 pm

    Marg, can you find me please the passages of Scripture in which Paul defines demons as evil spirits? Or the passages which say it’s ok to believe in the false gods of the heathen? You’re going to need them to support your argument. Or you can change your argument.

  241. Fortigurn
    June 14, 2010 @ 1:19 pm

    Marg,

    Fortigurn – IF they believed demons were evil spirits, then what Jesus did certainly confirmed their belief.

    It sure did.

    And Paul’s ejection of the “spirit of divination” was a case of casting out a demon from the girl.

    It sure wasn’t. That’s a non sequitur. The conclusion does not proceed logically from the premise. Look at how Paul refers to ‘demons’ in his letters to mature Christians. He refers to them specifically as the false gods of the heathen, which do not exist.

    That gives us a believable set of synonyms. False gods = idols; demons = evil spirits.

    No it doesn’t. You’re failing to address the relevant lexical data, and you’re being selective in your use of the Biblical data. You’re also committing several logical fallacies. To mature Christians, as in the Old Testament, what the heathen and spiritually ignorant referred to as ‘demons’ and thought were ‘evil spirits’, were in reality no more than the false gods of the heathen which did not exist. Look at the Greeks to whom Paul spoke. They didn’t believe ‘demons’ were evil spirits, they believed they were their own gods.

    Belief in the existence of demons, then, is NOT polytheistic.

    According to the Bible, it is polytheistic. It’s the belief that the gods of the heathen are real, actual gods. Downgrading them and saying ‘Well they’re only evil spirits really, nothing for God to be jealous about, they’re just supernatural beings with god-power, they don’t count’, doesn’t change what the Bible says about them.

    It is correct, verified by the actions of Jesus himself, and the NT evidence can be taken at face value.

    But you’re not taking the New Testament evidence at face value. Firstly you’re saying only four books of the New Testament are relevant to the subject of demons, and we shouldn’t us the others. Secondly we’re saying we shouldn’t define demons as Paul defined them.

  242. Fortigurn
    June 14, 2010 @ 1:14 pm

    Silva, M., & Tenney, M. C., ‘The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible’, volume 1, A-C, p. 38 (rev. ed. 2009).

    accommodation. A term used in biblical INTERPRETATION to indicate (1) some meaning other than the literal one, or (2) the recognition of God’s need to reveal himself in terms of human understanding. In the interpretation of Scripture the literal meaning is to be followed unless there is some indication that a figurative sense was intended by the author.

    There are situations, however, in which the interpreter is entitled to go beyond the specific meaning of a passage. This is called “accommodation.” When the passage under consideration makes a particular application of a general principle, the interpreter is legitimately entitled to apply that principle in areas different from the specific consideration of the author.

    To act in this fashion is not to reject the author’s original meaning but simply to offer a broader context to the same principle enunciated by the author.

    Another example of accommodation would be the literary device known as “double entendre,” in which the author writes in such a way as to open the possibility of two interpretations. Generally one meaning only is to be ascribed to a passage, but the double meaning is intended in some cryptic passages.

    The writings of JOHN THE APOSTLE in the NT are especially characterized by this device.
    ALLEGORY is also a literary device in which the interpreter accommodates the interpretation to the fact that the original plain meaning was not the intended meaning of the author.

    PAUL’s reference to the law and Sinai is often offered as an example (Gal. 4:21–31). The use of allegory has been much abused and care must be exercised not to treat poetical and metaphorical passages as if they were allegorical.

    In interpretation it is necessary to acknowledge the anthropomorphic nature of Scripture (see ANTHROPOMORPHISM). God had to accommodate the divine REVELATION to the human mind. The Bible speaks of the corners of the earth. This does not discredit revelation. It simply acknowledges that many ancients thought of the earth as flat and having corners.

    When God spoke, he used the thought forms of the day and not the scientific terminology of a later age. Heaven is described in terms of human values: gold, silver, jewels. Hell is described in terms of fire and brimstone. God himself is spoken of as having a face, eyes, ears, mouth, hands, feet, etc.

    In no way does this accommodation affect the truth or the religious value of the passage. That which is declared is real, but intelligible to human beings only through their language and in their thought forms.

    H. L. DRUMWRIGHT, JR.

  243. Marg
    June 14, 2010 @ 1:12 pm

    Fortigurn – IF they believed demons were evil spirits, then what Jesus did certainly confirmed their belief. And Paul’s ejection of the “spirit of divination” was a case of casting out a demon from the girl.

    That gives us a believable set of synonyms. False gods = idols; demons = evil spirits. Thank you.

    Belief in the existence of demons, then, is NOT polytheistic. It is correct, verified by the actions of Jesus himself, and the NT evidence can be taken at face value.

  244. Fortigurn
    June 14, 2010 @ 1:11 pm

    Ferguson, S. B., & Packer, J. (2000). New dictionary of theology (electronic ed.), p. 3 (2000). Article ‘Accommodation’.

    ACCOMMODATION or condescension, is a basic principle underlying all of God’s revelation to man. It means that God speaks to us in a form that is suited to the capacity of the hearer, like a father addressing a small child or a teacher with a young pupil. The supreme instance of accommodation is the incarnation, where God speaks to us in the most fitting way possible—as a human being himself.

    Again, in the Scriptures God’s word comes to us in a human way—through human authors, using human language, addressed to particular human situations. In the ministry of the word and sacraments God speaks to us and communicates himself to us, but in a form that is suited to our present condition—through human agents and through earthly elements such as bread and wine.

    Accommodation, rightly understood, means not that God communicates falsehood to us but that he communicates truth to us in a manner which is necessarily less than perfect.

    Ezekiel recognized the limitations of his vision of God: ‘This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD’ (Ezk. 1:28). Paul acknowledged the imperfection of all our present knowledge of God, concluding that ‘Now we see but a poor reflection’ (1 Cor. 13:9–12).

    The biblical message comes to us in human language and in the thought forms of particular times—not because the writers ‘got it wrong’ but because that was the only way that God’s word could come to such as us. In his condescension God chooses to submit his truth to the limiting process of being reduced to a humanly comprehensible level rather than preserve it pure in heaven.

    The idea of accommodation was common in the early fathers (e.g. John Chrysostom, c. 344/354–407) and was revived by Calvin and others.

    Bibliography

    F. L. Battles, ‘God was Accommodating Himself to Human Capacity’, Interpretation 31 (1977), pp. 19–38; J. B. Rogers (ed.), Biblical Authority (Waco, TX, 1977), pp. 19–29.

    A.N.S.L.

  245. Fortigurn
    June 14, 2010 @ 1:10 pm

    Marg,

    Dave, NOTHING has been said to explain why Jesus would actually encourage a belief that you say is polytheistic.

    To them, he was not encouraging polytheism. They didn’t believe demons were false gods, they believed demons were evil spirits. I have been through this already.

    If you have a problem with the well recognized principle of ‘accommodation’ in the Bible, that’s something for you to sort out. I don’t have a problem with it.

  246. Marg
    June 14, 2010 @ 12:58 pm

    Dave, NOTHING has been said to explain why Jesus would actually encourage a belief that you say is polytheistic.

    But it’s “Deja vu all over again.” When I ask Trinitarians why every trinitarian passage shows God to be ONE person, not three, they answer first with long, convoluted explanations that never really address the problem.

    But if I persist, they just tell me that the question has been answered several times.

    In any case, Andrew has been honest enough to admit that the evidence from the NT (on the surface at least) is convincing.

    Maybe he will come up with a logical reason why Jesus would do something so totally contrary to his mission as to encourage polytheism.

  247. Fortigurn
    June 14, 2010 @ 12:34 pm

    Marg I have answered this before.

    Why would Jesus, the Messiah, say and do something that would ENCOURAGE the demoniac, the spectators, and three inspired writers to believe that demons exist? Could he not have healed the man without implying his approval of something that you call polytheism?

    To them, he was not encouraging polytheism. They didn’t believe demons were false gods, they believed demons were evil spirits. I have been through this already.

  248. robert
    June 14, 2010 @ 12:15 pm

    Matthew 8
    KJV
    29 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?

    NIV
    29″What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”

    CJB
    They screamed, “What do you want with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”

    The question is why was there an appointed time and how could this refer to anything other than a being. Maybe the verses below can shed light on that.

    2 Peter 2:4
    For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

    Jude 1:6
    And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

  249. Dave Burke
    June 14, 2010 @ 9:11 am

    It has been answered, Marg. Several times, I believe.

  250. Marg
    June 14, 2010 @ 8:35 am

    The key question has NEVER been answered, Fortigurn. So I ask again:

    Why would Jesus, the Messiah, say and do something that would ENCOURAGE the demoniac, the spectators, and three inspired writers to believe that demons exist? Could he not have healed the man without implying his approval of something that you call polytheism?

    Since Andrew is willing to admit that the evidence for the existence of demons is compelling (in other New Testament passages as well as this one), I am hoping he will answer that vital question, because you never have.

  251. Fortigurn
    June 14, 2010 @ 1:53 am

    Marg, your questions have all been answered in the previous discussion. By the way, the word ‘elohim’ is not synymous with ‘false god’ or with ‘idol’. Nor are all three terms to which you referred synonymous in the Old and New Testaments. However, they do have overlapping lexical ranges. This is all explained in the previous discussion.

  252. Marg
    June 14, 2010 @ 12:32 am

    Concerning Strong’s use of “malignant”- from my study I find this still
    refers to false gods. The use of devil here is reserved for gods which
    Yahweh finds to be particularly abhorrent or malignant.

    Thanks, Andrew.

    I agree that false gods are idols. The god [elohim] of the Philistines was Dagon, and he was obviously an idol. Elijah calls Baal an elohim (1 Kings 18:27). The Israelites called the golden calf their elohim. The angel of Yahweh called Baal-Zebub the elohim of Ekron (2 Kings 1:3). And so on. So I have no problem at all in seeing that “false gods” and “idols” are synonymous terms in both the Old and the New Testament (see 1 Corinthians 8).

    My question is – Does the word demons mean the same thing? Are all THREE terms synonymous in both the Old and the New Testaments?

    If they are, then the demoniac had many idols in him, and Jesus gave those idols permission to move from the man to a large herd of pigs.

    Or, if we consider the demons to be natural ailments, then Jesus gave permission to a whole lot of natural ailments to move from the demoniac into a large herd of pigs.

    EITHER WAY, his action was fortifying the belief of the demoniac and the spectators and three inspired writers that demons DO exist.

    I don’t think the Messiah would deliberately encourage a belief that is wrong.

  253. robert
    June 13, 2010 @ 10:59 am

    Fortigurn wrote:
    robert, if you want to test your belief against criticism you need to first:

    * Read and understand the criticism (you haven’t)

    * Respond to the criticism in a rational and logically coherent manner (you haven’t)

    Fortigurn
    there are many methods to test the truth by, i chose to use the commons sense route.I find it more effective than methods scholars use.

  254. Fortigurn
    June 13, 2010 @ 9:12 am

    robert, if you want to test your belief against criticism you need to first:

    * Read and understand the criticism (you haven’t)

    * Respond to the criticism in a rational and logically coherent manner (you haven’t)

  255. robert
    June 12, 2010 @ 10:42 pm

    * The serpents were there, not ‘only a rod’; the serpents were made to look like rods (many standard Bible commentaries will tell you this).

    “robert, please understand the difference between what the text says and what the text means.”

    Fortigurn
    If that was the method you use to come up with the above statement, no thanks

    “You could start by attempting to build an interpretation following the interpretive principles I listed above.”

    Again No thanks

    “You’ve contributed nothing so far except claims I’m accusing Moses of lying.”

    I think that was a question which you answered prior to me asking by your refusal to take what he wrote as the truth. but you must
    understand the difference between what the text says and what the text means first.
    so here, practices with this.
    “So Moses must be the biggest liar to you to believe what you say”

    As i said my purpose wasnt to convert you ,it was to test my belief against a worthy opponent.
    IT PASSED WITH FLYING COLORS

  256. Andrew
    June 12, 2010 @ 10:02 pm

    Marg,
    Maybe I was not clear enough when I said no demons appear
    in the Old Testament. What I mean is, no demons appear in
    the same way as the do in the New Testament- as supernatural
    beings which have an effect on the lives of people. The word
    demon does not even appear in the Old Testament! If demons did
    exist in both Old and New Testaments, why aren’t they written about
    in the Old Testament? Can you reconcile this?

    I strongly believe from the evidence I have given that in the Old
    Testament, ‘devils’ simply refers to false gods. Now, how can it be
    that Christ casts out ‘false gods’ or idols in the New Testament? In
    exactly the same way as Bel and Nebo can bow down and stoop in Isaiah
    46:1. Yahweh knows the gods are false, but as the people believe in them
    he portrays them as real to show the people that they are powerless
    compared to the only real God.

    I don’t see a difference between this example and Christ driving out
    demons. Christ knew the demons were simply ‘false gods’ but instead of
    debating the issue, he showed the people that he had all authority to
    heal them. Where do you see the difference between these examples?

    Also I would like to hear your thoughts on some of the passages I quoted:
    Isaiah 65:3 from the septuagint which states that devils do not exist; and
    Isaiah 45:7 which states that Yahweh alone creates all good and evil.
    How can supernatural demons fit in here?

    Concerning Strong’s use of “malignant”- from my study I find this still
    refers to false gods. The use of devil here is reserved for gods which
    Yahweh finds to be particularly abhorrent or malignant.

  257. Fortigurn
    June 12, 2010 @ 9:37 pm

    robert, please understand the difference between what the text says and what the text means. You’ve contributed nothing so far except claims I’m accusing Moses of lying.

    You could start by attempting to build an interpretation following the interpretive principles I listed above.

  258. robert
    June 12, 2010 @ 1:58 pm

    “I agreed with you that it says rods were cast down. Please read what I wrote.”

    Fortigurn
    All that we have agreed on is apples and oranges are both round.
    If you agree with me than state that without any if’s,and’s or but’s.
    Its alright if we dont agree, i was just testing my view to make sure it was logical and scriptual wasnt trying to convert you.
    I am very happy with my conclusion

  259. trinities - Linkage: Discussing Fs and Gs with Brandon (Dale)
    June 12, 2010 @ 3:11 am

    […] Siris blog has recently completed 6 years – it has surely outlived 99.9% of blogs, and is 2/3 older than […]

  260. Dave Burke
    June 12, 2010 @ 3:11 am

    robert,

    Thanks for the exchange. I appreciate your courtesy.

    God bless and sleep well. 😀

  261. Fortigurn
    June 12, 2010 @ 2:28 am

    robert,

    No you said they cast down snakes that were made like rods.

    I agreed with you that it says rods were cast down. Please read what I wrote.

  262. robert
    June 12, 2010 @ 1:23 am

    Fortigurn , Dave
    You are worthy opponents for great discussions,but its 1:20 am
    Was fun though

    God bless and goodnight

  263. robert
    June 12, 2010 @ 1:08 am

    I agree. Please read what I wrote.

    No you said they cast down snakes that were made like rods. have you read what you wrote. should i explain your own words.
    By this we dont agree at all

  264. robert
    June 12, 2010 @ 1:05 am

    Dave
    so you can understand that some angels chose not to follow God i urge you to read this verse

    2 Peter 2:4
    For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

  265. Fortigurn
    June 12, 2010 @ 1:03 am

    robert,

    It says they cast down RODS NOT SERPENTS, And says THEY BECAME SERPENTS.

    I agree. Please read what I wrote.

  266. robert
    June 12, 2010 @ 12:51 am

    But wait a minute: how can Satan and his demons be using God’s power against Him? Matthew 12:25-27 militates against this hypothesis.

    It was a GOD given power to all the angels when they were created, they have freewill to follow God or not. Have you read the bible?

  267. robert
    June 12, 2010 @ 12:48 am

    ‘No, this was a standard trick among Egyptian magicians, they didn’t have to prepare it specially.”

    12 For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents

    Do you understand the words written here.
    It says they cast down RODS NOT SERPENTS, And says THEY BECAME SERPENTS.
    So Moses must be the biggest liar to you to believe what you say

  268. Dave Burke
    June 12, 2010 @ 12:47 am

    robert:

    Satan, demons get their power from God just as everything God created. This power is part of Gods plan . therefore they exist and in no way could EVER be the CREATOR GOD.

    Wow. That’s an outrageous claim, but at least you’ve answered the question.

    But wait a minute: how can Satan and his demons be using God’s power against Him? Matthew 12:25-27 militates against this hypothesis.

  269. Fortigurn
    June 12, 2010 @ 12:44 am

    robert, any evidence yet that demons or satan were involved?

    I am sure they knew God was going to perform this miracle so they train the snakes just for this.

    No, this was a standard trick among Egyptian magicians, they didn’t have to prepare it specially.

  270. robert
    June 12, 2010 @ 12:29 am

    * The serpents were there, not ‘only a rod’; the serpents were made to look like rods (many standard Bible commentaries will tell you this).

    I am sure they are, but not one i would read. there are better fiction books to read. Maybe they all were on drugs?LSD? Hey snakes act like a stick and i will give you a mouse later. I am sure they knew God was going to perform this miracle so they train the snakes just for this.
    God knew satan was behind Pharaohs power and knew he would match this miracle but was also showing Satan He was greater by swallowing His serpents.

  271. Fortigurn
    June 12, 2010 @ 12:20 am

    robert,

    * Evidence please that ‘these magicians were able to use demonic powers or were posessed’; why does it not say this?

    * Thank you for acknowledging you have no evidence for your ‘mistranslation’ claim

    * The serpents were there, not ‘only a rod’; the serpents were made to look like rods (many standard Bible commentaries will tell you this)

  272. robert
    June 12, 2010 @ 12:18 am

    * I have already told you I believe the serpents were there, they were real.

    Then these magicians were able to use demonic powers or were posessed.

    * Evidence please that ‘magicians’ is a mistranslation.

    No need because i said even if this wasnt a mistranslation there is no evidence to proove this was done in the manner of an illussion. which BTW means they werent there only a rod was. for this to be Moses was a liar

  273. Fortigurn
    June 12, 2010 @ 12:12 am

    robert,

    * Evidence please that ‘magicians’ is a mistranslation

    * I have already told you I believe the serpents were there, they were real

  274. robert
    June 12, 2010 @ 12:09 am

    Actually illusions are only one form of trick performed by magicians. The point I was making, as you know, is that when magicians perform their tricks magic is not involved. Do you agree or not? Do you believe magicians are demonically possessed?”

    Fortigurn
    Actually It doesnt relate.can you not read properly what i wrote, If you could you wouldnt ask if i thought magicians of today were possessed. I made that clear.
    You see one word that you can twist to fit, in this case it was magicians which is probably a mistranslation to start with. Even if it wasnt you can say they are likened to todays magicians..

    “No you didn’t. You claimed I said that the snakes of the magicians weren’t there. I never said that.”

    Were serpents there or not? If they were than they ALL WERE real

  275. Fortigurn
    June 11, 2010 @ 11:58 pm

    robert,

    Should i explain to you what i magician does, there called illussions.

    Actually illusions are only one form of trick performed by magicians. The point I was making, as you know, is that when magicians perform their tricks magic is not involved. Do you agree or not? Do you believe magicians are demonically possessed?

    I read it properly,

    No you didn’t. You claimed I said that the snakes of the magicians weren’t there. I never said that.

  276. robert
    June 11, 2010 @ 11:52 pm

    robert, where do you think “demons” get their power from? And if you believe that the Egyptian magicians used supernatural power, where did they get that power from?

    Dave
    I am glad you asked
    Satan, demons get their power from God just as everything God created. This power is part of Gods plan . therefore they exist and in no way could EVER be the CREATOR GOD.
    magicians of today rehearse for years to do their illusions which are just lighting and mirrors.
    Just because the word magicians is used doesnt make them as we have today.

  277. Dave Burke
    June 11, 2010 @ 11:39 pm

    I wonder if anyone is going to tell me where “demons” get their power from. It’s the big question that nobody seems keen to answer.

    robert, where do you think “demons” get their power from? And if you believe that the Egyptian magicians used supernatural power, where did they get that power from?

  278. robert
    June 11, 2010 @ 11:30 pm

    “I read it properly, It just was very realistic. But was funny”

    Corrrection

    I read it properly, It just WASNT very realistic. But was funny

  279. robert
    June 11, 2010 @ 11:29 pm

    Fortigurn
    Should i explain to you what i magician does, there called illussions.
    I read it properly, It just was very realistic. But was funny

  280. Fortigurn
    June 11, 2010 @ 11:18 pm

    robert,

    If one was an illussion then the other was too.

    This is a logical fallacy known as a ‘non sequitur’. The conclusion does not proceed logically from the premise.

    You cant swallow up something that wasnt there.

    I agree. I never said the snakes of the magicians ‘weren’t there’. Why do you keep attributing to me statements I never made?

    And people wonder why i get sick of CD’s answers on this thread

    You don’t even read them properly.

  281. robert
    June 11, 2010 @ 11:16 pm

    Fortigurn
    If one was an illussion then the other was too.
    You cant swallow up something that wasnt there.
    And people wonder why i get sick of CD’s answers on this thread

  282. Fortigurn
    June 11, 2010 @ 11:10 pm

    No robert, God is not just a magician to me. I never said any such thing. I said that the Egyptian magicians were just that, magicians.

    And people wonder why I get sick and tired of answering questions in this thread?

  283. robert
    June 11, 2010 @ 11:01 pm

    Fortigurn
    LOL
    I had to ask
    So God is just a magician to you!

  284. Fortigurn
    June 11, 2010 @ 10:53 pm

    robert, the Egyptian magicians were just that, magicians. When I go to a magic show today I don’t assume the magician is under demonic control, and nor do you.

  285. Fortigurn
    June 11, 2010 @ 10:51 pm

    Marg, I strongly suggest you use something other than Strong’s concordance. Not only is it at least 100 years out of date, it’s not a proper lexicon.

    But look at this:

    * Deuteronomy 32:17 – They sacrificed to demons, not God – to [new] gods whom they knew not

    What does the word in bold say?

  286. Marg
    June 11, 2010 @ 10:32 pm

    Instead, we read about demons consistently in the context of false gods (Leviticus 17:6, Deuteronomy 32:16-17, 2 Chronicles 11:15, Psalm 106:36-37). Specifically, if you look at the hebrew words used, ‘devils’ refer to satyrs or goat-like gods.

    This is not exactly accurate. The word used in Deuteronomy 32:17 and Psalm 106:36-37 has nothing to do with goats. It has to do with something malignant (Strong’s Concordance).

    * Deuteronomy 32:17 – They sacrificed to demons, not God – to [new] gods whom they knew not
    * Psalm 106:36-37 – And they served their idols [idols of other nations] … they sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons.

    I agree that the word is used in the context of false gods, of idols. Idols are nothing; but are the malignant demons that are associated with them ALSO nothing?

    Not if the actions of Jesus mean anything. Nothing your post says can explain why Jesus would do what he did, unless he wanted the on-lookers (and me) to believe that demons do exist.

    If we EQUATE demons with false gods (idols), then neither the activities of Jesus nor the casting of the spirit out of the girl in Acts 16 makes any sense. Jesus would not give idols (or false gods) permission to leave a man and enter pigs. And Paul would not command an idol (or a false god) to leave a girl, thus expecting her fortunetelling ability to cease.

    Nor would Mark and Luke be so careful to make a distinction between healing diseases and casting out demons if the distinction were not genuine.

    So far, Andrew, I am left with the conviction that these NT passages mean just what they say, and don’t need to be explained away. I’m not sure why that conclusion should be considered heretical.

  287. Fortigurn
    June 11, 2010 @ 10:26 pm

    Marg, you are not understanding Andrew correctly. He says that there are no demons in the Old Testament at all. Rather, what people call ‘demons’ and ‘devils’ are in fact the gods of the heathen.

  288. robert
    June 11, 2010 @ 10:11 pm

    How does a CD deal with these verses.
    I understand where the power came from for Aarons rod to transform but without a secondary supernatural force just how did the other rods transform into serpents. This was a very important miracle that God gave Moses which was still superior to the opposing supernatural miracle. No where does it hint or imply this was done by God .
    you have to see the wicked one(satan) behind this or see God being a deceiver

    Exodus 7
    10 And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the Lord had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. 11 Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. 12 For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.

  289. Marg
    June 11, 2010 @ 9:21 pm

    Thanks Andrew. I did read that post, and I have now copied it and read it again.

    Firstly, there seem to be no demons in the Old Testament at all.

    Yahweh describes demons and devils as gods … .

    So I can forget the first sentence. There ARE demons and/or devils in the OT, but Yahweh

    … denounces all other gods (idols, demons, devils, what have you) as false.

    Have I understood you so far? And am I justified in dismissing the first sentence as inaccurate?

  290. Andrew
    June 10, 2010 @ 5:42 pm

    Marg,
    did you read my post #187? This explains my ‘counter evidence’ if you will. Basically what I try to show with it is that even though passages about demons appear concrete and literal in the New Testament, evidence from the Old Testament shows me there must be more to it than that. I’d like to hear your thoughts in it.

  291. Marg
    June 10, 2010 @ 2:18 pm

    I hope you haven’t dropped out of the conversation, Andrew.

    I want to repeat my original question: Is there direct scriptural evidence that demons DO exist?

    You have acknowledged that there is. That displays an honesty that I appreciate.

    Just for the record, I have looked up the passages in a Greek NT, so as not to rely on any English translation. And yes, I have studied the context in detail.

