WRF Member Clair Davis Discusses "Harvie Conn, Flip Buys and the World Reformed Fellowship on the Subject of Demons"
Contextualization has to be a good idea. Use language that people can understand. Too many seminary types use seminary language while they preach, but they find that no one knows what they’re talking about, so they change (some never do).
But bad theologians gave that word a bad name, when they thought the way to go was, if people don’t know or believe what you’re talking about, just stop talking about it. That was why so much came off our Christian table: Jesus' virgin birth, ascension, even resurrection (they said it happened but no newspaper could have reported it). I guess they got through to people but not with the gospel. My friend Harvie Conn rescued the word and the thing, mostly by inventing his own brand new word, de-contextualization. Is there something in your own faith that’s not in the Word—prune it! Is there something in the Word that you leave out—put it in! You too can be captured by your own culture, not just those foreigners, the ones who need our missions work. I’m thinking that at the top of our own de-context list is: do we pray about everything? There are so many other options: see the doctor, see the psychiatrist, see the welfare office, ask around. I’ve done sermons with: 12 hours diligent work, 15 minutes prayer. I don’t recommend that. Now the World Reformed Fellowship gives us a new Statement of Faith. Do you think we need it? We’ve got the Swiss Second Helvetic, German Heidelberg, Scots Westminster (31K words). But you know, they all left out what is big in the Word, demons and what to do about them. We know why—do you know anyone who has a demon problem? We’ve heard of folks who knock people down and take credit for handling demons, but we’re doubtful. So do we just keep the demons out of our faith, even though they’re in the Bible? If we keep on doing that, our next step is to agree with Bultmann and his agenda of sanitizing the Bible. We have to do better, but how? Let’s look at that WRF Statement. It’s our faith for the world today, the only truly global Reformed statement we’ve ever had! Look at this from its section II. Evil and sin:
. . .The fallen angels are called demons and are led by Satan. They oppose the work of God and seek to frustrate his purposes. Nevertheless God remains sovereign over the powers of evil and uses their actions to forward his plan of salvation. Demons are not to be worshipped or served in any way. Their activity lies behind false religions and Satan blinds human minds to the truth. . .
Human beings join forces with supernatural agents who have brought about such horrific evils as genocide, the abuse of power, world wars, various types of terrorism, psychopathic killing, human trafficking, drug abuse and violence of all kinds. Without underestimating and undermining the significance of human beings, such outrageous forms of evil are propagated and orchestrated by demonic forces with the result that human beings can be divided, destroyed and brought below the level of animals in their thoughts and behaviour. Evil is not only directed towards the destruction of creation and the image of God in the descendants of Adam and Eve, but also towards suppression of the church and the truth of God. Though demons do not multiply, nor can they be destroyed by humans, we are still called to resist the evil, injustice, oppression and violence that the demons use for their purposes, while awaiting and praying for the return of Jesus Christ, who will bring an end to all these things. . . I wish I knew who gets the credit for those biblical insights, I imagine folks from Africa or maybe India? That must come from the "WORLD" word in WRF. I know we needed to hear that. My appetite is whetted. Here's much more from WRF International Director Flip Buys: http://wrfnet.org/articles/2015/04/wrf-international-director-dr-p-j-buys-presents-biblical-and-reformed-perspective#.VTklH61VhBc I can't think of adding to that, it's all there. I am reminded of what James K. A. Smith has been telling us, that our world used to be enchanted, there was more in it than what we could see or measure. I take that also to mean, prayer to the sovereign Lord through Christ our Mediator is not at all foolish, but the wisest thing we can do in this blessed enchanted world of ours. We'll need much help in our newly-found demon ministry, at least I do. Bring Flip here, to model for us? Until that happens, our prayer for a brother can go like this:
O Lord, love and care for our brother, help him to again think and act clearly, for your glory. Just take away from him now everything standing in his way, physical and demonic and whatever. In the Mediator's strong name, Amen.
Just finished Flip's paper, as well as your (Clair's) writing on demons and demonology. They are tremendously relevant. I keep going back to our adult Sunday School class on Washington Island, and our march through Romans, the minor prophets, Daniel, the "end" passages in the gospels and epistles, and then Revelation.
We consistently see the covenant relationship, "I will be your God, and you will be my people", with God's people moving toward the Cross and the New Jerusalem, and Satan's people moving toward the lake of fire; that time when God will cleanse Creation from ALL evil, forever, for His people. Those whose names are written in the Book of Life.
This is an astounding account of God's love for His people, and our responsibility, as those who are in-gathered, to do things like loving our neighbor and making disciples of all nations, to bring every name God has intended to be in the Book of Life, into it.
And since all this happens locally, individually, we should work locally...teaching, preaching, counseling, writing, being merciful; whatever we can do. And, whatever we do, we should do it biblically. That is, as Flip has done, say and do what the Bible teaches.
That had particular relevance for me in our Sunday School class, with a mix of a-mils, pre-mils and a Harold Ockenga post-mil (on an island with 400 people!). I committed to them that we would lay down the millenial views and pick up the Bible. What is happening is that the class has discovered Meredith Kline without knowing it, as they notice the glorious and loving progression of God's covenantal relationship with His people, to the point in Revelation 21:7, "He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son."
God is so good!