With the publication date of Things that Go Bump in the Church only eight days away, the marketing machine is in full swing. I’m not as well-connected as the other authors, Mike Abendroth, and Byron Yawn, but int he tradition of the little drummer boy, I have this blog’s Monday slot to give…
The book deals with intimidating and misunderstood doctrines, poking some fun at the Amityville Horror genre. Here is an excerpt from my chapter on demons, called “Spiritual Swashbuckling.”
It was a dark night. Raining. I awoke to frantic knocking on my cabin door. Youth camps often come with various genres of drama, from relationship angst to teary confession sessions. As a camp counselor I had encountered my diverse array of spiritual emergencies on my watch, ranging from the need to rebuke a bevy of mean girls, to confiscating contraband magazines from the guys’ dorm. But the look in this kid’s eyes was one of genuine terror. Something was wrong. I grabbed my Bible and charged through the pouring rain in pursuit of the young man who had been sent to summon me. When I got to the dorm room, all twelve teenage boys were standing outside, shivering wet.
They sheepishly confessed that they had been experimenting with an occult game, glassy-glassy. This is where people supposedly channel spirits, which move a glass over a lettered board to eerily spell out instructions from the netherworld. The boys breathlessly recounted what they had witnessed. Shortly after they had turned out the lights and sealed the door, they heard an intense crying sound in the room like a baby had been pinched. This was followed by hissing noises and more high-pitched cries. The stunned boys all looked thoroughly traumatized. This was no prank being played on the camp counselor. I wanted to ask which one of them was disturbed enough to bring Satanic paraphernalia to a Christian camp, and why none of the others were man enough to put a stop to it. Instead, I clutched my Bible, boldly kicked open the door, and flipped on the light switch.
After a halting flicker, the room was flooded with a fluorescent blaze, and I immediately saw the creature. It was as hideous as any I had seen before. Wild eyes glaring at me, sharp fangs bared, curved claws gripping a shredded down pillow, it was perched as if spring-loaded to pounce at my jugular. This was the most terrified cat I had ever encountered.
The poor animal’s back leg had been clipped between the metal bed frame and the wall, probably when one of the camp’s dumbest dozen shifted the cot during their would-be foray into the spirit realm. I moved the bed with my foot and the beast made a limping beeline for the door. The boys’ fear had turned to throbbing embarrassment. Without a word I trudged back to my cabin, rolling my eyes in disdain, and shaking uncontrollably from the adrenalin and cold.
As I lay on my hard mattress with the lights on, I kept wondering why my first reaction had been to expect that the encounter would be with a demon. I had honestly thought that a Satanic specter was a legitimate explanation for the fear that gripped those young men. What sane person hears, “There’s a noise in my dorm room,” and concludes, “This could a demon”? It bugged me that I had reacted so superstitiously. But I realized that what had sparked my fear was the unknown. I knew almost nothing about glassy-glassy, the occult, or the demonic realm. I knew that the Bible considered demons to be real. And I had heard stories of demonic manifestations from people who had heard it from people, who probably read it on the Internet. But I was clueless as to what the Bible said about demons. This is a symptom of a broader problem: that of appointing new converts as youth leaders.
I decided that I would ferret out every verse in the Bible on spiritual warfare and demonic activity. If the spirit dimension was real and demons were still at large today, I wanted to be well informed of their operations. And if all the demons mentioned in the Bible were now in some sort of hibernation, I wanted to be biblically certain of that.
My feline foundling had provided me with a vivid metaphor: flipping a light switch was all it took to strip a situation of futile phobias that are bred in the darkness of ignorance. I needed Scriptural illumination to dispel my spiritual naïveté. Incidentally, I also learned that night why so few people consider themselves “cat people”—that horrid little fiend haunts my dreams.
The subheadings of the chapter are…
There Are No Experts
The Flimsy Sword of Subjective Interpretation
The Rusty Blade of Unverifiable Claims
Liars Make Unreliable Sources
The Sword of the Spirit
Description is not Prescription
Parry with Error with Truth
Our Riposte: A Right Response
C. S. Lewis warned in his Screwtape Letters, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about devils: one is to disbelieve in there existence. The other is to believe and feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.”
The face of evil may look less like a tormented cat than you think; it may be the clean-cut cult leader or the esteemed seminary professor who is propagating godless arguments that fortify the strongholds of demonic influence in society and the church. This threat should not be ignored. It is as devastating to impressionable minds as demon possession is to a body.
For the rest of the contents, click here, wait a week, and read as much as you like 🙂