Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Bible, Separation of Powers, and a Do Nothing Congress

Recently I was reading an article at RCP, entitled, 15 Most Annoying Expressions in Politics, by Carl Cannon.  "Do Nothing" should have been one of the annoying expressions.  Every branch of government is doing something, some of it permissible and much of it bad.  "Do nothing" is political.  If that branch, say the legislative branch, is one certain party, then another branch controlled by a different party, say the executive branch, will accuse it of doing nothing.  The House passes a budget and the Senate doesn't -- which house did something?  Doing something is in fact to do something that the president wants, like passing immigration reform.  However, if the House of Representatives passed an acceptable immigration package for the president, in the end would the House get credit for doing something?  I don't think so.  Maybe one branch says, "You're doing nothing!"  And then goes to play golf -- which is doing something, playing golf.

There is reason why the liberal side in politics is more unchurched and irreligious.  My view of the world, a biblical one, affects my positions on government.  It makes me a conservative.

One major usual differentiating factor between liberals and conservatives is how each reads the United States Constitution.  Conservatives support strict construction, a legal philosophy that favors the original meaning of the constitution and laws. Conservatives in essence exegete the text, taking the original understanding of the authors.  On the other hand, liberals read into the text of the constitution and laws, which is part of the meaning of "progressive."  That practice reflects their view of the world.

Progressives see the world as changing, evolving, and dynamic, essentially in conflict with the second law of thermodynamics.  They therefore approach language in the same way.  Progressives deconstruct language, accepting that words don't have just one meaning, so they can be assigned an understanding from the point of view of the reader.  This is the way that progressives read into a constitution and laws what they want them to mean.  They see the meaning of the constitution progressing, getting better, evolving, especially because they get to assign the new meaning that fits their own way.    This subjectivity allows the progressive to make the world mean what he wants it to mean so that he can walk after his own inclinations and desires (cf. 2 Peter 3:3-4).

Designed into the structure of the United States government through its Constitution is the separation of powers.  As most of you know, there are three branches with separate, but co-equal authority.  Not one branch has authority over the other.  The founders created three branches so that each branch would provide checks and balances to the other.   The founders generally believed in the inherent sinfulness of mankind, so that each separate branch would also put a check on the other.  You've heard, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely."  Something near to that wording came from Lord Acton in 1887, but that statement was preceded by William Pitt the Elder in 1770, who said:  "Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it."

Conservatives are convinced that whatever good there is needs to be conserved, and that won't happen by allowing unrestrained power, thus the limitation of the power of the federal government.  The U. S. Constitution not only limits power by three branches, but also by dividing power between the federal government and the states, and then by protecting the rights of individuals with a bill of rights.

This brings us back to "do nothingism."  When nothing is happening in government, that usually means the separate branches are checking the powers of the other.  A particular branch, like the executive branch, for instance, doesn't have free reign to do whatever it wants.  If one branch will accomplish anything, it must do it in cooperation with the other two branches.  However, some of what they are fulfilling is the purpose of the founding fathers in keeping a branch from having whatever it wants.  This sometimes is referred today as "the no congress," which is much like "doing nothing," of course, except for emphasizing the act "saying no" to what a president wants. The criticism might be, "This congress does nothing but say 'no' to the president."  In fact, the president is also saying "no" to the House of Representatives, because its budget is never passed by the president.  He's saying "no" to the House as well.

As of this writing, yesterday the Supreme Court said "no" to the President of the United States in a 9-0 decision, that decided his Senate recess appointments were unconstitutional.  The Court decides the President exceeded his authority in appointing executive officers when he said the Senate was in recess.  In other words, the Senate makes its rules, not the President.  He overstepped his authority. Many would argue that this present President has done this more than any other, expanding the authority of the executive branch above the other two branches of government, creating a constitutional crisis.

President Barack Obama wants to do something, but he's checked by the House of Representatives of the United States.  That occurs at the design of the U. S. Constitution.  Rather than work with Congress, this president decides again and again to circumvent the legislative branch to get what he wants, to do something that he wants that the House doesn't want.  He doesn't like being checked, so he does a lot that many originalists or textualists or strict constructionists say he doesn't have the power to do. He supersedes his constitutional authority, and he says he does it because he would rather do something than to do nothing.

