Demons

Let your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me!”

This is to provide a Christian view of angels and demons. Angels and demons are created spiritual beings, created by God before He created the world. They all were angels when they were created. God made them in kinds, so that there are angels, archangels, seraphim, cherubim, and other kinds of angels.

Before we go any further I need to note that I am writing for a group that includes several materialists who think this entire topic is fictional. I chose to write because I have seen several recent references to demons and occult subjects. Also because there are lots of goofy things going around media and the internet about angels and demons, I thought it appropriate and reasonable to provide a little bit of clarity regarding the orthodox Christian basics regarding spiritual beings. With Americans increasingly embracing a roll-your-own approach to religion, more and more of our people are vulnerable both to shallow superstitions and to really dark spiritual forces.

Spiritual beings

The first basic thing to note about all spiritual beings is that Christianity teaches that there are no free-agent spiritual beings. That is counter to a lot of fantasy fiction where there are bookshelves full of wild tales about spiritual beings that are independent agents or ambiguous as to which side they are on. All of those fantasies may be considered to be anti-Christian, because they promote ideas that run counter to orthodox Christian teachings about the spiritual beings.

The chief of the angels was Lucifer. He chose to rebel against God. Maybe as many as a third of the angels joined in Lucifer’s rebellion. In the rebellion he took the name Satan. He is the Devil, and also goes by lots of other names. The angels that joined the rebellion are called demons. They were created in kinds as angels, but in the rebellion they go by different names, so that there are other names for them. (The names for the classes of demons are not known with certainty, and there are several competing theories as to some of them, some drawn from Jewish sources and others based on verses in Revelation.)

Angels are named using a word that means “messenger.” In the Bible, in most cases when an angel was to deliver a Word to a person, the first thing the angel says is “be not afraid.” From which we can discern that real-life encounters with spiritual beings will be terrifying.

But we are also told that the Devil is the Father of Lies, and exceedingly guileful, and so it may be that a demon may appear to be attractive and appealing. As one of our older Elders says, “The Devil appears as a buxom blonde in a red sportscar.” He is called “The Tempter” for a reason. His minions the demons are known for deception.

The demons are also known to hijack a person’s mind, a phenomenon we call “demon possession.” This is rare, though not so rare as you might think, and the number of incidents varies dramatically from culture to culture.

I think, per Chesterton, that such incidents are very rare in the West because so many persons in the West have stopped believing in such things. Most westerners are content to misidentify real malevolent spiritual possession as a mental illness. Satan approves of this ignorance.

However, I have encountered good-hearted Christians who seem entirely spooked and think they see many cases of possession all around. That also seems to me to be quite false, and misdiagnosing mental illness as demon possession is really damaging to everyone in the involved family.

Tangling with demons

All the above is prelude to my response to a question posed a few weeks ago in the comments. I had said that I would be wary and reluctant of dealing directly with a demon. A couple of nice Ratburgher ladies expressed surprise, saying that such a strong and confident Christian should not shrink from such a confrontation. They asked why I would be so timid.

I was flattered to be so identified. But I believe I need to explain that demons are not to be taken lightly. Dispense with any visions of a “Hot Stuff” cartoon devil, or any of the large number of appealing fictional Twilight demons. Some of them are called “Powers” for a reason. Demons wish you ill and can mess with your mind, deceiving you in ways that will send your thoughts in directions that may result in physical or spiritual harm to you and others.

Some demons are more capable than others. In Mark Chapter 9 there was a hard case in which the Apostles were unable to exorcise a demon that had been tormenting a boy. I do not consider myself to be more capable than the Apostles.

And there is the real potential that a clumsy and ill-informed Christian, or a Christian whose courage falters, can do more harm than good. Consider the words of Jesus, from Matthew Chapter 12:

43 “When  the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through  waterless places seeking rest, but finds none.  44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order.  45 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and  the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this  evil generation.”

