Satan in a Presbyterian Church

We were sitting in the church library and now he was rocking back and forth in his seat, and I just kept thinking, “we have no idea what we are doing.” Norm had walked into University Presbyterian Church off the street and asked to speak to a pastor where I was serving as an intern. Because it was clear that he was disturbed, I asked the female pastor, the only one around, if she would like me to accompany her in talking with him. As we talked, it was as obvious from one perspective that Norm was mentally disturbed, and from mine, that demons were involved. Norm told us he had been involved with internet child pornography and was now being harassed by what he called an “orb” and two other presences, each with names. He described them to us. He said also that he was being bothered by the dead spirit of someone who had died in his apartment building. Norm told us he was being punished by these harassing presences because of his sins. The Pastor led Norm into a prayer of confession. After this prayer, Norm rocked back and forth in silence. I just kept thinking “we have no idea what we’re doing. She’s been to seminary and seems to have even less idea than me!” Finally Norm started talking, “God has spoken to me and told me that I will be punished for my sins...”. I broke in “That is not God’s voice!” I proceeded to claim authority in Jesus’ name over whatever evil was speaking to Norm, demanding it to stop and leave. But nothing changed. The Pastor didn’t know what else to say, and Norm got up and walked out of the church. I was disappointed. For one, I was disappointed that the Pastor seemed so unprepared for this type of encounter, one which was commonplace for Jesus and his disciples. Second, I was disappointed that my efforts had been futile. Admittedly, I was flying by the seat of my pants, but hadn’t I spoken almost exactly what Jesus and his disciples had? Why then did it not seem to work? Didn’t Jesus have all authority in heaven and on earth? This episode, as well as a another somewhat similar, was significant in my decision to come to Fuller Theological Seminary, rather than Princeton, where the Pastor had studied. I had read about John Wimber’s classes and Fuller and was hopeful that Fuller would be somewhat better at addressing this area of ministry. And so I found myself taking Power Encounter with Dr. Charles Kraft. This course took as its premise that God and Satan are in an ongoing battle, which was being played out on earth, and in which we were commissioned with God’s authority to oppose the “infinitely” inferior power of Satan. Kraft used that work “infinitely” in order to comfort and encourage us, but it only stoked my query: “If we have infinitely more power, shouldn’t deliverance be as easy as Jesus makes it look?” These questions, ones tied up intimately with the meaning of God’s sovereignty, propelled me into searching the resources of my traditions--Presbyterian, Evangelical and Charismatic--to come to an understanding of God’s sovereignty which allows for my experiences as well as the biblical testimony to Satan’s influence. You can read the result, which is posted here as Satan and Sovereignty.

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