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Afraid: Demon Possession and Spiritual Warfare in America

by Robert H. Bennett

Item #: 124463 / 2016 / Paperback / 215 Pages


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A fascinating and unnerving book, Afraid is a must-read that equips Christians to recognize the devil’s influence in our society.

Robert Bennett describes real events and actual confessions people have shared with him of demonic encounters—in America, in our modern age. Summoning demons, interacting with “ghosts,” and holding séances led to what many may call horrifying hallucinations and even schizophrenia. But for many Americans, these things are their spirituality.

How can we break free from the despair and crushing fear that such encounters can bring? How do we come to the aid of our neighbors who are lost in Satan’s deceptions? Bennett points us to the only way out: God’s grace and the medicines He gives to His people.

Praise for Afraid
Afraid is wonderfully written, faithfully confessed, and frightfully good. Dr. Bennett carries the reader through the spiritual chaos wreaking fear upon our culture, our neighbors, friends, and family. As you make your way through each chapter, Dr. Bennett skillfully weaves Scripture in and out of real-life stories, teaching doctrine and holding forth Jesus Christ as the only true exorcist. Through His ordinary Means of Grace, Jesus stills every rustling leaf in the wilderness, things that go bump in the night cease, and unclean spirits are cast out. The baptized have nothing to fear."
—Rev. Dr. Tony Sikora, Senior Pastor, Hope Lutheran Church

Afraid reads like a fast-paced novel. You will learn more about the devil and God’s grace in this book than from watching a lifetime of TV preachers. After you read Afraid, you will never pray the same way again, ‘Let your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me!’

Afraid serves as a wakeup call to all Christians about the spiritual realities that surround us and our children. Bennett explains the importance of centering spiritual care on Scripture, the Catechism, and the hymnal so that you never need to be afraid. Afraid will open your eyes to the spiritual universe all around you. It will also give you comfort as you cling to Christ and His Word and His church.”
—Rev. Ross Johnson, Director of Disaster Response, LCMS Office of National Mission

“Afraid? Jesus is Lord. Finally, a much needed approach that points the church to dwell not on the devil and his lies, but rather on Jesus as Lord, who has conquered sin through His Gospel. Bennett calls upon the church to be thorough in her catechesis and so awaken to our Lord Jesus who is present through His divine service to comfort His people and free them from all their fears. As the stronger man, Jesus gives His gifts, namely Absolution, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, whereby the strong man must flee. This book is no theology of glory, but rather one of the cross in which the Christian church is exhorted to renounce syncretistic practices that give ground to Satan and remain faithful to her exclusive claim of Jesus as Lord. Study questions, stories, and cultural beliefs defined make this book a balanced biblical approach to the occult, useful to missionaries, seminarians, pastors, and laypeople alike.”
—Ted Krey, Regional Director of Latin America and the Caribbean, LCMS Office of International Mission

“While church attendance is on the decline in North America, fascination with spirituality is not. Armed with the Holy Scriptures and Lutheran theology, Robert Bennett has provided a book that will help readers understand the reality of the demonic that pervades the re-emergence of paganism in our culture. In a conversational style and with judicious use of case studies, Bennett has provided both pastors and laypeople with a useful resource for better understanding that the battle in which we engage is not against flesh and blood but spiritual forces of darkness. Pastors who are increasingly confronted with circumstances marked by demonic activity will find Bennett’s advice for spiritual care both sober and sound.”
—John T. Pless, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions and Director of Field Education, Concordia Theological Seminary

"Drawing especially on Luther, Lutheran hymns, and Lutheran pastoral experiences, Bennett addresses the reality of dark spiritual forces. Most importantly, however, he reminds us that we should ‘tremble not’ for the devil. Christ is victor: we need not be afraid."
—Craig S. Keener, F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary

“Dr. Bennett has written an intriguing and much needed work. He addresses quite practically the spiritual warfare in which American Christians in particular find themselves enmeshed. Our enemy is cunning and would happily divert us at any cost from what finally defeats him. Constantly, Dr. Bennett calls us back to the divinely powered Means of Grace, the Word and Sacraments of Jesus, and the unspeakable comfort of the sinner’s free justification. Here is a distinctively Lutheran approach to the spiritual battle and it is much needed.”
—William Weedon, LCMS Director of Worship and Chaplain of the International Center

