El Adversario

I’m reading Scott Peck’s recent book Glimpses of the Devil. In it, Peck encounters what he thinks are actually demonic possessions and he takes part in the actual the exorcisms. This is a fascinating turn in his therapeutic career.

With that and my new “Constantine” DVD, I get a bit creeped out with the Satan stuff. C.S. Lewis said not to put too much or too little emphasis on the Devil in the Christian life.

I have always been wary of the ‘spiritual warfare’ stuff, but being on or near the front lines of ministry, it seems it is necessary to be informed and prayerful.

31 thoughts on “El Adversario

  1. As I mentioned to Neoluce, clergy have a target on their back. That includes you, Neo. At our parish, you are the one. But I’m here to watch your back. So are others. Ephesians 6:10 – 20 isn’t a joke.

  2. Here’s some residual Calvinism for you Padre (some of it dies hard you know). Satan ain’t all he’s cracked up to be. As Dr. R.C. Sproul would say…the Devil is God’s Devil. Let’s not forget who the sovereign one is. We aren’t dualist. Of course, saying that just gave me a bit of the “willies.” In other words, I’m not issuing a challenge to the Evil One. When I go to the bathroom tonight, I’ll be careful not to look to close into the mirror. What is it with mirrors? They have a very “otherly” feel to them. In the end, our friend the former Augustinian monk, Luther, knew how to deal with that bastard.

    Do you have your St. Benedict’s medal handy? Better get one. 🙂 Around the margin of the back of the medal, the letters V R S N S M V – S M Q L I V B are the initial letters of a Latin prayer of exorcism against Satan: Vade retro Satana! Nunquam suade mihi vana! Sunt mala quae libas. Ipse venena bibas! (Begone Satan! Never tempt me with your vanities! What you offer me is evil. Drink the poison yourself!)

    Drink the poison yourself sounds like something our friend Luther would say, huh?

  3. “C.S. Lewis said not to put too much or too little emphasis on the Devil in the Christian life.”

    C.S. was right I feel. It has been my experience that the best defence against satanic influence is to focus on God and to worship Him in spirit and in truth. God promises to inhabit our praise, and the presence of God is something which satan abhors. It has also been my experience that God is very protective of those who worship Him, and the more pure and consistent the worship, the more protective God is of it.

  4. C,
    “Vade retro Satana! Nunquam suade mihi vana! Sunt mala quae libas. Ipse venena bibas! (Begone Satan! Never tempt me with your vanities! What you offer me is evil. Drink the poison yourself!)”

    Outstanding. Are all the Benedict medals like this? Luther would have used saltier language methinks.

  5. Constantine,

    You sound like you were scared of Old Scratch when you were a lad. I’ll bet some twisted priest scared the wits out of you in that regard.

  6. Another Celtic thought:

    “Lord thou art there in bread and wine
    Around my life may thou entwine
    Bless O Lord the life I lead
    From sin and stain keep me freed

    Thy Presence come between me
    And all things evil
    Thy Presence some between me
    And all things vile
    Thy Presence come between me
    And all things that defile
    Keep me O Lord as the apple of thine eye
    Hide me under the shadow of thy wings.”

    Give me some more Latin I can use Constantine.

  7. I haven’t read it yet. Is it substantially different from People of the Lie, which was published in 1983? He had bits on exorcism in that.

    I was wondering if he was even still alive. Last I heard, he was quite seriously ill.

  8. I like the Breastplate Padre. As for the St. Benedict medal I’ve never known it to be otherwise. Could be though. Frankly, I think it’s famous for the “exorcism” piece more than for any other reason. I’ve seen ’em big to hang on the wall, and I’ve seen small ones struck as a circular backdrop in a crucifix you’d wear as a necklace. I guess you can get ‘em from Benedictine monasteries where they receive special blessings. I remember seeing one on a lady at the mall once and asking her about it and she told me as much.

    You’re right; Luther’s words would have been a bit more in the spirit of fight fire with fire. He was the real deal as a fighter. I would have bet on ole Luther over ole Scratch in a 15 rounder any day of the week. Good match though. My guess is that it would have gone the full 15 rounds. No KOs, but with Luther taking a split decision.

