Category: CFW Walther
Should We Ridicule The Devil or Not?
Anyone who has read the works of Dr. Martin Luther must have noticed that Luther constantly speaks about attacking the pride of Satan or in other words ridiculing him. (See previous blog posts for examples). However, many Christians struggle with Luther’s constant urging to ridicule in light of Jude 1:9’s example of how the Archangel Michael deals with the devil. The texts states:
“But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”” (Jude 1:9)
So how then do we reconcile these two contradicting points? Indeed, we must always hold to the authority of Holy Scripture even over the writings Martin Luther. Anyone who is Lutheran would concede this, but do we have to in this case? Is there a contradiction? The answer depends on how you understand Luther. Is Luther ridiculing the devil as a sinful man or is he ridiculing the devil in the stead of Jesus? What does this have to do with Michael the Archangel?
While I expect to be corrected, even as I write this blog post, I think we are missing something in the context of this dispute. Did the interaction between Michael and the devil described in Jude 1:9 take place before or after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus? If it took place before the crucifixion event (as I would maintain) it would make sense for Michael to leave the rebuking of the devil up to the Lord. Scripture represents the devil as the prince of this world (Eph 2:2) and the ruler of the world (John 12:31), therefore granting the devil a “status.” However, Jesus is clear that through crucifixion the devil loses his status:
“Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.” (John 12:31-33)
Following Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension the Church was sent out into the world with the purpose of making disciples, baptizing, and teaching. (Matt 28:19&20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47) Moreover, the apostles, and later the pastors of the Church are sent out to speak on behalf of Jesus (in his stead):
“Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.”” (John 20:21-23)
As a result of the crucifixion and resurrection the Church is constantly ridiculing Satan through the act of preaching, teaching, absolving, and administering the sacraments. These gifts not only bring eternal benefits to those who hear and receive them, but also continue to mock the devil as one who has been “cast out” of his position of power. If we understand Luther’s advice to ridicule the devil as one speaking in the stead of the Lord his advice is well taken. (Jude 1:9) However, I do find many problems with attempting to rebuke the devil as sinful human beings. To do so brings the risk of great harm. Such activity is tied with magical rites and animistic rituals. Those who interact with the devil in this realm are sure to lose, for such is the continued realm of the devil. (Eph 2:2) Dr. John Kleing, in his book, “Grace upon Grace: Spirituality Today,” provides good advice to those who seek to interact with the devil and his demons:
“Those who confess Christ do not need to go on a crusade against Satan and seek out his strongholds in their social environment. He seeks them out and relentlessly hunts them down.”( Kleing, 232)
The ridicule of Satan should only take place in times of spiritual attack, never in jest or out of sinful pride, but only in light of the victory of Christ through the crucifixion and resurrection. Dr. Kleing is helpful here as well, “Subordination to the authority of Christ is the foundation for success in spiritual warfare, for at its core it has to do with authority rather than knowledge and power.” (Kleing, 250)
As I mentioned earlier in this post, these are only some of my initial thoughts on the topic. However, I think this might be a good starting point for the discussion…
Also I suggest you read my recent book, I Am Not Afraid Demon Possession and Spiritual Warfare, to see how the topic has been dealt with by Luther and other theologians.
From Concordia Publishing House:
I noticed that Amazon only has one copy of the print version of I Am Not Afraid: Demon Possession and Spiritual Warfare, left in stock for shipment before Christmas. However, CPH.org still has a limited number of copies available. Also there is no limitation on Kindle copies. Buy a copy of this book today for someone you care about.
To order from Concordia Publishing House:
To order the Kindle version:
To order print copy from Amazon:
“Through exorcism, the church is always a fighting church at the forefront of the battle and at the same time a church in mission. Forgiveness of sin, liberation from the devil and his kingdom, healing from incomprehensible diseases and escaping from death are no more mere portals and empty words just to comfort someone in difficult times and posture. They become historically real and in the flesh in the life of the person through exorcism.”
—Pastor Joseph Randrianasolo
Quote from the book, “I Am Not Afraid: Demon Possession and Spiritual Warfare.
To find the book at Amazon.com in both print and Kindle versions: