Reformed views of exorcisms?

Discussion in 'Spiritual Warfare' started by jwright82, Sep 19, 2011.

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  1. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    This may not be the right forum fo rthis but here we go. I have two questions regarding the issue of exorcism and demon posession.

    1. What was the Reformer's view of this subject? Did they ever hold to this phenomenon? I know that we don't today, or at least I don't.

    2. Do you think that the reason the Roman Catholic church has still has posessed people in their congregations is explained by them not being faithful to God but actually being, unkowingly?, involved in simple occultic practices? I mean occultic practices involve the human being doing something to control spiritual realities, or so they think, whether it has a christian slant or not.
  2. J. Dean

    J. Dean Puritan Board Junior

    For starters, do not use the movie THE EXORCIST as a model for exorcism :D

    Seriously though, John MacArthur has had experience with exorcisms, and mentioned it in one of his books, although offhand I can't remember which one. He did mention happily that when he walked into the room with the demon possessed person, the demon said "Not him! Get him out!" which made John feel pretty good.

    It's interesting to note that, although demon possession is quite real as evidenced by Scripture, that the Bible nowhere gives a formula for exorcism. Nor is the topic treated that frequently in the Old or New Testaments apart from accounts of Jesus and the apostles (Paul in particular) handling exorcisms, aside from mentioning exorcism by Jews like the seven sons of Sceva.

    I do believe demon possession happens today, although we need to be careful not to have a pentecostal/charismatic-leaning obsession with it. As far as I know, the Reformers never dealt personally with it, but I have a hard time believing that they didn't think it could happen now.

    As for Rome, consider that Rome teaches an unbiblical view of salvation, so the fact that there are people among them who are demon-possessed is not that far-fetched. Plus, remember what Jesus warns about in Matthew 7, that many will come to him claiming they did miracles and cast out demons in His name, yet will still be sent to perdition. Just because one casts out a demon does not mean that one is saved.

    Funny that this subject comes up. I've often wondered how it is that demons are cast out apart from the power of God. I've heard of pagan religions casting out demons, and am curious as to how it happens.
  3. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Prayer and the Word of God without repetitive chants or rituals or talismans such as beads or holy water.
  4. Citadel

    Citadel Puritan Board Freshman

    I'd pin it as a show demons put on. Just as "ghosts" and "hauntings" can be explained by demons doing their thing to confuse and deceive people, I wouldn't put it past satanic forces to make mockeries of God's power to wrongly affirm someone and their practices.
  5. Constantlyreforming

    Constantlyreforming Puritan Board Sophomore

    Supposedly, THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE was directed by a Calvinist....

    just sayin'......

    for some of us, we may be under the viewpoint that demons and satan are bound currently, and there are no exorcisms to take place, as demon possession is not happening during this time period.
  6. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    One can believe in the general binding of satan during this inter-advental period and yet still believe in the demonization of some people.
  7. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Right. I don't disagree with demon posession. I just disagree with christians being posessed by demons. I am saying that it seems pretty obvious to me that I have never heard of a Reformed, Anglican, Baptist, or Lutheran gbecoming posessed. It is weird that you mentioned that movie Ethan because that was the movie that I watched last night to get me thinking about this. I realized that this was an almost charismatic, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox problem and I got to wondering why? I believe in the occult i just believe that an honestly saved person can become posessed like poor Emily.
  8. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    James, Paul was afflicted by a messenger of Satan and Job was allowed to be tormented by Satan. Jesus told Peter that Satan had asked to sift him like wheat but that later, after this, Peter would strengthen his brothers (seeming to indicate that Jesus granted this request by Satan).
  9. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    I think you are confusing being tempted by, tormented by, or afflicted by for being posessed in the way that people are in those movies. I know that those are movies but they have some basis in fact. That sort of posession is what I am refering to and only that narrow type of posession.

