God's Morality and Justice

Depends… one must at least be willing to recognize that no cause will appear the same as a supernatural cause


While I suppose there are various categories of supernatural causes, it seems an appropriate term for any cause that is unobservable by nature

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Yes. If we are supposed to believe in demonic possession, are we supposed to also believe in witches? Why or why not? Witches and sorcerers are mentioned in the Bible. (Not the nice Hogwarts kind)

If " comprehensive physical, medical, and psychiatric assessments are useful, and appropriate to rule out non-demonic causes" who evaluates all the data and makes the final decision to do an exorcism? Would it be the exorcist himself or a panel of experts at his church?

@jpm Have you ever had an exorcist ask you to forward a patient’s medical records to him? Even if the patient gave permission, wouldn’t that be an ethics violation?

  • “We” who?
  • You can and will believe whatever you want. I just push back when you claim stuff that you can’t prove and only have anecdotal stories to support your claims.
  • What? you’re not content to deny demons and demonic influences, but now you want to know whether or not belief in witches is necessary? Believe what you want and can, matters not to me. But evidence of “no witches” is, I suspect, as paltry as your evidence for “no demons”.
  • FYI, I don’t knowingly consort with demons or witches, so I’m not able to introduce you to any. Maybe you can find some of each online.
  • I’m not an exorcist, and so won’t speak for them all. Check with your Bishop to see if your Diocese can answer your query.
  • LOL! When I’ve become your Bishop, I’ll let you know.
  • There’s a law against a patient or a patient’s guardian obtaining their records and sharing with their potential exorcist or the exorcist’s authority? Where do you live?

As I recall there are three possibilities for the name, and all of them were pagan.

Pagans would have raised pigs.


I read that once in a context where it was treated as a curse.

Peck is a pretty good writer.


If it were the patients request, you legally cannot refuse. Only exceptions I know is if there were something psychiatric in nature in the records that would harm the patient


I am not misunderstanding you. You push aside methodological naturalism only when convenient for you (Jesus is God incarnate, Jesus rose from the dead, born of an virgin, worked actual supernatural miracles–if you believe in these?) but the minute someone pushes it aside to agree with what Jesus plainly does many times in the gospels (exorcises demons who he talks to and distinguishes between types privately to his disciples) and what the Bible clearly thinks is real (possession) you cry YEC/GAPS. You are sawing off the branch you are sitting in.

I’d say you are bifurcating between the temple and Israel in a sense as if destroying the temple, the spiritual heart and center of Jewish worship–God’s home on earth–is not the same thing as a judgment against Israel? They are probably synonymous here but Mark may have in mind a specific subset of Jews but it seems to turn more global by the end of the Gospel. For me the Markan intercalation makes this clear. The temple cleansing and fig tree is sandwiched together (not one stone, withered from roots: both = totally destroyed and both are linked by the phrase “rabbi/teacher look”). The fig tree and the temple are connected here on both levels and are sandwiched.

In the Gospels Jesus also says a house of prayer is turned into a den of thieves/robbers. For sure Jesus agrees with the central purpose of the Temple. But it clearly was not fulfilling that and its destruction was at hand. The “cleansing” is a complicated issue. Joel Marcus (Mark, Anchor Bible) writes:

Also as far as den of thieves or brigands::

This part of Jesus’ denunciation echoes Jer 7:11: “Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of brigands in your sight?” (NRSV alt.). It may have been combined with Isa 56:7 partly on the basis of gĕzērāh šāwāh (analogy; see the GLOSSARY), since both passages speak of the Temple as God’s house and use the verb “to call.” The context of the expres- sion in Jeremiah is significant, since it is part of a judgment on those who trust overmuch in the Temple (Jer 7:4); instead of preserving “the house of the Lord” that has become a den of brigands, God will pour out his anger on it, burn it with fire, and cast its adherents out of his sight (7:14–20). Not only is this scenario of judgment and exile from Israel similar to that in Mark 12:9, but the prophecy of the Temple’s destruction may reverberate in the Markan context of the Jewish War, in which some revolutionaries seem to have trusted in the inviolability of the Temple (see Hengel, Zealots, 221–24).

He is judging the Jewish people–specifically the leaders and temple authorities-- and destroying the temple is that judgment. Marcus: “Jesus’ curse on the fig tree (“Let no one ever eat fruit from you again”) seems to imply that the Temple will soon cease functioning.” Also Marcus

Seen against this biblical background, we might be tempted to interpret the fig tree in our story as a symbol for the nation as a whole, but the conclusion of the next scene reveals that at this point in the Gospel a large portion of the people (“the whole crowd”) is still responsive to Jesus; only the chief priests and the scribes oppose his action and message (11:18; cf. 12:12; 14:1–2; cf. also, how- ever, 15:11–15). Especially in view of the Temple setting of our narrative, the most immediate culprits seem to be the Temple and its functionaries (cf. the paral- lel between “seeing . . . a fig tree” in 11:13 and “looked around at everything” in the Temple in 11:11). Jesus’ inability to find fruit on the tree, and his consequent curse against it, stands for the conclusion that the Temple leadership is hopelessly corrupt; in the larger Markan story, the barrenness of the fig tree anticipates the “abomination of desolation” that is prophesied of the Temple in 13:14. For Mark, indeed, the Temple seems to be firmly entrenched in the sphere of the sterile old age that is headed for destruction (cf. “for it was not the time for figs” in 11:13c and see Broadhead, Teaching, 177).

