This week a pastor and several of his followers were sentenced to 30 years in prison for a “fatal exorcism” in Nicaragua. The accused testified that they believed the 25-year-old victim was possessed by the devil (or some reports say “demons”). They reportedly tied her up without food or water the chapel of an evangelical church, and burned her in a fire.
In a weird coincidence, I happen to be in the middle of reading The Crucible. For those of you unfamiliar with the Arthur Millers play, it’s about a chilling time in American history, when the entire village of Salem seemed to go mad, becoming gripped by superstition and paranoia to the point that a sham court was established which prosecuted women of witch-craft, punishing them with hanging (unless of course they “confessed”). The entire village was swept along by passionate (false) accusations against their neighbours. Some were fuelled by fear (pointing the finger away from themselves), others by greed for land and others by jealousy. The result was a fury of mindless, violent madness, in the name of God.
When I started The Crucible, in my arrogant 21st century millennial head, I thought, “yikes, the 17th century was harsh. They were so deluded. What part of the Bible led them to believe they were vested with the power to administer God’s “judgements”?!” And then I read today’s news report.
Do we think that we are better than those who went before us? I don’t mean this in an economic, social or intellectual sense, but in a spiritual sense?
Generational arrogance is the idea that our generation is more enlightened than previous generations. We hear it all the time. And yet the world does not seem to be getting any better at dealing with fear, greed or jealousy.
God remains the same yesterday, today and forever. He was the same when Adam and Eve walked the earth, the same when Jesus died on the cross, the same when Salem went mad, and the same today. On the flip side, human nature, sin and evil are also consistent, which means we are capable of the same stumbles and trips.
I don’t really know how to deal with these stories of hysteria. What possesses people like us to act in a way that is so malicious? What must God think as He sees His Bride? (or are cases like this even considered the Bride?) When things seem like they’ve gone mad, it is humbling to remember that God remains the source of love, the author of life, the good judge and the faithful Father. He does not sleep nor slumber, even when we catastrophically stumble.