Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sept synchroblog: devils, demons, et al.

I'm posting a couple days late but loved having a writing prompt...and sprung for it!
This blog post is part of a monthly synchroblog event when multiple bloggers reflect on a single topic. Here's the synchroblog home blog, and the skinny on the blog post setup:
what are some weird, wacky or just plain different things you’ve heard taught about Satan as you’ve been a member of this tribe called Christian? ... This month is wide open for being fun or being serious...because this subject could run in many different directions depending on the tradition you come from.
What, me, serious? Devil, satan, fallen angel, demon? That could take forever scripturally to tease out and define, whether we're talking about the serpentine tempter as the "other than me" (in the Garden of Eden, for example, getting blamed for human frailty), satan as the prosecuting attorney (in Job, for example), or the demonic as the opposite of the divine, so I'll write some from my own perspective and experience.

In the protestant mainline we don't often obsess or talk much about The Devil, although in his Small Catechism explanation of baptism Martin Luther tells us baptism "...works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil." In the ELCA's most recent worship resource, Evangelical Lutheran Worship (ELW), baptismal candidates are asked, "Do you renounce the devil and all the forces that defy God?" The order for Affirmation of Baptism (historically called confirmation) asks candidates the exact same question. Luther himself sort of had a thing about demons and the devil. In fact, Luther left so much devil-related material that a local guy wrote his DMin thesis on "Luther and Demons" and presented an extract of the content at a presbytery meeting.

"Demons and the demonic" is a common theological catch phrase—what examples of those are in the average person's life? Addictions of all kinds, overeating, self-injury, possibly clinical depression, suicidal ideation. Sometimes we refer to an impulse being ego-syntonic or ego-dystonic, with syntonic feeling as if our mind and bodies have at least a modicum of control, a little agency over the behavior because it feels as if it originates within ourselves. The dystonic feels as if the impulse enters our beings unbidden from outside ourselves, anything but a product of our own mind, body, spirit, will and emotions.

Saul/Paul of Tarsus obsesses and distresses over the countless times (just like all of us) he finds himself unwittingly behaving in ways he never intended, many of those times feeling as if something or someone external to his intent (ego-dystonic) is performing in him or somehow forcing him to do what he doesn't intend. He describes it as not him, but sin dwelling, literally living within him. I didn't include a dictionary definition of demon, demonic or devil, but one catechism defines sin as any transgression of or lack of conformity unto the law of God.

Demons and the demonic – temptations and prosecutions – his temptations by the devil in the wilderness is the first recorded event after Jesus' baptism by John; he refuted each of the tempter's claims with scripture.

This is the 9th hour and the stone has been rolled away: this is the time of salvation. This is Pentecost, the reign of the Spirit of Life. Jesus was baptized into John's baptism, but we're baptized into Jesus' death and resurrection: death (sin and the devil) has no more dominion.

other september participants:

• Jeremy Myers at Till He Comes: The Devil Made Me Go To Church

• K.W. Leslie at More Christ: Devilish Misinformation

• Marta Layton at Fidesquarens: The Christian Jihad

• Sonnie Swenston-Forbes at A Piece Of My Mind: The Devil Made Me Do It

• Bill Sahlman at Creative Reflections: The [one who will go unnamed] Made Me Do It

• Kathy Escobar at kathy escobar: the stranger (who’s a little too familiar) & the shepherd

• Liz Dyer at Grace Rules: Have You Inhaled Demon Spirits?

1 comment:

kathyescobar said...

thanks for sharing, leah. it is fun to read all of the different perspectives on this.