Sneaky Squids And Sola Scriptura

When I saw Chris Rosebrough tweet something about a “sneaky squid spirit doctrine” I thought it must be something from The Onion or the Babylon Bee. It is not. It is the latest thing from the world of charismatic continuing prophecy. The author and podcaster behind this new revelation is Jennifer LeClaire and she has published an article in Charisma Magazine, “When The Sneaky Squid Spirit Starts Stalking You.” Once again, this is not a test of the emergency orthodoxy network. This is an actual emergency.

She begins thus:

When my friend told me she saw a vision of herself with a big squid lodged atop her head, I knew enough about the unseen world to understand a spiritual attack was underway.

It proceeds thence. LeClaire testifies that she responded:

The attack was severe, but when I laid hands on her and commanded the squid to be bound, the most violent symptoms would cease.

It turns out that fear and unforgiveness can “open the door to a squid spirit.” Others have testified to doing battle with “squid spirits.”

Again, this is not a put on. This is no parody. This is the living theology, piety, and practice of many “Charismatic” Christians. I have had conversations with believers about similar sorts of things. I recall one dear man, who was in this movement, who spoke of similar sorts of encounters with demonic forces. The “Kansas City Prophets” and the “Brownsville Prophets” and the “Toronto Prophets” et al all laid claim to receiving direct revelations from the Lord about this or that.

Why bring this to your attention? Because either Scripture is the final, magisterial authority for the Christian faith and the Christian life (Sola Scriptura) or it is not. It is plain that, in this case—and implicitly for Charismatics and Pentecostals— Scripture is no longer the un-normed norm, the final, magisterial authority. If that is the case, then who is to say that there are no such spirit-squids or, more to the point, that LeClaire et al are not actually receiving revelations?

Of course, we might object on the basis of natural reason and experience but that sword may do more than we wish. We do believe, after all, that there are unseen realities in the world. The Holy Spirit does operate mysteriously through divinely ordained means. His work cannot be tested and replicated in a laboratory but it is still a truth of the Christian faith. We receive that truth on the basis of authority, the authority of Holy Scripture. If Scripture is not the sole authority (in the sense given above) then additional revelation, like those claimed by LeClaire, may be. Even if we discount those, what about the others? What about the prophecy that I heard repeated in the foyer of St Aldate’s Church in 1993? What about all those alleged prophecies in Kansas City or Toronto? LeClaire’s claim only highlights the problem of claims of continuing, extra-canonical (i.e., outside of canonical Scripture) revelation.

Implicitly, all those who claim such revelation agree with Rome, Mohammad, and Joseph Smith that there is continuing revelation. All that is in question for proponents of continuing revelation is which one is correct? For confessional Protestants, the answer is clear: sola Scriptura. The Bible is God’s Word written. It is the final, magisterial (ruling), sufficient authority for the Christian faith and the Christian life.

To anticipate some objections:

  1. I am not saying that there are no demons at work in the world. I believe there are. I see no biblical case to believe that Christians, who have been bought with blood of Jesus Christ, can be possessed but I do not doubt that there is spiritual evil in the world and that demons are active.
  2. I also think that late-modern Christians need to be self-critical about the degree to which we have been taken captive by Modern assumptions. E.g., when I ask how Jesus walked through a closed door, many late-modern Christians want to tell me that he de-materialized (ala Star Trek) and re-materialized on the other side. Part of the problem is a bad Christology (namely a failure to account for the biblical doctrine of Jesus’ true humanity) but an equal part of the problem is the modernist assumption that we know that doors do not change, ergo, Jesus must have changed. Funny how that works. Jesus can walk on water but doors cannot change.
  3. A hyper-spiritualized world, however, is just as problematic as an implicitly closed, Modernist world. In a hyper-spiritualized world there is no ordinary providence and the world becomes essentially magical. This view of the world manifests itself when people want to make everything sacramental, in which case nothing is specifically sacramental. It is a form of superstition. Such a hyper-spiritual world has more in common with ancient paganism than with the world as Scripture understands it. Sometimes a cold is just a cold (and not a demon).

Sola scriptura is a bulwark against the Jennifer LeClaires of this world. We need not give any credence to her or to any of her ilk because she is, as Luther would have said (and did about the Zwickau Prophets and Thomas Müntzer, the Charismatics and Pentecostals of his day) Schwämerei, “fanatics.” These are those folk of whom he said, “They have swallowed the Spirit feathers and all.” Sola scriptura is not a charter for a closed universe, in which the supernatural is impossible a priori but it does norm all the claims by all the latter-day prophets.

When the next Joseph Smith or Jennifer LeClaire comes to you with an alleged new revelation you tell them “get thee behind me Satan.” They are not coming with God’s Word. Our conscience is captive to the Word of God. If it is not, even just a little, we have no unassailable basis against which to resist Jennifer LeClaire.

