EDITOR’S NOTE: This series is excerpted from the bestselling book God’s Ghostbusters
Currently, America and much of the world is experiencing what would have seemed impossible just fifty years ago: an explosion of ancient occultism and wicked fascination with all things paranormal by today’s spiritually abandoned public. In the United States alone, there are now more than two hundred thousand witches and as many as 8 million practitioners of “the craft.” On college and high school campuses across the nation (and in homes via electronic media such as iPads and TV), ghosts, incubus, succubus, witches, vampires, werewolves, and other “creatures of the night” are popularly esteemed as objects of desire and idolized by young men and women who view them as cult icons of envious mystical power. Psychologists have long understood how women in general desire strength in men, but few could have imagined how this natural and overriding need by young ladies would be used in modern times to seduce them of their innocence using mysteriously strong yet everlastingly damned creatures depicted in popular books and films like Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse. Listing all of the related fan sites, music videos, magazines, television shows, and movies currently dedicated to sexual (or romantic) obsession with alluring demons-in-flesh would require more space than can be allowed in a chapter of this nature. These would include television shows like Being Human, The Gates, Underworld, The Vampire Diaries, True Blood, and dozens of others (not to mention hedonistic gay-themed programs such as The Lair, a series that plays nationwide on all major cable systems based on a vampire-run sex club). Pop music idols including Lady Gaga, Natalia Kills, Jessie J, and even Britney Spears have likewise caught the demon-fever, and in recent years have used their music to increasingly deploy magic spells, occult words, and esoteric symbols. Even church leaders and Christian teens seem enchanted by the darkness. An April 13, 2011 article titled “Mysticism Infecting Nazarene Beliefs” was preceded only a few days before by a Telegraph article describing how a “surge in satanism” including inside the church has sparked a “rise in demand for exorcists” within traditional religious settings.[i]
Yet for some, focusing as we just have on pop-culture memes as a sign of deeper, culturally relevant consequences is an over-assessment of the danger. The present captivation with dark supernaturalism by this generation will eventually fade, people like this argue, so we should not worry, as the long-term effects of Harry Potter’s witchcraft and Twilight’s vampirism will be of no more significance in the years ahead than was the Cowboy and Indian games played by our grandparents.
As a doctor of theology with a past in exorcism, I couldn’t disagree more. Mass media including the Internet, television, film, radio, and other mass communications systems have traded the Bela-Lugosi-like vampires of former years who could be vanquished with Christian symbols (and silly Abbott and Costello’s Frankensteins and Mummies) for monsters of profound demonic character depicted as impervious to Christ’s power. As a result, today’s youth have exchanged yesterday’s pigtails and pop-guns for pentagrams and blood covenants aligned with forces far stronger than former generations could have imagined. Under demonic influence, this age is systematically being seduced by a supernatural system, wherein kosmokrators (rulers of darkness who work in and through human counterparts) command spirits of various rank until every level of the material world, secular and religious, is touched by this influence. If we could see through the veil into this domain, we would find a world alive with good against evil, a place where the ultimate prize is the soul of this generation and where legions war for control of its cities and people.
Where Did “Creatures of the Night” Come From?
In what is considered to be one of the most important Scriptures having to do with spiritual warfare, the Bible lifts the curtain on this contest for man’s spirit by supernatural realities in the tenth chapter of the book of Daniel. This is where the prophet Daniel is found fasting and praying for twenty-one days. He had purposed to chasten himself before the Lord in hopes that God would bless him with a revelation of Israel’s future. On the twenty-first day of his fast, while he was standing on the bank of the Tigris River, an angel suddenly appeared to him and said, “From the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words” (Daniel 10:12).
If a messenger was dispatched from heaven “from the first day,” why did it take three weeks before he arrived? The angel provided the answer by explaining that a powerful Persian demon had opposed him for twenty-one days. Not until the archangel Michael came to assist in the battle was he free to continue his journey. The book of Daniel also describes similar powers at work behind Babylon, Greece, and Rome, revealing an incredible tenet: Demons can control not only individuals, but entire societies, on a territorial scale.
