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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Primarily yes, but it also seems to have occurred, oddly enough, when demons were annoying or just got in their way.

The attitude of Christ and the apostles toward demons in the NT is quite unexpected, perhaps due to our pop-culture, Roman Catholic apprehensions of their natures, to which I believe Bayou above alluded.

No dramatic showdowns, no Frank Peretti-type spiritual battles; just kind of a... weary contempt, if I could put it that way.

Interesting. I never noticed that before. My own take is that 90% of "demonic issues" can be dealt with (by the Christian, anyway) simply by getting rid of garbage in your life.

I do believe what we normally think of as "exorcism" can happen today. There is no logical reason why it can't (and certainly no Scriptural reason why it doesn't). I just don't think it is normal. The link by Heiser explains a lot on this.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Senior
I just watched an interview with a person with Tourette's syndrome, and it made me think of this thread. And it wasn't because of the uncontrollable behavior she exhibited. Rather, it was because so many of her tics were offensive. She would randomly shout, "F*** off!" At one point in the interview she whistled at the interviewer and gave him the middle finger.

Now, I understand that Tourette's is uncontrollable. However, why in the world is so much of this disease either physically violent or verbally abusive, or both? How much do we understand medically about Tourette's? Could it possibly be demonically influenced, given the commonly violent nature of it? After all, we have several account of demonized people in the New Testament exhibiting similar uncontrolled behavior.

Before someone jumps in, please understand I am not trying to say that all (or even any) people with Tourette's are demonized. However, should we rule out the possibility?
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
I personally do not believe that schizophrenia is demon possession. If they were truly demon possessed, then medication wouldn't help them at all, and people with schizophrenia who are saved would be cured of the disease but they aren't. It's not just people with schizophrenia who hear voices. Some people who suffer with Parkinson's disease are known to hear voices. Some people who fall under the spectrum of dementia hear voices. Some people with acute delirium secondary to other acute diseases or infections are known to hear voices. Some people who withdraw from alcohol hear voices.....and the list goes on and on. The brain is the most complicated organ of the body and it's the number one organ that the medical field knows the least about.
 

Travis Fentiman

Puritan Board Freshman
I just watched an interview with a person with Tourette's syndrome, and it made me think of this thread. And it wasn't because of the uncontrollable behavior she exhibited. Rather, it was because so many of her tics were offensive. She would randomly shout, "F*** off!" At one point in the interview she whistled at the interviewer and gave him the middle finger.​

Now, I understand that Tourette's is uncontrollable. However, why in the world is so much of this disease either physically violent or verbally abusive, or both? How much do we understand medically about Tourette's? Could it possibly be demonically influenced, given the commonly violent nature of it? After all, we have several account of demonized people in the New Testament exhibiting similar uncontrolled behavior.

Before someone jumps in, please understand I am not trying to say that all (or even any) people with Tourette's are demonized. However, should we rule out the possibility?

I am not an expert on Tourette's, but I would make the following observations:

Curse words and socially set symbols, such as flipping the bird, are socially learned and acquired, and therefore are not purely natural.​
Why is Tourette's sometimes associated with violence and such offensive things?: It could be purely 'natural', in parts of the brain being involuntarily triggered which moderate aggression, reflexes and angry feels or behavior. If curse words and flipping the bird are already associated therein from environment, then the reflexive behavior may very well reflect that.​
I do think demonic possession would be characterized by a number of more or other things besides such reflexive behavior, such that, presumably, it would be more clear that an evil spirit is actually living in them or through them.​
Could there be demonic influence? Of course, I would think, the children of this world are subject to the demonic influence of the powers of this world, Eph. 2:1-3. Is it possible it simply comes from the sinful flesh? I would think so also.​
 
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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
If they were truly demon possessed, then medication wouldn't help them at all, and people with schizophrenia who are saved would be cured of the disease but they aren't.

I don't believe they are demon possessed either, but even if they were medicine could have an effect. The human body traduces the soul. If the body is damaged, impaired, or heightened in some way, it will effect how the soul performs.