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Customer Reviews

Afraid: Demon Possession and Spiritual Warfare in America

by Robert H. Bennett

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An Eye-opener

Robert Bennett does an excellent job relating how easily we are fooled by spiritual things. Yes, even we Christians can be messing around with things we are not really prepared to deal with. Mr. Bennett writes from personal experience in dealing with real people, who had real spiritual battles, and writes to the average reader. There is nothing in this book that is above understanding for every Christian. The author continually points to the Word and Sacrament as the remedy for spiritual warfare. He relates true events that people had gone through, points out that often times there is physical or psychological illness involved, but never shrinks from pointing out the very real spiritual battles many have gone through. Christ is always the remedy. As one who tends to be a bit skeptical, I appreciated the warnings from Mr. Bennett about the Western Church, and the tendency to always use mental illness or some other "scientific" approach to explain these spiritual realities. Often times, this leaves the ones who need the most help without hope. If we Lutherans truly believe what we confess, we cannot turn away from the reality of spiritual warfare. I learned much from this book, and will be ordering the companion I am Not Afraid, by the same author.

1 people found this comment helpful, 0 did not
excellent book

I'm a scoffer by nature. I've never given much thought, as a confessional Lutheran, to demon possession/oppression (and as this book explains, that's part of the problem!). While I'd never outright deny these things occur, they're simply not topics that interest me. That changed when my Sunday School kids started pressing me with questions on these topics as we studied Mark's Gospel. I procured this book and Bennett's first book (I Am Not Afraid). While his first book was helpful, this second text is fundamental to the topic of spiritual realities. It is also a smoother read and isn't fraught with the typographical errors of the first book. If you have any interest at all in demon possession, or even if you don't, I recommend this book. Heavy emphasis on the Sacraments and Word, while pointing out the pitfalls inherent in heterodox practices and worship "styles." The LCMS should encourage its congregations to use this book for study - it even includes a very helpful study guide/question section (with answers) throughout.

1 people found this comment helpful, 0 did not
Riveting questions with Scriptural Answers

From possession to oppression to the devil's role in addiction, there are riveting questions for Christians to consider. This book provides answers in a consistent, Lutheran, and Christocentric way. Curious about voodoo culture, but want a perspective a bit deeper than a tourists? It's in there. What about Native American ancestor rituals? Generational curses? Psychic Expos? General American spiritualism and the spiritual effects of multi-culturalism? This book will give you things to think about. I'll admit. A few times I paused in hesitation as I was reading. I wondered whether the author was going too far or would somehow jump off the deep end. I'm happy to report that he is not encouraging superstition or jumping to conclusions. He does not see the devil behind every rough day or nasty look. At the same time, the devil can be in the details of the temptations floating around us. That doesn't really surprise us, does it? Still, perhaps it happens more often then we would like to admit. There really is spiritual warfare in America. If you believe that, as well as the power of God's Word, then this book offers a well-written (very readable) introduction. It offers a very Lutheran approach, focusing on God's promises, God's Son, and God's means of grace, and there are helpful quotes from Scripture, hymnody, the Confessions, and Large Catechism. A few parts are repetitive. I appreciated it, however, thinking that I should include this in a homeschool religion class when my kids are in high school. I also appreciated how the author demonstrated, again and again, how exorcism, or exorcistic practices, exists through Scripture, hymnody, and church practices. To put it another way, this was instructive about more than spooky things: there are positive benefits to learn about the gifts God has already given to us, even if suffering—even intense suffering—continues to be experienced in this world. It is nicely and widely applicable to a surprising extent. I loaned it out the same day I finished reading it! I recommend it.

2 people found this comment helpful, 0 did not
A Must Read for Lutherans

Robert Bennett does a superb job of helping Lutheran Christians understand the depth of spiritual warfare. I could offer many good reasons why every Lutheran should read this book, but perhaps the most important is this quote from Bennett (p. 120): "Particularly in the context of a dominant heathen culture, the Sacraments ultimately serve as a barricade against the perpetual onslaught of non-Christian elements on the believers ... Through the gifts of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper, the power of Jesus' Word is attached to the elements of water, bread, and wine, therefore connecting Jesus to the individual. A similar promise of the forgiveness of sins is attached to the Rite of Confession and Absolution. Where there is the forgiveness of sins, Satan has lost his stronghold, and peace is found (Acts 26:17-18)." Spiritual warfare is real. Satan despises the human creatures that God so loves. He tempts us daily. He attempts to crush us with fear and despair. But Bennett reminds us that we break free of deception and evil with God's grace and the "medicine" He gives to His people. Linda Bartlett

2 people found this comment helpful, 0 did not

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