Reformed views of exorcisms?

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Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
And why don't we have the need for excorcisms in other denominations?
Because the people aren't taught to need them. They are taught to be transformed by the renewing of the mind.
It's been a while since I've looked into this issue, so I can make no definitive statement about it. (Actually, interest in this topic that was piqued by listening to some Malachi Martin interviews eventually led to my conversion a year or two later once I came under evangelical influence.)

That being said, what Rev. Winzer notes here does make a big difference. I can attest to it from personal experience. It seems that one's belief and emphasis on this issue will to at least some extent impact one's view of the Christian life in general. In many if not most cases it has a significant impact.

For a number of years I was under the teaching of an independent "Calvinistic" or "sovereign grace" (not SGM) man who had previously been engaged in itinerant preaching/evangelism for several decades and who had extensive experience with deliverance ministry. (He was not the usual kind of 20th Century Southern evangelist and was influenced by Tozer, Ravenhill, as well as older sovereign grace men.) During that time he had considerable influence within his circles and gained some notice among Calvinistic Baptists generally. My connection with this ministry was early on in my Christian walk, when I was convinced of TULIP but knew of no other baptistic ministry in the area that affirmed it. (There were issues which at the time kept me from considering local Presbyterian. churches, one of which is actually openly charismatic.) This brother published a book on demonology in which he argues that a Christian can be posessed or indwelt (I can't remember the exact terminology) by a demon(s) as well as the Holy Spirit at the same time. I don't know of any exorcisms or deliverance ministry that he engaged in at that later stage of his ministry. But that's not the kind of thing that was made public knowledge regardless, at least not by this ministry.

While much of what was taught there was helpful and true, after a few years I picked up on an attitude toward sanctification or growth in grace that basically amounted to "Let go and let God." If somebody had some kind of persistent sin problem, then demons must be the cause. The approach apparently was that you had to come to them with such a problem, they weren't going to force it. While they aren't perfectionists, the idea that we sin daily in thought, word and deed was openly disdained and dismissed as being a defeatist view. There was an antipathy toward blaming anything on the flesh. It was very reminiscent of how psychotropic drugs are often sold. "If there's a pill available that can help you, why blame it on sin?" Why blame the flesh when it's demonic, etc.

Once I realized this deficiency, as well discovering that the prevailing view of scripture among at least some of the leadership was arguably neo-orthodox and mystical and statements were made that undermined the verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture, I left. In retrospect, the latter fits well with a book on deliverance that is based on personal experiences that cannot be proved from Scripture, if at best many of the experiences recounted therein do not outright contradict Scripture.
 
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CalvinandHodges

Puritan Board Junior
Hi:

I do not believe that a Christian can be possessed by a Deamon: "Greater is He that is in you, then he that is in the world."

As far as Leahy's book is concerned - it is good as far as it goes - but I was kind of surprised by his denial that Satan has a kingdom.

If a person is possessed, then the person needs to become a Christian. Preaching the gospel to such a person will give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to save the soul. The Deamon will try to distract you and/or the person he is possessing. However, we are not to address ourselves to the Deamon in this situation, but to the person who needs to be saved.

Here is a very good book on the Calvinist understanding of presenting the Gospel:

Amazon.com: What Is the Gospel? (9Marks) eBook: Greg Gilbert, D. A. Carson: Kindle Store

Blessings,

Rob
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
I don't know if it's explicitly scriptural or necessarily inferred that a Christian cannot be demonized. It also presumptively places a label of saved or unsaved on a person, which is not conventional for presbyterians, right?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Just to add to the conversation, exorcism was practiced as far back as the early church fathers.

"For we call Him Helper and Redeemer, the power of whose name even the demons do fear; and at this day, when they are exorcised in the name of Jesus Christ, crucified under Pontius Pilate, governor of Judæa, they are overcome. And thus it is manifest to all, that His Father has given Him so great power, by virtue of which demons are subdued to His name, and to the dispensation of His suffering."
Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 30
Of course, "demon" is here being used in its classical signification as an inferior deity which was propitiated as part of the patron-client system; not a controlling spirit which, some allege, has the power to possess and take over the faculties of an individual.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
I resonate with your skepticism, James. Charismatic circles in Indonesia is where I've seen the most pronounced and dramatic forms of demonic possession and there's less of it the more west you go. One thing I believe is fairly certain to me: there are very few good reasons why someone would want to pretend that they are possessed when they are not. Some "deliverance sessions" are grueling and long, and often very uncomfortable for both the person possessed and the people praying. I also saw my aunt speaking English while demon oppressed, which I hadn't seen before or thought she could. These are the indications to me that it's a real spiritual manifestation and not a cry for attention.
Good points. I am less skeptical than curious. I don't want to fall into the trap of naturalism and say that it is just psychological. So if we don't go that route and we say that something demonic is going on, how then do explain this sociological phenomenon? Thats what I can't figure out.


