On Demonic Possession

But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.  And Saul’s servants said unto him, ‘Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee…’…  And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.”

1 Sam. 16:14-15,23

“…and they brought unto Him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and He healed them.”

Mt. 4:24

“…when He was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.  And, behold, they cried out, saying, ‘What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?'”

Mt. 8:28-29

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Subsection

On Exorcism

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Order of Contents

Intro:  Personal & Clinical Observations
Articles  10
Books  14+
Quote
Can a Regenerate Believer be Demon Possessed?
Can a Regenerate Believer be Assaulted or Influenced by Devils?
Latin & French  3

Historical Theology  1
History of  2
.      Cases in Church History  20+
Testimony of Contemporary Secular Psychiatrists  3
Bibliographies  2

May Demons Inhabit Certain Places?
Counsel Against the Assaults of Devils


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Intro:  Personal & Clinical Observations

By

Travis Fentiman

LPN, MDiv

2021

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Until I became a nurse, I never had any first-hand experience with demonic possession.  To the extent that it occured, I thought, it must pertain to third-world countries where the border of the influence of the Gospel verges upon heathendom.  Living in middle class America, I had not encountered it once, though perhaps the phenomenon circulated in the fringes of society out of most people’s sight.

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Encounters

Then I got a job in a state, psychiatric nursing facility.  Numerous of the residents have schizophrenia, which term literally means, ‘a split mind’.  The preeminent characteristic of most persons diagnosed with this label is that they hear ‘voices’.

When a resident asked me for a medication to help with her ‘voices’, I became intrigued and asked her what the voices are like.  She said that there was half a dozen or so of them.  She had given them names.  “What do they tell you?”  “To steal things, trip people, that I’m fat, ugly, to lie.”  She said that they were angels that talk to her.  On numerous occassions, being unstable on her feet, she fell.  She said that the voices were yelling at her and tripped her.  As needed at her request, I would give her a doctor prescribed anti-psychotic med, which sedated her somewhat and lessened the noise of the voices, but it never stopped them or took them away.

Another resident, huddled to herself, wore head-phones most of the day, blaring heavy-metal.  An experienced nurse told me she did that to drown out the voices; it is a somewhat common coping mechanism.  These residents often exhibited thought-blocking behavior: guarding with their body language and wincing, as one does who is trying to block out thoughts or voices, even when no one is talking to them.  One resident had named his two voices Frick and Frack.  Spontaneously in conversation he would turn his head to the side and yell, “SHUT UP FRICK!!”  Another resident commonly punches his head hard with his sizeable fists, over and over again, to try to stop the voices.

One woman, on occassion, has stopped eating.  When asked why she responds, “They told me not to eat.”  Despite our attempts to encourage her otherwise, on more than one occassion this lasted for 4 months, she losing a lot of weight subsisting on juice.  I asked another resident about his voices.  He said there was twenty of them, and they sound like men.  “Do they have different personalities?”  “Yes.”  Attempting to be neutral, I asked, “Are they nice to you, or are they mean to you?”  “Nice?!  NICE?!?!  You think this is NICE?!?!?”, he said exasperated, cringing with a look of despair.  “What do they tell you?”  “That they want me to live forever…  That’s not good… is it?”  In this context I stuttered, “Umm…   No.”  “How often do they talk to you?”  “All day long, everyday!” he said with anger on his face.  Sometimes they comment on whatever he does; sometimes they argue with each other.  The resident went bumbling down the hall, out of his mind.

Most of these residents have a long history of being estranged to their families, drug abuse, promiscuity (or prostitution), being in and out of jail, and/or attempted suicides.  The voices have incapacitated them:  they cannot take care of themselves, most of them are incontinent, and if they were not in a state-subsidized facility, most of them would be on the street or dead.

Other persons who hear voices have less severe backgrounds and are able to maintain a higher level of functioning in society.  Yet what the voices tend to say is generally consistent with the above encounters.  One account that gained a spotlight in the broader media, that of Rachel Waddingham of London in 2017, gave this narration:

“The voices came often: three men, mocking her.  Telling her she was stupid.  Urging her to kill herself.  Psychiatrists diagnosed her with schizophrenia.”

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The Bible & What’s at Stake

Are these persons demon possessed?  Anyone who reads and believes what the Gospels say may think so; however, the medical establishment nearly universally interprets the above phenomenon as the product of a naturally occuring mental disease process, or attributes it to other natural causes.  This Naturalistic view is not new: while having previous precedents, it rose to popularity during the 1700’s Enlightment and has held the sway of post-Christian society and insitutions ever since.

