Liberal Christians and assorted skeptics generally
deny the existence of indwelling evil spirits controlling the minds and
bodies of humans. They often view exorcism accounts in Scriptures as
having no grounding in reality. The descriptions simply represent how authors
from the1st century CE interpreted the events. i.e. the gospel
writers described stories about demons being commanded to leave the victims.
Jesus may have simply been using his faith-healing abilities to cure the sufferers.
Conservative Christians who accept the Bible as infallible have a range
of opinions concerning demon possession in modern times. Two extremes are:
Possession is no longer common: This is the belief that demon
possession, and thus the necessity for exorcism, was widespread only during the ministry
of Jesus and shortly afterwards. It is very rare or non-existent today. Perhaps Jesus'
presence on earth caused Satan and his demons to become unusually active. Or perhaps,
Jesus and the apostles cured many possessed people in order to prove to the public that
Jesus was the Messiah. With the establishment of the Christian church, the need for
exorcisms faded. Thus, one can assume that contemporary reports of possessions by evil
spirits are all (or essentially all) invalid. What appears to be demonic possession is
really caused by mental illness. Exorcisms are potentially dangerous and abusive to their
Possession is still common: This is the belief that demon possession
and the necessity for exorcism is as valid today as it was in 1st century
Palestine. Many people who are being treated by psychiatrists and psychologists and other
therapist are in fact demon possessed and can only be cured by exorcism. Uncounted
millions of dollars are being wasted by the mental health profession in useless, or even
Acts 10:38 mentions oppression by Satan which some believe is a
different phenomenon than possession. 1A person who is
oppressed by a demon is having his behavior influenced in one area of his life - e.g. not
being able to resist alcohol. They are harassed but are not actually possessed by
indwelling demons. 2Oppression often leads to possession.
The anonymous Website "Eternal Destinies" teaches that Satan rules
the airwaves, media, and Hollywood. 4 He "has an overwhelming influence over world
politics and various religions." The Webmaster differentiates between the
symptoms of demonic oppression and possession:
Symptoms of oppression: abnormal and irrational fear, anxiety &
loneliness; lack of goals; depression; lack of logical reasoning ability, seeking power
and control; etc.
Symptoms of possession: uncontrolled swearing, extreme physical
strength; unexpectedly high IQ; intense negative reaction when Jesus' name is spoken;
multiple personalities; extreme fear in the presence of Christians; violent behavior;
life-threatening behavior; exhibiting paranormal abilities, severe depression; etc.
Eternal Destinies believes that oppression and possession have different
Causes of oppression:
activities, such as: befriending, dating, or having sex with a possessed or
oppressed individual; playing with a Ouija Board, reading science fiction, viewing soap
operas, looking at pornography, etc.
religious involvements, such as: following false religions
or cults; engaging in chanting,
non-Christian meditation, etc.
personality factors, such as: poor self-image, jealousy, bad temper, rebellion,
Causes of possession:
activities, such as: extreme cases of sexual immorality; rebelliousness;
blasphemy; taking tests for ESP or other paranormal abilities; involvement in astrology;
going to fortune tellers; either owning or using "occultic"
charms, talismans, written material, music, etc.
Pastor Steven Waterhouse has written a book from an Evangelical Christian
perspective. It helps families differentiate between demon possession and
schizophrenia. 3 It gives some guidelines for differentiating between possession and schizophrenia are:
Reaction towards Christianity
Conversations with others
Disconnected; may jump between topics
Beyond that obtained by normal learning
Obtained by normal learning
Effects on other people
Paranormal effects: poltergeist, levitation, mental telepathy, etc.
Admit to being possessed?
No voluntary admission
Cured or alleviated by:
2000-APR: Reverend Jim Peasboro of Savannah GA has written a
book "The Devil in the Machine: Is your computer possessed by
a demon?" Some of the points raised in the book are:
"While the Computer Age has ushered in many advances, it
has also opened yet another door through which Lucifer and
his minions can enter and corrupt men's souls."
Demons can possess anything with a brain, including a chicken, a
human being, or a computer.
"Any PC built after 1985 has the storage capacity to
house an evil spirit."
"...most of the youths involved in school
shootings like the tragedy at Columbine were computer
buffs...I have no doubt that computer demons exerted an influence
an estimated "...one in 10 computers in America now
some type of evil spirit."
"Technicians can replace the hard drive and reinstall
the software, getting rid of the wicked spirit permanently."
Rev. Peasboro said: "I learned that many members of my
congregation became in touch with a dark force whenever they used
their computers. Decent, happily married family men were drawn
irresistibly to pornographic websites and forced to witness
unspeakable abominations. Housewives who had never expressed an impure
thought were entering Internet chat rooms and found themselves
spewing foul, debasing language they would never use normally...One
woman wept as she confessed to me, 'I feel when I'm on the computer as
if someone else or something else just takes over.'"
He had the opportunity to inspect an infected computer. He found
that an artificial-intelligence program started up automatically. He
said that: "The program began talking directly to me, openly
mocked me. It typed out, 'Preacher, you are a weakling and your God is
a damn liar.' Then the device went haywire and started printing
out what looked like gobbledygook...I later had an expert in dead
languages examine the text. It turned out to be a stream of
obscenities written in a 2,800-year-old Mesopotamian
Steven Waterhouse, "Strength for his People: a Ministry for families of the Mentally Ill." A copy is
available from : Dr. Steven Waterhouse, Westcliff Bible Church, Box 1521 Amarillo, TX
79105. (806) 359-6362 or (806) 359-6882. Donations are appreciated.