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Evangelism, Missions and the Persecuted Church discuss Manifestations of evil spirits in the The Church forums; In a culture where evil spirits are regularly welcomed in and where witchcraft is the norm, what sort of physical manifestations are we likely to ...

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    Manifestations of evil spirits

    In a culture where evil spirits are regularly welcomed in and where witchcraft is the norm, what sort of physical manifestations are we likely to see?

    Can witchcraft curses have physical effects on other non-Christian tribesmen? I am hearing credible stories of people dropping dead or developing ailments sometimes from curses (psychosomatic perhaps?).

    I was cursed myself but laughed it off and told them that it could only return to the person. What is the recommended prescription for being put under a curse?

    Would evil spirits manifest differently in Africa, or Indo or New Guienea perhaps? And would it vary even moreso in a Western secular culture where atheism is the strategy of the Devil?
    Last edited by Pergamum; 03-21-2008 at 08:36 AM.
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    That's a good question Perg. I don't know that we'd ever find a surefire answer from Scripture. It is interesting that "demonic" activity takes different forms even in the NT where there are demoniacs foaming at the mouth that Christ heals as well as Pharisaical "sons of the devil" that He condemns.
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    Ravens is offline. Puritanboard Sophomore
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    Perg,

    I think that the first chapters of Job could sufficiently answer your question, wherein Satan brings fire from heaven to destroy a house, a great wind to destroy another house, and lacerates Job with painful boils. The text seems to intimate that he easily could have slain Job with nary a thought, had God not prevented him and regulated his evil.

    In the Gospels, do demons not throw people down? Drive them mad to the point of living in cemeteries? I forget the exact reference, but did Christ not say that the woman with the issue of blood had been "bound by Satan", or something to that effect?

    I don't see any logical or Biblical reason why an evil spirit couldn't afflict or slay someone if that person was not one of God's elect; and, Scripturally, the elect can be afflicted by evil spirits prior to conversion (the examples just cited) and, if Job counts, physically afflicted after. But that's a more debatable point.

    I think that too often, especially in Reformed circles, the closing and cessation of special revelation is practically, if not formally, seen to mean the cessation of everything supernatural, or out of the ordinary. But the one does not imply the other, IMO.

    How many dark spirits are there on the level of the loyal one who slew Sennacherib's army? I imagine when we get to heaven and look back upon our life, we will realize that we lived our life, in a very real sense, as Daniel lived in the lion's den, constantly surrounded by entities of immense power that could tear us to shreds and drive us mad according to their own capacities. And yet God shuts their mouths and prevents them from doing harm, just as He did to the lions of old.

    Anyhow, that's not a "blanket acceptation" of everything, either. I'm sure there can be social belief, psychosomatic worry, etc. But I imagine the "real thing" goes on as well, especially in countries wherein the gospel has never had a major influence.

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    Joshua:

    You said, "But I imagine the "real thing" goes on as well, especially in countries wherein the gospel has never had a major influence."

    Is it possible than that dramatic manifestations do sometimes occur in remote or unreached area and are not mere illusion?

    Also, should we expect that the West should have a rise in these manifestations as it becomes "Post-Christian"?
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    And are such spirits able to be seen? How would one respond to reports of "the dead ones' walking through one's area of ministry (i.e. spirits reported by locals travelling through tribal lands)... Can spirits really roam the jungle and be sensed by locals?
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    BJClark is offline. Puritanboard Doctor
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    Pergamum;

    And are such spirits able to be seen? How would one respond to reports of "the dead ones' walking through one's area of ministry (i.e. spirits reported by locals travelling through tribal lands)... Can spirits really roam the jungle and be sensed by locals?
    I don't know why not, can you not sense The Holy Spirit close to you? So why wouldn't you be able to sense evil when it is near you as well?

    And doesn't scripture tell us that the devil was going to and fro throughout the whole earth to seeking who he could devour?

    And that the demons dwelled inside people even to where they asked to be sent to the pigs, so if they have no place to *dwell* why wouldn't they roam around until they found another place to dwell?
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    Quote Originally Posted by BJClark View Post
    Pergamum;

    And are such spirits able to be seen? How would one respond to reports of "the dead ones' walking through one's area of ministry (i.e. spirits reported by locals travelling through tribal lands)... Can spirits really roam the jungle and be sensed by locals?
    I don't know why not, can you not sense The Holy Spirit close to you? So why wouldn't you be able to sense evil when it is near you as well?
    I am not sure what you mean by sensing the the Holy Spirit close to you?

    How am I to know I am sensing the Holy Spirit or any Spirit or whether it is just "an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato...?"
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    Ravens is offline. Puritanboard Sophomore
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    Perg,

    I don't see why dramatic illustrations wouldn't be possible. That's one of the points I was trying to make by mentioning the fire from heaven and the great wind that Satan caused.