Ironically, some of what President Obama has done, is nothing.  Instead of enforcing all of the immigration law, he does nothing.  Instead of enforcing election law, he does nothing.  Instead of even enforcing his own law, the affordable care act, he has chosen to enforce only selectively, divvying out special concessions for political purposes.  That's just what he has refused to do that Congress passed.  There's actually much more that he's done nothing about.   By not enforcing laws, he has essentially rewritten passed legislation, the law, to his own liking, except skipping the whole legislative process, including voting.  If this was a practice foreseen by the founding fathers, it was in the part of the Constitution dealing with articles of impeachment.  The end of the short oath of office for the president reads:  "to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."  He's not fulfilling that oath.

President Obama says he's going to do something as long as Congress does nothing.  So why doesn't the House pass immigration reform?  Let's say the House did.   We know if they did, we know this president would enforce the law, right?  He enforces laws, right?  Wrong.   Who can trust that if they did pass a bill, even if they wanted to do that, that he would follow what the law says.   Who wouldn't think that what he would do is enforce the parts of the law he likes and not enforce the parts he doesn't like?  I think a lot of representatives are very confident that the president would do something like that.  It's what he does.

The House wants to do something too, but it is blocked by the President.  There is not much the House can do if the President doesn't want the same things.  As a result, nothing gets done.  Again, that is by design.  This stalemate, the gridlock, in government is how the founding fathers envisioned the government.  Designed division.  Often you hear, "The American people don't want the Congress to do nothing."  Right.  If the "American people" did want the same as the President, they would vote in a different Congress, which would want the same things that he wants.  They haven't done that.  We should all be happy.

You often hear that President Obama is a constitutional scholar, a former constitutional professor. Maybe so.  So why does he go ahead and violate the Constitution?  One reason is that he may not think he is violating it.  He deconstructs the Constitution to mean what he wants it to mean, part of his progressivism.  It's what he learned from the smart people at Columbia and Harvard.

It is hard for me to believe that someone could think progressivism, deconstructionism, or loose construction could be true.   My best explanation is the debilitating effects of sin.  You don't go to a restaurant, order your meal, and you're brought something different because the chef or waiter deconstructed your order.  Nobody stands for that.  Nobody would call it progressive.   None of this works in the real world, except it does work in the mind of the liberal, because his mind has become destitute from sin.

Joseph de Maistre in 1811 wrote, "Every country has the government it deserves."  This applies even more so to this country, even as our Constitution starts with "We the people of the United States."  Abraham Lincoln reminded us of that in his Gettysburg Address with "government of the people, by the people, for the people." If this is the government of the people, then the people are getting exactly what they deserve.  A good question is, "Is this what the people really want?"  Like normal, we'll find a little more at the next electoral cycle.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Are Accurate Copies and Translations of Scripture-Such as the KJV-Inspired? A Study of 2 Timothy 3:16, part 1

            Scripture teaches that the words of Scripture are inspired by God, and thus the entirety of the canonical Scriptures are inspired, 2 Timothy 3:16. God did not inspire people like Moses, Jeremiah, or Matthew;  rather, the words that He gave to mankind through them are inspired.  Since “inspired” means “God breathed,” and Matthew 4:4 states, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,” believers are to live by inspired words. Since the present tense verb “proceedeth” in Matthew 4:4represents continuing action, as is also found in other very closely related uses of the verb,[i] the breath of God, that is, inspiration, remains in the words of the copies of the autographs, and men are to live by every word of those inspired copies. The fact is that neither 2 Timothy 3:16 nor Matthew 4:4 actually refer toinspiration as a process, rather than a product.[ii]  Standard Greek lexica provide ample evidence for the use ofTheopneustos, God-breathed, as a quality of actual written copies of the Scriptures.[iii] 2 Peter 1:16-21 does not employ the word “God-breathed” nor any phraseology like “proceedeth out of the mouth of God” likeMatthew 4:4 does.  2 Timothy 3:16 teaches that a quality or attribute of Scripture, whether of autographs or apographs, is that it has the breath of God in it.[iv]
One can use the word inspiration to refer to the process whereby God dictated His Words to the prophets as described in 2 Peter 1:16-21. However, the meaning of 2 Timothy 3:16 is that the breath of God/inspiration remains in every Word perfectly preserved in Hebrew and Greek, just as it does in the original manuscripts. Thus, the perfectly preserved words in the Greek and Hebrew Received Texts underneath the Authorized Version represent a text just as inspired as the original copies dictated to Moses, Paul, or Luke, as the words in the Received Text are identical to those in the autographs.
Recognizing inspiration as equal to the continuing action of “proceeding out of the mouth of God” that pertains to the product of what was originally dictated by the Holy Ghost to men moved by Him (2 Peter 1:16-21) helps to solve of the debate over the propriety of the use of the word inspired for accurate translations such as the King James Version.