    Having done those things, I have accepted the evidence as valid. I believe that demons DO exist, and that Jesus spoke and acted in a way that suggests HE believed it, too.

    What I am waiting for now is the counter-evidence, which I sincerely want to explore.

    But I hope it will not be in a long and convoluted post [of the kind that Trinitarians give to explain why John 17:3 doesn’t really mean what it says]. Such posts make my eyes glaze over.

  292. Fortigurn
    June 10, 2010 @ 11:20 am

    Jaco, you keep seeing syllogisms where I don’t intend to make any.

    * You write ‘please do construct a syllogism clearly highlighting your take in this aspect of our conversation’; my case has nothing to do with how the ailments of the 1st century appeared, so I have no reason to construct a syllogism based on them (this is the second time I have pointed this out)

    * The significance of asking you which ailments today are of demonic origin is that if you could diagnose such ailments accurately they would constitute firm evidence for the existence of demons

    * Your quotes from the synoptics are just that, quotes; you do not exegete them, you apply no hermeneutic, you simply quote them in English and claim they say what you believe (I have already said that they differentiated between ailments and demon-possession in the same context, but I have also made the point that this did not always happen)

    * You can’t appeal to Luke’s profession as a physician since he wasn’t there to diagonse; as you’ve acknowledged, both he and Mark are simply reporting what was told to them, nothing more (Matthew is the only eye witness, and I see you left out any reference to John, again)

    * I’ve read through your quotes, and despite your repeating the claim I still don’t see any diagnostic procedure on the part of the synoptic writers; since you already agreed with me that neither Luke nor Mark were eye witnesses anyway, you can’t claim that they performed any diagnosis at all, they were just reporting what had been told to them (they reported on an event which other people had differentiated, and I gave my reason as to why I believe they reported that differentiation)

    * You used the word ‘phenomenology’; hold that thought, it’s significant

    * I have already explained why I reject your three conditions; you claimed that all of these conditions were essential to the denial of demons as the cause of illness in the synoptics, yet I don’t need to maintain any of them in order to make my argument, as you’ve seen (you raised them, not me)

    * In particular, I have already told you twice that I do not believe in your ‘non-transferability’ condition, so I see no reason to defend it

    * You are still missing the point of my reference to Gehazi; your claim was that ailments could not be transferred, which means that I cannot claim that the ailment of the demoniac in Mark could be transferred, but the example of Gehazi shows that ailments can be transferred, so my argument is logically sound (simply repeating your argument ‘No, it wasn’t an ailment, it was demons’, does not address the fact that I demonstrated your condition was irrelevant to me, and that my argument was logically sound, even if you disagree with it)

    * Looking through my four point list concerning the Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadduccees, you say ‘I see no conclusion having any bearing on the existence of demons’; thank you, that’s my point entirely, I was never raising those points in an attempt to argue against the existence of demons

    * No, I am not arguing that ‘silence on the part of the Gospels to report exorcism among these persons, was because none occurred as opposed to none was reported’; if I had, you would have been able to quote me saying it (the only point I have made is that this coheres well with the other historical data to which I referred)

    * If you disagree with my assessment regarding what scientists believe, please show me that 93% of all American scientists are ‘outright atheists’

    * Their rejection of satan and hell is valid on grounds other than those on which my objection to demons is made, and their rejection of creation and its divine origin (which I believe to be invalid), is also based on grounds other than those on which my objection to demons is made, so I have no syllogism to make here

    * You write ‘I’ll draw another parallel using your format:’; I’m not sure what your parallel means by ‘Orientalist argument’ (what’s an ‘Orientalist’?), but yes I agree that rejection of Jesus’ Messiahship is more readily accepted by the educated and intelligent members of society, as is also demonstrable historically and has been observed in relevant religious-historical commentaries

    Does this mean you agree with me?

    * You wrote ‘Your induction goes like this, if I understand you correctly:’; no it doesn’t, it goes like this:

    1. Demons don’t possess anyone who doesn’t believe in demons.
    2. There is no evidence that any Pharises, Herodian, or Sadducee was ever possessed by demons.
    3. This coheres well with the very large body of historical evidence for the socio-economic (especially urban/rural), distribution of belief in demons and instances of alleged demon possession.
    4. This affirms the historical reliability of the gospels as accounts of the 1st century
    events they purport to record.

    * You wrote ‘So, I repeat, is the following syllogism an accurate reflection of your argument?’; and I repeat ‘No it isn’t’: my argument goes like this:

    1. Demons don’t possess anyone who doesn’t believe in demons.
    2. There is no evidence that any Pharises, Herodian, or Sadducee was ever possessed by demons.
    3. This coheres well with the very large body of historical evidence for the socio-economic (especially urban/rural), distribution of belief in demons and instances of alleged demon possession.
    4. This affirms the historical reliability of the gospels as accounts of the 1st century
    events they purport to record.

    The parallel you are looking for is non-existent. You keep reading syllogisms into my statements where they don’t exist. You keep reading arguments of mine as syllogisms trying to prove demons don’t exist, when they are no such thing.

    * I agree, being a false prophet doesn’t mean being a non-existent one; on the other hand, when we’re told that X does not exist, that means that whoever said so believes X does not exist

    Remember my handouts? What does the Bible say about whether or not the false gods of the heathen exist? See 2 Kings 19:18, 2 Chronicles 13:9, Isaiah 37:19; 44:9-10; 45:5-7, 20-22, Jeremiah 2:11; 5:7; 16:20, John 17:3, Acts 19:26, 1 Corinthians 8:5-6; 10:19-20, Galatians 4:8, Ephesians 4:4-6, and 1 Timothy 2:5.

  293. Fortigurn
    June 10, 2010 @ 10:46 am

    Jame, I’m sorry that you’re withdrawing due to the deterioration of tone here. On the other hand, I’m not here to convince anyone of what I believe.

  294. Fortigurn
    June 10, 2010 @ 10:43 am

    Jaco, you’ll do a lot better if you read what I write. You keep wanting me to clarify syllogisms which I never made. You keep reading statements as syllogisms. Why do you do this?

  295. Jame Dunkt
    June 10, 2010 @ 10:36 am

    Jaco and Fort,

    This has deteriorated from an moderately interesting if testy argument in to a silly battle of egos. You’re both coming across as arrogant and over-competitive children, determined to have the last word. This discussion, for me, has ceased to have any value. There are no winners in this sort of prancing about, nipping back and forth at each other’s necks like two daft show ponies. You’re wasting each other’s time and mine. I’m out of here.

  296. Fortigurn
    June 10, 2010 @ 10:35 am

    Jame, I didn’t take offense at what you wrote. I acknowledged it was fair. By ‘a mouthful’ I just meant that you’d corrected me. As I said, there was certainly no warrant for me to retaliate.

  297. Jaco
    June 10, 2010 @ 9:32 am

    Jaco,

    I’ve already told you your syllogism doesn’t reflect what I believe, it falls at the very first premise; I’ve also given you my own explanation of what I believe, so I see no use for your syllogism.

    Sorry, but I still don’t understand. You corrected my syllogism with the first premise. I do not want to put words in your mouth. So, in this regard, please do construct a syllogism clearly highlighting your take in this aspect of our conversation. That is a major halt to our continual discussion. For any standpoint, one’s argument has to be falsifiable. Playing by the rules will help a lot.

    * Thank you for saying that you don’t know how to differentiate between demonic and non-demonic ailments.

    No, I do not know how the First Century Christians differentiated between them. But, as I showed, they did diagnosed (differentiated, if you like) between what they accepted to be natural diseases and diseases of demonic origin. They differentiated between number, even between the poor victim and the demon(s).

    * I have never said that if you can’t differentiate between demonic and non-demonic ailments it proves demons don’t really exist, so your analogy with miracles is invalid (in any case, I have criteria for differentiating between miracles and non-miracles)

    What is the significance of asking me which ailments today are of demon origin, then?

    * I know you aren’t claiming the existence of demons on the basis of today’s phenomena; what I need to know is why you’re claiming it on the basis of the synoptics.

    I listed you the Scriptures showing exactly that, as well as my 3 irrevocable conditions. Here they are again:

    Mt. 4:24 “And they brought to him all the ones having an illness with various diseases, and being held by torments and ones being demon-possessed, and epileptics, and paralytics; and he cured them.”

    Mt. 8:15, 16 “So he touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she arose and began ministering to him. And, getting late, they brought near to him many being demon-possessed; and he cast out the spirits by a word; and all having an illness he cured.”

    Mr. 1:32, 34 “And after evening had fallen, when the sun had set, the people began bringing him all those who were ill and those demon-possessed. So he cured many that were ill with various sicknesses, and he expelled many demons, but he would not let the demons speak, because they knew him to be Christ.”

    Mr. 3:14, 15 “He appointed the twelve…to proclaim, and to have authority to cure the diseases, and to cast out demons.”

    Mr. 6:12, 13 “And having come forth, they proclaimed that they should repent. Also did they cast out many demons, and they anointed many ill ones with oil, and they were cured”

    Mr. 16:9 “…he appeared first to Mary the Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons.”

    Lu. 4:40 “But when the sun was setting, all those who had people sick with various diseases brought them to him. By laying his hands upon each one of them he would cure them. Demons also would come out of many, crying out and saying: ‘You are the Son of God.’

    Lu. 8:28 – a clear demonstration of multiple centers of consciousness. At the mere sight of Jesus did the demons cry out to him. Jesus has neither spoken nor done anything by which the man by himself could rightfully have identified Jesus as the son of the Highest God. Compelling evidence for the existence of demons.

    Lu. 9:1 “He called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to cure sicknesses”

    As can be seen above, there was a clear distinction or diagnosis between literal disease and demon-possession. Not only that, but even multiplicity of demons could be diagnosed (Man of the Gaderenes and Mary of Magdala). The diagnosis also involved distinguishing the one(s) speaking, namely the possessed or the demons! How could they make such complex diagnoses? Your guess is as good as mine! Our ignorance does not change the reality or the veracity of that reality as presented to us in the Gospels. As I said above,

    Regardless of their diagnostic tools, they differentiated between ailments and demon-possession in the same context, meaning that demon-possession was no alternative term for exactly the same thing, namely, natural disease.

    * Contrary to what you claim, none of the gospel writers provide a diagnosis of anyone who was supposed to have a demon, they merely report, they do not diagnose; not only that, but neither Mark nor Luke were eyewitnesses, so they couldn’t have diagnosed anything (appeals to Luke’s medical prowess are therefore also invalid)

    I wrote that the Gospel writers “diagnosed” in the literal sense of the word, namely, differentiated, between what those cases were and what they weren’t. Luke, the physician, and Mark reported it faithfully as how those things happened, maintaining the distinction. Matthew, the eye witness further confirms that distinction.

    * You say that to diagnose is ‘to divide knowledge, or to differentiate between or among optional explanations’ and ‘That is exactly what we find the Gospel writers do!’; please quote the sections in which they list the various options, differentiate between them, and give the reason for their conclusions (this is what diagnosis is, check with your doctor)

    Please see my answer above.

    * You say ‘How could they make such complex diagnoses? Your guess is as good as mine!’; look closer, they didn’t actually make any diagnosis, this is narrative not diagnostics, and Luke and Mark weren’t even present (we don’t even know if Matthew was present every time, and John never mentions them at all)

    They report on an event they have shown to be differentiated from other possibilities. They state the distinctness in phenomena in no uncertain terms.

    * I have advanced no ‘god of the gaps’ argument, because I have not said ‘Here’s something we can’t explain, so let’s appeal to a miracle’; on the contrary, I have pointed out that the text itself tells us that X took place as a result of a miracle, and I see no reason not to believe that X took place as a result of a miracle

    * I agree that identifying this was a miracle doesn’t change the fact that ‘it really happened’, or the explanation and the details the writers give (although they don’t actually provide an explanation any more than they provide a diagnosis, they provide a narrative)

    The narrative clearly tells us what happened, involving the cascades of cognitive processes communicated to us through language. From the language of the narrative the crucial issues arise, reflecting the phenomenology of Jesus and the inspired writers. What is more, the eye-witness redactors saw no need to correct the views – not even through interpolation. And, as you said, calling it a miracle doesn’t change it.

    * I have already rejected your ‘three irrevocable conditions’, as I have explained; please don’t tell me what I believe, I’m here to do that for you (when I appeal to those conditions please let me know)

    You’ve rejected it, correct, for reasons you do not stipulate. You merely reject with “In other words, a miracle happened. But we already knew that.” If I missed your explanation, please copy and paste it. Or, if you don’t mind, please clarify why you reject my 3 conditions.

    * I don’t need to give an example of a mental illness which animals can get, any more than we need to prove that diseased skin cells can be physically transferred from one person to another, whose skin cells they then become; all I need to demonstrate (as I have), is that the ailment one person has can be given miraculously to another person, and that it is legitimate to say they have been given the ailment of the first person, since that is exactly what we find in Scripture (do you believe that Gehazi received Naaman’s infected skin cells in a kind of miraculous dermal graft?)

    No, you’re equivocating again. In the case of Gehazi, it was indeed a literal ailment, you’re correct. It was no mere impression. It was a real disease as can be seen from its symptoms. In the case involving the demon-possessed man, a demon is removed as the source of the infliction. It is identified as that in terms which the Gospel writers differentiate between natural and demonic inflictions. The source is also revealed to have a separate consciousness or self. That source is differentiated from the man himself. It is driven into the swine, conveying the idea of an entity separate from the victim. In terms of the dynamics, the only similarity to your Naaman miracle is the fact that something separate (not part of a person as with mental disorders) from the person is removed from him. And the account says it was a real demon.

    * I find it interesting that you ask ‘what will happen if a Christadelphian among you teaches that the demon Jesus exorcised was in fact a holy angel?’, because I know a brother in our community who not only made that suggestion but taught it in a book and at Bible classes; nothing happened to him, and his book can still be found in some ecclesial and personal libraries (however, since our community is highly variegated, this would not have been tolerated in other parts of our community)

    That’s good news. But that also shows double standards in their consistency of applying congregational discipline. Hopefully there will also emerge Christadelphian communities who believe in a personal Satan and demons as an aspect of their “highly variegated” nature. And I say it with true respect.

    * You write ‘Please check this syllogism, then. If you don’t agree, please correct it with a syllogism reflecting the issue accurately’; it doesn’t reflect what I said, and you will note that I didn’t make a syllogism on this point

    Please correct it then. Proceeding from here on and going over to material in your handouts depend on your correcting my syllogisms so as to eradicate any equivocation. I understand it if people unwittingly misrepresent your stance. Hence me questions so as not to do it.

    * However, since you want one, here you are:
    1. Demons don’t possess anyone who doesn’t believe in demons.
    2. There is no evidence that any Pharises, Herodian, or Sadducee was ever possessed by demons.
    3. This coheres well with the very large body of historical evidence for the socio-economic (especially urban/rural), distribution of belief in demons and instances of alleged demon possession.
    4. This affirms the historical reliability of the gospels as accounts of the 1st century events they purport to record.

    I see no conclusion having any bearing on the existence of demons. There’s no indication on the necessity of denying the existence of demons altogether. In fact, what you wrote up here is not even a syllogism! You’re also committing a slippery slope fallacy. You’ll have to prove that silence on the part of the Gospels to report exorcism among these persons, was because none occurred as opposed to none was reported. And, after proving that the Gospels’ silence was due to non-occurrence, you’ll have to show that it was due to non-belief in demons, and not, say, non-belief in Jesus’/apostles’ legitimacy as Messiah/Messianic agents of God.

    * You ask ‘Doesn’t it strike you as odd that 93% of all American scientists are outright atheists, believing in Darwinian evolution and natural selection as the sole “creators” of life?’; if it were true, I might have an opinion on it.
    * You ask ‘Isn’t it odd that the most developed and educated countries (Western Europe) are also the least religious?’; no it isn’t, because the religious systems to which they are most commonly exposed typically require unquestioning belief in the irrational, which is exactly what normal people are rightly taught to reject in school (the illogical and irrational nature of the trinity is one of the most common reasons people give for rejecting Christianity, ’satan’, hell’, and the penal substitutionary atonement are three others)

    I disagree with your assessment. The atheism and non-religiousness I refer to is due to the majority viewing the existence of God, and biblical miracles to be irrational. They view us believers as not normal. Atheistic propaganda, especially Darwinism, is strongly advanced in schools including the ridicule of those believing in Creation and its Divine origin…If their rejection of Satan and Hell is valid (according to you) then, for the very same reasons you view it to be the case, you will have to view their rejection of Creation, God, miracles et al as valid too. If not, provide the syllogism pointing out why not.

    * Conversely, among the most educated and scientifically minded of Western countries we find the strongest acceptance of beliefs such as Unitarianism, and the rejection of beliefs you and I both consider unscriptural

    Yes, have you seen the intense interest educated Americans and Europeans show in Eastern religions?

    * You ask ‘These are the very ones who are educated, civilized and well-developed…should I draw a parallel conclusion to yours???’; yes you should, and such parallel would go like this, ‘This coheres welll with the traditional Unitarian argument that classic Unitarian beliefs such as absolute monotheism, the mortality of man, and participatory atonement, are more readily accepted by the educated and intelligent members of society, as is also demonstrable historically and has been observed in relevant religious-historical commentaries

    Ok. I’ll draw another parallel using your format:

    This coheres well with the traditional [Orientalist argument] that classic [rejection of Jesus’ Messiahship, his miracles and virgin birth] are more readily accepted by the educated and intelligent members of society, as is also demonstrable historically and has been observed in relevant religious-historical commentaries.
    If you disagree with this, well, then your reasoning is inconsistent.

    * No, I did not say that the Pharisess and Herodians were never ill; I don’t believe that.

    Your induction goes like this, if I understand you correctly:

    Pharisees and Herodians are not depicted in the Gospels as having been demon-possessed. ==? They are not depicted to be demon-possessed because they were not demon-possessed. ==? They were not demon-possessed because they were upper-class and did not believe in demons. ==? Thus, demons don’t exist
    If it is not the pattern of your reasoning, then please correct.

    Hence, the parallel I draw:

    +Pharisees and Herodians are not depicted in the Gospels as having been healed by Jesus. + They are not depicted to have been healed by Jesus because they were not ill. + They were not ill because they were upper-class and did not believe in disease. + Thus, illnesses don’t exist.
    Not only that, but apparently you present the conclusion as a necessary one. As if the only contingent for their non-eligibility for healing was their non-belief in demons (and not their non-belief in Jesus).

    * No, I did not say that since they weren’t ever said to have been healed of deafness, leprosy or paralysis that deafness, leprosy and paralysis were mere figments of the plebs’ superstitious imagination; that is not a logically coherent argument, and I reject it.

    I know you never said it. Your argument, however, goes parallel to that. So, I repeat, is the following syllogism an accurate reflection of your argument?

    First premise: “Demons don’t possess anyone who doesn’t believe in demons.”

    Second premise: The Pharisees and Herodians were never exorcised, hence never demon-possessed.

    Conclusion: The Pharisees and Herodians did not believe in demons.

    If not, please correct.

    * You ask ‘do you believe in Mohammed, the founder of Islam?’; I answer that I believe he existed, but I do not believe in him, no

    Exactly! Being a false prophet does not mean being a non-existent one.

    Jaco, can you identify a single post of yours in which you’ve appealed to any Hebrew or Greek words, as opposed to English words? Because I’m finding a lot of appeals to English words.

    I’m still battling to understand your English, Fortigurn. If all goes well, I believe we’ll get to the Greek and Hebrew.

    If you feel it’s necessary to remove yourself from the discussion now it’s clear I’m going to hold you to principles of formal hermeneutics have come into play, feel free. I will not be in the least surprised.

    Fortigurn, your snide in your remarks have had quite a few people disengage from this blog. That is a pity. Not only have I repeatedly pointed that out, someone from among your brethren even had to encourage you to calm down. Please take note, that, people leaving this blog is not due to your well thought-out arguments, but, rather due to 1. your demeanor bordering on rudeness and 2. your evading crucial issues or merely rejecting them without pointing out the logical flaw in what you reject. There’s no point in going over to new issues until the current issues are settled and I properly understand your logic.

    Respectfully yours,

    Jaco

  298. Jame Dunkt
    June 10, 2010 @ 4:10 am

    I’m sorry to see that you took my last post to you as a “mouthful” which I suppose means that it’s lumped with the invective in postings addressed to you by others, Fort. This was the very last thing I intended. I truly do not understand why you’d ever “retaliate” to what was intended to be a sympathetic and supportive plea for moderation in tone and language, not just of you but of every single one of us. Please read my post again and if you’re still upset tell me what ofends you.

  299. Jame Dunkt
    June 10, 2010 @ 3:58 am

    Are you referring to your own rudeness in the above posts, Jaco, or just your opponent’s?

  300. Fortigurn
    June 10, 2010 @ 3:52 am

    Jaco, everyone else here is managing to post in this discussion despite occasionally rubbing each other up the wrong way and giving back some friction in return. There are strong feelings on this issue, and we’ve all been guilty of abrasive posts.

    If you feel it’s necessary to remove yourself from the discussion now it’s clear I’m going to hold you to principles of formal hermeneutics have come into play, feel free. I will not be in the least surprised.

    It’s not rudeness which is causing communication breakdown here. I’ve been hammered repeatedly, left, right, and center by a number of people, and I’ve still been expected to answer all of their questions, and promptly too. And I have done so. I’ve also just had a mouthful handed to me by Jame, and I chose to take it on the chin without retaliation. What causes communication to break down is lack of attention to what others write, and a refusal to answer questions.

  301. Jaco
    June 10, 2010 @ 3:39 am

    Dr Tuggy,

    Are you the administrator of this blog? Are there rules to this blog? Or is it a case of “anything goes?” Is it ok if rudeness stifles proper conversation on your blog?

    In hope,

    Jaco

  302. Fortigurn
    June 10, 2010 @ 1:58 am

    * Contextual analysis of the text

    ‘We would suggest there are indicators in the text itself, contextual markers, that are not there by accident but to guide us toward an objective meaning. An objective meaning is thus mediated by the text itself. The text’s indicators limit the possibilities so that the number of meanings available to the reader is not infinite.’

    Dockery, ‘Biblical interpretation then and now: Contemporary hermeneutics in the light of the early church’, p. (1992)

    Various forms of contextual analysis are necessary.

    1. Co-textual analysis. The textual environment of the text under examination, constituting the text immediately prior and subsequent to the text being examined.

    2. Intra-textual analysis. The broader textual environment of the text under examination, constituting passages of text within the complete body of text in which the text under examination is found, and the relationship of the examined text to those other passages.

    3. Inter-textual analysis. The relationsihp of the text under examinination to relevant bodies of text other than that in whic the examined text is found.

  303. Fortigurn
    June 10, 2010 @ 1:18 am

    * Social and historical analysis

    ‘The meaning of a text cannot be interpreted with any degree of certainty without historical-cultural and contextual analysis.’

    Virkler & Ayayo,’Hermeneutics: Principles and processes of Biblical interpretation’, p. (2nd ed. 2007)

    ‘An understanding of social structures helps the interpreter in several ways. First, the manner in which a society is structured sheds light on the group’s social bonding, communication, and decision-making processes. Second, an understanding of the various types of societies (tribal, peasant, urban) may prevent the interpreter from interpreting the text from a perspective that is alien to its cultural context.’

    Corley, Lemke, & Lovejoy, ‘Biblical hermeneutics: A comprehensive introduction to interpreting Scripture’ (2nd ed. 2002)

    ‘We must be certain that the evidence comes from the same period as the passage being studied; shoddy use of period data (third-century Gnostic practices read into first-century Christian concepts) has led many to false theories.’

    Osborne, ‘The Hermeneutical Spiral: A comprehensive introduction to biblical interpretation’, p. 172 (rev. ed. 2006)

    Care must be taken when using socio-historical sources to establish a background for Biblical books. Sources must be relevant to the events described in the books. Relevance is determined by ‘proximity’, how ‘close’ a source is to events which are described. For a source to be relevant, it must be sufficiently close to events that it can provide useful information about them. The following list describes various criteria for identifying source of relevant proximity.

    1. Chronology. For the gospels, Acts, and Paul’s letters the relevant time frame is generally between 100 BC and 100 AD. Within this time frame, different types of sources are relevant within more specific time frames. For example, Roman laws current between 100 BC and 40 AD are relevant to the gospels, Acts, and Paul’s letters, but not laws passed after 40 AD, as these did not exist during the events described in these books.

    2. Genre. If the data is from a literary source, it must come from a genre which is reliable as a historical witness to the events described in the book. Legal texts are a reliable source for general social expectations of what was considered right. However, literary satires contain exaggerated depictions of society, and cannot be trusted to give an accurate account.

    3. Geography. The data must come from the same geographical area as the events described in the book. This is less relevant for sources such as Roman laws passed by the senate or emperor (which operated throughout the empire), but more relevant for local decrees.

    4. Society & culture. The data must come from the same social and ethnic community as the events described in the book. Although certain customs and traditions were shared by many social and ethnic groups within the Roman empire, due to the assimilation of Greco-Roman culture, different groups (especially religious communities, such as the Jews), still had customs and traditions unique to themselves.

    * Application

    A marriage contract signed in 100 BC, for example, is a sufficiently proximate source for the gospels, Acts, and Paul’s letters because marriage contracts were highly standardized documents following formulas which did not differ greatly between geographical areas, or over short time frames, because they were established on the basis of Roman laws which applied throughout the empire and were changed infrequently.

