Logo

Theological Editions - Indepth daily religious news, views, reviews & key theological resources
Features

In-depth religious news, views, reviews, features & resources for the thinking person
 

Resources

Bible
Sermons

Liturgy & Prayer

News & Magazines

Journals

Texts & Resources

Home


Deliver us from evil and exorcists who do more harm than good
by Graeme J. Davidson
25 November 2007

While most mainline Christian denominations regard the need for exorcism as rare, some Charismatic groups are keen on the practice. That can result in untrained exorcists ignoring symptoms of psychiatric illness, guilt or shame, and using practices more akin to the methods of the Spanish Inquisition.

....Several students at my college in England believed there was an evil presence dwelling in an ancient black chest. Their speculation was the stuff of gothic novels. Maybe the chest had held the body of a murder victim, the wedding trousseau of a jilted bride or been used for black magic.
....The cynics suggested shifting the chest from the dark stairwell where it resided into a brightly lit area so it wouldn’t look so sinister. That solution got the thumbs down. The susceptible insisted the college call in the Church of England’s best exorcist to expel what had to be a poltergeist.
....Intrigued, we all watched as the exorcist pointed a crucifix at the chest and prayed in the name of Jesus Christ for the spirit to return from whence it came and bother us no more. Other prayers followed, along with liberal doses of holy water splashed over the chest, the stairwell and us – an act of ritual cleansing.
....The result: two of the susceptible students slipped on the wet stairwell and broke their arms, and bedbugs besieged the exorcist as he slept in the college guestroom. The susceptible insisted they saw the lid of the chest open and felt a rush of wind that the rest of us never experienced.
....Was anything positive gained by this exorcism? It hit the front pages of the national press, so the embarrassed college authorities shifted the chest to a well-lit spot after all.
....Exorcism brings to mind the Dark Ages when life was seen as a struggle between the forces of good and evil. Everything untoward – pestilence, natural disasters, plague, illness and things that go bump in the night – were the Devil’s work. Evil spirits could possess things and people. If a nasty demon, sprite or goblin had infiltrated folks’ minds so they were no longer themselves, the fiend needed evicting. And to help good triumph over evil, each culture developed wisdom, techniques and specialists for freeing the possessed.
....According to the bible, Jesus performed many exorcisms, including casting out seven demons from Mary Magdalene. In one instance, the evicted evil spirits moved into a herd of pigs, causing them to plunge to their deaths over a cliff. Jesus was accused of colluding with demons. They certainly recognised him as having power over them. Jesus also encouraged his disciples to cast out evil spirits, but they were not always successful.
....We’ve virtually left behind the dualistic worldview of good versus evil spirits. Apart from our morbid fascination with stories and horror movies featuring exorcism – The Exorcist, Repossessed, The Exorcism of Mary Rose – we now live in an age where science, technology and advances in psychiatry provide more enlightened views. Or do we?
....As the incident at my former college shows, there’re still deep feelings among some of us that evil spirits are at work. And, whatever the cause, that feeling of oppression from alien spiritual forces still is a frightening reality for people who seek deliverance.
....While most mainline Christian denominations regard the need for exorcism as rare, some Charismatic groups are keen on the practice. That can result in untrained exorcists ignoring symptoms of psychiatric illness, guilt or shame, and using practices more akin to the methods of the Spanish Inquisition – forcing water into their victims to cleanse them of evil, violently trying to shake, beat or choke the devil out of them, or imposing fasts. It’s little wonder there have been exorcism-related deaths over recent years and the methods have been like salt on the wounds of the distressed.
....Father Michael Blain, former exorcist for the Wellington Anglican Diocese, says he never had reason to exorcise anyone. Instead, he offered help to distressed people and “integral to this is prayer for their deliverance from the sense of guilt, or of oppression”.
....Whether you believe in occult evil spirits or not, we can agree that plenty of evil things happen in the world. Maybe that’s why the Lord’s Prayer has the phrase, “Deliver us from evil”.



