The Demon Frenzy

By Wayne Jackson

A while back the movie industry re-released a 25th anniversary version of the horror film, The Exorcist. The movie was loosely based on William Blatty’s book of the same name. The star of the film, Linda Blair, was cast as a young girl who supposedly was possessed of a demon.

I well remember the panic that seized many after reading the book or viewing the movie. One day in the early ’70’s, I received a phone call from a terrified lady who informed me that there was a “demon” in her closet. She tearfully begged me to rush to her house. I did – but with some trepidation. Not that I believed there was an actual “demon” in her closet, but because I did not know exactly what might be there! Anyway, I was more adventurous (to use the noblest word possible) in those days – so I went.

What I found was a slightly inebriated matron – the “spirits” had been around, alright! The dear lady had a copy of Blatty’s book on her night stand. The “demon,” I discovered, was a dark, partially inflated dry-cleaning bag, protruding from between some of her hanging garments.

Such aberrations, I suppose, are to be expected in situations of that nature. But what’s so distressing is the fact that those who are reputedly associated with mainline “Christendom” have yielded to this hysteria.

Roman Catholics, of course, have long been associated with this sort of modern superstition. Catholic officials in cities like Boston, Chicago, and New York even have officially authorized “exorcists.” Too, “Pentecostals” have long contended that modern-day “demon possession” is a reality.

I once debated with a “charismatic” minister who charged that I was possessed of an evil spirit. I suggested that since he claimed to have the power of “demon expulsion,” he had my permission to purge me. He quietly ignored the invitation, thus, leaving me in my “afflicted” condition!

But some, who have been caught up in the “demon” frenzy, surprise us. The rather straight-laced Protestant journal, Christianity Today, recently editorialized in this fashion:

“Whether Christians use the formal rites of Roman Catholicism or the vigorous prayers of charismatic and Pentecostal believers, exorcism is God’s good gift to the church. Through exorcism, God graciously delivers people from demonic powers, which seek a person’s total physical and spiritual destruction . . . . So long as we live in this fallen world, we may be sure that demons not only exist, but will make bullying and presumptuous challenges of God’s authority” ({glossSub (“CT Demon Article”, “November 13, 2000, p. 45”).

The statement above is woefully erroneous, and for the following reasons:

(1) It ignores the fact that nothing like the demon possession of New Testament days is observable today. In fact, there is a clear contrast between the New Testament cases and those described today.

Is there any demon-possessed person today who can be bound with chains, and easily break them (cf. Mk. 5:3-4)? This is a proposition that easily is testable.

(2) The first-century gift of casting out demons was specifically designed to confirm the reliability of the message being proclaimed by the person possessing the gift (Mk. 16:17,20). If each of these groups, i.e., Romanists, Pentecostals, etc., are being authenticated by a divinely bestowed gift, then God is clearly in conflict with himself since these groups teach vastly conflicting dogma.

But God is not the author of such confusion (1 Cor. 14:33). He obviously is not so blessing these groups – irrespective of their claims.

There is absolutely no evidence that demon possession is a modern-day phenomenon. There is a strong biblical case against that notion.

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.