In his “Introduction to World Religions,” Partridge identifies the source of man’s fascination with vampires, werewolves, the walking dead, etc., with the pagan superstitions of Eastern Europe. He writes, “The folk beliefs in Russia, Poland 26 vampiresand Yugoslavia have probably preserved traits of ancient Slavic religion. Best known are the vampires, dead people who suck the blood of the living, and the werewolves, human beings transformed into wolves.” Thousands of years later, we’re still publishing huge volumes of fiction with the very same themes. We are pushing millions of dollars at the production of movies that gross incredible returns all visualizing the themes of pagan demons of the dead. What’s up with that?

There are forces of darkness out there but the clergy has all the answers. A silver bullet will slay a werewolf. A cross or holy water will drive away a vampire. If you’re not afraid of bad breath, you might try garlic! But to kill a vampire you must drive a wooden stake through his heart. If you gouge out the brain of a zombie you can kill it! There is always some secret ritual or action you can take to save yourself from the curse of evil. There’s always something you must do! But isn’t this the epitome of all religion? You can do what needs to be done to save yourself. You just need to know the secret. Each religion preaches its own secrets of a happy, satisfying life, with the practices that will get you what you want.

Many Christians fall prey to this teaching also. One member of the church sent me a devotional. The writer said, “Jesus stands ready to help us, but His help is contingent on our absolute, total obedience to His Word, whether or not we agree with it or understand it.” Oh my goodness, we’re all lost forever! I have to obey even that which I don’t understand? My obedience must be total and absolute before God will bless me? Is there someone who’s truly willing to argue that their obedience is “total” and “absolute”? The closing comment of the article adds, “What miracle are you waiting to receive? Could it be that God also is waiting – waiting for you to simply trust and obey?” Jesus is not like the forces of darkness that can be manipulated by some specific or general act of obedience to give us something we want. If a loved one is dying and God doesn’t seem to be answering your prayers for healing it must be because you haven’t been totally obedient! What a dreadful commentary on a God who “demonstrated His own love for us in this; while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”