    Personally, I don't see why demons couldn't manifest bodily. But that's simply a personal opinion, and one that, I'm sure, is a very tiny minority on this board. For myself, I find it pretty clear that demons and unclean spirits are merely fallen, rebellious angels. In Scripture, angels often "assume" some type of "body" that can physically interact with this world. That seems to be a pretty common ability of angels; and fallen angels are, nonetheless, still angels. Athanasius said that demons often took physical forms to attack St. Anthony, FWIW.

    As to the West: Who knows? I wouldn't even know how to judge the decline of a nation, the more I think about it. I certainly have a low opinion of this country, but over the past few months I've really been questioning how much of a "golden age" Christianity ever had in America. For myself, I'm not totally sure that abortion and the rise in the occult isn't that much different than black slavery, Unitarianism, spiritualism, and, most of all, the wholesale slaughter of many Native American tribes and the broken oaths encapsulated in treaties.

    I incline to think that things are getting much worse, or, at the very least, evil is just much more open and accepted, privately and publicly. And in that respect, when Christ is explicitly rejected and mocked, and occult practices are embraced and sought after across the nation, then yes, I suppose one could expect an increase in open demonic activity. Who knows, though? I wouldn't be surprised if materialistic science and demonic belief became fused one day, a la C.S. Lewis and the "macrobes." It wouldn't surprise me at all if scientists announced ten years from now that they have received numerical messages from "quantum string observers" or some technobabbling term that decried belief in the Christian God as an impediment to genetic development.

    That being said, I do think that one can "sense" evil spirits at times. Martin Luther clearly did. And even a conservative Presbyterian par excellence, namely, Frank Smith, mentions in one of his sermons how in seminary one night he felt an incredibly evil presence in his room that he still remembers to this day.

    Anyhow, just my opinion, take care!


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    Perg, i think you have articulated the thought clearly. As one coming from a culture and background where manifestation of demonic spirits is not a question of reality or not but is the norm of culture and is controlled by these spirits in such a sphere. I think here in the western world and particularly amoungst social circles where Gods grace has been manifest over centuries the populace in these cultures tend to be sceptical of existence and manifestations of evil. However the Bible never hides the fact that evil exists and as such manifests itself. If it didnt then there would never have been a need for the arrival of Jesus Christ in History. Particularly i find that in the Western saved churches there is little regard of the saving work of Christ because they have never experienced outright manifestation of evil at play, while we saved Africans and coming from a society controlled and run by evil forces outright rejoice immensly at the name of Jesus Christ. How true that Mary was seen at the feet of The Lord while the temple dwellers did not even wash the Lords feet.

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    Christ has set us free:)

    Quote Originally Posted by Pergamum View Post
    In a culture where evil spirits are regularly welcomed in and where witchcraft is the norm, what sort of physical manifestations are we likely to see?

    If I got you right, evil spirit worship, sacrifices normally animals, (in some case even the children), loss after loss of property, fearful life, a lot of money and energy waste, use of wine, sometime a member of the family specially of the teenage might be used for witchcraft, enemity between cerntain families over the issue of cursing etc.
    Can witchcraft curses have physical effects on other non-Christian tribesmen? I am hearing credible stories of people dropping dead or developing ailments sometimes from curses (psychosomatic perhaps?).

    Yes, that might happen and it does, as they believe, so it happns but not always. Some time the guess/doubt victimizes the families.
    I was cursed myself but laughed it off and told them that it could only return to the person. What is the recommended prescription for being put under a curse?

    You may laugh, only because of Christ. Praise God for that. But remember always brother, when you come home, meet your children, always pray for them and for the whole family protection. Claim the promises of God.

    The Lord has helped us this way. We have noticed our kids weeping without any reason, sudden fear in the night, etc. We prayed and God calmed the situation.

    The attack might come if one is Unbeliever, not walking with the Lord, it has happend in our field and we have seen it, when we were in our Seminary with some outsider nominal believers but they called our professor/pastor and prayer did make a difference. We saw a woman litrally crawling on the floor like a serpent. It took about 2 hours to pray for her and finally God gave victory. She believed in Christ immediatly after recovery.

    Would evil spirits manifest differently in Africa, or Indo or New Guienea perhaps? And would it vary even moreso in a Western secular culture where atheism is the strategy of the Devil?

    We praise God that we have been liberated by Christ through His precoius blood, otherwise we ourselves were victim of these short of activities. Our family suffered alot but now praise God that we dont need to fear now anything except our Lord. WE have committed all things to God now. And we praise God, for He said,"It is finished".
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    So, if your church supported a missionary that minsiitered somewhere remote and they begin reporting strange things what would be your first reaction?

    To disbelieve him or believe him? What if he experienced some strange things; how realible is that experience?

