Does the Devil Exist?: Resistance Over Existence

Since the publication of Reviving Old Scratch I've talked a lot with podcasters, reporters and radio hosts about the devil.

Many of these conversations tend to fixate on a single question: Does the devil exist?

I get why I'm asked that question. Does the devil exist? Everyone wants either a Yes or No answer. The subtitle of Reviving Old Scratch is "Demons and the Devil for Doubters and the Disenchanted." And if you only read that title you could be excused for thinking that my book is trying to convince skeptical readers that the devil indeed exists.

But my book isn't, at root, an apologetics for the existence of the Devil. I leave the question about the existence of a literal Devil to the side, making the book practical for both believers and skeptics alike.

So what I try to communicate to people interviewing me about the book is that the book focuses less on existence and more on resistance.

Because here's the interesting thing. A lot of people who believe in, say, demonic possession don't actually experience a lot of that in their day to day spiritual formation efforts.

And that's my point about resistance over existence. For far too many Christians, the question over Satan's existence reduces to a conversation about the existence of occult and exotic experiences, things like demon possession. In my estimation far too much time is spent debating these things.

Why? Because if the conversation doesn't have any direct, immediate and daily impact upon spiritual formation then the question of existence is mostly irrelevant, a debate about things that rarely happen, and if they do happen it is stuff that happens to other people in other places.

Fine, demon possession might be happening in the Third World, but if you don't have any room for demons in your daily life, say, while you stand on the sideline watching your daughter's soccer game, well, what's the point of debating the existence of demons? From a spiritual formation perspective, it's an irrelevant conversation for you.

That's what I mean about resistance over existence. We have to see spiritual warfare as daily acts of resistance to the diabolical forces that we confront everyday in the most mundane of circumstances--from cleaning up the house, to going to church, to standing around the workplace water cooler, to waiting in a line at the store.

Spiritual warfare happens daily in all these locations, in ways that aren't very occult or exotic.

And if you don't see it that way, well, debates about "Does the Devil exist?" don't strike me as either very interesting or important.

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