Monday, December 16, 2013

Satanic gang wars

24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” 25 Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges (Mt 12:24-27).22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 23 And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house (Mk 3:22-27).15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,” 16 while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven. 17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. 18 And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 19 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 20 But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; 22 but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil (Lk 11:15-21).
i) Because Mormonism apes Christianity, we run across reports by Mormon missionaries which mimic reports of Christian missionaries. This includes spiritual warfare. The exorcism of possessed individuals or infested houses. You also have alleged exorcisms in Voodoo. Cf. F. Goodman, How About Demons: Possession and Exorcism in the Modern World, 90ff. 
But that generates an ostensible dilemma. To the extent that a member of a cult or false religion is, himself, a representative of the dark side, how could he play against his own team? 
ii) Of course, we have to consider the source. Given the source, are these reliable reports? 
iii) Likewise, the diagnosis of possession isn't always clear-cut. Were they really possessed? 
iv) But suppose, for the sake of argument, we grant the authenticity of some accounts. How would we explain that?
v) It could be analogous to occultic healings, where the patient is "cured," but the process brings him under bondage. He exchanges one affliction for another. There's a catch. A hidden cost when you resort to the dark side. Even if you get what you ask for, you pay a terrible price down the line. The cure is worse than the disease.
vi) This is reminiscent of the illustration Jesus uses about a demoniac who is temporarily exorcised (Mt 12:43-45). The exorcism was a short-term success, but a long-term failure, which aggravates his original condition.
vii) One commentator makes the additional point that:
Perhaps the devil might permit a few exorcisms to bring fame to a sorcerer and gain ground in the long run; Jesus' widespread expulsion of demons, however, constitutes no minor strategic retreat but a wholesale assault on Satan's kingdom on earth. C. Keener, A Commentary On the Gospel of Matthew (Eerdmans 1999), 363. 
Satan has an incentive to lend credence to cults and false religions. So he might sometimes throw the game to give his representative more credibility. If we can think of that, so can he. 
viii) There's the question of how much control Satan has over demons. Do we think of the demonic realm as a crack military unit with a single chain-of-command? Or is there a degree of civil war within the demonic realm? A turf war? Like gangbangers. 
In their accusation, the scribes and Pharisees evidently view the dark side in hierarchical terms. Satan is the commander-in-chief. He gives the orders. He empowers subordinates. In pop demonology of the Derek Prince variety, we have the same military model. 
But do we know for a fact that the dark side has a command structure? How does Satan maintain discipline? How does Satan police demons? What actual power (if any) does he have over them? Can he punish them? Can he make them feel pain? 
Conversely, do demons feel loyal to Satan? Is there an oath of allegiance? But we wouldn't expect an honor code among evil spirits.  
Obviously we can raise questions we can't answer. But it's worth raising the questions when we consider unexamined assumptions. 
ix) Perhaps the military model is ill-founded. To consider one alternative, an occultic exorcism might be like a war between rival witches or competing covens, where black magic counters black magic. Where they hex each other. 
x) Presumably, there's a symbiotic relationship between a witch or medium and the incubus. The demon gets something from the human host in exchange for empowering the host. But, then, what happens in case of rivalry between one Satanist and another? Does each demonic faction back its own horse? 
xi) But doesn't that play into the conundrum of a house divided against itself? That raises some interpretive issues. To some extent, Jesus is answering the scribes and Pharisees on their own grounds. They framed the issue in terms of a demonic hierarchy. He responds on their own terms by pointing out how their objection generates a dilemma for their own position. But that doesn't commit Jesus to their operating premise. 
Certainly his reference to Jewish exorcises is ad hominem. So there's no presumption that he actually conceded the premise of their argument.  
And even if he did grant the premise (whether in fact or for the sake of argument), the logic of the conundrum is that we wouldn't expect Satan to work at cross-purposes by design. That, of itself, doesn't preclude the possibility (or probability) that Satan sometimes loses control of the situation. Satan isn't omniscient or omnipotent. 
Are demons twisted idealists? Are they on a mission? If so, we wouldn't expect them to intentionally sabotage their goals. 
Or is this a personal power trip? If so, then they might be at loggerheads. 
What are we to make of "territorial spirits"? 
Does this mean they've been assigned to a military outpost, as part of Satan's world empire? Or do these represent rival power centers? Like demonic street gangs. 


  1. The reference to Mt 12:43 is interesting. Why would Jesus make a point of mentioning that demons go through "waterless places"? Do fallen angels really have an aversion to water, or do you suppose there's some symbolism involved?

    It's also curious why demons feel the need to posses people. Maybe they lack a corporeal body and want to experience physical sensations?

    1. The symbolism may be that places without natural sources of fresh water (for farming or drinking) are uninhabited. Hence, that would explain the demon's motivation to repossess the same individual, inasmuch as he was unable to find a new host in the desert.

      The theme of wanting to experience physical sensation is a popular science fiction trope. Aliens who try to pass for humans, but are seduced by our sensations. They go soft on the revolution

      Another explanation is that a body extends a demon's field of action. He can do more with a body than without a body.

    2. We know that the Holy Spirit is described analogously as "wind" or "air" or "breath" both in the OT (ruach) and NT (pneuma). The same is true of human spirits and evil spirits. Maybe as the Holy Spirit is sometimes described as spirits in general, including humans, are seen as water-like as well. And so when demons are away from possessing humans they wander in "dry" or "waterless" places.

      Jeremiah 2:13 says, "For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water."

      Seeking spiritual refreshment from spirits other than God can be seen as seeking "false" and "dead" water that never quenches spiritual thirst. So, when humans seek fulfillment from demons, or when demons seek fulfillment from humans (via possession) it might be said that those spiritual objects are "water-like." That would possibly explain why an evil spirit leaving its human host is no longer in the presence of "water."

  2. I suspect and imagine demonic hierarchy to be like a combination of what goes on among drug lords, guerrilla soldiers, and urban gangs. They are united when their common interests are endangered by the official and legitimate government (in this case the Kingdom of God). When confronted by the Kingdom of God the hierarchy would be according to actual brute spiritual power (whatever that "power" consists of). Because some evil spirits have greater, lesser or (more or less) equal power than other spirits, they would line up accordingly with the strongest spirit at that instance being the top leader (which would sometimes be Satan). But when not directly under attack by the Kingdom of God, some demons may stay virtually isolated, while others may gather in abusive groups where the loyalties are sometimes willing and other times unwilling. Also I imagine each group may oppose other groups in order to carry out their own lesser agendas. The greatest agenda that unites them all would be to oppose God's Kingdom of Light and Truth.

    It's obviously dangerous to infer doctrines from cases of deliverance/exorcisms since demons are deceivers. But in many cases of exorcisms there seem to be hierarchies of demons in demon possessed people where stronger demons dominate other weaker demons. But again, all of that might be done to deceive human beings about what really happens in the Kingdom of Darkness.