Something and nothing

Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “no idol in the world really exists” and that “there is no God but one.” Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords—yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist (1 Cor. 8:4,5).

What exists? Does Satan exist? Demons? Principalities and powers? Maybe / maybe not. Let me assume for a moment that the devil is not a ‘personal’ entity. I can certainly understand the arguments for that position, yet regardless of the position taken the conflict is real; if demons do not exist as personal entities our commission is still to cast them out! I have had personal visitations from powers that have manifested in personal form and I remember one from my first visit to a particular nation. Manifesting in personal form I still remember the eyes, the stance with NO nervousness nor intimidation she informed me of where she was situated and what she controlled and nothing was going to change! The experience was real, the after-effects were real enough, certainly when I was literally evicted from the country, escorted by four armed guards back on to the airplane; I was, and remain, convinced of the reality of the conflict. But did ‘she’ exist as a personal entity? And if so from back in time as one of the devil’s fallen angels?

There are so many experiences, but theologising from experience is never wise… nor is developing a theology without reference to experience.

In writing about what I believe it becomes evident that there are many, many gaps as I do not have things tied up. It does seem certain to me that there are beliefs that ‘create’ powers. This creative power is very evident in the more extreme form of conspiracy theories that abound. In believing something I give power to the thing I believe exists, even if it does not exist. Paul seems to be wrestling with this aspect. There are no gods beside the one God… but there are gods and lords.

Earlier in 1 Corinthians Paul has said that,

God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to abolish things that are (1 Cor. 1:28).

‘To abolish’ (καταργέω) carries a wide range of meaning from literally to obliterate / annihilate through to render inoperative. That leaves us some possible options. And my non-dogmatic response is that there are spiritual entities (or at least the presence of spiritual presences that manifest as entities) that we ‘create’ through our beliefs, and beyond that there probably are ‘fallen spiritual beings’ that exist and get attached to what we create, behind which seems to be ‘the Satan’. [The story of the demons going in to the pigs seem to suggest that they were at some level ‘beings’ independent of the Gadarene gentleman.] So perhaps the wide range of meaning seems appropriate. Abolish what we create, thus giving no / less space for spiritual powers (demons) to operate thus rendering them inoperative.

Beliefs get us so far… our stance (‘stand’ being such a strong word in Ephesians 6) and our prayers are there to bring solutions that our beliefs might never be able to do.