    These strange things include:

    -premonitory dreams,
    -Sudden fits of crying done by locals when in the presence of evangelists,
    -reports of locals being demon possessed,
    -reports of locals (several at once) claiming to see spirits.
    -largr groups of people asking for help from evil spirits,
    -refusal to plant or build houses on certain places of land,
    -relocating whole villages to escape the local spirits,
    -refusing to drink out of a clean water stream and drinking instead out of dirty swamp due to the stream being a sacred place.
    -curses that seem to lead to people dying. One evangelist claims that he lost his sight temporarily and another one had his leg swell up after being cursed.



    The existence of these things rests largely on experience, a very faulty piece of equipment.

    Can places be inhabited by spirits (a person is spacially located and can be inhabited it seems, why not a house, or stretch of jungle, etc).


    And if these dramatic things are indeed true then why do they not seem to happen in the West?

    And do I really need to "claim" anything in the name of Christ if I am already His.

    Do I even need any extra or special prayers besides the normal means of grace. What is one to do in such cases that extend beyond one's normal spiritual exercises of prayer and bible reading?
    Pergamum


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    Ravens is offline. Puritanboard Sophomore
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    Perg,

    At this point I would ask the advice of elders and fellow missionaries. I certainly don't want to even accidentally pretend to have any knowledge about what exactly you should do. Not that you are asking.

    With that caveat, I would think that a church would not send a man and fund a man if they didn't trust the man. So if a man has been sent into an unevangelized area to proclaim the everlasting Godspell, and believes he is encountering demonic opposition, then I think that man, and some people from his sending church, should fast and pray. The man should fast, pray, and preach the Gospel. The church should fast, pray, and ask the Lord to open hearts to the Gospel and open doors for the man.

    I very much believe in the stark reality of evil spirits, and in that respect might be out of step with the Reformed culture at large, but on the other hand, I have roughly the same answer as the Reformed churches, that is, the gospel.

    If I were you, I would think about and reflect on how the church has spread thus far. Someone quoted Athanasius on here one time, perhaps it was On The Incarnation, (I can't remember), about how magic decreased as Christianity flourished throughout the Roman world. So even if Westerners doubt you, Athanasius certainly wouldn't, seeing as Christianity hasn't spread throughout your part of the world. Read about Boniface chopping down Donar's oak to show the pagans the powerlessness of Donar-Donner-Thor-Tor, or Patrick lighting the fire in opposition to the Druids at Tara.

    You have been commissioned to preach the Gospel. The reality of the spirits who oppose you should only serve to strengthen and bolster your belief and awareness of the reality and power of God. Now you can see in living color what Paul meant when he said that unbelievers were under captivity to the devil, the prince of the power of the air, who works in the children of disobedience.

    Perhaps the Lord will show you His own reality and power in fresh ways, who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that you can ask or imagine. The Uncreated Lord of Light is infinitely more powerful than finite, created, twisted, fallen spirits, and it is His gospel you announce, to liberate the captives and free those in captivity.

    Who knows, ten years from now, magic might be subdued in the area, a la Athanasius' comment, and the conquests of Patrick and Boniface for the Lord. Maybe two generations from now the grandchildren of those converted under your ministry might be so richly blessed with the favor of God and all that His favor entails that they have the luxury to wonder and theorize about whether the very spirits that tormented their ancestors even exist now, since God has so richly blessed them.

    Who knows? Be strong and of a good courage, and preach and share the Gospel. And it is the Gospel that will bring light, sanity and freedom to these people. Joe Morecraft actually mentions the conversion of a host of demonized Africans (I believe they were Zulu, but I'm not sure) in his sermon "Demons: Where Are They Today" that can be found on sermonaudio.

    Anyhow, I would somewhat doubt your claim that demonization is unknown in the West. I could list numerous arguments to the contrary, but they are just as ipse dixit as the ones mentioned by you.

    Take care brother!

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    What about locals claiming that certain spirits control certain places? For instance, no bathing in this stream, no clearing this part of the forest. Is it possible or discernible that certain areas are the realms of certain spirits? And what should be done?

    A peer was wanting an airstrip cleared. The locals refused, due to a spirit owning the land. The locals said, "We know the spirit cannot hurt you (referring to the Christian workers), but it will get revenge on us instead because we are still under its power.."
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    Perg,

    I do not doubt what you are saying. I have never experienced this personally, yet, I affirm the possibility, if not the probability of such. In America, most of us are bogged down with our own selves so much that it takes perhaps very little for a demon to get us off track. We are overwhelmed with our own lusts and desires and selfishness that we need not much compulsion to divert us from Christ. I grant the probability of spirits dominating the land and areas of certain places. Yet, if I were to meet some believer who desired to occupy such an area for the sake of Christ, I would encourage him to do so in prayer and humiliation. Knowing that all demons are completely under the absolute sovereignty of God at all times, and that they are controlled by God as a puppet on a string, I do not fear any of them at any second within that perspective. Prayerfully submitted, I would venture to promote the gospel wherever I was compelled to proclaim it!

