Book of the Month/October 2016

The Unseen Realm is a true resource, but it is the kind of resource that you are likely to read clean through, and then read through some other time, and then keep it nearby in order to refresh your memory on this or that.unseen-realm

Too many contemporary Christians are modernists when it comes to their cosmology, with the sole exception of their belief in the human soul. The reality of the afterlife—and a heaven populated with “angels” and what not—doesn’t really count because it is quietly assumed that that place is outside the regular cosmos somehow, and so can’t be incorporated into the modern cosmology. The universe is thought to be exactly what the atheist astronomer says it is—a vast empty space, punctuated here and there with dead rock and flaming gases. The spiritual realm is filed away in the 17th dimension somehow.

The problem with this is that there is such a thing as a biblical cosmology. We often miss references to these realities in the text because we are so steeped in the modernist conceptions that we simply slide right over them in our Scripture reading. But if we are ever brought up short, we will really be brought up short, and this will be the book that can do it. The subtitle is a very good description—“Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible.” Considered as a promise, it is a promise that delivers.

Michael Heiser begins his exhaustive biblical study of cosmology with Psalm 82:1

“God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; He judgeth among the gods” (Ps. 82:1).

This is not an instance of the living God judging among the dead superstitions. It can be read as “Elohim stands in the congregation of the mighty—He judges among the elohim.” The one true God with a plural suffix in His name judges among the plural gods that have a plural suffix for a different reason.

Scripture does not teach us that the pagan gods were non-existent. Paul tells us that there were in fact “gods many and lords many” (1 Cor. 8:5-6), and he tells us that genuine demonic forces were involved in idol worship of the pagans (1 Cor. 10:20). And when Paul cast a demon out of that young woman at Philippi, the original says that he was casting out the “spirit of a python.” This marked her as a devotee of the god Apollo. All of this is to say that the unseen realm is not sparsely populated. A lot is going on there, and a lot is said about in the Scriptures.

This book is really outstanding. There are places where I differ with a particular point, but even here it is a delight to be having the discussion. The Unseen Realm is scholarly, readable, provocative, and above all, grounded in the text. The only serious criticism I would have concerned the (unnecessary) foray into a discussion of free will in Chapter 7. But even that was comparatively a slight distraction.

Who are the Nephilim? What is the council of the gods exactly? Who were the beings that were locked up in Tartarus? Who is the angel of YHWH? What is meant by the “two YHWHs,” and how does this relate to the radical scriptural insistence upon monotheism? What is being referred to when we speak of principalities, powers, dominions or thrones? The chief value of this book is that we learn that it is not necessary for our eyes to glaze over when we encounter references like this. When we turn to the Scripture with our questions, it is astonishing how many of those questions are answered explicitly in the text.

The Unseen Realm is the scholarly fat book on the subject. If you want to check the thesis out on a more popular level, you can check out his other book on the subject entitled Supernatural.

Highly recommended.

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E CTravis Matthew Finleyjillybean40 ACRES & A KARDASHIANbethyada Recent comment authors

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duellsquimby
Member

Thanks for reviewing this Doug! While I was lying in bed this morning my mind was casting to what things would be like on the other side of the veil… (brought on by my Dad’s recent passing no doubt) and thinking of the second (?) verse of Amazing Grace where we sing about 10,000 years.

What must we be missing with our modernist society ruthlessly stamping out the real supernatural.

Thank you! Much appreciated.

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

“What must we be missing …”
Indeed!

What if we could see the “natural” world about us behaving supernaturally?
Mountains singing?
Trees clapping?

40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN
Guest
40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN

Scripture does not teach us that the pagan gods were non-existent. Paul tells us that there were in fact “gods many and lords many” (1 Cor. 8:5-6), and he tells us that genuine demonic forces were involved in idol worship of the pagans (1 Cor. 10:20). And when Paul cast a demon out of that young woman at Philippi, the original says that he was casting out the “spirit of a python.” This marked her as a devotee of the god Apollo. All of this is to say that the unseen realm is not sparsely populated. A lot is going… Read more »

timothy
Guest
timothy

You watched all five hours?

