Wednesday, June 06, 2007

World Views – Do They Need to be Adjusted?

“A world view is a set of presuppositions (or assumptions) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously) about the basic makeup of our world.” (James W. Sire, The World Next Door, p. 17) [Note: the parenthetical phrases are Sire’s and in the book]

There are competing world views within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) – and, in many denominations for that matter. A person’s world view is the filter through which he/she filters all of the information and experiences of this life. Just because a person holds a certain world view DOES NOT necessarily mean that their world view is correct. (For ages and ages people held the world view that the world was flat.) As followers of Christ we are to be continually having our world view transformed to his.

One area where there are differing world views concerns the supernatural. Today I am going to try, in a very simplistic way, to identify some of those competing world views.

World View #1—Demons do not exist today:

Many church goers in our enlightened society do not believe that demons exist and are fairly powerful supernatural entities. When confronted with biblical texts concerning demons they use a multitude of explanations for what was causing the problem in the person’s life (a psychological problem, a heath ailment such as epilepsy, etc.). Some would say that myth and superstition caused the unenlightened folks of ages-gone-by to attribute unexplainable ailments to a demonic cause. Folks in this “camp” can be from all across the theological spectrum.

World View #2—Demons may exist but I don’t want to talk about it in my church:

Those in this camp are willing to acknowledge the existence of demons. They would say that some, or all, of the demonic confrontations of Jesus actually happened. They recognize that scripture says that Christ’s followers can cast out demons. Yet, they are VERY uncomfortable talking about demons and don’t want the subject to come up in their church. I think of this position as the head-in-the-sand approach toward that which is demonic.

World View #3—Demons do exist today:

Many Christians recognize that demons DO exist—however; many of these Christians have not had an experience with demons or did not recognize their experience with demons. Too many folks in this category have had very little teaching and training in this area.

“Pastor, you are going to think that we are crazy but…”

I know that a person is about to bring up the uncomfortable topic of demons whenever I hear the above phrase. The first time I heard that phrase at Evergreen was following a worship service many years ago. The young couple had waited until most people had left the sanctuary before approaching me. They were fairly new to our church and were involved in a small group Bible study with other young couples from another church. The leaders of the Bible study group had shared with the group that there were some really frightening things happening in their house. They would regularly see very frightening spiritual entities in their house. They were frightened for their two very young children. The group suggested that they go to the pastor of their church and see what their church could/would do. They went to their pastor and their pastor didn’t have the time or the energy to deal with it—the church was in the middle of a huge building project (not a Presbyterian church). Disappointed, they went to their group not knowing what to do. “Brian” and “Nancy” asked if they would mind if they talked to their pastor (me) about the situation. Following the biblical instructions of prayer and fasting I took our elders down to the affected house. They never saw those demonic entities ever again. Several weeks later while this same couple was at their Bible study a “crazy” man tried to break into their house. The neighbors saw the man drive up to the house and try to get in the front door. He turned the door knob and shook the door. The neighbors immediately called the police. The neighbors then watched as this deranged man jumped over the fence and tried to get into the house through the sliding glass door at the rear of the house. Once again, the door would not budge. The police came and took the man into custody. His car was contained numerous firearms. When the couple returned from their Bible study the neighbors ran to meet them and tell them what had happened at their house. They told the couple how lucky they were that they had locked up the house before heading to their Bible study. The “crazy” thing is that both the front door and sliding door were not locked!! God had made it impossible for the person to open either door. A result of our prayers!?!

Demons either exist or they don’t. I could go on and give several other examples of demonic activity in an effort to convince you that demons exist. The problem is that I cannot change the mind of someone whose world view does not allow the existence of demons. There is good news though—God can change a person’s world view!

Satan’s biggest victory of the past 200 years is in convincing so many of Christ’s followers (particularly Presbyterians) that he and other demons do not exist. It is hard to fight a battle when we don’t even know who the enemy really is!


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