What is clear is that the Naturalistic view, that all cases of demonic possession in the Bible were simply persons who had natural, mental illnesses, is incompatible with God’s Word.  This was proved at length and in detail, over and over again at every point, by faithful Bible believing scholars through the 1700’s in response to the challenges of the (largely unorthodox) figures espousing such during the Enlightenment.†  Those faithful, uncompromised, orthodox and conclusive defenses of God’s Word are linked below on this webpage for your perusal.

† It is possible, theoretically, as some persons have held in history, that the Gospel accounts do describe real demonic possession, but that such does not occur today, and that what goes for such today is still simply and only forms of naturally occuring mental illness.  This view, however, is not only a minority view in Christianity, but hinges upon extreme, preteristic interpretations of relevant Bible passages, which are contrary to the eschatology that undergirds the Post-Reformation confessions (namely Historicism).  For a sufficient confutation of this view, see the resources below.

The rest of this introductory article will be devoted to inquiring further into what can cause people to hear voices, how demonic possession may be distinguished from natural mental illness, and finally the article will respond to arguments in support of the Naturalistic view, showing that supernatural demonic possession, in the case of many, is compatible with the current data about schizophrenia.

If the Naturalistic view is right, then there is little hope for these oppressed people, who are endlessly consigned to suffer under their tormenting voices and the sedating influence of the drugs that they will be taking for the rest of their lives.

If the naturalistic view is wrong, then demonic possession is much more common than we have thought.  Christians and pastors need to be aware.  What will you do when you come across someone who hears malevolent voices, and in tears, desires help?  The end of this article will direct to where further guidance can be found.

All medical statements in this article reflect knowledge commonly available, which can be verified through easily attained sources on the net.

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What can Cause One to Hear Voices?

How does one know if a case is demon possession?  Hearing voices in one’s head, of itself, could potentially have numerous causes.  When conjoined with visual hallucinations, hearing intermittent voices may be caused by:

– fevers involving significant inflammation
– extreme tiredness
– bereavement of a loved one
– dreams & dreaming while awake
– Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (rare cases)
– brain tumors
– delirium in the elderly
– certain street drugs & alcoholism
– schizophrenia

Most of the above conditions and most cases involving them could easily be recognized and distinguished from demonic possession.  If a person is hearing voices and does not have visual hallucinations, the list of possible diagnoses recognized by the medical establishment gets much shorter:

– bereavement
– brain tumors
– schizophrenia†

† Sometimes schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder are added to this list, but as they are very related diagnoses, and the voices seem to be of a similar nature in each, so they, for our purposes, may be generally grouped with schizophrenia.

Bereavement and brain tumors are easily detectable (the latter with a CAT scan or MRI).  That leaves us with the umbrella term, ‘schizophrenia’.

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How is Schizophrenia Defined?

The ‘Bible’ of psychiatry, the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, version 5, says that in order for one to be diagnosed as schizophrenic:

– Two diagnostic criteria have to be present over the space of one month, which symptoms must have a significant impact on the person’s social or occupational functioning for a minimum of six months.

– One of the symptoms must be either delusions (ungrounded thoughts), hallucinations (ungrounded perceptions, including audio and/or visual perceptions), or disorganized speech.

– A second symptom might be an emotional or mental deficit, or severely disorganized or catatonic behavior.

Given the breadth of this criteria, doctors routinely diagnose as schizophrenics many people who are not demon possessed, but may have true physical, mental illnesses or conditions.

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Distinguishing Between a Natural, Mental Illness or Condition
& Demon Possession

It might be asked how one distinguishes between a mental illness or condition involving delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, and possibly even hearing things, from being possessed by a demon?

While a natural, mental illness, or demonic assault, could be a cause of the former, demonic possession (to state it tautologically, yet truly) may be recognized if:

The pattern of symptoms is reflective of a distinct, evil, spiritual personality (or personalities) inhabiting the person.

The human brain, broken or fried on drugs, may result in disorganized thinking, hallucinations, even in false auditory phenomenon, but simple chance, or systemic defect in the denaturing, fracturing or miswiring of the brain, does not result in the characteristics of a unified, evil, foreign personality living in and tormenting the person at their whim and evident control, especially when the person’s normal personality and that of a distinguishable, evil, spiritual personality may be discerned as acting contrary to each other at the same time.†

† This is to be distinguished from, for instance, a person getting hit in the head, and ever after having neurotic, agitated, angry episodes where they appear to ‘change into a different person’.  In this case, besides the obvious natural cause, the differing personalities are mutually exclusive to each other in time; they are not occuring simultaneously at the same time.