11 comments

  1. Ages ago, I felt I’d had enough of the charismattic [?] movement and its wannabe prophets, high spirits masquerading as the Holy Spirit, and casual blasphemy (“the LORD told me….). Chop up their squid spirits and deep fry them for calamari!

    Something like a squid atop their heads? Could i be a reference to Roman pontiffs and their wannabes?

  2. The disconnection between this article and scriptural truth was clear, but maybe no even in the way that we are thinking. While I personally don’t think there are a lot of genuine exorcisms occurring on planet earth today (if any), we must at least admit that there are examples of such a thing occurring in Scripture. It is possible to be devoted to correct biblical interpretation and even the sufficiency of Scripture, while at the same time not holding to a strictly cessationist model. What I mean by that is that simply because you believe that God might give someone, say, the gift of speaking in tongues (according to the genuine biblical model), that is not the same as saying they are receiving fresh revelation from God. HOWEVER… We see in so many cases the real truth of the matter: namely, that people are not following the biblical model for how those gifts are to be used, and therefore their whole approach to Scripture must be called into question. This is certainly true with tongues. It is also true with healing. The way the gifts are supposedly appearing and being used is not in line with the testimony of Scripture. In the case of this article, we see how this supposed exorcism does not follow the biblical model seen in the ministries of Christ and the Apostles. The author states that she attempted to cast out this “squid spirit” (evidently a demon who worms its way into all areas of a believer’s mind, which as you noted is probably not even possible for one filled with the Spirit) using prayer and God only knows what else. She states first that it was only partially successful, i.e. the woman’s symptoms would decrease for a time. She then continues on to say that the “squid spirit” attached itself to her. This is not at all like the exorcisms described in Scripture. When Jesus cast out a demon, He did so with absolute authority. A demon cannot stand up to the power of God. The story of Jesus and the man calling himself “Legion” reveals that demons that are cast out are destined for the abyss, and it was only with Christ’s permission that they were allowed to enter a herd of pigs. This model is repeated in the exorcisms performed by the apostles. A demon does not halfway leave someone. It either does or it doesn’t. In fact, the only time where it seemed to not work was when Jesus told the disciples that a particular demon only came out by prayer and fasting. We don’t see a bunch of failed attempts, because if the will of God is for the demon to come out, it will come out: end of story. Human effort cannot move a demon one inch, so the only question is whether the authority of God Himself is at play, and if so there will be no question as to the result. More to the point, a demon that is cast out is not able to immediately possess another person, as demonstrated by the demons who begged Christ not to send them into the abyss. Therefore, even if the Bible speaks of exorcism, it is clear that this women did not bother to seriously consider whether or not she was following a biblical model. Case closed. I might even apply the dreaded “h” word to this one.

  3. There is no reason to assume that real exorcisms do not sometimes occur – That related by Robert Peterson in “Roaring Lion” seems genuine enough to me (Peterson, in the same book, eschews Pentecostalism). Also, whilst denying the continuing gift of prophecy, some of the Covenanters made some amazingly accurate predictions, as did later men of prayer, like Aeneas Sage and Luke Heywood.

  4. If this woman is suffering from partial possession of said “sneaky squid” after attempting the exorcism, perhaps she should learn a lesson from the itinerant Jewish exorcists in Acts 19? It didn’t end so well for them either!

  5. A few years ago in my Music Appreciation class at college we were shown a Medieval painting of the Holy Spirit gifting someone musically. It looked like an Octopus on top of the person’s head. The Professor joked “I guess the Holy Spirit is an Octopus.”
    Maybe, that was the squid demon instead!

  6. …. and yet soooo many “Calvinistic” pastors tolerate their garage bands (i.e., so-called “worship teams”) using “worship” songs from the charismatic/industrial complex.

    On another note, I wonder if the Octopus -bearing ARRIVAL occurred before or after having seen the heptapods with nonlinear orthography. (Hint: google it).

  7. Thank you for this article. It’s easy to read Charisma Magazine and Jennifer LeClaire and see the absurdity (sometimes I think they go to the Babylon Bee for ideas). However, this idea of continuing revelation is not limited to Charismatic or Pentecostal circles. I know many friends who claim, “God told them…” and I myself before coming to a reformed/cessationist understanding made these claims as well. The church growth/seeker movement frequently claims direct revelation for their building campaigns, programs, and “ministry” ideas. It’s a shame that the Bible is not enough. Mr. Clark, could you do a follow-up piece to this and address the dangers of the church growth/seeker movement? It’s clear to me that this movement is leading many people away from the truth, and elevating self at the expense of the King of Kings.

  8. The importance of sola scriptura. But the problem is this. If the spirit continues to speak apart from scripture, then the one receiving the “revelation” has unlimited power. It was the problem in 1517, continues today. The only way to get rid of modern popes in their private jets is to get back to the freedom of “scripture alone”

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