The Demonic in the Mundane

Whenever I talk about the powers and authorities in Paul’s letters, a lively discussion typically ensues involving all aspects of the heavenly realm and its mysteries.  We’re fascinated by angelic and demonic activity and the interface between physical and spiritual realities.

After introducing Ephesians last night, I enjoyed a few animated conversations about these very things.

[Sidenote – I’ll never forget the student who needed to speak with me after class one day.  She was compelled to tell me that a demon was hovering in the midst of our lecture hall.  It was just sitting there, observing me, she said. I was gobsmacked.  “Well, as long as it’s not causing a disturbance, that’s okay with me” I said.]

One question inevitably arises: Why is there so much demonic activity in other parts of the world and so little here in the U.S. and in the West?

Well, there may be answers to that question that lie beyond my capacity, but there is a consistent note throughout Scripture that may indicate otherwise.

Biblical writers discern demonic dynamics at work behind perverted human behaviors that we typically regard as “normal”—jealousy, anger, bitterness, divisiveness, and the refusal to forgive.

I think we dismiss these sorts of things as “not so bad,” hardly imagining that they could be tied up with the demonic.  After all, there’s no flopping around on the floor and people can behave in these ways while being quite polite.

I’d like to develop some thoughts from these passages over a series of posts, probably beginning next week.

There’s so much speculation about the spiritual realm–both angelic and demonic–but so much of it comes from anecdotes we’ve heard from others, from our own imaginations, or from our fears.  So little is tied directly to biblical texts and represents rightly what the Scriptures actually say about the spiritual realm.

13 thoughts on “The Demonic in the Mundane

  1. Sam Roberto

    Dr. G. I keep up with your thoughts as I have free time (scarce here in med school), and am looking forward to the perspectives you generate.

    Have you read the book, “Needless Casualties of War” by John Paul Jackson? – It’s not overly dense and rather short, I am reading through it right now and am finding it incredibly insightful to spiritual dynamics rooted in scripture.

  2. Ryan Clevenger

    Dr. Gombis, have you read Charles Taylor’s “A Secular Age”? I haven’t had the chance to go through it, but I have listened to some of his lectures which summarize it and I think he is on to something with his metanarrative of disenchantment as a way of explaining secularization (and thus, our contemporary inability to incorporate demonic activity in our modern worldview). Might be worth checking out if you haven’t already.

    1. timgombis

      Haven’t read it, Ryan. But I do think that because of secularization, we under-read or over-read the demonic. We don’t inhabit a worldview that easily integrates the physical and non-physical.

    1. timgombis

      I don’t!

      But I don’t think we have anything to fear from demons or the powers of darkness. If one was sitting there, hovering in the classroom, there’s no reason to fear on the part of those who are in Christ.

  3. Patrick

    Demons wouldn’t act like how the man in the graveyard acted in the Gospels here because we post enlightenment, know it all westerners would be freaked out and not as easily used if they did.

    I think the zeitgeist is evidence of plenty of demonic activity here myself as well as the other “mundane” areas.

  4. Tony M

    I’m looking forward to this series. I’ve heard so many varying, and often blatantly contradictory assessments of this topic that quite frankly I’m not sure what I even think anymore on the issue. It would be nice to try and gather some clarity and bearing. No pressure of course. 🙂

  5. Pingback: the devil is in the details « Jesus community

  6. Jaime

    I’ve been gone from the site for a couple weeks. (The beginning of a school year is always a busy time for teachers, as you know.) I just saw the Demonic in the Mundane #3, and decided to look for the earlier post.
    I think so much of our culture is demonic that, as Patrick said, why ruin it through more overt things that wouldn’t even work in our cultural setting the way they would in other cultures.

    1. timgombis

      Yes, you wonder how much of our culture, perhaps in a broader sense, is enslaved to pathways of death like consumerism, among other things, that the spectacular displays just aren’t necessary.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s