Why I believe in the Invisible War

As my readers know am reading a book by the name of “The Invisible War” by Donald Grey Barnhouse. It makes the case for a Biblical doctrine which I have always known as the Angelic Conflict. The scope of the book is best captured by this quote from the preface:

Dr. Barnhouse traces the vast spiritual conflict back to the period before the beginning of Time and, step-by-step, follows its unfolding to the final battle of wills at the end of Time. In these pages, questions that have long troubled thinking people concerning the trials, sufferings and difficulties of life, are clearly answered. Here also are practical suggestions for facing life’s obstacles. Here are sane, sensible explanations for the continued existence of good and evil on earth in what appears to be a never-ending tug of war. In a brilliant manner, the author has stretched out the panorama of Time and focused upon it the illuminating light of Eternity.

Preface to “The Invisible War

I believe that the angelic conflict exits and I also believe that in it lie the reasons for all of the suffering that this world endures. I can’t say that I have ever seen a debate between Christians where each side didn’t accuse each other of “reading their theology into the text” and I may be doing so here. In fact I want to make my reasons for belief in the Angelic Conflict crystal clear from the outset. I do believe that the Bible points to such a conflict but my reasons for believing in it go beyond that. The Angelic Conflict is the only Christian apologetic that convincingly explains the existence of evil to me. If there is anything Christianity should explain, with our just and righteous God, is the question of why evil is allowed to exist. We Christians have done a terrible job of answering that question. Most of the time you will hear or read answers such as: “God ordained everything that has happened for His own inscrutable purposes.” Which is just another way of saying: “I don’t know.” In fact there are some Christians who have begun to advocate doctrines that water down God’s omnipotence (such as Process Theology) in order to answer this question. As far as I am concerned the Invisible War (or Angelic Conflict) is the only Christian explanation of evil I have ever heard that isn’t plain old lousy. If this is reading my theology into the Bible then so be it. I make no apologies for the belief that God would provide us with a good reason for the way things are that doesn’t impugn His character.

Any Christian apologetic worth its salt should be able to answer the following questions:

Some time ago, in the midst of World War II, the writer preached a sermon in which the omnipotence of God was brought forth. The Lord Jesus Christ was quoted, saying, “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). At the close of the meeting a high school boy came up with a question. With some little embarrassment, he asked: “Please tell me this. If God can do absolutely anything, why doesn’t He smack Hitler down?” That same question in a thousand forms has possessed the minds of men throughout the centuries. Why does God permit sin? Why did God create the devil? Why does God allow wars and calamities? We dare to say that we have the certain answer, and that it is not a very difficult one.

p 22 of “The Invisible War

I had wanted to write a longer article today but events seem to have conspired against me this week. I really want to continue on this topic and have plans to post on enough of Pastor Barnhouse’s book to give anyone who is interested a good taste of what it is like.

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5 Comments on “Why I believe in the Invisible War”

  1. heavenbound Says:

    Glenn: I find your statements very interesting. I was watching the Catholic TV channel the other day and their was a program on purgatory. Now as Protestants we don’t believe in a waiting or holding place for souls. But they do. Or at least the Catholic church takes this stand. I really don’t think todays Catholic believes such nonsense nevertheless it is a church position. The reason I bring this up is that tradition and superstition blocks intelligent thought. My belief is that Christianity turns its back on science and the ongoing discoveries of mankind and the world he lives in. Understanding the cosmos is understanding God. Understanding Grace is understanding the love God has for mankind. God doesn’t allow anything bad to happen, it just happens. People kill, mame, steal, hate fellowman. They also love, honor, respect and defend. Its the human condition. Fear,love and hate are the 3 most pervasive emotions man expresses. Call it good or evil if you like. Grace is unmerited favor. No matter how good or evil we are, grace covers it all. If an angelic realm still exists, why has God placed a barrier between us. Angels at the time of Christ and before interacted with humans. They no longer do, why? I have an opinion as to why I would like to read yours. Peace and love in Christ, Gary

    • Glenn Says:

      Hi Heavenbound,

      I think there is still interaction between angels and people. As for elect angels (angels who follow God and not Satan) I am tempted to say that they don’t interact with us because the canon of scripture is complete. We don’t need warnings from them or to be taught by them because scripture gives us all of the information we need in this dispensation. However I always remember this verse:

      2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
      Hebrews 13:2

      How do we know we haven’t interacted with an elect angel?

      I also believe that demon possession still occurs in this world. I firmly believe that Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Tse-tung were demon possessed. There hasn’t been as much demon activity in the United States because of the heavy influence of Christianity (I don’t believe a believer can be demon possessed). As the influence of Christianity recedes you will see more and more demonic activity.

      Glenn

    • Glenn Says:

      Hi Heavenbound,

      Your comment was a long one and my first response only touched on some of your points. I’m thinking about pulling together a short post for Wednesday that shows some of the Christian responses to the problem of evil (theodicy) and point out why I think they lack.

      I don’t think that Christianity is necessarily as dismissive of science as you may think. I do believe that interpretation of the world around us depends on how we view that world. I believe I have heard this called the “interpretive lens .” If you are interested in this topic I would recommend listening to some of Charles Clough’s Bible Framework study that I link to in my sidebar.

      Glenn

  2. heavenbound Says:

    Glenn: As far as I know the Catholic church has done about 60,000 exercisms that they have documented. I don’t know of any other churches documenting ocurrances. I do know that pentacostals do exercisms as well. The medical communtiy has documented Skitzofrenia, multiple personality disorders and of course mental illlness. Do you suggest that these people are also demon posessed?
    What constitutes, demon posession? What differentiates, in your opinion mental illness and demon possession. Are serial killers demonized? Are sociopaths, demonized? In regards to witch burning, do you believe that these women were demon possessed? Or were the accusers demon posessed?
    I think you get my point. Its easy to see evil, if that what is the word used to describe in the human condition and say its not part of the human makeup.
    But the sad thing is, it is. People do bad things to people. People also love one another and that also is part of the human condition. If people are demonized then what do we call people who love and cherish one another? Are they posessed by angels?

    • Glenn Says:

      Hi Heavenbound,

      Those are good questions. First off, I don’t believe that the exorcisms done by the Catholic Church (or any other church) are legitimate. Christ had the power to cast out demons and he did give that power to his disciples. However I don’t believe that he gave that authority to the church.

      What constitutes demon possession? I believe that at least some demons are disembodied spirits (some appear to have bodies while others don’t) and can actually enter an unbeliever’s body. That is demon possession. Notice that I said that a demon can enter an unbeliever’s body in contrast to a believer’s body. The body of a believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit and a demon cannot enter.

      You mentioned witch burnings and I do want to talk about that for a moment. If you mean the Salem witch trials I can’t say that I know a lot about them (I do know those who were convicted were hanged and not burned). From what little I do know I doubt that the accused were demon possessed but I may be wrong. I don’t know about the accusers either. I will say that the Salem Witch Trials happened because the Puritans were trying to follow the Mosaic Law which did condemn witches to death. I do not believe that God intends for any nation to implement the Mosaic Law, that was for Israel and its time is past.

      Don’t get me wrong, I do not believe that all of the evil in this world is because of Satan and his demons. I believe that the fallen human race is more than happy to go along with Satan’s plans. Satan is ruler of this world and he does promote his own into positions of authority. This hasn’t happened as much in the United States in the past because of the heavy influence of Christianity but it typical throughout history.

      I would recommend you get a free copy of the book Satan and Demonism (link here) from R.B. Thieme, Jr. publications. My guess is that you will find it interesting.

      Glenn


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