    Blessings!
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    Yes, I always believe that sacred oaks ought to get the axe. Chop it down, build a fire and hold a prayer meeting around the light of said fire. If a sacred land, designate it as the outhouse....
    Pergamum


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    This week we heard a Filippino professor saying, "there was a Western missionary who went to the hills by his car, on the way to specific mountainous region his car engine stopped working. He came out to see what was wrong, while he was trying to guess the problem, some locals got around him, they said, "the spirits are angry with you."

    So, the professor said, "it depends on the wordview we live in". The Western thought, that it was a scientific problem, but the locals took it in their own way.
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    We built our house nearby a land where local used to burn their deads. We had no problem there but locals did not dare to come to see us on certian times. They asked repeatedly don't you fear there? But God has helped us maintaining our testimony. Nothing happend to us, now after 3 years, some locals also have joined the region with us by making their new houses.

    To those people we preach, Not that Jesus can justify us or He died for us (all these are essential part of our faith) but that He is powerful than other spirits. And if you believe in Him you will get delievrance and freedom from all fear. And slowly then bring them to the point that Jesus gives us new life.
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    Leslie is offline. Puritanboard Junior
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    This is not just a missions problem. My husband and I were in Thailand. Due to a curse (which I did not know about at the time), I became very ill: involuntary weight loss and weakness of my legs which prevented my walking unassisted. My survival was in question. Then a Thai believer identified the problem as a curse. He prayed for me and I was totally healed within 30 seconds, after having been ill for 2 months.

    Our church at home was aware of my illness so when we returned, they asked what happened. We told them. Suddenly all sorts of supernatural phenomena started coming out of the woodwork. In a small church (seated 200 and seldom full) five people or groups came to tell us their experience, always with, "No way I'd discuss this with the pastor; he'd think I was crazy."

    Thus a conspiracy of silence surrounds those who are afflicted with evil spirits--they suffer in silence because of the defective worldviews of their pastors, worldviews that do not include, in any practical sense, the "middle storey" of demons, witchcraft, curses, and deliverance from the same.
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    There are too many reports from all over the world to think otherwise than that there are demons working today. Rushdoony once told me a personal story from his days as a missionary on an Indian reservation that spooked me silly. When I was in Papua New Guinea the older missionaries that I was with were absolutely certain of it.

    But having said that (and I know nothing about you) you need to be under the direct authority of an older, experienced person whom you can turn to for practical advice in the matter before making up your mind, or doing anything, or giving any advice to locals. After 6 months in PNG and 9 years in Africa I can assure you those locals know exactly how to push your buttons. Not that they are doing it in this case, mind you, but I trust that you have someone thoroughly familiar with the locals that you can consult with.
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    Leslie is offline. Puritanboard Junior
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    The exorcism of evil spirits is only described in the synoptic gospels, not in John. There are 9 events involving 10 demonized persons. Of these two were crazy (the Gadarenes), 4 had uncertain/unrecorded initial manifestations and 4 were physically ill. Of the physically ill, one was crippled, one mute, 1 blind and mute, and one had seizures. People in the west usually picture demonized persons as acting loud and crazy, but that is clearly not the scriptural pattern in most cases. This opinion arose from the spectacular Gadarene story as well as the usually noisy events surrounding exorcisms. I counted the demonized man in the synagogue at Nazareth as having an uncertain/unrecorded initial manifestation. Although he was loud when confronted with Jesus, he would not have been allowed into the synagogue if the demon had manifested that way earlier.

    I was born and educated in the states, grew up in a Reformed environment but very naturalistic as regards the spirit world. Demons were for another age and other places; they were not close to home. Starting in '84, I experienced a shift in worldview with a series of encounters with spirit phenomena, encounters which made the scriptural teaching on the matter come alive. For those who are interested in a description of the kind of phenomena and the alternative worldview of which we speak, The Unseen Face of Islam by Bill Musk is a must-read.

    Speaking as a physician, a very powerful argument for any diagnosis is a successful therapeutic trial if (and only if) the treatment offered in the therapeutic trial is specific for one condition rather than a general shotgun good-for-all-kinds-of-illness treatment. I can vouch for the fact that treating certain medical and emotional conditions as demonization, with spiritual counseling, confession, and deliverance actually works and that where other treatments fail miserably. I'm aware of one godly old lady who, quite unwillingly, became involved in the deliverance of pastors who were **** addicts. These men had gone through agony trying to kick the habit. She put stringent conditions on them before she would deal with them, would only deal with those she was convinced were genuine believers, and was in many cases successful.

