Encountering Satan, Demons, and Unclean Spirits – Br. Curtis Almquist

Br. Curtis Almquist

Luke 11:14-26

The drama of this Gospel story hinges on Jesus’ encounter with Satan, demons, and unclean spirits. In our own time and place, these “evil spiritual realities” are largely relegated to Hollywood and to children’s fantasy literature such as the Narnia Chronicles, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter. We are products of the Enlightenment, so-called, a culture not schooled in the discernment of good and evil. And yet, you can hardly turn a page of the Bible without encountering the battleground of spiritual forces. Saint Paul writes, “For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but… against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”[i]

The early experience of monasticism in the Egyptian desert gives repeated accounts of the monks being in constant battle between good and evil, and it is we who are being fought over. The fourth-century monk, Evagrius Ponticus, gave the warning: “Stay watchful of gluttony and desire,” he warned, “and the demons of irritation and fear as well. The noonday demon of laziness and sleep will come after lunch each day, and the demon of pride will sneak up only when you have vanquished the other demons.”[ii] Read More

Breathing Room – Br. Keith Nelson

Luke 11:14-26

What’s your experience with demons? Demons appear on practically every page of the Gospel. Sooner or later, every conscientious follower of the Gospel of Christ must arrive at his or her own interpretive conclusions about these demons, a personal demonology, if we are to engage in any life-giving and meaningful way with these ancient texts, their ancient authors and their first-century worldview. Read More

Remedial First Grade – Br. Mark Brown

Br. Mark Brown

Luke 11:14-26

This passage from Luke points us to a great paradox in the Christian life: the more we make progress in the life of faith, the more we realize we have failed.  There is more progress in the sense of failure, than in feelings of success.

It’s probably not possible for us to hear these words of Jesus quite the way first century folk did, with all the talk about Beelzebul and the demons.  But “demons”, metaphorically speaking, is something we can all relate to: fear, selfishness, contempt for others, hatred, pride, impatience… We all have our favorite “demons”—or if not our favorites, our familiars: the ones who keep coming to take up residence in the house we thought we had cleaned so thoroughly.  When we think we might have rid ourselves of one “demon”, perhaps by the cultivation of some virtue, we discover others have come to take its place.  A kind of false pride that entices us into judgment of others is perhaps one of the more persistent “demons” of those making “progress” on the way.

It’s an ongoing wrestling match with one “demon” or another in the life of faith.  And we are, indeed, transformed—we do make progress in the spiritual life, we are caught up in a process of ongoing conversion—in Christ, into Christ.

But genuine progress comes in recognizing failure.  We only advance when we realize we have failed.  We only pass if we realize we’ve flunked.  The most advanced level in the school of Christianity is remedial first grade. It’s always back to the basics…