CSFF Blog Tour – Darkness Follows, Day 2

I find it interesting that this month’s CSFF feature, Darkness Follows by Mike Dellosso (Realms), brought to my mind a tough question, one that is sensitive by nature and often isn’t discussed. Interesting because the last two Realms books, The Strange Man by Greg Mitchell and The Resurrection by Mike Duran had similar effects.

In Darkness Follows, the issue is a little convoluted. I’m referring to mental disorders/demon oppression or possession. I separated the two with a slash simply because those who believe in demon oppression and possession struggle knowing where mental disorders leave off and demon activity takes over.

Of course there was a period of time when the common understanding of all mental disorders related to demonic spiritual forces. Today, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction: in western culture few people give credence to demon possession, and mental disorders are understood as biological issues or perhaps psychological ones, but never spiritual.

In Darkness Follows Mike Dellosso seems to be exploring both mental disorders and spiritual activity simultaneously. In his story it is nearly impossible to know where one stops and the other starts.

For clarification, there is also clear, tangible angelic spiritual activity. It’s the dark that is left more murky and tangled with the physical.

* * * Spoiler Alert Warning: of necessity some spoilers may be included in this discussion. * * *

First the clear physical exploration of mental disorder. One of the minor characters was experiencing early signs of Alzheimer’s. The protagonist was recovering from a closed brain injury due to a twenty-foot fall. His brother had suffered from an undiagnosed mental disorder manifesting as escalating violence. The antagonist suffered the effects of brain altering experimentation. The protagonist’s father, also a minor character, exhibited signs of confusion and memory loss — perhaps the result of an earlier injury.

Coupled with these physical or “explained” mental disorders was the “darkness” that inhabited the original journal writer, Samuel Whiting (a 19th century Civil War officer who seemed to be “channeling” his thoughts to the protagonist who wrote them down), and also the protagonist, Sam Travis (who at one point tries to commit suicide).

Several actions sprang from this darkness — actions paralleled by demon possession recorded in Scripture: violence against others, violence against self, isolation from other people.

      * * * End Spoiler Alert * * *

So the questions are these: where does mental illness end and demon activity begin? and can a Christian be demon possessed?

The second question is actually something that I think has a Biblical answer. No, Christians cannot be demon possessed. Second Cor. 6:14, in a different context, indicates there is no partnership between light and dark. First John 1:6 says we’re lying if we say we have fellowship with God and “yet walk in darkness.” First John 5:18 says of one born of God, “the evil one does not touch him.”

Jesus, of course, made a case for the impossibility of someone casting out demons by the power of the devil. By implication, I conclude that God has power over demons, not the reverse. The logical conclusion, then, is that the Holy Spirit in a person’s life does not “share,” nor will He be cowered into a corner while a legion takes over.

But can darkness influence a Christian — demonic darkness? I don’t know how far Satan or his forces can go. I do know I Peter 5:8-9 says, “Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” Because this passage ties in with brethren suffering in the world, it seems to me that Satan may have power over our circumstances, much the way Joseph’s brothers had power over his circumstances. In the end, what they meant for evil, God meant for good.

Nevertheless, we are to resist. This action, I take to be spiritual, in which we utilize the armor of God — the helmet of salvation, the sword of the spirit, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, the shield of faith, the shoes of the gospel of peace.

As to the first question — where does a mental disorder stop and demon activity begin … well, that’s one I’d like someone else to answer for me.

I know there will be lots (maybe most) taking the humanistic view that there are only biological causes for mental disorders. I just don’t see why a spiritual force, if it has any power at all, couldn’t have an effect on someone’s brain. In other words, scientists are perfectly right to say this chemical imbalance has that affect on a person. But why couldn’t the root of the chemical imbalance be in the spiritual activity of a demon?

I suppose in the end, we can’t know. One thing is clear, however: we are to resist the devil and when we do, he will flee. We are to draw near to God, and He will draw near to us.

Christ resisted all the temptations Satan threw at Him over a period of forty days — right after His baptism. Interesting how a spiritual high point can be followed by such an intense spiritual attack. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through Christ Jesus our Lord.

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