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Demonic Possession & Oppression; Exorcism

Validity; Schizophrenia; News

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Topics covered in this essay:

bullet Is possession and exorcism still valid today?
bullet Demonic possession, demonic oppression and Schizophrenia
bullet Recent developments

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Is possession and exorcism still valid today?

bullet 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. Actually, Jesus may have simply been using his faith-healing abilities to cure the sufferers.
bullet Conservative Christians who accept the Bible as infallible have a range of opinions concerning demon possession in modern times. Two extremes are:
bullet 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 victims.
bullet 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 dangerous therapy.

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Demonic possession, demonic oppression and schizophrenia:

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. 2 Oppression 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:

bullet Symptoms of oppression: abnormal and irrational fear, anxiety & loneliness; lack of goals; depression; lack of logical reasoning ability, seeking power and control; etc.
bullet 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:

bullet Causes of oppression:
bullet 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.
bullet religious involvements, such as: following false religions or cults; engaging in chanting, non-Christian meditation, etc.
bullet personality factors, such as: poor self-image, jealousy, bad temper, rebellion, etc.
bullet Causes of possession:
bullet 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:

Factor Possession  indicated Schizophrenia indicated
Reaction towards Christianity Aversion Devout acceptance
Conversations with others Rational Disconnected; may jump between topics
Knowledge Beyond that obtained by normal learning Obtained by normal learning
Effects on other people Paranormal effects: poltergeist, levitation, mental telepathy, etc. None
Admit to being possessed? No voluntary admission Admission possible
Cured or alleviated by: Prayer Therapy, medication

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Recent developments:

bullet 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:
bullet "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."
bullet Demons can possess anything with a brain, including a chicken, a human being, or a computer.
bullet "Any PC built after 1985 has the storage capacity to house an evil spirit."
bullet "...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 on them."
bullet an estimated " in 10 computers in America now houses some type of evil spirit."
bullet "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 dialect!"

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  1. Bob Vaughn, "Uncommon Answers," at:
  2. "Demonic Oppression and Possession," at:
  3. 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.
  4. The Eternal Destinies web site is at:

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Copyright 1998 to 2004 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2004-OCT-21
Author: B.A. Robinson

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