    However, social customs and traditions may differ from place to place, even within one ethnic group. Jewish communities in Rome, Greece, Judea and Egypt could all differ in their practices. Similarly, different geographical areas in the empire, coming under different cultural influences, could have different practices. [1]

    On the other hand, distinctions between geographical regions and groups should not be assumed without evidence. Ben Witherington III (a popular egalitarian commentator), has been criticized for falling into this error. [2]

    _______________
    [1] ‘But studies of Roman society have found a variety of indicators about the status of women, and what was true about women in the eastern part of the empire was not necessarily true about women in the western empire. On the one hand, there was the household headed by the husband/father/master, a hierarchical order-obedience structure that included those who were economically dependent. On the other hand, there were emancipatory ideas about women that allowed them greater freedom and economic independence (some were even the heads of households).’, Tanzer (egalitarian), ‘Eph 5:22-33 Wives (and Husbands) Exhorted’, in Meyers, Craven, & Kraemer, ‘Women in scripture: a dictionary of named and unnamed women in the Hebrew Bible, the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books, and the New Testament’,’, p. 481 (2001).

    [2] ‘It is not clear on what basis Witherington is distinguishing Roman from Hellenistic material. Is it a distinction of time, place, or language? Does Rome refer to the city or the empire? What does it mean to compare “Roman women” with “their counterparts in the Mediterranean world” (page 25)? Nor is it clear why he has separate sections on Athens, Sparta, Corinth, Macedonia and Asia Minor, but none on Egypt- even though he stresses the influence of the Isis cult, and in passing calls Egypt “a country where women were allowed unprecedented freedom” (page 17).’’, Michaels, ‘Review of Women and the Genesis of Christianity by Ben Witherington III; Ann Witherington’, The Biblical Archaeologist (56.1.46), (1993).

  304. Fortigurn
    June 10, 2010 @ 1:09 am

    Here’s how to approach the subject of satan and demons using standard hermeneutical principles.

    * Literary-syntactical analysis

    ‘The immediate literary context surrounding a text is the most valuable context available. Other literary contexts are of value to the degree that their authors thought like and used terms and grammar like the author.’

    Stein, ‘A basic guide to interpreting the Bible: Playing by the rules’, p. 58 (1994)

    ‘Lexical-syntactical analysis is the study of the meaning of individual words (lexicology) and the way those words are combined (syntax) in order to determine more accurately the author’s intended meaning. It is necessary because the biblical author’s intended meaning is communicated through words arranged in a particular way.

    Lexical-syntactical analysis does not encourage blind literalism: it recognizes when an author intends his words to be understood literally, when figuratively, and when symbolically, and then interprets them accordingly.’

    Virkler & Ayayo, ‘Hermeneutics: Principles and processes of Biblical interpretation’, p. 98 (2nd ed. 2007)

    These are the standard professional Greek lexicons recognized and used in the scholarly literature. Their agreement on the meaning of a given word is considered effectively conclusive.

    * Friberg, Friberg, & Miller. (2000). Analytical lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Baker Books.

    This student lexicon provides the reflex forms of the Greek alongside a simplified analysis of meanings.

    * Arndt, Danker, & Bauer. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature. (3rd ed.). University of Chicago Press.

    This standard technical lexicon includes extensive references to extra-Biblical usage.

    * Lust, Eynikel, & Hauspie. (2003). A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint. (electronic rev. ed.). Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (German Bible Society).

    This standard technical lexicon is the principal lexicon for the LXX.

    * Lampe, Geoffrey. (1961-1968). A Patristic Greek Lexicon. Clarendon Press.

    This standard technical lexicon has a focus on the Greek Fathers.

    * Louw & Nida. (1989). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains. (2nd ed.). United Bible Societies.

    This lexicon is aimed at translators working in the field.

    * Liddell, Scott, & Jones. (1996). A Greek-English Lexicon. (electronic ed., 9th rev. ed. with supplement.)

    This standard technical lexicon mainly indexes words appearing in the non-Biblical Greek literature, between approximately 600 BC and 600 AD. The focus is on classical and attic forms.

    * Newman. (1993). Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (German Bible Society), United Bible Societies.

    * Swanson. (2001). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament. (2nd ed.). Logos Research Systems, Inc.

    * Zodhiates. (2000). The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. (electronic ed.). AMG Publishers.

    Within the full lexical range of the word, those meanings should be considered most relevant which were current in the era proximate to the text. Syntactical analysis is necessary when determining the meaning of the word in a given passage of the text.

    There is no reason to take seriously any exposition of this subject which does not start with the lexical range of the relevant words, as established in standard lexical sources such as these. It is not legitimate to say ‘Look, it says ‘demon’ right there in my English Bible’.

  305. Fortigurn
    June 9, 2010 @ 10:59 pm

    Thank you Jame, I take your points.

  306. Jame Dunkt
    June 9, 2010 @ 10:55 pm

    Fortigurn,

    I’ve just finished reading your two mini-pamphlets on Satan & Demons and The Devil. They are very well reasoned and to the point: quite compelling brevity.

    A fair bit of needle has crept in to this discussion pretty regularly, but I do believe that what you have said in your postings has, from time to time, been misquoted, misunderstood and misconstrued. This must be frustrating for you. But then again, as one one appears to spend a great deal of your time in Scriptural discourse in various forums and blogs, you’d be well used to it. Perhaps you’ve had to grow the hide of a rhinoceros to fend off the barbs. Possibly a few still land where the hide is a bit thinner or worn, or maybe you just get a bit tired and crabby at the end of a long day’s work just like the rest of all of us fallible discussers.

    Whatever, your style of writing in these posts, sometimes seems to get right up people’s noses. I guess it’s got something to do with brevity — an important factor in making your pamphlets cogent.

    Brevity in the form of short, sharp rejoinders is not always very effective in blog discussions when your concision is taken by the person you are responding to as a slight or retort. I’m quite sure that giving offence is never your intention, Fortigurn, but it happens and I want to make you aware that the manner in which you wield the power of your intellect in forum discourses can feel like slaps in the face, once you’re “in the zone” (i.e. in full-on combat mindset, repelling concerted frontal assaults, outflanking attempts and the occasional fifth columnist ploy).

    You might argue that your time is limited, that you’re doing umpteen things all at once, so that it’s efficient in blog-talk to respond point-by-point by quoting a correspondent’s words and then commenting on it. I suppose it is, but it sure isn’t a patch on real-world conversation where you have to interrelate in real-time with a real-person’s real-responses to your communication with them. In other words, what we all too often miss out on on these forum discourses is restraint, sensitiveness, tact — I could go on with lots of other words which characterise the “fruit of the spirit”, which is after all the unequivocal aim of every Christian’s behaviour towards everyone he or she comes in to contact with.

    Please don’t take offence, Fortigurn, because I write this for everybody who is in dialogue with you, including me. Your contributions to the trinity discussions, the demon wrangle and so many other Scriptural exchanges are, in my view, outstanding as is your scholarship and exegesis. Just moderate your tone as little, especially when the other person isn’t. Maybe you could — we all could — do something else for a while once we’ve finished tapping away at our latest response, and read again what we wrote and what the other person wrote before we press that blasted “send” button. After all, in actual as opposed to virtual conversation we can change tack, soften, touch the other person’s arm… Here in stark black & white blog-land, isolated from each other’s presence as we all are, we need to super-compensate in the only ways open to us: our tone and our language.

  307. Fortigurn
    June 9, 2010 @ 8:42 pm

    Marg,

    I got the idea somehow that demons were being equated with idols. I won’t make that mistake again.

    It has been pointed out that in the Old Testament one of the words typically translated ‘demons’ actually refers to idols. Not the New Testament. No one has said that anyone had an idol removed from them.

  308. Fortigurn
    June 9, 2010 @ 8:41 pm

    Thanks Andrew, I’m glad you found them of interest.

  309. Andrew
    June 9, 2010 @ 7:08 pm

    Marg,
    Thank you. I will now try to explain why, from my beliefs,
    I have to look critically at the existence of demons even
    though many of the New Testament accounts appear to describe
    them plainly as literal supernatural beings.
    Firstly, there seem to be no demons in the Old Testament at all.
    This immediately puts me on edge- if they were around throughout
    the whole time in which the Bible was written surely they would appear
    consistently throughout the Bible. Instead, we read about demons consistently
    in the context of false gods (Leviticus 17:6, Deuteronomy 32:16-17,
    2 Chronicles 11:15, Psalm 106:36-37). Specifically, if you look at the
    hebrew words used, ‘devils’ refer to satyrs or goat-like gods. So Yahweh
    describes demons and devils as gods and then says on numerous occasions that
    he alone is God and there is no other. Thus he denounces all other gods (idols,
    demons, devils, what have you) as false. In fact, compare Isaiah 65:3 in your
    Bible to the original septuagint. “A people that provoketh me to anger continually
    to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of
    brick” – the septuagint adds “upon altars of brick to devils, which exist not”
    (check this on http://www.ecmarsh.com/lxx-kjv/isaiah/isa_065.htm if you want).

    As well as announcing himself the only true God, Yahweh tells us that he alone creates
    good and evil (Isaiah 45:7 “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace,
    and create evil: I the LORD do all these things”). He also sends evil spirits in
    the Old Testament (Judges 9:23, 1 Samuel 16:14-23, 1 Kings 22:22-23,
    1 Chronicles 18:21-22, Psalm 78:49) They are not supernatural evil beings, just God’s
    judgements on wicked men.This really leaves no room for demons, in the Old Testament
    at least.
    Just read 1 Kings 17:17-24, the account of Elijah healing the mistress’ son. He says to
    God, “O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn,
    by slaying her son?” Had this account taken place in the New Testament, I wouldn’t be
    surprised to see mention of demons causing the illness and death, because this was the
    predominant belief amongst people at the time. As always, I’m keen to hear your thoughts
    on these issues.

    P.S. many thanks to Fortigurn, whose pamphlet I quoted from somewhere in here

  310. Andrew
    June 9, 2010 @ 6:12 pm

    Fortigurn,
    I read both your pamphlets and am happy to
    say they are completely in line with my own beliefs- as well as being clear and concise, which is a bonus! I note your use of 1Chronicles 21:1 with interest:
    “And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel”In your pamphlet you attribute this use of satan to an enemy nation, but I consider it to refer to Yahweh himself. This passage has a parallel
    narrative in 2Samuel 24:1: “And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah”. It’s fascinating how even Yahweh can be satan, wouldn’t you
    agree? Anyway, I fully recommend your pamphlets to anyone reading.
    Love in Christ

  311. Marg
    June 9, 2010 @ 4:10 pm

    * No one has argued that demon possession equates with natural illness all the time

    I was agreeing with Andrew. I’m glad we are all of one mind on that.

    * No one has claimed that an ‘idol’ was removed from anyone

    I apologize for misunderstanding. I got the idea somehow that demons were being equated with idols. I won’t make that mistake again.

    Andrew has acknowledged that the evidence presented so far, if studied alone, would convince him that idols DO exist. He obviously has counter-balancing evidence in mind, and I will gladly read whatever he writes.

  312. Fortigurn
    June 9, 2010 @ 1:49 pm

    Marg,

    * No one has argued that demon possession equates with natural illness all the time

    * No one has claimed that an ‘idol’ was removed from anyone

    * If it is much easier to find evidence that demons do exist, I suggest you collect your evidence and give it to Jaco, because right now he can’t tell demon possession from non-demon possession

  313. Marg
    June 9, 2010 @ 1:47 pm

    I think if I read many of these passages by themselves I would believe in literal demons- however, I read them in the context of what I already know about God – that there is no other God apart from Him. I have more to say about this but I’d like to hear your thoughts on what I’ve already written first.
    Love in Christ

    Andrew, I appreciate this. Luke makes the same distinction between natural diseases and demon possession that Mark and Matthew do. And, as you say, Luke was a physician. So I don’t think anyone could argue that demon possession equates with natural illness ALL the time.

    Luke also wrote the book of Acts. Chapter 16:16-19 tells of a girl who had a “spirit of divination”. There is no indication that she was ill, nor does it say she was healed. But Paul commanded the spirit to leave her, and from that time on, she was of no further use to her masters.

    I have some difficulty believing that an idol was removed from her. So I accept Luke’s account that it was a “spirit”. Without that spirit, she was no longer able to foretell the future, and her owners were furious at the loss.

    For me, as well as for you, there is no other God but Yahweh, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    But (for me) that doesn’t mean no other gods EXIST. I – like Paul – know that an idol is nothing, and there is no God but one. Even though there are MANY (so-called) gods and MANY (so-called) lords – yet for me there is one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, God’s Son.

    The OT actually names the elohim of one nation after another. They were called “gods,” even by the angel of Yahweh. So I call them the same thing. I don’t think that makes me a polytheist.

    In any case, it would be hard to prove from the NT that demons do not exist. It is much easier to find evidence that they DO exist.

    And thank you, Andrew, for your expression of the love that should characterize all who are Christ’s. In return –
    Love in Christ to you, and “to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity” (Ephesians 6:24).

  314. Fortigurn
    June 9, 2010 @ 1:39 pm

    Jaco, can you identify a single post of yours in which you’ve appealed to any Hebrew or Greek words, as opposed to English words? Because I’m finding a lot of appeals to English words.

  315. Fortigurn
    June 9, 2010 @ 1:25 pm

    Jaco,

    Here’s my answer to your #150. Feel free to ignore it and ask me another list of questions.

    * I’ve already told you your syllogism doesn’t reflect what I believe, it falls at the very first premise; I’ve also given you my own explanation of what I believe, so I see no use for your syllogism

    * Thank you for saying that you don’t know how to differentiate between demonic and non-demonic ailments

    * I have never said that if you can’t differentiate between demonic and non-demonic ailments it proves demons don’t really exist, so your analogy with miracles is invalid (in any case, I have criteria for differentiating between miracles and non-miracles)

    * I know you aren’t claiming the existence of demons on the basis of today’s phenomena; what I need to know is why you’re claiming it on the basis of the synoptics

    * Contrary to what you claim, none of the gospel writers provide a diagnosis of anyone who was supposed to have a demon, they merely report, they do not diagnose; not only that, but neither Mark nor Luke were eyewitnesses, so they couldn’t have diagnosed anything (appeals to Luke’s medical prowess are therefore also invalid)

    * I have advanced no ‘god of the gaps’ argument, because I have not said ‘Here’s something we can’t explain, so let’s appeal to a miracle’; on the contrary, I have pointed out that the text itself tells us that X took place as a result of a miracle, and I see no reason not to believe that X took place as a result of a miracle

    * I agree that identifying this was a miracle doesn’t change the fact that ‘it really happened’, or the explanation and the details the writers give (although they don’t actually provide an explanation any more than they provide a diagnosis, they provide a narrative)

    * I have already rejected your ‘three irrevocable conditions’, as I have explained; please don’t tell me what I believe, I’m here to do that for you (when I appeal to those conditions please let me know)

    * I don’t need to give an example of a mental illness which animals can get, any more than we need to prove that diseased skin cells can be physically transferred from one person to another, whose skin cells they then become; all I need to demonstrate (as I have), is that the ailment one person has can be given miraculously to another person, and that it is legitimate to say they have been given the ailment of the first person, since that is exactly what we find in Scripture (do you believe that Gehazi received Naaman’s infected skin cells in a kind of miraculous dermal graft?)

    * I find it interesting that you ask ‘what will happen if a Christadelphian among you teaches that the demon Jesus exorcised was in fact a holy angel?’, because I know a brother in our community who not only made that suggestion but taught it in a book and at Bible classes; nothing happened to him, and his book can still be found in some ecclesial and personal libraries (however, since our community is highly variegated, this would not have been tolerated in other parts of our community)

    * You say that to diagnose is ‘to divide knowledge, or to differentiate between or among optional explanations’ and ‘That is exactly what we find the Gospel writers do!’; please quote the sections in which they list the various options, differentiate between them, and give the reason for their conclusions (this is what diagnosis is, check with your doctor)

    * You say ‘there was a clear distinction or diagnosis between literal disease and demon-possession’; I agree, I’ve already said this

    * You say ‘How could they make such complex diagnoses? Your guess is as good as mine!’; look closer, they didn’t actually make any diagnosis, this is narrative not diagnostics, and Luke and Mark weren’t even present (we don’t even know if Matthew was present every time, and John never mentions them at all)

    * You write ‘Please check this syllogism, then. If you don’t agree, please correct it with a syllogism reflecting the issue accurately’; it doesn’t reflect what I said, and you will note that I didn’t make a syllogism on this point

    * However, since you want one, here you are:

    1. Demons don’t possess anyone who doesn’t believe in demons.
    2. There is no evidence that any Pharises, Herodian, or Sadducee was ever possessed by demons.
    3. This coheres well with the very large body of historical evidence for the socio-economic (especially urban/rural), distribution of belief in demons and instances of alleged demon possession.
    4. This affirms the historical reliability of the gospels as accounts of the 1st century events they purport to record.

    * You ask ‘Doesn’t it strike you as odd that 93% of all American scientists are outright atheists, believing in Darwinian evolution and natural selection as the sole “creators” of life?’; if it were true, I might have an opinion on it

    * You ask ‘Isn’t it odd that the most developed and educated countries (Western Europe) are also the least religious?’; no it isn’t, because the religious systems to which they are most commonly exposed typically require unquestioning belief in the irrational, which is exactly what normal people are rightly taught to reject in school (the illogical and irrational nature of the trinity is one of the most common reasons people give for rejecting Christianity, ‘satan’, hell’, and the penal substitutionary atonement are three others)

    * Conversely, among the most educated and scientifically minded of Western countries we find the strongest acceptance of beliefs such as Unitarianism, and the rejection of beliefs you and I both consider unScriptural

    * You ask ‘These are the very ones who are educated, civilized and well-developed…should I draw a parallel conclusion to yours???’; yes you should, and such parallel would go like this, ‘This coheres welll with the traditional Unitarian argument that classic Unitarian beliefs such as absolute monotheism, the mortality of man, and participatory atonement, are more readily accepted by the educated and intelligent members of society, as is also demonstrable historically and has been observed in relevant religious-historical commentaries

    * No, I did not say that the Pharisess and Herodians were never ill; I don’t believe that

    * No, I did not say that since they weren’t ever said to have been healed of deafness, leprosy or paralysis that deafness, leprosy and paralysis were mere figments of the plebs’ superstitious imagination; that is not a logically coherent argument, and I reject it

    * You ask ‘do you believe in Mohammed, the founder of Islam?’; I answer that I believe he existed, but I do not believe in him, no

  316. Fortigurn
    June 9, 2010 @ 12:50 pm

    Jaco,

    Many people want answers to the crucial issues I wrote in my post.

    I want answers to mine as well. When is that going to happen? You can tell me right now if you intend to answer my questions or not. It will demonstrate whether or not you’re taking this seriously, or (as I strongly suspect), you’re trolling for lulz.

    As for hermeneutic, I’m the only person here who has given one. You cannot honestly say that I haven’t. You can say it, but it won’t be honest. I’ve applied the standard hermeneutical techniques you’ll find in textbooks on the subject:

    * Literary-syntactical analysis
    * Socio-historical analysis
    * Intra-textual analysis

    Are you seriously claiming I have not done this?

  317. Jaco
    June 9, 2010 @ 12:23 pm

    Fortigurn,

    Jaco, ‘this is the English word right here’ is all I’ve ever received from you. If you have another reason for your conclusions, by all means present it.

    No, I think you’re overreacting again. You’re making a false accusation here – practise what you preach. YOU adapt in your demeanor, please.

    You tell me that I’ve ‘ranted and raved’, and you expect me to put up with that kind of language, which I’ve certainly never used of you.

    Your reaction to ‘telling you what you believe, while you don’t’ was rather strong. So, please don’t do it with me.

    Telling me in one post that I had presented no hermeneutic, merely conclusions, and then acknowledging in another post that I had presented a hermeneutic does not convince me that this discussion is profitable.

    Many people want answers to the crucial issues I wrote in my post. So, I think that it is truly profitable, granted that we continue to show deep respect for each other. I accommodated you, Fortigurn, for the little that might be called “hermeneutic” both in your handouts and your posts here. And I say it with respect. Keeping these exchanges mature and Christian is crucial.

    Jaco

  318. cherylu
    June 9, 2010 @ 12:13 pm

    I know that I have neither time nor energy to be involved in any more of this detailed conversation at this point. I will probably continue to read here, but that will probably be about it.

  319. Fortigurn
    June 9, 2010 @ 10:29 am

    Jaco, ‘this is the English word right here’ is all I’ve ever received from you. If you have another reason for your conclusions, by all means present it.

    I had time for one detailed reply today, not more than that. Today’s workload didn’t allow any more. I’ll get to your post#150 above, and I will answer your questions. Remember, I’m the one who answers questions around here, not you (as you have taken pains to reinforce).

    I’m sorry if you find my comments corrosive. I suggest you adapt, as I’ve had to with your comments. You tell me that I’ve ‘ranted and raved’, and you expect me to put up with that kind of language, which I’ve certainly never used of you.

    Telling me in one post that I had presented no hermeneutic, merely conclusions, and then acknowledging in another post that I had presented a hermeneutic does not convince me that this discussion is profitable.

  320. Jaco
    June 9, 2010 @ 9:51 am

    Fortigurn

    No, not yet. I already know your hermeneutic (‘This English Bible has the words ‘devil’, ‘demon’, and ’satan’, and I know what those words mean in English’), but until you know mine we can’t proceed. I have already summarized it for you, and given you two handouts which explain it in detail.

    I encourage you to settle down, Fortigurn. Your comments are getting increasingly corrosive and I, for one, have striven to keep it civil and Christian. Do not put words or arguments in my mouth. I never said such a thing. You have unanswered questions from post #150 above. I believe we’ll get to the issues in your handouts in time.

    You are not correct about my hermeneutic (remember how you ranted and raved when others “misrepresented” you? Please practise what you preach). I have seen your conclusions and some of the ways you use to arive at them. I disagree with your hermeneutic, for reasons some of which I’ve already listed above. Your hermeneutic is the very issue here, hence our discussion which you agreed to engage in.

    So, now that I’ve read your handouts, can we please proceed with our discussion? From #150 I request you to write a few syllogisms. Please provide your hermeneutic in those instances. If I say something not truly in line with your conviction, please correct me (preferably in a Christ-like way). The syllogisms I request above will hopefully do exactly that.

    In hope,

    Jaco

  321. Fortigurn
    June 9, 2010 @ 6:28 am

    Jaco,

    Maybe from your interpretive frame it appears to be so. From ours, your interpretation appears to be so. That’s why we discuss it.

    As Dave has already pointed out, even people sharing your interpretive frame have actually interpreted the passage as we do. This isn’t about a difference in interpretive frames.

  322. Dave Burke
    June 9, 2010 @ 6:27 am

    Jaco, you do realise I was referring solely to I Corinthians 12:10, didn’t you? I wasn’t talking about anything else.

  323. Fortigurn
    June 9, 2010 @ 6:26 am

    Jaco,

    Although I expected to read an interpretive or hermeneutic apparatus to your conclusions, I only saw conclusions.

    Please read them again. You did not merely see conclusions. You saw word definitions which are demonstrable from standard lexicons and historical sources. If you want me to provide direct quotes from them here, I’ll happily bury you in them. You have also seen my entire interpretive methodology:

    * Determine lexical range of the relevant words
    * Determine the Biblical use of each word’s lexical range; is it the same in both Testaments?
    * Identify explicit teaching on key subjects, how the Bible defines demons in the Old and New Testaments
    * Apply relevant historical data from intertestamental, Second Temple, and post-Roman diaspora eras (including literary, geographical, and socio-economic demon possession distribution patterns)

    In contrast, I’ve seen others here:

    * Ignore anything the Old Testament says about demons and evil spirits
    * Ignore anything Paul says about demons
    * Ignore the literary, geographical, and socio-economic demon possession distribution patterns
    * Ignore any historical data from intertestamental, Second Temple, and post-Roman diaspora eras
    * Ignore any and all lexical data

    I also saw you distinguishing between Devil and Satan…

    No you didn’t. Here’s what I wrote on satan:

    The Hebrew word ‘satan’ is not a personal name: It is a word meaning ‘adversary’. It is used of different adversaries in different places. As noted previously, it can refer to the internal temptation to sin which we all face. It can also refer to any external adversary. In Numbers 22:22 it is used of an obedient angel (as a verb), in 1 Kings 11:14, 23-24 and Psalm 109:68 it is used of mortal men, in 1 Chronicles 21:1 it is used of an enemy nation, and in Matthew 16:23 and Mark 8:33 it is used of Jesus’ disciple Peter, when he was opposing Jesus. The ‘devil’ is also sometimes used of evil rulers or kingdoms: 1 Peter 5:8 (quoting Proverbs 20:2; 28:15),

    Here’s what I wrote on the devil:

    This shows us that ‘the devil’ is a term used for the natural tendency of men to sin. The ‘devil’ is also sometimes used of evil rulers or kingdoms: 1 Peter 5:8 (quoting Proverbs 20:2; 28:15), Revelation 12:9 (quoting Daniel 7:7, 19-23)

    You can see the overlap there. Please read them again.

    …as well as demons, evil spirits, and unclean spirits.

    You saw me saying that ‘demons’ are used consistently in the Old Testament with one sense, used with two senses in the New Testament, and that ‘unclean spirits’ and ‘evil spirits’ are used with one sense in the Old Testament, and with two in the new. As a result you should realise that I understand the Bible to occasionally distinguish between certain of these senses, and occasionally identify certain of them as equivalents.