A demonic individual could have superhuman strength, but not infinite strength. Presumably, he could be doped up to where his manifestations are relatively under control.

And then there is the issue of whether medicine cures schizophrenia. I always thought it just treated it.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Maybe too rudimentary of a question, but what is demon possession?

Exactly. Possession is the wrong word, since that isn't what the Greek says (and most take their understanding of possession from bad Catholic pop culture).

The word is demonized. And unless one has made blood pacts with Satan or is a Deep State agent, the demonization won't be total.
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Exactly. Possession is the wrong word, since that isn't what the Greek says (and most take their understanding of possession from bad Catholic pop culture).

The word is demonized. And unless one has made blood pacts with Satan or is a Deep State agent, the demonization won't be total.
The kitschy RC thing is a an excellent point. I was caught up in that for awhile myself.

The one good thing is that RC theology makes a distinction between possession (including bad definitions) and oppression by dark forces. The latter is often much harder to detect and more common. Oppression can subtle or obvious (the Enfield case in UK). It is no less devastating to a psyche in any event like a kind of supernatural Zersetzung. As you said above Jacob it could be tied to sin acting as a conduit.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Very interesting thread. I was about to hit the sack, but this will keep me up for a while longer writing. And I poured myself a glass of port to sip as I do, and ponder. Those familiar with some of my posts and threads will recall that a major focus of mine has been the advent of Biblically-defined sorcery (φαρμακεία pharmakeia) or its cognates – cf. Gal 5:20; Rev 9:21; 18:23; 21:8; 22:15 – as an actual event that came to pass in the last century, primarily in the Woodstock days, though it continues into the present. There are eschatological aspects to this, but to look at the essence of this phenomenon: it is the rending of the God-given barrier between the demonic realm and the human consciousness allowing the entrance of the former into the latter, i.e., both the influence and the presence of demons into the collective human consciousness. This sorcery – the Biblical definition, not the abundant superstitious nonsense – remarkably became a national, and then a global, recreation! We actually opened the gates of Hell and allowed the denizens of the pit into our hearts and minds, so that much of the madness we see in the present time is actually the demonic in many areas of human activity – political, societal, personal / individual.

We may consider isolated cases, such as Blumhardt’s, and the accounts in Scripture, or we may broaden our view to see the entire global – but particularly the West’s – zeitgeist (spirit of the age) – being moved en mass in a “strong delusion” (2 Thess 2:11) toward a devil-controlled world that is a prelude to the times of the (very) end.

So to focus on individual cases of demonization, possession, oppression etc – some of which are indeed valid examples of that category – may overlook the bigger picture: the demonic possession – demonization, if you will – of our entire world, save for the elect remnant “which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” Rev 12:17), those who are sealed against their harm (Rev 9:4).

At times the admins or mods here have opposed or even censored my views on this business, although have never successfully refuted it (I have kept records of such discussions), there being a sort of Presbyterian “allergy” to spiritual manifestations of the dark side, and exposures thereof, it troubling our vaunted intellectual / doctrinal prowess.

At any rate, the presence and activity in our midst of our spiritual foes, as the OP avers, is a reality we cannot afford to deny or avoid. Though it is far larger than we may realize.

Here are a couple of notes on such:
 

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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
To post more in line with the OP, re an individual / personal account. Years back I knew a young woman, a professing Christian, bright and talented, later on a seminary graduate, who, in her lonely childhood entertained an “imaginary friend” to keep her company. After a while this imaginary friend took on a life of its own and began interacting with her – being young she didn’t think anything wrong with this. In the following years, being active as a Christian, began to hear voices in her imagination / mind, spouting all sorts of horrible blasphemy and foulness that she couldn’t control or get rid of. She sought to live a godly life, and this was a torment to her.

I saw a direct correlation between this and her earlier “imaginary friend” which had gained intimate access to her thinking. I endeavored to have her see this as a matter of spiritual warfare, the genesis of which she had allowed, and which she could, with the help of our Saviour and His indwelling Spirit, get rid of.

