Walter Wink and Greg Boyd on the Problem of Evil

Walter Wink and Greg Boyd on the Problem of Evil March 22, 2011

I admit that I’m very late coming to read Walter Wink (professor emeritus of Auburn Theological Seminary, New York City).  People have recommended his books to me for years and I’ve managed to avoid reading even one of them!  From what I knew about his central thesis it seemed to me very similar to the thesis of Walter Rauschenbusch in A Theology for the Social Gospel–that there is a “kingdom of evil” that causes much, if not all, of the evil in the social world.  Also, his books seemed exceptionally long!  So I read reviews and articles and thought I got the point that way.

Recently I’ve been re-reading my former colleague and friend Greg Boyd’s book Satan and the Problem of Evil.  (It’s also a very big book! Why can’t people keep their books briefer? 🙂  I was privileged to work alongside Greg for several years and I remember our many talks about the subjects he deals with in that book.  (In fact, I take some credit for helping launch Greg’s career as a theologian; it was I who choose his application out of a stack of applications for an open position in theology and insisted that we interview him.  I remember how he absolutely hit the ball out of the ballpark in his interviews.  Needless to say, he was hired and became one of the college’s most popular teachers and an influential evangelical scholar.)

During some recent travels I happened to see one of Wink’s smaller books–The Powers that Be (Doubleday, 1999)–at a used bookstore.  I bought it and read it with real benefit.  It is a sort of summary of Wink’s “Powers” trilogy.  I see amazing parallels between Boyd’s arguments about evil and Winks’.  There are also very significant differences.  And I find myself somewhat caught between them with regard to those differences.

The central point of agreement and disagreement has to do with the “powers and principalities” against which Paul says we wrestle (as opposed to “flesh and blood”) in Ephesians 6:12.  Who are the “rulers of the darkness of this world” against which we should fight?  In other words, both books–Satan and the Problem of Evil and The Powers that Be (and Wink’s earlier Powers trilogy)–are about spiritual warfare.

In contrast to many Christian thinkers past and present Greg believes the Bible commands us to fight against real demons that create havoc and calamity in the world.  This is, he says, the clear biblical worldview–a “spiritual warfare worldview.”  He attributes much horror in the world–from child abuse to genocide–to the influence of these demonic beings and their captain Satan.  Of course, he doesn’t say with Flip Wilson “the devil made me do it” when talking about human responsibility for sin and evil.  As an Arminian, Greg believes sin and evil are our doing, but our doing them is instigated and empowered by Satan and his minions.  Greg takes this into the social realm and argues that the powers and principalities are behind social oppression and exploitation.

One reason I always had some problems with Greg’s view is my own experiences.  I grew up Pentecostal and many of my relatives and acquaintances seemed to see “demons on doorknobs.”  Then, my first full time teaching position was at a charismatic university where, in chapel, I heard too much talk about Satan.  The founder and his son talked to the devil more than to God!  (E.g., “Satan, get your hands off God’s people,” etc.)   Once, while I was teaching there, the founder decided to try to exorcise a demon from a student and humiliated her horribly.  During a chapel service he asked students (and others) who felt oppressed to stand.  He singled out a young female student and, from the pulpit, tried to tell her he “discerned” she was demon possessed.  Of course, she denied it and back and forth it went.  He wouldn’t give up.  I felt so sorry for her.  One time the founder preached in chapel–just days after his newborn grandson died in the hospital.  He declared that he felt Satan come into the room where the child lay in its crib and take it away.  His point?  That if the hospital he (the founder) was building were finished (and he needed millions to finish it!) his grandson would have been born there and not subject to Satan’s wiles. 

I came away from those experiences very eager to avoid any more talk of a real, live, active devil or demons (while holding onto belief in the supernatural world).  Oddly, however, I noticed that the more mainstream evangelicals I associated with after that talked a lot about demons being real and active “on the mission field.”  But they tended to shy away from any talk of Satan or demons here in the good old U.S.A.  Something seemed wrong with that.  And yet I didn’t really want to go down that road either (because of my bad experiences).

Then I met and got to know Greg–a man with a stellar education in philosophy and theology and with a brilliant mind–who knows a lot about the power of demons.  During his ministry he has had many “power encounters” with them and exorcised more than a few from people who sought his help.  His stories about all that fit perfectly what I read in the New Testament.  But, of course, the academic world absolutely shuns such talk.  Except as it is packaged by Walter Wink!

Wink also believes in a demonic realm that is real and active in the world–but from a different perspective than Greg’s.  Wink, a mainstream (if that’s a meaningful concept in our postmodern world!) Protestant with a decidedly liberal bent theologically, recovered a sense of the demonic from within that theological perspective.  Like Greg, Wink believes demons are real and not just “the evil that we do.”  They are not just personification of human evil deeds.  There are, Wink argues, very real and powerful demonic forces in the world that influence it towards evil.

The difference is that while Greg believes these powers and principalities are personal beings, Wink believes they are social realities–systems that oppress and exploit people.  They are “violence-prone systems of power and domination.” Unlike other liberal Protestants who talk about “the demonic” such as Tillich, however, Wink believes these systems are not just negative forces built into the universe by non-being.  He invests them with almost personal reality while stopping short of viewing them as personal entities such as the Bible depicts and Greg Boyd believes in.

Both Wink and Greg criticize the “myth of redemptive violence” that is actively promoted by these powers and principalities.  Christians are to wage spiritual warfare against them and against their influence.  But for Greg, spiritual warfare includes power encounters and intercessory prayer and even exorcism.  For Wink, spiritual warfare is social action that unmasks the powers and exposes them for what they are–destructive to human and non-human life.  For Wink, liberation movements in Latin America, for example, are engaged in spiritual warfare (insofar as they are fighting against systems that dominate and exploit people).

What’s odd is that for Wink these powers are NOT merely the products of human decisions and actions.  They have a different kind of ontological reality not reducible to humanity and its thoughts and deeds.  They are malevalent systems with semi-autonomous reality although they do not fly around in the air and get into people.  At least in The Powers that Be Wink leaves their origin and exact nature unexplained and perhaps inexplicable. The main point, however, is that they can be defeated.  For some reason, God, Wink says, does not defeat them by himself.  He allows them to carry on their anarchic work in the world and expects us to fight against them in the power of his might.

What I find very interesting are the parallels between Greg’s worldview and Wink’s.  The main difference, it appears, lies in their different views of what these powers and principalities are.  Greg clearly sees them, as he believes the New Testament implies, as fallen angelic beings.  Wink sees them as having ontological being and power beyond nature but not supernatural in the sense of invisible entities with human-like personal qualities.

As I finished reading The Powers that Be I had the distinct impression that bringing these two theologians together in the same room to talk about their similarities and differences would be an amazing experience.  I’m sure that Greg would push Wink on the exact nature of the powers.  Wink seems to leave them in a kind of ontological grey area–neither personal nor impersonal.  Clearly he is uncomfortable with personalizing them in the way Greg does.  He calls that “over belief.”  But he calls his fellow liberals’ views of the spiritual world “under belief.”  He leaves unclear exactly where he stands with regard to the powers’ origins and ontological status.  I fully undestand that because of my bad experiences with people who invest too much human-like personal reality in demons.  However, I’m uncomfortable with leaving the principalities and powers in this kind of unstable middle area–between naturalism and supernaturalism.  Wink SEEMS to want to believe in them as Greg does, but he is clearly held back by a modern worldview based on naturalism–which he criticizes!

What I think both Greg and Wink have right is the powerful influences of suprahuman powers and principalities in the world that are NOT merely instruments of God or creations of our own evil decisions and actions.  I personally cannot bring myself to regard the genocidal horrors of the 20th century as merely the results of misguided human decisions and actions.  Something demonic that the New Testament calls “the rulers of the darkness” must have been at work for Hitler and others like him to accomplish what they did.  And Christians ought to be involved in some kind of spiritual warfare beyond praying “if it be thy will” (when interceding on behalf of suffering people).  Both Greg and Wink remind us, in somewhat different ways, that evil cannot be reduced to human decisions and actions and that our struggle against evil must include some kind of power encounters–whether with personal demons or suprapersonal systems.

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  • Just wondering if Greg Boyd could be described as an Arminian? I know that his view on the issue of God’s omniscience and his view on the atonement are not completely Arminian but does he hold to Arminian views otherwise? And does Boyd describe himself as an Arminian?

    Just wondering.

    • Yes, he does. He argues in Satan and the Problem of Evil (and elsewhere) that the debate over open theism is an “in house” debate among Arminians.

