"Over against all that reason suggests or would measure and fathom, yes, all that our senses feel and perceive, we must learn to cling to the Word and simply judge according to it."


- Martin Luther




Luther's Rose


I wish most importantly to state a case for Christ and His Cross for the unbeliever, but I also wish to make the case for both the unbeliever and the "blessedly inconsistent" towards the true apostolic and catholic teachings of the blessed and orthodox Lutheran Church.



SOLI DEO GLORIA



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There is a thin veil between this world and another, and that if this veil were torn, we would be witness to the most epic scene of good verses evil beyond what mere human imagination and artistic abilities could ever depict. In some cases we would see angels restraining the arms of devils, protecting us from the full onslaught of demonic malice, and in other cases we would find angels letting these demons devour us whole, both scenarios, of which, foreordained by God (but that is something to be explored another time).

So, what is this world of which I speak? Well, I'm not so sure I or anyone could tell of it, for to truly know it, one must have been there and back again, or originally from that place with the ability of communicating it's (ie. the other world's) existence to us here and now.

Such an instance of the veil being "rent", as it were, is given 2 Kings 6: 15-17, were it says:

And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?

And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
Here God gave Elisha's servant a little peak under the veil, so to speak, and surely was comforted by the vision.

So why speak ye of this veil?

Well, this past weekend I saw more programs on TV than I ever have about the occult, demon possession and exorcism, ghosts, etc., all in anticipation of Halloween coming this Saturday. It seems that even prior to this weekend that shows about the "paranormal" regarding groups and individuals who empirically try to gather facts about the spirit world through recording devices, etc., are growing in number and gaining in popularity. Even right now the number one movie in America last weekend was called Paranormal Activity, about a faux reality couple who record evidence of a demonic haunting in their home. So, in light of this, a cultural firestorm has been lit around all things "paranormal".


Getting back to the TV aspect of things, I can say that all of these shows are produced to be "sensational", ya know, eerie music, discomfiture enducing editing techniques, cliff-hanger commercial breaks regarding heroic researchers in eminent peril, and all the rest that goes with sensational programming. I must admit they are amusing in the truest sense of the word to the uninitiated, mindlessness is alive and well in TV land, but I, yes even I have bitten into them hook line and sinker. I'm embarrassed to admit there isn't really any show I miss, as sad as that may sound. My wife will walk into the living room and say, "are you watching one those ghostbuster shows again?" Me thinks, I'm a loner in my household as regarding interest in the paranormal! Nevertheless, the shows are entertaining, and, if you get past the sensational bits, they are addressing matters of serious importance, which is something I'll get back to in a moment. However, I must say some are less sensational then others, the least being, in my humble opinion: Ghost Hunters on the Syfy Channel Wednesday nights @ 9:00 PM.

You can tell they are a bunch of "normal" people just interested in a subject, of which they seem to be fearless. The two founders of TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society), Jay and Grant, are plumbers during the day, even in spite of the shows success, and paranormal investigators by night. The usual show will document them leading a team of investigators they've hand-trained to a purportedly "haunted" site, setting up equipment to hopefully capture something, and then revealing to the owner or caretaker of the property their findings. Much of the hours upon hours of evidence they go over for each investigation is discarded as something that could be caused naturally such as a blowing curtain or un-level floors, etc. The bits of evidence they do find which are indeed unexplainable or incontrovertible they present to their client. Here is one of their most interesting findings I think, and keep in mind what you are watching is filmed by night vision cameras in pitch-black rooms, real-time. This clip is of a location close by me in Philly called, The Eastern State Penitentiary, watch it, tell me what you think:



Is it real? I have no idea. It could very well be a fake by the team itself, the camera crew which records them, or an unknown outsider who sneaked onto the premises undetected, and so in any case who knows?

Nevertheless, some of the newer shows are delving into dangerous things for shock value, and could be opening themselves up to serious harm. In some of these more extreme shows they invite pagan rituals, voodoo curses, satanic worship, etc., against their own person all for the sake of catching some sensational footage. All of these people could be setting themselves up for demonic attack or possession, heaven forbid!

