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NOT FLESH AND BLOOD Want your Christian friends to look at you like you re from Mars Next time you pray together pray against Satan or mention demons For many this will put you in the same camp as the Bible thumping fundamentalists When someone trots out a prayer against dark spiritual forces we involuntarily recall the excesses of those who see pitchforks behind every ache pain or lost parking space C S Lewis said this of the range of attitudes about the satanic There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about devils One is to disbelieve their existence The other is to believe and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them The devils themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight Many of us follow a third paradigm which has elements of both extremes We believe Satan exists but act as if he didn t Throughout the bulk of its history the Church has taken the Biblical instruction on the matter at face value This came to an end around the time of the Enlightenment According to a survey in First Things the last great theologian of the Western tradition for whom the Devil was at the very center of reflection was Martin Luther With the rise of materialist reductionism many Christians put demons on the shelf with goblins dragons and unicorns The Bible though speaks clearly of the existence of demons and Satan In the Gospels Jesus was tempted in the desert by the Devil In the parable of the Sower Jesus names Satan as God s enemy who steals the seed of the Gospel In the parable of the Wheat and the Weeds Satan sows weeds the sons of the evil one in God s field Much of Jesus ministry in driving out demons was on the spiritual front lines Jesus instructed his disciples to pray for delivery from the evil one and he himself asked God not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one Jn 17 15 1 The rest of the New Testament paints just as clear a picture

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