i]           See Matthew 15:1118; cf. Luke 4:22Revelation 1:1619:15.  Note the unquestionable continuing action in Revelation 22:1.  A denial of continuing action in John 15:26 would overthrow the classical doctrine of the interpersonal relations in the Trinity by denying the Spirit’s eternal procession from the Father (and the Son).  Note that while ekporeuomai is not very common in the aorist or perfect tenses, it is found in these forms outside the NT (2 Samuel 19:8 (), aorist, clearly a one time action; Numbers 31:2836;Deuteronomy 11:10 (), perfect tense, retaining the fundamental idea of the Greek perfect), although not within the NT itself.
[ii]           “The Greek word of this passage—Theopneustos . . . says of Scripture . . . that it is breathed out by God, ‘God-breathed,’ the product of the creative breath of God.  In a word, what is declared by this fundamental passage is simply that the Scriptures are a Divine product, without any indication of how God has operated in producing them. . . . Paul declares, then, that ‘every scripture,’ or ‘all scripture’ is the product of the Divine breath, ‘is God-breathed,’ [and so] he asserts with as much energy as he could employ that Scripture is the product of a specifically Divine operation” (pg. 60, Revelation and Inspiration, Benjamin B. Warfield.  Elec. acc. Rio, WI: AGES Digital Software, 2006; orig. pub. New York: Oxford University, 1927).
Nevertheless, the Greek-English Lexicon to the New Testament, J. Parkhurst (2nd ed. 1794; elec. acc.  defines qeo/pneustoß as:  “from qeo/ß, God, and pepneusai, 3rd pers. sing. perf. pass. of pnew, fut. pneusw, to breathe.  Breathed or inspired by God, divinely inspired, given by divine inspiration . . . 2 Tim 3:16.”  The perfect tense root underlying qeo/pneustoß would make the idea of a completed action in which the Scriptures were dictated, with the result that the breath of God remains upon the words, possible, and thus gives some justification for employing the word inspired for the process of giving the Biblical autographs.  However, the actual use of Theopneustos in 2 Timothy 3:16, and frequently in KoinéGreek, for a product, indicates that considering actual original language copies of Scripture as both inspiredand profitable is the correct exegesis of the verse.  The predicate adjective wÓfe÷limoß, profitable, in2 Timothy 3:16, does not specify a process, but a product—so does the predicate adjective qeo/pneustoß.  Of course, if Scripture has the quality of being qeo/pneustoß, when it came into being, it must have been supernaturally spoken by God, so there is nothing wrong with speaking of inspiration as the process of the giving of the autographs.  To deny, however, the fact that 2 Timothy 3:16 ascribes the breath of God as a quality to apographs of Scripture and shut up Theopneustos to only the giving of the autographs is to neglect the exegesis of 2 Timothy 3:16, and the idea expressed in that text by the Holy Ghost through the apostle Paul, because of a secondary, although certainly legitimate, sense of the word.
[iii]          G. W. Lampe’s Patristic Greek Lexicon (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2007, 20th ed.) reads:  “qeo/pneustoß . . . divinely inspired . . . of Scripture (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16) . . . qeo/pneustoß . . . as a frequent epithet of grafai/ or of grafh/ or applied either to contents of scriptures or to the actual volumes.”  Lampe provides vast amounts of evidence for the use of qeo/pneustoß as a quality of copies of Scripture in patristic literature, including passages where the actual copies in hand that were being read among the Christians are called inspired (qeo/pneustwn aÓnagnsma¿twn) and it is obvious that no reference to the one-time process of giving the autographs is in view.  When the classical Greek-English Lexicon of H. G. Liddell & R. Scott (9th ed., New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1996) provides examples of the adjective qeo/pneustoß used for dreams (o¡neiroi) and artwork or craftsmanship (dhmiou/rghma), clearly employing qeo/pneustoß as a quality of the substantive modified, not making reference to God breathing out a piece of artwork in a one-time process.  TheGreek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, 3rd. ed. (BDAG), William F. Danker (ed.),  (Chicago, IL:  University of Chicago Press, 2000), mentions, among many other examples, the “God-breathed ointments” (muri÷smasi qeopneu/stoiß) of the Testament of Abraham 20:11.  Similarly, Warfield documents the very common use of qeo/pneustoß as a quality of apographs through patristic quotations such as: “truly holy are those letters . . . and the writings or volumes that consist of these holy letters or syllables, the same apostle consequently calls ‘inspired by God, seeing that they are profitable for doctrine,’”; “sing . . . the inspired Scriptures”; “All bread is nutritious[.] . . . All Scripture is God-inspired (pa◊sa grafh\ qeo/pneustoß) and profitable”; (Revelation and Inspiration, chapter 7, “God-inspired Scripture”).
[iv]          Note that the –toß ending on qeo/pneustoß supports the view that the sense is passive (“Scripture is God-breathed”) rather than active.  A. T. Robertson wrote: “The verbal in – toß goes back to the original Indo-Germanic time and had a sort cf perfect passive idea,” while cautioning that “we must not overdo this point. . . . Strictly this pro-ethnic –tos has no voice or tense and it never came to have intimate verbal connections in the Greek as it did in Latin and English” (A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, 4th ed.  Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1934, pg. 1095, cf. 157–58).  Warfield discusses the question in Revelation and Inspiration chapter 7, “God-breathed Scripture.”