The Exorcist

I know you all are familiar with the movie “The Exorcist,” though it may have been forty-five years since you saw it. That was a real case; the 1973 movie is based on a 1971 novel about a real-life 1949 incident. In the real case the family sought the help of a Lutheran pastor. He called a theologian at the Lutheran seminary. The professor advised going to expert help. They went to the Catholic Archbishop of that area, knowing that the Church of Rome has a capable group of trained exorcists. The Archbishop was intrigued enough to call an exorcist into the situation. Everyone involved testified later that they were convinced that the possession was a real demon.   (I have spoken with a couple of Lutheran pastors who had quizzed the Lutheran seminary professor about that case.)

Though the action may have been sensationalized for the movie, none of the on-screen action is more weird than the actual action as told by the participants. It just did not come with a cool soundtrack.

The Roman Catholic Church is by far the largest body of Christian believers; they span the globe, and have encountered spiritual weirdness in all sorts of places. They move some priests around, for a continual process of cultural exchange, and this also serves to equip their priests with information that can aid their training for exorcists.

In the comments I will provide a link to a fascinating 2016 feature from Vanity Fair, in which an Italian exorcist was interviewed and observed at work. Here is what he said about the cases that were referred to him:

Father Amorth insisted that anyone who came to him first seek the help of traditional medicine and psychiatry. “Out of a hundred people who seek my help,” he explained, “one or two at the most may be possessed.”

I may be competent to refer someone to psychiatrists or psychologists, or to call for help from the church, and to pray with hurting persons, but I do not relish the thought of confronting dangerous spirits with no more preparation than a confident faith. Of particular interest is the case reported in in Vanity Fair. The exorcist set up a recurring series of exorcism attempts, because just one exorcism is not enough to get a difficult demon to leave its victim. Why should I expect that a rank amateur could have success when experienced professionals struggle?

I will also give a link to a fascinating case from Indiana in 2012. This family was poor, and the single mother was involved with clairvoyants. Her whole family experienced weirdness that they described as demonic. They said the rental house they had moved into was haunted. They ended up with Child Protective Services taking the children into custody. A Catholic priest stepped in to conduct a series of exorcisms, at first on his own, then later with his Bishop’s approval. The priest, caseworkers, and the police, were convinced that something supernatural was involved. After the woman said she felt that the final exorcism worked, and she moved to a different city, CPS returned her children, and they have lived without demonic incidents afterwards.

As with any complicated subject, if the consequences of getting it wrong are large, then it is best to bring in an expert.

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47 thoughts on “Demons”

  1. The 2016 article at Vanity Fair is by William Friedkin, the director of “The Exorcist”:

    https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2016/10/father-amorth-the-vatican-exorcist

    The 2012 case from Indiana was written up in this 2014 article:

    https://www.indystar.com/story/news/2014/01/25/the-disposession-of-latoya-ammons/4892553/

    This past Thursday (July 25) the Chaplain exorcised demonic spirits from the U.S. House of Representatives. I seriously hope it worked.

    https://townhall.com/tipsheet/timothymeads/2019/07/18/house-chaplain-casts-out-demons-during-morning-prayer-in-capitol-building-n2550303

     

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  2. What is the orthodoxy as to whether angels have free will?  I read that they do, but can only exercise it once, and if they sin they can’t be redeemed. But I’ve also read that  they don’t, they were created to praise and serve, they cannot do otherwise.

    Do you believe angels have a gender? Scoffield says there are no females.  Do you believe in the  Nephalim, offspring of the Sons of God  and the daughters of men?  Do we still have the “Watchers”, and if so, could interbreeding still happen?

    What is the Biblical authority for the idea that demons or “unclean spirits” were once angels?

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  3. Bad ideas about spiritual matters can be really dangerous. Pop culture is full of bad ideas. Here is a recent example of a conservative chiding traditionalist Christians because they objected to a TV show about a partnership between a demon and an angel. The basis of the objection is that the show works well as satire, has some humorous parts, and is pretty tame.

