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LAKES OF FIRE IN
Who (What?) Are They?
What are the beings we call "demons" (daimones, daimoneV)? Every Christian should take a morning out to read every verse in the New Testament (if not the Bible) which speaks of "angels" or "devils." Many striking, never-before-known facts will emerge. Even those scholars who have spent many years studying the subject still discover new things every time they re-study the Scriptures.
The Biblical perspective is, of course, different from that of secular Greco-Roman paganism. Morrison (The Powers That Be, p. 83) gives us this definition of daimones in non-Christian thought:
Pagans have often viewed demons as "ghosts" of people who have died. The Greek concept of "heroes" merges with their concept of demons. One can find coins of Roman emperors with long-since dead heroes of military might standing behind them. Rushdoony's analysis of the pagan quest for "power from below" helps us link evolutionism and demonic politics (The Journal of Christian Reconstruction, Symposium on Satanism, Winter, 1974).
Self-deception is perhaps the key note of pagan demonism and power; they know in their hearts what God has revealed about true power (service) and false power (autonomous kingship -- Mark 10:42-45), but they resort instead to creature-worship of one kind or another. Satanic forces are held up as the source of "good" and power (Isaiah 5:20), and labeled and re-labeled ("impersonal forces," "Fortune," "the Genius of the Emperor," "natural law,") in order to deny the Creator-creature distinction and to gain power apart from God's Law.
All of this stands in stark contrast to the Christian view of demons, which sees them as members of Satan's army, forces for evil, although ironically exploited by a Sovereign God (who created these demons for His own purposes) for the good of the Kingdom of His Son.
We must remember, then, that while the Bible sees demons as bad, pagan cultures see their work as good, and hope to lock into their power to aid their own prosperity and power.
As in previous papers, we shall rely on Morrison to sum up recent research into the relationship between daimones and the State.
(This, of course, is the origin of conservatism in the modern world. The gnostics claimed a hidden, or special knowledge, much like modern conservatives claim to have intellectual superiority over their ideological opponents and hope to save America by "educating" people by "exposing" the role of hidden forces in international politics. We can contrast the intellectualism of a Russell Kirk with the social activism of his "liberal" opponents. Christianity, because of its association with the powerless and the poor (Matthew 11:19) and its emphasis on activism over "doctrine" (James 2:24; 1:27), appeared as a leftist movement to its establishment opponents in church and State. It opposed gnosticism.)
Morrison concludes his survey of the concept of daimones in the Greco-Roman conception of the State in the Cosmos with these words:
While Morrison is right in pointing out the undeniable presence of spiritual forces in the Roman/Christian view of the State, and correct in pointing out that while the Romans worshipped (reverenced, paid political homage to) these demons, Christians refused to do so, he is as confused and as "syncretistic" as the early church fathers (who lived after the fall of the Old Jewish economy [70 A.D.] in body but not wholly in spirit). It is vital that we explore his statement that "Christian and Jewish writers . . . like the philosophers, were forced to refine certain aspects (of the daimon concept) to assure ethical and religious consistency. . . ." Consistent with what? Paul's words in Romans 13 were too often strapped to the Procrustean Bed of Greco-Roman presuppositions about the goodness or necessity of the Roman Empire.
Morrison begins his account of the syncretistic reformulation of the daimones concept by describing the pagan philosophers who gave academically credentialed garb to the reigning political/social views of the masses:
"By What Standard?" -- The Christian must always be asking this question. Just what was it that the philosophers considered "evil"? The fall of their empire? A trade deficit or jump in unemployment? Undoubtedly they considered imperial set-backs as "evils" and wondered why the daimones permitted them. To avoid this difficulty, Porphyry postulated good and bad daimones:
For those who still question the thesis, the very argument of Porphyry presupposes the widespread existence of a demonic conception of the State:
Cornelius Van Til has surveyed the syncretism of the early church (A Christian Theory of Knowledge, chap. IV) and shown that by and large they failed to rightly consider the Creator-creature distinction. As Greco-Roman statism was a denial of God's sovereignty in their own quest to "be as gods" (Genesis 3:5) this meant that the church fathers were often unable to refute the concept of a divine-mediatorial State.
Origen, in his arguments with Celsus, gives an example of this. Morrison says that "In an unsophisticated reliance upon the accepted view of things Celsus is easily involved in the contradiction which later philosophers were interested in correcting; the daimones appear to be authors of both the good and the evil." (p. 85).