    We can proceed with our discussion now.

    No, not yet. I already know your hemeneutic (‘This English Bible has the words ‘devil’, ‘demon’, and ‘satan’, and I know what those words mean in English’), but until you know mine we can’t proceed. I have already summarized it for you, and given you two handouts which explain it in detail.

    I’ve even been able to explain where evil spirits come from according to the Old Testament, whereas everyone here who believes in evil spirits says that can’t be done.

  324. Jaco
    June 9, 2010 @ 5:40 am

    Fortigurn,

    Yet no one has even bothered to read them. Jaco tells me he still hasn’t read them, and he’s the only one who even expressed interest.

    I’ve read your handouts yesterday afternoon. Although I expected to read an interpretive or hermeneutic apparatus to your conclusions, I only saw conclusions. I also saw you distinguishing between Devil and Satan, as well as demons, evil spirits, and unclean spirits. We can proceed with our discussion now.

    Dave

    It is not a natural reading; it brings a presupposition to the text and appears inconsistent with the context.

    Maybe from your interpretive frame it appears to be so. From ours, your interpretation appears to be so. That’s why we discuss it. Until and unless better reasons are provided, the conclusion of one scholar should be held in the same esteem of that of the other.

    Jaco

  325. Dave Burke
    June 9, 2010 @ 4:57 am

    cherylu:

    Here is an example of someone that believes what I have stated about this verse refering to demons.

    […]

    I don’t see why this understanding is any less legitimate then the understandings of the folks you have mentioned.

    It is not a natural reading; it brings a presupposition to the text and appears inconsistent with the context.

  326. Fortigurn
    June 9, 2010 @ 12:00 am

    You’re welcome Andrew. I’d be interested in your view of my two handouts.

    * https://www.yousendit.com/download/YWhOTXRTOC9RYS92Wmc9PQ

    * https://www.yousendit.com/download/YWhOTXRTOC9OMUN4dnc9PQ

  327. Andrew
    June 8, 2010 @ 11:45 pm

    Thanks Fortigurn, that’s what I was getting at but you summed it up much more clearly

  328. Fortigurn
    June 8, 2010 @ 11:29 pm

    cheryl,

    I don’t understand why you believe demons are other gods?

    Because that is what the Bible calls them. That is the meaning of the word in the Old Testament typically translated ‘devils’ or ‘demons’. That is the only definition of the word which Paul used. Paul actually quotes an Old Testament passage which defines demons as the false gods of the heathen. That was the meaning as far as Paul was concerned, and he was perfectly well aware of the ‘supernatural evil spirit’ meaning, but chose not to use it.

  329. Andrew
    June 8, 2010 @ 8:54 pm

    cherylu,
    I refer to demons as other Gods because I think that was their origin, in the Bible at least. In the Old Testament, the closest we get is ‘devils’ (please correct me if you would not equate the ‘devils in the OT with the demons in the NT). They appear in Leviticus 17:7; Deuteronomy 32:17; 2Chronicles 11:15 and Psalm 106:37. Of the four passages, two use one Hebrew word (“sa`iyr” – ry[ic; ) and two use another Hebrew word (“shed” – dve ). According to Young’s and Webster’s bible concordances, the words can be translated as “idols”- most likely goat-idols, or satyrs. As the Israelites were prone to giving in to the worship of pagan idols in the OT, so the translation is most probably a correct one. What do you think?

  330. cherylu
    June 8, 2010 @ 8:09 pm

    Andrew,

    I don’t understand why you believe demons are other gods? Do you believe in angels? They are supernatural powers are they not but they are not gods, are they?

  331. cherylu
    June 8, 2010 @ 8:07 pm

    Dave,

    Here is an example of someone that believes what I have stated about this verse refering to demons. He is Dr. George O. Woods who is (or was–I’m not sure if he still holds this position or not) the General Secretary of the Assemblies of God. Here is what he said, I. Therefore, the gift of discernment of spirits is to be able to distinguish whether or not a person is acting and speaking by the Spirit of God, by their own human spirit, or under the influence—or possession—of an evil spirit or spirits. Discernment is especially needed in certain areas.

    http://georgeowood.com/SiteFiles/102297/Content/1st%20Corinthians/29%20THE%20GIFT%20OF%20DISCERNING%20OF%20SPIRITS.pdf

    I didn’t read the complete article, but enough to know that he is one of the ones that has the same belief on this that I do.

    I don’t see why this understanding is any less legitimate then the understandings of the folks you have mentioned.

  332. Andrew
    June 8, 2010 @ 8:01 pm

    Marg,
    -To be honest, I would have preferred the simpler method of just making the man well.
    -To be honest, so would I. It would make things a bit easier for us to understand- but compare it it to Luke 5:18-26 when Christ heals the paralytic man. He could have just said “your sins are forgiven” (which he did, in verse 20) but also he made the man physically walk “that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins”. Christ could have simply cured the demon-possessed men but to show God’s power he used a strong visual sign that i think would have had a much stronger impact on those witnessing it.

    I cannot readily explain away your point about mark 1, nor do i wish to. Instead I’d like to direct your attention to some passages written by Luke (a doctor):
    Luke 6:17-19 “a great multitude … came to hear him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch him, for power went out from him and he healed them all.”
    Luke 7:21 “he cured many people of their infirmities, afflictions and evil spirits”
    Luke 9:42 “Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the child, …”
    I’m not in a position to say that demon possession does or does not equate with natural illness (at least all of the time) from the passages cited by you and myself, somebody could argue it either way.

    I think if I read many of these passages by themselves I would believe in literal demons- however, I read them in the context of what I already know about God – that there is no other God apart from Him. I have more to say about this but I’d like to hear your thoughts on what I’ve already written first.
    Love in Christ

  333. Dave Burke
    June 8, 2010 @ 7:16 pm

    Helkez:

    I think it is interesting that according to Dave the supposed “confusion” about the existence of demons is caused by the faulty, misguided personal view of the divinely inspired authors, who gave a bad impression when writing the Bible, while Fortigurn states that these authors actually didn’t believe in demons at all, and that the “confusion” is only caused by the faulty, misguided misinterpretation of the readers who believe demons are for real.

    Yes, we have slightly different views on the subject. Is this a problem for you?

    Notice that in Paul’s epistles (written after the synoptics) he is careful to correct any misapprehension about the identity of “demons.”

  334. Dave Burke
    June 8, 2010 @ 7:14 pm

    cherylu:

    I had been referring to I Cor 12:10 which in the NASB says this: “and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.”

    Notice, “the distinguishing of spirits“. By the way, I checked this verse in 12 different versions and they al use this phrase.

    I agree with the translation. “Distinguishing of spirits” is fine with me. So what does “spirits” mean in this context? You claim it means “demons”; but why? No reason that I can see.

    Trinitarian commentator Albert Barnes said that it means the power to search human hearts and minds:

    “This must refer to some power of searching into the secrets of the heart; of knowing what were a man’s purposes. views, and feelings. It may relate either to the power of determining by what spirit a man spoke who pretended to be inspired, whether he was truly inspired or whether he was an impostor; or it may refer to the power of seeing whether a man was sincere or not in his Christian profession.”

    Trinitarian commentator B. W. Johnson took the same view:

    “The power of reading hearts and determining whether men spoke by the divine spirit, or some other impulse.”

    And that’s just two examples. I could provide more. So why do you conclude that this verse refers to demons?

    So how is it that you say this verse has no reference to demons?

    Because you have given me no reason to believe that demons are the subject.

  335. Helez
    June 8, 2010 @ 4:25 pm

    I think it is interesting that according to Dave the supposed “confusion” about the existence of demons is caused by the faulty, misguided personal view of the divinely inspired authors, who gave a bad impression when writing the Bible, while Fortigurn states that these authors actually didn’t believe in demons at all, and that the “confusion” is only caused by the faulty, misguided misinterpretation of the readers who believe demons are for real.

  336. Marg
    June 8, 2010 @ 3:08 pm

    I think rather than ‘reinforcing’ their belief Jesus was using it to demonstrate a much more important principle- that God gave Christ dominion over all things.

    Good point, Andrew. I like your way of putting it. And yes, the Lord’s actions would undoubtedly show that he had power over demons.

    But that’s just the point. Why would he need to show that he had power over something that doesn’t exist?

    To be honest, I would have preferred the simpler method of just making the man well. Surely when the man appeared “clothed and in his right mind,” Christ’s power would be evident to everybody. But Christ gave the demons permission to enter the pigs.

    That makes no sense at all if demons do not exist, and if believing they DO exist constitutes polytheism.

    This is not the only passage that points to the existence of demons. Mark 1:32-35 has already been quoted. In that passage, we read that people brought to him (a) those who were diseased and (b) those who were possessed with demons. (Note the distinction.)
    And he (a) healed many who were sick with various diseases and (b) cast out many demons. (Again, note the distinction.)

    But he would not allow the demons to speak. (He had the power to control them.)

    Would you agree that anyone reading this passage with no previous assumptions would see in it reason to believe that demons DO exist, and that demon-possession does not simply equate with illness?

  337. cherylu
    June 8, 2010 @ 12:12 pm

    Fortigurn,

    Neither of us is trying to be deliberately rude or disrespectful.”

    I am glad to know that. But then please consider how your words come across to others before you print them. And note, I am not the only one that thought you had been disrepectful in what you have said.

    To have your beliefs, which I said before are not origianl with me at all, summarily dismissed in the way that you and Dave have both done using the most ridiculous of comparisons to do so can not help but come across as disrepectful to say the least.

  338. Fortigurn
    June 8, 2010 @ 12:03 pm

    cheryl,

    I really don’t know why I or anyone else continue to try to dialog with either one of you since you continue to show disrespect and disdain for those that disagree with you.

    Neither of us is trying to be deliberately rude or disrespectful. For my point, I believe we’re being subjected to downright abuse in this thread, with people repeatedly caricaturing what we believe, continuing to misrepresent us even when we correct them, and deriding our beliefs as mere rationalism, even to the point that it is claimed our position leads naturally to a dismissal of all the miracles in the Bible.

    People have complained that I haven’t spelled out my beliefs on this subject in more detail, despite the fact that I’ve written the most detailed post anyone has on their position, and I linked to two handouts which elaborate it in further detail. Yet no one has even bothered to read them. Jaco tells me he still hasn’t read them, and he’s the only one who even expressed interest.

  339. cherylu
    June 8, 2010 @ 11:01 am

    Fortigurn and Dave,

    I really don’t know why I or anyone else continue to try to dialog with either one of you since you continue to show disrespect and disdain for those that disagree with you.

    And very frankly, such behavior does not do much to win people to the rightness of your beliefs. If the representatives of an organization are repeatedly so rude to others as both of you have been and continue to be, I would want nothing to do with that group.

    If I do continue any interaction with either of you, it will be strictly because there is a point that I feels needs to be made. It will certainly not be because I expect to be treated in a respectful manner.

  340. robert
    June 8, 2010 @ 10:24 am

    Mark 1
    32 And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. 33 And all the city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, [3] because they knew him.

    It seems that in the bible it separates true diseases from those induced by demons. By what power do to you claim the right to lump them back together.
    The fact that both existed then and still exist now is the only true explaination for the placebo effect. Seems like demons have a problem dwelling where an effect of the holy spirit like FAITH dwells. What we lack today is those with the abilty to heal diseases with Faith not induced by demons.

  341. cherylu
    June 8, 2010 @ 10:18 am

    I should of said in my last comment that all twelve versions use a similar phrase to “the distinguishing of spirits”.

  342. cherylu
    June 8, 2010 @ 10:16 am

    Dave,

    You said, “It’s even harder when the words “demon”, “demons”, “evil” and “spirits” don’t even appear in the verse. You might as well claim that it’s referring to supernatural giraffes.”

    I had been referring to I Cor 12:10 which in the NASB says this: “and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.”

    Notice, “the distinguishing of spirits“. By the way, I checked this verse in 12 different versions and they al use this phrase.

    So how is it that you say this verse has no reference to demons? True, it doesn’t use the word evil, but it is also true that there was something there to be distinguised between. So are you going to insist that the spirits coudn’t of been evil? Or are you going to insist that these spirits are “supernatural giraffes”?

  343. robert
    June 8, 2010 @ 8:34 am

    “The placebo effect sometimes makes people believe that a genuine medical condition has occurred, or that they have been cured of a medical condition they did not actually suffer from. I don’t think it’s useful in the context of this debate.”

    Dave
    This people were diagnosed with the same disease as the other people in the study. Are you saying studies are frauds.
    You sure didnt think that answer thru.

  344. Dave Burke
    June 8, 2010 @ 8:30 am

    robert:

    All this talk about modern medicine and diseases got me wondering how a CD explains the placebo effect in major studies. I have seen this be 15-20% effective. We all know they are just sugar pills but are the single most effective drug on the market because the patient has so much faith they are getting the breakthrough drug. IS IT FAITH THAT CURED A DISEASE OR FAITH THAT DROVE OUT A DEMON.

    Are you saying that the placebo effect is the result of religious faith? I think you’re missing the point. The placebo effect does not actually cure anything. That’s the whole point.

    The placebo effect sometimes makes people believe that a genuine medical condition has occurred, or that they have been cured of a medical condition they did not actually suffer from. I don’t think it’s useful in the context of this debate.

    There is also miracles that Medicine cant explain.

    Such as?

    While i believe there was Diseases then what makes you sure the bible wasn’t referring to the unexplainable as you see above

    The fact that the Bible explains them.

  345. robert
    June 8, 2010 @ 8:01 am

    Fortigurn and Dave
    All this talk about modern medicine and diseases got me wondering how a CD explains the placebo effect in major studies. I have seen this be 15-20% effective. We all know they are just sugar pills but are the single most effective drug on the market because the patient has so much faith they are getting the breakthrough drug. IS IT FAITH THAT CURED A DISEASE OR FAITH THAT DROVE OUT A DEMON. There is also miracles that Medicine cant explain.
    While i believe there was Diseases then what makes you sure the bible wasn’t referring to the unexplainable as you see above

  346. Jaco
    June 8, 2010 @ 7:49 am

    Hi there,

    If the ailments of the first century can be proved to be of natural causes, then they were of natural causes. If you want to allow room for demons, you’ll have to rephrase this slightly, perhaps ‘If the ailments of the first century appear to be of natural causes’.

    Fortigurn, go ahead, friend. Rearrange my syllogism to accurately reflect your concept. We’ll proceed from there.

    All I’m asking is how you tell the difference. You claim the 1st century believers could tell the difference, so how do you?

    Your guess is as good as mine. Today’s ailments and their possible demon origin is not at issue here. This approach to any of the miracles you accept to have been such could prove the non-existence of miracles altogether. So, I repeat, it is not the issue here. What the Bible writers believed and experienced – that is the issue. And according to them, Satan and the demons were real.

    Ok, so we’re not really going to get far with detecting demon possession today, are we?

    That’s correct. Diagnostics can be very intricate, friend.

    I have identified the fact that since these manifestations can and do look like natural phenomena, the onus is on you to present a robust diagnostic to differentiate between natural causes and demonic causes.

    I don’t need to. I am not claiming the existence of demons based on today’s phenomena. I present as evidence the accounts of Bible writers. They were most definitely correct in their diagnoses (including the physician, Luke). Their diagnoses needn’t be reinterpreted using scientific method, as that might have us end up reinterpreting all biblical miracles and dispel the possibility of divine contribution. So, and this is the point I have made repeatedly: your request for proof is inconsistent. Stick to what Scripture tells us.

    My three issues stand, and dismissing them as irrelevant because “a miracle” happened, is like believing in the God of the gaps.
    Why?

    I believe you know the reasoning behind believing in the God of the gaps. To merely dismiss mystery as “so, it must have been an act of God ” is no solution to the explanation of the mystery. Likewise, to say, “Jesus performed a miracle, so what?” doesn’t change the fact that it really happened, nor does it change the explanation and the details the faithful writers gave regarding those events.

    As I’ve pointed out, you’re assuming your conclusion and dismissing the fact that a miracle took place.

    No, you’re assuming Jesus was merely reenacting the superstitious beliefs of his time and that the demoniac was merely suffering from a mental disorder. The three irrevocable conditions required for such a conclusion are the ones I list. These prove that the mental disorder hypothesis is unsatisfactory.

    In any case, you can hardly claim that this is one of my criteria, since I believe that certain illnesses are entirely transferable, and I have no difficulty believing the Bible when it tells me that Naaman’s skin disease was transferred by God to Gehazi (2 Kings 5:27).

    No, you’re equivocating here. You will have to get an example of a mental illness (confirmed by Scripture) which animals can also get (like the swine in our example, #1 of my irrevocable conditions), which can “leave” or “enter into” a human (#2 of my irrevocable conditions) and can be transferred from one entity to be manifested in another (#3 of my conditions). Unless and until you do that, my conditions stand.

    As I’ve also pointed out, our community differentiates between misbelievers who do not teach others to misbelieve, and misbelievers who teach others to misbelieve. The former are treated with far greater tolerance, the latter are those vulnerable to disfellowship. The New Testament makes the same distinction.

    Tell me, Fortigurn, what will happen if a Christadelphian among you teaches that the demon Jesus exorcised was in fact a holy angel?

    But Jaco, I don’t believe they did diagnose for demon possession. I don’t believe they believed in demon possession. You do believe they believed in demon possession, you believe in demon possession, so the onus is on you to explain how you diagnose demon possession.

    “Diagnose” literally means to divide knowledge, or to differentiate between or among optional explanations. That is exactly what we find the Gospel writers do!

    Mt. 4:24 “And they brought to him all the ones having an illness with various diseases, and being held by torments and ones being demon-possessed, and epileptics, and paralytics; and he cured them.”

    Mt. 8:15, 16 “So he touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she arose and began ministering to him. And, getting late, they brought near to him many being demon-possessed; and he cast out the spirits by a word; and all having an illness he cured.”

    Mr. 1:32, 34 “And after evening had fallen, when the sun had set, the people began bringing him all those who were ill and those demon-possessed. So he cured many that were ill with various sicknesses, and he expelled many demons, but he would not let the demons speak, because they knew him to be Christ.”

    Mr. 3:14, 15 “He appointed the twelve…to proclaim, and to have authority to cure the diseases, and to cast out demons.”

    Mr. 6:12, 13 “And having come forth, they proclaimed that they should repent. Also did they cast out many demons, and they anointed many ill ones with oil, and they were cured”

    Mr. 16:9 “…he appeared first to Mary the Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons.”

    Lu. 4:40 “But when the sun was setting, all those who had people sick with various diseases brought them to him. By laying his hands upon each one of them he would cure them. Demons also would come out of many, crying out and saying: ‘You are the Son of God.’

    Lu. 8:28 – a clear demonstration of multiple centers of consciousness. At the mere sight of Jesus did the demons cry out to him. Jesus has neither spoken nor done anything by which the man by himself could rightfully have identified Jesus as the son of the Highest God. Compelling evidence for the existence of demons.

    Lu. 9:1 “He called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to cure sicknesses”

    As can be seen above, there was a clear distinction or diagnosis between literal disease and demon-possession. Not only that, but even multiplicity of demons could be diagnosed (Man of the Gaderenes and Mary of Magdala). The diagnosis also involved distinguishing the one(s) speaking, namely the possessed or the demons! How could they make such complex diagnoses? Your guess is as good as mine! Our ignorance does not change the reality or the veracity of that reality as presented to us in the Gospels. As I said above,

    Regardless of their diagnostic tools, they differentiated between ailments and demon-possession in the same context, meaning that demon-possession was no alternative term for exactly the same thing, namely, natural disease.

    The conclusion is as I said, that this fits the historical distribution of demonic possession, and witchcraft. Demons don’t possess anyone who doesn’t believe in demons. They’re very considerate like that.
    Societies in which a belief in demon possession does not prevail, find themselves in no need of exorcists. Communities which do not believe in witches, never suffer from maleficium.

    Please check this syllogism, then. If you don’t agree, please correct it with a syllogism reflecting the issue accurately.

    First premise: “Demons don’t possess anyone who doesn’t believe in demons.”

    Second premise: The Pharisees and Herodians were never exorcised, hence never demon-possessed.

    Conclusion: The Pharisees and Herodians did not believe in demons.

    And, as I said to Dave, I’m saying this to you:

    Doesn’t it strike you as odd that 93% of all American scientists are outright atheists, believing in Darwinian evolution and natural selection as the sole “creators” of life? Isn’t it odd that the most developed and educated countries (Western Europe) are also the least religious? These are the very ones who are educated, civilized and well-developed…should I draw a parallel conclusion to yours???

    Just for the record – nor were any Pharisee or Herodian ever healed by Jesus either…
    Correct.

    So, were they never ill? And, just because these weren’t ever said to have been healed of deafness, leprosy or paralysis that deafness, leprosy and paralysis were mere figments of the plebs’ superstitious imagination? If you do not agree with this assessment, a) prove the error in my argumentation (prove it in syllogistic form, please) and then b) show how it is incongruent or inconsistent with your argument regarding Satan and demons, also in syllogistic form. If not, then my assessment stands.

    And just to clarify something, I noticed that in your last comment to Marg you seem to have attributed the statement about demons drowning to Marj and it was Dave that made that statement.

    Cheryl, well spotted! ;-D

    Now you know how I feel when someone presents a passage which says X, and claims without any evidence whatever that it says Y.

    Fortigurn, I encourage you to change your habit in this regard. All of us can react similarly to claims you make which we don’t agree with. We don’t, nor should you. It comes down to respect.

    I’m still waiting for the answer to the following:

    Please answer this question, and I’ll take this further: do you believe in Mohammed, the founder of Islam?

    Fortigurn, I have not read your handouts yet. Will do as soon as I can.

    Jaco

  347. Dave Burke
    June 8, 2010 @ 5:00 am

    cherylu:

    I suppose it would be hard to see demonic spirits in this verse when you don’t believe that they even exist!

    It’s even harder when the words “demon”, “demons”, “evil” and “spirits” don’t even appear in the verse. You might as well claim that it’s referring to supernatural giraffes.

  348. Fortigurn
    June 8, 2010 @ 2:25 am

    cheryl,

    So much for trying to have a serious conversation with you.

    Now you know how I feel when someone presents a passage which says X, and claims without any evidence whatever that it says Y.

  349. cherylu
    June 8, 2010 @ 1:21 am

    Hi Dave,

    Well, this understanding is certainly not original with me. I suppose it would be hard to see demonic spirits in this verse when you don’t believe that they even exist!

  350. Dave Burke
    June 8, 2010 @ 1:07 am

    I don’t see anything about demonic spirits in I Corinthians 12:10.

  351. cherylu
    June 8, 2010 @ 12:51 am

    Fortigurn,

    So much for trying to have a serious conversation with you.

  352. Fortigurn
    June 8, 2010 @ 12:29 am

    cheryl,

    I would like to suggest that at least part of what is meant in I Cor 12:10 when it speaks of the gift of “discerning of spirits” is the ability to know when demonic spirits are at work.

    I’d like to suggest it means being able to tell a good vodka from a poor whiskey.

  353. Fortigurn
    June 8, 2010 @ 12:29 am

    Thanks for the clarification guys.

  354. Dave Burke
    June 8, 2010 @ 12:25 am

    Fortigurn, I was the one who said this, not Marg:

    On the contrary, he showed that “demons” can die by drowning in a lake.

    My use of quotation marks was deliberate; my point is that the “demons” were not supernatural entities. The pigs drowned and took whatever was in their heads, with them.

  355. cherylu
    June 8, 2010 @ 12:04 am

    I’m going to jump back into this conversation for a minute anyway. I would like to suggest that at least part of what is meant in I Cor 12:10 when it speaks of the gift of “discerning of spirits” is the ability to know when demonic spirits are at work.

    Fortigurn,

    And just to clarify something, I noticed that in your last comment to Marg you seem to have attributed the statement about demons drowning to Marj and it was Dave that made that statement.

  356. Fortigurn
    June 7, 2010 @ 11:21 pm

    Marg,

    On the contrary, he showed that “demons” can die by drowning in a lake.

    The text says nothing about demons drowning. It talks about pigs drowning.

  357. Fortigurn
    June 7, 2010 @ 11:20 pm

    Jaco,

    You want to use modern understanding of ailments as a basis for determining whether ailments in the past had the same origins, while only depicted as of demonic origin.

    No I don’t. You can use whatever understanding you want to determine whether ailments in the past had the same origins. All I’m asking is how you tell the difference. You claim the 1st century believers could tell the difference, so how do you?

    Secondly, there is no way in which to determine whether the ailments we read about, having demons as their origin are exactly the ailments we see today.

    Ok, so we’re not really going to get far with detecting demon possession today, are we?

    Thirdly, you assume that manifestations of demon-possession have to be different from any natural phenomena.

    Not at all, and quite to the contrary. I have identified the fact that since these manifestations can and do look like natural phenomena, the onus is on you to present a robust diagnostic to differentiate between natural causes and demonic causes.

    My three issues stand, and dismissing them as irrelevant because “a miracle” happened, is like believing in the God of the gaps.

    Why?

    1. humans only; 2. dissociative identity confined to the human(s) alone; 3. literal confinement in time and space (non-transferrability).