Yes the vineyard is in Isaiah 5 but I think it represents the covenant or promise of Abraham. God is going to cast this judgment by destroying the temple. If God blew up America and I said “God cast judgment on the USA” of course I mean the people. God is not mad at rocks and trees.The temple was the center of Jewish life at the time. Marcus again:

A man planted a vineyard. Gk ampelōna anthrōpos ephyteusen. This imagery and many other details in 12:1 come from Isaiah 5, where the vineyard stands for Israel and the man for God (see the COMMENT on 12:1–5). Such use of agricul- tural images for salvation-historical realities is common in the OT and postbibli- cal Judaism (cf. the COMMENTS on 4:3–8; 4:30–32; 11:12–14). Several rabbinic parables, for example, compare God to the owner of a planted field, and in Sipre Deut. 312 the owner takes the field away from tenant farmers who have plundered it (= the Gentiles) and gives it to his son (= Israel; cf. Stern, “Jesus’ Parables,” 60–61). It is possible that this is a rabbinic riposte to our text, in which the wicked tenants are Israel and the “others” to whom the vineyard is given are the church.

The vineyard is the covenant or inheritance of Abraham and its being given to others.

Again, the parable of the tenants. 9 “What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.

How can the text more plainly say this is God’s judgment? The owner of the vineyard = God) will come and slaughter the wicked tenants (Jews) and give away the land (covenant) to others. So, yes, this is a forecast of God’s violent judgment on the temple and its authorities and increasingly in Christian thought, the Jews more globally. Marcus: again:

How much of Mark 11-13 is historical is an open question. A good argument can be made it was written after the temple’s destruction. But as the text stands, Jesus prophecies and attributes the destruction of the temple/people for not producing fruit.

And my original point of all this is that Inhave immense difficulty with the violence in the Bible, but it does occur on the lips of Jesus as depicted in the Gospels. He is not as easy to wave away as Iron Age war-mongerers…

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Those performing exorcisms in the national Lutheran church explained something about their practices.

First, they (always two persons with assistants that protect the exorcists from a violent physical attack) evaluate the information they get. If it seems that some kind of mental disorder might explain the unusual behavior, they send the person to a psychiatrist. Normally the possessed persons have been seriously involved in witchcraft, worshipping of idols or something similar that exposes the person to evil spirits.

Second, exorcism is always based on voluntary participation. The situation is kept as peaceful as possible to keep the person calm. If the person seems to become uncomfortable, they ask the person if (s)he is willing to continue.

Third, the exorcism is started as a ‘usual’ prayer meeting with reading of the Bible and prayers. If the person is possessed, the demon usually manifests during the prayers. When the demon has manifested, it is ordered to leave the person in the name of Jesus Christ.

I would say that the procedure seems credible. Nothing like the ‘movie exorcisms’.

One point to add is that the persons doing the exorcisms (believers) would like to quit it because it is mentally burdening. They said they only do it because they believe God has called them to do it. One of the persons told that she said to God that she does not continue it unless God gives an obvious sign to continue. She selected something that she considered to be very unlikely as a sign and that happened. So she continues.


The word “usual” triggered a memory.

Have you ever heard of an accidental exorcism? On happened at a Thursday evening Eucharist healing service: a lady passed out after drinking from the chalice, and when she came to her demeanor had changed drastically; she was no longer constantly irritable and complaining and snapping at others, no longer hearing a voice that talked about unspeakable horrors, no longer feeling trapped inside her own brain while something else ran her body.
The priest recognized what had happened and switched liturgies once everyone had communed. He wrote a detailed report for the bishop, who after some time affirmed that the reception of the holy chalice had driven out a demon.



Ha! That demon must have been sleeping on the job or sedated to let the woman get a sip from the chalice.


Heh. Or maybe her husband made her attend? I don’t know fine details; I only know about it because at the time I was on the team that ‘managed’ the Eucharistic vessels, making sure they were clean and ready before each use, then clean and polished and properly stored afterwards, and one of the team was present when it happened.

Just BTW, it wasn’t the only Eucharistic miracle at one of those Thursday healing services – a phenomenon that really freaked out some Charismatic types who insisted healing had to happen via laying on of hands. Fr. Evanson referred people with such ideas to a text from around the eighth century that talked about the Eucharist as “the medicine of immortality” and to a little piece by Martin Luther where he wrote concerning the Eucharist that “where there is forgiveness of sins, there is life, health, and salvation”.


You are correct on this point. My bad.

