Saturday, April 2, 2011
The Invisible World
The mystery of a spiritual world has intrigued us for ages. Is there a reality that exists beyond the senses? And can an invisible spiritual world actually become visible? Best-selling author Anthony DeStefano answers yes with certainty. The Invisible World: Understanding Angels, Demons, and the Spiritual Realities That Surround Us explores the existence and meaning of this unseen, yet very real world.
Though the pages of The Invisible World are rich in poignant stories and tangible applications, DeStefano eschews anecdotal evidence and offers instead a depth of theological and biblical evidence as he takes readers on a journey to an unseen world inhabited by God, angels, demons, Satan, Heaven, and Hell.
An interview with Anthony DeStefano, Author of The Invisible World
Q: The Invisible World is a book about understanding angels, demons, and the spiritual realities that surround us. In a world that is so visual, why tackle such a murky subject?
A: That’s really the whole point. What I tried to do in this book was attempt to render that spiritual world a bit less murky and a bit clearer for people. My hope is that, by doing this, these invisible realities won’t seem so unfamiliar in the future. And the more familiar they are, the easier it will be to understand them and to have absolute faith in their existence.
Q: What do you say to skeptics who believe the invisible spiritual world is just a superstition?
A: Quite the contrary. To me, the greatest superstition is what Deepak Chopra calls the “superstition of materialism.” That’s the superstition that says that everything in life—our ideas, our philosophies, our religions, our accomplishments, all our notions of honor and love and mercy and hope, all our art and music, all of the deepest mysteries of science and faith, all the longings of the human heart—is simply the result of the random dance of molecules in our brain! Now to me that is superstitious and a denial of logic!
One of the great things about the invisible realm is that you don’t have to be a “religious fanatic” or the follower of some cult to believe in it. You can be a level-headed pragmatist. You can be a realist. You can even be a cynic. You certainly don’t have to check your brains at the door before entering this world. And you don’t have to be afraid that deep thinking is going to nullify what you learn there. This book is not merely based on warm-hearted anecdotal evidence. Everything I talk about in this book is based on solid theology, informed by common sense and logic, and backed up by biblical scholarship and the universal teaching of the Christian church over the past two thousand years.
Q: Unseen spiritual realities are rarely analyzed from a Christian point of view. What is the reason?
A: I think there are some Christian books on the market that focus on invisible realities, but not many of them are written in a way that speaks to the general public. In other words, there are books on God, the angels, demons, grace, etc., but unfortunately, most of them are heavy theological works that are rather long and dull. I think the reason for this is that Christians sometimes forget that theology can be exciting and compelling and wonderfully interesting for everyone—not just scholars, academics, and theologians.
Q: You’re not a priest or pastor; in fact, you’re a writer and businessman. How did you get in touch with this topic?
A: I think it is precisely because I am a practical person that I wanted to write about these topics in a way that everyday people could understand. As a thinking human being, I’m naturally interested in the ultimate questions concerning life, death, and the spirit. I think everyone is. After all, we’re all headed in the same direction down the same river. So I think it’s a very practical subject to be interested in because it concerns all of us. But as a practical person—someone involved in business and running organizations and hard work—I’ve been frustrated by the lack of books on these kinds of spiritual topics written in a no-nonsense, understandable way. Basically, I try to write my books in order to fill what I perceive to be a void.
Q: If we are going to explore the invisible spiritual realm, how can we tell the phony from the authentically supernatural? Is there a way to be sure about what is real and what is superstition or even fraud?
A: It’s very difficult because the topic is so subjective. That’s why, in my book, I don’t indulge in wild speculation or relate hundreds of anecdotes and stories that may or may not be true. I stick to what has been revealed in Scripture and the authentic teaching of Christianity over twenty centuries. I feel strongly that, if I didn’t stay within these parameters, it would be too easy to drift into the worst kind of make-believe.
Q: The Invisible World explores the existence of angels. Angels have captured our imagination in a special way. Why do you think that is?
A: I think part of the fascination is that, while angels are completely different from us, i.e., they’re pure spiritual beings, they are also right here with us on Earth, helping us, guiding us, and protecting us. In other words, we are intrigued by angels because they are powerful and wonderful creatures, but also because part of their job is to really get involved in our lives—to really “get their hands dirty,’’ so to speak, in the affairs of human beings. Angels are mysterious and strange and invisible, but they’re also our fellow creatures—and they’re essentially living part of their lives on earth in order to help us. So although they’re very far away from us, they’re also very close. It’s the proximity that is fascinating, I think.
Q: You also explore the idea of the devil. “The devil made me do it” is a cliché that people often use with humor. Can it be true? How does the devil actually tempt us?