    As I’ve pointed out, you’re assuming your conclusion and dismissing the fact that a miracle took place. You’re assuming that more than humans were involved. You’re assuming that the identity was not confined to the human alone. By ‘literal confinement in time and space’ I’m assuming you’re referring the cause and symptoms of the ailment, and the ailment itself, but unless you believe miracles can’t get around this then I see no problem. In any case, you can hardly claim that this is one of my criteria, since I believe that certain illnesses are entirely transferable, and I have no difficulty believing the Bible when it tells me that Naaman’s skin disease was transferred by God to Gehazi (2 Kings 5:27).

    I’ll have a look at your handouts.

    Thanks, I won’t hold my breath. No one else has.

    No, I think you’re reducing the issue into some level of absurdity.

    No I am not. Dave didn’t disagree with Marg that some misbeliefs don’t warrant disfellowship. He understood Marg to mean, as I did that disfellowship for any misbelief is wrong. He didn’t say ‘Disfellowship for misbelief about the resurrection is right, therefore disfellowship for misbelief about demons is also right’. As I’ve also pointed out, our community differentiates between misbelievers who do not teach others to misbelieve, and misbelievers who teach others to misbelieve. The former are treated with far greater tolerance, the latter are those vulnerable to disfellowship. The New Testament makes the same distinction.

    No. Provide us with the exact diagnostic tools the Bible writers used to diagnose for demon-possession, and I’ll use that very tool to identify cases of demon-possession today…

    But Jaco, I don’t believe they did diagnose for demon possession. I don’t believe they believed in demon possession. You do believe they believed in demon possession, you believe in demon possession, so the onus is on you to explain how you diagnose demon possession.

    Well, this is very interesting, Fortigurn. What are you saying exactly? What is the conclusion you’re drawing from this correlation?

    The conclusion is as I said, that this fits the historical distribution of demonic possession, and witchcraft. Demons don’t possess anyone who doesn’t believe in demons. They’re very considerate like that.

    Societies in which a belief in demon possession does not prevail, find themselves in no need of exorcists. Communities which do not believe in witches, never suffer from maleficium.

    In the 17th century, the brilliant Inquisitor
    Alonso de Salazar y Frías pointed out that ‘There were neither witches nor bewitched until they were talked and written about’, and defused a large scale witch hunt in Logroño by issuing a decree of silence, forbidding witches to be discussed. The result was that events of supernatural evil in the Logroño ceased. Alonso pointed out that areas which had previously not suffered from witches only started experiencing supernatural evil when local clergy started to preach about witches.

    Modern historians are not at all surprised, and praise Alonso’s understanding of human psychology and mass panic.

    Just for the record – nor were any Pharisee or Herodian ever healed by Jesus either…

    Correct.

    Don’t you think the reason behind it could be somewhat different than to say that the “diseased” weren’t really diseased at all?

    Hold it! I am not saying that the diseased were not diseased. On the contrary, I am saying the diseased were diseased. What I am also saying is that that the diseased weren’t demon possessed.

    And yes, there could be an alternative explanation. It would have to encompass all the relevant data, and provide a robust and coherent explanation.

  358. Fortigurn
    June 7, 2010 @ 10:40 pm

    Jaco,

    First premise: If the ailments of the first century (said to be of demonic origin) can be proven to be of natural cause today, those ailments are merely of natural causes and demons don’t exist.

    Strike one. I’ve never advanced such an argument, and nor has Dave. However, you must acknowledge that up to ‘and demons don’t exist, the statement is logically sound. If the ailments of the first century can be proved to be of natural causes, then they were of natural causes. If you want to allow room for demons, you’ll have to rephrase this slightly, perhaps ‘If the ailments of the first century appear to be of natural causes’.

  359. Andrew
    June 7, 2010 @ 7:15 pm

    Marg,
    I think you question is important- was Christ reinforcing ideas that nowadays many people including myself hold to be false? It’s an issue that I had quite a bit of trouble with. I think rather than ‘reinforcing’ their belief Jesus was using it to demonstrate a much more important principle- that God gave Christ dominion over all things. Therefore, rather than debating the very belief in demons (which as we have seen could take days and days without getting anywhere) Christ used miracles to show that he had power over them. In Isaiah 46, God does a very similar thing- he treats false idols as real (“Bel bows down, Nebo stoops low”) to show a more important principle- that his people cannot recieve salvation from them. He could have just said “these idols are false” but i think that would have been less effective than showing his people that compared to Yahweh they are meaningless, real or not.

    Also let’s not forget that in Christ’s day they didn’t have the same science of medicine to explain phenomena such as epilepsy, schizophrenia, etc. How effective would Christ’s teaching have been if he spent three years explaining advanced neurology to the multitudes instead of the Gospel? If he had refuted the idea of demons, what could he have replaced it with? The crowds still needed some explanation of why some people had these illnesses.

    I’m sure this won’t answer your question to satisfaction but i hope it goes part way

  360. Dave Burke
    June 7, 2010 @ 7:04 pm

    Marg:

    Dave – During your debate with Rob you asked him a question that he never did answer. You concluded (I think correctly) that it was because he couldn’t. Instead he brought up other related issues, but did not specifically answer your question.

    That SEEMS to be what you are doing now.

    My specific question is simple: IF belief in the existence of demons constitutes polytheism, then Jesus was, by word and action, reinforcing polytheism. Could the Messiah possibly do such a thing?

    No, I don’t think he was reinforcing it. On the contrary, he showed that “demons” can die by drowning in a lake.

  361. robert
    June 7, 2010 @ 6:31 pm

    Andrew wrote:
    robert
    i appreciate your support of my comment, but i don’t know if the rest of your statement was about me? Or more likely someone else? If it was about me i’m afraid i don’t know what you’re getting at

    Posted 07 Jun 2010 at 1:12 am ¶

    Andrew
    No it wasnt about you

  362. robert
    June 7, 2010 @ 5:29 pm

    Marg
    I dont believe I apologized to you, If you were due one please show me where and i will.
    I said you owed me one which you half hearted gave which i will accept. I posted what i did because of the way they answered Thomas and was to force them to answer with the motive of proving me wrong. I have no doubts if i wouldnt of posted that they would of continued to give nonrespnsive answers.
    Calling me a liar wasnt very christian

  363. Jaco
    June 7, 2010 @ 4:46 pm

    Fortigurn:

    I don’t believe that’s unfair, because people who believe in demonic possession believe that there is clear evidence that it takes place. So let’s investigate that evidence.

    No, you’re confusing matters here. You want to use modern understanding of ailments as a basis for determining whether ailments in the past had the same origins, while only depicted as of demonic origin. This is disingenuous and inconsistent. Modern understanding of many “supernatural” phenomena, and using that as a basis for determining their very cause will have you discard many, many of your fundamental belief-systems.
    Secondly, there is no way in which to determine whether the ailments we read about, having demons as their origin are exactly the ailments we see today. From just the symptoms of the “epileptic” in Mt. 17, a few ailments could be identified to be the cause. So, the assumption would be that exactly those diseases are the ones we find today.
    Thirdly, you assume that manifestations of demon-possession have to be different from any natural phenomena. You do not allow manifestations of demon-possession to include symptoms of pathological phenomena we would otherwise diagnose as of natural cause.
    So, the question is irrelevant.

    In other words, a miracle happened. But we already knew that.

    Lol! Not so easy, Fortigurn. This is a rather abrupt dismissal of the issues. My three issues stand, and dismissing them as irrelevant because “a miracle” happened, is like believing in the God of the gaps. I will repeat them:
    The conditions for down-playing mistaken demon-possession to mere mental diseases are irrevocably refuted here. Those conditions require by definition and necessity 1. humans only; 2. dissociative identity confined to the human(s) alone; 3. literal confinement in time and space (non-transferrability). We see that all three these necessary conditions violated here.

    It’s not just that, it’s the pattern of distribution of these terms which is so significant. I’ve already pointed out that I have a model which explains this perfectly, and which is in complete harmony with the Old Testament, which is virtually useless for anyone trying to prove the existence of supernatural evil beings such as satan and demons. There’s clear evidence in the Old Testament that the Hebrews simply didn’t believe in demon possession like their neighbours.

    I’ll have a look at your handouts.

    Dave wasn’t saying ‘Paul disfellowshipped Hymenaeus and Philetus over the resurrection, so we can disfellowship people for believing in demons’. He was challenging Marg’s view that disfellowship for misbelief is wrong. It’s a common belief among modern Christians that disfellowship for misbelief is wrong.

    No, I think you’re reducing the issue into some level of absurdity. Marg compared the Christadelphian practice to the trinitarian practice over teachings resting solely on interpretation and not prima facie evidence. The resurrection is a fundamental and clear biblical teaching, hence Paul’s justified action. Not so with the trinity, nor with the identity of Satan and the demons. Not only that, but that even among the Christadelphians we find variations on the exact identity of these. Margaret’s point stands.

    It matters for the same diagnostic reasons that we need to know how many lung disorders are caused by asbestos.

    No. Provide us with the exact diagnostic tools the Bible writers used to diagnose for demon-possession, and I’ll use that very tool to identify cases of demon-possession today…
    Dave,

    On the contrary, I’ve been asking Marg to tell me which ailments she attributes to demons. I’m still not clear on that point. Nobody’s given me a list of ailments that demons are known (or believed) to cause in today’s modern world. How can you tell the difference between evil supernatural activity and regular illness? What criteria do you use?

    That is still not at issue here, Dave. See my points to Fortigurn, please. The phenomena in the Gospel accounts are at issue here. As I see it, it is Margaret’s understanding that demon activity can manifest itself in various ways, including ailments that were both known and foreign to the ancient believers. Regardless of their diagnostic tools, they differentiated between ailments and demon-possession in the same context, meaning that demon-possession was no alternative term for exactly the same thing, namely, natural disease.

    I do not conclude that it doesn’t occur just because I haven’t personally witnessed it.

    That is NOT what I’m saying you’re doing

    Jaco, you’re not comparing like with like.

    No, Dave, I am doing exactly that. I’m afraid ignoring the devastating issues I mentioned imply double analytical standards on your part. I’ll reformat your stance in syllogistic form. Please tell me if this is an accurate reflection of your stance. I’ll proceed from that.
    Demon possession:
    First premise: If the ailments of the first century (said to be of demonic origin) can be proven to be of natural cause today, those ailments are merely of natural causes and demons don’t exist.
    Second premise: The identified ailments of the first century (said to be of demonic origin) are proven to be of natural cause today
    Conclusion: Those ailments are merely of natural cause and demons don’t exist.
    (modus ponens)
    It is simple. Just a yes or a no.

    Doesn’t it strike you as odd that “demonic possession” and other forms of alleged evil supernatural activity are most frequently reported in poorly developed nations with a long history of pagan superstition, animism, shamanism and other primitive beliefs. These are places where modern medicine is rarely available, education is poor or even non-existent, and modernism is virtually unknown.

    Dave, friend, doesn’t it strike you as odd that 93% of all American scientists are outright atheists, believing in Darwinian evolution and natural selection as the sole “creators” of life? Isn’t it odd that the most developed and educated countries (Western Europe) are also the least religious? These are the very ones who are educated, civilized and well-developed…should I draw a parallel conclusion to yours???

    “Demons” are false gods (note the LXX use of daimonion) and Scripture tells me I can’t believe in false gods. That’s a pretty clear Biblical principle.

    You’re equivocating here. Your equivocation hinges on your use of “believe.” Please answer this question, and I’ll take this further: do you believe in Mohammed, the founder of Islam?

    As I pointed out, we find the same distribution pattern in the synoptics. We never see a Pharisee or a Herodian possessed by a demon. As far as they were concerned demon possession was something which happened to people significantly lower down on the socio-economic ladder, and typically outside the urban areas.

    Well, this is very interesting, Fortigurn. What are you saying exactly? What is the conclusion you’re drawing from this correlation? Just for the record – nor were any Pharisee or Herodian ever healed by Jesus either…Don’t you think the reason behind it could be somewhat different than to say that the “diseased” weren’t really diseased at all?

    Secondly, you seem to be forgetting that the divinely inspired authors were permitted to describe the world as they saw it. Phenomenalistic language does not preclude divine inspiration.

    Dave, I’m glad you’re the one saying this.

    Fortigurn, I’ll have a look at your handouts.

    In Christ,

    Jaco

  364. Marg
    June 7, 2010 @ 2:36 pm

    Dave – During your debate with Rob you asked him a question that he never did answer. You concluded (I think correctly) that it was because he couldn’t. Instead he brought up other related issues, but did not specifically answer your question.

    That SEEMS to be what you are doing now.

    My specific question is simple: IF belief in the existence of demons constitutes polytheism, then Jesus was, by word and action, reinforcing polytheism. Could the Messiah possibly do such a thing?/strong>

  365. Marg
    June 7, 2010 @ 2:31 pm

    Thank you, Robert, for the apology, and I will give mine in return.

    I am not familiar with the habit of making false statements simply to “push buttons”. False statements (to me) need to be retracted.

    But I accept your explanation, unsatisfactory though it seems, and will refer to it no more.

  366. robert
    June 7, 2010 @ 1:32 pm

    “If you think that Joseph was involved, I don’t know what you think he was doing if it wasn’t sex.”

    Fortigurn
    Using your own line of reasoning here, under your belief what was The Holy spirit doing if it wasnt sex, Beside that fact the holy spirit is of female gender.
    Its very simple God used the sperm of Joseph by placing it within Mary without sex. This accounts for the bloodline of David through the flesh. Mary was of the lineage of Aaron. unless you claim her father was Heli, But then you must also accept she was raped by roman

  367. robert
    June 7, 2010 @ 12:33 pm

    Fortigurn
    I am very aware of your belief because it requires the tree and the fruit to be literal and that ties into this subject as to why.
    But I wont get into another wasted debate over satan and demons but will provide support to those who do and use biblical logic. I am no match for you but i can say with complete belief that Jaco more than a match.

  368. Fortigurn
    June 7, 2010 @ 12:25 pm

    Robert, it’s ok I wasn’t asking you about your disbelief in the virgin birth, but thanks anyway. For what it’s worth I believe God caused the conception of Jesus without sex. If you think that Joseph was involved, I don’t know what you think he was doing if it wasn’t sex.

    I certainly don’t believe that sex was the original sin of Adam and Eve. I recall a fruit being involved.

  369. robert
    June 7, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

    Fortigurn
    My disbelief in the virgin birth isnt because of silence.
    It is because Matthews original gospel didnt mention a birth narrative and I see Lukes as declaring a future King not a literal son.
    Plus the refernce to Joseph as the connection to the lineage of David. I believe God caused the conception of Joseph and Mary without sex because sex was the original sin against the spiritual gift God gave Adam and Eve and was a big slap in the face to God

  370. Fortigurn
    June 7, 2010 @ 12:01 pm

    Robert, I know you haven’t stated any belief here. I’m asking you to do so.

  371. robert
    June 7, 2010 @ 11:57 am

    Fortigurn
    I havent stated any belief here, I just ackowledged that Jaco and Marg made great observations. I have had this discussion with CD’s and it has never went anywhere. But I see Jaco and Marg might just make a dent in it.

  372. Fortigurn
    June 7, 2010 @ 11:52 am

    Robert, an argument silence takes the form ‘There is no evidence for claim X, therefore claim X is wrong’. I did not make such an argument.

    As I have said, I did not say ‘Hey, demons are mentioned here, but they aren’t mentioned over here, so demons don’t exist!’. That would be an argument from silence. The quotation you provided from me asked you to read my entire argument, which was not an argument from silence. I also asked you to tell me where all the demons disappeared to outside the synoptics and Acts.

    Then I said that their sudden and almost complete absence from the rest of the New Testament has to be explained, not that it proves they don’t exist. I provided my explanation, and I have asked for yours.

  373. robert
    June 7, 2010 @ 11:48 am

    Fortigurn wrote:
    “Robert, in post 118 you quoted some of my words, but you didn’t actually add anything to them. Did you mean to say something before hitting ‘post’?”

    No
    was just showing you something you did that you denied ever doing when you made this statement

    “Please read my argument. I have never made an argument from silence.”

  374. robert
    June 7, 2010 @ 11:44 am

    Marg
    If you had read many of the discussions I have been in you would see Button pushing is a major flaw in my discussions which has led to some very heated debates. I have had to apologize several times for this tatic. every once in while it rears its ugly head.

  375. Fortigurn
    June 7, 2010 @ 11:40 am

    Robert, in post 118 you quoted some of my words, but you didn’t actually add anything to them. Did you mean to say something before hitting ‘post’?

  376. robert
    June 7, 2010 @ 11:29 am

    “Marg wrote:
    Robert, you should just admit you made a mistake. An unwillingness to do that damages your credibility.”

    Marg
    I would if it wasnt posted to do what i said,I know my reasons beter than you would.
    Now i believe you owe me an apology.

  377. Marg
    June 7, 2010 @ 11:21 am

    Robert, you should just admit you made a mistake. An unwillingness to do that damages your credibility.

  378. robert
    June 7, 2010 @ 11:03 am

    post 37 Fortigurn wrote:

    It’s right at the start. Then read the rest please. Then you can tell me where all the demons disappeared to outside the synoptics and Acts. You have to admit, their sudden and almost complete absence from the rest of the New Testament has to be explained.

    Posted 05 Jun 2010 at 12:22 am ¶

  379. Fortigurn
    June 7, 2010 @ 10:51 am

    Robert,

    What is your view of the virgin birth since part of your logic argues that silence put doubts in its authenticity

    Please read my argument. I have never made an argument from silence. I have never said ‘Hey, demons are mentioned here, but they aren’t mentioned over here, so demons don’t exist!’. Please read my argument.

    Please also read the two handouts to which I linked. I wrote them both, and I spent time writing them, so I would appreciate you reading them if you want to understand me.

  380. robert
    June 7, 2010 @ 10:49 am

    Fortigurn
    What is your view of the virgin birth since part of your logic argues that silence put doubts in its authenticity. there is significantly more on Satan and demons then there is on the virgin birth.

    Posted 05 Jun 2010 at 8:28 pm ¶

  381. robert
    June 7, 2010 @ 10:47 am

    “What’s illogical about our beliefs? It seems strange that you accuse us of being illogical while Jaco accuses us of reductionism.”

    Jaco was refering to your method while I was adressing the belief.

    Dave
    Just so you understand, I am not attacking you just this belief. I have read other subjects of yours and have developed a respect for you but on this subject you use less than logical explainations

  382. Fortigurn
    June 7, 2010 @ 10:45 am

    Robert,

    There was a question I ask you here that you completely ignored which from reading discussions you have had on this subject seems to be very common action.

    Which question? Bear in mind that no one here wants to answer my questions. I believe I’m the one who is doing the question answering around here.

  383. Dave Burke
    June 7, 2010 @ 9:37 am

    This discussion was always fated to produce diminishing returns, and it’s now reached the stage at which progress is negligible.

    I can’t maintain a dialogue if people aren’t prepared to address certain key issues about the nature and origins of demons, and the use of the word daimonion in Scripture. But even if I could, it seems we’re all too deeply dug into our respective positions. Nobody wants to give ground.

    robert:

    I do not find CD’s beliefs on this subject to be a threat to truth seeking christians because Most can see it isnt backed by logic.

    What’s illogical about our beliefs? It seems strange that you accuse us of being illogical while Jaco accuses us of reductionism. Either we’re too rational, or we’re not rational enough. Which is it?

  384. robert
    June 7, 2010 @ 8:56 am

    Marg wrote:
    “”Robert – it might be a good idea to admit that your prophecy was wrong.”

    Marg
    I didnt post it to be right. I did it to induce a few answers to questions.

  385. robert
    June 7, 2010 @ 8:43 am

    Fortigurn wrote:
    “Marg, I believe you’ll agree that Robert’s position on this subject is insufficiently awesome, whereas mine is full of win. Indeed, if you quantify the amount of win my position contains, you will be amazed. It’s full of win!”

    Fortigurn
    I havent stated a position, ALL I stated was that Jaco And Marg put forth excellent evidence. I have read many of your articles probably more than any on the net. On most subjects you also do an excellent job, but when it comes to this subject your logic fails.
    There was a question I ask you here that you completely ignored which from reading discussions you have had on this subject seems to be very common action.
    I do not find CD’s beliefs on this subject to be a threat to truth seeking christians because Most can see it isnt backed by logic.

  386. Marg
    June 7, 2010 @ 8:40 am

    Robert – it might be a good idea to admit that your prophecy was wrong.

    And PLEASE – hold me accountable for anything I say that should be retracted.

  387. Marg
    June 7, 2010 @ 8:29 am

    Helez – I may be wrong, but I agree with Dave and Fortigurn that some of what you are saying is NOT clearly taught in the Bible.

    I do not need to know where demons come from, or where they get their power, or where to look for them today. Questions like that simply deflect attention away from the scriptures that are absolutely clear.

    That’s just an opinion, of course. If you choose to follow a different path, that is your privilege.

  388. Marg
    June 7, 2010 @ 8:15 am

    I think we all agree that to WORSHIP demons is idolatry – no matter what the word “demons” represents.

    But does the belief that demons EXIST constitute polytheism?

    If it does, then Jesus was reinforcing the polytheism of BOTH the insane man AND the eyewitnesses.

    Is it possible for the Messiah to do such a thing?

    The account is given, not just once, but by three inspired writers. One of them was almost certainly an eye-witness. Were they all polytheists?

    Apparently Jesus was able to tell the difference between patients whose ailments were attributable to demons and those that weren’t. (He is the Messiah, after all.) The fact that I cannot make such a distinction does not affect the force of the biblical evidence.

    That is why the demand for a list of ailments is a red herring. It simply diverts attention away from what the Bible says.

  389. Dave Burke
    June 7, 2010 @ 7:07 am

    Helez:

    Who is playing games here, Dave? In my post I quoted Scriptures that speak of “angels who had not kept their own original state” and “angels who had sinned”. So, Scripture literally speaks of angels who have sinned (i.e. fallen angels), who had not kept their own original state. (2Pe 2:4; Jude 6)

    But you haven’t shown that these were supernatural angels, nor have you shown that they became “evil spirits” or “demons” as a result of “losing their original state. That’s the missing link in your exegesis.

    Demons as such are not created by God. They made themselves to be demons, and Satan the Devil was the first one. He became the ruler of other angelic sons of God who made themselves demons. (Mt 12:24, 26) In Noah’s day disobedient angels materialized, married women, fathered a hybrid generation known as Nephilim, and then dematerialized when the Flood came. (Ge 6:1-4) Though evidently restrained from materializing, demons still have great power and influence over the minds and lives of men, according to Scripture. The purpose of all such demonic activity is to turn people against God and the pure worship of God. Therefore, God strictly forbade demonism in any form. (De 18:10-12)

    I read your proof texts and still can’t see how they support your conclusions. I am also waiting for someone to explain where demons get their supernatural power from.

    False gods do not exist. In reality they are demons, which according to Scripture, are very real. The worshipful adoration that men direct toward their idol-gods actually goes “to demons, and not to God.” (1Co 10:20; Ps 106:36, 37)

    Helez, Scripture equates demons with false gods. It also tells us that false gods don’t exist. Joining the dots on that one, we arrive at the conclusion that demons don’t really exist.

  390. Fortigurn
    June 7, 2010 @ 6:48 am

    Helez, it was a simple question.

  391. Helez
    June 7, 2010 @ 6:42 am

    Fortigurn, I’m afraid not any chapter and verse can convince you.
    Grace be with you.

  392. Fortigurn
    June 7, 2010 @ 6:31 am

    Helez,

    I’m assuming you’ve had some contact with the JWs?

    * ‘They made themselves to be demons, and Satan the Devil was the first one’

    Chapter and verse please.

    * ‘He became the ruler of other angelic sons of God who made themselves demons. (Mt 12:24, 26)’

    Chapter and verse please. Those verses certainly don’t say that.

    * ‘In Noah’s day disobedient angels materialized, married women, fathered a hybrid generation known as Nephilim, and then dematerialized when the Flood came. (Ge 6:1-4)’

    Chapter and verse please. Those verses certainly don’t say that. No mention of angels, no mention of hybridization, no mention of materialization/dematerialization.

    * ‘Though evidently restrained from materializing, demons still have great power and influence over the minds and lives of men, according to Scripture.’

    Chapter and verse please. Especially for the materializing thing.

    * ‘The purpose of all such demonic activity is to turn people against God and the pure worship of God’

    Chapter and verse please.

  393. Helez
    June 7, 2010 @ 6:21 am

    Hi Dave,

    No, I’m unaware of any Scriptures which state that “demons” are fallen angels.

    Who is playing games here, Dave? In my post I quoted Scriptures that speak of “angels who had not kept their own original state” and “angels who had sinned”. So, Scripture literally speaks of angels who have sinned (i.e. fallen angels), who had not kept their own original state. (2Pe 2:4; Jude 6)

    Demons as such are not created by God. They made themselves to be demons, and Satan the Devil was the first one. He became the ruler of other angelic sons of God who made themselves demons. (Mt 12:24, 26) In Noah’s day disobedient angels materialized, married women, fathered a hybrid generation known as Nephilim, and then dematerialized when the Flood came. (Ge 6:1-4) Though evidently restrained from materializing, demons still have great power and influence over the minds and lives of men, according to Scripture. The purpose of all such demonic activity is to turn people against God and the pure worship of God. Therefore, God strictly forbade demonism in any form. (De 18:10-12)

    Paul warned that “some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (1Ti 4:1) Arguably one of their most deceiving tricks is making people believe they do not actually exist.

    “Demons” are false gods […] and Scripture tells me I can’t believe in false gods. That’s a pretty clear Biblical principle.