  • Myron

    Great post, Dr. Olson. I’ve read lots of Boyd (including “Satan & the Problem of Evil” and “God at War”) and I’ve read a little of Wink (just various articles and extended quotations). I lean more towards Boyd’s material here because one can readily synthesize Boyd’s view of sentient, evil powers with the notion of structural and systemic evil. In fact, Boyd’s view of the powers provides a better explanation for the interplay between human, demonic, and systemic forces than does Wink’s. For me, it feels like Wink wants a bogeyman, but he needs an murkily impersonal “bad guy” so that God’s got no real personage to be mad at. Wink is dead-on about the way that systems take on a life of their own while they are not necessarily personal or impersonal. Take, for example, our banking and financial systems here in the U.S. In following the trail of the financial meltdown I’ve been powerfully reminded of Paul’s “powers and principalities”. Our financial system does seem like is has a life of its own, and our personification of “the Market” in our language is reflective of this. At the same time, it is obvious that human beings have played and continue to play a vital role in animating our financial system. Our greed, insecurities, and overall selfishness stimulate and sustain this beast. In our sin, we are going with the flow of the demonic realm and its anti-God momentum. When Jesus identified Peter with Satan when Peter aggressively foisted his Messiah-without-suffering plan upon Jesus (Mk. 8:31-33), Jesus was accusing him of (unwittingly) being in cahoots with a very real demonic personage. In the same way, we can look at the American Market as a system that is animated by our personal and corporate sin–sin which furthers the purposes and agency of Satan. I think Wink’s thinking would (as far as I’ve read him) do a good job addressing the Market. Also, he would advocate practical spiritual warfare (though he wouldn’t call it that) against such powers. But I don’t think he’d be as effective as Boyd in addressing the source of the Market or exactly what is animating it. This short-coming is due in part to his de-mythologized reading of copious biblical material dealing with the demonic realm. This is also due to what I perceive as Wink’s inability to link dehumanizing systems with sinful humans.

  • Ben

    I’m dealing with the murder of a young man in my town right now who was sixteen years old. Everyone speaks of the young man who murdered him, in a very hate filled rage, as completely opposite – sweet, polite, kind. It appears that the murderer was definitely drunk but also perhaps on a drug. And you’ve got to wonder how we open ourselves up to the demonic realm through the temptations that are presented before us to where we can go to places we’d never imagine we would. I think about Judas in the Bible and how it says satan entered into him. Judas was tempted, opening himself up to a realm of evil, and it appears that when he went through with the temptation that’s when he became a possession of evil. (I tend to lean towards Boyd’s interpretation_but Roger, I totally understand your upbringing!) Thanks for the thoughts!

    • Another Christian writer it would be good to mention here (and recommend for reading) is the late M. Scott Peck whose book People of the Lie constituted a non-fundamentalist, non-charismatic affirmation of demon possession.

    • Rick C.

      Ben –

      Your story of this young man who was murdered, and the man who murdered him, reminded me immediately of a Greek work translated as “sorcerers” in Rev 22:15: pharmakoi (see “pharmacy/drugs” there)?

      Which brings other considerations, such as: Are those who are stoned on drugs or alcohol, when committing crimes, fully responsible for their crimes? Or legally insane? Or ‘partially’ responsible? Are perpetrators of crimes, while in this state, “victims” (themselves) of a “disease”?

      I’m a recovered alcoholic. And, not to go too far into that, but: I oppose ‘Christian 12 step groups’ who teach an AA philosophy/doctrine. Which is, namely: that drug addiction and/or alcoholism are “diseases” as opposed to sinful behavior (sin). I personally knew several ‘born-again’ Christians who believed they were condemned with a “disease” for life. They ‘went back out’ and abused substances — which killed them.

      I truly hope that the many, many, many churches who allow AA to meet on their premises will reconsider what they’re doing, and that Christians will accept the biblical model about substance abuse: it’s sin. 1 Cor 6:9-11 were the verses that ‘converted’ me from thinking I had a “disease for life” – as well as revealing what my true problem was: I simply had to stop sinning. “And such were some of you, 1 Cor 6:11a. When I considered this verse, and really let it sink in, my entire thinking about my drinking was rearranged from AA’s “disease” way to the Bible’s Way (cf. Lord Jesus Christ)! I’ll have 6 years sober in a few days (cf. Rom 12:1-2).

      A prayer for you, Ben, with your current situation.