In Persian theology, the spirit that opposed Daniel and his angel would have been identified as Ahriman, whose legend closely parallels the biblical fall of Lucifer. According to Persian religion, Ahriman was the death-dealer—the powerful and self-existing evil spirit from whom war and all other evils had their origin. He was the chief of the cacodemons, or fallen angels, expelled from heaven for their sins. After being kicked out of heaven, the cacodemons endeavored to settle down in various parts of the Earth, but were always rejected, and out of revenge found pleasure in tormenting the inhabitants of the Earth. Ahriman and his followers finally took up their abode in the space between heaven and the Earth, and there established their domain, called Ahriman-abad—“the abode of Ahriman.” From this location, the cacodemons could intrude into, and attempt to corrupt, the governments of men.
Besides Persian Zoroastrianism and the mythos of Ahriman (and a host of other ancient origin myths for demons), scholars in the field of demonology offer various hypotheses they believe explain the origin and motivation of these malevolent spirits. What follows is a brief examination of the seven most popular theories.
1) Demons—Spirits of a Pre-Adamic Race?
According to this field of thought, a pre-Adamic race existed on the original Earth before it became “dark and void” (Genesis 1:2). These humanlike creatures lived under the government of God and were presided over by Lucifer, the “anointed cherub that covereth” (Ezekiel 28:14). When these pre-Adamites joined Lucifer in revolt against God, a cataclysm fell upon Earth, physically destroying its inhabitants. Only the spirits of these beings survived to roam the Earth disembodied. This is offered as an explanation for why demons desire to possess humans, as they were meant to be “housed” in bodies of flesh and are uncomfortable otherwise.
2) Demons—Otherworld Beings?
Since little is known about life outside the limited sphere of our planet, a growing body of people contend that intelligent life forms may have been visiting Earth from distant worlds or parallel dimensions since the beginning of time. Some Bible expositors have picked up on this concept, blending it with traditional demonology and suggesting that demons are perhaps entities from another world (or reality) whose structure, like ultraviolet rays, are invisible to the human eye, but nonetheless distinct in atomic design.
Those holding this view note the universal consistency with which extraterrestrials and UFOs have been seen throughout history and that continue to be reported worldwide at a rate greater than six sightings per hour. Eric von Daniken’s best-selling book Chariot of the Gods? gave international rise to this concept some years ago by speculating that Earth was visited by aliens in the distant past, leaving behind archaeological evidence that gave birth to legends and mythological gods. Unlike von Daniken, in demonology, these creatures are presented as invisible and menacing, the originators of evil supernaturalism.
3) Demons—Offspring of Angels and Women?
As far back as the beginning of time and within every major culture of the ancient world, the astonishingly consistent story is told of “gods” that descended from heaven and materialized in bodies of flesh. From Rome to Greece—and before that, to Egypt, Persia, Assyria, Babylonia, and Sumer—the earliest records of civilization tell of the era when powerful beings known to the Hebrews as “Watchers” and in the book of Genesis as the b’nai ha Elohim (sons of God) mingled with humans, giving birth to part-celestial, part-terrestrial hybrids known as Nephilim. The Bible says this happened when men began to increase on Earth and daughters were born to them. When the “sons of God” saw the beauty of the women, they took wives from among them to sire their unusual offspring. In Genesis 6:4, we read: “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”
When this Scripture is compared with other ancient texts, including Enoch, Jubilees, Baruch, Genesis Apocryphon, Philo, Josephus, and Jasher, among others, it unfolds that the giants of the Old Testament such as Goliath were the part-human, part-animal, part-angelic offspring of a supernatural interruption into the divine order of species. The apocryphal Book of Enoch gives a name to the angels involved in this cosmic conspiracy, calling them “Watchers.” We read:
And I Enoch was blessing the Lord of majesty and the King of the ages, and lo! The Watchers called me—Enoch the scribe—and said to me: “Enoch, thou scribe of righteousness, go, declare to the Watchers of the heaven who have left the high heaven, the holy eternal place, and have defiled themselves with women, and have done as the children of earth do, and have taken unto themselves wives: Ye have wrought great destruction on the earth: And ye shall have no peace nor forgiveness of sin: and inasmuch as they delight themselves in their children [the Nephilim], the murder of their beloved ones shall they see, and over the destruction of their children shall they lament, and shall make supplication unto eternity, but mercy and peace shall ye not attain.” (1 Enoch 10:3–8)
According to Enoch, two hundred of these powerful angels departed from “high heaven” and used women (among other raw material) to extend their progeny into mankind’s plane of existence. The book of Jude describes the judgment the Watchers received for their actions, saying the “angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day” (Jude 6).
