The book introduction that wasn’t

The book “Supernatural” by Michael S. Heiser doesn’t have an introductory chapter. Rather it has a few acknowledgments and gets right into the subject matter. I believe that some sort of introduction is in order for this kind of book though. You see, everyone approaches any sort of information they encounter through a lens, commonly referred to as their worldview.

A worldview is shaped by many components, and I don’t pretend to be an expert in the field, but I do know a few things. As a Christian, I strive to have a biblical worldview. I long to see the world around me as God sees it, but I also realize that my view is marred by sin. I will not see clearly until I am glorified. Even though that is true, I still retain a responsibility to be transformed to be more like Jesus, rather than to be conformed to this world. (Romans 12:2)

1 John 3:1-3
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

The very term “Supernatural” is one that our culture only accepts in certain contexts, which is evidenced by the common phrase that someone is”spiritual but not religious.” Someone may read their horoscope, throw a pinch of salt over their shoulder, and talk about how their loved ones are waching them beyond the grave, but if you suggest that Jesus truly is the savior of the world they will say that you are being ridiculous. Our culture is one that is perfectly comfortable with spirituality, but only on the terms that the Bible would not affirm. To make matters worse, our churches rarely present certain texts in their weekly service. The texts may be difficult for the pastor to fit into a standard sermon. It may be hard to come up with applications. The texts may be controversial, with takeaways that challenge theological understandings. The texts may present concepts that may scare away any visitors that week.

Um… guys? The two most popular times for unbelievers to visit are:

1. Christmas when we celebrate the birth of God incarnate through the womb of a virgin.

2. Easter when we celebrate the same God incarnate’s resurrection from the dead.

Then when visitors are less likely we discuss those topics that are less supernatural and more… easily accepted by those without proper context of the miraculous.


Before you can define what is supernatural, you must first get a grip on what it means to be natural. We have certain ideas of things we are willing to accept. We like to call things in this category “reality.” Anything that is outside the reality that we accept is where we place things that are either supernatural or some sort of illusion. And we have the tendency to define what reality is based on cultural norms rather than on the one source of truth that God has revealed for us. When we trust in the same world that we are not to be conformed to as our final arbiter of truth, we are being disobedient to the God we are supposed to be transormed into by the renewing of the mind.

A modern thinker might look to those things that can be understood with the five human senses and decide that those are where reality is based. A postmodern thinker is more likely to reject the notion of univeral truth than to accept someone else’s ideas. You’ve heard the phrase “my truth” before. That is an individualizing of the very notion of what is true and what is false. With 8 billion people on the planet, postmodernism allows for 8 billion definitions of what a circle is. We are postmodern and don’t even know it in the same way that a fish doesn’t understand the concept of being wet. We judge others because they are judging others. Yes, that sounded stupid. Because it is.

“A pre-modern baseball umpire would have said something like this: ‘There’s balls, and there’s strikes, and I call ’em as they are.’ The modernist would have said, ‘There’s balls, and there’s strikes, and I call ’em as I see ’em.’ And the postmodernist umpire would say, ‘They ain’t nothing until I call ’em.'”

How do you communicate truth to a world that isn’t sure what truth is–or even if truth is? How do you commend spiritual absolutes to people who insist there are none?

Ravi Zacharias

This book is not the definitive book on the subject of supernatural activiy from a biblical angle. Rather, it is a good introduction to the topic. And even so, it is not the introduction that I received. My introduction to this topic came from listening several years ago to the podcast from “The Bible Project.” They were discussing certain Hebrew words and in an episode the word “Elohim” was discussed. Most of the time, this word is used as a name of God. But not all of the time. In layman’s terms, Elohim is a word used to denote a spiritual being. God is a spiritual being. Angels and demons are spiritual beings. You are an embodied spiritual being. You are not a god, but if a boat sinks, it is sometimes said that “50 souls were lost in the tragedy.”

See? This translates more than you thought!

So what are the hopes for this book? First, it must contain clear biblical references to support the concepts that it puts forth. Many of these are ones that your pastor agrees with. Mine did when I took concepts like Elohim, the Divine Council, and the places where the realm of God and the realm of people intersect. He affirmed everything hat I told him, everything that was blowing my mind. His reason for not teaching these concepts? The sermon schedule hadn’t included the passages where they come up. When is the last time your pastor tought from Psalm 82? Who are the watchers in Daniel 4? Who was God conferring with in 1 Kings 22 and whose idea was it to be “a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets?”

Another hope is that the content presented would clarify the identity and purpose of all people. What is the chief end of man? What is the overarching story of the Bible and how do you fit into it? What does it mean to be adopted? How so did you once have no hope, but now you have a hope? And what does the Bible mean when it refers to “the nations?” Does that always mean a geopolitical group of people? When sent to the nations, was the church just to rescue a remnant of people or were they sent to engage in spiritual warfare against the principalities? To be fair, spoiler alert, the answer to that question is “yes” as we will see before too long.

Is the Christian goal merely to go to Heaven someday when we die or is there something grander? Is our work, empowered by God and His gospel, intended to push against the curse even in this age? Is the overarching story of the Bible even consistent with the presuppositions of some of the largest swaths of Christians in western culture? Let me be clear, I am not questioning anyone’s salvation here. I am, however, asserting that each person’s theology does inform their expectations. And our expectations will affect our actions as we seek to remain faithful to God. It is completely possible, inevitable really, that many well-meaning Christians will err on the side of their understandings, resulting in less impact on the mission God has for us.

I would suggest you pick up the book. It isn’t the most well-known book Heiser has on this topic. It is greatly condensed compared to “The Unseen Realm” and can be understood by a sleepy middle aged man reading a chapter each night before bed. The chapters move along at a fairly quick pace, leading me to believe that the book is intended for the Christian who is curious about this subject and who might be overwhelmed by too scholarly a book if they haven’t already gotten an idea of the content waiting for them.

Michael Heiser is a former scholar-in-residence at Logos Bible Software, which is software that your pastor is familiar with, whether or not he uses it when creating his own sermons. His teaching is not without controversy, but the objections I have been able to find have more to do with his conclusions posing challenges to secondary and tertiary doctrines that the objectors hold, rather than differing conclusions reached through proper Bible study, allowing the clear portions of scripture to interpret the portions that are harder to understand. As a product of the Protestant Reformation, this should not be so. Sola Scriptura was the rallying cry of the Reformation, where the clear teaching of the Bible was meant to overrule the doctrines that people had been holding onto for no reason other than they were forced to under penalty of expulsion or death. And death apart from the Roman Catholic church was viewed as a death apart from the grace of God at that time.

Surely a Protestant Christian today can do better than this. You are free to agree or disagree with what is said here. But as one who is being sanctified by God, you can show more grace than the Reformers were shown 500 years in the past. And if you wrestle with concepts that are new to you by searching the scriptures in Berean fashion, you just might find that this content opens a whole new category of meaning and blessing in your life. Blessing that wells up within you and overflows so that it can be shared without thought of ever running out. (John 4)

So follow along! I’ve been blessed reading deeper into this topic and I hope this blessing continues to well up and bless you also.

John 3:9-12
Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?"
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Published by CoffeeSwirls