    There are two general approaches to exorcism. One is the Neil Anderson approach of truth encounter. This appeals to those of Reformed persuasion as it is quieter and less messy than the direct power encounter. The other is the power encounter--C. Peter Wagner and Charles Kraft and some of the third-wave people have written on this.

    I've recently entered a new phase of ministry in a highly animistic area, supporting an infant congregation of mbb's who are trying to integrate their recent teachings on Christianity, the classical m teaching of their previous places of worship, and the heavily animistic, syncretistic folk religion that was part of their previous religious allegiance. Having seen the powerful impact of demonstrations of Jesus' power over evil spirits, I'm wondering if it might be within God's will, if confronted at clinic with someone demonized, to attempt exorcism. It scares me to try and it scares me to shrug my shoulders and say, "Can't help you". Has anyone else any helpful wisdom?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pergamum View Post
    So, if your church supported a missionary that minsiitered somewhere remote and they begin reporting strange things what would be your first reaction?

    To disbelieve him or believe him? What if he experienced some strange things; how realible is that experience?
    I would believe you. In fact, I would attempt to call the church to a special day of prayer and fasting for you, praying not only that the forces of evil would be destroyed, but that you would have great wisdom in helping these people break from their faith in demons and put their faith in Christ.
    Patrick
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    sekacavelle is offline. Inactive User
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    The manifestation of evil either in demon possession or witchcraft and all its varius manifestation is a clear sign that one has not received the gift of salvation which is delivered by the Gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Therefore as we all believe in predestination and all the reformed position, when we meet people with manifestation of this evil we know that it may be God calling us and putting us in these situations to minister the word. I do not think excorsisms are that neccessary but either way if the true Gospel is preached the devil cannot stand and if that individual is predestined unto salvation they will obviously receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. I know that once you receive the Holy Spirit you will not manifest demon possesssion

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    Real scenario:

    A man wore a chamr that he claimed possessed a spirit. He said that a demon from this charm began to come to him and tell him to hang himself. These voices and apparitions got stronger and stronger untilhe was on the verge of suicide.

    He asked for corporate prayer as the only thing capable of freeing him.

    We removed the charm (which he was afraid to do, lest he die, as promised bythe demon voice in his head) and then we prayed that whatever was bothering him stop and if it was a demon for that demon to flee.

    The voices and apparitions ceased and never came back.


    Did I perform an exorcism?
    Pergamum


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    Leslie is offline. Puritanboard Junior
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    I wouldn't call this an exorcism because the demons were still outside of him, but it was a deliverance of sorts. You should have burned the charm. It's the only way to and/or to keep the thing from causing grief wherever it was thrown.

    It's hard to construct something analogous to a systematic theology (?systematic demonology?) as regards the spirit world. There are some but scant scriptural data and there are also data from various cultures, what people do and what works. For example, every animistic culture known believes in the boomerang theory of curses. If A puts a curse on B and then B manages to evade the curse, the curse will necessarily return to A and negatively affect him. Also, all believers that I know who actually are involved in deliverance ministry, they unanimously agree that believers can be demonized. I know no scriptural data whatsoever, either way, that says that this either can or cannot happen.
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    why burn an inanimate object? Why couldn't I keep it as a momento? This sounds superstitious.
    Last edited by Pergamum; 04-25-2008 at 09:19 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leslie View Post
    I know no scriptural data whatsoever, either way, that says that this either can or cannot happen.
    We are describing a phenomenon, yes? The phenomenon is devilish. Devilish phenomena are deceptive by definition. So these things have no power in their own right, but the power is exercised by means of deceiving the person involved into thinking in terms of inferior deities and magical rites. There is no reason, then, why the "casting out" of such non-entities cannot be as simple as bringing the person to acknowledge the truth.
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    You can't be serious. Are you asking for problems? The charm itself may be inanimate but there are demons associated with it and they tend to stick and cause problems. Even after they are sent packing, they tend to return to the place from whence they came. Nightmares and inexplicable illnesses are typical manifestations. Possession of occult objects is sin; the scriptures are very clear on our obligation to totally destroy everything idolatrous.

    My son who is a missionary in Chad was part of a fetish-burning held by the church for new converts. Some fetishes made of burnable materials, when thrown into a fire, would not burn. They remained intact. It was only after the church prayed over them to rid them of the spirits that they burned.
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    We burn fetishes here too and it is often a symbol of the new beleiversdedication. LIek in Acts, where they burned their witchcraft books.

    But the burning is not for the purpose of destroying evil powers, but as part of a breaking with a sinful past.

    All of our efforts to fight demons should not address demons but address God and let him do the rest. As Rev Winzer says above, we give people what could be called a "truth encounter" and we would not always be talking directly to demons or looking for demonstrations of power - the truth and prayer seems to be the esential weapons.

