Your Opinions On Exorcisms?

Discussion in 'Spiritual Warfare' started by Ryan&Amber2013, Nov 20, 2018.

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  1. Joshua

    Joshua Administrator Staff Member

    I want to be more clear, because apparently I have failed in that area:

    I am not saying that people are not having experiences which they have interpreted as devil possession, etc. I am not saying that the Church shouldn't have a readiness and willingness to deal with these afflictions. I am saying that I do not believe exorcisms are the answer. The malarkey comment was in regard to "exorcisms," or repeating formulaic phrases thinking it will expel devils from people, etc.

    Those with authority given to them in the Scriptures were able both to identify and heal (with the exception of the example of the one that could only come out by prayer & fasting, outside of Christ Himself giving the deliverance directly) those afflicted by devils. But the scriptures nowhere regulate that and tell us how so to do. It assumes that one is able to identify a person with devil possession, in order to deliver such an one from said devil. There are no instructions for such identification. What we do have instructions for are prayer, praise, preaching of the Gospel, helping those in time of need, etc.

    I heartily affirm the "spirit-world," and that the devil -who is God's devil- walks about, like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. I agree with the Puritan minister Thomas Brooks that satan has devices by which he fans into flame those corruptions which still abide in us, and -therefore- we ought to be vigilant, knowledgeable of his devices, and takes James' advice in our dealing with him:

    Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? 6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. 9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.​

    We have clear instruction on the means by which God calls, delivers, justifies, and sanctifies (or passes by, neglects, hardens, and damns) souls, and I do not believe any inexplicable experience -regardless of its intensity or bafflingness- is beyond the ability of these means (by God's Spirit and blessing) to handle. What I fail to see in the Scriptures are:

    1. A clear indication that devil possession is ordinary and regular throughout redemptive history
    2. An authority to cast out devils given to the people of God generally
    3. A set of instructions on how to identify devil possession, and -subsequently- how to cast out said devils

    In conclusion, I do not deny the supernatural. I do not deny the spirit-world. I do not deny inexplicable experiences occurring to people. I do not deny the harsh afflictions that these things are to these people, and I pity them and would see them delivered from such burdens by salvation through faith alone in Christ. But I deny that sense (sight, hearing, touch) is the ultimate indicator of truth and, rather, that we are to walk by faith, which may sometimes mean denying our perception of a thing, and dealing with it by way of God's prescribed means, trusting Him with the results. It is also true that God may give a people over to their own delusions, such that they would believe a lie (for example, that Satan and God are in a cosmic battle against one another, rather than God limits and orders the devil and his devils to His own purposes and glory).

    I consent, also, that many people do not share the same axiom I do with regard to devil possession, etc. Ergo, I do not necessarily expect anyone to be convinced by my paltry attempts to explain the position.
  2. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    If demons are real and still bother people, why not discuss how to combat them? This should include discussing steps and actions.
  3. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    I agree with most of what you said Josh. I also agree that we do not have the same abilities as the apostles to perform exorcisms like they did. We have the ordinary means of grace, and in these cases those ordinary means would perhaps have to take a more intense form (i.e. more specific Scriptural application and prayer). The more I study the issue over the years, the more open I am to the idea that demon possession still occurs. For those who would argue that Christ finished that problem on the Cross, you still have to deal with the specific incidents that occurred after the Cross in the book of Acts. No one denies that Satan received his death blow when Christ died, but his activity is still rampant after the Cross as the many warnings of the NT explain.

    The benefits of Christ's death come only to people through union with Christ. Those not yet united to Christ still lie under the rule and tyranny of Satan. And for people dabbling in occultic practices, it's not a matter of demonic forces imposing themselves against the person's will. By engaging in such practices you can freely (sometimes specifically) invite those forces in, perhaps in the pursuit of power or insight, and I think much to the later regret of the person who opened themselves that way.

    With all that said, I also think we need to keep these things in perspective too. Though these pursuits of divination and such are real, the primary assault of the devil comes through ordinary temptation every day, and we can't let the extraordinary incidents become a diversion from the main assault. But we do need to have a solid foundation from which to minister to those under such afflictions, and you can't work that out without at least talking about it, so you are somewhat ready when you meet that needy person.

    My two cents...
  4. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    You first have to undo certain worldview assumptions. We've given numerous evidence, biblical passages, logic, and it hasn't taken root. You first have to have a worldview that affirms divine agency in the world is still a real thing (and that is a huge discussion in modern analytic philosophy).
  5. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Professor

    Most if not all in the deliverance ministry are in some way connected to Linda Blair to one degree or another...No Ifs, Ands, or Butts.
  6. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    I have been enjoying this discussion. So, if the spiritual forces are real that we are against in this world, as Perg said, shouldn't there be more general training in the seminaries regarding this area?
  7. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    GASP! Because that would seem Charismatic!
  8. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    The other side does not deny that the spiritual forces are real. Neither does the other side necessarily deny they are not operative. It is only denied they are operative in anything other than a moral sense (and therefore to be resisted in a moral manner, Eph. 6, James has been quoted) with no power beyond that of deceit and delusion (and therefore belief of the truth will set free) due to an eschatology that views the real (real as opposed to their illusory power brought about by deceit and delusion) power of the devil and his angels to now be bound by Christ's Lordship.

