SCIENCE VERSUS SPIRITUALITY
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 change which started in the 16th century was complete by the 19th century.
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.
It continues to be the same way today. Everything is seen through the eyes of science – what can be visually seen and proven. Anything supernatural is denied. That’s not the way it is in the east and third world countries where superstition and belief in the supernatural (evil powers) are strong. But it certainly is the predominant view in the west, especially in North America and Europe.