We all use methodological naturalism. You probably do also. If part of my sandwich disappears, I assume my beagle stole it not that an angel ate it. If something has been nibbling on my hostas, I assume it was deer, not God.
Scientists look for natural causes for disease outbreaks and the like, and that is why we have lifesaving vaccines, antibiotics, and the like. The scientific enterprise has been very fruitful adding years to our lifespans. This does not preclude belief in the supernatural. There are many religious scientists, and some have written for BioLogos. e.g. Karl Giberson, Denis Lamoureux, etc.

I have some questions about the Canaanite genocide:

If the Canaanites were so evil and rotten to the core they had to be exterminated, why did Rahab the harlot and her family get to live? And more, why did she get to be the ancestor of Joseph the husband of Mary?

If Canaanite religion was so dangerous to Israelite religion, how do you explain the influence of Canaanite poetry on the Psalms?

It’s a serious question. Witches and sorcerers are mentioned in the Bible, so are we supposed to believe in them also? The infamous pastor in the disturbing “Jesus Camp” documentary told the children that if Harry Potter had lived in OT times he would have been put to death. Pastor Greg Locke has identified witches in his own congregation. He has written a manual on demon possession and thinks that bed-wetting is caused by demons.

How would you prove that invisible angels are NOT orbiting around Mars?

Do they write about their experiences in any kind of journal?

No one is disputing methodological naturalism or its fruit. I consider it a testimony to the ordered and coherent nature of God who continually creates and upholds our existence at every instant. Walking down the steps a few minutes ago while holding a box I couldn’t see over, I assumed the steps would still be there and did not entertain the notion a demon may have removed them or they are now made of jello I would fall through.

As does everyone else but you are missing the point

If Jesus body was put in the tomb I look for a natural explanation. The body was stolen by Necromancers. The tomb was mixed up and the body rotted. Or maybe there never was a kingly tomb full r Jesus, the body was buried in a shallow grave and eaten by dogs and the grief stricken apostles had visions that led to belief Jesus rose from the dead.

We have a lot of explanations of Jesus that don’t need to appeal to the supernatural. As I tried to explain to you— and this is the last attempt for me— you seem fine suspending methodological naturalism when convenient to you but uncharitably admonish others for just drawing the same line in a different part of the sand on the same beach. You are taken it to the extreme to critique supernatural beliefs which you seem to yourself hold to. This is highly inconsistent.

And the second point I have attempted to make is this:

Sure, I would assume your beagle ate the sandwich not an angel. But if my Lord and Savior, creator of heaven and earth, true God of true God, told me explicitly in his sacred writings that your sandwich was taken by an angel, who am I to disagree?

The point you fail to note is that many of us Christians suspend methodical naturalism —which is a limited—on the case of demons because we believe either 1) our Lord and Savior told us something different or God did in his sacred writings. Some Christians may add a 3rd reason. First hand experience. But nothing more is needed than 1 and 2.

Methodological naturalism is a way of learning about reality. But as a Christian so too are the words and actions of God Incarnate. As far as the pecking order goes, Jesus is my highest authority. If I think I am interpreting and understanding Him correctly, I have to go with that over EVERYTHING else. Everything else can make me question my understanding and interpretation of Jesus but it holds no intellectual authority in my mind to anything Jesus teaches.

That has absolutely nothing to do with this discussion. No one is saying we should reject methodological naturalism as a principal for investigation. It works. We are simply saying there are other modes of knowledge about the world for us. They must be synthesized into a whole. If you only follow methodological naturalism you are then a philosophical naturalist which makes you an atheist in my uninspired book.

It also does not preclude belief in demonic possession to that a small number of medical issues in the world can be related to this.

My loyalties lie with a primitive, uneducated, pre-scientific Jew who thought demonic possession was real.


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  • So’s mine.
  • I must have forgotten to say that what you personally believe is unimportant to me, until you try to tell me what I shouldn’t believe; and then I’m going to tell you that I don’t agree.
  • Unless I did say something like that and you ignored what I said.
  • I hate to break it to you, but Harry Potter is a fictional character.
  • I don’t live in Tennessee and don’t know anyone who does. Do you? Or are you planning on starting a petition to have him locked up, psychoanalyzed, and treated or institutionalized?
  • The same way that I would prove that you have bats in your belfry. I wouldn’t even try.

No, and most likely will not. They are trying to do their service with as low profile as possible. They told something because of malicious rumours, to show that their practices are acceptable, not something extreme or dangerous to the patients. Unfortunately, even that little caused opposition and malicious talks from those who do not believe in demons or even God.

It is not healthy to draw too much attention to demons, and academic debate about the topic may be interesting but not fruitful. Believers seeing and trying to drive demons out from many around them simply do not understand the reality and the will of the Lord. Our focus should be in our Lord, not the adversary. When people are with Jesus, they are relieved and protected from the evil spirits.

There is also the danger that some ignorant persons would try to do an exorcism in their own power or relying on some religious objects like the crucifix - not a good idea when you are dealing with strong demons. Only our living Lord has the authority and power to drive out the demons. We can do it in His name, if we belong to Him (are ‘in Christ’, as Paul would express it).