    I have many "artifacts" and none of these "contain" demons to my knowledge and I do not fear these things made of wood and metal.
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    I assume you are a WASP-kind of person. If so, you were raised in a western culture and have a western excluded-middle worldview, albeit somewhat modified by your circumstances. This includes lack of discernment as regards the spirit world. I was there too and still am to a considerable extent. Those with discernment, possibly western children but certainly those raised in animistic cultures, can tell the difference between an artifact with spirits and those without. Some artifacts have spirits associated and some do not. You cannot tell the difference, nor can I (usually).

    How secret is your artifact collection? If an animist should know of its presence or see it, is this not "eating meat offered to idols"? It would be "evident" (though false) that you are, like any good animist, adding local deities to your own, personal Jesus-deity in order to hedge your bets and get better luck than with one deity alone. The more "gods" the better!!

    In my view the essential difference between true Christianity and animism is that in animism (be it with another religious veneer, including health-and-wealth Pentecostalism) the basic attitude to religion is manipulating the supernatural for one's own personal advantage. In true Christianity, one's basic attitude is submission to God for God's personal advantage, namely His glory.

    Does this make sense?
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    where did you get all this advice of what to do and not to do in either taking the charm of or burning it. Who gave you the formular how to deal with the demon in that person. Your actions are not backed by scripture i would personnally question your actions in that excorsism. Unless your actions are clearly defined by scripture then your actions are culpable to satanic influences dont forget that this can also be witchcraft which used also appeases demons too and effects the remedial effects of stopping demonic attacks but salvation is not delivered by these concoctions. There is no human being that can perform a rite to influence the Holy Spirit to indwell a person. As far as i know in scripture we are to pettission god continually perhaps he will hear and grant salvation within the scope of predestination and the Gospel as the reformed position is.
    Last edited by py3ak; 04-26-2008 at 09:34 AM. Reason: Over the top

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    This has been an interesting thread. It seems that there are two views regarding the power of demons. One is that their power is based on deception, their basic strategy is to deceive. Another holds that they have power in more objective ways. Anecdotal evidence at times seems to support one view, at times seems to support the other. I thought the terminology of an "excluded middle" was very helpful, and applied to a lot of the Enlightenment thinking that seems to be popular even among Reformed Christians. But I wonder if characterizing those who hold to the first view, that all demonic power is based on deception as "excluding the middle" is altogether accurate. If all demonic activity is deceptive, it makes sense that one of the things the demons would deceive about is precisely the nature and scope of their abilities. I think you can illustrate it from temptation. A factor in some temptations to sin is that they seem to come with a feeling of inevitability: "you know you're going to give in eventually, why not now?" If you accept the premise, "you will inevitably give in to temptation" then you usually do; but when you see that this premise is a lie, the temptation loses a lot of its force. So if demons can convince me that they have some sinister powers and bring me into fear, have I not thereby given them a power over me that they would not otherwise have had because I believed their lie?
    It seems to me from Ephesians 6 that God has given us two weapons in spiritual warfare: the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and prayer. And Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who did not exclude the middle, by any means, taught that in dealing with demonized people you had to explain Biblical doctrine, give them an overview of Scriptural teaching on the most prominent doctrines. So it is not by exorcistic rituals, but by meditation on and proclamation of God's word, accompanied with fervent pleas for understanding and faith that demons are vanquished. As we see the truth, their lies lose their force, and they lose their power.
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    Leslie:

    I do not exclude the middle, but neither do I want to expand the middle.


    All spiritual warfare should be Godward and nothing should be addressed to Satan or focused on the demons. If someone is possessed (which I beleive I have seen) then my weapons would be prayer to God and not any speech towards the demons.

    Once a fetish is removed from the animistic participant it is nothing but wood or metal and I can keep it as a souvenir or a trophy. The evangelists in my area have broken apart stones used to worship spirits and have bathed in sacred springs. I myself have been cursed, but no ill can come to me.

    However, I have heard of nonbelievers dying of curses.

    So, I agree with much of what you say. I am not excluding the middle, but also much that passes for spiritual warfare is merely Third World animism that the missionary has gotten infected with. The devil is very active, but is a weak foe.

    As for as burning charms go, the book of Acts gives something of a precedent, but they burned these books out of devotion to God, not because any innate power was present in the books. Locals here burn their charms...but I am free to keep them if I desire because I am not tempted to use them and they are nothing to me (just like what Paul says about idols..it is nothing in the world)....
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    The terminology of the "excluded middle" comes from a Paul Hiebert articel (google it).

