Satan Cast Out (Leahy)

Leahy, Frederick. Satan Cast Out: A Study in Biblical Demonology. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1975.

This is a decent summary of evangelical scholarship concerning demonology around the time of the 1970s. To be sure, evangelical scholarship on the supernatural has increased a hundredfold since then, but one has to somewhere. Frederick Leahy writes with an easy style and the book can be read without difficulty in one afternoon. I do not agree with everything he says, but what he writes can get the student thinking through the issues.

He correctly says that angels are spirits (Leahy 12). True. What do we mean by “spirit,” though? Does ruach mean something closer to force or does it mean something like Origen’s pneuma?

While he urges us to avoid speculation, he says that each angel fell individually (13). Maybe, but he doesn’t give us any reason to believe that.

He holds to an amillennial reading of “Satan being bound” (27). I agree, but I think a better reading of “not allowed to deceive the nations” refers more to a final assault on the Mount of Assembly.

He says fallen angels are chained in darkness forever (29). This is certainly not the case. If all of the fallen angels are chained in the abyss, then how can Paul warn us about the powers in the heavenly places? It will not do to say that “their chain is really long.” In that case, there chain allows them to roam the whole earth; for all practical purposes they aren’t chained at all. Moreover, in that same paragraph he cites where the demons are pleading with Jesus not to send them into the abyss. Why would they say that if they were already chained?

He correctly identifies the Prince of Persia as a demonic being (52). He also notes that the Nazis were engaged in the occult (54).

He takes Merrill Unger to task for denying that Apollyon is Satan, but he gives no reason to believe that he is Satan.

He correctly identifies the satyr of Isaiah 13:21 as a demon (65).

He says the lying spirit of I Kings 22 is a demon (67). Maybe, but that raises a big problem: what is a demon doing in the presence of God? Moreover, by Leahy’s own reading isn’t this demon chained? If so, how is he in God’s presence?

He correctly notes that the occult is a gateway for evil spirits (72).

He correctly rejects the view that demonic possession was simply what the ancients called mental illness (79). In fact, that view is liberalism.

He did some good research in his chapter on demon possession in church history. I m surprised he didn’t mention the famous case of Lutheran pastor Johann Blumhardt. He does mention John Wesley’s poltergeist experience at Epworth (91 n.12; 119).

He gives an excellent rebuttal to the arguments of Jay Adams and others who say that because there was a cluster of demonic activity in Jesus’s day, it can’t happen now. Leahy responds, “It is fallacious to argue that because there seems to have been an intensification of demonic activity especially in the form of demon-possession, during our Lord’s earthly ministry, that the same phenomena are now either non-existent or extremely rare” (144-145). Well said.

The book is worth getting if you see it. It doesn’t replace Clinton Arnold’s two books on the subject, but it does give a good snapshot of evangelical thinking on the subject during the 1970s.


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