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

1 Corinthians 15:3: En Protois, First in Order or First in Importance, and Ranking Doctrines

A major proof text invented for the new doctrine of essentials and non-essentials is 1 Corinthians 15:3:

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.

The King James translators translated en protois, "first of all"---so did Tyndale and so do the New King James translators.  The NASV, however, translates it, "as of first importance."

For the sake of argument, let's say en protois means "as of first importance," which is ambiguous at best, and I'll explain why (again, and here).  The translation of that one word doesn't call for a doctrine of essentials and non-essentials, nor does it say anything about only separating over the essentials. Those are reading into the text.  At best, if en protois does mean "as of first importance," Paul is scolding the Corinthians because they were forsaking the doctrine of bodily resurrection, which would bring question on their conversion.

I've preached through 1 Corinthians 15 twice, and the flow of the passage says that bodily resurrection was the first thing Paul preached to them.  Along with death and burial, it was the first thing that they believed, so why would they be forsaking it now?  Of course, they were being influenced by the world in Corinth, which rejected bodily resurrection.  They were attempting to mix Greek philosophy with divinely inspired teaching.

I don't concede that en protois means "as of first importance."  I'm just saying that even if I did, we can't jump from that passage to a practice of ranking doctrines.

Protos is found 165 times in the New Testament.  That is a large sample size.  But then you have it used in 1 Corinthians 15 itself four times.  The other three times, besides v. 3 are in each of vv. 45, 46, and 47:

45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.

Does anyone think that protos means "first in importance" in each of those uses?   The first Adam would be more important than the last Adam?  I don't think so.  This should at least show that there is for sure no slam dunk case for "first in importance."  And if it could be "first in order," then it wouldn't be good to buttress a doctrine on it.

Protos, however, does not come alone.  Verse 3 reads en protois --  "among first things."  If he was talking about importance, he was stating the priority of the bodily resurrection to the gospel.  When a person receives Jesus Christ, he believes the bodily resurrection.  This is actually how Calvin interprets the verse:

For I delivered to you first of all He now confirms what he had previously stated, by explaining that the resurrection had been preached by him, and that too as a fundamental doctrine of the gospel. First of all, says he, as it is wont to be with a foundation in the erecting of a house.

In other words, he isn't saying this is first in importance among all other doctrines, but out of the initial things that I preached to you that resulted in your being saved.  This is foundational to someone being saved, believing bodily resurrection.  You have to believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ to be saved, and you can't separate that from the teaching of bodily resurrection.  If Jesus rose from the dead bodily, then bodily resurrection itself is possible.

Thomas Charles Edwards, doing some cataloging of the meaning here in 1886, wrote:

En protois, not "among the chief doctrines" (Grot., Estius, Hammond, De Wette, etc.), nor "from the first" (Chrys., Hofmann), but "among the things to be stated first."

These were among the first things that Paul said to unbelievers, because they were what they needed to know to be saved.  This is what makes sense in the context.  He challenges their questioning of the bodily resurrection by saying that this was pivotal for someone to be saved.  As you move through the chapter, Christianity is worthless without the resurrection.  This is clearly the point.

When Matthew Henry says that it was a doctrine of the "first rank, a most necessary truth," he's saying that your Christianity, your gospel, crumbles apart without it.  That's an argument that Paul is making here.

A travesty today is spinning this tremendous teaching, this great teaching, into a brand new idea that the gospel, not the bodily resurrection, gets elevated above all other doctrines in a way in which those truths, which are not the gospel, are not essential truths.  That, my friends, is finding fools gold where there isn't even fools gold.  There is definitely no gold to be found.  That idea shouldn't even be looked for.  Somebody wants to find something and goes looking where it isn't, and "finds" it.