    This objection entirely misses the point, which is that the entire architecture of the setup for the show is based on a wrong understanding of how the spiritual beings work, and makes it appear that demons can be your friend. The potential for a disastrous outcome is blithely brushed aside. It makes me think that the objector does not believe in either demons or angels, even though she is “a devout and practicing Catholic.” But any reader who is drawn towards dabbling with the occult might be encouraged to keep going in a very bad spiritual direction.

    https://thefederalist.com/2019/07/03/innocuous-and-charming-satire-good-omens-receives-undue-backlash-from-christians/

     

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  4. Hypatia:
    What is the orthodoxy as to whether angels have free will?  I read that they do, but can only exercise it once, and if they sin they can’t be redeemed. But I’ve also read that  they don’t, they were created to praise and serve, they cannot do otherwise.

    The best answer is “I dunno.”

    The only trustworthy source is the Bible, and the Bible only gives really sketchy, incomplete and vague information.   We know that Lucifer was made by God to be chief of all the angels, and that Lucifer rebelled.   Jesus said “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”

    So Lucifer chose rebellion.   What we don’t know is if the other angels who became demons did so of their own volition, or were captured by Satan.   The idea that they make up a third of the total ranks of angels comes from Revelation 12:4.   I can see that, and I don’t have a basis to quarrel with it, but that really seems like a flimsy basis for any important doctrine.   Fortunately, the number of the demons, whether more or less, is an unimportant detail.   What is important is that there are capable spiritual beings who serve Satan in the great rebellion against God, and they are to be feared and opposed.

    Do you believe angels have a gender? Scoffield says there are no females.  Do you believe in the  Nephalim, offspring of the Sons of God  and the daughters of men?  Do we still have the “Watchers”, and if so, could interbreeding still happen?

    Again, I dunno.   I don’t see that it matters whether there are or are not male or female angels.   The only sense in which it comes up is in trying to make sense of that passage about the Nephilim.   From Genesis, Chapter 6:

    When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in[a] man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim[b] were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.   The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

    It appears to say that angels, or demons, or angels and demons, or some other created beings, took wives from among the descendants of Adam and Eve.   Wow.

    But that was before the Flood, and the Nephilim, whatever that means, are not on the earth in these days.

    I have read some of the speculations of really smart guys, but in the end I thought they were wasting their time, and mine.   Pardon me, but I just don’t have a lot of patience for stuff I consider to be spiritual trivia.

    What is the Biblical authority for the idea that demons or “unclean spirits” were once angels?

    That pretty much is based on the story that Satan began as Lucifer.   It is a very old idea, and one that I think predates Jesus, coming down from the Jewish authorities.

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  5. There is a lot of tradition about angles that has built up over time that is  not part of the Bible. I think we humanize spiritual beings because we don’t understand them.

    They are not fun-bad like David Tennet

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  6. I have a Facebook ad in my feed now, for a book about demon possession. It looks like a real stinker. Just the latest junk occult fiction from a desperate publisher.

    https://evolvedpub.com/books/the-possession/

     

    The rise of pop-occultisms

    https://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/culture/jorge-plaza/2019/06/10/occultism-religion-millenial-progressives

     

    Sometimes desperate situations call for desperate measures.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/10/bishop-take-skies-exorcise-colombian-city-helicopter-buenaventura

     

    Angels and demons are big bidness in the publishing industry. Here is an article that debunks a book that spent many months as a bestseller on the Christian book lists.

    https://slate.com/human-interest/2019/07/the-boy-who-came-back-from-heaven-christian-book-scandal.html

    The article tells a fascinating and really sad story.

    In the spring of last year, the Guardian ran this article about an exorcism training seminar that was planned at the Vatican. Typical for the Guardian, they mix genuine curiosity with a few snide bits of Catholic-bashing. But there was some useful info.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/30/vatican-to-hold-exorcist-training-course-after-rise-in-possessions-exorcism-priests

     

    Fr Benigno Palilla, an exorcist from Sicily who reported a tripling of demonic possession cases on the island, acknowledged the issue was controversial, but added: “The demoniacs … suffer a lot.” …

    In Ireland, Fr Pat Collins said he had been inundated, almost daily, with people seeking help to deal with what they believed to be demonic possession and other evil, and called for more training in exorcism.