 


 

 

See also
Should we intervene to prevent suicide? >> more
Divorce risk indicator >> more
When you feel like you're sharing a bed with a stranger >> more
Surving the breakup >> more
Suicide terrorism as a desperate weapon of liberation >> more
Ned Flanders — popular face of Christianity >> more
Seven common myths about religion >> more
Moral divide between church leaders and laity >> more
Unholy silence over MPs hypocrisy and greed >> more
Anglican schism over gay clergy inevitable >> more
My agonising path to enlightenment >> more
More than ever, it's a time for generosity >> more
National's ethics smell of political expediency >> more
Pope's trip to Holy Land fraught with potholes >> more
The resurrection may have been superfluous >> more
Rasputin — from sinner and seducer to saint? >> more
Religious delusions and the Jerusalem syndrome >> more
Protest mild compared with Jesus' vandalism >> more
What Castro and Obama have in common >> more
Holidays can revive romance or widen cracks between couples >> more
Dubious scholarship reinterprets Jesus to fit secular creed >> more
Furore over gay marriage echoes the conflict over slavery >> more
If only politics were as certain as dear old granny >> more
You've got to have faith to win the White House >> more
The problem of evil >> more
TV Programmers let lose Roman circus >> more
Prostitutes welcome in the kingdom of God but not in Dannevirke >> more
Church too busy navel-gazing to take lead over crime >> more
Will the Anglican Church split over gay clergy and same-sex unions? >> more
Faith in secular western society >> more
The Vatican's pelvic theology >> more
Abuse and the Beijing Olympics >> more
Would the real Jesus stand up? >> more
Hypersensitivity perverts ethics >> more
God and presidential hopefuls >> more
A three-ghetto church based on politics >> more
Good and bad intentions >> more
Deliver us from exorcists who harm >> more
How effective is prayer? >> more
Masters of non-violence, resistance and kung fu >> more
Was Mother Teresa living a lie? >> more
Double standards over child sex abuse >> more
Soppy inspirational and pseudo-spiritual emails >> more
Caring organisations and pyschopathic bosses >> more
The new anti-religious evangelists >> more
Call for religious education could backfire >> more
Blessing creatures great & small — but what about blowflies? >> more
Does God exist only in the brain? >> more
The Prudes who crucify >> more
tomb raiders and the bones of Jesus and his family? >> more
Jesus loves Osama >> more
Is God more like a matchbox or a number? >> more
Confessions of a failed axe murderer >> more
Bacchanalian festivals and sentimentality >> more
Manners: insignificant social customs? >> more
The 109 fighting boys >> more
Trying to exhume the historical Jesus >> more
Is global violence really on the increase? >> more
Polygamy, circumcision, atheist journalists and religious diversity >> more
The Christian Right stands by Israel out of a misguided theology  >> more 
What a rat taught me >> more
The Church is becoming a retirement hobby for granny clergy >> more 
Is there an anti-Christian conspiracy in Hollywood? >> more
Have church schools sold out on Christianity? >> more
How good a Christian is President George W Bush? >> more

Hitler, Lawyers, Politicians SUV owners and life after death >> more

Were the Christian hostages really idiots for peace? >> more
Infidelity: in hot pursuit of a better organsm or better intimacy? >> more
Skulduggery and controversy over discovery of religious texts >> more
The cartoons aren't about secular freedoms versus intolerance >> more

Christian Zionists hinder justice and peace in the Middle East >> more

Should making more money be your New Year's resolution? >> more
My early life as a black sheep in a nativity scene >> more
Different types of suicide bomber: what makes them tick >> more
Cheating a short cut to sucess in winner-take-all society >> more
Life after death: Is it logically possible? >> more
Is it Anglican to practise apartheid? >> more
Da Vinci Code unlocks controversy>> more
Bishops' statement: pompous, pious, out of touch and verging on the heretical >> more 
Church leaders unconvincing over prostitution law reform >> more
Divorce risk factors >> more
How global are we?  A Christian's view of globalisation >> more
Victims of dirty tricks & friendly fire: Machiavellian tactics in the Church militant >> more
A redundant resurrection >> more
War, violence, ethics, religion and hypocrisy >> more
If St Peter was interviewed for ordination today >> more
13 ways to empty a church without really trying >> more
How tolerant is the Museum of Tolerance? >> more
A church comes out and reconciliation divides >> more
Micah's dream — too much to ask? >> more
Has the revised Anglican Church in New Zealand instigated a benign form of religious apartheid? >> more
The case for St Judas Iscariot >> more
Exorcism: the ministry of deliverance >> more

Top