However, in the end what are these people looking for ultimately? Is it to test the religious claims of eternity, another world, that spirits both heavenly and demonic are real, or do they search just out of child like curiosity for what goes bump in the night? I'll leave that up to them to decide, but in an ultimate sense they are trying to see beyond the veil. I'm sure there are those who want to find their relatives, there are those who want to see angels, there are those who even want to see devils with scary faces, but I am sure of it that any of these "spiritual explorers" are not expecting to find devil's with angelic faces, for a devil with an angelic face can be any one of those things to any one of those people. In my opinion, this would be the scariest kind of devil in all. These demons wouldn't have to control me through their brute power by force, but by appealing to my pride in showing me what I want to see. They let me be the god who creates his own universe, in his own image, after his own designs, and by that, they would slowly manipulate me into thinking God the devil, and the devil god. The appearance is unimportant but the goal remains the same, divide God's children from their heavenly Father.

Do you not believe me?

I'll give you what I believe to be the greatest example in history, one that still has tremendous affect on the world as we speak, namely Islam and the supposed revelation from the angel Gabriel to Mohamed. I don't doubt for a second what Mohamed claims, I believe he did see an angel with a new gospel, but "*...though...an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we [the apostles] have preached unto you, let him be accursed....**Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." (*Gal. 1:8; ** II Cor. 11:14)

So, this is nothing to be mocked when we try to get a peek into these mysterious realms, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Eph. 6:12)

Yet, with those things said, the thing we must finally ask is whether God has anything under the veil for us to see or not? It would seem the answer to be no. It would actually seem God is more preoccupied with keeping the veil ever before us. Why do I say this? Because God wants us to look at the veil, to never turn away from it in this world, but to continually, everyday, look at it! The veil that God puts between Him and us, the veil he wants us to focus on is Christ dying for our sins upon the cross. When we see that, when our sins are truly with Christ on that cross, we will then be able to pass through the veil of death and tears in this world to finally see and live in the midst of God's glory for all eternity.

I thought I would leave you with a letter from Bugenhagen (a contemporary of Luther's) to Luther regarding his dealings with a demoniac girl. It's interesting to say the least, for it displays that the devil and his kingdom are quite real and should not be mocked. Enjoy!
On the day of the festival of Simon and Judas we arrived safely, by the grace of God, in Lubeck. Once I had gotten there the Devil gave public notice of himself and was recognized in a possessed girl, who, until this time, had been quite well. Before this, his presence in her was doubted, but now he claimed openly to be there and to have entered the young girl through an old woman's curse. The girl had reminded the old woman (the Devil claimed) of a pound which she still owed her, to which the woman responded: "I'll send the Devil into your body."

I was with the girl today, who was well again. Because they feared that the devil might return, the parents were still concerned. Her parents told me what else the devil had said: "Aren't there enough preachers here? Why is it that you had to call one from Wittenberg?" He also said: "Bugenhagen has come. I know him well, and have often been with him, etc." When I had heard this from the girl's father, in her presence, I laughed and was reminded of the verse in Acts 19: "Jesus I know well and Paul I know well, etc." It is quite true that he has often tempted me and bothered me with his thousand tricks, trying to disprove my teaching and faith, but because of Christ, who helped me by His grace, he was no able to achieve anything except to provoke me to do battle with him. I have still not forgotten what he tried to do through the Silesian Sacramentalists, etc. In other sins it has seemed as if he was defeating me. But, Christ be thanked, though he was pleased to visit me, he was not pleased to stay. I would remind you agian to pray for me in this matter, etc.