    False gods do not exist. In reality they are demons, which according to Scripture, are very real. The worshipful adoration that men direct toward their idol-gods actually goes “to demons, and not to God.” (1Co 10:20; Ps 106:36, 37)

    Peace,
    H.

  394. Fortigurn
    June 7, 2010 @ 5:39 am

    Robert,

    Dave just wrote this:

    If I believe something, I’ll openly declare it no matter what the consequences. If I don’t believe something, I’ll proclaim my unbelief from the rooftops. Either way, I’ll be true to myself. If that results in disfellowship, then so be it.

    This is a fact. I have gone on public record as holding views on creation and evolution which would result in me being refused fellowship by a significant number of ecclesias in our community. Others would be more accommodating, but that doesn’t change the fact that if I returned to my home country of Australia, I would be hard pressed to find an ecclesia which viewed my position as compatible with their understanding of our community’s most commonly used statement of faith, not to mention any ‘in house’ policies.

  395. Dave Burke
    June 7, 2010 @ 5:35 am

    robert:

    Marg
    Post 83 was absolutely incredable, but it doesnt matter to a CD because their status would be compromised amongst their peers if they even acknowledged it was possible and could be shunned out of fellowship. the odds are he will just say it doesnt say anything like that as he did with Thomas on other site. they have motives to ignore the truth on this subject

    You are implying that Fortigurn and I refuse to believe in “demons” because we’re afraid of disfellowship. This is false.

    If I believe something, I’ll openly declare it no matter what the consequences. If I don’t believe something, I’ll proclaim my unbelief from the rooftops. Either way, I’ll be true to myself. If that results in disfellowship, then so be it.

    Stop for a moment and ask yourself why I have written my own personal statement of faith instead of simply using the standard Christadelphian statement of faith. Why do you think I’ve done that, robert?

  396. Dave Burke
    June 7, 2010 @ 5:31 am

    Marg:

    Demanding an estimate of how many diseases today are caused by demons is just a red herring.

    Why?

  397. Dave Burke
    June 7, 2010 @ 5:29 am

    Helez:

    Some of the Scriptures saying this are right there in the very post from which you quoted me. I’m sure you are aware of them.

    No, I’m unaware of any Scriptures which state that “demons” are fallen angels.

    You seriously want me to explain where-from angels and demons have powers and abilities that human beings do not have??

    I didn’t ask where angels get their power from. Obviously angels received their power from God. I asked where “demons” get their power from. I have to ask because you believe they use their power for evil purposes. This means that God can’t be the source of their power, because as Jesus explained, “a house divided cannot stand.”

    “Satan” cannot fight against “Satan”, and God cannot fight against God. Thus, “demons” cannot possibly be empowered by God. So where do they get their power? Is it innate? Is it from “Satan”? Is it from some other source?

    Dale addressed that question. Though obviously no one can give you any numbers. It is an irrelevant question though.

    It’s not an irrelevant question, for the reasons I’ve already given Marg. What criteria do you use for determining that an ailment is the result of “demonic activity” rather than some naturalistic cause?

    By the way, I think the claim that the Gospels convey the personal views of the authors instead of the truth of God and the truth of what really happened, when Scripture does not match your beliefs, is discrediting holy Scripture. I think such view places you on a downwardly slope that is very dangerous. I agree with Marg when she says about the NT writers that “they wrote as they were moved to write by the Holy Spirit.” This is also what Scripture itself claims. (2Ti 3:16)

    Firstly, I should emphasise that I believe Scripture came to use via divine inspiration and I believe that the writers of Scripture were divinely inspired. You would know I believe this if you had taken the time to read my personal statement of faith (I posted a link to it at the start of the Bowman debate).

    Secondly, you seem to be forgetting that the divinely inspired authors were permitted to describe the world as they saw it. Phenomenalistic language does not preclude divine inspiration.

    Thirdly, the divinely inspired authors were also permitted to include their own uninspired opinions on certain matters, even if they had not received any specific divine guidance on those matters (e.g. I Corinthians 7:25, “With regard to the question about people who have never married, I have no command from the Lord, but I give my opinion as one shown mercy by the Lord to be trustworthy”).

    This means that, according to Dave, these writers weren’t guided by holy spirit at all, or, they were (mis)guided by holy spirit to write things that are actually untrue.

    Wrong. That’s not what I believe. It’s not even what I said!

  398. Fortigurn
    June 7, 2010 @ 5:16 am

    Dave,

    Doesn’t it strike you as odd that “demonic possession” and other forms of alleged evil supernatural activity are most frequently reported in poorly developed nations with a long history of pagan superstition, animism, shamanism and other primitive beliefs. These are places where modern medicine is rarely available, education is poor or even non-existent, and modernism is virtually unknown.

    But in modern western nations with a highly urbanised populace, demonic activity just doesn’t seem to exist. Why is this?

    As I pointed out, we find the same distribution pattern in the synoptics. We never see a Pharisee or a Herodian possessed by a demon. As far as they were concerned demon possession was something which happened to people significantly lower down on the socio-economic ladder, and typically outside the urban areas.

    The same pattern of distribution is well attested throughout Europe over the next 1,800 years, and is reflected particularly during the witch hunt era.

  399. Dave Burke
    June 7, 2010 @ 5:09 am

    Jaco:

    To say that all mental illnesses today imply demon-possession in every case is also an over-generalisation Margaret doesn’t assume. From what I can gather from her, which is also my understanding, is that demon-possession manifested itself in different pathological conditions/manifestations. She is not affirming the consequent, so, I wouldn’t say it is fair to erect a strawman in this regard.

    If you look at my posts, you’ll find that I haven’t made any such over-generalisations. On the contrary, I’ve been asking Marg to tell me which ailments she attributes to demons. I’m still not clear on that point. Nobody’s given me a list of ailments that demons are known (or believed) to cause in today’s modern world. How can you tell the difference between evil supernatural activity and regular illness? What criteria do you use?

    Dave, something you said, also on the kingdomready blog, could be rather devastating, not only to the demon-possession thing, but also other supernatural phenomena. You asked for modern, scientific and medical proof of demon-possession in the case of physical and mental illnesses. Popular medical reports won’t give you proof of anything supernatural. So, I think your request is rather unfair. Not only unfair, but also self-inflicting. Anyone today, claiming to have seen the glorified Jesus on his way to persecute (bomb…in a modern setting) Christians, hearing voices and being temporarily blinded will be cuffed, put in a straight-jacket and admitted for psychiatric treatment right-away…that is, today.

    Jaco, you’re not comparing like with like.

    I judge every case of alleged supernatural phenomena on its own merits. I do not conclude that it doesn’t occur just because I haven’t personally witnessed it. But I do believe we need to be realistic when it comes to the issue of demons.

    If demons were still floating around today, causing the same physical and mental ailments attributed to them in Jesus’ era (e.g. epilepsy, deafness, inability to speak, personality disorders, etc.) I am pretty sure we’d know about it by now. We wouldn’t have to scratch around for evidence; we’d be spoilt for choice, wouldn’t we?

    Demonic activity would be conclusive evidence of supernaturalism, not least because it should be widespread, clearly distinguishable from regular mental and physical illnesses, and easily measurable. So where is this elusive demonic activity?

    Can you show me a deaf person whose deafness is caused by demons? Can you show me the mute person who can’t talk because a demon’s got his tongue? Can you show me the epileptic who can’t be treated or cured by modern medicine because he needs to be exorcised?

    Doesn’t it strike you as odd that “demonic possession” and other forms of alleged evil supernatural activity are most frequently reported in poorly developed nations with a long history of pagan superstition, animism, shamanism and other primitive beliefs. These are places where modern medicine is rarely available, education is poor or even non-existent, and modernism is virtually unknown.

    But in modern western nations with a highly urbanised populace, demonic activity just doesn’t seem to exist. Why is this?

    The point I am making is that demonic activity should be the easiest supernatural event to prove, since by its very nature it theoretically offers the best possible form of evidence .

    This is a false analogy, Dave. You’re assuming the Christadelphian practice on this topic to be exactly as accurate on a matter and exactly as articulate as Paul’s teaching on resurrection. It is like the Watchtower disfellowshiping a member who refuses to believe in the 144 000 anointed, and as support for their practice, also invoke Paul.

    It’s not a false analogy. “Demons” are false gods (note the LXX use of daimonion) and Scripture tells me I can’t believe in false gods. That’s a pretty clear Biblical principle. It’s not vague or negotiable, and it’s definitely not comparable to the JWs’ belief in the 144,000.

    Their stance is as reinventing and novel as many see the Christadelphian idea of Satan and demons is.

    As Fortigurn has demonstrated in post #26, the Christadelphian understanding of “Satan” and “demons” enjoys a long and consistent history of support spanning more than 1,000 years. If that’s “novel”, I’m a ham sandwich. 😛

    I don’t know how, but you have to prove that that was exactly what Jesus was doing.

    Well, I just think it’s obvious. Jesus didn’t believe in false gods, and neither do I.

  400. Dave Burke
    June 7, 2010 @ 4:38 am

    Marg:

    If it were not for the explicit details given in Mark 5 and Luke 8, I could be persuaded that demons do not exist, and that would suit me fine.

    So when I see in these passages powerful evidence that demons DO exist, it is not because I DESIRE to see such evidence.

    Is that what it comes down to? A few passages in two synoptic Gospels?

    I am familiar with Acts 17:18. We can discuss that passage some day; but what Greek philosophers thought Paul was preaching has no bearing on what two inspired writers recorded.

    We must discuss Acts 17:18 Marg, because it informs our understanding of the word daimonion and the way it is used in Scripture.

    You have suggested that Jesus put the man’s insanities into the swine just to reassure him.

    Was it really necessary to fool him into thinking that demons had been taken out of him? And fool all the on-lookers, as well?

    After the man was healed and “in his right mind,” would he really need such a delusion?

    He wasn’t in his right mind at the time when Jesus cured him. And he wasn’t “fooled”, either. Something left him and went into the pigs. Seems pretty clear to me.

    This is ludicrous, Dave. Dale’s comparison is valid. You are doing what you accused Rob of doing.

    In what way?

  401. Fortigurn
    June 7, 2010 @ 3:22 am

    Marg,

    We are being told that belief in demons is a serious error, serious enough to warrant ex-communication, because

    Actually we differentiate between the respective responsibilities of those who believe X, and those who teach X. There are those in our community who believe X and who remain within the community without being disfellowsihpped, and there are those in our commnity who believe X and who are disfellowhipped for teaching X.

  402. Fortigurn
    June 7, 2010 @ 3:20 am

    Marg,

    Demanding an estimate of how many diseases today are caused by demons is just a red herring. It really would not matter if NO ailments were caused by demons today (although that would be difficult to prove).

    It does matter. It matters for the same diagnostic reasons that we need to know how many lung disorders are caused by asbestos.

    What we are dealing with is the evidence of the NT. And the evidence that demons do not exist is just as devious as the evidence that God is tri-une.

    I don’t think you meant ‘devious’.

  403. Fortigurn
    June 7, 2010 @ 2:59 am

    Marg, I believe you’ll agree that Robert’s position on this subject is insufficiently awesome, whereas mine is full of win. Indeed, if you quantify the amount of win my position contains, you will be amazed. It’s full of win!

  404. Fortigurn
    June 7, 2010 @ 1:13 am

    Ooops, wrong blog!

  405. Andrew
    June 7, 2010 @ 1:12 am

    robert
    i appreciate your support of my comment, but i don’t know if the rest of your statement was about me? Or more likely someone else? If it was about me i’m afraid i don’t know what you’re getting at

  406. Fortigurn
    June 7, 2010 @ 1:07 am

    Can whoever moderates the comments please edit my last post so that the quote tags are correct? Thanks.

  407. Fortigurn
    June 7, 2010 @ 1:05 am

    DT, no harm no foul. We’re good. I understand your questions, they’re all relevant. I apologize if my short answers seem abrupt, but I don’t see the point in writing lengthy replies to questions which are asking me about something I don’t believe. Dave has rightly responded the same way to Bowman. I’ve already been explicit about what I consider satan to be, so I don’t consider myself to have been vague on that point in the least.

    You’re throwing a list of passages at me and asking for individual replies to each one. Unless I explain to you the background of my understanding of the subject, and how I believe the relevant data coheres, you won’t understand how I reach my conclusions on each individual passage. The result will be that my answers appear completely ad hoc, and you won’t understand the reasoning behind them. This is precisely what happens when I discuss God and Christ with Trinitarians. They want to ‘proof text’ their way through the conversation, instead of developing an interpretive matrix.

    Not only that, but they phrase the questions within the context of what they think I believe. I have never said I believe Christ was pretending to be led by the Holy Spirit to be tempted, and I certainly never said that Jesus was praying about a non existent being’s influence over Peter. I find short answers stop this line of unproductive questioning, because they lead to the questioner asking a proper question, just as you have done, which is ‘Ok, if that’s not what you believe then what do you believe?’, which means you’re ready to listen to what I have to say instead of second guessing me. It doesn’t escape my atttention either that while I’m expected to answer all questions aimed at me, my own questions are answered selectively or not at all.

    As with the identity of Christ, it’s important to establish the Second Temple interpretive matrix first in order to identity the likely meanings of key terms such as ‘satan’, ‘devil’, and ‘demons’. Let’s look at part of that matrix. This is from John Gill, the 18th century Baptist expositor. He is useful firstly because he was a highly learned Hebrew and Aramaic exegete, very knowledgeable in the Second Temple Jewish literature, and also because he was utterly ‘orthodox’ on the subject of satan and demons, believing completely in a literal supernatural evil being called ‘satan’, and literal supernatural evil beings called ‘demons’. Let’s see what he has to sayin his note on 2 Corinthians 12:7:

    ‘’…they {a} often say, “Satan, he is the evil imagination”, or corruption of nature…’

    Current Jewish groups confirm this is a historic understanding of ‘satan’ within Judaism:

    ‘Rather, Satan is a force or adversary, according to rabbinic sources, equal to the serpent-tempter of Genesis, and the yetzer ha’ra, the evil inclination that Judaism says exists within all of us alongside our better impulses.’

    ‘Judaism teaches that these images “are different manifestations of the same [force of evil],” Kahn says. “Not that there is a physical person or an angel out there doing things, but that it’s the way in which we hold or characterize the destructive or negative forces that exist in ourselves or in the world.”’

    (Jewish News Weekly, Leslie Katz, ‘Never underestimate the power of evil, say scholars’, January 19, 1996)

    I can of course supply you with evidence of Jewish expositors holding these views:

    * 1344 (d): Levi ben Gershon (1 Samuel 24:1)
    * 1160 (b): David Kimchi (1 Samuel 24:1, Zechariah 3:1)
    * 892-942: Saadia Ben Joseph (Job 1:6)
    * 400s (?): Judah, (Micah 7:5, compare Deuteronomy 15:9 LXX)
    * 330-360: Ben Isaac (Micah 7:5, compare Deuteronomy 15:9 LXX)
    * 230-270: Simeon Ben Lakish (said that satan/the heart/angel of death are all one)
    * 135-160: Joshua Ben Kar’ha (Deuteronomy 15:9)
    * 100s AD: Jonathan Ben Uzziel (Zechariah 3:1)

    I’ll answer this gratis:

    You said, “The passage says nothing about anyone being held back behind the gates of hell.” If the gates of hell are not there to hold back the demons (fallen angels) what are the gates of hell for? Is it to keep us out? Are there that many people falling over themselves trying to get into hell?

    The verse says that the ‘gates of hell’ will not be able to withstand the Kingdom of God. The contrast is between the Kingdom of God advancing, and the gates of hell resisting. The gates of hell are not described as restraining something from getting out or in, they are described as trying to prevent the advancement of the Kingdom. It’s saying that death will not be able to prevail over the Kingdom, and specifically those who will enter it. John Gill:

    Again, the gates of “Hades,” or hell, sometimes seem to design no other than the gates of death, and the grave, and persons going into the state of death; see Job 38:17 Isa 38:10 where the Septuagint use the same phrase as here; and then the sense is, that neither death, nor the grave, shall finally, and totally prevail over the people of God, and members of Christ; but they shall be raised out of such a state, and live gloriously with him for ever.

    It’s not difficult to find standard modern commentaries saying the same. No demons, move on please, nothing to see here.

    Let me also save some time by providing you with two handouts I wrote to help explain my position on satan and demons to other people. They are only 2 pages each, and they are presented in a three column format, so they won’t take long to read.

    * https://www.yousendit.com/download/YWhOTXRTOC9RYS92Wmc9PQ

    * https://www.yousendit.com/download/YWhOTXRTOC9OMUN4dnc9PQ

    Once you’ve read them, I’d be more than willing to discuss them with you further. I’m just wondering about the propriety of doing it here however, especially in this thread. Would you prefer we go elsewhere?

  408. robert
    June 6, 2010 @ 10:45 pm

    Marg
    I was following your line of reasoning and missed your mistake. Any way it was a great common sense catch on your part.
    Ok i will let him answer whether i know or not what his answer will be

  409. Marg
    June 6, 2010 @ 10:36 pm

    Actually, Robert, I made a mistake in that post, and I have to correct it.

    It is NOT an insult to the Messiah to say that he was reinforcing the man’s belief that demons exist. That is exactly what he WAS doing, and it is no insult.

    But if we interpret belief in the existence of demons as polytheism, then he was reinforcing the polytheism of the man and the on-lookers.

    That IS an insult to the Messiah.

    By the way, let’s allow people to answer for themselves, without guessing at what their answers will be.

  410. robert
    June 6, 2010 @ 10:09 pm

    Marg
    Post 83 was absolutely incredable, but it doesnt matter to a CD because their status would be compromised amongst their peers if they even acknowledged it was possible and could be shunned out of fellowship. the odds are he will just say it doesnt say anything like that as he did with Thomas on other site. they have motives to ignore the truth on this subject

  411. Marg
    June 6, 2010 @ 9:57 pm

    Demanding an estimate of how many diseases today are caused by demons is just a red herring. It really would not matter if NO ailments were caused by demons today (although that would be difficult to prove).

    What we are dealing with is the evidence of the NT. And the evidence that demons do not exist is just as devious as the evidence that God is tri-une.

  412. Marg
    June 6, 2010 @ 9:54 pm

    We are being told that belief in demons is a serious error, serious enough to warrant ex-communication, because

    Demons are the false gods of the heathen. Christians are supposed to be monotheists.

    That suggests that to believe demons EXIST constitutes polytheism. Let’s follow this line of reasoning through the story told by Matthew, who was probably an eye-witness (see Matthew 8:28-32).

    The man wrongly believed that he was possessed by many demons, making him guilty of polytheism. But Jesus did not correct the man’s error, fundamental though it was.

    Instead, Jesus transferred a number of ailments (insanities?) from the man to a whole herd of pigs, in order to convince the man that he was no longer possessed by demons, even though he had never been possessed by demons at all, and should never have believed that he was.

    In other words, Jesus was reinforcing the man’s belief (and the belief of the on-lookers) that demons DO exist.

    That, I submit, is an insult to the Messiah.

  413. Andrew
    June 6, 2010 @ 9:09 pm

    concerning why Jesus would not refute the idea of demons if he did not believe in them: it’s important to remember that Christ had only a few years to teach the maximum number of people possible the gospel message of salvation and prove his authority as the son of God through miracles, signs and teachings. If I had only a few years to do the same, I would be very careful to not get bogged-down refuting every popular belief not relevant to my overall plan. From the posts above we can see how time-consuming it would have been for Jesus to debate this issue. Not that it isn’t important, but Christ had more pressing doctrines to teach.

  414. Fortigurn
    June 6, 2010 @ 8:47 pm

    Jeco,

    You asked for modern, scientific and medical proof of demon-possession in the case of physical and mental illnesses. Popular medical reports won’t give you proof of anything supernatural.

    I don’t believe that’s unfair, because people who believe in demonic possession believe that there is clear evidence that it takes place. So let’s investigate that evidence.

    The conditions for down-playing mistaken demon-possession to mere mental diseases are irrevocably refuted here. Those conditions require by definition and necessity 1. humans only; 2. dissociative identity confined to the human(s) alone; 3. literal confinement in time and space (non-transferrability). We see that all three these necessary conditions violated here.

    In other words, a miracle happened. But we already knew that.

    Yes, we can theorise on why many biblical writers do not mention Satan and demons.

    It’s not just that, it’s the pattern of distribution of these terms which is so significant. I’ve already pointed out that I have a model which explains this perfectly, and which is in complete harmony with the Old Testament, which is virtually useless for anyone trying to prove the existence of supernatural evil beings such as satan and demons. There’s clear evidence in the Old Testament that the Hebrews simply didn’t believe in demon possession like their neighbours.

    The Biblical data concerning satan and demons looks pretty easy to explain if we confine ourselves to a handful of verses and don’t use a lexicon to determine key word meanings. But the larger picture, with the word meanings, is a lot more difficult to explain using the orthodox understanding. It’s ironic that the arguments used in this thread to support the doctrine are analogous to the arguments used to support the doctrines of the immortal soul and hell.

    This is a false analogy, Dave. You’re assuming the Christadelphian practice on this topic to be exactly as accurate on a matter and exactly as articulate as Paul’s teaching on resurrection.

    Dave wasn’t saying ‘Paul disfellowshipped Hymenaeus and Philetus over the resurrection, so we can disfellowship people for believing in demons’. He was challenging Marg’s view that disfellowship for misbelief is wrong. It’s a common belief among modern Christians that disfellowship for misbelief is wrong.

    There are even Christadelphians who believe that disfellowship for misbelief or misconduct is wrong, that disfellowship is a ‘clumsy tool’ which should not be used. They typically explain Paul’s use of it by saying that he was just wrong.

  415. robert
    June 6, 2010 @ 2:32 pm

    Jaco
    your post 76 was excellent

  416. Fortigurn
    June 6, 2010 @ 10:19 am

    Helez,

    It most certainly is an irrelevant question in a discussion about whether they exist or not, which was the context in which the question was asked.

    It’s an incredibly relevant question in that context. If they exist, we need to know what they actually do. It’s no good telling me they exist if they’re undetectable and we can’t tell if they’re doing anything at all.

    Also, if I was able to give you an exact number of “how many” ailments are caused by demons today, how would that number help you to decide whether to call an exorcist or go to the doctor?

    It would help me construct a diagnostic matrix. The more ailments for which demons are responsible, the more likely it is that a given ailment is the product of demonic attack.

    When demons do exist, it doesn’t necessarily mean we can discern if, and in what way, and to what extent they might be involved in regard of some metal ailments.

    That’s a bit useless unfortunately. It means we can’t actually tell if we’re ill from natural or supernatural causes. So to all intents and purposes, it’s the same as if they don’t exist.

    This means that, according to Dave, these writers weren’t guided by holy spirit at all, or, they were (mis)guided by holy spirit to write things that are actually untrue. According to Dave, the Gospels here do not reflect the factual truth, or God’s view, but the faulty, misguided personal view of the writers. In regard of that I said:

    Unless you believe that the earth stands still and the sun moves over the face of the earth, I suggest you need to think that one over.

  417. Helez
    June 6, 2010 @ 10:03 am

    Hi Fortgurn, peace to you,

    Helez, I don’t think it’s an irrelevant question to ask how many ailments are caused by demons today. If I’m sick, I really need to know if I should call an exorcist or go to the doctor.

    It most certainly is an irrelevant question in a discussion about whether they exist or not, which was the context in which the question was asked.
    Also, if I was able to give you an exact number of “how many” ailments are caused by demons today, how would that number help you to decide whether to call an exorcist or go to the doctor?
    When demons do exist, it doesn’t necessarily mean we can discern if, and in what way, and to what extent they might be involved in regard of some metal ailments. It also doesn’t mean you should call someone who claims to be an exorcist. In the first century some disciples where gifted with being able to speak in the native tongues of the Jews and proselytes who had come to Jerusalem by mean of the holy spirit, but this doesn’t mean that those today who claim to speak in tongues are doing so under influence of God’s holy spirit. Ergo, that according to Scriptures the apostles were able to expel demons doesn’t mean it can be done today by Pentecostals or Catholic priests.
    The question obviously was a fallacious distraction.

    Nor have I argued that the texts in question simply reflect the views of the writers.
    On the contrary, I have said explicitly that the texts in question reflect the views of the readers.

    Fortigurn, please notice I wasn’t addressing you, I was addressing Dave, and that was exactly what he repeatedly said:

    I’m saying that these accounts represent the views of the authors.

    and:

    What part of “these accounts represent the views of the authors” was unclear?

    This means that, according to Dave, these writers weren’t guided by holy spirit at all, or, they were (mis)guided by holy spirit to write things that are actually untrue. According to Dave, the Gospels here do not reflect the factual truth, or God’s view, but the faulty, misguided personal view of the writers. In regard of that I said:

    I think such view places you [Dave] on a downwardly slope that is very dangerous.

    Thanks,
    H.

  418. Fortigurn
    June 6, 2010 @ 8:22 am

    Helez, I don’t think it’s an irrelevant question to ask how many ailments are caused by demons today. If I’m sick, I really need to know if I should call an exorcist or go to the doctor.

    For one thing, it will save me a lot of time. For another, doctors are covered by my health insurance, whereas exorcists are not. So the question is not exactly moot.

    By the way, I think the claim that the Gospels convey the personal views of the authors instead of the truth of God and the truth of what really happened, when Scripture does not match your beliefs, is discrediting holy Scripture.