    In that regard, a great Reformed "exorcism" manual or one part of training in resisting the devil would be Thomas Brooks' work already mentioned. Another part of that training would also be in eschatology or Christ's Lordship.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2018
  9. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Where does Scripture say that the binding of Satan means there is no longer any demonic possession?
  10. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    And that is called the genetic fallacy.
  11. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Exactly. Why would Paul even bother to warn us that we war against thronoi, archae, and the like, if it doesn't happen?

    Unless Satan is bound with a bungee cord.
  12. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    This question can quickly become quite involved (just see the length of the threads I posted earlier!). Me not having a lot of time, I'll just say....

    1) The other side does not say there is no longer "demonic" possession. The possession that exists is only a moral possession and is by means of the human faculties; the possession is in the form of temptation and deception. The person is still responsible for their actions for giving in to such temptation and deception.

    2) The other side sees the phenomena of casting out of devils as unique to the NT period in the coming of Christ. The demonic activity we see in that period (and the follow up in Acts) is unique in the Scriptures. Given the references to "demons," it is possible some on the other side would not view the claimed physical possession as actually being real: instead, people were morally possessed and due to their false worldview, attributed the moral possession to an agent beyond their control.

    3) One biblical reason for believing there is nothing more than a moral possession that is possible is that everyone is commanded to repent: they are responsible for their own actions. If there was more than a moral (or deceptive) possession, they would not be responsible for their own actions (this is true of those in the OT too, hence point 2 above). Christians are told to resist the devil in moral terms and in terms of believing the truth. The devil is said to work in the wickedness of others, but the wicked works of men are attributed to themselves.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2018
  13. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Strictly speaking, that same line of reasoning cuts against monergism. We can't repent of our own power, yet we are exhorted to.

    Another part of the problem is we tend to think of possession as "This is Gozer who has assumed control," when the greek is daimonidzomai, which has a much wider range of meaning and avoids all of the problems you suggested.

    As to seeing this dying out in the apostles' time, we don't see any NT evidence and we see numerous counter evidence throughout church history (even by those who are cessationists, like Poythress).
  14. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    The bondage of the will is a moral bondage, so it does not cut against monergism. It is within the natural freedom of the will to perform the action of repentance. Also, the person is in bondage to themselves; their will is not coerced to evil by an external entity. It is because the bondage is moral and the bondage is to and of themselves that they are responsible when called to repentance or when they sin and cannot cease from sin.

    Those "possessed" by these "demons" in the NT believed they were physically or mentally possessed or that these "demons" could exert a physical or mental influence beyond the moral. The classical meaning (and Jewish conceptions) of "demon" as an intermediary "god" as background to the NT description of the phenomena seems convincing to me.
  15. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I am not sure how that rebuts anything I've said.
  16. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Professor

    And your retort is genetically wrong.
  17. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    No it isn't. You tried to tar all deliverance ministries with Linda Blair. I have no clue who that is, but presumably she is bad. I then pointed out that such a move is a logical fallacy. My position is true or false based on logic, evidence, etc., not on Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2018
  18. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    But where do you find such "moral possession" explained in Scripture? How do you defend it exegetically?

    Jesus didn't just change people's minds about what to believe, he cast out actual personalities who exerted influence on people.

    And on what exegetical grounds do you say it only happened during the coming of Christ? Was Satan somehow bound before and after the time of Christ but unleashed during his first coming? How would you defend such exegetically?

    No one is able to repent without first being born again, whether possessed or not. The ability to repent comes through effectual calling and regeneration not through natural ability. Man is still responsible for his sin, whether possessed or no. In the case of possession then, he would surrender his faculties to the demonic influence, and is therefore responsible for the consequences of such surrender. So in either case, the sinner is effectually called, renewed, united to Christ, and indwelt by the Spirit, and for the demon possessed this would thereby "exorcise" them.
  19. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

  20. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    As already pointed out, the bondage of the will is a moral bondage.

    What do you mean by this? Is the demonic influence now controlling the man's will, thought, actions, etc.? Is the demonic influence making the man do things? Or is the man now freely choosing particular sorts of evil and unable to choose otherwise, having given themselves over to that evil and the temptations/suggestions of Satan? The latter is what is meant by a moral-rational possession. The only difference then would be that one side would say something special is needed beyond prayer and belief of the truth; the other side would say that demonic power is deceptive, so prayer and belief of the truth (including the truth that Satan only has lying wonders) is "all" that is needed.

