Here is a mini-think piece I wrote for my Spiritual Warfare Class. I am attempting to answer the question:
What guidelines would you suggest for using the evidence of social science research and the teachings of the Word of God for finding a healthy balance toward understanding the presence and work of demons?”
It strikes me that social sciences’s a priori assumption (souls and spirits have no reality) is ultimately based on the disbelief in the possibility of divine revelation. Given this assumption, regardless of the persons belief in anything beyond the finite, the possibility of knowing exactly what is going on in the spiritual realm is only available through the observations of symptoms that are manifest by the demonized individual. The categorization of these symptoms (ie. seizures, supernatural strength, seemingly multiple personalities, etc.) serve only to quantify (by means of statistics, measurable social trends, cultic religious categories, etc.) what is currently not understood and give the non-believing social scientist an opportune springboard to explain away these symptoms. Through this explanation one would try to establish how these symptoms occur in the world naturally (as opposed to supernaturally). Since there is no absolute standard to diagnose these symptoms, we constantly find conflicting understandings of the actual source of these symptoms.
When discussing the balance between the Word of God and social science research we (believers) must recognize that it is only through the divine revelation of God’s Word that we can begin to know the supernatural. God gave us his word as a basis for the interpretation of events that are beyond our human understanding. When a demon manifests itself we can recognize the symptoms found in a person in light of what God’s word has already revealed to us. In the same manner we can recognize that this demon is evil and the symptoms it is creating in a person are only part of a grander scheme held by a supernatural being bent on disrupting the will of God (Satan). Without divine revelation and left only to the social sciences, we can only qualify these symptoms as evil based on the disruption that takes place in the social order when these symptoms are manifest. Even then, as stated before, one could in no way assume these symptoms were supernatural or that they were purposed for a long term impact to the individuals life and the disruption of the surrounding community.
The balance between the social sciences and God’s Word must be found in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The social scientist must recognize that his tools to qualify the symptoms of a demonized person are limited at best. He must approach his specific field of study with the understanding that Satan seeks to systematically subvert the original purpose of creation (to glorify God as Creator) and copy/manipulate the ingrained symbols for his own diabolical purposes. This realization is grounded in the Word of God and worked out through the spiritual discernment that the indwelling Holy Spirit provides. In short, the Word of God reveals the existence of demons and the Holy Spirit shows where and how they manifest themselves.
Also important to this discussion is that the Holy Spirit provides that means to combat the source of the symptoms being manifest in a demonized person, the demon itself. These symptoms can be: measured and quantified in an individual or community through the work of a social scientist (or a questionnaire ie. Wagner), evaluated and qualified in light of properly interpreted scripture, and combated through the power of of the Holy Spirit. Notice that the Holy Spirit is at work in all three aspects. He guides a social scientist in his/her research. He grants discernment through the evaluation process. And it is by His authority (due to Christ’s atoning work in a persons life) that a person can remove the demonic influence from a demonized person.
In order for a healthy balance to be maintained throughout the spiritual warfare process of identifying and combating demonic manifestations, one must keep his perspective on his own limitations and trust God to apply His supernatural power to combat the demonic forces in the supernatural realm. Through this process one must also realize that God is further revealing Himself to finite people who are witnessing the alleviation of supernatural symptoms. In effect, God is continuing His original purpose of revelation that began with His Word, accentuated with the incarnation of Christ, and continued by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.