Unlike these progenitor Watchers who are currently bound under darkness until the Day of Judgment, the spirits of their dead offspring, the Nephilim, continue to roam the Earth as cursed entities or demons, according to this theory.
Those holding this view also point to the historical connection between the Nephilim and the Rephaim, who were associated throughout the ancient world with demons, ghosts, hauntings, the “shades of the dead,” and spirits in Sheol.
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4) Demons—Spirits of Wicked Men Deceased?
This teaching, still popular with a fragment of modern theologians, seems to have its origin in early Greek mythology. The Homeric gods, who were but supernatural men, were both good and evil. The hypothesis was that the good and powerful spirits of good men rose to assume places of deity after experiencing physical death, while the evil spirits of deceased, evil men were gods, doomed to roam the Earth and its interior. At death, their spirits remained in an eternal limbo, unable to perish, yet incapable of attaining heaven. Besides Greeks, the ancient Jewish historians, Philo and Josephus, held similar views, as did many of the early Church fathers.
Hollywood often conveys this idea (that demons are the spirits of dead, wicked men) through box office hits such as Child’s Play and Nightmare on Elm Street. In Nightmare on Elm Street, Freddy Krueger, played by actor Robert Englund, is the maniacal slasher and indestructible evil spirit of a deceased child-molester. In Child’s Play, a doll possessed by the spirit of a deceased voodoo strangler calls upon Damballa, the serpent god, to give him the power of immortality. Warner Brothers, who, in association with Wonderland Sound and Vision, produces the popular television drama/horror series Supernatural, used our published work on the strigae (vicious owl-like affiliates of the goddess Hecate who flew through the night feeding on unattended babies and during the day appeared as simple old women) in the first season of their series in this regard. They invited us to join a panel of paranormal activity experts for the release of the fifth season. The series stars Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester and Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester, two brothers who, as demon hunters, often find themselves pursued by spirits of the wicked dead. While expert input is sought by the screenwriters in order to give series episodes a mode of believability, shows like Supernatural blend numerous religious concepts and worldviews inconsistent with orthodox faith and should not be taken seriously.
5) Demons—Fallen Angels?
Of the seven theories we are summarizing, this is the most popular among contemporary Christians. This teaching is based on the assumption that at some time in eons past, Lucifer rose up in great rebellion and declared war on the God of heaven. Somehow, he persuaded one-third of the angelic host to stand with him in insurrection (Revelation12:4). At this point, God cast Lucifer and his rebellious angels out of heaven, at which time they became demons. Less in form and nature than they originally were, they brought darkness and chaos upon the virgin Earth. Some believe Ezekiel 28:13–19 is a record of this event:
Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou was upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou was perfect in thy ways from the day that thou was created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.
Isaiah 14:12–14 continues the record on Lucifer’s fall:
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground which didst weaken the nations! For thou has said in thine heart, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds: I will be like the Most High.” Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
The apostle John records an event in the book of Revelation (12:7–9) that some believe refers to Lucifer’s fall. John also tells of other angels:
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
6) Demons—Several of the Theories Above?
The proponents of this hypothesis believe a singular concept for the origin of “demons” is a mistake, that in fact what is routinely considered “the demonic realm” could be made up of several of the explanations above, and that this might demonstrate the hierarchy of demons as outlined in the book of Ephesians. In this view, “fallen angels” would rank above the “spirits of Nephilim” and so on, with each being part of the army of darkness. Just as privates in the United States military serve under sergeants who serve under majors, Satan’s forces consist of wicked spirits (poneria: the mass of common demon soldiers comprising Satan’s hordes) under rulers of darkness (kosmokrators: martial spirits that influence or administer the affairs of earthly governments) and powers (exousia: high-ranking officials whose modes of operation are primarily battlefield ops). Above these are principalities or archons (arche: brigadier generals over the divisions of Satan’s hosts). Satan, who reigns as supreme commander and king, is the “prince of the powers of the air” (Ephesians 2:2).
7) Demons—None of the Above?
Some believe all of the theories above are erroneous and that demons exist only in the imagination. These note how primitive men interpreted inherent diseases such as epilepsy as demonic possession and saw volcanoes and other natural catastrophes as the manifested anger of gods. This illustrates a human psychological weakness, they say, which assigns “paranormal activity” to events that men cannot otherwise explain.