A: Of course it’s true. The devil does tempt us. And the devil really exists. He is spoken about many times in Scripture. He’s not a “theological construct,” as some academics have theorized. He’s a real being. As far as how he goes about tempting us, as the movie The Exorcist correctly says, “The attack is psychological.” And moreover, it usually involves deception. Satan, says Scripture, is a liar and the father of all lies. Understanding lying is the key to understanding the nature of the Evil One and the nature of spiritual warfare. Think about it. If God is Truth, and the devil hates everything about God, then naturally the devil is going to want to mess with the truth. What could be more offensive to God than to get us to act in a way that completely contradicts God’s identity? What could be more insulting than for us to be persuaded to act in a way that is diametrically opposed to everything God stands for? That’s why the devil is always trying to deceive us. Not only is it an extremely effective tactic for trapping us, but it also mocks God at the same time. So deception is the foundation of all demonic strategy—it’s the devil’s modus operandi.
Q: If the devil and the demons are so powerful, how can we ever hope to combat them?
A: It’s very simple. In order to protect yourself from spiritual realities that are harmful or evil, all you have to do is unite yourself to God. Union with God is the ultimate and absolute defense mechanism against all spiritual attacks. In the presence of grace, evil runs, hides, flees. That’s a fundamental spiritual law.
Q: And how can we invite positive spiritual forces into our lives?
A: One of the very best ways is to pray. Prayer puts you in direct contact with the creator of everything, including the whole spiritual realm. It’s like being plugged into an electrical generator. Prayer is the great spiritual conduit. A super-highway to Heaven! Prayers go up to God, and he sends spiritual graces of all kinds down to us. The best thing he sends to us, of course, is himself!
Q: What was the biggest insight you had during your research for The Invisible World?
A: The biggest insight for me was that when you look at the invisible world from the Christian perspective, it’s actually much more interesting and provocative than when you look at it from all the fictional and new-age perspectives you see in the majority of books being published. As everyone knows, there are many books out there on paranormal activity and ghosts and goblins and all the subjects Hollywood makes scary movies about. But the simple, age-old Christian teaching on angels, demons, the devil, grace, God, and what’s going to happen at the end of the world are so much more exciting and eerie. And what’s more—they are true. They are not make-believe. And you can really believe them.
Q: How can faith in the invisible world help us live our day-to-day lives in the visible world?
A: If you only pay attention to visible realities, i.e., the world of the senses—then you are doomed to live only half a life. And the half you do lead is bound to be shallow and meaningless. Why? Because the most important things in life are invisible: love, honor, trust, faith, emotion, passion, philosophy, God. The hidden realities of life affect everything you do—whether you know it or not. They affect how you conduct your business, what kind of person you decide to marry, how you raise your children, how you look at suffering, how you face death. The invisible is the lens through which you filter all the experiences of your life. By learning about the invisible world, your life will become much fuller and richer and more balanced. Also, if you have a strong faith in the invisible world, then no amount of suffering—physical, mental, or emotional—will ever be able to destroy the profound inner sense of peace that you’ll experience on a daily basis.
The Invisible World: Understanding Angels, Demons, and the Spiritual Realities That Surround Us by Anthony DeStefano
Doubleday Religion ~ March 15, 2011
Hardcover/208 pages/ISBN 978-0-385-52223-6/$19.99
Genesis 11 recounts the story of Babel, when all of mankind had one language. Man was in charge of his own destiny, and began to build a huge ziggurat with which to ascend into the heavens, and be as God. When God observed this, he said “Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” (Genesis 11:6)
In this book, Anthony Destefano seems to be working from the same premise; we are all human, and because we are all human we all have this innate ability to sense the spiritual realm, distinguish angels from demons, receive the angels and rebuff the demons, and thereby control our own respective destinies.
Therein lies the issues I have with this book. This book completely takes the focus off of God, off of studying God’s revealed word, off of listening for the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit, and places it into an endless “oooh, is that my angel speaking to me?” kind of reality. And when the mind is distracted from God, and his Word, the results can be devastating.
The author has collected some powerful, often disconcerting examples of instances when the spiritual realm invaded our physical realm with remarkable results. But the foundation of this work is faulty at best, and has dire implications for those who choose to practice the principles of this book. The author quoted The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis, in Chapter One. I’d like to conclude this review by doing the same:
“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”
Author Anthony Destefano seems to have taken the next step down this very dangerous road. It appears that in his world, we are all not only aware of the spiritual realm – we also have the ability to control it. We have become as gods, “and now nothing will be restrained from [us], which [we] have imagined to do.”
I was given a copy of this book for review purpuses only and am not required to write a positive review.