I don't know if it's explicitly scriptural or necessarily inferred that a Christian cannot be demonized. It also presumptively places a label of saved or unsaved on a person, which is not conventional for presbyterians, right?


I didn't think of it that way.


That being said, what Rev. Winzer notes here does make a big difference. I can attest to it from personal experience. It seems that one's belief and emphasis on this issue will to at least some extent impact one's view of the Christian life in general. In many if not most cases it has a significant impact.
That may be an explanation.

---------- Post added at 07:45 AM ---------- Previous post was at 07:42 AM ----------

Because the people aren't taught to need them. They are taught to be transformed by the renewing of the mind.
So in these other denominations and/or churches their being taught to need them opens them up to it?
 

J. Dean

Puritan Board Junior
It can be overdone, too. Don Matzat, a Lutheran Pastor and former host of the Lutheran radio show Issues, etc., talked about going through a charissmatic phase a la Derek Prince. He talked about people-Christians mind you-possessed by the spirit of anger or alcoholism or whatever else. Finally, one day, he was performing an "exorcism" with an angry man claiming to be demon-possessed, when Don stopped, looked at the kid, and said "You're faking it. Knock it off!!"

He was right: the man was just putting on a show.

It needs to be remembered, again, that the Bible doesn't spend a lot of time on this topic, nor is there a specific formula for exorcism, or a command that we are supposed to be "demon hunting" per se, so we need to treat it with care as to how much attention we give it. Frank Peretti has already done some damage in this area with his fiction. We don't need any more.
 

nicnap

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I take a slightly different approach than some -- though, it does not originate with me. I believe that people (lost people) can now only be (for the most part) voluntarily 'possessed' (there may be some lost men possessed without willful assent, but it is far less than in the days of the incarnation). I believe that most demon possession occurred at the time of the incarnation, it was Satan's attempt to mimic the incarnation. Think of it this way; were there demonic possessions in the OT? When is the last seen possession in the NT? It was clearly lessening after the resurrection and ascension, and there is not much mention of it after a few chapters into acts. Just my :2cents: .
 
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cajunhillbilly53

Puritan Board Freshman
I have never seen an exorcism but do remember a long time ago meeting someone who I really believe was under demonic influence. I was trying to witness to him about the marvelous grace of our Savior and he said he could not hear me because "they" were too loud. There was no one near by. I believe that demons were trying to keep him from the truth. I prayed then and there for God to graciously let this man hear the truth and he said "they" were quiet now. I then shared the Gospel with him and he said he would think about it. I hope "they" did not come back, but he was not ready to make the step of faith yet. I believe that God quieted these demons. Demons are real and they do influence people.
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
It needs to be remembered, again, that the Bible doesn't spend a lot of time on this topic, nor is there a specific formula for exorcism, or a command that we are supposed to be "demon hunting" per se, so we need to treat it with care as to how much attention we give it. Frank Peretti has already done some damage in this area with his fiction. We don't need any more.
What do you reckon is the damage that Peretti has done? Regardless of whether we want to believe it, there is something of a phenomenon at work in certain circles which looks a lot like demon possession and many have been afflicted, and also helped, by those who care to engage this realm.
 

BobVigneault

Bawberator
The scriptures say that a demon may enter, indwell, be cast out, they may exert control in varying degrees but none of these require us to concede that a demon may possess (take ownership) of an individual. I am not sure if a demon may exert control over a believer but I do know that a demon may use a loved one to hurt a believer. A demon may oppress and influence a believer but I don't think they may enter and indwell a believer.

I have started referring to the problem as demonic interference. I have found that believers and non-believers can both be interfered with - if the person is a believer then we must get rid of the deception they are under by applying the truth of scripture. A believer can also believe a lie and that lie is a foothold. We must give the believer a foothold from which he or she can resist. In the case of a non-believer we respond with evangelism, a proclamation of the Gospel.

A demon may do nothing except through the permission of God.

There is no scripture that says demon possession ever existed. The KJV and a few English versions prior did translate 'daimonizomai' as 'possessed' but that is just not a good translation and the context quickly alerts us that ownership should not be understood as a factor in a person being interfered with.

As I said before, a person can be entered and indwelt and therefore a demon may be cast out, a demon may influence and even control physiological response. None of this requires a person to be 'possessed' and the idea of possession goes against the sovereignty of God and authority of Jesus Christ.

The sovereignty, the goodness and the authority of the Godhead is THE target of Satan and his demons. The last thing we want to do is play into that scheme. When I encounter demonic activity I give it the 'my brother-in-law' test. I may have witnessed something terrifying and destructive but I have to ask, apart from an amazing presentation (illusion is all about 'the presentation') have I seen anything that my brother-in-law couldn't have done?

