Evil, Spirits, and Possession

An Emergentist Theology of the Demonic


In Evil, Spirits, and Possession: An Emergentist Theology of the Demonic David Bradnick develops a multidisciplinary view of the demonic, using biblical-theological, social-scientific, and philosophical-scientific perspectives. Building upon the work of Pentecostal theologian Amos Yong, this book argues for a theology informed by emergence theory, whereby the demonic arises from evolutionary processes and exerts downward causal influence upon its constituent substrates. Consequently, evil does not result from conscious diabolic beings; rather it manifests as non-personal emergent forces that influence humans to initiate and execute nefarious activities. Emergentism provides an alternative to contemporary views, which tend to minimize or reject the reality of the demonic, and it retains the demonic as a viable theological category in the twenty-first century.

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David Bradnick, Ph.D. (Regent University School of Divinity, 2015) is an adjunct professor at Stevenson University. He has published several essays in books and scholarly journals on the topics of the demonic, science and religion, and Pentecostal theology.

1 Introduction: Discerning the Spirits
 A The Demonic in Popular Culture
 B Challenges to Constructing a Contemporary Theology of the Demonic
 C A Multidisciplinary Approach: Amos Yong’s Theology of the Demonic
 D An Emergentist Theology of the Demonic: Thesis and Overview

2 Demonology in the Patristic and Medieval Eras
 A Demonology in the Patristic Era
  1 The Demonology of the Apologists
  2 Demonology among the Monastics and Ascetics
 B Augustinian Demonology
 C Classic Medieval Views of the Demonic
 D Conclusion

3 The Demonic According to the Early and Classical Modern Eras
 A Mainstream Demonology in Early Modernity
 B The Demonic and Rising Doubts in the Modern Era
 C Conclusion

4 Late Modern Theologies of the Demonic
 A Early Pentecostalism: An Experiential Demonology
 B Rudolf Bultmann: The Demonic Demythologized
 C Paul Tillich: The Demonic as an Abyss
 D Karl Barth: The Demonic as Nothingness
 E Walter Wink: The Powers and the Demonic
 F Gregory A. Boyd: The Demonic and Cosmic Warfare
 G Conclusion

5 The Demonic and the Social Sciences
 A Psychology and Psychiatry on the Demonic
  1 Sigmund Freud
  2 Carl G. Jung
  3 Dissociation Theories
  4 Traditional Diagnosis of Demonic Possession
  5 Evaluation
 B Spirit-Possession in Anthropological Thought
  1 Possession as a Sex-War
  2 Possession as a Rite of Passage and Social Construct
  3 Possession as Therapy
  4 Possession as a Means of Conversion
  5 Possession as Protest
  6 Evaluation
 C Conclusion

6 Causality in Philosophy and Science: Toward an Ontology of the Demonic
 A Causation in Modern Philosophy
  1 Substance Dualism, Causation, and Interventionism in Modernity
  2 Monism, Causation, and Interventionism in Modernity
 B Causality in Contemporary Thought
  1 Reductive Physicalism/Metaphysical Naturalism
  2 Causality within the Divine Action Project
 C Conclusion

7 Emergence Theory and the Demonic
 A Emergence Theory
  1 The History of Emergence Theory in Philosophical Thought
  2 Emergence Theory in Its Contemporary Setting
  3 Social Dimensions of Emergence
 B An Emergentist Theology of the Demonic
  1 Philosophical and Theological Considerations
  2 Emergence and Spirits: Philosophical and Theological Considerations
  3 Emergence and Demonic Causation
 C Conclusion

8 The Demonic in the Bible: An Emergentist Perspective
 A Emergence and the Biblical Traditions: The Origin of Demons
  1 Isaiah 14
  2 Ezekiel 28
  3 Revelation 12: 1–4
  4 Non-Canonical Sources
  5 An Emergentist Evaluation and Appropriation
 B Emergence Demonology: Satan and Demons in the Hebrew Bible
  1 Ha Satan in the Hebrew Bible
  2 The Demonic in the Hebrew Bible
 C Emergence Demonology and the New Testament: Binding Demonic Powers
  1 The Gerasene Demoniac: Mark 5: 1–20
  2 Principalities and Powers: Ephesians 6: 10–20
 D Conclusion

9 Conclusion: Binding the Spirits
 A Implications and Future Trajectories
 B Conclusion

All interested in the topics of the demonic, spirit-possession, exorcism and evil, especially professional theologians and graduate students, and anyone concerned with philosophical and anthropological approaches concerning spiritual beings.
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