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Monday, 27 August 2012

Musings of an exorcist

It's been a few years since I was first invited to be involved in an exorcism.
An Anglican minister I know had been approached by some people who had been having strange experiences in their house, including apparitions of disembodied faces.
They had knocked on every church door in town but he was the first clergyman they could find.
After his meeting with them, he phoned me up and asked me if I'd accompany him on his visit to the house.
What happened next was a bit of a surprise.
I had been led by Hollywood to believed that we would be jumping around the house waving crucifixes, spraying holy water, yelling "the power of Christ compels you", while people levitated and their heads spun.
Instead we just had a short conversation with the occupants of the house, and then we walked from room to room praying in each one that God would remove the spiritual presence and also asking him to bless the people who lived there. We occasionally addressed the spirits directly.
Despite the dramatic nature of the manifestations, my friend was responding in a very calm and measured way.
He seemed to be trusting more in the authority of Jesus over these spirits than in any elaborate and dramatic rituals.
And as far as we know that visit spelt the end of the manifestations.
It was a remarkably low-key methodology, which new research suggests is far from unique.
Christianity Today has just published the results of a survey of 170 self-proclaimed 'exorcists', which revealed that the overwhelming majority of them agree with the following statements:
 - "I use Jesus' name to cast out/bind demons"
 - "I operate my ministry out of a church/community where follow-up can happen"
 - "I have other believers with me during sessions"
 - "I believe that any mature Christian can command demons in Jesus' name"
A very tiny percentage of respondents said more 'Hollywoodesque' things like "I try to find out the demon's name".
One commentator noted that "for a group of people who rarely, if ever, have contact with one another, what exorcists from a wide variety of... traditions share in common is astonishing".
It seems that exorcisms happen in a fairly straightforward manner, performed by ordinary Christians who are involved in church and simply believe that Jesus has already defeated every evil spirit.
That's a little counterintuitive for many of us.
It's easy, when confronted with things such as spirits and demons - so 'strange' to our normally rationalistic culture - to assume that unusual circumstances call for unusual responses.
Most people involved in exorcism seem to believe exactly the opposite. They treat the exorcism the same way they approach the rest of their lives as Christians; as an opportunity to focus on Jesus and ask him to work to transform people and situations.

You can read the original CT article here.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for this post. It was not what I expected. After reading your first sentence, my first thoughts were, "What the heck is Luke talking about?"

    But it makes perfect sense. I've heard from reliable people that they've witnessed demonic activity (and most cultures in the world it's not unheard of), so it shouldn't surprise me.

    You're right -- Hollywood has tainted us in this area.

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  2. The best way to get rid of demonic activity is to become an atheist.

    If you don't believe in demons, they leave you alone.

    It was a Christian couple in London in 2011, who killed a boy after he had confessed to being a witch.

    There is no actual need to kill witches. All you have to do is stop believing in demons.

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