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Demonic Possession, Oppression & Exorcism

CONSERVATIVE PROTESTANT
BELIEFS & PRACTICES

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Conservative Protestant beliefs and practices about exorcism:

According to an estimate on the Good Morning America program for 2006-MAY-16, there are approximately 500 deliverance ministries in the U.S. specializing in exorcising people. The program indicated that exorcism is becoming a big business. Bob Larson is perhaps the most famous Protestant exorcist in the country. He said:

"The evil that is taking place is happening because the Western world has lost its moral compass. ... Some people have had their demons for so long, they think itís normal. They think itís normal to live a dysfunctional confused life. We tell people itís not."

On the same program, Gretchen Passantino, a Christian writer who has investigated deliverance ministries, said about Larson:

"What he is doing is exploiting and manipulating people, [and] appealing to their fears their needs and sense of inadequacy." 11

Fundamentalists and other Evangelical Christians exhibit a wide range of beliefs concerning demon possession and exorcism. But most share certain basic beliefs:

bulletLike Roman Catholics, most believe that the passages about demons in the New Testament are accurate descriptions of the power and activity of evil spirits. This belief is derived from the concept that God inspired the authors of the Bible to write text that is free of error.
bulletSatan and his hordes of demonic followers are believed to be living entities who roam around the world looking for people to torment and destroy.
bulletMany view Satanic forces as playing a major role in individuals' lives today. Books in Christian bookstores and programs on Christian radio and TV frequently refer to demonic influences, and warn believers to be continuously on guard.

Some Evangelical beliefs:

bulletJ.F. Cogan has written a "Demon Possession Handbook for Human Service Workser [sic]" It is a very detailed presentation of demon possession and exorcism. The handbook is intended to acquaint case workers, church workers, correction officers and 22 other professions with what the author feels is the reality of demon possession. 1 He comments: "...Satan and his demons have real power. Within the limits God has set, Satan and his demons can do real spiritual damage to humans who are not filled by and, therefore, protected by the power of the Holy Spirit." Later, he writes: "...the objective of Satan and his demons is damnation of the souls of all humans in Hell forever...Satan's main offense consists of getting as many people as possible to reject the salvation of Jesus Christ and be damned to the punishment of hell forever." He cites a number of behaviors and activities that are commonly caused by demon possession today:
bullet"...all serial killers and serial arsonists are demon possessed."
bulletIntermittent demon possession is a cause of spousal abuse.
bullet"Suicide is frequently associated with demon possession."
bullet"When two people are both demon possessed, they may have a lustful affinity for each other which defies all logic...Often, demon-induced lust leads to murder..."
bulletIrrational shoplifting.
bulletChildhood learning disabilities and behavioral problems.
bulletVarious physical illnesses.
bulletMental illnesses such as schizophrenia.
bulletPost-hypnotic suggestion.
bulletThe possession of houses as well as humans; a haunted house many be a "nesting place" of evil spirits.
bulletCertain games can lead to demonic involvement: Ouija boards, dungeons and dragons and other role playing games, games involving dragons, etc.
bulletMultiple Personality Disorder (a.k.a. Dissociative Identity Disorder)
bulletFalse memories can be implanted by demons in the mind of a person undergoing recovered memory therapy.
bulletSpontaneous human combustion
bulletFoul and abusive language in a voice that is different from the victim's normal voice

He writes that there are many activities that can actively draw demons to the individual(s) involved:

bulletIllicit sex.
bulletHomosexual sex
bulletViewing pornography.
bulletUsing mind-altering drugs.
bulletHypnosis.
bulletListening to rock music, particularly if the musicians are themselves involved with demons.
bulletHe lists certain professions, roles and tasks that frequently cause demon possessed:
bulletLeaders of religious cults.
bulletAll Satan worshipers will eventually be demon possessed.
bulletAstrologists.
bulletPsychics, including psychic hotlines, and psychics that aid in police investigations.

He states that if an individual opens their mind "to powers which are not clearly Holy", then their mind may be filled with a demon. This may be a reference to meditation which is common in Hinduism, Buddhism and other Eastern religions.

The gospels describe that during Jesus' ministry, demons were said to possess people and generate physical and mental illnesses. But after Jesus' execution, Paul wrote of a much larger scope of activity on the part of demonic spirits. In 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, he warned that servants of Satan (possibly demon possessed individuals) pretended to be apostles of Christ, even while spreading errors and discord. 1 Timothy 4:1 and 2 Timothy 4:3-4 are other passages suggesting that the doctrines of demons will be widespread. Cogan gives as one example some Evangelical seminary professors who support equal ordination opportunities for gays, lesbians and heterosexuals.

The author has developed an interesting concept of "demonic time-sharing." He reasons that the number of demons has been fixed for the past few thousand years. Thus, each demon has many more individuals to possess today than they did in olden times. Being created beings, demons are capable of being in only one place at one time. Thus they must "time share" the humans assigned to them. That is, they concentrate on tormenting one person, then travel at a high speed to another person and torment them. He reasons that they might be able to travel between victims at "the speed of electricity, 186,000 miles a second." [This is unlikely, if demon's have a non-zero weight, because the mass of a body increases towards infinity as the speed of light is approached]. He supports this theory by observing that murderers, child molesters or spouse abusers can engage in criminal acts one moment, and be totally calm and rational a few seconds before and after. The conservative Christian author, Rebecca Brown, may be in agreement with time-sharing. She describes how Satanists carefully schedule their rituals of human torture and sacrifice so that Satan can appear, be present during the ritual, and then disappear for another scheduled appointment.

