WHY YOU NEED DELIVERANCE by Silverio Gonzalez for Core Christianity
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.—Galatians 1:3–5
Years ago, I attended a church that was made up of people and practices from Fundamentalism, Pentecostalism, and third-wave charismaticism. The people I met there were very committed to their understanding of the Bible, willing to be foolish for Christ. Demons, the devil, and sin were real enemies, and they believed that people needed deliverance. There were prayer meetings for people caught in the grip of addiction, held under the sway of Satanic forces, and in need of freedom from their demon-oppressed state. For these Christians, the church stood between God and the devil seeking to bring God’s healing and love to the dark places of the human psyche where sin and Satan reigned and needed to be cast from a position of authority.
Later in life, I went through a deep struggle to find a more intellectually acceptable Christianity, a Christianity without the weirdness, a Christianity that modern people could look at and not think it simply foolish and out of touch with the modern world. I struggled with the Bible’s strangeness, its world of angels and demons, of miracles and healings, of a cosmic battle between forces of good and evil. I wanted to be the kind of Christian who could accept the findings of modern physics, geology, biology, and philosophy. I wanted a sure footing in reason. I still do; but as much as I would like to get away from the strangeness of the Bible, I can’t. The Bible’s supernatural claims put it at odds with modern thinkers, and one of these claims at which modern people balk is the claim that every single human being needs deliverance from sin, death, and the devil.
Popular understandings of the demonic often contain more myth than reality, but in Galatians 1:3–5, Paul opens his letter to the Galatians with a gospel-greeting: Jesus Christ “gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age.” In Paul’s letters, he often speaks of this age or “this present evil age” in contrast to “the age to come.” When the Bible speaks about this age as evil, it isn’t because this world is essentially evil but because this age is “under the present rule of sin and death.”