IV. CHURCH HISTORY
A consideration of spiritual warfare through the Bible wouldn’t be complete without at least a quick overview of what has transpired in the centuries since the New Testament was written. How others interpreted and applied these passages on spiritual warfare can give us insight and encouragement as well. We can find wisdom and practical suggestions from those who have already fought the battles we are now fighting.
I am indebted to “Can A Christian Have An Unclean Spirit?” Copyright © 1999-2002 by Gary Hal Graff, Christian Services Publishers, for their excellent research into spiritual warfare in church history. This is an excellent, well-written book and worth reading.
- CHURCH FATHERS (100-500 AD)
- MIDDLE AGES (500-1300 AD)
- RENAISSANCE PERIOD (AD 1300-1500)
- REFORMATION PERIOD (1500-1700 AD)
- ENLIGHTENMENT PERIOD (AD 1700-1800)
The Change of The Tide (16th-19th centuries)
- 19TH CENTURY (1800-1900 AD)
- 20TH CENTURY (1900-2000 AD)
Spiritual warfare continued to have a very important role in the lives of the early Christians in the first few centuries of the church. Writings that have been preserved from those times speak of believers and unbelievers being demonized (Ignatius, Barnabus, Hermas, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Minucius Felix, Hippolytus, Origen, etc.). Deliverance came in response to prayers in Jesus’ name. The power of casting out demons was long regarded in the early church as a direct gift still bestowed by the Holy Spirit, apart from any human ordinance. Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Origen and others speak of deliverance as being practiced by laymen, even by soldiers, and women, by means of prayer and invocation of the name of Jesus. Striving to live a life pleasing to God was important to grow in faith and remain free from demonic oppression.
Demonizing was common throughout the Roman Empire and, although many means were tried to bring freedom, few were successful. It soon became evident that Christians had power others did not. God used this to help them gain a hearing and spread their message through the known world.
Justin Martyr (AD 110-165) used this fact when he wrote a formal defense of Christianity to the Roman Senate in AD 150, defending the Christians and petitioning for the awful persecution to stop. He wrote “for numberless demoniacs throughout the whole world, and in your city, many of our Christian men exorcising them in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, have healed and do heal, rendering helpless and driving the possessing devils out of the men, though they could not be cured by all the other exorcists, and those who used incantations and drugs.” The only technique mentioned by him is the use of the invocation of the name of Jesus. For the next two centuries following Justin, every Christian writer wrote about the reality of demonizing and of the common practice of Christian deliverance (‘exorcism’ as they called it) in their days.
LESSON FOR TODAY: It is still true that victory over demonizing is not a complicated process of ritual, special words by ‘gifted’ persons, emotional church meetings, etc. It is the power of Jesus in each of His children that is greater than Satan’s power and which can bring freedom to the oppressed. Of course the access the demons claim must be broken and any open doors closed, but that, too, is done by Jesus’ power.
One early church writer, Minucius Felix (? – AD 210) wrote that demons suffer pain when subjected to the words and prayers of Christians. The words of truth tormented and burned them.
LESSON FOR TODAY: That is still true today. Touching a person who is demonized, even in tenderness, can bring terrible pain to the demon who is indwelling them. Therefore laying on hands, quoting Scripture and playing praise music all can contribute to a more speedy victory over that which oppresses a demonized person.
As the early church continued to grow and expand despite (or perhaps because of) persecution, Satan was developing another approach that would ultimately prove more successful in slowing the growth and strength of the church – false teachings. Many of Paul’s writings, especially the letters written towards the end of his ministry, warn against this as it had already started in his day. Slowly but surely, though, teachings from other religions found their way into Christianity. Over the centuries these caused a large segment of the church to develop into what became the Roman Catholic Church of the Middle Ages. This brought in rituals and new teachings about spiritual warfare as well.
Before long church practices that were a means to an end became an end in themselves. The water used for baptism was thought to be invested with special properties instead of just being a way of showing the new birth had occurred. This water then became used in rituals used to bring about deliverance. To become holy water the water itself as well as some salt that was added were both put through a formal ritual of spiritual deliverance to purify them. Then the resulting salted ‘holy’ water was thought to have power over demonizing.