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  7. God gave visions of eternity to some of the Prophets.   Isaiah and John are most notable for their reporting on what they saw in the Throne Room of Heaven.

    Ezekiel was given a vision, too, and saw the great victory at the end of time.  In Chapter 28, Ezekiel addresses Satan.

    You were the  anointed cherub who  [a]covers,
    And I placed you  there.
    You were on the holy  mountain of God;
    You walked in the midst of the  stones of fire.
    15 “You were  blameless in your ways
    From the day you were created
    Until  unrighteousness was found in you.
    16 “By the abundance of your trade
    [b]You were internally  filled with violence,
    And you sinned;
    Therefore I have cast you as profane
    From the mountain of God.
    And I have destroyed you, O  [c]covering cherub,
    From the midst of the stones of fire.
    17 “Your heart was lifted up because of your  beauty;
    You  corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor.
    I cast you to the ground;
    I put you before  kings,
    That they may see you.
    18 “By the multitude of your iniquities,
    In the unrighteousness of your trade
    You profaned your sanctuaries.
    Therefore I have brought  fire from the midst of you;
    It has consumed you,
    And I have turned you to  ashes on the earth
    In the eyes of all who see you.

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  8. Interesting post. I think I agree with all of it, including the part about being wary of confronting demons directly.

    I believe it was St. Thomas Aquinas who taught about how wills are set. I don’t know those details very well for the angels and demons. I do remember something about how for us, our wills are set at death. This is why there is no repentance after death. When we die, our wills are set for eternity. This is why we need to stay vigilant and to keep ourselves free from the love of sin.

    Here is a reliable prayer:

    St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, o prince of the heavenly host, by the divine power of God, cast into hell Satan and all his evil spirits, who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

    I have a book called An Exorcist Explains the Demonic. It was interesting. It’s on Kindle, and I’d be happy to lend it to anybody here if they’d like to read it. Let me know.

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  9. JJ:
    I believe it was St. Thomas Aquinas who taught about how wills are set. I don’t know those details very well for the angels and demons. I do remember something about how for us, our wills are set at death. This is why there is no repentance after death. When we die, our wills are set for eternity. This is why we need to stay vigilant and to keep ourselves free from the love of sin.

    That is an interesting theory.

    After death comes the Judgement.   Some will have an opportunity to plead to Christ Jesus at the time of Judgement.   How that works, and who will be given the opportunity, are matters not explained in Scripture.

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  10. It’s all very fascinating.  And I am interested in learning the orthodoxy on the subject.

    But it’s like  learning Klingon.  Really, angels and demons are a scholarly construct.   No one “knows”  Thing  One about them, if they exist.  Whether they do or not:  we have no actual guidance in the matter, so constructing any kind of…zooology? about them is like inventing a genealogy for and and cataloguing the characteristics of  Mickey Mouse.

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  11. Hyp, you’re using a materialist framework to critique a spiritual mattrer, which MJB pretty clearly discounted in his OP.  He didn’t say “Don’t argue from that basis” here (as I did in an earlier post of mine), but he did acknowledge that folks arguing from a different basis (folks like me in what he describes as materialism) would not find much traction here.

    Fair enough, so I’m not going to antagonize MJB by forcing a different frame on the argument than the one he is trying to exercise.

    To put it in “materialist” terms, I guess I would say that MJB has already dealt with the materialist objections to the degree that he wishes to — and that neither he nor I would find much satisfaction in simply smashing the two frameworks against each other.  In this, I agree with him wholeheartedly — and it’s his post.

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  12. Hypatia:
    It’s all very fascinating.  And I am interested in learning the orthodoxy on the subject.