    Please think very carefully before you go there. This isn’t about us saying that the personal views of the authors are expressed when Scripture doesn’t match our beliefs. It’s a matter of reconciling all the available evidence. Nor have I argued that the texts in question simply reflect the views of the writers.

    On the contrary, I have said explicitly that the texts in question reflect the views of the readers. I am baffled as to how you could confuse the readers with the writers.

    We agree that holy men of old wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. That doesn’t mean we can ignore the genre of what was written.

  419. Helez
    June 6, 2010 @ 7:44 am

    Dave,

    And where can I find this in Scripture?

    Some of the Scriptures saying this are right there in the very post from which you quoted me. I’m sure you are aware of them.

    You haven’t explained where they get their supernatural power from.

    You seriously want me to explain where-from angels and demons have powers and abilities that human beings do not have??

    I asked how many ailments are caused by demons today. Nobody’s answered that question. Can you?

    Dale addressed that question. Though obviously no one can give you any numbers. It is an irrelevant question though.

    This is extremely insulting

    “Extremely insulting”? I guess it is not uncommon that those who are most offensive and condescending in their approach to others are also the ones most easily offended by others.

    Christadelphians do believe in angels, as you will be aware because you’ve been following the debate and I’ve mentioned angels on a number of occasions. Don’t play games, Helez.

    I’m not playing games with you, but didn’t read all of your exhausting monologues that accurately either. And you “mentioning” angels might just as well be done in a way like Fortigurn says he can, or the way you believe the NT writes did, speak about demons. It might mean something else to you than understood by me, when you “mention” them.

    By the way, I think the claim that the Gospels convey the personal views of the authors instead of the truth of God and the truth of what really happened, when Scripture does not match your beliefs, is discrediting holy Scripture. I think such view places you on a downwardly slope that is very dangerous. I agree with Marg when she says about the NT writers that “they wrote as they were moved to write by the Holy Spirit.” This is also what Scripture itself claims. (2Ti 3:16)

  420. Jaco
    June 6, 2010 @ 7:28 am

    Good day, everybody

    Dr. Tuggy, thank you for your fair appraisal of both sides of the debate. If you’re interested, you could have a look at my critiques on kingdomready.org/blog, under “Another Trinity/Monotheism ‘Debate.'”

    Dave and Fortigurn, obviously you are very passionate about your own beliefs, and quite rightly so. You have many spiritual treasures of biblical truth many Orthodox Christians subceptively (thanks, Carl Rogers) trade for established orthodoxy. That is, in my opinion, enough reason to keep the discussion regarding Satan and the demons also respectful.

    I agree with Margaret. To imply that demon-possession was a mere alternative means of referring to different ailments is in my opinion rather reductionistic. I see no reason why there should be alternation between these terms (illness/demon-possession) in the first place if they refer to only one thing.

    And then, of course, the very problematic event of Jesus’ driving “Legion” into the swine (Mark 5:1-14, Luke 8:26-35). The conditions for down-playing mistaken demon-possession to mere mental diseases are irrevocably refuted here. Those conditions require by definition and necessity 1. humans only; 2. dissociative identity confined to the human(s) alone; 3. literal confinement in time and space (non-transferrability). We see that all three these necessary conditions violated here.

    To say that all mental illnesses today imply demon-possession in every case is also an over-generalisation Margaret doesn’t assume. From what I can gather from her, which is also my understanding, is that demon-possession manifested itself in different pathological conditions/manifestations. She is not affirming the consequent, so, I wouldn’t say it is fair to erect a strawman in this regard.

    Dave, something you said, also on the kingdomready blog, could be rather devastating, not only to the demon-possession thing, but also other supernatural phenomena. You asked for modern, scientific and medical proof of demon-possession in the case of physical and mental illnesses. Popular medical reports won’t give you proof of anything supernatural. So, I think your request is rather unfair. Not only unfair, but also self-inflicting. Anyone today, claiming to have seen the glorified Jesus on his way to persecute (bomb…in a modern setting) Christians, hearing voices and being temporarily blinded will be cuffed, put in a straight-jacket and admitted for psychiatric treatment right-away…that is, today. Another phenomenon, namely, speaking in tongues (xenolalia) also meets with great suspicion in the scientific world today. (In fact, God willing, I’d love to do my Linguistics PhD one day on the modern-day phenomena of xenolalia). So, if you require scientific verification in one supernatural manifestation (demon-possession) would have you be consistent in requiring scientific verification of all other supernatural manifestations. Then you would apply these findings to what we know the NT tells us about those things. But, not only won’t you believe in demons anymore, you would have to conclude that Paul suffered intence pathological incongruity, even schizophrenia, the Corinthian and Jerusalem Churches suffered from mass-induced psychosis etc…no demons, no risen Jesus (according to Paul), no gifts of holy spirit; all mental illnesses explained to be nothing more by modern science. That is rather self-sabotaging.

    There’s also another unwarranted assumption in your request here, and that is that the manifestations we have today are identical to the phenomena in the first century. Maybe, but maybe not.

    I do want to state just for the record, though, that many a scientist have concluded the possibility of supernatural activity in some phenomena involving schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder, combat trauma, ego-state therapy, etc. So, it depends on who you listen to.

    Yes, we can theorise on why many biblical writers do not mention Satan and demons. To dismiss their real existence is, in my opinion, related to dismissing Jesus’ virgin birth merely because Paul never mentions it. What is more, there are apparent contradictions in the Matthew and Luke genealogies. So I can go on and on, arguing from silence, drawing my conclusions. But to do so, stating that these follow by necessity would be way overstating my case.

    Paul excommunicated Hymenaeus and Philetus because they preached that the resurrection had already occurred (II Timothy 2:16-18; cf. I Timothy 1:19-20). Was that “close minded”?

    This is a false analogy, Dave. You’re assuming the Christadelphian practice on this topic to be exactly as accurate on a matter and exactly as articulate as Paul’s teaching on resurrection. It is like the Watchtower disfellowshiping a member who refuses to believe in the 144 000 anointed, and as support for their practice, also invoke Paul. Their stance is as reinventing and novel as many see the Christadelphian idea of Satan and demons is.

    Because when you’re talking to a man who believes he’s possessed by demons, it’s important to reassure him that they’re gone, and to do this in a way that makes best sense to him at the time.

    I don’t know how, but you have to prove that that was exactly what Jesus was doing. Not only to “accommodate” the poor demoniac in front of him, but also all the other cases of demon-possession. And yet, Jesus saw it necessary to correct other misconceptions, including a demon being “deaf and mute (Mr. 9:25),” superstition surrounding the bath of Shiloam (Lu. 13:4, 5) and correction regarding salvation (Mt. 19:21)

    So far as I can see it, demons and demon-possession was real. Manifesting itself in illnesses, but being specified in addition to natural illnesses (Mt. 4:24).

    Jaco

  421. Fortigurn
    June 5, 2010 @ 8:37 pm

    Marg,

    But it gives me the chance to quote a perceptive paragraph from Dale:

    That looks convincing until you realise that Christadelphians accept the Biblical definition of demons and you don’t. It’s easy to see who is taking the Bible at face value with regard to this issue.

  422. Fortigurn
    June 5, 2010 @ 8:36 pm

    Marg,

    But if demons do NOT exist, we have Jesus going to great lengths to make both the man and the on-lookers THINK that they exist.

    No we don’t. They already believed demons existed. Jesus didn’t have to convince them of this.

  423. Marg
    June 5, 2010 @ 8:30 pm

    Also, two previous questions for which I haven’t seen any answers: what essential part do demons play in your theology? What do you lose if demons don’t exist?

    This is easy, so I will answer it again.

    If it were not for the explicit details given in Mark 5 and Luke 8, I could be persuaded that demons do not exist, and that would suit me fine.

    So when I see in these passages powerful evidence that demons DO exist, it is not because I DESIRE to see such evidence.

    I am familiar with Acts 17:18. We can discuss that passage some day; but what Greek philosophers thought Paul was preaching has no bearing on what two inspired writers recorded.

    You have suggested that Jesus put the man’s insanities into the swine just to reassure him.

    Was it really necessary to fool him into thinking that demons had been taken out of him? And fool all the on-lookers, as well?

    After the man was healed and “in his right mind,” would he really need such a delusion?

    This is ludicrous, Dave. Dale’s comparison is valid. You are doing what you accused Rob of doing.

    Just for the record, I believe that the writers of the NT were inspired. They wrote as they were moved to write by the Holy Spirit. What Jesus did was guaranteed to reinforce their belief that demons exist. And what he did convinces me that they were right.

    I’m glad I am not in a community that would excommunicate me for saying that.

  424. robert
    June 5, 2010 @ 8:28 pm

    Fortigurn wrote
    “It’s right at the start. Then read the rest please. Then you can tell me where all the demons disappeared to outside the synoptics and Acts. You have to admit, their sudden and almost complete absence from the rest of the New Testament has to be explained.”

    Fortigurn
    What is your view of the virgin birth since part of your logic argues that silence put doubts in its authenticity. there is significantly more on Satan and demons then there is on the virgin birth.

  425. Dave Burke
    June 5, 2010 @ 6:39 pm

    Marg:

    The authors in Mark 5 and Luke 8 are giving an historical account. Did they make it up? Or did they get it from the disciples who witnessed it?

    What part of “these accounts represent the views of the authors” was unclear?

    The authors give an account which reflects their beliefs. I don’t know if they were eyewitnesses, or simply transcribed the events as described to them by those who were.

    If they got it from the eye-witnesses, then do you think Jesus was play-acting in order to fortify their erroneous views?

    No, I don’t think Jesus was play-acting. He always addressed himself to the person addressing him. In every case this was a human sufferer, not a supernatural being. The synoptic authors give their interpretation of Jesus’ response, which presents their understanding of what had transpired.

    What are you saying?

    I’m saying that these accounts represent the views of the authors.

    On a related note, can you tell me why Jesus is referred to as a demon in the book of Acts? Presumably you’re familiar with the relevant verse.

    Also, two previous questions for which I haven’t seen any answers: what essential part do demons play in your theology? What do you lose if demons don’t exist?

  426. Dave Burke
    June 5, 2010 @ 6:28 pm

    Helez:

    <blockquote.Where do demons come from? They are fallen angels, spirit beings who were disobedient and rebellious to God.

    And where can I find this in Scripture? You haven’t explained where they get their supernatural power from. What is the source?

    I asked how many ailments are caused by demons today. Nobody’s answered that question. Can you?

    (But maybe Christadelphians don’t believe in angels either.)

    This is extremely insulting, particularly since you know it’s not true. Christadelphians do believe in angels, as you will be aware because you’ve been following the debate and I’ve mentioned angels on a number of occasions. Don’t play games, Helez.

  427. Marg
    June 5, 2010 @ 6:26 pm

    At best, I could only accept that these accounts represent the views of the authors.

    The authors in Mark 5 and Luke 8 are giving an historical account. Did they make it up? Or did they get it from the disciples who witnessed it?

    If they got it from the eye-witnesses, then do you think Jesus was play-acting in order to fortify their erroneous views?

    What are you saying?

  428. Dave Burke
    June 5, 2010 @ 6:23 pm

    Marg:

    I do NOT believe that all the ailments described in the synoptic accounts were caused by demons, and have never said so.

    OK, so can you tell me which ailments described in the synoptic accounts were caused by demons, in your view? It doesn’t have to be a long list. Just hit the high points.

    I don’t know anything about demons, Dave, and I don’t want to. But I believe they exist, because these scriptures cannot be explained any other way.

    Well Marg, if we ignore the logical and Scriptural problems presented by a belief in demons, we’re only dealing with half of the evidence and can only arrive at a half-baked conclusion.

    If we grant that demons are not really demons but just natural ailments of some kind, why would Jesus grant their request?

    Because when you’re talking to a man who believes he’s possessed by demons, it’s important to reassure him that they’re gone, and to do this in a way that makes best sense to him at the time.

  429. Dave Burke
    June 5, 2010 @ 6:18 pm

    Marg:

    Believing something strongly does not equate with having a closed mind.

    But I think (and I’m sure you do, too) that Trinitarians who ex-communicate someone who doesn’t agree with them, even when there is good scriptural reason for disagreeing, are closed-minded.

    That is my point. Your belief that demons do not exist is based on good evidence. But there is ALSO good evidence that demons DO exist.

    Well Marg, this all comes down to interpretation, doesn’t it? Trinitarians believe there is good evidence that Jesus is God. We don’t. Hence we refuse to fellowship each other. Are they close minded, or are we?

    Therefore, to ex-communicate someone who disagrees with you implies a closed mind. It would certainly make a person hesitate to disagree with the party line.

    I think it only implies a closed mind if the reason for excommunication does not involve any reference to Scripture. I agree that simply excommunicating someone “because you disagree with me” is not good enough. There must be some Biblical justification for taking this extreme step, otherwise it is arbitrary and insupportable.

    Paul excommunicated Hymenaeus and Philetus because they preached that the resurrection had already occurred (II Timothy 2:16-18; cf. I Timothy 1:19-20). Was that “close minded”?

  430. Dave Burke
    June 5, 2010 @ 6:12 pm

    Dale:

    To tie this into the debate: Dave claimed that Rob wasn’t taking the Bible at face value, foisting his own views on it instead. It seems to me that Christadelphians are vulnerable to that sort of charge here.

    In Week 1 I outlined my exegetical approach, in which I stated that I take Scripture literally unless I have a reason to take it non-literally. “Demons” are a case in point. The huge weight of evidence against their existence (both Scriptural and non-Scriptural) makes it impossible for me to accept that Biblical accounts of demonic activity must be accepted at face value.

    At best, I could only accept that these accounts represent the views of the authors.

  431. Marg
    June 5, 2010 @ 6:07 pm

    Sorry about the lousy formatting. I didn’t intend all that to be in bold type.

    But it gives me the chance to quote a perceptive paragraph from Dale:

    To tie this into the debate: Dave claimed that Rob wasn’t taking the Bible at face value, foisting his own views on it instead. It seems to me that Christadelphians are vulnerable to that sort of charge here.

    Exactly.

  432. Marg
    June 5, 2010 @ 6:03 pm

    I have just been reading the accounts again, as they are written.

    It is no surprise that when the demons asked a favor, it was the man who spoke the words. After all, Jesus told the demons (whatever they represent) to “Come forth, out of the man.” So I assume that they were IN the man, in some sense.

    According to both accounts, when the demons asked to be sent into the pigs, Jesus allowed</strong them. He allowed them to do what they asked.

    If demons exist, the whole account makes sense.

    But if demons do NOT exist, we have Jesus going to great lengths to make both the man and the on-lookers THINK that they exist.

    That makes no sense at all, Fortigurn, and I think you know it.

  433. Helez
    June 5, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

    Of course, Fortigurn, of course…

  434. Fortigurn
    June 5, 2010 @ 1:59 pm

    Helez,

    Yeah, having a conversation with “a madness”…

    As I have said before, no one was having a conversation with ‘a madness’. The Bible of course nowhere defines demons as fallen angels. You don’t have to take my word for it, this is well recognized in the relevant literature.

  435. Helez
    June 5, 2010 @ 1:04 pm

    Forigurn: “I believe the pigs were given whatever madness the man had.”

    Dave: “How many physical and mental illnesses are caused by demons today? On average, I mean?”

    Helez:
    Yeah, having a conversation with “a madness” that, while leaving a man, go into a large herd of domestic animals, that’s something every farmer can affirm to be quite common, right?

    Where do demons come from? They are fallen angels, spirit beings who were disobedient and rebellious to God. (But maybe Christadelphians don’t believe in angels either.)

    “And angels who had not kept their own original state, but had abandoned their own dwelling, he keeps in eternal chains under gloomy darkness, to [the] judgment of [the] great day” (Jude 6, Darby)

    “For if God spared not [the] angels who had sinned, but having cast them down to the deepest pit of gloom has delivered them to chains of darkness [to be] kept for judgment” (2 Peter 2:4, Darby)

  436. Fortigurn
    June 5, 2010 @ 1:02 pm

    cheryl,

    Great, we agree that the man was insane. Now those pigs, were they in their right minds?

    And by the way, it says the demons, not the man, begged Him to go into the swine.

    Check Mark 5:9, where the man identifies himself as one of the demons (‘we are many’). Check verse 10, where ‘he’ begged Jesus not to send ‘them’ out of the region.

    I am also finding myself wondering how a man, insane or not, could repeatedly tear apart the fetters and chains that were used to bind him. Does any kind of mental illness make a man as strong as a super hero?

    Adrenaline can do a lot. Mad people do have a history of requiring significant restraint.

    On the other hand, being possessed by demons could certainly explain something like this.

    Demons are great, because they can explain anything. I could explain nuclear fission with demons. There’s nothing which can’t be explained with demonic activity.

  437. cherylu
    June 5, 2010 @ 12:37 pm

    Hmmm,

    Posted a comment that just disappeared.

    Fortigurn,

    I believe the man was insane.

    And by the way, it says the demons, not the man, begged Him to go into the swine. The demons implored Him, saying, “Send us into the swine so that we may enter them.

    I am also finding myself wondering how a man, insane or not, could repeatedly tear apart the fetters and chains that were used to bind him. Does any kind of mental illness make a man as strong as a super hero? If there is one that can do that, I am not aware of it. Do you know of one? On the other hand, being possessed by demons could certainly explain something like this.

  438. Fortigurn
    June 5, 2010 @ 11:57 am

    Dale, you’re welcome for the treatise. Plenty more where that came from. Let’s look at a few issues:

    * Yes, anti-dualism has lot to do with it, but so has monotheism, not so much a general aversion to belief in miracles, but yes an aversion to superstition; monotheism is the critical factor, since the Old Testament defines demons as the gods of the heathen and the Greek word has the same meaning

    * Determinism and physicalism are irrelevant to this issue as far as I’m concerned, I don’t even consider them when examining this subject

    * Healed or cured demoniacs do count for something, since demoniacs are typically described in other ways, specifically ‘demons cast out’; a coherent explanation must encompass these outliers

    * I haven’t argued that ancient people attributed all disease to demons; we know for a fact that the Hebrews didn’t, though they were almost unique in this regard in terms of the ANE

    * I agree a distinction between ailments and possession is made in the NT; this is critical to my case

    * I agree that if a mental illness can be cured or mitigated by drugs it doesn’t necessarily prove a demon was involved, but it is counter-intuitive to the argument that possession was involved, and is positive evidence that a biological dysfunction was involved

    * I realise that the idea that the synoptics are accommodating their readers is a hard sell, if we only look at the synoptics; in reality we know that accommodation is a recurring Scriptural device, and in the broader context of the New Testament the demons of the synoptics and Acts stand out as absolutely unique, which demands a coherent explanation (this broader context is well explained by my thesis)

    * I agree that demons are kicked out of people is supposed to be an illustration of the advancement of God’s Kingdom, no argument there; however, this is insufficient to explain the complete absence of demons from John (where the advancement of the Kingdom is not exactly muted), and from Paul (where the advancement of the Kingdom is described in a range of different ways)

    * I don’t believe Jesus mistakenly believed in demons; he didn’t enlighten people about a lot of things, and on occasion made it clear that he was going to make it next to impossible for people to understand him

    * I need to see more evidence that Paul thought that the world was under the control of someone other than God, specifically that he held to the dualist view that God took a back seat and watched while an evil demon ran the show pretending to be God

    * I need to see exorcisms and exorcists in Paul to understand why you think there’s evidence for them there

    * Yes, the Old Testament says that demons are the false gods of the heathen and that the false gods of the heathen are not real; but wait, the New Testament repeats this in exactly the place where we would expect to find it if my model is correct, in the literature for mature Christians

    * Yes, we could interpret the Old Testament and New Testament as saying ‘demons exist and guess what they are pretending to be the gods of the heathen’, or we could go with what is actually said (what you’re suggesting is more than a big ask, it’s counter-intuitive to the evidence)

    * I understand that this looks like Christadelphians don’t take the Bible at face value when it comes to demons, but we’re the ones who don’t have to play games with Biblical statements defining demons as the false gods of the heathen; with this definition as our starting point, we’re good to go (on the other hand, anyone believing in demons has to interpret these definitive passages as saying something completely different to what they appear to say at face value)

  439. cherylu
    June 5, 2010 @ 11:55 am

    Fortigurn,

    Obviously insane.

  440. Fortigurn
    June 5, 2010 @ 11:39 am

    cheryl,

    I would never once have thought to interpret the text in Mark about the pigs and demons to mean that the man’s madness, if a mental illness, went into the pigs.

    This is very surprising to me. Leaving aside the question of what caused it, do you believe the man was sane or insane?

  441. Fortigurn
    June 5, 2010 @ 11:38 am

    Marg,

    That could be understood as the ravings of an insane man – except for one thing: Jesus granted their request.

    That is the detail that NOBODY has explained. Was Jesus granting the request of an inanimate disease? Was he granting the request of a madman who wanted his disease to have a home?

    No one is saying that Jesus granted the request of an inanimate disease. He granted the request of the man. Compare the records carefully, and look at who is speaking. We’re told it was the man speaking.

  442. cherylu
    June 5, 2010 @ 11:06 am

    Fortigurn,

    I would never once have thought to interpret the text in Mark about the pigs and demons to mean that the man’s madness, if a mental illness, went into the pigs. That is why I wanted to know what you think happened to the pigs if all of those multiple demons the text says exists but you don’t beilieve in were not the cause of what happened to those pigs. Many demons causing many pigs to run into the sea and drown makes sense to me–specially if you believe in demons. But one man’s mental illness being multiplied x 2000 and destroying a herd of pigs? That is not a scenario that ever once crossed my mind so I did not find it right there in the text. I could see how you might think the man was not really demon possessed but simply healed of a mental illness, but I saw no way that accounted for the pigs.

  443. Marg
    June 5, 2010 @ 9:44 am

    Believing something strongly does not equate with having a closed mind.

    But I think (and I’m sure you do, too) that Trinitarians who ex-communicate someone who doesn’t agree with them, even when there is good scriptural reason for disagreeing, are closed-minded.

    That is my point. Your belief that demons do not exist is based on good evidence. But there is ALSO good evidence that demons DO exist.

    Therefore, to ex-communicate someone who disagrees with you implies a closed mind. It would certainly make a person hesitate to disagree with the party line.

  444. Dale
    June 5, 2010 @ 9:36 am

    Fortigurn,

    Thanks for the treatise on demon-free NT interpretation! 🙂

    This is a big subject. Some thoughts:

    It is clear to me that a lot of disbelief in demons is inspired by anti-dualism/disbelief in souls, and also a general aversion to belief in miracles, and to superstition, such as were popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. This was a big thing among unitarians c. 1730-1820 or thereabouts, esp. with people like Priestley. Here, philosophical commitments are in the driver’s seat. They thought, in short, that the cosmos is a physical, deterministic machine, and though God *used to* intervene in it, nothing that happens in it is the result of a the action of any other non-physical agent. As a philosopher, I know that these commitments can be challenged; like many Christian philosophers, I’d argue against determinism and physicalism (that all that is real, other than God, is physical).

    The use of “healed” or “cured” for demoniacs shows nothing.

    The idea that ancient people attributed all disease to demons is a straw man. The distinction between a mere ailment and a case of possession is there in the NT.

    Did they think all mental illness came from demons? Possibly – not sure about that one.

    If a mental illness can be cured, or reduced, by drugs, does that show no demons to be involved? It’s hard to see why – what’s the argument there? Suppose a demon is causing me to swing my arm wildly. You can cure that by cutting off my arm, no? So *if* demons are real and possess folks, why couldn’t you alter their actions by, e.g. drugging the person? I don’t know.

    Where did they come from? In the NT era, and in much of the world today, this question is considered “academic”. *If* it is a matter of experience (confirmed by religious tradition) that demons exist and do certain things, then there’s no urgent need to answer this question – not that it’s a bad one.

    Fortigurn – the idea that the synoptics spoke of demons as a way to connect with the foolish polytheists – that’s a hard sell! That demons are kicked out of people is supposed to be an illustration of the advance of God’s Kingdom through the ministry of Jesus. This Kingdom motif is less prominent in John and Paul, though not, I think, absent.

    Did Jesus mistakenly believe in demons? Priestley and his crew thought yes. I’m not clear, but it sounded like you were arguing no. Again, a hard sell, in light of the texts. If Jesus *knew* that there are no such things as demons, why not enlighten the poor slobs who believe in them, rather than going through what he knows to be a charade, a pretend eviction?

    About Paul – I believe that’s right that he doesn’t mention exorcisms, but is it not abundantly clear that he believes in demons, the ruling spirits of this age, as well as the god of this world, etc. Were there no exorcisms is Pauline churches? I wouldn’t infer that from his letters.

    Re: the false gods of the pagans being demons – your idea is that the former are imaginary, ergo the latter are? That’s one way to take it. Another, long popular, is that worship of false gods is inspired by demons, who might be the source, e.g. of dreams or visions.

    In sum, I don’t think it is crazy to deny there are demons. Certainly, there are some illnesses that we normally take to be physical, but which in the ancient world were taken to be demon possession. But it’s an uphill battle to claim that the world view of the NT writers doesn’t include demons.

    To tie this into the debate: Dave claimed that Rob wasn’t taking the Bible at face value, foisting his own views on it instead. It seems to me that Christadelphians are vulnerable to that sort of charge here.

  445. Marg
    June 5, 2010 @ 9:26 am

    I do NOT believe that all the ailments described in the synoptic accounts were caused by demons, and have never said so.