      Dr. Roger – Excellent and Oh-So-Timely Post!

  • Very interesting and insightful discussion, Dr. Olson. Maybe when I join you at Baylor this fall we can work at getting these two theologians down there! A good mediating point between Wink’s and Boyd’s views of the principalities and powers would be that of John Howard Yoder. He discusses the powers in chapter 8 of The Politics of Jesus as well as elsewhere. Much of his work rests on the scholarship of Reformed theologian Hendrik Berkholf’s book, Christ and the Powers, which Yoder translated (Herald Press, 1977). And gladly, it’s an extremely short book and precise argument! Interestingly, Wink is not just a liberal Protestant but is actually an Anabaptist theologian. And Boyd, of course, is moving in the direction of Anabaptism. Both are indebted to Yoder’s work (and by implication Berkholf’s), though both differ in significant ways from Yoder too.

    • Thanks for pointing that out. I use Yoder’s The Politics of Jesus in my Theological Capstone course and I have read Hendrikus Berkhof with great benefit. I do recognize Yoder’s influence on Boyd. I couldn’t tell to what extent Wink is influenced by Yoder. What I wonder about is how influenced Wink is by Rauschenbusch who talks a lot about the superpersonal forces of evil in a way very similar to Wink’s powers.

      • I don’t know about the influence of Rauschenbusch on Wink, but having studied at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary and having hung around Mennonites for awhile now, I can say that the notion that the “principalities and powers” are manifest in social structures (nation-states, economic systems, etc.) is a fairly common Mennonite understanding. And I believe it’s so common because of the significant influence of Yoder on the Mennonite world. There are myriad intramural Mennonite debates over the distinctions between Yoder’s and Wink’s understanding on this issue, but I haven’t heard much explicit reference to Rauschenbusch (though I don’t doubt that there could be some influence).

  • Aaron

    So the real question in all of this is how does the Gods Sovereignty fit within this ware fare world view?

    • That is one question, but is it “the real question?” Wink and Boyd both address that question in their books. They both affirm God’s sovereignty but argue that God is sovereign over his sovereignty. In other words, God limits the exercise of his power to make room for genuine creaturely freedom to resist his will.

      • Aaron


  • very helpful. Whenever I get asked about this I point to these same two figures and articulate something that suggests they are both correct while also admitting to my own agnosticism on some of the particulars.

    Perhaps Wink’s mystical ontological category is derived from his same skepticism with Boyd’s over evil as privation. Seems like Christians need a third category that has the explanatory power of Manichean evil, but also the luxury of as answering the origin question in the same way Boethius and Augustine do. good post and I would love to see them in the same room. Perhaps you can wield some of those Truett dollars for an endeavor like this.

    • Believe me, I have no power to “wield” Truett dollars! But I can make suggestions. What I wonder is if Wink is still actively speaking? We had Greg a couple years ago (as you know).

  • Kyle

    You should share this at the beginning of class. I really appreciated it.

  • I am nearly finished with Eric Metaxas biography on Bonhoeffer and have been freshly reminded of the horrors of the Nazis and Hitler. While in Pakistan I went through homes burned down by Muslims and prayed in the home with Pakistani believers where five fellow believers were burned alive in the home. In North Uganda I was told stories of the atrocities of the LRA and in South Sudan of the horrors of what the North Sudanese did to our brethren. Satan is at work here too in the U.S.A.! Yes Roger, the devil and minions are out “to steal, kill, and destroy”! We, the followers of Christ, must run to battle and stand against him, passionately proclaiming the liberating gospel with much prayer. This is the meat of the great commission. May our Father’s kingdom come and His will be done here on earth as it is in heaven!

  • JohnM

    Do demons precisely instigate evil or is it more like they just work with the material we give them? For example, I’m inclined to think the egoism that lead to the bitterness and resentment that finally resulted in the holocaust was already resident in human hearts, with demons merely recognizing that and in some way fueling the fire. It seems to me an understanding something like that is necessary to avoid “the devil made me do it” thinking, without denying the reality of demonic influence. “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.”

    • I think the best answer to this is provided by C. S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters. It is imaginative, of course, but the principles buried within the narrative seem true to Scripture and life. Satan and his minions (according to Lewis) do instigate evil by implanting thoughts in people’s minds by seducing them into situations where they will tend to commit evil acts. I remember one example most vividly. Lewis has the human subject reading in a library and the chief demon urges his subordinate to get the man out of the library by making him think of his hunger and food. The longer the man reads and studies, Lewis is suggesting, the more likely he will be to think thoughts about God.