Spiritual warfare continued to be a theme in the writings and teachings of the church leaders of the time (Clement of Alexandria, Cyprian, Lactanius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Ambrose, John Chrysostom, Jerome, Augustine, John Cassian, etc.). Eventually, it was believed that all non-Christians were demonized and therefore had to be exorcised before being baptized and joining the church. The established church then said a new convert had to go through a three year period of preparation called ‘catechism’ during which they met several times a week for prayer, fasting, spiritual deliverance and instruction.
As the pre-baptismal spiritual deliverances were performed, various rituals were also performed simultaneously, such as the signing of the cross, which was also believed to have exorcistic properties. Later, exorcised salt and oil were used too. And since the church by this time had come to believe that unclean spirits lived in water, the baptismal waters themselves had to be exorcised.
Since it was believed that demons entered a person in order to enjoy the lusts of sensual pleasure, the opposite kind of treatment was required to drive them out. Hence, in order to be free from demons, the most useful help was abstinence, fasting, and suffering of affliction. They felt the physical sufferings the person experienced would also bring pain to the demons and cause them to want to leave. This developed into extreme forms of self-torture in the name of spirituality and characterized much of the church during the Middle Ages.
Some felt if even this pain wasn’t enough, then prayer was called for. “But inasmuch as some, being of a more malignant kind, remain by the body that is undergoing punishment, though they are punished with it, therefore it is needful to have recourse to God by prayers and petitions ….” (Pseudo-Clementine Literature – A.D. 200-250)
Instead of believing all believers could have victory over demons by Jesus’ power in prayer, as the early church had believed, many started feeling that the ability to command demons to be gone was a special gift given to some believers. Some still believed every believer had authority to pray for this in Jesus’ name, though. But by the middle of the third century (about AD 250) the order of Exorcist had been added to the church. Now the ability to cast out demons was no longer viewed as a gift bestowed by God but rather as an appointment made by the church. The church, they felt, had the authority to give the ability to remove demonizing to whomever it chose. They felt only those with this bestowal could have authority over demons.
Hilarion (AD 291-371), who lived at this time, was famous throughout the Mediterranean world for his faith and power to work miracles of healing and spiritual deliverance. He gives one case in which a young Christian woman became possessed. A youth of Gaza fell in love with her, but she would have nothing to do with him. So he went off to Memphis to learn the arts of a magician. At the end of a year’s instruction, he returned and buried an engraved plate and magical formulas beneath the woman’s house. Thereupon the maid began to show signs of insanity, to throw away the covering of her head, tear her hair, gnash her teeth, and loudly call the youth by name. When the maid was brought to Hilarion, the spirit within her began to talk and howl. He asked how it dared to enter into the body of one who belonged to God. The demon claimed to have done so to preserve the virginity of the girl, an idea which seemed a bit outrageous to Hilarion. He then put the girl through the process of “purgation” (spiritual deliverance), and when she was well, he rebuked her for having permitted the spirit to enter into her “by her conduct.” Thus he assumed that she was in some way responsible for the spirit’s entrance.
Hilarion also believed that it was possible for a spirit to make a Christian sick, and this included the “saints,” himself as well. Furthermore, he held another common belief of that day, that it was possible for the saints (particularly the ascetic hermits who lived in the deserts) to be physically attacked and beaten by evil spirits. He claimed that such had happened to him several times.
One of Hilarion’s exorcistic techniques was demonstrated in another case. A prominent and wealthy man of Aira (by the Red Sea) who was demonized was brought to him, bound with iron. When the man saw Hilarion, he broke free, grabbed him, and held him in mid-air. Hilarion nevertheless cured him by praying for the man’s release. In yet another case, an officer of the Emperor Constantius came to Hilarion because he was possessed. From a very early age, he had compulsions to groan, howl, and gnash his teeth. The spirit spoke perfectly in foreign languages which the man did not understand. Hilarion cured him with a simple command in the name of Jesus.