    I don’t think you need anymore Latin from Rome Padre (though the St. Benedict medal might be nice to have). The Peck book demonstrates the power of the BCP, which I know you love. That ole black rubric seems to have a bit of its own magic too. As I’ve said in past posts–you guys have HISTORY too…if you don’t choose to ignore it because of the current state of affairs.

    Yeah, as a kid I was always scared of the Devil. I don’t know how I made it through school quite frankly given the self-imposed sleep deprivation. I now have more of a Luther attitude though. I’m even quite skeptical of most reports of supernatural evil (to include Peck’s “encounters”). Too many folks seem to be willing to blame ole Scratch when it probably has nothing to do with the bastard.

  9. “Too many folks seem to be willing to blame ole Scratch when it probably has nothing to do with the bastard.”

    How true C. I think his greatest tools are a) keeping us blind to the power of God that is within us.
    b) getting us to self destruct, or implode. – some of us need less help with this than others…

  10. We used Screwtape Letters for an adult Christian ed class. C. S. Lewis did a wonderful job on this, but he said afterward that assuming the personna of Screwtape and his nephew Wormwood was very defiling to his soul.

    I’m sure that clergy need to be guarded. The attack on them is the most effective source of mischief and evil in the church. Our parish is in its fifth year of recovery from a clergy crisis that de-populated the church (we lost 150 members). Protect them with prayer.

  11. I have been pleasantly surprised under this title post by my fav sparring partner Angevoix. I thought for sure Angevoix that you’d give us some wild story about an encounter with supernatural evil. Instead you seem content with saying evil in human form is bad enough. Not that you wouldn’t say or believe that supernatural evil exists, but that we don’t need the Hollywood version of it to see and experience and know it only too well in our regular, daily lives.

    Btw Morpheus, Kevin is a member of the current Bush administration.

  12. C. Although I am well acquainted with the supernatural it has been my experience that on the rare occasion satan does atempt a more overt manifestation of his presence, it is to distract from what is really going on. I don’t want to make a broadbased judgement here, but people who really focus heavily on the demonic activity supernatural, such as floating chairs, etc… tend to be those who have an immature craving for attention. Don’t get me wrong, demons are very real and we all deal with them in many ways… but the most insideous ones are the ones who will never go through contortions, those such as lust, deceit, greed … I don’t have time to play games with the devil. The last thing a real demon wants is for you to know it is there. And may I say this again? We all deal with demons. Just as we all have angels watching over us, we all have demons asigned to us as well. Again, the best defence is pure worship.

  13. Ok, here goes. We have demonic strongholds in our lives. Things/ weaknesses that are very deeply ingrained in us. They are different for different people. They can be lust, greed, selfishness, and even rejection. We can also have generational “curses” if you will. If you, you parents, your grandparents, etc have the same weakness, it isn’t an accident… demons observe us. they know our weaknesses, and how to push our buttons. What tempts us, etc…
    Many times they will use things that don’t appear on the surface to be evil to draw us away from what God has for us, even things that look like “good” things. The “Hollywood” variety of demons really are not the ones you have to worry about. Although I think I’ve met a couple of those…. their bark is much worse than their bite.

  14. Angevoix, might those things you mention just be a result of our own sinful nature and not demonic strongholds? I admit, this subject puzzles me. I am reluctant to blame every bad thing I do on being tempted by the devil. More likely, it’s because I am weak. I’m reminded of the verse in James, “one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death.” (Js 1:14-15)

    So my question is, when we are tempted, is it always the devil tempting us? What sayest thou, O readers of this blog?

  15. “So my question is, when we are tempted, is it always the devil tempting us? What sayest thou, O readers of this blog?”
    Absolutely not, and I am so glad that you raised the point. iI beleive it is a combination of the two working together. Just as the grace of God works together with our will when we make the right choices.