    Leslie, amen to much of what you say about the essence of animism being the effort to manipulate the spiritual powers.
    Pergamum


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    Quote Originally Posted by Pergamum View Post
    Also, should we expect that the West should have a rise in these manifestations as it becomes "Post-Christian"?
    I doubt this myself. Different tools appear to be used for different societies. Where in one place superstition and witchcraft serve to enslave the culture, in ours, atheism, unbelief, and rampant sin serve the same end.
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    I spent much of my childhood in countries where demonic manifestations were considered common. In those pre-conversion days I had the theory that those things only happened to people who were willing to believe in such things. I didn't, and never saw anything I considered demonic.

    My first quasi-christian thought on the subject came at the age of 18, when I saw the movie "The Exorcist". I walked away thinking how idiotic it was that these people would think some ceremony would move God to remove a demon. If He could do it at all, why would the chantings of some priesty-dude move Him to do so more than simple prayer? That may have been my first reformed thought.... why bother yelling incantations at a demon when God was obviously in control of whether they could possess someone or not?

    By age 20 I was involved in a very pentecostal/charismatic "deliverance" ministry. They saw a demon behind every rock, and every sin was the product of demonic manifestation. Drug demons, alcohol demons, tobacco demons, perversion demons, vulgarity demons.... on and on. I tried very hard to believe, but saw that my problems with sin had more to do with the wretchedness of my own heart, so eventually walked away from all that.

    So what are the facts? I'm not positive, but I guess I still have some of that pre-conversion attitude that these things are a matter of what one is willing to believe. I personally believe that my Redeemer is ultimately in authority of all that exists, even demons, and I have no surplus of time to spend worrying over things that cannot affect me unless He ordains it. When someone says they or someone they know is demon possessed, I tell them the only solution is to believe on the one whom God hath sent. The most hilarious thing I've ever heard is the old "I rebuke you Satan in the name of....". Why talk to the underling? Talk to the Boss.

    The devil has no power over the elect of God. He flees before the awful and awesome voice of the Judge of Eternity. All we have to do is resist, and he flees from us. Why not tell the unbelievers that? Why not tell them that their superstitions are powerless deceptions, and their fears of demons are unfounded? There is one Whom they should fear, and He is the Lord Sabaoth, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the Ancient of Days!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brad View Post
    I spent much of my childhood in countries where demonic manifestations were considered common. In those pre-conversion days I had the theory that those things only happened to people who were willing to believe in such things. I didn't, and never saw anything I considered demonic.

    My first quasi-christian thought on the subject came at the age of 18, when I saw the movie "The Exorcist". I walked away thinking how idiotic it was that these people would think some ceremony would move God to remove a demon. If He could do it at all, why would the chantings of some priesty-dude move Him to do so more than simple prayer? That may have been my first reformed thought.... why bother yelling incantations at a demon when God was obviously in control of whether they could possess someone or not?

    By age 20 I was involved in a very pentecostal/charismatic "deliverance" ministry. They saw a demon behind every rock, and every sin was the product of demonic manifestation. Drug demons, alcohol demons, tobacco demons, perversion demons, vulgarity demons.... on and on. I tried very hard to believe, but saw that my problems with sin had more to do with the wretchedness of my own heart, so eventually walked away from all that.

    So what are the facts? I'm not positive, but I guess I still have some of that pre-conversion attitude that these things are a matter of what one is willing to believe. I personally believe that my Redeemer is ultimately in authority of all that exists, even demons, and I have no surplus of time to spend worrying over things that cannot affect me unless He ordains it. When someone says they or someone they know is demon possessed, I tell them the only solution is to believe on the one whom God hath sent. The most hilarious thing I've ever heard is the old "I rebuke you Satan in the name of....". Why talk to the underling? Talk to the Boss.

    The devil has no power over the elect of God. He flees before the awful and awesome voice of the Judge of Eternity. All we have to do is resist, and he flees from us. Why not tell the unbelievers that? Why not tell them that their superstitions are powerless deceptions, and their fears of demons are unfounded? There is one Whom they should fear, and He is the Lord Sabaoth, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the Ancient of Days!
    I like your quote about talking to the Boss and not underlings.
    Pergamum


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    "The devil has no power over the elect of God. He flees before the awful and awesome voice of the Judge of Eternity. All we have to do is resist, and he flees from us. Why not tell the unbelievers that? Why not tell them that their superstitions are powerless deceptions, and their fears of demons are unfounded? There is one Whom they should fear, and He is the Lord Sabaoth, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the Ancient of Days!"

    This reminds of me of my story. Along with eternal life in Christ, this point also helped to seek refuge in God of Bible and be secure forever.
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    Leslie is offline. Puritanboard Junior
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    People differ in their vulnerability to evil spirits as well as in their ability or inability to discern their presence. Believing that one is immune from evil spirit influence makes one more prone to being affected by a curse. This is from the mouth of a Burmese animist who witnessed my being cursed, the subsequent illness, and final deliverance. He and I discussed it at length.

    Christians per se are not immune. Christians who know about the phenomena and access the power of God can deflect a curse. I am vulnerable. My husband is not vulnerable. He can be in the presence of occult ritual and remain unaffected.