    But it’s like  learning Klingon.  Really, angels and demons are a scholarly construct.   No one “knows”  Thing  One about them, if they exist.  Whether they do or not:  we have no actual guidance in the matter, so constructing any kind of…zooology? about them is like inventing a genealogy for and and cataloguing the characteristics of  Mickey Mouse.

    I expected that some of y’all would treat this topic as entirely fictional.

    Why would you care to learn orthodox teachings about a fictional topic?   There all sorts of pop angel and demon cosmologies that would be far more entertaining.   Whole bookshelves are filled with fantasies, and there are many dozens of fantasy angels and demons to be found on Netflix.   Knock yourself out.

    I wrote this post to delineate some distinctions between orthodox Christian thinking and the world of fantasy.

    The thing is, God has not chosen to reveal a lot of information about His messengers, nor about those who joined Satan’s rebellion.  Lots of really smart people have got themselves tangled up by trying to extrapolate beyond the limits of what the Bible teaches.

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  13. Haakon Dahl:

    To put it in “materialist” terms, I guess I would say that MJB has already dealt with the materialist objections to the degree that he wishes to — and that neither he nor I would find much satisfaction in simply smashing the two frameworks against each other.  In this, I agree with him wholeheartedly — and it’s his post.

    Haakon, I earnestly wish to persuade you that eternity is real.

    However that may be, of all the aspects of Christian thought that might serve as a field for engagement, the topic of angels and demons seems unlikely to be of service.   We would be talking past each other.   I would like to engage again, but let’s look for an aspect of eternity where we can engage square on.

    Suggestions, from you or any other Ratburgher, would be welcome.

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  14. MJBubba:

    Hypatia:
    It’s all very fascinating.  And I am interested in learning the orthodoxy on the subject.

    But it’s like  learning Klingon.  Really, angels and demons are a scholarly construct.   No one “knows”  Thing  One about them, if they exist.  Whether they do or not:  we have no actual guidance in the matter, so constructing any kind of…zooology? about them is like inventing a genealogy for and and cataloguing the characteristics of  Mickey Mouse.

    I expected that some of y’all would treat this topic as entirely fictional.

    Why would you care to learn orthodox teachings about a fictional topic? [YES!] There all sorts of pop angel and demon cosmologies that would be far more entertaining.   Whole bookshelves are filled with fantasies, and there are many dozens of fantasy angels and demons to be found on Netflix.   Knock yourself out.

    i asked my questions because I wanted to know the orthodoxy, as I said.  I wanted to read from the text, instead of reading fan fiction.

    I wrote this post to delineate some distinctions between orthodox Christian thinking and the world of fantasy.

    so are you saying the orthodox  answer to my questions is “I dunno”?  (See comment 4)  I wasn’t asking you personally, I was asking you about the orthodoxy.

    The thing is, God has not chosen to reveal a lot of information about His messengers, nor about those who joined Satan’s rebellion.  Lots of really smart people have got themselves tangled up by trying to extrapolate beyond the limits of what the Bible teaches.

    Right again!  And this, @catholicjen, is what I meant by “scholarly construct”,  witness the famous debate about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.    Angels, or one species of them, have six wings, that’s pretty much all we know about’em from the Bible itself.  Everything else is fan fiction.

    I have another question , MJB.  You  are a scholar in these matters, and I am not asking your opinion, I’m asking you to summarize the orthodoxy on the subject:  take your comment 8, which you interpret as referring to Lucifer’s fall.

    In a world created by a purely good and beneficent God,  yea, in His very abode, Heaven:

    whence the “unrighteousness, sin”  which took root inside that angel? 

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  15. Haakon Dahl:
    Hyp, you’re using a materialist framework to critique a spiritual mattrer, which MJB pretty clearly discounted in his OP.  He didn’t say “Don’t argue from that basis” here (as I did in an earlier post of mine), but he did acknowledge that folks arguing from a different basis (folks like me in what he describes as materialism) would not find much traction here.

    Fair enough, so I’m not going to antagonize MJB by forcing a different frame on the argument than the one he is trying to exercise.

    To put it in “materialist” terms, I guess I would say that MJB has already dealt with the materialist objections to the degree that he wishes to — and that neither he nor I would find much satisfaction in simply smashing the two frameworks against each other.  In this, I agree with him wholeheartedly — and it’s his post.

    It is, and I am trying to engage him on his  terms; see above.  I jumped at the chance to do so!   I am perfectly sincere : this stuff is fascinating.

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  16. MJB, you mention Chesterton:  demon possession is rare now because people have stopped believing in demons.

    Yuh!  If that’s the case, why would you want to convince us that demons are real?  We’re safer,  and healthier,  if we believe there are no such things.

    And lemme just add one more thing: no one could be a more devout Christian than my father, and his father before him:   both physicians, sustaining members of the Christian Medical Society.  And I cannot imagine them entertaining the kind of Dark Ages superstitions  we  see among certain Christians now.

    For instance, the thing about Halloween masks:  the idea, the benighted, unreasoning terror , that a little piece of cheap painted plastic  could possibly endanger a child’s immortal soul?  Theyda laughed!    Surely those flimsy trinkets  are no match for the Gospel Armor!

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  17. MJBubba:

    JJ:
    I believe it was St. Thomas Aquinas who taught about how wills are set. I don’t know those details very well for the angels and demons. I do remember something about how for us, our wills are set at death. This is why there is no repentance after death. When we die, our wills are set for eternity. This is why we need to stay vigilant and to keep ourselves free from the love of sin.

    That is an interesting theory.

    After death comes the Judgement.   Some will have an opportunity to plead to Christ Jesus at the time of Judgement.   How that works, and who will be given the opportunity, are matters not explained in Scripture.

    They will?  I am not challenging you, but where does the Bible say that?  Or do you just mean people who believed in God but lived and died before the Incarnation?

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  18. Hypatia:
    so are you saying the orthodox  answer to my questions is “I dunno”?  (See comment 4)  I wasn’t asking you personally, I was asking you about the orthodoxy.

    Yes; the response “I don’t know” is the safest and most under-used response to questions regarding angels and demons, and it is a response that is entirely within the bounds of orthodoxy.

    You could take every Bible passage that has any mention or allusion to angels or demons and print them all out on just a few pages.   There is not a large amount of revealed wisdom from which to draw solid conclusions.

    There is adequate material to make some inferences, but the bounds of what is clear teaching and what is inference should be maintained.

    Perhaps, rather than “I don’t know,” it would be better to say “the Bible does not explain that.”   I tried to be circumspect in the original post, and stick to matters that 95 % of Christians could agree on.

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  19. Hypatia:
    I have another question , MJB.  You  are a scholar in these matters, and I am not asking your opinion, I’m asking you to summarize the orthodoxy on the subject:  take your comment 8, which you interpret as referring to Lucifer’s fall.

    In a world created by a purely good and beneficent God,  yea, in His very abode, Heaven:

    whence the “unrighteousness, sin”  which took root inside that angel?

    Good question.

    There are some longwinded theological treatises that take up the question of how did sin originate?   The earliest known sin is the pride and disobedience of Lucifer.   That is very early, but we do not know if it happened in Eternity before the Creation, or soon after Creation.

    Both Lucifer’s sin and the sin of Adam and Eve are made possible by the way God created them, in which they were given the ability to choose.   In the same way, we have the ability to choose evil, but since we now inherit sin when we are born into this fallen world, our ability to choose to avoid evil is limited.

    It is speculating on this very topic that has led some smart people to get out onto heretical ground.

    It is enough for me to say that God did not invent evil and does not want evil.   Evil exists because Lucifer, and our “First Parents,” chose to disobey God.

    Beyond that, the only safe orthodox answer is “that has not been revealed to us.”

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  20. Hypatia:
    MJB, you mention Chesterton:  demon possession is rare now because people have stopped believing in demons.

