Justin’s #61 – Supernatural: What the Bible teaches about the unseen world and why it matters, Michael Heiser, 224 pages

Well, you thought I was done reading in 2015? You were wrong.

Earlier this year, Dr. Michael Heiser released a book called “The Unseen Realm” which I reviewed in September to high acclaim. I was quoted in this review on the Logos Blog; my conversation with Dr. Darrell Bock was quoted on the Faithlife blog, “5 Questions to Ask When You Encounter New Ideas in Biblical Scholarship.” Dr. Michael Heiser, a person I never expected to see my review, even left a nice comment on my review praising my “candor and the high quality of your perceptions.” All of this was really cool. It’s my dream (one that I don’t know if it will ever come to past) to have these kinds of discussions, but I was more overjoyed that people were reading what I wrote and thought what I said contained of some kind of academic weight.

Anyways, with all of this, I couldn’t help but read Dr. Heiser’s book, “Supernatural.” It was the logical “next step.” Supernatural is a “cut down” version of the Unseen Realm. So it’s quite a bit smaller. But the premise is the same. I read the book on an extended bus ride in just about two hours. Much like the Unseen Realm, I couldn’t help myself. I wrote in my review of the Unseen Realm “This was the most thought provoking, thrilling, insightful book I have read all year.” This could be said of Supernatural as well.

In case you didn’t bother to read my review on the Unseen Realm, let me catch you up a bit: Psalm 82:1 says, “God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment.” The word for “God” in the first instance is Elohim, which is a natural and often used term for God. However, the second use of “gods” is also Elohim. This was the starting point for Dr. Heiser’s research (which spanned 15 years). Dr. Heiser proposes that there is a Divine Council of heavenly beings that God uses, although he doesn’t have to. Just like He doesn’t need humans, he doesn’t need a pantheon of divine beings to council Him. But there are several instances where the Divine Council shows up in both testaments. For example, the book of Job see’s one of these members. Translations often use the word “Satan” for the exchange in Job 1:6-12. However, the word for “Satan” is actually translated more accurately, “the tempter.” Dr. Heiser explores this more in the Unseen Realm than in Supernatural, but you understand my point.

There are other implications that are significant. Genesis 6:1-4 is often a section of scripture open to interpretation and more often times than not, debate. Who are these “sons of gods” (ESV)? Dr. Heiser postulates that they are actually members of the Divine Council who bred with humanity to taint the bloodline of Adam. Remember in Genesis 3 that God promised a savior who would crush the head of the serpent (who he also believes is a Divine Council member). So the interbreeding of these two beings would create a mixed bloodline to thwart God’s plan. Well the end result of this were giants who ruled in the land of Canaan. So when we come to the time of Joshua and David, the great genocides of Israel invading the land of Canaan, the purpose was to cleanse the tainted bloodline. A very interesting proposal.

I could say much more about Supernatural, but I’d encourage you to read my review of the Unseen Realm and to pick up a copy for yourself. What I found most helpful about Supernatural was Dr. Heiser put a section at the end of each chapter dedicated to why this matters. I think often times people are intimidated of theology because they believe there is nothing practical about lapsarianism or consubstantiation versus transubstantiation. The truth of the matter is that all theology affects methodology: meaning that whatever theological convictions you hold will influence how you live your life. There is no escaping this conclusion. What Dr. Heiser proposes is that all of this is essential to formulating a biblical worldview that has in mind the unseen powers that are at work. Dr. Heiser notes how the Apostle Paul understood this when he used language of the other realm such as principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, etc. In our rationalistic Western world, we often have trouble accepting the fact that there are forces at work that are otherworldly. Dr. Heiser is encouraging us to accept the plain fact of the Bible as reality.

I highly recommend this book if you are interested in getting your feet wet in the unseen world. However, if you want to drink more deeply of this really intriguing doctrine, I would recommend you pick up a copy of the Unseen Realm (and read my review too). I already have several friends who shared in my excitement and have picked the book up for themselves. Be warned though: your life and your view of the world may never be the same again.

1 Comment on Justin’s #61 – Supernatural: What the Bible teaches about the unseen world and why it matters, Michael Heiser, 224 pages

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