40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN
Guest
40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN

Haven’t watched any of it. I listen to podcasts when I run or play poker. Can’t stand to sit and watch a teaching video.

timothy
Guest
timothy

Does OT theology help your poker face? Or does Vegas ban you because of it?

40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN
Guest
40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN

LOL

I only play online. No poker face needed.

John
Member

How is your relative doing?

40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN
Guest
40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN

Thanks for asking. Not good. My wife’s brother has stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Symptoms hit him out of the blue, and they didn’t even seem that bad, but he went to see the doc. Doc ordered tests, and they came back as stage 4 pancreatic cancer. They said that chemo would probably be useless, and he has weeks to months to live. Pretty tragic. 62 isn’t young, but it’s not that old, either.

John
Member

I’m sorry. My sister died of that at age 50. Had pain in her back that wouldn’t go away and was stage 4 also. She made it about 15 months but had chemo.

The amount of money going into research for pancreatic cancer is miniscule and it is one of the fastest growing cancers, at least in terms of new cases, in this country. Again, sorry. Many prayers for your brother in law, his family and yours.

40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN
Guest
40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN

Thanks. Very sorry to hear you lost your sister at such a young age.

It’s a terrible disease. From what I understand, of the most common cancers, it’s the one with the worst prognosis.

John
Member

Off the top of my head I think the 5 year survival rate is somewhere around 2%.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I am so sorry to hear that, 40 Acres. How devastating for him and for you.

40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN
Guest
40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN

Thanks.

I’m not that close to him, but I certainly like him and enjoy his company on the rare occasions we get together.

My wife is taking it much harder. She’s 3 years older, and he was the baby of the family, so she’s very tenderhearted toward him. They’re very close.

She’s up there visiting right now. I told her to stay as long as she wants.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

You will be a great comfort to her in the days ahead. I will pray for all of you, and I hope she will find some hope in so many strangers caring about her brother and asking God to bless him.

40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN
Guest
40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN

I’m not a huge winner (I’m ahead a little overall). But there are far worse ways of spending a weekend than playing several online poker tournaments while listening to Art Bell (reruns), George Noory, Jimmy Church, Dave Schrader, Howard Hughes (yes, his real name), George Knapp (probably my favorite), Steve Quayle, Stan Deyo, Linda Moulton Howe, Doug Hagmann, Tom Horn, Graham Hancock, Andrew Collins, Jim Marrs, and many others talk about UFOs, ancient astronauts, JFK assassination, 9/11 theories, Nazi bases under the North Pole, earth changes, reincarnation, the ancient pyramids, Planet X/Nibiru, the coming pole shift, the coming extinction level… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Do you think that David Berkowitz really thought his neighbor’s dog was Satan giving him orders to kill, or do you think he made that up to look crazy?

40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN
Guest
40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN

He made it up to look crazy. While the “Satanic panic” of the 80s and 90s – “Satanic ritual abuse”, Dead Air, When Rabbit Howls, Satanists running daycares so they could rape toddlers and sacrifice them to the Devil, a massive, nationwide cult of powerful people who were murdering thousands of people a year as part of their devil worship, etc. – was pretty much all nonsense, there really have been some murderous devil worship cults in America. And David Berkowitz appears to have been in one of them, and he and his fellow Satanists were killing those people during… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I had trouble buying into all that Satanic stuff with little kids. But there is certainly evil out there. I will read the book and clutch my cats in fright.

40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN
Guest
40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN

BTW, speaking of cats, did you know that one of America’s best known pet rescue/shelter charities, Best Friends Animal Society, began as a Satanic cult called Process Church of the Final Judgment, which plays a prominent role in that book about David Berkowitz/Son of Sam I recommended above?

https://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Evil-Investigation-Americas-Dangerous-ebook/dp/038523452X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1475373469&sr=1-1&keywords=maury+terry

I only found this out because, after re-reading the book recently (I first purchased it in 1987, long before the internet was a thing), I looked up Process Church of the Final Judgment on Wikipedia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Best_Friends_Animal_Society

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Process_Church_of_The_Final_Judgment

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I had no idea. But, talk about six degrees of separation, the Process Church of the Final Judgment had some sort of connection with Charles Manson. I am glad that I got my Merryweather from Heaven on Earth and not Best Friends. But my darling mother adopted a cat originally named Wicca which she thought was no name for a pet in a Christian household. So we changed it to Lucy–short for Lucifer, but she didn’t think of that!