Before entering the Middle Ages, let us summarize what we have learned about the church fathers. As to the question of whether or not a Christian could have an unclean spirit, the vast majority of early church leaders and believers felt that it could be so. Instead of being something all believers could do, “exorcism” (spiritual deliverance) became an office granted by the Church. Gradually rituals replaced prayers for deliverance in Jesus name. Essentially what happened during the first five centuries is that deliverance from demonizing slowly moved away from its original New Testament forms, setting the stage for the developments of the latter Middle Ages and the Renaissance periods.
B. MIDDLE AGES (500-1300 AD) ⇑
Spiritual warfare continued in the time period AD 500-1300 as attested to by Benedict of Nursia, Gregory the Great, and others.
Pope Gregory I (Gregory the Great, AD 540-604) tells us of a priest who became possessed as he attempted to cast a spirit out of a woman. He points out the man was doing the deliverance in his own strength and not in Jesus’ power. Pope Gregory notes another case in which a cleric became possessed: ”One day two brethren were sent to buy something for the needs of the convent. One was younger and seemed cleverer; the other was older and should have supervised the first. As they went on their way he who should have looked after the younger man committed a larceny, unwittingly, with the money which had been given to them. As soon as they had returned to the convent and on the very threshold of the house of piety, he who had committed the theft fell to the earth, seized by an evil spirit, and suffered great torments. When the evil spirit had left him he was questioned by all the monks who had hastened to the spot; he was asked if he had not misappropriated the money received. He denied it and was tormented a second time. When the evil spirit had again left him he was again questioned but again denied and was once more given over to torment. He denied eight times and eight times was tormented. At the eighth falsehood, he confessed the sum of money which he had stolen. He did penance, prostrated himself, admitted his sin and the evil spirit returned no more as soon as he had accomplished the expiation.”
Though there are references to a “Book of Exorcisms” used by the church in the fifth century, there is no trace of what it contained. However, there is a record of a formula being used by the beginning of the eighth century: “I come against you, most unclean damned spirit; you are grown old in evil, the substance of crimes, the origin of sin; you delight in deceits, sacrileges, defilements, slaughter. Invoking the name of our Lord Jesus Christ we rebuke you and adjure you through his majesty and power, passion and resurrection, advent and judgment, that in whatever part of the members you are hiding, you manifest yourself by your own confession, and that, shaken by spiritual flames and invisible torments, you flee from the vessel that you believe yourself in possession of, leaving it purged for the Lord after having been your dwelling-place. … Depart, depart, wherever you are, and seek no more to enter bodies dedicated to God. May they be forbidden to you forever, in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit, and in the glory of the Lord’s passion, by whose blood they are saved, whose advent they await, whose judgment they confess.”
In the first part of the Middle Ages the possessed were generally treated well. The techniques of spiritual deliverance of the first five centuries included breathing into a person, readings and word formulas, holy water, signing of the cross, salt, oil, bodily hardships, etc. In time other methods were introduced. These included the use of sanctified ointments, the spittle of the priests, sacred relics, visits to shrines, and concoctions (as, for instance, a mixture of lupin, henbane, bishopswort, garlic, ale, and holy water). Eventually the relics began to be used as tools of deliverance from demonizing with the spirits providing the expected reactions (complaints, aversion, despair, etc.). These, along with the shrines, could be considered as a form of Christian talismans. This practice originated from the suggestion of the spirits themselves and not from the influence of some ancient civilization, as the literature of Babylon. However, this use of concoctions sounds very much like a throwback to the practice of sorcery.
C. RENAISSANCE PERIOD (AD 1300-1500) ⇑
As civilization moved out of the dark ages and into a time of awakening, many changes in and out of the church started taking root. However, the mere rebirth of the naturalistic approach did not signal the end of spiritual warfare, which actually continued to be the prevailing school of thought concerning man’s maladies for several centuries to come. Indeed, the greatest excesses in the area of spiritual warfare were yet to come.