  • im_bmw

    Dr. Olson,

    Thank you for touching on this subject. I come from a very traditional (almost fundamental) background, and have just recently discovered the variety of views on the topic of the devil. Growing up, I have held a pretty standard (to me) view of the devil (Satan) being a personal entity leading a host of fallen angels against God, the Church, and Christians individually. Lately, I have been examining the vast difference in how the idea of Satan/the devil is treated between the Old and New Testament, however. This has caused me to seriously question the validity of the devil as an individual personal entity.

    I was wondering if you could recommend any books and/or authors on the development of the concept of the devil. Perhaps there is a work that compares and contrasts the various perspectives, or is there one author from each main ‘camp’ that you could recommend.

    I am intrigued to pick up Greg Boyd’s book, because it probably champions the view I grew up with but now question. I would also like something that critically explores the new alternative view I am discovering.

    Thanks again. Your blog continues to invigorate my development as a Christian by asking me to develop explanations for the hope I have.

    • The person who has done the most with this is Jeffrey Burton Russell who has written extensively on the history of ideas aobut the devil and demons. The single volume I like the most is I Believe in Satan’s Downfall (in the I Believe series) by Michael Green–an excellent evangelical theological treatment of the doctrine of Satan.

  • Scott Arnold

    I have actually just finished the Bonhoeffer biography by Metaxas and, as a “post-Charismatic” (if I can use the term) whose experiences have also left me gunshy of all the demon-chasers while having personally witnessed the reality of demonic possession (or oppression, if you prefer), I find it difficult to explain the amazing depravity of Hitler, Himler and Heydrich as rooted in egoism or even the gross mistreatment of Germany after WWI. The inhumanity of Hitler, all the while claiming to be Providentially chosen when surviving assassination attempts, is too extreme NOT to be of Satanic origin, in my opinion. The difference between being merely misguided and truly evil is stark here.

    • JohnM

      I don’t believe the fallacy that all sins are the same, there is bad and worse, but I also wouldn’t characterize sins that fall short of Nazi atrocities as “being merely misguided.”

      We’re using Hitler as our illustrative example here, but the Nazis really were unique in history only in methodology. Their depth of evil is common in history. I’d also note, as far as I know Hitler never “hands-on” murdered anyone. He depended on a whole lot of flunkys to do that and a whole lot of other people either cheered them on or looked the other way. Were any of them merely misguided? Were demons the direct instigators in every heart? Does the devil create things like pride, lust , and greed? I think these things already indwelling in the human heart before Satan and his minions even get involved.

      • I don’t think anyone says the devil creates these things. According to the biblical narrative and Christian tradition, however, he capitalizes on them.

    • John Monte

      RE: Scott Arnold

      Scott, It really is humiliating when we have to face what runs right down the middle of us. Your shock at the Third Reich was echoed by Karl Barth when he exclaimed to a group of post war German theologians regarding the atrocities that had taken place right under their noses: “We were all possesed.” This statement surely would be posited as a category position delienated by Wink, but was grappled with by Barth as if he were using the first century Biblical worldview as advocated Boyd. In short I see no dichotomy, as Dr. Olsen seems to imply as to who is “more” correct, in approaching the analysis using bi- focals – the Integrated approach as proposed by Wink and the mythological approach (though he himself wouldn’t call it so ) proposed by Boyd. As in a sensitive, pastoral phenomonon (Olsen above), namely excorcism, Wink would also embrace that approach , of course, not in that horrid manner (He being gun shy also) although arising from different etiologies and for obviously different reasons . In closing, it would be judicious to listen and to embrace what Graham Twelftree says in a telling statement at one point of his carrer, having contributed massive studies and many contributions on the study of the demonic beforehand : In his “In The Name of Jesus” he writes, ” Before undertaking this study, I was convinced that ” if the contempory church is to bring healing to the whole person, and be able to confront the great varieties of manifestations of evil in the world,…it must be prepared to become involved in exorcism; exorcism has its rightful place as part of the whole ministry given to the Church to push back the frontiers of evil.”
      In light of this study, I am no longer able to hold this view. It is not, I need to make clear, that I wish to dispense with exorcism, nor do I wish to discourage its use. Rather, insofar as I allow the whole New Testament canon to inform my views on exorcism and the demonic, I am obliged to recognize that it has provided the church with a range of options for understanding and dealing with the demonic…”
      See below on what I have written on both Wink and Boyd. To dispel any insinuations of favoritivism of Wink. Dr. Boyd was gracious enough to allow me to read (After God at War) the manuscript before publication and, as usual, he voices his (FWT) with clarity, verve and logical consistency. Excellent.