40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN
Guest
40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN

I think Best Friends is completely on the up and up, and no longer has any Satanism influences, and hasn’t for decades.

I had a friend who named her cat after the devil – LucyFurr

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith
40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN
Guest
40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN

I’m a supporter of Donald Trump, but I also appreciate good wit, and I give that article two thumbs up.

And there’s nothing small about my thumbs. Trust me.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

The cover itself is too scary for me. I would have to wrap it in plain brown paper before reading it. I am still recovering from The Exorcist which I saw in 1974. I drew a crucifix around my neck with a ballpoint pen.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I see that the wiki article knew about the Manson connection. I only remembered it from Ed Sanders’ The Family. I had no idea they were once connected to Scientology. One day my daughter and I were hanging in the Coffee Bean in Hollywood, and I, oblivious to my surroundings as usual, began telling her about the Boeing 747 that slammed into the volcano and all the stuff about Xenu and fragmented souls. I said, “Can you imagine anyone being dumb enough to believe that stuff?” and she replied, “Absolutely. I believe every word of it.” I looked at her… Read more »

40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN
Guest
40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN

Close call! Quick thinking on your daughter’s part.

I’ve thought about starting a new religion to make a lot of money. It would be kinda like Scientology. But I would call it Mathology.

Now, I’m sure a lot of the women out there are thinking, “Hey, 40 – what about us gals? We’re not good at science OR math!”

Don’t worry. Your money spends just as good as men’s money, so I’ve got the ladies covered, too. I’ll start another religion called Home Ec-ology.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Now, now. Remember that some of us XX’s prefer math to home ec. I just put my snowflake on a plane to NYC for a week on her own. I hope she keeps her quick wits about her, especially as she is in possession of my ATM card.

40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN
Guest
40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN

I only came back today because I just remembered I had promised BJ a more thorough reply to a question he had.

I’ll miss commenting here.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Then why are you going away?

40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN
Guest
40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN

Work and family matters don’t leave me much time right now.

I may leave the occasional hit and run comment, but no more extended discussions for a while.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

My special snowflake just called me from NYC where she was upset to see a police do not cross tape on the door of the room next to hers. The man at the desk would not tell her why. I said it was probably a murder and she freaked out.

You would think she hadn’t grown up in Los Angeles!

40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN
Guest
40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN

Wow. Doesn’t sound good at all.

But I’m guessing a white cop just shot an innocent black man for no reason whatsoever, and the tape is up to keep people from finding out about it.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

It is very different there. All the cab drivers seem to be from African nations no one has ever heard of. But I startled one by knowing that the capital of Burkina Faso is Oagadougou. Having chronic insomnia and keeping a world almanac by my bed proved to be useful!

JP Stewart
Member
JP Stewart

Yeah, the MSM now acts like the 1970s to early 90s Satan scare was a complete hoax. But there was some truth to it. I think the Memphis Three dabbled in that stuff, and were guilty of murder. Also, a few members of black metal Satanist bands in Europe literally killed each other. Then there was that Ramirez psycho in CA. And Manson had some ties to Satanists as well. While current Satanists try to pass as hedonistic atheists with a sense of humor, I don’t think that’s always the case, either. The 80s skinhead/neo-nazi scare was the real hoax.… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Wikipedia claims 2,000 neo-nazi skinheads in 1988. That sounds believable. It seems ridiculous that someone would be that scared of 2,000 people completely outside of access to power, but it makes for good talk shows, I guess.

I don’t really remember ’80s talk shows or MSM enough to know how big they played it up. I just saw American History X.

JP Stewart
Member
JP Stewart

Yeah. There was that movie, some similar low-budget ones, various TV episodes and of course the infamous Geraldo fight. I don’t think any of the guys from the talk shows are doing skinhead/neo-Nazi/white national/etc. activities any more. The most active group fizzled fast:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Front

katie
Guest
katie

Obviously!