And the above false teaching then distorts the beauty of 1 Corinthians 15 and Paul's argument.  It turns 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 into a teaching that isn't even there.  And what is dastardly about it, is that it is an encouragement for disobedience.  Do we really think that Paul's expression there was meant to rank doctrine?  Come on, folks!  Get real here.  This is Bible twisting.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Doubt, Lack of Willingness to Believe, and Atheism

Not unlike many other people, since I was very little, I began questioning almost everything, if not out loud, in my mind.  I'm still that way.  Sometimes I say I must be from Missouri, though I'm not, because it's called "the show me state."   Missouri's U.S. Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver, who served in the United States House of Representatives from 1897 to 1903, attended an 1899 naval banquet in Philadelphia. In a speech there, he declared:

I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.

Very early on, I also started believing things.  Everyone does.  You won't make it through life without believing anything.  If something is believable, and you won't believe it, you're just being stubborn.

As life went on, I found out that I couldn't question everything.  I didn't want to be gullible, but at some point, I couldn't make it through life without trusting.  I crossed bridges.  I flew on planes.  I ate at restaurants.  I used credit cards.  I did online banking. There is a certain grid that I always keep up, but I trust, a lot.  I live in California, even though it's supposed to slide into the ocean.

Going through college and graduate school, I typed on a manual Smith-Corona typewriter.  I don't miss it.   Outside of an apocalyptic loss of electricity, I would never go back to that since I use a laptop with wireless printing.  I believed in that Smith-Corona typewriter, but I found something better.

In the big picture items, I still question.  I still challenge.  I still get up to check the front door to make sure it's locked, so to speak.  With that, I would have what I would call certainty.  Most think I operate with too much certainty.  This is not because of a lack of doubt, because, again, I still question.

I go evangelizing door-to-door, and I go to persuade, but I'm also ready to be convinced, to give everything up for the truth.  My belief in God is the biggest picture item.  Nothing is bigger.

I'm calling on people radically to change, to leave their whole life behind.  When Paul did that, he said he had to count the old life as dung.  No half measures would do.

In other words, when I talk to a Buddhist, I would be a Buddhist if Buddhism was the truth.  Hindu if Hinduism was.  Atheist if Atheism was.  The way I look at certainty and belief is that there is always some doubt, maybe a sliver.  I don't know how to measure it.  Maybe this sounds bad to you.  I'm not going to attempt too much to develop the theology of it for you.  John the Baptist doubted Jesus at the end right before His death, we know from the passage where Jesus said he was the greatest man up to that point.  That's the kind of material I would give you.

The margin of doubt in my faith relates to questioning it, checking the lock on the door.  But this is what I've found about the Bible, genuine Christianity.  I believe it.  It's the truth.  I check the lock on my Christianity more than anything I check.  I poke.  I prod.  There is a hypothetical eject button for me to push.  Maybe it's not real, but I can't really question if there isn't a sliver of possibility.  I don't do the same thing with airplanes or bridges or the life insurance company I'm still making payments, even though I doubt them.

Believing isn't the total absence of doubt.  It is acting on faith.  By faith we act.  The three Hebrew children in Babylon said their God would deliver them from the fiery furnace, but if not.

With all of the above being said, my doubt is the length of my little toe, and my certainty travels to the other side of the house and keeps growing.  People won't believe.  It isn't the evidence.  There are no holes in Christianity.  Christianity comes with so many redundancies.  The O rings might fail, but there's a back up of a back up of a back up.  The layers are thicker than a Dagwood sandwich.  The people who reject it, just don't want it.  Now that is what the Bible says about them too.  It's a problem of volition, not intellect, but in my repeated checks of my front door, this is my experience too.

People have a far different standard of evidence for God.  It's very personal for them.  They can't go with what would normally count for evidence and be way, way too much.  If the evidence they expected for God were ketchup, they couldn't find their hamburger buried under one entire ketchup factory.  They must have what I call the crown performance.  They sit on their throne and expect God to be their court jester, to give them a show.  They give all new meaning to "show me state." God has already given them a crown performance, but they keep raising the bar.  They don't want to believe, so no amount of evidence will do.

With that inside voice that we don't want anyone hearing as an outside voice, I want more evidence from God too.  But that is living in the sliver.  If I step from the sliver side to the side that stretches to the other side of the house, the sliver is a sliver.  It's unreasonable.  It's rebellious.  And it makes sense to me, that for all God has done and does and will do, the requirement or expectation is just disrespectful.  If we were God, and we had His power, we would kill for that disrespect, but the hypocrites that we are, we want mercy.  Puny men keep making their demands, thinking they can hold God hostage.  He's God.  He doesn't have to do any more.  He's done enough.