While this theory is considered incomplete by most demonologists, it is not without credible points. In addition to ailments that cause people afflicted with disorders such as schizophrenia to experience auditory hallucinations, the human imagination can be persuasive when “filling in the blanks” on unsolved mysteries, sometimes leaving people convinced that undefined activity is the presence of ghostly beings. For instance, people have reported spooky apparitions in areas where strong electromagnetic fields are discovered, suggesting to some researchers that persons who are sensitive to these fields may be confusing the effect upon them by electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs). Some years ago, scientist Vic Tandy’s research into frequencies and eyeball resonation led to similar conclusions and a thesis called “Ghosts in the Machine,” which was published in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research. Tandy’s findings outlined natural causes for certain cases of specter materialization. Using his own experience as an example, Tandy was able to show that 19 Hz standing air waves could, under some circumstances, create sensory phenomena in an open environment suggestive of a ghost. The third of Arthur C. Clarke’s laws of prediction is also mirrored here, which concludes that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”[ii]
Toward a Supernatural End-Game
Regardless of the position one holds concerning the origin of demons—whether they are spirits from a pre-Adamic race, offspring of angels and women, fallen angels, or a mixture of several theories—as Carol Anne so ominously expressed in the 1982 film Poltergeist, “They’re here.” Demons and their militaristic interest in people and geography are ontological facts, according to the Bible. In the Old Testament, demons are seen as the living dynamic behind Twilight-like idolatry (i.e., Deuteronomy 32:17), and in the New Testament, every writer refers to their influence. Extrabiblical texts including ancient pseudepigraphical works like the first Book of Enoch and post-New Testament writings such as the Didache, Ignatius’ Epistle to the Ephesians, and the Shepherd of Hermas agree with this concern. Early Church fathers also reinforced the belief that evil spirits not only exist everywhere around us, but unseen intermediaries—both good and evil—interlope between spiritual and human personalities at home, in church, in government, and in society. Understanding how and why this is true is defined in demonological studies including those based on the divine council (a term used by Hebrew and Semitic scholars to describe the pantheon of divine beings or angels who administer the affairs of heaven and Earth), where experts typically agree that, beginning at the Tower of Babel, the world and its inhabitants were disinherited by the sovereign God of Israel and placed under the authority of lesser divine beings that became corrupt and disloyal to God in their administration of those nations (Psalm 82). Following Babel, these beings quickly became idolized on Earth as gods, giving birth to the worship of “demons” (see Acts 7:41–42; Psalms 96:5; and 1 Corinthians 10:20) and the quest by fallen angels to draw mankind away from God.
Although the Bible warns against inviting such supernaturalism into one’s life via fascination with the occult, the revival of ancient paganism and the experiences being drawn from them are especially seductive curiosities for people today. Sociologists understand that the public’s demand for pop-media material such as we started this chapter discussing—Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Ghost Hunters, Paranormal State, Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal, Animal Planet’s The Haunted, and more—may be evidence of something far deeper than today’s entertainment fads; it could be indicative of a new preferred spirituality, an informal consensus toward a post-New Testament theological condition, which, unfortunately, has been helped as much by Gospel-depleted modern churches as anything else. As such, it may not be unreasonable to believe today’s culture is rapidly approaching a prophetic end-times conflict known to Christians as “Armageddon”: a time in which the demonic influences behind the gods and idols of Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, True Blood, and Harry Potter actually go to war with Jesus Christ. “The LORD will be terrible unto them: for he will famish all the gods of the earth” says Zephaniah 2:11 of this time. “The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saith; ‘Behold, I will punish the…gods’” (Jeremiah 46:25). Human followers of the pagan deities will join this conflict, calling upon their idols (Revelation 9:20) to convene their powers against the Christian God, uniting with “the spirits of devils working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth…to gather them to the battle of that great day…[to] a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon [Megiddo]” (Revelation 16:13–14, 16).
If the world’s current fascination with creatures of the night—from demons and werewolves to vampires and ghosts—is indicative of this timeframe, a deal with the devil has been struck by society and every man, woman, boy, and girl had better quickly choose whose side they are on…because things may be about to get ugly.
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[i] Nick Squires, “Surge in Satanism Sparks Rise in Demand for Exorcists, Says Catholic Church,” The Telegraph, March 30, 2011, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/8416104/Surge-in-Satanism-sparks-rise-in-demand-for-exorcists-says-Catholic-Church.html.
[ii] “Clarke’s three laws,” Wikipedia, last modified May 26, 2011, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarke%27s_three_laws.
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