I've been listening to/reading a lot of Dr. Michael Heiser's material recently (well, within the last few years). He's been brought up here quite a bit over the years. Dr. Heiser is an Old Testament scholar whose work mainly focuses on the Divine Council mentioned in Psalm 82:1, where his work is well respected by his academic peers. He also works as Scholar in Residence at Logos Bible Software. Aside from that he spends quite a bit of time interacting with UFO types at UFO conferences to debunk ancient astronaut pseudo-science, and simply evangelizing to what he considers a lost crowd. The guy is pretty busy. Outside of podcasting (he has two podcasts), and doing interviews on radio shows like The Line of Fire with scholar Michael Brown, or with George Noory on Coast to Coast AM, he writes academic books/papers as well as similar material to a popular audience, and also fictional books based on his work on the supernatural realm.

It's that last part that's the focus of this post. In his fiction (which I haven't read) he has a couple characters named Fern and Audrey. Fern and Audrey are apparently based on real people (or maybe it's the other way around) that have a healing ministry, and they apparently use Dr. Heiser's material on the Divine Council to help people who, on the surface at least, have been hurt or abused by Deliverance Ministries. "Fern" and "Audrey" aren't their real names, but it's the names that they use for themselves when talking to Dr. Heiser on his podcast The Naked Bible.

The Naked Bible is a theology podcast that helps explain hard passages in scripture, and offers commentary on different books of the Bible. It's part of Dr. Heiser's overall "Naked Bible" ministry. Now, for the record, I think Dr. Heiser's ministry has a ton of great stuff going for it, and there's lots to love about it, but there are a number of views that Dr. Heiser holds that I find a bit confusing and somewhat troubling.

Ok, so that was the prologue. Before I go further, the bit I wrote below I actually posted on another forum that I visited on my sabbatical from TWeb. I won't name the forum, but I thought it was initially associated with Dr. Heiser. They were actually pretty helpful, and helped explain some of Dr. Heiser's material I had a hard time reconciling. After a while one of the posters there started replying to me (both in thread and in PM) about the things angels had told him. At first I thought he was being funny, or was just talking Christianese or whatever. Eventually I realized that he for real thought that angels talked to him. Like, they literally pop in once in awhile (I think maybe only in his mind) to have conversations with him about politics, and what it's like in the angel realm, and the things they think they believe are probably true about what people say about the Bible (some things they're not sure about though). He talks to a lot of different angels, but the two main angels he talks to are Gabe, and his sister Gabrielle. So, now I'm thinking the guy is batty, but he's a one off. I've seen plenty of these types here on TWeb, and eventually they find themselves talking in riddles in the Padded Room. I mentioned to him that his views were wacky, and I wasn't interested. But then forum posters started coming to his defense to say that they too believed in talking to angels. And then a mod, one of the forum owners, while not defending him outright, was kinda like "it's not completely out there." So, now I'm like, "what the heck is going on here." It's then that I notice that there's a whole subforum on this website dedicated to talking to angels, people self-appointing themselves as "oracles", getting children to stop taking medication so that they can have visions, and all kinds of weird stuff.

So now I'm concerned. I write Dr. Heiser personally, and I'm like, "do you know that there's this forum that's using your material to sort of advance this angel talk nonsense?" And he wrote back right away! And was like, "No, I've heard of this forum, but I have no idea who these people are, and I'm not associated with them in any way whatsoever." (paraphrasing). So he told me that he knew a guy who he could contact who he thought might know the site owners, and would ask them to knock off the angel talk nonsense or else he'd have to write a blog post disavowing them by name and warning people to stay clear. Well, the site owners didn't want that since they built the site with his work in mind. They posted on their site that they weren't associated with angel talk, and put up a general warning about it in the forum, but they never got rid of that subforum, and people continued to post their experiences talking to angels, and having visions, and whatever. So I shook the dust off my sandals and vamoosed, and figured if Dr. Heiser wanted to deal with it he could, but I didn't want to be part of that whole deal. Ok, so that aside, please read on.

So, I've been working through Dr. Heiser's Naked Bible podcast for about a year now. I started listening to it when he first started, but he didn't really know what he was doing with it so I abandoned ship, and now I'm playing catch up. Every time a Fern and Audrey episode appears, I'm just kind of...lost.

First of all, I don't really get all of the cloak and dagger stuff with this ministry. What's exactly with the fake names ("Fern" and "Audrey" are names that I think are borrowed from Dr. Heiser's fiction)? That's just very bizarre to me. And for a long time neither Dr. Heiser nor Fern and Audrey would really divulge what their ministry was all about. It was all kind of nebulous. I'm not sure if they were sincerely not that good at describing what they're all about, or if they were just nervous about revealing how out there their claims are.

As I understand it, Fern and Audrey's ministry is geared towards lots of, well...., bizarre stuff. It's a healing ministry that is extremely critical of standard charismatic-type healing ministries, especially those ministries that deal with exorcism. When they were first introduced on his show, it sounded like they were simply helping people who were traumatized by wackadoodle, Pentecostal, exorcist-style healing ministries. That didn't seem so objectionable to me, because I'm sure there's a need for that, but the more they've been interviewed, the more I realize that that's only the tip of the iceberg for their ministry. As I understand it, their main focus is attempting to treat people who have experienced "Satanic Ritual Abuse". Satanic Ritual Abuse was a hot topic in the 80s and early 90s, part of the whole "satanic panic" of that period (I was a teen through that period, so remember it well), but it was my understanding that most of it was debunked as sensationalism, and that a lot of its victims were actually being victimized by therapists and law enforcement who had planted or encouraged false memories through now outdated "recovered memory" techniques.

Furthermore, Dr. Heiser and Fern and Audrey seem to suggest that there's some connection between SRA and MKUltra, mind control, split personalities, Manchurian Candidate-style trained assissiantors, and other woo type conspiracy theory stuff. That mind control was induced by putting children on actual satanic altars and that satanists would come out as a character dressed up as Jesus to physically abuse them, and then another character dressed up as Satan who would be kind to them, so that they had a backwards understanding of the two. That children are eventually demonized by forces that Fern and Audrey have named the "Cosmics", who give these children assassins supernatural powers including super strength, the ability to hold their breath indefinitely, and to stop arterial bleeding from wounds on command.

This is all just so bizarre. I remember skimming through the book "Michelle Remembers" years ago, and Fern and Audrey's material sounds like it's torn directly from those pages.

Now, for the record, I believe that demonic activity is real. That people can be possessed, or demonized. And I do believe that there are wicked cosmic forces which include principalities, powers, and rulers of darkness in high places that I believe are associated with the divine council of Psalm 82, and, by way of example, the Prince of Persia mentioned in Daniel. That spiritual warfare does exist. But even with that in mind, some of the stuff that Fern and Audrey talk about on these podcasts seem pretty out there. And I still don't really know what their ministry is about. They've seemed to make it clear that they're not really interested in casting out demons, but more into using (so they say) academically approved psychiatric measures to treat the victims of the Cosmics and of bad healing ministries, yet Audrey and Fern admit that they themselves are not certified psychiatrists/therapists. And their treatment doesn't come cheap. It's something like 3 grand for a 4 day intensive (which does not include transportation), with multiple stays a year, with treatment that could take years to treat.

Does this put up flags for anyone else? Am I the only one who thinks this is all very strange and unnecessarily mysterious? That's it's potentially harmful even? C.S. Lewis' dictum comes to mind, "There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in 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.”

I'd love to hear other's thoughts on the subject. Thanks!