He recommends a multi-step process to bring about a deliverance from demonic possession. The person:

bulletmust first be saved and filled with the Holy Spirit.
bulletmust pray to God "for the power of the shed blood of Jesus Christ to cover" them.
bulletfind a counselor to help them
bulletpray for deliverance
bulletshould anticipate resistance by the demon(s); they might not want to leave easily
bulletexpect that the demon(s) might try to repossess them
bulletis to pray regularly
bulletis to read the Bible
bulletshould attend church regularly
bulletThe Interactive Bible 2 cites Romans 8:35-39 to prove that demons cannot possess a person who has been saved.
bulletViewpoint, a Mission Outreach in Joplin MO assembled comments from a number of Evangelical Christians about demon-possession. Some of the beliefs expressed were: 3
bulletwhen an individual is demonically possessed repeatedly, it is always the same demon each time.
bulletthere is no practical way of keeping an unsaved person free of demons; the demon can return at any time.
bulletwhen the Holy Spirit enters a person, a demon cannot simultaneously possess them. That is because the individual is already possessed by the Holy Spirit.
bulletyou can easily find out whether a particular spirit has come from God or Satan: simply ask him to say "Jesus is Lord." If he is unable or unwilling to say the phrase, then he is a demon.
bulletSatan tricks people into creating a ministry to exorcise demon-possessed people. This keeps them from preaching the Gospel.
bulletCasting out demons from an unsaved possessed person is dangerous because it may lead to them being possessed worse than before. The person must be saved and receive the Holy Spirit to prevent a repossession.
bulletEvangelicals should concentrate on preaching the gospel, not in seeking out people to exorcise.
bulletOne contributor suggests that valid modern-day healings and exorcisms are rare, and that Satan does not possess people now, as he did in the 1st century CE. After Jesus was resurrected, "much of Satan's power was taken away."
bulletBob Vaugn has a website "Uncommon Answers" which discusses demon oppression and other topics. 4 He states that:
bulletChristian believers have the power and authority to cast devils out of possessed people.
bulletNot all illness are caused by demonic spirits; some are caused by viruses and other natural causes.
bulletA person who is possessed is unable to resist the instructions of his demon.
bulletVarious New Testament passages state or imply that a saved individual cannot be possessed by a demon.
bulletRex W. Rosenberg, a conservative Christian clinical psychologist who has specialized in Multiple Personality Disorder /Dissociative Identity Disorder (MPD/DID)  believes that demonic infiltration can lead to what he calls "demonically-mediated dissociation" (DMD). He asserts that therapists will detect in their clients both the presence of real alternative personalities (a.k.a. alters, some of whom will have demonic attachments) and of demons (some of whom will be disguised as alters.) Much harm can be done to the patient if the exact nature of the entities is not precisely determined and matching treatment applied. 5 He has created an experimental  "Occult Activities and Manifestations Survey" 6 that an individual can use to detect their degree of involvement with the occult. He lists 96 experiences or manifestations of occult activity e.g. seeing monsters, seeing fairies, being unable to read or understand the Bible, having demonic sexual intercourse with a woman.  He lists 79 occultic activities and organizations e.g. tarot cards, Ouija board, I Ching, palm or tea-leaf reading, biorhythm charts, casting runes, numerology. Included are a number of religions and spiritual paths:  Christian Science, Eckankar, Hare Krishna, Santeria, Scientology, Unification Church, Witchcraft/Wicca. Other Internet references to demonic possession and MPD are online. 7,8,9 A description of an exorcism of a person diagnosed with MPD is at: 10

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References:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. J.F. Cogan, "Handbook about Demon Possession for Human Service Workers," at:   http://www.gelservices.com/
  2. "Demon Possession," The Interactive Bible, at: http://www.bible.ca/
  3. "Inquiry for comments about demon-possession" at: http://www.ipa.net/
  4. Bob Vaughn, "Uncommon Answers," at: http://www.uncommonanswers.com/
  5. Rex W. Rosenberg: web site dealing with Demonically-Mediated Dissociation" (DMD) at: http://www.awav.net/
  6. Rex W. Rosenberg, "Occult Activities and Manifestations Survey," at: http://www.awav.net/
  7. Freedom Resource Ministries (FRM) is "a network of individuals committed to resourcing persons involved in spiritual warfare and healing. We are a core group represented by pastors, counselors, missionaries, and lay persons involved in care-giving ministries." They specialize in Satanic Ritual Abuse, and appear to believe that MPD alters are actually indwelling demons which require exorcism. Their home page is at http://www.frdm.org/
  8. "Possession, multiple-personality disorder", at: http://www.physics.wisc.edu/
  9. David Guzik, "Study Guide for Luke Chapter 13 Luke 13 - Repentance, False Religion and the True Way,"  at: http://www.khouse.org/
  10. "Freedom For Mary!"  at : http://members.tripod.com/
  11. "Exorcisms become big business in Arizona," ReligionNewsBlog, 2006-NOV-27, at: http://www.religionnewsblog.com/

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Copyright © 1998 to 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2006-NOV-30
Author: B.A. Robinson

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