E C
Guest
E C

I always took the “gods” of the Old Testament to be some of the fallen angels. Every time a human encounters an angel in the Bible they fall on their face and their instinct is to worship it — the righteous/unfallen always direct that human to worship the one true God. The false gods/fallen angels it seems accept that worship (hence the cults that cropped up where people practiced the demonic rituals of child sacrifice etc). Perhaps they were powerful as angels had power (directed towards evil, not good) but this is NOT to say that they are on par… Read more »

E C
Guest
E C

Sorry, didn’t fully flesh out my thought process in that last comment. So basically the demons/false gods were/are seeking to rob the glory of the True God by setting themselves up/presenting themselves as little gods/leaving the boundaries “domain” He gave them charge over (Job 1:6; Jude 5-10; Eph. 6:12) . And since they were/are deceivers and humans are both easily deceived and naturally want anything but the True God, they buy into the lie and worship them as gods, even though they are nothing but creatures.

timothy
Guest
timothy

We are the battle-space in a larger war; we are both participants and a tactical* objective. To Hell, we are the hill to die on.

*strategic? I don’t know. I am in spiritual meatspace by the grace of God

bethyada
Member

I think this book is worth reading for the content. I do not agree with everything in it. There are some parts that are repetitive, and other parts where he does not go into enough detail. A couple of things that annoyed me. Michael uses a lot of words expounding how revolutionary these concepts are. Mainly to him, but also (IIRC) in the literature. How profound his reaction to Psalm 82 and then how common these ideas were throughout the rest of the Bible. To which my response is, this is not a new idea and charismatics talk about these… Read more »

40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN
Guest
40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN

The other thing that I found was the book seemed to make Yahweh smaller. As if he was fighting against spirits. Now this is true, and the battle is real, but my view of the battle has a very powerful God; one who can snap his fingers in an instance and it all be over. I assume that Michael would be in complete agreement with this, but the way the book was written seemed to me not to display this about God.

So, it sounds like Heiser really is rejecting monotheism and advocating for monolatry.

bethyada
Member

I doubt it. It is just that the content and style of writing tends to evoke this “sense” in me. Michael is overt that there is a creator and that Jesus is God and divine beings are not.

James Claypool
Guest
James Claypool

I agree with you about how the Lord comes across in this book: more powerful than the ‘gods’ of the council, but not all powerful; more knowledgeable, but not omniscient. Also agree with you that the bible makes clear that there are fallen supernatural beings that humans have worshipped as gods and that they have an organized rebellion. Further, I disagree with Doug that chapter 7 is unnecessary, at least from the author’s viewpoint. The whole book seems to be an attempt to put an Arminian spin on the works of Jim Jordan. I’m always very skeptical when someone tells… Read more »

bethyada
Member

Just to be clear (from my perspective) I am Arminian. I don’t mind that he may be (I am not certain, it is possible that his material may be read from a Molinist or even Open Theist perspective as well). I don’t think that an Arminian vs Calvinist view needs to be included in a work (any work) where it is not relevant. Thus my critique of him is as an Arminian.

That said, Bnonn (who upvoted me above) is strongly Calvinist and very much likes Heiser’s book.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Either I am totally misreading this post or my entire theology has been mistaken for the last six decades. If there was one truth drummed into me time and time again, it is monotheism. “We believe in one God, the Father, the almighty.” I was taught the belief in many gods was flat out mistaken. Such belief was part of man’s long journey to the glorious revelation: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is One. Does this post suggest that the pagan gods were real? Were they created by God as rivals to Himself? If Apollo was actually real,… Read more »

Micael Gustavsson
Guest
Micael Gustavsson

I think the point is that they are fallen angels. And some small letter gods are unfallen angels.

katie
Guest
katie

In The City of God Augustine taught that what men worshipped as gods were really demons (fallen angels), if I remember correctly. In that sense, false gods are more than products of man’s imagination, and are actual, malignant spiritual beings (though created by and bound by the One True God).

40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN
Guest
40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN

Mr. UPS Man brought me my latest woo woo book just today. Pre-ordered back in May!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1591432650/ref=od_aui_detailpages01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Travis Matthew Finley
Guest
Travis Matthew Finley

Doug,
I interviewed MH last fall for my podcast and would relish having you on to talk about this again. Please shoot me a thumbs up.