Saturday, November 01, 2014

2-5-2008 spiritual warfare Part 1 part 2 commentary 1: where Driscoll misrepresents Western interpretation on the devil


The source of Satan's fall, as well as demons, is pride. Everything I'm gonna share with you is highly debated but in texts like Ezekiel 28, Isaiah 14, it seems to say that: Satan was an angel, he was a spiritual being, and that he became proud in his heart and he sinned against God, he didn't want to worship God he wanted to be worshipped as God, he didn't want to serve God he wanted to be served as God, and in so doing pride is really the source of all that is demonic. I mean think about that. If pride is the source of all that is demonic (Augustine, the church father, said that pride is the mother of all sin, it's pregnant with all of the other sins) then Satan has done a great work because we believe in this day that self-esteem is a great virtue and not a vice and that pride is a good thing and not a bad thing. [emphasis added]


Humility is the mark of Jesus and faithful Christians according to texts like Philippians 2. The He humbled himself and we are to humble ourselves, that God OPPOSES the proud and gives grace to the humble is what Peter and James say. And Satan's real issue is pride and he loves to get people filled with pride because it then enables that, him, to incite them to join in his rebellion.

One thing I will say in this as well is as we get into the issue of Satan and demons is that, even as you have knowledge of Satan and demons, even as you have the pastoral capacity to help people who are struggling with Satan and demons, you still need to be very, very careful to maintain a posture of humility. Sometimes demonic and deliverance ministry is so rife with pride and declarations and "Satan, I command you to do this and I command you to do that." and it just, it just reeks of pride. Jesus says, I think it's in Luke's gospel, "Do not rejoice that the spirits are subject to your name." Don't rejoice that you have authority over Satan and demons.  Rejoice that your names are written in heaven. That humility, that God loves you, that God cares for you, that Jesus is your savior and you get to use the delegated authority of the Lord Jesus in spiritual encounters and conflicts but, at the end of the day, you're not to grow up and be proud, to rise up in arrogance, saying: "I understand Satan and demons, and I know how to defeat them." That is absolutely demonic in and of itself. [emphasis added] The power is Jesus.

We'll get to the bolded segments in time.  However ... let's first get to the "red letter" statement, because it involves a fairly easily contested claim about historic Christian teaching and interpretation in the West.

One of the first things that needs to be pointed out is that though it seems tossed off and insignificant, Mark Driscoll's claim that there's some hot debate about passages in the Bible that refer to Satan and demons around the time he mentions Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 ...

There's no debate on scholarly or historical grounds, not one that matters.  Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 were and are obviously passages that referred to worldly/historical figures rather than Satan at the time they were originally composed.  There is also no significant dispute that Wenatchee The Hatchet is currently aware of (anyway) that the interpretive gloss that held the passages referring to the prince of Tyre and to the light-bearer were medieval European accretions rather than original readings of the text but that this became accepted.  If you want to read the long but fascinating story of how that came about Jeffrey Burton Russell has a series of books that are (one can hope) still in print.  Russell demonstrates that in spite of the tumult of the Reformation the Catholic Church and the Reformers did not part ways on diabology in general or even the Devil in particular.  The real debate was more whether or not the other group could be more easily shown to be the pawns of the devil and/or the antichrists.  :) 

So, no, Mark is misrepresenting the history of interpretation and debate about Satan and demons by associating Ezekiel and Isaiah with some hot debate.  Only a group of guys with no serious theological, historical and textual education (which, to be fair, may well have been the case for many in one of the least-churched regions of the United States) should have been able to go along with Driscoll's song and dance on this particular point. 

One of the easily overlooked but not-very-subtle problems with Driscoll invoking the traditional and largely uncontested Christian gloss of Satan on to Ezekiel and Isaiah oracles against long-dead kings is that to do this Driscoll has to accept an apocalyptic/typological hermeneutic that he rejects in the case of Song of Songs (with a slurry of gay panic jokes involving Jesus) and this in spite of the fact that if he insisted on as comparably a literal hermeneutic for the famous prophetic oracles he'd have to REJECT them as having any application to Satan.  That got discussed at some length over here.

So Driscoll not only misrepresented some fairly basic and easily-established facts about not just evangelical interpretation of oracles interpreted as applying to Satan but also of oracles whose relevance to Satan has largely been taken as given through the entire history of Western Christianity since at least the medieval period. 

NOW we can get to the stuff in bold.  (in a new post)

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