Jun 7, 2014

What Are Demons?

Demonology, in its broadest sense, is the study of demons or fallen angels. Due to their demonic nature, fallen angles are called demons in the traditional sense.  Many theologians treat the topic of demonic entities very broadly, i.e. the terms “demon” and fallen angles are used interchangeably. We do not believe fallen angels and demons are one in the same for many reasons although they both share an angelic ancestry.  After several years of study, we believe the Bible to reveal distinctions between the two classes of entities.

The dichotomy becomes evident upon understanding that demons appear as disembodied spirits and seek possession whereas angels possess celestial bodies in the spirit realm and do not have the propensity to  possess. It is interesting to note that each demonic encounter found within the New Testament depicts these entities in a re-embodied state. Angels are said to have embodiment although they are said to be incorporeal – a definite form -  which is adapted to the law of their being. They are both finite and spacial.  According to Matthew 12:43,  walking through dry places must be an intolerable state for demons so much so they will settle for the bodies of animals (Mark 5:12,13).  The Bible also depicts fallen angels as rulers while demons are looked at as Satan’s foot soldiers.  Paul  attests to the former in Ephesians 6:12.

The identification of demons is philosophically diverse. Some theorize that demons are the souls of evil men.  Although this theory has a heathenistic underpinning, some early Christian writers were advocates of the same. Josephus held this theory to be the orthodox Jewish opinion that demons were the spirits of the wicked dead. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tetullian, Origen, and Augustine regarded demons as the souls or spirits of the unsanctified dead.  Philo also espoused this view.

Others regard demons as the disembodied spirits of a pre-adamic race. The so-called pre-adamic race is a source of controversy among scholars. The disembodied spirits of this race is the antecedent of the consequent –  demonic entities.  The GAP theory is predicated upon an indeterminable period of time filling in the gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, thus the period in question giving way to the notion of a “pre-adamic race or creation.” Proponents of this theory seem to be divided into those who believe that the pre-existent race were composed of human beings and those who believe that the pre-existent race were the angels under the rule of Lucifer. 

So what are demons and what is their origin?   We believe demons are the disembodied spirits of the nephilim (half human – half angel).  This school of thought advances the ancient doctrine that demons are the disembodied spirits of the progeny between fallen angels and antediluvian women. This position has in its favor a (1) a Scriptural foundation, and (2) an explanation pertaining to the propensity of these entities to seek  re-embodiment.  This theory extends  beyond that of plausibility to the realm of probability based upon its contextual, grammatical and historical  foundations.

The offspring of fallen angels and human women, the nephilim, are mentioned in chapter six of Genesis.  They were destroyed in the flood, yet their spirits remain on the earth. This view is the oldest belief among the Jewish people. It is a belief that the apostles held to as well. The non-canonical book of Enoch was quoted in the New Testament by Christ himself.  This book teaches that the “sons of God mentioned in Genesis 6:2 were fallen angels.
The title “sons of God” is restricted in Old Testament usage to that of angels thus the justification of this angelic identity to provide the very foundation upon which this position is built.  That the“sons of God” are angels has  had its difficulties and therefore denied by scholarship from the time of the Church Fathers.  This scholarship  includes the works of Cyril of Alexandria, Theodoret, Chrysostom, and in modern times by Matthew Henry, Scofield, Keil and Brown.  These scholars hold the view that the “sons of God” are godly Sethites, and the “daughters of men” ungodly Canaanites who inter-married.

The origin of the Sethite view is dubious at best.  During the fourth century, the “angel” interpretation of Genesis 6 had become a source of embarrassment to the Church as the church was being met with opposition from critics of this  interpretation.  This change came about because of celibacy, an institution of the church, and angel worship within the church.  Cyril of Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria from 412 A.D. to 444 A.D. replaced the orthodox position with the Sethite interpretation. Centuries of Hebrew scholarship was thrown out of the window.

The Sethite view is not without difficulties.  According to some scholars, there is an intended grammatical antithesis in the text itself.  This antithesis establishes a contrast between angelic beings and earthly women and was the understanding among both early church and rabbinical scholarship. This being the case, if God intended to contrast the sons of Seth and the daughters of Cain, the text itself would reflect that. 

According to the rules of logic, inference is the process by which a conclusion is  reached by assumed premises though the conclusion is not logically derivable from the premise or premises. The inferences made by those who hold to the lines of Seth and Cain interpretation are (1) that the line of Seth was Godly, and (2) man was referred to as “sons of God” in the Old Testament.  These inferences pose such questions as “If the line of Seth was, indeed, Godly, why was not anyone outside of Noah’s family spared from the flood? What evidence is there that Noah’s sons’ wives were from the line of Seth?  Were the daughters of Seth unattractive?   Does the  reading of Genesis 6:2 indicate the manner in which wives where taken?  If so, would this be the Godly manner in which the men of Seth would have ensued? There is only one man in the Old Testament to be referred to as a son of God - Adam. 
Could this be because he was a direct creation of God as opposed to all of his descendants?         

The issue of the judgment – cataclysmic flood – is problematic  also. Could the actions of the human offspring from the unequally yoked marriages between the lines of Seth and Cain be the backdrop of such a judgment that spares only eight people?   It is an unlikely proposition as Jesus’ prophetical statement has further reaching implications extending to the Second Advent than would that provided by a mere historical event. Jesus said, "As the days of Noah were, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be." 

There is an undeniable connection between the offspring of these immoral relationships and Peter’s description of “the crime of certain of these spiritual beings, which seems to refer to a second and deeper apostasy than their complicity in Satan’s primeval insurrection” (Larkin, 26, 27).  This sin deprived these angels of freedom and positions under Satan as principalities, powers, ruler of darkness... (Eph. 6:12).  This resulted in the offending angels (bene ha’ Elohim), translated “sons of God,” being cast by God down to Tartarus, “into the pits of darkness to be reserved unto the judgment.”  This sin was that of leaving their estate and breaking the bounds of the God-ordained laws to the two worlds.   These immoral relations have connection with the times of Noah (II Pet. 2:4-5), the crime of Sodom and Gomorrah (cf. Gen. 19:5) and the abnormal character of going after “strange flesh” (Jude vv.6-7).  Wuest, expert in the Greek language, gives an explanation concerning the case of Sodom and Gomorrah and “going after strange flesh” (Jude 7): “These angels transgressed the limits of their own natures to invade a realm of created beings of another nature.” In other words, these angels crossed the Rubicon, given the aorist tense of the of the verb “apoleipo” indicating a once and for all action.

 In conclusion, we do not find any school of thought or theory, other than the angel position, to satisfactorily explain who or what demons are.  In addition to the above difficulties found in the Sethite interpretation, we regard the Book  of Enoch to be a reliable source upon which to base our position.  It is not good form to introduce something new in closing, but we want to share some food for thought – a passage from Enoch.

 “But now the giants who are born from the [union of] the spirits  and the flesh shall be called evil spirits upon the earth, because their dwelling shall be upon the earth and inside the earth. Evil spirits have come out of their bodies. Because from the day that they were created from the sons of God they became Watchers: their first origin is the spiritual foundation. They will become evil upon the earth and shall be called evil spirits. The dwelling of the spiritual beings of heaven is heaven; but the dwelling of the spirits of the earth, which are born upon the earth, is in the earth” (1 Enoch 15:8-10).

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