    I completly agree with you on those and I probably should have made my point clear, I thought everyone would know what I meant and that was my mistake. Can a christian be posessed like that? And if so why do we only see those sorts of posessions in very particuler non-orthodox churches? I would expect to see Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Baptists all being posessed to. But we don't and that is what my question is.
  10. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    Many (except for anti-supernaturalists) have no problem with the idea that unbelievers can be possessed. However, many would object to the idea that a real Christian can be possessed (as opposed to oppressed) based upon the idea that the Holy Spirit and a demon cannot both reside within the same person at the same time.
  11. sdesocio

    sdesocio Puritan Board Freshman

    All good points. Satan Cast Out is very helpful. I taught at this subject during my tenure at City Reformed Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, and found that most people had never heard a reformed perspective on the subject.
  12. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor


    Thanks for posting this. I'm pretty sure I've seen this before, but this reminds me that I need to obtain it, if the Lord allows. I see David Powlison's Power Encounters: Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare also listed on Amazon. Is anyone familiar with that book? It is now out of print, but Justin Taylor posted an outline of it here. He also noted that he thinks a second edition may be coming.
  13. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I don't believe there is any such possession as shown in the movies. Also, I think "possession" is a poor term, since all the unregenerate are the Devil's - I prefer "demonization."

    ---------- Post added at 06:52 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:51 PM ----------

    Yes, I believe Christians may be demonized (bothered by demonic forces).
  14. elnwood

    elnwood Puritan Board Junior

    I read it -- as I recall, he doesn't really address demon possession directly. He gist of the book is that being demonized is an affliction that was healed rather than being controlled and forced to sin. The book was written against those who say that when they are falling into sin, that they need to pray away the demons to go away. Powlison instead says that the usual practices of prayer, repentance and obedience are sufficient and normative.

    My personal thought on demon possession: I'm with Perg. To me, the distinction between demon-possession and demon-affliction is splitting hairs, and I'm not sure if there is a categorical difference. Christian or not, demons can afflict a person, but the power of Christ can overcome it.
  15. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Fair enough.

    ---------- Post added at 05:03 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:01 PM ----------

    Like him do also not believe in the types of posessions in movies like The Exorcism of Emily Rose?

    ---------- Post added at 05:06 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:03 PM ----------

    I believe that demon posession happens all over the world through occult type practices. This is what got me thinking about it, why as far as "christian" go these basically 3 are the only ones reporting any? If I am right than in essence to open yourself up to such ideas is asking for trouble and their rituals are not christain at all but occultic with a twist. That is why we, In my humble opinion, don't have this type of problem, no occultic rituals going on.
  16. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    The subject is complicated by a number of factors. There are true and false views of demons. The false view is itself demonic. Giving credence to the false view therefore promotes the very demonism which one is seeking to expel.

    Then there is the true understanding of demons. That is the one in which Jesus is proclaimed Lord of all things. The very confession of His Lordship expels demonism.

    Another factor pertains to human behaviour. (1.) Human behaviour is rational-moral, and a man is always accountable for his thoughts and intentions. Even irrationalism is sinful man's rational choice. It is a rational choice to create a covert for sinful thoughts and irrationally explain away human behaviour in terms of demonic activity. (2.) Confrontation with the word of God exposes these thoughts and intentions to the judgment of God. No hiding place is afforded to the so-called demon possessed. The man is laid bare before God and he realises his sin is his own and he must confess it for what it is before God. (3.) All behaviour is learned, including religious behaviour. All bad behaviour can be unlearned, including bad religious behaviour.
  17. AThornquist

    AThornquist Puritan Board Doctor

    My understanding is that there is demonic indwelling and likewise an affliction that is outward (in other words, possession and oppression). I do not believe that Christians can be indwelt as unbelievers because we are filled with the spirit of truth, but we may be afflicted. In either case, prayer and the Word of God are the only weapons we have and the only weapons we need.
  18. dudley

    dudley Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Amen Andrew! And Amen to my other brothers on this post.....I do believe demon possession happens today only because Rome still practices the perversion of casting out demons of those who Rome believes are possessed. The paradox is Roman Catholicism is all about control and possessing the individual in slavery to the institutional church of Rome which I and many believe is herself a harlot of Satan. Satan possesses , Christ sets us free.