    It grieves me to hear PB brothers, some of whom are pastors, treating the evil spirit world in a cavalier manner. Demonization, curses, and the like occur in the states. Go into any large bookstore, into the teen section, and you can find books about how to put a hex on someone. There are, in many (not all) cases real effects. My daughter, who is a school psychologist, deals with this. She takes a dim view of evangelicals, maintaining (with some grounds) that it's only the evangelicals who deny the reality of the middle storey, who don't believe the worldview of the Bible that they love. The New Agers all realize this stuff is real. Christian teenagers are caught in the middle. They cannot talk to their pastors who dismiss the reality of the evil spirit world (for fear of being labeled as schizophrenic or worse), they suffer with curses from New Agers, and are prevented by conscience from seeking occult solutions to their problems. When I stick my neck out and talk about my experiences with the occult, people come out of the woodwork, just dying to tell me of their experiences that they've suffered with in silence. As the occult trend increases in the states and pastors continue to embrace an excluded-middle worldview as non-learners, they will lose their teens to the charismatics and the occultists.
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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leslie View Post
    People differ in their vulnerability to evil spirits as well as in their ability or inability to discern their presence. Believing that one is immune from evil spirit influence makes one more prone to being affected by a curse. This is from the mouth of a Burmese animist who witnessed my being cursed, the subsequent illness, and final deliverance. He and I discussed it at length.

    Christians per se are not immune. Christians who know about the phenomena and access the power of God can deflect a curse. I am vulnerable. My husband is not vulnerable. He can be in the presence of occult ritual and remain unaffected.

    It grieves me to hear PB brothers, some of whom are pastors, treating the evil spirit world in a cavalier manner. Demonization, curses, and the like occur in the states. Go into any large bookstore, into the teen section, and you can find books about how to put a hex on someone. There are, in many (not all) cases real effects. My daughter, who is a school psychologist, deals with this. She takes a dim view of evangelicals, maintaining (with some grounds) that it's only the evangelicals who deny the reality of the middle storey, who don't believe the worldview of the Bible that they love. The New Agers all realize this stuff is real. Christian teenagers are caught in the middle. They cannot talk to their pastors who dismiss the reality of the evil spirit world (for fear of being labeled as schizophrenic or worse), they suffer with curses from New Agers, and are prevented by conscience from seeking occult solutions to their problems. When I stick my neck out and talk about my experiences with the occult, people come out of the woodwork, just dying to tell me of their experiences that they've suffered with in silence. As the occult trend increases in the states and pastors continue to embrace an excluded-middle worldview as non-learners, they will lose their teens to the charismatics and the occultists.
    Well, I for one don't consider myself immune from evil spirit influence, but I am not my own, and my Owner is immune. In fact, He is ultimately sovereign over whether or not a demon can do anything at all to me or anyone else. Any other view is open theism.

    As for "losing our teens", being stubbornly convinced that God keeps all His promises, I trust Him to bless the covenant children He has placed in my care with His protection and providence.

    I'm sure there are lots of demons and demonic forces surrounding us in this world, and if that is so, it proves my point.... if they were able to have their way, we would all be dead and none saved. But that is not the case, so obviously God is protecting us from them. And if there are that many demons, there are innumerably more angels of heaven around us as well.... greater is He that is with us than he that is with them.

    I'm not saying that demons do not do harm to people. I've known folks that I considered sane and trustworthy who report experiences that were terrifying. But I do consider them to be at least insufficient in their understanding of God's complete sovereignty over all that exists, and if Christians, not yet trusting in His providential protecting love for them at a level that dispels such fears.

    There are no "occult solutions" to any problem. That would simply compound wickedness, seeking help from the very source of the problem. We have no allies in the devil's cohort.
    Brad

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  40. #40
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    An alternate explanation is this:

    There are demons and there are demonic possessions.

    The Enlightenment made us think not. BUt now Postmodernism is on the rise. And missionaries and Third World Christians from animistic countries still retain a bit of their cultural biases too, such that while some exclude the middle others fall into a Christian animism (especially since the rise of Pentecostalism in the Third World) and expand the middle.

    I.e. those that exclude the supernatural are wrong, but so are those that are superstitious and have allowed animism into their Christianity. Much of the modern spiritual warfare movement is such superstition


    I want to affirm that demonic possessions do seem to occur; but that I distrust most of the accounts becuase the sources seem hyper-sensitive to interpreting phenomena as having a demonic source (i.e. for instance, I have one friend, who is highly gullible, who claims to have lived in not one but 2 haunted houses during her lifetime...however, I have moved more than she and statistically why have I never lived in a haunted house when she has lived in two? Also, statistically, most reports of the demonic come from those who are open to seeing such things.)
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