Friday, June 20, 2014

1 John 4:1-3: The Command to “Try the spirits” and the rise of the Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Word of Faith Doctrine of Exorcism, part 3 of 3

John A. MacMillan, minister in the strongly continuationist or anti-cessationist Christian and Missionary Alliance, affirmed that believers have the same authority to cast out demons that the Lord Jesus has, and “all . . . demon powers . . . must yield to us.”[1]  Nevertheless, he found that “there are frequent cases . . . of demon possession . . . [where it] has been found impossible to [cast out the demon], the spirit apparently paying no attention to the prayers or commands” of the charismatic or Christian and Missionary Alliance minister or other wonder-worker.[2]  While the Lord Jesus always immediately cast out demons, when Alliance ministers sought to do so “the work of freeing the sufferer . . . [from] the possessing spirit . . . may be protracted”[3] even when it does not entirely fail.[4]  For example, MacMillan in “his book Encounter with Darkness . . . describes in great detail an extensive ministry of deliverance over several weeks in 1947 . . . at one point continuing for seven consecutive nights. . . . On another occasion in 1951, a series of exorcism sessions on behalf of a Nyack student [MacMillan taught at the Alliance Bible college in Nyack, New York] lasted at least three months and involved more than 170 demons.”[5]  In this latter episode, a “woman who was [MacMillan affirms] converted when nineteen years of age” but did not begin to “seriously follow the Lord . . . for a number of years;  in fact, not until she had begun to attend a Bible school” began to be “seriously trouble[d] . . . [by] spirits . . . [a]fter . . . she . . . was baptized.”[6]  Exorcism “sessions lasted late into the night,” accompanied with “cries and wailing,” as “MacMillan . . . gave students on-the-job training in the ministry of deliverance . . . [and] taught students how to pray and plead the blood according to Revelation 12:11.”[7]   One exorcism session was “a struggle which lasted unbroken for eighteen hours . . . often artificial respiration had to be used . . . nurses feared for her life.”[8]  The “deliverance actually took about three months to accomplish . . . for the demons would stubbornly refuse to cooperate and would hide over and over again . . . it was a long and torturous process . . . groups of demons were expelled, the number totalling 171.”[9]  MacMillan considered this a great spiritual victory, and he “learned more from this case than [from] any other . . . in the past,”[10] thus making this event a key episode in the development of his spiritual warfare doctrine.  Indeed, “as a result of the exorcism on the Nyack campus in 1951, MacMillan initiated a course in the next school year on demonology and spiritual warfare—possibly the first of its kind in Christian higher education,”[11] although “[n]ot all students viewed this [1951 exorcism, this] . . . drawn-out deliverance . . . as a positive experience . . . [considering it, rather, as] a ruse of Satan.”[12]  For example, Albert Runge, an Alliance pastor who was student at Nyack at the time, wrote about this exorcism process that MacMillan found more helpful than any other, and which he made key to his system of demonology and throne-power:
[M]any exorcisms are far more detrimental than beneficial. . . . Many power confrontations between Christians and demons are actually engineered by the demons themselves.  As a student in Bible college I was informed that a fellow student was demon possessed, and that there was an exorcism going on.  Being of a curious nature, I went to see what was happening. . . . Climbing the stairs . . . I could hear an eerie scream echoing down the hall[.] . . . When I got there the exorcist [John MacMillan] was praising God for the deliverance of the victim.  Just after he said Amen, a second demon made himself known.  After some time of struggling, arguing and pleading the blood, that demon screamed his way out of the room.  Everyone was relieved until another demon made himself known.  This process seemed to go on endlessly for days, weeks and months with the same results.  There is serious question in my mind that the victim was every completely delivered.
      What went wrong?  I have spent many years reflecting over that particular exorcism and researching God’s word, and I have become convinced that many exorcisms are power play setups by the demons themselves. . . . They choose an exorcist . . . [t]hey choose the timing as well as the audience.  The whole process is under their control from the beginning to the end.
      One of the things that happened during the exorcism convinced me this is true.  When I arrive at the scene of the exorcism, I began to pray out loud for the deliverance or the woman. . . . Suddenly the demons cried out from the victim, “Stop him from praying, stop him from praying.”  The exorcist shouted to the students, “Stop him from praying.”  The students around me told me to be quiet. . . . I am convinced the demons were controlling the exorcist, a good man who lacked understanding of the confrontation. . . . Another incident during that exorcism indicated that the demons were pulling the strings.  A theological professor brought his agnostic daughter into the room so that she could see for herself that there was a supernatural realm.  As a trained psychiatrist, she was convinced that we were all suffering some kind of mass delusion.  While she was in the room the demons did not manifest themselves in any way no matter what the exorcist did to arouse them.  However, as soon as she left, they acted up.  I believe demons rarely manifest themselves in our culture unless they have a devious reason to do it.