There is no contradiction. Christians need not assume that the demonic forces behind the Empire are good. In an evil Empire the demonic forces behind it can at times do no worse than Ludwig von Mises and the secular, conservative economists: use economic principles which rest on the intellectual capital of Wisdom (the Word) to bring (short-term) prosperity to the Empire. When catastrophe besets the Empire, it is not necessarily evil angels which inflict the covenantal judgment of God, it can be God's Host, His angels. It can also be the demons of another empire bringing [short-term] prosperity to that State -- God ordains evil as well as good.
Because the State sees itself as God, its philosophers greet the presence of prosperity and calamity with hopelessly crossed eyes. It attributes good to the daimones of the State, but to whom will it attribute evil? To God and His angels? And destroy the official State illusion of atheism? Not a chance! There is no God, there are no "angels." There are only daimones and especially the genius of the Emperor. That evil still plagues the empire is a contradiction from the hand of an ultimately unknowable god (Acts 17:22-23; see our paper, "Ghostbusters on Mars' Hill"). Everything we've seen so far about the State leads us to conclude it is an evil institution, yet there is in this fact no problem in the temporary prosperity of the empire (cf. also 2 Corinthians 11:14-15).
Only when the State is assumed to be a God-commanded, lawful institution (either by pagans or, unfortunately, by Christians who have mis-read Romans 13) is there weeping when the State falls (Revelation 18:19).
Lest there be any lingering doubt that the Romans held to a demonic concept of the State, Morrison reiterates the fact with reference to Origen's defense:
The question will be asked later, Is this compromise required by Scripture? Does the Bible teach that the spiritual forces behind empires are demons or angels? If the former, we may attribute Origen's and Judaism's compromise as an unwillingness to cling only to Scripture and ignore the philosophers of Empire. Morrison writes,
Note the verses cited by Morrison:
That "tradition" of which Morrison speaks is, clearly, simply the Scriptures.
Even Origen sometimes came closer to approximating this "tradition" when he asserts that,
The example of Pilate is the obvious example of unmitigated evil being "ordained" by God:
Morrison to the contrary notwithstanding, in Origen's defense the Biblical cosmology has indeed been altered and ethical confusion has been generated. If the "world rulers" were evil angels, would paganism be "authorized"? Why, then, must the genius of the emperor be altered? Why must the angels of the Empire be good?
The problem lies in the continuing compromise with paganism, which was not limited to philosophy, but included political matters (a fact which might surprise some amillennial readers of Van Til).
The problem lies in believing that God affirmatively desires men to be Gentile kings (Mark 10: 42-45). Origen's faith in the goodness and necessity of the State is Biblically unwarranted. Seeing Romans 13 as a prescription, rather than as God's predestinating decree, leads Origen and those who follow his steps to contradiction and impotence in reconstructing society.
There is no problem; detailed arguments are not necessary. Can Origen produce one Scripture verse in which God commands men to leave their families and a life of service to rule others as an emperor? Then why assume that Empire is good? Why generate a problem in either prosperity or calamity befalling Empire? Why bother to "re-think" the pagan cosmology? Why not simply confront it with Biblical Law and the Biblical view of the demonic State?
In future papers we shall have opportunity to discover the true conflict in Christianity's battle against the emperor-cults, as well as many examples of the Apostles' battle against the pagan State as recorded in the New Testament. It has been our desire in this and previous papers, however, simply to show that Paul and his contemporaries held to a view of the State which extended far beyond the walls of the temple-palace and into the heavens.
The Christian Family Overcomes the Babylonian State
Christian "Anarchism" is Our Goal | | All Evil is Predestined by God | | Pray for a Servant's Understanding | | Angels and God's Throne of Government | | Stars and Idolatry | | Why the State Always Encourages Immorality | | Unlucky 13 -- Romans 13, Revelation 13 and Isaiah 13 | | A Roman's-Eye View of Romans 13 | | "Principalities and Powers" | | Lakes of Fire in "Smoke-Filled Rooms" | | Romans 13: The Burden is on the Archists | | Taxation, Representation, and the Myth of the State | | Why the State is not a "Divine Institution" | | Angels and Autarchy | | 95 Theses Against the State | | Here is what a Christian Anarchist looks like after he has joined The Christmas Conspiracy.
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