Prior to the fifteenth century there were two types of demonizing recognized: willing and unwilling. The former referred to the practice of witchcraft, as the participants willingly subjected themselves to temporary demonizing. The latter referred to cases in which the subjects were unwillingly demonized, which was thought to be some sort of divine punishment for sins. However, in the course of time this distinction was dropped so that all cases of demonizing were regarded as being willing, the consequence of practicing witchcraft. All subjects of demonizing were now regarded as witches.
By the latter part of the fifteenth century, Europe had sustained several natural disasters, such as storms, floods, and pestilences (the Black Plague, etc.). In reaction, society seized upon the idea that it was witches who had caused these disasters. Before long, witches were also accused of causing the personal problems of individuals. Therefore, to purge the world of this civil menace, Pope Innocent VIII passed legislation in 1484 A.D. to eradicate witchcraft. This launched the witch hunts which soon became the joint effort of Catholics, Protestants, and secularists. These hunts were to last about two centuries. It has been estimated that several hundred thousand people perished in these hunts, many of whom were first tortured. While there must have been some true demonic activity involved in all this witchcraft, most of what happened was an overreaction which took many innocent lives.
Still, there were true cases of demonizing that continued to appear during this time. Here is a case from the sixteenth century: “The latter (a girl) was possessed by the demon who often threw her to the ground as if she had the falling sickness. Soon the demon began to speak with her mouth and said things inhuman and marvelous which may not be repeated …. The girl had always shown herself patient, she had often prayed to God. But when she had called upon the name of Jesus to deliver her, the evil spirit manifested himself anew, he had taken possession of her eyes which he made start out of her head, had twisted her tongue and pulled it more than eight inches out of her mouth, and turned her face towards her back with an expression so pitiful that it would have melted a stone. All the priests of the place and from round about came and spoke to her, but the devil replied to them with a contempt which exceeded all bounds, and when he was questioned about Jesus he made a reply of such derision that it cannot be set down.“
Epidemics of demonizing have broken out in various times and places throughout the world. The Renaissance period had more than its fair share of them. These outbreaks might involve only a handful of people or entire masses, spreading through towns, cities, and even regions. Some were among unbelievers, others among believers. One example of what happened in the middle ages is found in a 1916 East African outbreak. That form of demonizing is called the “mpepo sickness” and effected only women. In the mpepo state the women were found speaking in unlearned languages, such as English or Swaheli, and in deep bass voices. They also exhibited compulsions for food and pepper, and for bright clothing. When requested, a demonizing spirit would relate its life story using “the most filthy language;” then the subject would fall into a rage, and then into convulsions. When the drums were played the possessed would dance in a “wild and terrifying manner” until exhausted. An outbreak of this type could spread throughout entire regions. Christian natives were not only immune but could cure some of the possessed by their “words,” by prayer, and by having the subjects lead a “sober” lifestyle.
During this period the world witnessed the spread of sadistic techniques of spiritual deliverance, such as torture and execution, which were formerly applied to individuals who were demonized, but now were applied to large numbers of mostly normal people in the general populace. Beyond this it appears that Medieval methods continued to be used, although a few new methods were introduced. The use of drugs to move the bowels and thus produce deliverance essentially epitomizes the depths of degeneration to which Christian deliverance fell during this period.
LESSON FOR TODAY: When man turns from God’s Word as the only authority and source of truth he turns to superstitions, rituals and external actions instead. These have no power to deliver; in fact they open the door even more to demons because of the fear behind them and because of the rejection of Jesus as our protector and deliverer. Follow only God’s Word. Do only what He leads through His Word. There are no ‘magic’ rituals, special words or prayers or even group activities that replace His power. Deliverance can come in the midst of a highly emotional church service, but it can come just as quickly in a quiet moment of private prayer. Externals don’t assure deliverance, praying in God’s will to Jesus is the only way.
D. REFORMATION PERIOD (1500-1700 AD) ⇑
The original Reformers were split over the topic of whether or not a Christian could have an unclean spirit, with Luther siding with the traditional theory that they could and Calvin rejecting the possibility.
Martin Luther (AD 1483 – 1546) believed that lunacy, idiocy, and insanity were caused by the “possession of devils”. He also believed that dumbness, deafness, lameness, pestilence, fever, and other serious illnesses were also caused by these spirits. Once Luther’s students asked him specifically if Christians were subject to witchcraft. It was asked: “Can good Christians and God-fearing people also undergo witchcraft?” Luther replied: “Yes, for our bodies are always exposed to the attacks of Satan. The maladies I suffer are not natural, but devil’s spells.” However, he tempered this belief with the idea that such could not happen without divine permission, and cited the case of Job.
When Luther related his belief that Christians were not exempt from the attacks of the enemy, he spoke from personal experience. As intimated above, he himself was often severely attacked emotionally, spiritually and physically. He also suffered from severe bouts of depression. “He [the devil] vexes me often so powerfully, and assaults me so fiercely with heavy and melancholy thoughts, that I forget my loving Lord and Savior Christ Jesus, or at least behold Him far otherwise than He is to be beheld.”
Luther wrote: “We cannot expel demons with certain ceremonies and words, as Jesus Christ, the prophets, and the apostles did. All we can do is, in the name of Jesus Christ, to pray the Lord God, of his infinite mercy, to deliver the possessed persons. And if our prayer is offered up in full faith, we are assured by Christ himself (John 16:23), that it will be efficacious, and overcome all the devil’s resistance. I might mention many instances of this. But we cannot of ourselves expel the evil spirits, nor must we even attempt it.”
One clergyman, Andrew Ebert of Frankfurt, wrote to Luther in 1536, asking how to exorcise a girl who had long been mentally ill. For a while, she appeared to be getting better, but then suddenly got worse. She was seen chewing up and swallowing coins, and also spoke a dialect of German she had not previously known. A Catholic priest came to town and tried to cast out the spirit using herbs, holy water, and ritual commands, but failed. Luther wrote back advising prayer for the girl, but warned against using rituals and commands, since the spirits laugh at and scorn the use of these methods. He also warned of being deceived by trickery and fraud, claiming to have run into many such cases. So he advised an inspection of the coins that were supposedly being eaten.
John Calvin (AD 1509 – 1564) accepted most of the popular beliefs concerning spiritual warfare, as the belief in the existence of demonizing, and of the physical power of the devil (but only towards those who had given themselves over to him). He also accepted the common Protestant belief that the Catholics were under the power of the devil. Among his labors, he sought to defend the belief in the existence of good and evil spirits which the secularists were trying to deny.
As to how they brought about deliverance, the Lutherans used only prayer, while the Calvinists used nothing at all.
E. ENLIGHTENMENT PERIOD (AD 1700-1800) ⇑
The Enlightenment was a movement of the eighteenth century in which reason was further exalted as the solution to all man’s problems. It was also marked by a skepticism of anything that the mind of man could not understand. This belief has grown and spread until it finds far-reaching acceptance even today. But God had His own movement during the Enlightment period, springing from the Church of England through the ministries of the Wesley’s, which came to be known as the Methodist movement. This revival was marked by spontaneous demonstrations of the power of God.
John Wesley (AD 1703 – 1791) lived at a time when the laws against witchcraft were being repealed. In 1768 he publicly opposed such changes, stating that to give up the prosecution of witchcraft was like giving up the Bible. During the powerful revival meetings of the Wesley’s, miracles of healings and of spiritual deliverance occurred spontaneously. Thus John Wesley held that the age of miracles had not entirely come to an end. He debated this issue with literary opponents, challenging them to prove either by scripture or by reason that such an age was over.
Wesley had enemies who opposed him and his movement, most of whom were Catholics. But as it happened, several of these became demonized as they spoke out against him. This is an example of God allowing a person to be demonized as a judgment of God. They opened the door by rejecting God’s truth and attacking God’s people. When it came to the casting out of spirits, Wesley agreed with Luther in using only prayer, avoiding rituals and ritualized commands.