A counsellor she knew, who thought it more an OCD-type phenomenon, put her on some meds to try to alleviate the problem. I lost contact with her, and don’t know how things resolved, if they did.

I have come to believe that much, though not all, “OCD”, is also demonic in origin, having had some personal experience with that. Jessie Penn-Lewis, who co-authored the book, War on the Saints (only the unabridged edition is good), with Evan Roberts, talks about this sort of thing. A hyper-scrupulous but poorly informed conscience, and ignorant of the spiritual life, can fall prey to such demonic oppression / deception.

Charismatics target Penn-Lewis because of her view that “tongues” and other supposed gifts are demonic counterfeits. I found Penn-Lewis to be extremely insightful. She was a Calvinistic Methodist, somewhat after Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
 
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retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Sophomore
I just wanted to state thank you to everyone that has contributed responses in this thread so far. It is has been very thought provoking and given me much to consider.
 

Travis Fentiman

Puritan Board Freshman
Maybe too rudimentary of a question, but what is demon possession?

Peter van Mastricht, Dutch reformed, d. 1706

Unfinished translation by Todd Rester & Michael Spangler, Theoretical-Practical Theology, vol. 3, ch. 8​
XV. Moreover, they [demons] especially are accustomed to exert their efficacy and cruelty in bodily possession (for there is also spiritual possession, an example of which is evident in the case of the betrayer in John 13:27, which indeed is much more dangerous , although not so terrifying), when they take over a person’s body, and use his members, tongue, and hands according to their pleasure, miserably torment him, and drive him to such things which he naturally could not say or do, of which there is more frequent mention made in the gospel history, at the coming of Christ (Matt. 4:24; 8:16, 22; 9:32; 12:22; 15:22; Luke 24:3, 6; Acts 13:8), perhaps because Jesus the Savior wanted to demonstrate his own authority over demons, not only with respect to the human soul, but also with respect to the body, in healing demoniacs.​

Such are customarily called energumens, because Satan works particularly in them, and they seem to be distinguished into demoniacs and lunatics (John 10:20; Matt. 17:15; cf. Luke 9:39), because Satan frequently abuses the humors of the lunatic for his own use.​
It seems we should seek the causes of this evil not only from diabolical wickedness, but also from the proper merits of sinners, by which they have already rendered themselves slaves of Satan, as well as from the just wrath of God, by which this judgment seems to have been meted out to Saul, and perhaps also from grace, so that they might deeply perceive the bitterness of sin, and from this return to a sounder mind (1 Cor. 5:5). See the famous Voetius in his Disputations, “On the Possessed.”​

['Humors' referred to bodily fluids, which they thought, when they got out of balance, could result in or produce physical sicknesses. Think of hormones today in the blood, and when they get out of balance. Mastricht's point is that he recognized 'lunatics' to be people afflicted by natural mental illness, but the devil could wreak havoc on them due to their compromised physical and mental state through influencing their bodily health, or hormones, or 'humors'.​
I work in a psych facility as a nurse, and I believe this is possible, and possibly or likely takes place.]​
 

hLuke

Puritan Board Freshman
This instance might be confronting for some so read with caution

