Reviving Old Scratch: Demons and the Devil for Doubters and the Disenchanted

Reviving Old Scratch: Demons and the Devil for Doubters and the Disenchanted

The devil has fallen on hard times. Surveys say that even the majority of Christians doubt Satan’s existence. Burdened by doubts, skeptical believers find themselves divorced from Jesus’ dramatic confrontation with Satan in the Gospels and from the struggle that galvanized the early church.

In Reviving Old Scratch, popular blogger and theologian Richard Beck reintroduces the devil to the modern world with a biblical, bold, and urgent vision of spiritual warfare: we must resist the devil by joining the kingdom of God’s subversive campaign to interrupt the world with love.

Beck shows how conservative Christians too often overspiritualize the devil and demons, and progressive Christians reduce these forces to social justice issues. By understanding evil as a very real force in the world, we are better able to name it for what it is and thus to combat it as Jesus did.

Beck’s own work in a prison Bible study and at a church for recovering addicts convinced him to take Satan more seriously, and they provide compelling illustrations as he challenges the contemporary—and strangely safe—versions of evil forces. The beliefs of liberals and conservatives alike will be tested by Beck's groundbreaking ideas, fascinating stories, and clear thinking. Because if Jesus took Satan seriously, says Beck, then so should we.

Interviews with Richard Beck:

DevilpaloozaHomebrewed Christianity Podcast teamed up with Luke Norsworthy for a dual podcast featuring Richard Beck, N. T. Wright, Greg Boyd, Tony Jones, and Duke!

Richard Beck discusses his book Reviving Old Scratch on The Eric Metaxas Show!

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  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506401355
  • eBook ISBN 9781506401362
  • Age/Grade Range Adult
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
  • Pages 200
  • Publication Date May 1, 2016


"Richard Beck is one of the most important and fascinating minds in contemporary Christianity, and this exploration on the devil and demons is his best work yet. Lively, engaging, and profoundly relevant, Reviving Old Scratch manages to both tickle and challenge, inform and delight. Beck forges a fresh way forward that avoids the conservative tendency to overspiritualize the devil and demons on the one hand and the progressive tendency to reduce these powerful forces to social issues on the other. A must-read for skeptics and thinkers, Reviving Old Scratch surprises in all the right ways. I couldn't put it down!"
—Rachel Held Evans, author of Searching for Sunday and A Year of Biblical Womanhood

"I'm grateful to Richard Beck for helping us reclaim that which was clearly important to Jesus: casting out demons and contending with evil. While I’m not sure if I believe in spiritual warfare, I’m certain I’ve experienced it, and Reviving Old Scratch allowed me to come several steps closer to reconciling these seemingly irreconcilable statements. Beck manages to take demons, the devil, and spiritual warfare and pull them into the reality we live in today, and for that I am grateful."
—Nadia Bolz-Weber, author of Pastrix and Accidental Saints and pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints

"In our secular age, most western Christians instinctively dismiss the devil and demons as antiquated mythical notions of our superstitious past. Yet, as Richard Beck argues, this dismissal adversely affects both the coherence and the vibrancy of the Christian faith. In this insightful and highly important masterpiece, Beck helps Christians understand that they need not suspend their doubts about “Old Scratch” to discern his reality in the dark dehumanizing forces that are all around us. Whether you're convinced or doubtful of Satan’s existence, this book will inspire you to enter into the age-long spiritual battle that has always been at the center of the Christian faith."
—Gregory A. Boyd, author of God at War and Satan and the Problem of Evil

"Richard Beck's Reviving Old Scratch will first put your theory of Satan and demons and the powers to death, then it will make you wonder if there isn't more than social justice and activism and believing in real, personal demons and angels, and then it will put a real Old Scratch with a mask onto what you thought was dead, and then you will be armed for the deeper battles of life and justice and love. Beck's prison ministry with people who suffer at the hands of Old Scratch evokes authentic spirituality in a way no other book about the powers has done. #thinkagain"
—Scot McKnight, Northern Seminary

"Profound and compelling. Follow Richard Beck as he narrates the interconnection between spiritual warfare and social justice through the powers and principalities. I highly recommend it!"
—Kyle Strobel, professor of spiritual theology at Biola University and coauthor of The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb: Searching for Jesus' Path of Power in a Church that has Abandoned It