In another letter of November, 1762, John Wesley speaks of this policy: “The short of the case is this. Two young women were tormented of the devil in an uncommon manner. Several serious persons desired my brother and me to pray with them. We, with many others did; and they were delivered. But where meantime were ‘the exorcisms in form, according to the Roman fashion’? I never used them; I never saw them; I know nothing about them.”
Wesley believed that sickness and misfortune could be caused by evil spirits. He attributed nearly all accidents as well as calamities of nature to the devil. The only difference between his view and that of Luther’s is that his does not seem to attribute all sickness and misfortune to the enemy, but mixes in with it the element of natural occurrence. He believed Christians could be possessed as well. Of course, this could only happen by “divine permission.” Epilepsy was often the result of demonizing. He gives several cases of such disease, where the afflicted person believed that he or she was possessed by an evil spirit, and who were partially or completely cured by spiritual deliverance.
It is clear from several cases of Wesley’s writings that he believed that Christians were subject to the attacks of the enemy and that they could even have unclean spirits within them. Here is one. “A ten year old Christian girl, named Elizabeth Booth, experienced pain in the chest for three days. Every successive day thereafter she experienced some kind of fit or spell, such as a fit of rage, or a fit of violent laughter, or a spell of being ‘stretched out and stiff as a carcass.’ These spells usually lasted about an hour, and then ended as abruptly as they began. In the intervals she would be ‘in great heaviness of soul,’ and would pray and plead for God’s mercy. If her faith increased, so did her fits. Often she would go into one of these fits right in the middle of her ‘rejoicing and praising [of] God.’ A couple of months later she grew worse, often trying to throw herself out a window or into a fire. She was especially enraged against both the Bible and Wesley, and often told of his whereabouts, even though he was not present. But still in the intervals, she would break out into ‘vehement prayer.’ Then the spirit began to speak through her. She also started having visions, as of heaven, of hell, or of the future. But three months later all the symptoms disappeared spontaneously and did not return.”
The change of the tide (16th-19th centuries) ⇑
As we know, the attributing of all human ailments to Satan and demons did not retain its position of prominence in the West. Eventually, the tide changed, with spiritual warfare losing popularity, and the naturalistic interpretation coming in. But this whole process took three or four centuries.
The Catholic Church had been sustaining harsh criticism from the Protestants and the secularists for many of its practices. This lead to a movement in the church known as the Counter-Reformation . One thing it produced was the Roman Ritual (1614) which was a manual of authorized church “exorcism”. Besides being a guide for priests as to how to perform “exorcism”, the Ritual was also a guide to determine whether a state of demonizing existed. For instance, to be classed as possessed, a subject had to be able to speak in unlearned languages and display clairvoyant and other ESP powers.
Another product of the Counter-Reformation was that several local, diocesan, and provincial synods forbade the use of “exorcism” without the express permission of the local bishop (as the Church of England had done). These latest developments greatly reduced the use of spiritual deliverance in the Catholic Church. However, the Jesuits of England continued to practice deliverance without much change (as did their counter-parts, the Puritans of England).
Spiritual warfare becomes the minority view in the 18th and 19th centuries. As a result of prominent voices speaking out against spiritual warfare, and of various churches moving against or limiting the use of spiritual deliverance, and of the great advances in the naturalistic sciences, spiritual warfare gradually lost ground and became the minority view. The tide had now changed from supernaturalism to secularism.
F. 19TH CENTURY (1800-1900 AD) ⇑
During the 19th century there was not much emphasis on spiritual warfare. Other causes were found for such problems, making them more of a natural instead of supernatural order. Justinus Kerner (AD 1786 – 1862), however speaks of Christians who were possessed for various amounts of time and showed times of normalcy but also times of extreme perversion and oppression. Many in the Catholic church were also becoming demonized. Some were delivered others went to mental hospitals where they gradually found relief.