      What did the demons accomplish through this demonstration? . . . They left . . . future missionaries and pastors . . . with a feeling of futility and helplessness before the power of the kingdom of darkness . . . [and made them] question their . . . spiritual authority.[13] . . . Whatever demons say during an exorcism is completely unreliable.  Therefore, holding a dialogue with them is not only unproductive, it is dangerous.  The demons will attempt to intimidate, manipulate, disorientate and confuse the spectators of an exorcism to accomplish their own ends.  All experience within the supernatural realm must be evaluated in light of the Scripture to avoid becoming excessively superstitious. . . . There are no magical formulas, incantations, or rituals by which demons can be controlled or exorcised.  Thinking back on my experience at Bible college, it became apparent to me that the person doing the exorcism had developed a systematic ritual to expel demons, and it had proven ineffective.  First, when the demon manifested itself through the glassy eyes of its victim, the exorcist asked the question, “Did Jesus Christ come in the flesh?”  When the spirit answered “No!” the exorcist declared it a demon.  The exorcist later admitted to me privately that he was greatly confused, because at subsequent exorcism attempts, when the students were not present, the demons were saying that Jesus Christ did come in the flesh.  What was happening?  Once the demons had lost their audience of curious and confused theological students they had no need to carry on their charade.
      Secondly, if the demon said, “no, Jesus Christ did not come in the flesh,” the exorcist would then proceed to ask the name of the demon.  Interestingly, this procedure comes from an ancient pagan belief:
The Sumerians and the Semites of Babylon laid great stress on the belief in the magical power of names.  If a demon was to be expelled properly it was necessary for the exorcist priest to know its name and use it properly in a spell . . .[14]
To make matters more confusing to the exorcist, the demons could call themselves Jesus and the Holy Spirit and then laugh. . . . Asking the name of a demon serves only to open up dangerous and unnecessary dialogues with them.  I have witnessed demons calling themselves by vicious names such as Hate, Fear, Murder, etc., that sent terror into the hearts of the spectators.
      Thirdly, once the name of the demon was given, the exorcist would then command the demon in the name of Jesus Christ to leave the victim.  A struggle ensued that seesawed back and forth.  Finally there would be a scream.  Then what appeared to be a moment of true victory was followed by the manifestation of another demon in the victim.  It should have been obvious to us all that as long as one demon possessed the victim they all had access to her.  The approach of casting out one demon at a time is futile. . . . [T]he demons rarely manifest themselves unless it is to their advantage.  They prefer to work secretly behind the scenes.[15]
Despite the concerns of Runge and others like him, MacMillan was certain that he was truly exercising the supernatural gifts of the first century, that he was not deceived by Satan, and that deriving demonology from what the demons themselves taught and did in exorcism sessions was not “giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1).  However, when MacMillan engaged in exorcisms, it “never seemed to be ‘quick and easy,’ for the demons would stubbornly refuse to cooperate and would hide over and over again.  There were times in which he questioned why it took so long at times to see deliverance.”[16]  For that matter, “[n]ot all of MacMillan’s endeavors in exorcism were successful,” but at times, exorcism simply failed entirely.[17]  While MacMillan’s exorcisms were radically different, and far, far more protracted affairs, even when he was not simply a failure, than those of the Lord Jesus and the Apostles, and nothing in the Bible supports his practices, he nevertheless was convinced that they were evidence of the miraculous power of God through the believer’s exercise of throne power, not a deceit of Satan.  MacMillan should have actually studied 1 John 4 before trying to use it in spiritual warfare—or if he did not think of doing that, he should have done so after he found that the devils would, at times, tell him during exorcism sessions that Christ did indeed come in the flesh.  Unfortunately, the demons, through Irvingites, Mrs. Penn-Lewis, and John A. MacMillan, brought the modern charismatic and Word of Faith or Prosperity Gospel doctrine of exorcism into the world, a doctrine that has greatly advanced the work of the powers of darkness, leading to the delusion and damnation of millions, based on a misinterpretation of 1 John 4:1-3:

“In the procedure for casting out demons [in Word-Faith theology] Satan is bound . . . the demon is addressed, commanded to name himself, and cast out. Since demons can do such things as planting seeds of disease and stopping the flow of financial wealth, the casting out of demons is necessary to insure continued health and prosperity” (pg. 336, “A Theological Evaluation of the Prosperity Gospel,” Ken L. Sarles. Bibliotheca Sacra 143:572 (Oct 86) 329-352).  Note also “John A. MacMillan’s Teaching Regarding the Authority of the Believer and its Impact on the Evangelical, Pentecostal, and Charismatic Movements,” Paul L. King. The Pneuma Review Journal of Ministry Resources and Theology for Pentecostal and Charismatic Ministries & LeadersPresented at the 30th Annual Meeting (2001) of the Society for Pentecostal Studies.