I cannot offer an intellectual account, but I have testimonial experience which God Himself knows I truthfully and faithfully present to you. I have had a firsthand encounter with demonic possession and an even stranger follow up instance happened to my identical twin brother. I was possessed by a demon myself. About three years ago when I was 16, I was with my dad and he, being a Christian clinical psychologist and working in psychiatry for years, probably thought I was experiencing a psychosis.
I remember the event vividly. A visible spirit entered my body and I became exceptionally angry, I felt powerful like I could easily lift up a car, I felt like I could run away at unimaginable speeds; I temporarily had superhuman like power, and I abhorred the presence of my earthly father beside me. Anyways despite the distress I was in and the confusion he evidently faced, and the fact that he had previously indicated his gift in spiritual healing to me (a bit strange in retrospect); my first instinct was to ask him to pray.
He took me to a nearby park and placed his hand on me commanding the devil out of me. I remember the overwhelming power of that prayer especially when he mentioned 'Father in the name of your Holy Son... Jesus'. Anyways the demon came out of my body and I actually saw an image of Christ holding a lamb. This lasted about five minutes but seemed forever. And an overwhelming sense of peace came over me.
But the next week or so were painful. For the first few days after the exorcism, I was constantly spitting out a sour substance. It was like I was getting all the junk out of my body. In addition, I would have horrible blasphemous thoughts whenever I came near to the bible. Reading portions in the book of Revelation where Satan's name was mentioned almost made me spew up (literally gave me physical illness). But now by the grace of our Lord Jesus, I am free and at peace. I have no mental health diagnosis and am now an avid reader. For extra insight, here were some of my circumstances before that demonic possession:
  • I was a p0rn addict
  • I was a professing 'Christian' who blasphemed and acted like the most pitiable child of hell
  • I watched horror films
  • I ate junk food
  • I played videogames for hours on end
Now more recently, almost a year ago, my identical twin brother had a psychosis. I will not state the specific details of that psychosis because I feel it is too confronting, personal, and brings back trauma for me. Anyways he went to the ward safely under the hand of the doctor. A few weeks later I finally managed to have conversation with him and he insisted that Satan was inside him. While having clear elements of delusions and hallucinations, I believe some were supernatural because his behaviour was contrary to the thoughts he was having. My dad too being a professional in this field felt the same. He had to persuade the doctor that his prognosis was more complex than the standard.
My brother after receiving extra prayer from family members, at his own request went to visit a local exorcist. This unfortunately was unsuccessful. He still, being fervent in faith, went again. Another unsuccessful exorcism. To this day what happened to me and my brother, Reece, still bemuses me.
He is btw getting better slowly by the grace of God, but he's bedridden. And our relationship and love has been strengthened in the Lord which brings me joy!
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" Rom 8:28
 

hLuke

Puritan Board Freshman
This gives me great pause.
It is a detail that needs more context. I bizarrely had a picture of Jesus on my lock screen, and I saw that exact image once the devil was cast out of me. I know it is hard to believe.
The preciseness and creativity of God's wisdom is mesmerising. I didn't include this in my original post because it would be too hard to explain, and I don't want to be guilty of idolatry, let alone bringing the glory of an immortal God down to a manmade image. Either way that picture was used for His glory. Even though it obviously wasn't Him in His eternality, it certainly demonstrated His presence in a miraculous way.

Here's a link to that picture:
 
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Travis Fentiman

Puritan Board Freshman
This instance might be confronting for some so read with caution


hLuke,

Thank you so much for your testimony. I am wondering a few things, if you are able to elaborate a bit more on:

Your exorcism in relation to coming to trust in Christ to deliver you and forgive you of your sins. Also at what point do you believe you came to real spiritual life, and whether you began to walk with the Lord thereafter?​
Did your brother have any medical/mental issues before that psychosis? Does it seem clear he was not a sincere believer at that time, walking with the Lord?

Do you believe he is now a born-again believer, with spiritual fruit in his life? or maybe not, or not sure? Is he making attempts to trust the Lord and walk with Him?

Is he on meds?​
Thanks again for sharing your experience with these things brother.
 

Jeri Tanner

Administrator
Staff member
It is a detail that needs more context. I bizarrely had a picture of Jesus on my lock screen, and I saw that exact image once the devil was cast out of me. I know it is hard to believe.
The preciseness and creativity of God's wisdom is mesmerising. I didn't include this in my original post because it would be too hard to explain, and I don't want to be guilty of idolatry, let alone bringing the glory of an immortal God down to a manmade image. Either way that picture was used for His glory. Even though it obviously wasn't Him in His eternality, it certainly demonstrated His presence in a miraculous way.