But to return to the situation: I asked the girl, who is about eighteen years old and continually bed-ridden, if, after she had come to herself again and was feeling well, she was aware of the way in which she had cursed and mocked. She answered no, that she knew nothing of this. Her parents told me the same thing. They, too, had questioned her when she had regained her senses as to why she had mocked so terribly. She had answered them: "I didn't do it, is was the Devil in me; buy I have no idea what I did." They also told me the following: Yesterday, while the the Devil was torturing her, the father began to quote to her from the Word of God, and, when that did not help, he took a copy of the German New Testament and held it in front of her. She, however, turned her face away and began biting the pillow that was under her head, etc. I spoke for a while with the girl and she gave proper Christian answers and a good understanding of her baptism. I was especially concerned to convince her not to get the idea that she was forced to belong to the Devil simply because he had tortured her, etc. Finally, I knelt, along with all who were present, laid my hands on her head, and prayed. She thanked me as I was leaving.

While I was writing this letter, however, a messenger came and told me that the Devil had tortured the girl again, had thrown her naked out of bed, and under a table, and then under a chair, and had twisted her neck so badly that she would have died had not her father quickly come to help. The girl's parents pleaded that I should come. So I went, and, as I arrived in front of the house, I heard a loud scream. When I entered and reached the possessed girl I heard with my own ears these words: "Bugenhagen the traitor is coming! Oh the traitor, he must go out!" I stood there dumbfounded, and even though I did no believe the liar, I nevertheless interpreted his words to refer not only to the possessed girl, but to the entire city; that is, that I would not tolerate the Devil's kingdom in it. May the God of all mercy permit and accomplish this through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

All those present claimed theat the girl had not formerly known my name, and added that she had mocked horribly before I had entered the house. Now when she screamed, I yelled back and called her by name "Elizabeth!" The Devil answered: "Elizabeth, Elizabeth." Then I said: "Yes, are you trying to deny it? Why shouldn't I call you Elizabeth? You gave me testimony today that you received that very same name in baptism, by which was are baptized into Christ." He then began to pounce about, screaming so loudly that those present could not hear each other. But I fell to my knees and prayed earnestly with the intensity which the girl's misery and despair wrung out of me, speaking loudly so that all could hear, that the Lord Jesus should free her--for he had said, "In my name my name they will drive out devils." I think that the others were praying with me since I had turned my back to them. Meanwhile the Devil screamed: "I must go out! Oh I must go out!", and tortured the girl horribly. But her father held her. Immediately after this she lay still, so that her father no longer had to hold her. She lay there, breathing heavily as if she was about to depart. Meanwhile the father told me what the Devil had said to him yesterday before I had arrived: " you doubt that I am present! Now look, I have given you a clear sign!" He pointed to a hole in the window which he had broken. "That", said he, "is how I entered, etc."

Though the girl's body was still moving, we were afraid that she was slipping away. While I sat and waited to see what would happen, she opened her eyes just as if she was awakening from sleep. I spoke to her wih a quiet voice: "Elizabeth!" She answered "What?" I continued: "Do you know what you have done and the way in which you mocked?" She answered: "No." So I reminded her in the same way I had earlier in the day. Then I knelt and prayed with my hands on her head that she should be free, etc. Having finished praying, I asked her to say the Amen. This she did willingly.

And so I left; but I have been told that the Devil tortured her again that night, just as we read in the Gospel concering the swine, etc., and screamed "I must go out, but where shall be my habitation? There is a horse in Lunenburg; I will enter it, or perhaps the chain-maker." Now the girl's father was of the same profession and was, as we say, an adventurous man, since, to my surprise, he had spoken to me without fear from the start, as soon as he was certain that it was the Devil. Said he: "If is weren't a sin there's a lot I would ask the scoundrel and he would have to answer it all." I, however, forbade him to ask anything secretly of the Tempter or to allow it of anyone else. I did not ask what else had happened.

I am puzzled that Satan can confuse people this way. But no matter what he does or says, he still shows that he is a stupid and condemned spirit. These things happened on the eve of All Saints Day, in the year 1530. May God graciously give us the victory against all of [the Devil's] fiery darts through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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