Hi Doug,dwilkins wrote:One option is that there was a major change in how demons worked in the world based on, you guessed it, preterism. If it starts to derail the conversation too much I'll stop responding. But, have you considered the possibility that demonic activity in the New Testament was very real, and that at some point (I'd argue the judgment associated with 70AD) the paradigm changed significantly. I'll use three passages to summarize my point:
Romans 16:19-20 (ESV)
19 For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.
20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Hebrews 2:5-8 (ESV)
5 Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking.
6 It has been testified somewhere, "What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him?
7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor,
8 putting everything in subjection under his feet." Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.
Revelation 20:4 (ESV)
4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
The point of the progression is this: The era of the Old Testament and into the New Testament writings was one in which the Divine Council of angels (good and bad), with the bad led by Satan, ruled human affairs. One of the major changes in the transitions from the old system to the new system was that world affairs would no longer be managed by angels, but humans. In Romans we see that the saints will "crush" Satan "soon". In Hebrews we see that the old world was ruled by angels, but the new one will be ruled by humans. In Revelation, we see that the new judging council that will rule are humans sitting on thrones in heaven.
If this paradigm is correct, it's possible that the demonic influence in the world was either radically abated, or eliminated completely at the time of the judgment of Satan. I think that might account for real stories of demonic activities in ancient times, but in modern times there seems to be an admission that it is a thing of the past (at least in modern civilized countries).
One argument against this is that missionaries on the frontier are quick to point to demonic possession in people they encounter. This is where the radical abatement comes in. In might be that the demonic head (Satan) was eliminated at the judgment in the first century, and that the influence of other evil spirits is then eliminated as Christianity grows (see as the Saints ruling from heaven as the kingdom expands).
Yes, my preterism calls for demons/evil spirits, whatever Eph 6:12 denotes, to be a non-issue in the world post 70 A.D. Humans themselves are more than capable of being savage animals without any conscience towards being a civilized God glorifying image of Himself. We are the blame for all that is evil/wicked in this world, however, as you said - there is a new divine counsel that is overseeing the affairs of men. It's too bad we are not able to learn and know more of the details surrounding our heavenly functions, but we'll know soon enough once we cross-over.