A few months ago, I wrote a post about exorcism and how our understanding of it can reveal itself in our writing, intentionally or otherwise. Happily, I’ve learned that my husband’s theological book club chose one of the books I mentioned for their next meeting. Therefore, below find my review of Afraid: Demon Possession and Spiritual Warfare in America, written by Rev. Robert Bennett (LCMS).
From possession to oppression to the devil’s role in addiction, there are riveting questions for Christians to consider. This book provides answers in a consistent, Lutheran, and Christocentric way.
Curious about voodoo culture, but want a perspective a bit deeper than a tourists? It’s in there. What about Native American ancestor rituals? Generational curses? Psychic Expos? General American spiritualism and the spiritual effects of multi-culturalism? This book will give you things to think about.
I’ll admit. A few times I paused in hesitation as I was reading. I wondered whether the author was going too far or would somehow jump off the deep end. I’m happy to report that he is not encouraging superstition or jumping to conclusions. He does not see the devil behind every rough day or nasty look. At the same time, the devil can be in the details of the temptations floating around us. That doesn’t really surprise us, does it? Still, perhaps it happens more often then we would like to admit.
There really is spiritual warfare in America. If you believe that, as well as the power of God’s Word, then this book offers a well-written (very readable) introduction. It offers a very Lutheran approach, focusing on God’s promises, God’s Son, and God’s means of grace, and there are helpful quotes from Scripture, hymnody, the Confessions, and Large Catechism.
A few parts are repetitive. I appreciated it, however, thinking that I should include this in a homeschool religion class when my kids are in high school.
I also appreciated how the author demonstrated, again and again, how exorcism, or exorcistic practices, exists through Scripture, hymnody, and church practices. To put it another way, this was instructive about more than spooky things: there are positive benefits to learn about the gifts God has already given to us, even if suffering—even intense suffering—continues to be experienced in this world.
It is nicely and widely applicable to a surprising extent. I loaned it out the same day I finished reading it! I recommend it.