    Yuh!  If that’s the case, why would you want to convince us that demons are real?  We’re safer,  and healthier,  if we believe there are no such things.

    Safer perhaps, in this life.   But unsafe, in fact in grave peril, in Eternity.

    The reason to tell you that you are a sinner in need of a Savior is because you won’t know you need a Savior if you do not recognize that you are a sinner.   The only reason to talk about demons is to equip you to recognize demonic activity if you encounter it, and you are far more likely to encounter demonic activity if you align yourself with Jesus.

    But Jesus is ‘The Way’ to eternal life.   So, in order that you might have eternal life, you must be called into a restored relationship with Jesus.

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  21. Hypatia:
    And lemme just add one more thing: no one could be a more devout Christian than my father, and his father before him:   both physicians, sustaining members of the Christian Medical Society.  And I cannot imagine them entertaining the kind of Dark Ages superstitions  we  see among certain Christians now.

    For instance, the thing about Halloween masks:  the idea, the benighted, unreasoning terror , that a little piece of cheap painted plastic  could possibly endanger a child’s immortal soul?  They’d’a’ laughed!    Surely those flimsy trinkets  are no match for the Gospel Armor!

    Yes.   There are low-information Christians about.

    Halloween was once a thing, centuries ago.   In the West, Christians reacted against base superstition.   Then, as the West became safe, Halloween became a childrens’ holiday; a time for candy and spooky stories; a time to laugh at ghost stories because none of us believed in ghosts.

    But ghost stories have a life of their own, and there are real spooky incidents that give us the creeps, and the immigration of people from third world countries brought fresh life to ancient superstitions.   I am specifically thinking of “Day of the Dead” traditions that have encrusted “All Hallows Eve.”

    And so a childrens’ lark became an opportunity for occultisms to sneak in.   Christian parents have been horrified to discover middle school children getting involved with a real pursuit of demonic powers.   Most actual incidents are actually tame stuff, but some are truly troubling.   There is enough substance to a handful of incidents to give energy to real fears.

    And so there are some Christians who lack the rigor to discern the dangerous from the ridiculous.   But their fears are not without a basis.   In fact, I am aware of one family that went through a very stressful time when a daughter got involved with the occult.   That deck of Tarot cards had seemed so harmless.

    Until it wasn’t.

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  22. Hypatia:

    MJBubba:

    JJ:
    I believe it was St. Thomas Aquinas who taught about how wills are set. I don’t know those details very well for the angels and demons. I do remember something about how for us, our wills are set at death. This is why there is no repentance after death. When we die, our wills are set for eternity. This is why we need to stay vigilant and to keep ourselves free from the love of sin.

    That is an interesting theory.

    After death comes the Judgement.   Some will have an opportunity to plead to Christ Jesus at the time of Judgement.   How that works, and who will be given the opportunity, are matters not explained in Scripture.

    They will?  I am not challenging you, but where does the Bible say that?  Or do you just mean people who believed in God but lived and died before the Incarnation?

    Well, I am making an inference.   Some Christians will disagree with me.   So, what follows should only be considered a Bubba theory, and not necessarily an orthodox teaching.

    St. Peter told us that Jesus had gone to preach to souls.   Here is the citation from 1 Peter, Chapter 3:

    18 For Christ also suffered[b] once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which[c] he went and proclaimed[d] to the spirits in prison, 20 because[e] they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

    So here goes my own theorizing:   Jesus is the Lord of Time.   Time is His; He made it as part of His act of Creation at the making of the world and all things.  If Jesus preached to souls in peril from the time of the Flood, then who else did He preach to?   He may have preached to everyone who had never heard the Gospel, even people who have not yet died.   He is God, time travel is no impediment for the inventor of time.

    I do not mean to say that everyone will get a second chance on Judgement Day.   But my opinion, and this is in no way an “orthodox teaching,” is that everyone who never heard the Gospel will get a chance to respond to the Gospel.

    Actually, the point is unclear.  Perhaps a better answer would be to say “that has not been revealed to us.”

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