Demons can act invisibly and they know an awful lot, even more than David Copperfield, about how to appear powerful. They are not as powerful as folks think and the movies of the '70s did us a great disservice and boosted the demons leverage exponentially.

For thousands of years demons have been considered great pests to the church and enemies to the church but still merely agents of wrath or as Luther called Satan - "God's ape". They are used to discipline and even punish rebelliousness.

The demons power will seem great in an environment where superstition is high and the potential for fear is great. This is why demons seem to be more active in animistic cultures. They are not more powerful there but they have much more ignorance and superstition to leverage.

In the case of Satan's Kingdom, it's not a kingdom but dominion is certainly an appropriate word. Those who practice habitual sin, those who reject the person and work of Christ, those who give in to fits of anger, live in the realm of Satan's influence, they have given the devil a foothold. He doesn't need to own them, they are playing into his scheme.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
The scriptures say that a demon may enter, indwell, be cast out, they may exert control in varying degrees but none of these require us to concede that a demon may possess (take ownership) of an individual. I am not sure if a demon may exert control over a believer but I do know that a demon may use a loved one to hurt a believer. A demon may oppress and influence a believer but I don't think they may enter and indwell a believer.

I have started referring to the problem as demonic interference. I have found that believers and non-believers can both be interfered with - if the person is a believer then we must get rid of the deception they are under by applying the truth of scripture. A believer can also believe a lie and that lie is a foothold. We must give the believer a foothold from which he or she can resist. In the case of a non-believer we respond with evangelism, a proclamation of the Gospel.

A demon may do nothing except through the permission of God.

There is no scripture that says demon possession ever existed. The KJV and a few English versions prior did translate 'daimonizomai' as 'possessed' but that is just not a good translation and the context quickly alerts us that ownership should not be understood as a factor in a person being interfered with.

As I said before, a person can be entered and indwelt and therefore a demon may be cast out, a demon may influence and even control physiological response. None of this requires a person to be 'possessed' and the idea of possession goes against the sovereignty of God and authority of Jesus Christ.

The sovereignty, the goodness and the authority of the Godhead is THE target of Satan and his demons. The last thing we want to do is play into that scheme. When I encounter demonic activity I give it the 'my brother-in-law' test. I may have witnessed something terrifying and destructive but I have to ask, apart from an amazing presentation (illusion is all about 'the presentation') have I seen anything that my brother-in-law couldn't have done?

Demons can act invisibly and they know an awful lot, even more than David Copperfield, about how to appear powerful. They are not as powerful as folks think and the movies of the '70s did us a great disservice and boosted the demons leverage exponentially.

For thousands of years demons have been considered great pests to the church and enemies to the church but still merely agents of wrath or as Luther called Satan - "God's ape". They are used to discipline and even punish rebelliousness.

The demons power will seem great in an environment where superstition is high and the potential for fear is great. This is why demons seem to be more active in animistic cultures. They are not more powerful there but they have much more ignorance and superstition to leverage.

In the case of Satan's Kingdom, it's not a kingdom but dominion is certainly an appropriate word. Those who practice habitual sin, those who reject the person and work of Christ, those who give in to fits of anger, live in the realm of Satan's influence, they have given the devil a foothold. He doesn't need to own them, they are playing into his scheme.
Those are excellent points!
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
So in these other denominations and/or churches their being taught to need them opens them up to it?
Yes; I won't descend into anecdotal evidence; it is a well known fact that communities create the mindset with which to speak and act in the community.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Yes; I won't descend into anecdotal evidence; it is a well known fact that communities create the mindset with which to speak and act in the community.
Not to get philosophical here, just thinking off the top of my head, but it is kind of like speach-act theory. Wow that would be a thesis for graduate work Demon Posession and Speach-Act Theory. I think in the end you are right, but I still hold that the explination could also involve a willfull opening up of oneself and community to occult like practices. But I guess this would require much more research.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Not to get philosophical here, just thinking off the top of my head, but it is kind of like speach-act theory. Wow that would be a thesis for graduate work Demon Posession and Speach-Act Theory. I think in the end you are right, but I still hold that the explination could also involve a willfull opening up of oneself and community to occult like practices. But I guess this would require much more research.
Something worth looking into there. If by "occult" is simply meant "secret things" and "deep things of Satan," they are only "as they speak." It is what they call them. We who believe in Jesus know that it is mere deception.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Not to get philosophical here, just thinking off the top of my head, but it is kind of like speach-act theory. Wow that would be a thesis for graduate work Demon Posession and Speach-Act Theory. I think in the end you are right, but I still hold that the explination could also involve a willfull opening up of oneself and community to occult like practices. But I guess this would require much more research.
Something worth looking into there. If by "occult" is simply meant "secret things" and "deep things of Satan," they are only "as they speak." It is what they call them. We who believe in Jesus know that it is mere deception.
Agreed!
 
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