G. 20TH CENTURY (1900-2000 AD) ⇑
Today, with proper authorization, “exorcism” may be practiced for Roman Catholic Church members, non-Catholics, and those who have been excommunicated. Also, the tradition of “baptismal exorcism” has been retained, but the exorcism of salt and water was discontinued in 1969. So we see that the Catholic Church has not only maintained its traditional practice of exorcism, but also its belief that a Christian can have an unclean spirit.
However, Catholic exorcism of the possessed has become more theory than reality, simply because nowadays demonizing is rarely recognized. Demonizing is not recognized unless the subject speaks in unlearned languages and displays clairvoyant or other ESP powers. Modern Catholics admit that according to this definition few if any of the New Testament cases of demonizing would have been recognized as such. So the Church awaits the formation of a more practical definition. As a result, all disturbed people are sent to the psychiatrists, not the exorcists.
Today the Church’s exorcism continues to be governed by the Roman Ritual even though it was formulated in 1614. The exorcism itself is about seven pages long, consisting of prayers, scripture readings, responses, ritual commands, mini-sermons, signings of the cross, and the use of holy water. If in its recitation, progress is being made, priests are encouraged to continue repeating the ceremony for as long as it takes to cast out the spirit, for several hours or more, if necessary. Just as exorcism has become rare in the Catholic Church, so has the exorcist.
2. DELIVERANCE IN EASTERN ORTHODOX CHURCH ⇑
The Eastern Orthodox Church (comprised of the Greek Orthodox, the Russian Orthodox, and the Orthodox churches of the other Eastern European countries) is, of course, very similar to the Roman Catholic Church in most forms, including the practice of deliverance of those who are demonized. Thus it still believes in the reality of demonizing and in the practice of spiritual deliverance of baptismal candidates. It has its own manual of authorized spiritual deliverance contained in the Assemanni. This manual contains twenty-one forms of “exorcism” for various occasions. However, the Church differs from the Catholics in that it has retained the office of the exorcist.
3. DELIVERANCE IN THE PROTESTANT CHURCHES ⇑
In most Protestant churches of modern times, spiritual deliverance is not practiced. Not only do most deny the existence of spiritual warfare, but many also deny the existence of demons and some even the existence of Satan himself. When it comes to the treatment of disturbed people, most Protestants churches send them to psychiatrists, as do the Catholics. Thus all mental illness is interpreted psychologically.
However, there are a few Protestant churches or groups which have retained the spiritual interpretation of mental illness. One is the Anglican Church (the Church of England), whose beliefs concerning spiritual warfare (and most other topics) are very similar to the Catholics. Besides this church, there are local churches within charismatic or Pentecostal denominations which have rediscovered the Biblical beliefs and practices about spiritual warfare and spiritual deliverance. More and more non-charismatic evangelical churches are working in the area of deliverance, but they are still a small percentage.
Thus in the twentieth century we could say that Christian spiritual warfare and deliverance still exist, but just barely. There are many encouraging signs, though, that more and more evangelical Christians and churches are learning what the Bible teaches about spiritual warfare.
The twenty-first century will see an upsurge in intensity and frequency with which spiritual warfare is practiced. This will be greatly needed, for the attacks of the enemy are becoming greater in number and strength as well. It will get much worse before it gets better. As the return of Jesus gets closer so warfare will increase. We must be trained, equipped and prepared.
The rest of this story has yet to be written, but the end is quite clear as we see in the book of Revelation. God wins (He already has)!
SPIRITUAL WARFARE TRAINING. At the end of each major section in this course you will find questions to help you remember and apply what you have learned. You can look back through what you have read for the answers if need be. You need a Bible, a notebook and a pen to do these questions.
If you want to send me your answers I would be glad to read them and offer comments or suggestions that might help you. You can write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any questions or prayer requests please feel free to write to me.
- What are some of the Biblical ways Christians throughout history have conducted spiritual warfare?
- What can you learn and apply from what they did?
- What are some of the unbiblical ways Christians throughout history have conducted spiritual warfare?
- What must you avoid in your spiritual warfare?
QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS ⇑
Record your thoughts, questions, what you have learned, what you want to study in the future, prayer suggestions and whatever else you want to remember.