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In Search of a Motive

posted Oct 3, 2017, 10:10 AM by First Baptist


What a somber day yesterday as we grieved along with the families of 57 dead and over 500 injured.


Unlike other mass shootings, this one lacks an obvious motive or cause. The shooter appears to have been “a regular guy,” without any (known) history of mental illness, criminality, drug/alcohol abuse, or radical political/religious affiliations. In addition, the massacre was planned out; it wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment violent outburst.


As authorities search for answers, biblical Christians know it’s possible (I would argue likely) that the shooter was under demonic influence in city in which demonic influence is deep & widespread.


An Obsolete Worldview


Modern Western culture scoffs at the idea of demons and considers belief in them a product of an obsolete worldview taught in the Bible and other ancient cultures.


For example, the prominent liberal theologian Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976) emphatically denied the existence of a supernatural world of angels and demons. He argued these were ancient “myths” and that the New Testament message had to be “demythologized” by removing such mythological elements so that the gospel could be received by modern, scientific people.


However, if the Bible gives us a true account of the world as it really is, then we must take seriously its portrayal of intense demonic involvement in human society. Our failure to perceive that involvement with our five senses simply tells us that we have some deficiencies in our ability to understand the world, not that demons do not exist.


Demons in Biblical History


The word demon doesn’t often appear in the Old Testament. Tellingly, what the Old Testament does is identify the “false gods” worshipped by the nations surrounding Israel (and sometimes even by Israel itself) as demonic forces (Deut 32:16-17; Ps 106:35-37). In other words, according to the Bible, they were worshipping demons!


In the Gospels, Jesus had numerous encounters with demons and he repeatedly demonstrated his power over them. He said that his power over demons authenticated his ministry (i.e., proved he was who he said he was).


Demonic activity continued in the life of the early church (Acts 8:7; 16:18; James 4:7; I Pet 5:8-9).


Finally, as human history moves toward its conclusion, the book of Revelation seems to describe a spectacular increase in demonic activity across the globe. They will apparently have the power to inflict incredible pain & suffering. In the end, however, they will be decisively defeated and thrown into the lake of fire where they will be “tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev 20:10).


What About Now?


This leaves the question: What about demonic activity today?


From a biblical perspective, there’s no reason to think there is any less demonic activity in the world today than there was at the time of the New Testament. After all, we are in the same time period in God’s overall plan for history (called the Church or New Covenant Age).


The unwillingness of modern society to recognize the presence of demonic activity today is, from the Bible’s perspective, simply due to our blindness to the true nature of reality.



Pastor Dan



Source: Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem