Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Are Demons Volcanic Or Volcanoes Demonic?

Two Sunday's ago I was in attendance at my Sunday church home (as opposed to my Saturday evening church home). My usual pastor was not there as he was filling in at another church elsewhere in the county whose pastor was away. We now have two assistant/associate pastors so filling in for our primary pastor for a few weekends in a row is not crippling. The new assistant/associate pastor is a decent man and I like him even if his manor is a bit too animated and forced-folksy for my taste. In all fairness even my beloved maternal grandfather, the late Dr. J. Vernon McGee, had a bit of what I think of as "forced-folksy" in his on-radio repertoire. By that I mean that the individual thus practicing it is talking in an unnatural (for them) good-old-boy country-esque/country-istic fashion for effect. There is nothing wrong with that and it does come from a long tradition. It's just that I do not personally care for it as I just like to hear the straight dope in a direct and articulate and undramatized fashion. I don't need to be entertained or soothed or given an emotional "happy ending" in church. In fact, in a church or preaching context I abhor the very concept of it. Just call it a pet peeve of mine!

To further preface what I'm clumsily working my way toward saying is that my Sunday church home is Pentecostal and Charismatic while I am quite contently agnostic when it comes to Pentecostalism and the Charismatic Movement. There are good people there I love and respect and whom I know have very real relationships with God who are rather decidedly of these persuasions. I could get into the semantics of why I disagree with them on a doctrinal level not to mention on an experiential and practical level but that is for another time that I fully intend to see come about here.

Anywho, this new assistant/associate pastor (who joins the one we already had and whom I also like) talked about this and that and none of it really spoke to me on that day. However, at a certain point a rather curious development appeared in his sermon. He related an incident when one of his now-grown sons got violently ill when the son was a small child. This pastor related that the kid had violent diarrhea which came in bouts throughout the night and this pastor stayed up all night with the child to care for him. At a certain point he noted that immediately preceding any episode of this violent diarrhea he would detect a sulphurous odor in the room and then the child would get violently ill. He claimed that he got a verse from God at a certain point that let him know this illness was demonically-caused and the smell was coming from the presence of the demon(s) when they arrived to attack his son again.

Okay, here I go: it is this sort of small-minded, simplistic, superstitious, doctrinally-unsound, tin-foil hat tomfoolery of some Pentecostals and Charismatics that at times makes me want to break furniture. In these instances they are not only wrong but they are an embarrassment to our faith and have "given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme". Their hokum nonsense gets smeared on the rest of Christendom by the unbelievers out in the world. It's one thing to get mocked for serving God or have one's faith mocked by unbelievers; I'm totally down with that. It's quite another thing to face ridicule over the emotionally-unstable, anti-intellectual, doctrinally-unsound hokum of some Charismatics and Pentecostals.

What I'm getting at here is that there is no place in Scripture that suggests demons smell like sulfur or rotten eggs and more to the point I guess: the Bible does not anywhere suggest that demons have a volcanic origin thus imbuing them with the strong odor of hydrogen sulfide gas. Demons are not volcanic and volcanoes are not demonic! However, having explosive diarrhea can give you a sulphur-smelling arse! Catholicism inherited a lot of pagan concepts such as the volcanoes of  Greece and Italy being entrances into the Underworld. Later, writers like Dante had a field-day with these deeply-ingrained traditions of Hell being in the bowels of the earth populated by demons with pitch forks tormenting the damned. Even much of Protestantism for all its efforts to "un-Catholic" has not been able to get these Catholic concepts and traditions fully unrooted from their own concepts and traditions about Hell. And Pentecostals and Charismatics disproportionately relative to other sects of Christianity, both Catholic and Protestant, tend to focus and rely upon emotionalism over rationalism. God has not much use for either our emotions or our rationalizations when they are out of sync with His own emotions and thoughts. Where a rational Christian like me in that situation would have thought to myself: "Holy shit, my son is so sick his ass smells like sulphur or methane... he is REALLY sick!" this good man with whom I strongly disagree on this point went through a mental-emotional process culminating in his imagining that demons were attacking his kid and God was telling him it was so and thus he boldly (and successfully) rebuked (thought he) the foul demon(s) when in fact the diarrhea ended of its own accord after playing out its natural cycle.

Scripture makes it clear that Hell has not yet been opened and thus even if Hell was volcanic in nature (just for the sake of argument) then nothing of its nature would yet be manifested outside of  it. Consequently,  no demons would be able to travel to and fro from Hell and thus have the heavy odor of hydrogen sulfide gas permeating their non-corporeal bodies which would not be possible anyway as hydrogen sulfide gas is corporeal (for lack of a better word) and not something that a non-corporeal entity would have lingering on it as it passed through the membrane that separates our universe from the adjacent one they occupy most of the time. Indeed, Hell is the final punitive destination for the demons and thus is a place they fear and would never wish to enter as they will be imprisoned within it at some point in the future and lasting for all eternity. This is likewise true for all those people here on Earth who in the past or in the present or in the future never accept(ed) Christ's gift of His life for all our sins.


  1. In my lifetime, I've seen the tenants of Pentecostalism allow a young boy to die from lack of medical care. I have also been accused of being a 1) witch and 2) possessed by a large body of "believers" solely because I wrote about science fiction for 9 years and my investigations into the paranormal. Superstitious asshats! And finally, when I was 16 years old, these same people almost killed me with their obsessive sense of control.

    Pentecostalism is a cult focusing on a few verses in the Book of Acts and as you say, rely on the internal convictions of a few rather than science or empirical evidence. Hence, I avoid them like the plague. No wonder I'm Catholic.

    1. Lin, all I'm gonna say is this about your last sentence: Catholicism has its Charismatic wing, as well.

      So Lin, you MUST write an autobiography at some point!

      BTW, my mom wants to speak with you sometime about one of your life experiences you've recently shared.

  2. But Kim...demonic possession is fully documented by the church. Not knowing your pastor or his son, I couldn't say that the little boy was being attacked by demons. I rather sympathize with your antipathy toward an admittedly fundie and simplistic explanation of the sulphur and diarrhea. But...the Catholic Church does have an exorcist on its staff. Even Scott Peck who was Episcopalian wrote about possession. Allison

    1. Allison, the father makes no claim the kid was possessed... possession cannot happen to a born-again believer. What he did claim was that his son was demonically-attacked. I personally suspect the child's colon was the source of the sulphurous odor.