Q & R: A 23-year-old ask about ...
Here's the Q;
I was in Dallas this past Saturday to hear you speak. I really enjoyed it and you opened up a new way of reading the book of Acts.
The first book I read of yours was “A New Kind of Christianity”. In 2006 I attended the Honor Academy at Teen Mania Ministries for one year. I was discouraged to read any of your books and told that we are in a cultural war, [BattleCry] and you were possibly on the “other” side of the war. So it wasn’t until last year that I gave you a try.
Reading that book has started me on this journey that I am currently on. I grew up in the Assembly of God denomination and was taught that everything in the bible is literal and things were black and white, right and wrong, and it was all very clear if you read the bible. I struggled with this though because I was going to school and was friends with people my age that were much more complex than just a one verse condemnation.
For the first couple of months your book “A New Kind of Christianity” completely wrecked my world. I felt like piece by piece every single doctrine and belief I had was falling down and I was going to have to essentially rebuild my entire faith. It really bothered me and I doubted a lot and questioned a lot. But I didn’t give up. I kept reading and studying and praying and questioning and listening and now, I feel that I can breathe again. It’s as if the first 23 years of my life I were seeing everything in black and white and this last year I have seen everything in color. I’m seeing things I’ve never seen before and hearing things I’ve never heard and smelling new smells, it’s like I’ve been awakened to a whole new world. One where I can breathe. And I have you, Mr. McLaren, to thank for that. A lot of my friends think I’ve gone and shipwrecked my faith but I haven’t loved Jesus this much since I was a kid. My faith is just bubbling over with love and possibility. It seems so simple now and on the other hand very dangerous. I can see Jesus in everything and everyone and the people I used to condemn to hell I now love and see that they are worth far more than I ever realized.
So again, thank you, thank you so so much. Please don’t ever stop sharing the gospel. Because through it lives are being changed. Just like Jesus promised would happen if we faithfully shared the gospel.
On a different note, I do have a question for you. With my Pentecostal roots I do think often about spiritual warfare and demons and satan. I’m just wondering if you have found another way to think about and discuss these things? Do you believe in a real, literal satan and demons? What about demonic possession? I really respect your opinion so if you have found a different way of viewing these things then I am open to it. Or if you could at least point me in the direction of some books that have really shaped your view on satan, demons, demonic possession and spiritual warfare then that would be very helpful.
Once again, thank you so much for causing me and countless others to think and question what it truly means to be christian. It has quite possibly saved my life.
Here's the R:
Thanks so much for your note. Your encouragement means a lot to me. You'd be surprised how many "Battle Cry" folks I've heard from. I think Teen Mania attracts some gifted, highly committed, high-energy Christians ... and many of them are the kinds of people who can't easily be discouraged from thinking and asking questions.
The best book I could recommend on the subject of "the Satan" and demons would be Walter Wink's The Powers that Be. It's an important question ... someday I may do a bit more writing on the subject, but for now, I really recommend Wink's work. God bless!