Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Exorcism

Last week somebody asked me if I would perform an exorcism for them. It's not the first time that I've received one of these requests, so I guess I was as prepared as one is likely to be in that situation. Most of the stories that I've heard about people who conduct exorcisms unfortunately demonstrate insufficient discernment and arise from a pre-modern worldview that makes genuine dialogue difficult to engage in. However, I've done some wider reading myself on the subject and because I always feel that you should take people's requests seriously, I talked with this person in some detail about why he felt this was necessary.

In my (admittedly very brief) experience with those that have come to me with this kind of request, it doesn't take much to draw out in conversation some recognisable elements of non-demonic origin such as mental illness, drug abuse, guilt and shame related to past histories of abuse and sometimes just a bit too much TV/movies. I've come across some deeply damaged people, for whom the path to recovery is a very long one indeed, and am wary of quick solutions, as well as the constant reminder to do no more harm.

In this case, it was evident to me that an exorcism was not what was needed but it has made me think again about the need for creative ways to help people who feel spiritually trapped. Prayer is often helpful, but sometimes a meaningful ritual or symbol might be useful as well. Given some of the well-documented abuses in this area, we need to be very careful about how we proceed.

5 comments:

Liam said...

Thank for that post Jason.
I think we don't question the pre-modern wordview in a modern/post-modern world enough in the Salvation Army.

I would be interested to hear what 'wider reading' you had done on the subject that you found helpful.

Thanks again.

JDK said...

Liam, 'People of the Lie" by M. Scott Peck is probably the best that I've found. Though the author's experience stretches my imagination beyond what's comfortable, the rest of his writings are generally credible enough to make him worth reading. Peck also recommends a book by Malachi Martin that took the subject beyond what I was prepared to follow. Regards, JDK

james said...

im really liking reading your blog jason!

i had some great experiences of exorcisms last year. I dodnt even realise they were exorcisms until they had happend though.

We were praying for a girl who had had past abuse, attatched to this was guilt, fear, low self esteem etc.

As we prayed in the spirit we started binding the enemy from taking her captive. we released her from these things in Jesus name and her life completely changed after this.

Although her head didnt turn and she didnt speak in a deep voice something changed.

In my reading I have found that demons attatch themselves to pain, sin, guilt etc

Although they may not be posessed, the enemy can definately have foot holds and strongholds because of these things...

it would be good to catch up with you sometime and talk about this stuff...

james

JDK said...

Thanks for sharing your experience James. It highlights a question for me about whether we need to look at a wider scope for this subject - perhaps deliverance or liberation is more helpful language than exorcism? I'm becoming increasingly convinced that it's a topic we need to take far more seriously than perhaps we have. Did you hear about the Mercy Ministries story recently? See this. Happy to talk further if you're interested - give me a call or drop into Brunswick some time.

james said...

I think the deliverance language is good. Being set free. Much better than exorcism with so many tv connotations!

I had heard about the article but had not read it until now. Depending on the facts, theres a number of problems with what was going on there thats for sure.

Im pretty tied up at the moment with forge and a trip to adeliade but i still would like to catch up and hava chat about some of this stuf...

thanks