Here's a link to that picture:
To clarify, the reason I said that your story gives me pause is because images of Christ are forbidden in the 2nd commandment. Any image of the 2nd person of the Trinity that someone claims to have seen cannot be of God.
 

hLuke

Puritan Board Freshman
hLuke,

Thank you so much for your testimony. I am wondering a few things, if you are able to elaborate a bit more on:

Your exorcism in relation to coming to trust in Christ to deliver you and forgive you of your sins. Also at what point do you believe you came to real spiritual life, and whether you began to walk with the Lord thereafter?​
Did your brother have any medical/mental issues before that psychosis? Does it seem clear he was not a sincere believer at that time, walking with the Lord?​
Do you believe he is now a born-again believer, with spiritual fruit in his life? or maybe not, or not sure? Is he making attempts to trust the Lord and walk with Him?​
Is he on meds?​
Thanks again for sharing your experience with these things brother.
Thanks so much for responding, Travis. I will answer your questions in as much detail as possible given the time I have before I go to work.

1. I was a churchgoer before the exorcism but didn't know God. After a few months of spiritual warfare I had a born again experience which I remember vividly. I was baptised with the Spirit. But I still didn't know the gospel in great detail. I really began to feel the presence of Christ when I read the NT fervently and realised his redeeming work in me. His Providence is evident throughout my life which I believe is a telling sign of being in the faith, but certainly something that shouldn't define trust in Christ. Likewise I feel God, but this too is the same. Ever since, I have been devoted to Christ: He has been devoted to me. I enjoy reading theology, apologetics, and philosphy. Some notable authors are J.I Packer, John Piper, Spurgeon, Aquinas, Sproul, and C.S Lewis. At the moment I'm reading 'The Problem of Pain' by C.S Lewis.
I also went to study Theology at Trinity College, Melbourne but the course was hyper critical and liberal. It was in my view more designed for secular academics than anything else. But most importantly aside from the intellectual, I am in Christ.

2. My brother is ok. He does regular checkups with the doctor and at the moment he is taking Risperidone. He is not able to express himself in detail but his communication is succinct, simple and indeed wise. I don't think he had any mental problems before the psychosis. The initial test shortly after the psychosis indicated he took meth, and shortly thereafter the doctor indicated he was having religious delusions to which my dad denied, and because he worked there once, passionately persuaded the doctor not to put him in the ward. But my brother fervently denies taking meth and he is frankly not the person to touch drugs. We still don't know what caused his psychosis and he is reluctant to tell. He is probably still hearing voices at the moment and possibly hallucinating too. At the time when he had the psychosis, he read the bible a lot. In my opinion, I dare say, too much. He would spend upwards of three hours a day reading and he had an extremely literal view of scripture to the extent that anything outside the word was evil or at least he would compare everything he came across with scripture. And he carried a Gideon's bible everywhere.
I really don't know if he's born again. I have asked him multiple times in recent months and he's not certain. What I do know is that at the time shortly before the psychosis he thought God as a legalistic judge waiting to pounce at any sin. This was unfortunate and the family tried to inform him that God was gracious but he would resort again to his wrong definition of 'fearing' God.

I regularly ask him about his scripture reading and he is passionate about Christ. I do think he has a zeal for God, but I couldn't definitely say he is regenerate. I would sayhe is more likely than not born again, however. By grace the medicine is working and he is getting better each day.

Thanks again for your curiosity
 

hLuke

Puritan Board Freshman
To clarify, the reason I said that your story gives me pause is because images of Christ are forbidden in the 2nd commandment. Any image of the 2nd person of the Trinity that someone claims to have seen cannot be of God.
Well it was from God. I respect your view though and I too believe that images of Christ are dangerous, but I'm very reluctant to say they cannot be from God.
For more, countless Muslims have dreams and visions about Jesus one of which was abused and raped by his dad and when he had the rope tied around his neck to hang himself he saw Jesus like a loving Father embracing him. Save for a different topic.

I don't think he was lying, neither am I.
But I again respect your view.
 
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