  • Hi Roger,

    I am actually quite interested in the issue of the powers and am working with a publisher to possibly write a popular book on this issue. I am wondering… does Greg site Wink in his work. My guess is he does. I have not had a chance to read his two books (although I have heard his sermons on the topic and read articles on his site). I tend to agree with Greg, but actually seem to see his view and Wink’s as virtually the same (less the definition and nature of demonic beings). Anyway, another great article!

  • Riley

    @ Roger

    On this topic, I would love to hear your opinion on Mike Bickle’s IHOP ministry and the forerunner movement. Its been quite challenging in the nondenominational church I work in, very interested in prophetic categories etc.

    I don’t want to demonize the guy, I just want a respected theologian’s opinion on his theology and ideas.

    That would be awesome if you have a spare few minutes (if you can find some).

  • John Monte

    Dr. Olson,
    As a lay theolgian, I find this conversation as wiley as the topic under discussion, and is lacking a clear grasp on Wink’s strong Jungian tendencies. Note 49,pg.188, Unmasking the Powers; Jung, “Archaic Man,”in Civilazation and Transition, 2 ed. “Nothing that is autonomous in the psyche is impersonal or neutral. Impersonality is a category pertaining to consciousness. All autonomous psychic factors have the character of personality, from the “voices” of the insane to the control-spirits of mediums and the visions of the mystics” (Jung, “Mind and Earth,” in Civilization in Transition, 42). Autonomous complexes do appear to “possess” the personality, because they “behave quite independently of the ego, and force upon it a quasi-foreign will” (Jung, “On the Doctrine of Complexes,” In Experimental Researches CW 2 [1973], 601-2). There is an enormous number of references to the demonic in Jung’s Collected Works, constituting a virtual phenomenology of the demonic.” Wink also states “But this does not explain the sheer destructiveness, the wanton hatefulness of this ‘voice’. It wants to persuade us that we ought to die – not in order to overcome the illusions of the ego or to liberate us from perfectionism, but simply to exterminate us. The fact that in some this voice is raucous and shrill, and in others scarcely even heard, indicates that the structure of the individual personality or the extremity of the cicumstances has a great deal to do with its effectiveness….” Again ” We do not “create” satan, by our choices,
    however. Satan is an autonomous spirit that rises out of the depths of the mystery in God. But by our choices we do determine which side Satan is on.”
    His point is that satan can suit up for either side, as God’s servant or adversary
    It’s also interesting that the post biblical literature in its search for the origin of evil has had the most impac , from Satan as God’s sifter to the later notion of Satan as God’s enemy, who posses no apparent redeeming functions whatsoever. According to Wink, it was this later tributary that emptied into maintream Christianity.
    I certainly have a problem with the premise that, in modern terms, God needs a strong dose of medications to control a severe bi-polar disorder and of God being the primary cause of evil in Israel’s early thinking. NT Wright has the same reaction pertaining to second Temple Judaism’s thinking of Yahweh being a micro manager (Boyd’s main point in his second volume). He certainly uses evil, but that’s far and away from a dialectic created in God’s purpose which becomes evil only when humanity breaks off the dialectic by refusing creative, transformative choice. To my thinking that occurs “outside” of God’s being . I believe that Lindstrom’s Doctoral Thesis, The Origen of Evil, put that thesis to rest many years ago. I also found some help on this subject from Grahm Twelvetree; In the Name of Jesus, Jesus the Miracle Worker and Jesus the Excorcist: a Contrbution to The Study of the Historical Jesus – all some very close reading. As to my present thinking on the subject, Evil is Evil, and I wish that the debate about Satan’s ontological existence was the only problem we had to concern ourselves with. However, Dr. Olson, I think JVG by Wright handles the subject in the context of Jesus’ ministry most aptly from an historical perspective and his short , very readable Evil and the Justice of God. A summary of Wink’s ideas is certainly put forth in the The Powers that be, but it’s a bit misleading after you’ve read the trilogy.