The last couple weeks I have noticed cassette tape strung along the side of the highway while driving to my various appointments. This has brought back numerous memories from my childhood. While growing up in France, individuals would record curses onto tapes and then string them around public places to curse others. This was a practice that was relatively prevalent and being part of a Charismatic household, if ever we came across this we would take the tape home, burn it, and pray that the curse would be broken.
When I was a child I was an avid believer in the charismatic strands of Christianity, having attended a Vineyard Church. I believed in demonstrative experiences of the Holy Spirit and the active existence of angels and demons engaged in spiritual warfare. Believing in such things meant that I believed that Halloween was devil worship, Harry Potter was a witch, and any show and/or movie portraying the demonic was opening the door for such things to enter into my life.
Of course as we all know, Halloween is a time when kids (and adults) enjoy dressing up, partying, and eating lots of candy. It is also a time when the media bombards us with stories about the paranormal. Leading up to Halloween, various channels hold their “fright fest” showing of horror films. There will inevitably be documentaries on “the most haunted places in America,” and of course we will all follow the Ghost Busters as they try to track down and find the paranormal with their thermal cameras and audio recorders.
I’ve always been fascinated by the paranormal, mainly because I grew up in a Charismatic setting, yet somehow failed to experience anything I would have labeled as paranormal or supernatural. I was quick to reject any notion that there might be such a thing as the paranormal.
However, as a Christian, I am enticed to believe that there has to be something more out there. Of course I believe in a tri-Omni God, and therefore believe that He is present and active to some degree; although I also tend to lean quite heavily on the Openness side of theology (extreme Arminian if you will). But as far as the existence and activeness of angels and demons, I am at a loss on what to believe. I had an interesting conversation with a close friend some time ago in which I had stated that I did not believe in the existence of the demonic. She immediately, like any good evangelical, quoted the “lost apostle” C.S. Lewis, saying “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.” Well that’s nice, how do I argue with that?
People in my childhood church would stand up and pray in tongues, and the same old man would stand up and give the same exact vague interpretation every Sunday. People who were anointed with the gift of Prophecy would also stand and give messages to the body of Christ; once again, these were inevitably the vaguest messages ever, sort of like those Charlatans who read minds.
We also had people come up who needed prayer for healing. I went up practically every Sunday for my lower back and right knee, as I’ve had a number of injuries while playing varsity athletics. I grew up hearing the numerous stories of people getting healed, and even though I never witnessed any of it first hand, I nevertheless helped propagate these stories. And as you can probably guess, I was never healed.
So here I am today. I don’t want to be lackadaisical (I’ve always wanted to use that word in a sentence!) in regards to the spiritual. If it does exist, it is of the utmost importance. According to Bob Larson, over 50 percent of the world’s population is demonized (not necessarily possessed but under some sort of demonic influence).
But we’ve hit a dead end in the West because supposedly Satan no longer wants to play in the open. He’s convinced us he doesn’t exist. Either that, or we’ve simply come to the realization that he doesn’t exist. Either way, he’s not responding.
I have no real desire to call myself a Cessationist (one who believes that the Apostolic gifts ceased with the 12 apostles), although I guess it’s what I have become by default. I think I’d describe myself as a cautious charismatic. I am not opposed to demonstrative experiences of the supernatural, I have just yet to see anything believable, not in Africa (where I spent my early years), not in Toronto (where the Vineyard movement hit the spot light), and especially not in Kansas City (where the International House of Prayer is located).
Do you have any ghost stories? Healing experiences? Or other spiritual encounters? Please share!