I am astounded at how oblivious some people are to the hearts and souls of others, while simultaneously being perfectly “in tune” to each jot and tittle of their religion. When you find yourself fighting for your doctrine at the expense of people, you have crossed the line from loving to heartlessness.

–Darin Hufford, The Free Believers Network

I’ve been enjoying this podcast and blog that focuses on getting away from all the gross parts of the religion of Christianity.  The podcastors come from some mega-church charismatic/pentecostal experiences. I didn’t grow up with the guilt, emotional excess and manipulation that they talk about, but I have seen bits and pieces of it and find it infuriating all the same.  Previously, I have mentioned doctrinal differences I have with certain branches of Christianity, but that isn’t what motivates me.  I can resonate with the call to Love that is presented by Jesus in the Bible.  God is Love. We are to Love. So that is why I get a bit peeved at all the crap in religion, the excess, the thrashing of people in so many ways. It is not the way of Jesus.

The more I think about it, the more annoyed I am getting at aspects of pentecostal theology that seems to be influencing people with the desire to serve God through prayer and healing ministries. It seems that people with more “charismatic” gifts are leaving the traditional church setting and the alternatives they find themselves around are of pentecostal origin. And in the last 30 years, but especially the past 5-10, the whole demonology thing has gotten out of control. As Darin Hufford comments in this post,

I marvel at 90% of the things I hear Christians say in reference to spiritual warfare because I find it nowhere in Scripture. It seems that it’s the result of an interpretation of an interpretation of an interpretation of something someone said about an interpretation of a verse that was wrongfully interpreted. Before we know it, we are walking and talking about stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with anything real and true. I think perhaps this happens because for the most part, we have become truly bored with the simplicity of the Gospel. We’re not happy living our lives in this world, so we create excitement and adventure in our theology in an effort to spice things up.

I have heard so many erroneous interpretations of scripture in relation to spiritual warfare that it is hard to keep track.  When I was listening to the Free Believers Network’s podcast on this topic, I was struck by an analogy that one of the speakers made about cars. It’s the idea that you never notice something until you notice it everywhere. You never notice white cars until you buy one. Then they are EVERYWHERE. From another perspective, in coaching the idea that what you focus on expands, also fits. If you focus on the spiritual realm, in detail that fits those deeply embedded in the occult, then you will end up seeing a demon under every rock, or in every bar…

I have read books that fit what Hufford talks about in his post regarding the hierarchy of the whole demonic realm. No where in scripture are we instructed to engage demons in dialogue, to live in a state of alert paranoia, worn down by spiritual battle fatigue.  One time I mentioned to a friend who was influenced by this theology that we shouldn’t be talking to demons or believe what they say if we do. She replied that because we have all authority (of Jesus) we can command them not to lie and then they can’t. Sigh. There are so many problems with that line of thinking, I don’t think I have the energy to go there right now.

It is true that we all need to take heed, lest we fall…we can all be deceived, especially by a lying demon. Anyway, I thought at first, well maybe these friends are onto something. Am I missing something in my walk with God? Is there some knowledge that needs to be passed down? I don’t “see” things in the spiritual realm, I don’t operate in the so-called prophetic realm (well, maybe I do in the “forth-telling” aspect of it, but not the psychic side), so am I in bondage and I don’t even know it? (gasp)

Ahhhh, do you hear the seductive idea of Genesis and the tree of knowledge? The pull of gnosticism, that if we only had “the” right information, whether it be demonic hierarchies to battle correctly, or whatever then we would be living the true faith…

Currently, I am stepping back. I can’t swallow the theological rationale I keep hearing even if I love these people and respect their individual gifts. I’m hanging onto the love idea. The “greatest of these is love”.

If we loved people, all people, like Jesus did…wow, wouldn’t life be radically different? I would rather love–and I have a long way to go–then talk to a demon in a bar any day.