  16. As a side note, remember the story in Acts about the seven sons of Sceva, who tried to drive out demons by invoking the name of”Jesus, whom Paul preaches.”? The demon answered, Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you..?” I think its interesting that the demon said,
    “I know about Paul.” Paul’s activities were causing a stir not only in the natural realm, but were news in the demonic realm as well. Apparently he was considered a threat…I wonder how many modern Christians can make that claim to fame!

  17. “…is it always the devil tempting us?”

    I would say that sometimes we do good things and sometimes we don’t. And sometimes what some folks call sin, bad, wrong, evil, etc. probably isn’t exactly so (i.e. wine is mocker, so don’t drink! or dancing leads to promiscuity so don’t do it! or don’t listen to that music because when you play it backwards it has subliminal messages about the Devil! Burn those records!).

    I suspect there is a supernatural realm of evil, but it gets way, way too much credit.

  18. Seraph,

    Ah…now the real Adversary turns up. There you go again using your favorite pejorative descriptive. I’m Pelagian, huh? Tell me how?

    Toe the line. Eventually, the man in you will show up, and you’ll do more than hit and run.

    Now, you know I’m not a Calvinist anymore (only the slightest residual here and there—and that must be the case given I’m one of the elect you know). So is the only alternative Pelagius? If not Calvin (which of course means essentially not Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, even Luther too), then who? And if someone other that Calvin (oh, how curious I am who you shall choose here that isn’t infected with free will or the notion of original sin not equating to original guilt), then tell me how they are not akin to Pelagius? Do you dare? If they believe in only one of the following (don’t need both): free will and/or that original sin is not the same as original guilt then tell me how they are not of the spirit of Pelagius?

    Btw Seraph…you’re scared of the Evil One, aren’t you? I haven’t sold out to the Dark One, I just through shit in his face now.

  19. I’m disappointed in you Seraph. You call me a “Pelagian Turd” (that’s nice). You infer that I’ve “sold out” to the “Dark Side” (that’s nice too). But you don’t have the cajones to respond to my self-defense. I’m beginning to wonder about you.

  20. I admit I hit and run. That is my purpose. You’re afraid of hell Constantine. You crush Augustine without giving him his due. I don’t know about original guilt, but old Auggie knew his stuff. Did you know Auggie had a concubine and a bastard kid? No wonder he was wracked with guilt.

    I think you lean towards Pelagius, do you not white boy?

  21. Seraph,

    I might be unduly harsh on the old “Founding Father” of the Western Church (I’m not talking about St. Paul), but the E.O. are brutal on him. You know how many in their camp like to call him at best “Blessed,” but conveniently forget to use the title “Saint.” Maybe not all E.O., but you’d be hard pressed to find any who really defer to the Old Bishop. You know that too. So, unless you’re prepared to smack around Constantinople’s view…

    Yes, he was one smart cookie to be sure.

    I didn’t know the old Saint had a concubine and a bastard kid. Before or after his conversion?

    I really don’t lean towards Pelagius at all, as much as you prefer that cookie cutter description. As you know, his two central tenets were utter free will and a denial of Original Sin. I’m not monergistic on either side of the ‘who’s in control’ debate, but actually prefer synergism. If I am monergistic in any sense of the word, it would be hyper-election by God to final and ultimate Restoration. That’s not Pelagius, but Origin. And as for Original Sin, I just don’t like how the Western Church has created a monopoly out of ignoring that we are made in His image too. My definition of Original Sin…“something’s afoot and it ain’t good.” But that’s mucho different than Original Guilt.

    Btw, I meant throw not through, on my earlier post.

  22. OK, OK. Here you two go again having an esoteric personal conversation in the middle of a perfectly good blog. Your manners are horrible. Remember that there are others in the room who don’t have the theological vocabulary or the insidey knowledge. Buy each other a beer and sock it out, but keep your jargon-filled jousts off the site. Don’t make me come down there!

  23. Remember, the devil is a created being and can only be in one place at a time, so he is probably not tempting me personally. Demons may do this for him, but again they can only be in one place at a time. Unfortunately we don’t need much help in doing or thinking the wrong thing.

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