    But the problem of the insane man in Mark 5:1-14 and in Luke 8:26-35 is described so explicitly that I DO believe demons were involved.

    The demons requested that they be sent into the pigs. They did not want to be sent to the abyss (whatever that is).

    That could be understood as the ravings of an insane man – except for one thing: Jesus granted their request.

    That is the detail that NOBODY has explained. Was Jesus granting the request of an inanimate disease? Was he granting the request of a madman who wanted his disease to have a home?

    I don’t know anything about demons, Dave, and I don’t want to. But I believe they exist, because these scriptures cannot be explained any other way. If we grant that demons are not really demons but just natural ailments of some kind, why would Jesus grant their request?

  446. Fortigurn
    June 5, 2010 @ 9:07 am

    Dale, for what it’s worth most Christadelphians are content with the New Testament teaching that much is expected only of those to whom much has been given. But it’s difficult to ignore the fact that literally millions of Christians have been given much. In days gone by this was not the case, but these days it’s a very different story.

    Still, those Christians to whom not much has been given, will certainly not be judged in the same way as those who have received much. As a note on what was expected by the 1st century church, would you have considered the Holy Spirit to be essential pre-baptismal teaching? See Acts 19.

  447. Dale
    June 5, 2010 @ 9:00 am

    Dave,

    Let’s not get onto a side-track about eternal security (which I think the NT denies). My point is, the work of God is plain in the lives of many trinitarians – they are currently on track to being saved, if you like. About Justin – no, of course dying for a cause doesn’t earn one salvation. But it’s a pretty impressive mark of loyalty to and love for God. Like, e.g. if in a home-invasion robbery you rushed the invader, getting you killed and saving your wife and kids. It’s *possible* you did all this to get your name in the news, but normally we’ll take this as evidence of your great devotion. About your “either all trinitarians perish or all unitarians do” attitude – frankly, I think this obsession with doctrinal exactitude is a bad leftover from Catholicism (compare: the “Ath” creed’s damnations, or the medieval claim that there’s no salvation outside the Church). It betrays a morally deficient conception of God, in my view. As best we can tell, in the NT, converts accept a very bare-bones set of doctrines (although in some cases in addition to their Jewish beliefs). There’s a parallel argument to one your wielded against Bowman – if the Trinity was a required belief, it’d be clear in the NT. But it isn’t. Similarly, if detailed creed X was required to be believed in its entirety to be saved, one would expect it to be crystal clear in the NT. But it is not…

  448. Fortigurn
    June 5, 2010 @ 5:13 am

    cheryl,

    How about the simple explanation that the Gospels and Acts are books of history that reported on these incidents of possession as they happened? The Gospel of John has a different focus then the synoptics so that may be why he doesn’t speak of these demonic encounters like the other Gospels do.

    That won’t work, because John describes infirmities which in the synoptics are attributed to demons, but John doesn’t attribute them to demons. Not only that, John never has Christ speak about demons or describe people as possessed.

    Besides that, I see all of those places where demons were mentioned in the rest of the New Testament as being very significant. I don’t think they practically disappeared in the rest of the Bible as you said they did. The epistles and Revelation may not talk about demon possession, but they are certainly still spoken of quite often. Possessing people is obviously not the only things that they do.

    How can you say that seven references is ‘quite often’ when we’re talking about the vast majority of the New Testament text? Seven references in 22 books is ‘quite often’?

    In 86% of the New Testament books, there are only 7 references to demons. This means that 14% of the books contain 95% of the New Testament references to demons. All of those five books belong to the same genre, and three of them are recording basically the same narrative. This is data which requires an explanation. I have given mine.

  449. Fortigurn
    June 5, 2010 @ 5:05 am

    cheryl,

    Sorry that some of us just can’t seem to read your mind!

    There was no need to read my mind. I never said the gospels were unreliable. I explained exactly why they were written the way they were. I said exactly what happened to the pigs, they drowned.

    How precisely were we to know that you believed that they were given whatever madness the man had?

    Because as I have pointed out, whatever you or I or anyone thinks was in the man, the text says that it went into the pigs.

    That whatever madness the man had went into the pigs would only be seen as “right there in the text” by someone that already had their mind made up that there are no demons…

    No cheryl, it’s in the text. We are actually told that the man was not in his right mind while ‘possessed’, regardless of what you think the cause of the madness was (note verse 15, he is now described as in his right mind, as also in Luke 8:35). Whatever you, or I, or anyone else thinks was in the man, it went into the pigs.

    If you don’t believe the text says whatever was in the man went into the pigs, then what do you think the text does say?

  450. Dave Burke
    June 5, 2010 @ 3:14 am

    I guess I’m also curious about the origin of demons. Where did they come from? Where do they get their supernatural power? From God? From some other source? It’s all very strange.

  451. Dave Burke
    June 5, 2010 @ 3:12 am

    Marg:

    You are evading the issue, Dave.

    What issue am I evading?

    I do not hold demons responsible for such ailments, and I am deeply suspicious of so-called faith healers who claim that they can expel demons.

    OK, now I’m confused.

    First you told me that you accept the synoptic accounts of demonic activity as literal. In doing so, you explicitly blamed demons for the ailments suffered by the people who were healed (e.g. post #31). Now you tell me that you don’t hold demons responsible for such ailments, which seems to contradict what you told me about your intepretation of the NT record.

    Can you please clear this up? Are demons responsible for these ailments, or not?

    But the question is not how many things are falsely blamed on demons. The question is – do demons EXIST?

    If it weren’t for the explicit details given in Mark 5:12 and Luke 8:31-32, you could convince me that demons do NOT exist. That would suit me fine.

    But those passages are too explicit to explain away.

    You simply cannot blame that episode on mental illness.

    I refer you to Fortigurn’s post (#26). Nobody’s addressed it yet.

    For that reason, I believe that demons DO exist. And I am disturbed by your unwillingness to admit that the scriptural evidence is valid.

    Marg, I am confused by your keen desire to believe in demons. Their existence seems very important to you. May I ask why? What essential part do they play in your theology? What do you lose if demons don’t exist?

    Fortigurn seems to weasel out of it by dismissing the synoptic gospels as unreliable. Is that your defense?

    If it is, I don’t want you for a teacher, either.

    I think you’ve misrepresented Fortigurn’s position. I don’t believe the synoptics are unreliable, and I don’t believe he does either.

    As an aside, I’m perplexed by your insistence that the Christadelphians must be “closed minded” if we don’t believe in demons. Why does that makes us close minded? We don’t believe in the Trinity. Does that make us close minded? We don’t believe in immortal soulism. Does that make us close minded? We don’t believe that Mohammed was a prophet of God. Does that make us close minded?

    Could you perhaps entertain the possiblity that we have rejected a belief in demons not because we are close minded, but because we have studied the issue exhaustively and arrived at conclusions contrary to your own?

  452. cherylu
    June 5, 2010 @ 2:54 am

    Fortigurn,

    Then you can tell me where all the demons disappeared to outside the synoptics and Acts. You have to admit, their sudden and almost complete absence from the rest of the New Testament has to be explained.

    How about the simple explanation that the Gospels and Acts are books of history that reported on these incidents of possession as they happened? The Gospel of John has a different focus then the synoptics so that may be why he doesn’t speak of these demonic encounters like the other Gospels do. John did say that Jesus did many other thngs that he didn’t record. Were these instances some of them?

    Besides that, I see all of those places where demons were mentioned in the rest of the New Testament as being very significant. I don’t think they practically disappeared in the rest of the Bible as you said they did. The epistles and Revelation may not talk about demon possession, but they are certainly still spoken of quite often. Possessing people is obviously not the only things that they do.

  453. cherylu
    June 5, 2010 @ 2:37 am

    Fortigurn,

    Sorry that some of us just can’t seem to read your mind! You may think you were l00 % clear on what happened to the pigs, but we certainly didn’t think you were. You had never even mentioned the word pigs until asked repeatedly about it by several of us and then you mentioned only that they drowned. How precisely were we to know that you believed that they were given whatever madness the man had? And it is not “right there in the text”. The text says the demons went into the pigs which is why the question was asked, if there is no such thing as demons, what happened to the pigs or was this a story that never happened at all? That whatever madness the man had went into the pigs would only be seen as “right there in the text” by someone that already had their mind made up that there are no demons so there had to be some other explanation.

  454. Fortigurn
    June 5, 2010 @ 2:04 am

    cheryl, just so we’re clear, I believe the pigs were given whatever madness the man had. Let me know how many times you would like me to copy/paste this.

  455. Fortigurn
    June 5, 2010 @ 2:04 am

    cheryl,

    The man was “healed” in your belief and it had nothing to do with demons, right?

    Correct. I have already said this. I will keep on saying this as often as is necessary.

    So what about the part of the story that says 2000 pigs or so ran into the sea and drowned? Are you saying this didn’t actually happen–it is just evangelical support material?

    I am not saying it didn’t actually happen. I am saying it did happen. I have already said this. I will keep on saying this as often as is necessary.

    And if it did happen and there were no demons involved, what on earth happened to all of those pigs? I have never heard of another healing that caused 2000 pigs to run into the sea and drown!

    The pigs weren’t healed cheryl. Jesus wasn’t healing the pigs. The pigs were given whatever madness the man had. It’s right there in the text.

    The question here is this: “How on earth do you account for the story of the pigs?”

    The pigs were given whatever madness the man had.

  456. cherylu
    June 5, 2010 @ 12:34 am

    Sorry about my messed up html tags above. I so wish we could edit here.

    Fortigurn,

    I didn’t see your last post. It came while I was posting mine. My question is, “Why did the pigs run into the sea and drown if there were no demons that went into them to cause them to do so?” No normal healing causes such a reaction!

  457. cherylu
    June 5, 2010 @ 12:31 am

    Fortigurn,

    That still doesn’t answer my question. The man was “healed” in your belief and it had nothing to do with demons, right? So what about the part of the story that says 2000 pigs or so ran into the sea and drowned? Are you saying this didn’t actually happen–it is just evangelical support material? If that is the case I would have to agree with however it was that asked you above if you believed the synoptics to be unreliable. And if>/b> it did happen and there were no demons involved, what on earth happened to all of those pigs? I have never heard of another healing that caused 2000 pigs to run into the sea and drown!

    The question here is this: “How on earth do you account for the story of the pigs?”

  458. Fortigurn
    June 5, 2010 @ 12:23 am

    cheryl,

    what happened to the 2000 pigs that the demons entered?

    Sorry, I didn’t think you were serious. They drowned. It’s right there in the Bible.

  459. Fortigurn
    June 5, 2010 @ 12:22 am

    cheryl,

    Read this part of my post:

    There’s a reason why demons are found in the synoptics, they’re evangelical support materials for Christians preaching to non-Christians. They present the world through a non-Christian paradigm. Here in Taiwan, when a student of mine says they saw a ghost, I don’t refer to ‘The optical illusion, hallucination, or delusion my student experienced’, I refer to ‘The ghost my student saw’. In this culture, if I used the latter description it wouldn’t be representing my student accurately, it would be representing my re-interpretation of their words. Similarly, in Africa I would refer to ‘The demon possessed person’ my friend told me about, not ‘The person clearly suffering from epilepsy, or who just needs to reduce their caffeine intake’.

    It’s right at the start. Then read the rest please. Then you can tell me where all the demons disappeared to outside the synoptics and Acts. You have to admit, their sudden and almost complete absence from the rest of the New Testament has to be explained.

  460. cherylu
    June 4, 2010 @ 11:21 pm

    Fortugurn,

    Do the comments show up numbered for you? They don’t for me. It seems like an easier way, IMO, to refer to a comment would probably be by the author, date, and time.

    I am assuming you are referring to your long comment on the subject of demons? I don’t see a specific reference to Mark 5 in there at all. And I certainly don’t see any answer to “what happened to the 2000 pigs that the demons entered?” If you do not believe that demons existed and actually entered the pigs, what made them run to the sea and drown when the man was “healed”?

  461. Fortigurn
    June 4, 2010 @ 10:48 pm

    Marg, I am not ignoring the narrative of Mark 5. I have explained to you why it’s written that way. I did not say that the synoptics are unreliable. In contrast, you are ignoring most of the New Testament.

    cheryl, I have already addressed Mark 5. See post 26.

  462. cherylu
    June 4, 2010 @ 10:38 pm

    Fortigurn,

    You wrote, cheryl, I think Dale probably does believe in demons.

    I meant that question for you, not Dale. I’m sorry about that error. Have been trying to do too many things in too little time today I think.

    By the way, I don’t think you have answered the question yet. Or if you have, I missed it.

  463. Marg
    June 4, 2010 @ 10:09 pm

    It seems strange to me that “demons” are being held responsible for ailments which modern medicine can successfully treat and even cure by non-supernatural means.

    You are evading the issue, Dave. I do not hold demons responsible for such ailments, and I am deeply suspicious of so-called faith healers who claim that they can expel demons.

    But the question is not how many things are falsely blamed on demons. The question is – do demons EXIST?

    If it weren’t for the explicit details given in Mark 5:12 and Luke 8:31-32, you could convince me that demons do NOT exist. That would suit me fine.

    But those passages are too explicit to explain away. You simply cannot blame that episode on mental illness.

    For that reason, I believe that demons DO exist. And I am disturbed by your unwillingness to admit that the scriptural evidence is valid.

    Fortigurn seems to weasel out of it by dismissing the synoptic gospels as unreliable. Is that your defense?

    If it is, I don’t want you for a teacher, either.

  464. Dave Burke
    June 4, 2010 @ 8:31 pm

    Marg, how many physical and mental illnesses are caused by demons today? On average, I mean?

    It seems strange to me that “demons” are being held responsible for ailments which modern medicine can successfully treat and even cure by non-supernatural means.

  465. Marg
    June 4, 2010 @ 8:07 pm

    Fortigurn, you are completely ignoring the narrative in Mark 5 (repeated in Luke 8). That seems not quite kosher.

    In both accounts demons (probably through the mouth of the insane man) ask Jesus to send them into a herd of swine, instead of sending them out of the country (Mark5:12) or into the abyss (Luke 8:31-32).

    Thus far, you could justifiably blame the voices on the man’s illness.

    But then Jesus granted their request.

    From this point on, mental illness just won’t cut it. The insane man was healed, all right; but the healing involved a removal of demons from the man and into the swine. Both narratives are clear.

    And if you are suggesting that the synoptic gospels are faulty and only John’s gospel is reliable, I’m glad you are not my teacher.

  466. Dave Burke
    June 4, 2010 @ 7:39 pm

    Dale:

    That someone is born again / from above (John 3) How do we detect this? I take it, by experience. We observe in other people: the fruit and/or gifts of the spirit, a life of discipleship, the experiences Paul talks of in Romans 8, and obviously, profession of belief in Jesus as Messiah. All these are found in countless trinitarians.

    This is correct as far as it describes the experience and consequence of being born again. But I don’t know any passage of Scripture which equates being born again with being saved. Even Paul made no such claim for himself.

    insistence on doctrinal exactitude is a feature we share with mainstream Protestantism

    I’m not sure what you mean – exact profession to be a member of the Christadelphians, or to be saved, or both?

    Both. Just look at cherylu’s post, for example. She thinks I can’t be saved without a belief in the Trinity. That’s fine with me. If the Trinity is true, cherylu is most likely correct.

  467. Fortigurn
    June 4, 2010 @ 7:30 pm

    cheryl, I think Dale probably does believe in demons. In response to me, he wrote:

    This is a puzzling assertion, in that the gospels, in their portrayal of Jesus’ exorcisms, seem to assume the existence of demons.

  468. Dave Burke
    June 4, 2010 @ 7:29 pm

    cherylu:

    That knife cuts both ways, Dave. Trinitariains wouldn’t always “give much for the chances” of someone that believes the Unitarian concept of God either. There were several comments to the effect made during the course of this debate.

    Of course it cuts both ways. I know that most Trinitarians think I’m a doomed heretic, destined for hellfire. I’ve had plenty of them tell me exactly that, and some have been quite enthusiastic about it.

    But I don’t have a problem with this. I think it’s perfectly reasonable for them to conclude that I can’t be saved if my view of an essential doctrine is wrong.

    Fortunately for you, if my view is correct, you won’t be facing hellfire at all. You’ll simply remain dead, unconscious, and blissfully unaware of the fact that you were never saved.

  469. cherylu
    June 4, 2010 @ 7:28 pm

    Dale,
    If you don’t believe demons are real, how do you explain the narrative in Mark 5 where the demon’s went into the herd of about 2000 pigs and were drowned? The same story is also told in Matthew and Luke.

  470. Fortigurn
    June 4, 2010 @ 6:54 pm

    Dale,

    This is a puzzling assertion, in that the gospels, in their portrayal of Jesus’ exorcisms, seem to assume the existence of demons.

    The operative word here is ‘seem’. There’s a reason why demons are found in the synoptics, they’re evangelical support materials for Christians preaching to non-Christians. They present the world through a non-Christian paradigm. Here in Taiwan, when a student of mine says they saw a ghost, I don’t refer to ‘The optical illusion, hallucination, or delusion my student experienced’, I refer to ‘The ghost my student saw’. In this culture, if I used the latter description it wouldn’t be representing my student accurately, it would be representing my re-interpretation of their words. Similarly, in Africa I would refer to ‘The demon possessed person’ my friend told me about, not ‘The person clearly suffering from epilepsy, or who just needs to reduce their caffeine intake’.

    However, even in the synoptics there are suggestions that all is not what it appears to be. Matthew 4:24 speaks of demon possessed people as being ‘healed’, not ‘exorcised’. Matthew 8:17 speaks of casting out demons and healing those who are sick as a fulfillment of the Messianic vocation to ‘take our infirmities and bear our sicknesses’.

    Similarly in Luke 7:21, ‘Jesus cured many people of diseases, sicknesses, and evil spirits’, Luke 8:2, ‘some women who had been healed of evil spirits and disabilities’, Acts 19:12, ‘their diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them’.

    As the entry in ISBE (1915), by Matthews puts it:

    ‘Another unique feature of New Testament demonology should be emphasized.

    While this group of disorders is attributed to demons, the victims are treated as sick folk and are healed.’

    He also observes:

    ‘Certain passages seem to indicate that the demons were able to speak (see Mr 1:24,26,34; Lu 4:41, etc.), but comparing these statements with others (compare Mr 1:23; Lu 8:28) it is seen that no distinction is drawn between the cries of the tormented in the paroxysms of their complaint and the cries attributed to the demons themselves.’

    But there’s more. The demon possession pattern in the synoptics is geographically identifiable, and reflects consistent historical data. In the synoptics we find demon possession common in the rural areas, common in low socio-economic areas, common in areas of multi-ethnic tension, yet gradually less and less common the closer we move to areas of urban density, to the point that demon possession within the most developed cities becomes virtually non-existent, even though people may refer to them. This speaks to the historical accuracy of the gospels, since this is an observably repeated distribution pattern of belief in demons across cultures and throughout recorded history.

    Meanwhile, in John’s gospel, the gospel for mature Christian believers, what do we find? Demons only appear 8 times, but the references are always made by non-Christians, never by Christ or John. In fact John never refers to anyone as being possessed. On the contrary, in John’s gospel we find:

    * No one being possessed by a demon
    * No one having a demon cast out of them
    * No action or speech attributed to a demon
    * No one conversing with a demon

    Instead we find people’s illnesses described in purely medical terms, even when these ailments are described in terms of demon possession in the synoptics:

    * The blind (John 5:3)
    * The lame (John 5:3)
    * The withered (John 5:3)
    * Sick (John 4:47; 11:1-4, 6)
    * Impotent (John 5:3-4, 7)
    * Suffering from ‘infirmity’ (John 5:4)
    * Suffering from ‘disease’ (John 5:4; 6:2)

    Outside the synoptics and Acts, demons virtually disappear completely. We find:

    A clear identification of demons as the gods of the heathen (no mention of them being ‘evil spirits’, ‘fallen angels’, or supernatural evil beings which are not gods)

    * Illnesses and physical afflictions being referred to simply in medical terms (no mention of illness or physical affliction being attributed to demons)

    * Healings being spoken of simply as the restoration of physical function (no mention of any healings requiring demons being ‘cast out’ of people)

    Three passages identify demons as false gods, the object of heathen worship (1 Corinthians 10:20-21, Revelation 9:20) . A fourth is a warning against false doctrines (‘seducing spirits’, see 1 John 4:1-3 for another passage in which doctrines are referred to as ‘spirits’), including teachings concerning demons (1 Timothy 4:1), and a fifth speaks of people who are led astray by these teachings (Revelation 16:14).

    A sixth is an affirmation that there is only one God, and an ironic reference to demons trembling in the same manner as the Old Testament speaks of idols trembling (James 2:19) .

    The seventh is a reference to the desolation of the harlot city ‘Babylon’ in Revelation, characterized as full of false worship (demons and unclean spirits, see a parallel passage in Zechariah 13:2, where an unclean spirit filling the land is a symbol of false worship), and punished because of this by being made waste and devoid of human habitation (Revelation 18:2).

    And that’s it for demons outside the synoptics and Acts. Only seven references in the vast majority of New Testament text. There is no ‘gift of exorcism’, and the office of exorcist doesn’t exist.

    The understanding of ‘demon possession’ as mental illness or similar infirmity has a surprisingly long tradition in Christianity.

    4th century: Nemesius
    7th century: The Lombard code
    8th century: A capitulary by Charlemagne
    9th century: Agobard
    10th century: Regino
    1563-77: Johannes Weyer
    1589: Pierre Pigray
    1592: Cornelius Loos
    1598: Michael Marescot
    1599: Samuel Harsnett
    1603: Edward Jordan
    1613: Tobias Tandler
    1642: Joseph Mede
    1651: Thomas Hobbes
    1712: Anonymous English physician
    1727: Sir Isaac Newton
    1737: Arthur Sykes
    1755: Richard Meade
    1755: Nathaniel Lardner
    1794: William Ashdowne
    1799: ‘AN’
    1804: John Simpson
    1819: ‘Philalethes’
    1836: Amos Alcott
    1842: John Epps
    1842: William Balfour

  471. Dale
    June 4, 2010 @ 11:43 am

    What do you mean by “saved”? How can any of us know that someone is saved?

    That someone is born again / from above (John 3) How do we detect this? I take it, by experience. We observe in other people: the fruit and/or gifts of the spirit, a life of discipleship, the experiences Paul talks of in Romans 8, and obviously, profession of belief in Jesus as Messiah. All these are found in countless trinitarians.

    insistence on doctrinal exactitude is a feature we share with mainstream Protestantism

    I’m not sure what you mean – exact profession to be a member of the Christadelphians, or to be saved, or both?

  472. cherylu
    June 4, 2010 @ 11:19 am

    Dave,

    What will happen to him at the Judgement? I don’t know. But if God applies the rule of faith as strictly as the apostle Paul did, I don’t give much for Justin’s chances.

    That knife cuts both ways, Dave. Trinitariains wouldn’t always “give much for the chances” of someone that believes the Unitarian concept of God either. There were several comments to the effect made during the course of this debate.

  473. Dave Burke
    June 4, 2010 @ 10:51 am

    Dale:

    Sure, an imaginary Christ can’t do anything at all. But the real Christ, though being somewhat misunderstood, can and does save. How can you not be acquainted with saved people who are trinitarians?

    What do you mean by “saved”? How can any of us know that someone is saved?

    Are Christadelphians that isolated?

    Isolated from whom? Our insistence on doctrinal exactitude is a feature we share with mainstream Protestantism, which places us firmly within the big league. It’s not “isolation” when the majority of Protestant Christians agree with you.

    Consider this, Dave. Justin Martyr “believed in a false Christ”, in your view. Yet he heroically went to his death for his refusal to worship idols. Moreover, he was a unitarian (though not a humanitarian), and believed Jesus to be the Messiah and Son of God. Do you really think he was never saved, just because he held to logos speculations?

    I suspect it would have been more than just “logos speculations” that cost him his salvation. In any case, simply being a faithful martyr doesn’t win you salvation, does it? How many hundreds of thousands of devout religious people have died for their beliefs over the centuries? Will they all be saved? Even the non-Christians?

    OK, hand on heart and cards on the table: I believe that God, being merciful, can and does allow for some measure of doctrinal leeway. To what extent? I don’t know (do you? Does anyone? Does Scripture tell us?) But since my personal eternity is at stake, I prefer to err on the side of caution.

    Justin Martyr knew of Christians who rejected the pre-existence of Christ, but still considered them fellow Christians. I have no doubt that he himself was also a faithful Christian in his own right. Did he believe the same as I do? On some points I consider essential – yes. On other points I consider essential – no.

    What will happen to him at the Judgement? I don’t know. But if God applies the rule of faith as strictly as the apostle Paul did, I don’t give much for Justin’s chances.

  474. Marg
    June 4, 2010 @ 8:52 am

    Demons are the false gods of the heathen. Christians are supposed to be monotheists. The Bible says consistently that demons do not exist.

    Mark 5:12 tells of demons asking Jesus to send them into a herd of pigs instead of sending them out of the country. So the Bible certainly does NOT say consistently that demons do not exist. A person who believes that they DO exist has scriptural evidence to support his belief.

    So – if believing in the existence of demons is cause for excommunication, then there is very little room for an open mind in the Christadelphian community.

  475. Dale
    June 4, 2010 @ 8:44 am

    Fortigurn,

    Re: the idea that the logos/Son “possessed” the man Jesus – you need to read more classical incarnation theory. Never mind if Rob Bowman didn’t present it. The most popular idea, is that you