    True Christians can not be indwelt by Satan as unbelievers because we are filled with the spirit of truth, that is why I left Roman Catholicism and became a Reformed Protestant. I knew Rome was wrong and taught a distorted Gospel. We who are Reformed Protestants are truly Christ’s elect and set free from the bondage of our sinful nature by our being set righteous by our affirmation of faith in Christ alone who set us free by his sacrifice for all who are in Him by faith alone which is given by the grace of God. God would not allow those he saves to be taken by Satan through possession. This again is Roman catholic nonsense that we should reject. I have said over and over “I renounce Roman Catholicism and her pope‘ and all her false lies and false teachings and distortions of the true Gospel. The fact that there are Roman Catholics who might be possessed I do not find far fetched. Roman Catholicism is a deceit of the devil himself to begin with.

    I also agree with brother J. Dean “As for Rome, consider that Rome teaches an unbiblical view of salvation, so the fact that there are people among them who are demon-possessed is not that far-fetched. Plus, remember what Jesus warns about in Matthew 7, that many will come to him claiming they did miracles and cast out demons in His name, yet will still be sent to perdition. Just because one casts out a demon does not mean that one is saved.”

    I also agree with brother Pergamun “Prayer and the Word of God without repetitive chants or rituals or talismans such as beads or holy water.” The repetition of Hail Mary’s and Holy water and all her rituals is also an abomination. I have discarded my rosary beads and the holy water bottle and her so called holy water......they make Christianity a foul set of superstitions….. All of Roman Catholicism is an abomination and a blasphemy to the truth of Christ message of salvation. We need to renounce it as did the Reformers. I do renounce my former Roman Catholicism and her pope completely. I proclaim I am saved by my affirmation of faith as a Presbyterian and a Reformed Protestant. We are the faith of the apostles and the church that Christ intended and founded! We are Protestants because we protest heresy and proclaim the truth!
  19. Leslie

    Leslie Puritan Board Junior

    The concept of possession is a creation, so I'm told of Josephus. In the NT there are two terms that are translated as possession: one is to have a demon and the other is to be demonized. They seem to be used interchangably. Christians can be demonized, according to the experience of myself, working in the Third World, and others also. To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing in the scripture to contradict this observation.
  20. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Wow I like your take on this subject.
  21. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    Sam Storms offers the most contemporary Reformed perspective but from a Calvinist Charismatic background. All my experiences with demonized people was with long time Christians. So Im convinced that Christians can be oppressed by them. Question though, if the charismatics do exorcisms according to a biblical pattern, on what basis would we condemn their practice?
  22. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    Here is one of the best treatments of Spiritual Warfare and demonic interference that I've heard and would recommend listening to Dr. Breshear's course.
  23. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    I don't know what the pattern is that they use. What is this pattern? And why don't we have the need for excorcisms in other denominations?
  24. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Because the people aren't taught to need them. They are taught to be transformed by the renewing of the mind.
  25. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    My aunt who manifested a demonic spirit a few years ago during a home prayer meeting was born and raised in a Presbyterian home, so it's an unfounded generalization that they don't happen in other denominations other than the charismatic. My take is that perhaps many people are demonized in all cultures and religious backgrounds, but perhaps the culture will influence how that plays out. In the enlightenment-influenced west, demons may "manifest" through addictions or psychological issues; in Indonesia it's much more dramatic. That's just my opinion. In my experience with charismatic demonic "deliverance" sessions, I find that their practice is much like what we see in the Gospels and Acts - ie. the use of firm voice, speaking to the spirit, taking authority, casting it out in Jesus' name, etc.
  26. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    That makes sense but it still doesn't seem right. I mean it is still a sociological fact that happens much more in only certian areas or in certian faiths. Since it doesn't happen on the same level in the same faiths tells me something about the whole thing, at least raises questions in my mind to it all.
  27. elnwood

    elnwood Puritan Board Junior

    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
  28. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    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.
  29. sdesocio

    sdesocio Puritan Board Freshman

    Id encourage the reading of Jack Miller's heart of a servant leader. He has a letter specifically speaking about a focus on Demonism. I'd also warn folks that many on this thread seem to be speaking with a lot of certainty. It's important to know the limits of our enemy but not underestimate his limits.
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