    The exegetical arguments are basically looking to see what sort of influence the devil can have on people in the OT and in the NT and seeing that there is no physical influence (although physical influence is attributed to "demons" in the Gospel accounts; but not the devil), and the only terms in which Christians are told to resist the devil or test spirits is in moral-rational terms. Noticing a special phenomena that we only see in the time of Christ and the Apostles. Heeding Christ's statement that the phenomena of casting out devils was connected with the coming of the kingdom of God. Key passages are Matthew 12, 1 Corinthians 8 and 10 along with Acts 10 (for establishing that "demons" are not the reality but that the devil was behind the phenomena in some manner), and Ephesians 1 and 6. Calvin says that Satan's entering into Judas was in terms of moral possession, so perhaps an exegetical argument can be found there. He might say something also with Jesus' rebuke of Peter in terms of Satanic influence.

    I wish I could be more helpful, but that's all I can do. I mainly entered the thread to briefly clarify the other position and show where this topic has been discussed before for further study.
  21. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    So either that guy is acting or he is under supernatural spiritual bondage.
  22. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    "What do you do when you host a sagu feast. How do you make the decisions"
    "I ask Walupul to enter me. Then it is me making the decisions, but Walupul is inside helping me make the decisions. I say is my mouth...but it is really Walupul's mouth." Description of a tribal guy when hosting a party which involves animistic aspects.

    "What is this ceremony do,"
    "We drum and play music and ask the spirits to enter us. And then when they enter us we become stronger."

    Just two examples from the country where I serve.

    I think that if you keep asking spirits to enter you, at least some of the time it is going to happen.
  23. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Yes. That is how Scriptures describes those who are "possessed". They lose control of their faculties, at least temporarily.

    Then "moral/rational possession" is not a useful term. Where does Scripture use the term "possession" in that way? Certainly people can have "strongholds" in their minds (i.e. 2 Cor 10:3-4) which are lies people believe that must give way to the truth. But that is not how Scripture describes the actual cases of "possession".

    The treatment would be the same in either case, God brings deliverance through the preaching of the Word and prayer. But the deliverance would certainly be more dramatic in the one formerly possessed by demons. The difference is that you now have a biblical category with which to understand the "possession" phenomena which don't fit into other categories of physical or mental afflictions (i.e. changes in personality, loss of control, communication with demonic spirits, etc.), and thus it can give you a more informed and directly applicable use of Scripture and prayer.

    Thanks, I will look these over again. But you seem to overlook that fact that many of these warnings about the devil are given to Christians. They are united to Christ and indwelt by the Spirit. They cannot be possessed by demons any longer. The only danger they face from the devil is the moral/rational temptation, so of course the emphasis will be put there in exhortations to the church.

    But is that the only danger faced by the unregenerate who are still in bondage to sin and alienated from God? The gospel accounts seem to suggest otherwise.
  24. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    1. A demonized man stripped the seven sons of Sceva naked.
    2. The Gadarene demoniac snapped chains.

    Those are physical influences.
  25. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    Whether a person is demon possessed or not is not something we can do anything about. So trying to decide if it's real or not is a moot subject and only leads to giving more thought to the demonic realm than we should. The gift of casting out demons is gone. Our only job is to put forth the Gospel to the unbeliever and pray for his salvation.
  26. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    How we think about these things is determined mostly by the way you understand how God has designed or laid out the way we get to know his will from the Bible. It’s not just descriptive passages and proof texts. It’s a progression of what we are to infer from the way the information is laid out- many doctrinal positions must be inferred by how we understand “between the lines” the apostles’ ministry (to focus on the NT) and how things progressed through Acts, and the ‘settling down’ period, the regulations imposed by the apostles on the churches so that the church can transition to the practices that will carry her through to Christ’s coming. It’s an instruction painted by descriptions and prescriptions and you won’t see the big picture by focusing on the narratives. The narratives teach glorious things but must be combined with the epistles. The epistles are key for us understanding what we are to do “now”- now that Christ and then his apostles accomplished so much. Christ made sport of principalities and really did finish it, but he let us know by his words before he departed that there would be mopping up operations (described in Acts). You get to the epistles where we are to look for our marching orders and see that exorcising demons is not part of the work. There is activity of Satan described but how to combat and resist and be delivered is also prescribed. It’s not by exorcism; unbelievers held captive by Satan are called upon to repent and believe, and it’s through the ministry of the church (with words and prayer) that they’re converted. Understood from the rest of Scripture is that we’re to pray for unbelievers and we all know that unbelievers are influenced by Satan, held captive by him to do his will. That’s the state of every unbeliever. All of them need miraculous deliverance, and God does this all the time in the conversion of souls.

    Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “If I might summarize all these dangers, it is the danger of isolating a text or an idea and building up a system around it, instead of comparing Scripture with Scripture. It is the seeking of a short cut in the spiritual world... We must reject anything which is not based soundly upon the teaching of the Epistles. We must be very careful that we do not take an incident out of the Gospels, and weave a theory around it... we must realize that our standard... is to be found in the Epistles." ~ D.M. Lloyd-Jones, Knowing the Times, page 11
  27. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Except that the epistles teach that all these things, referring to narratives, were written for our instruction.

    Argument from silence. You also don't see any commands for women to take the Lord's Supper.
    Charismatic himself.
  28. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    It's the Lord's Day; give this one a rest.
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