[1]           Pg. 99, The Authority of the Believer, MacMillan.
[2]           Pg. 148, The Authority of the Believer, MacMillan.
[3]           Pg. 170, The Authority of the Believer, MacMillan.
[4]           Pg. 148, The Authority of the Believer, MacMillan.
[5]           Pg. 148, A Believer with Authority, King, referencing Encounter with Darkness, pgs. 17-22.  See Chapters 1 & 7, “Demon Possession” & “Modern Demon Possession,” on pgs. 89ff. & 145-146 of the combined edition of The Authority of the Believer, The Authority of the Intercessor, and Encounter with Darkness.
[6]           This episode is detailed on see Chapter 7, “Modern Demon Possession,” on pgs. 145-146 of the combined edition of The Authority of the Believer, The Authority of the Intercessor, and Encounter with Darkness.  Pgs. 182-183, A Believer with Authority, King, gives background.
[7]           Pgs. 184-185, A Believer with Authority, King.  Revelation 12:11 has nothing to do with pleading Christ’s blood during exorcism sessions, any more than it does with pleading one’s testimony during exorcism sessions.  It is another passage dangerously misused and misinterpreted by MacMillan.  Compare the misuse of Revelation 12:11 earlier by Hannah W. Smith in a way that suits the Word of Faith idea of positive confession (Letter to a Friend, May 31, 1874 & Letter to Priscilla, January 14, 1882, reproduced in entries for July 15 & November 7 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter), and the similar abuse of the verse in Chapter 10 of War on the Saints, Jessie Penn-Lewis.  Mrs. Penn-Lewis even notes “the strange fact which has perplexed so many, that abnormal experiences manifestly contrary to the character of God, have taken place when the person was earnestly repeating words about the ‘Blood’” (“Believe Not Every Spirit,” pg. 71, Overcomer 1912).  Pleading the blood for post-conversion Spirit-baptism and the ability to speak in tongues, and for power over Satan, became a standard doctrine of Pentecostalism (cf. pgs. 3-6, Confidence:  A Pentecostal Paper for Great Britain, 5 (August 15, 1908) and the Word of Faith movement.
[8]           Pgs. 106-108, What Demons Can Do To Saints, Merril F. Unger.
[9]           Pgs. 183-188, A Believer with Authority, King.
[10]         Pg. 108, What Demons Can Do To Saints, Unger.
[11]         Pg. 192, A Believer with Authority, King.
[12]         Pg. 281, A Believer with Authority, King; see also “Exorcism:  A Satanic Ploy?” Albert Runge. His Dominion, 14:4 (Summer 1987) 13-18.
[13]         Runge does not recognize that not only did the demons accomplish many immediate ends that advanced the kingdom of darkness, but that through this episode they influenced MacMillan and countless multitudes that have been influenced by him to adopt false doctrines in demonology.  The main success of the demons in this episode was their effectiveness in spreading “doctrines of devils” to MacMillan and those who learned from him.
[14]         R. K. Harrison, “Demon, Demonic, Demonology,” in The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, ed. Merrill C. Tenney, 5 vols. (Grand Rapids, Mich.:  The Zondervan Corp., 1976), 2:93.
[15]         “Exorcism:  A Satanic Ploy?” Albert Runge. His Dominion, 14:4 (Summer 1987) 13-18.  While Runge makes many fine points, he still maintains significant errors.  For example, he is in error in continuing to believe and practice the continuationism of the CMA.  Furthermore, his affirmation that “we do not build our doctrinal understanding of demons from experience alone,” but from Scripture also (pg. 14), is very dangerously insufficient—true demonology comes from Scripture alone, without any authoritative consideration of experience whatsoever.  What is more, while critiquing MacMillan’s procedure of exorcism as unscriptural, Runge himself advocates a different procedure which is itself still unscriptural.
[16]         Pgs. 195-196, A Believer with Authority, King.
[17]         Pgs. 195-196, A Believer with Authority, King.