The experience and testimony of the person himself, or herself, is important.  In the case of Lillith, she related that:

“The things that the voice said were very private and kind of embarrassing; they were never words that I would use or think that I would say and I didn’t want to take ownership of them, or even, lets say, them in my own voice.  That led to me committing arson…” – ‘Gender Identity & Hearing Voices: Lilith’s Story’, 1:35

Natural causes should always be ruled out first,† but if something sounds like demon possession, looks like demon possession, feels like demon possession, tastes like demon possession and smells like demon possession, what does one call it but demon possession?

† Though note that demonic activity and/or possession can occur with natural causes.

Try a case for yourself:  Watch this enlightening 4 minute video of a man describing his history with voices.  He got diagnosed as a schizophrenic.  Should he have been diagnosed as possessed by demons?

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Positive Voices?

Some sources say that schizophrenics sometimes have postive or benign voices.  This author has not come across an account where the voices were always postiive or benign.  What does one call a supernatural being that speaks positive things, but also some evil things?   Not a righteous angel.  Those ‘positive’ voices yet still greatly disrupt and functionally incapacitate the schizophrenic person that hears them.

Many of the sources that claim some voices are positive are websites designed to help someone who first starts hearing voices.  These websites often try to put a positive spin on nearly everything related to schizophrenia, so as not to discourage the person.  Yet, are the ‘positive’ voices actually positive?  Judge for yourself:

“I first started hearing voices when I was developing my anorexia.  My voices were my best friend.  I thought she just wanted the best for me…  she was extremely manipulative and whatever she said I would do.” – Mind.org, ‘Hearing Voices’

See further accounts of ‘positive’ voices in these stories of Katie and Lucy at Mind.org.  How can voices sometimes be positive and encouraging?  Read C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters.

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The Supernatural

It should be noted that hearing voices, if such be due to demonic possession, is not the only characteristic, or even necessarily the most common characteristic of being possessed by devils.  Others are possible (and fit into the definition given above), and occur prominently in both Scripture and extra-Scriptural accounts.

One such series of traits (which this writer has not observed first-hand) is the supernatural.  No amount of natural or physical brain irregularities, for instance, can cause a person to spontaneously speak in multiple, legitimate human languages, as occurs in numerous accounts of purported demonic possession.  Devils, however, may be capable of such, likely having a much greater comprehension than we do, and never dying through the generations.

While all superstition, ignorance, naivety and blind trust of fallible testimony ought to be eschewed as positively insufficient, unhelpful and dangerous, yet supernatural events can be regarded as historically occuring through confirmed, credible witnesses; and to deny the occurance of the supernatural when it is sufficiently confirmed with reason and credible witnesses, is to deny reason itself.

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The Secular Solution: Drugs,
& the Spirit-Body Connection

Instead of hope, the medical establishment gives these people drugs:  seroquel, haldol, fluphenazine, risperidone, clozaril, klonazepam, geodon, etc., which they will likely be taking the rest of their life (as schizophrenia rarely goes away).  Drug handbooks say that the action-mechanism of most of these drugs is unknown.  Some of them are thought to block or promote certain serotonin, dopamine or other receptors in the brain, which may have an effect on mood, anxiousness, etc.

It is this author’s hypothesis with regard to the spirit-body connection that certain physical/chemical blocking of neural pathways in the brain can effectively, to the extent that it does, block spiritual input into the brain.  It has been observed that dopamine levels are increased during acute psychosis (which one would expect if demons are yelling at you in your head); thus chemicals that block dopamine transmitters will effectively reduce the amount of input to the brain that is able to occur.  Demons speaking into a person’s soul and brain, or seeking to act through a body which has partially blocked-off circuitry due to chemical interference and sedation, is like trying to drive a car with partially blocked off circuitry and motor function:  it will not work very well.

Hence, anti-psychotic drugs may have some beneficial value in blocking external voices to some extent.‡  Unfortunately though, when the precision of a lazer-pinpoint is needed, numerous of these drugs are like using a shotgun to accomplish the job.  The meds also have many undesirable side-effects, so much so that many schizophrenics decide to try to live without them.

‡ For a balanced overview of the effectiveness of anti-psychotic drugs with schizophrenia, see The National Alliance on Mental Illness.

The other beneficial treatments that secularims holds out for schizophrenics is psychotherapy (practicing psychological methods to help modify behavior in beneficial ways and overcome problems) and building social skills.  While each of these strategies can have a certain natural tendency towards the overall good of the person (if they are based on the realities of nature and not falsehoods), yet they will hardly cure a person from being tormented by demons.

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Does All Schizophrenia have a Natural Causation?
or, How can Demonic Possession have Natural Correlations?

Imaging of the brains of long-term schizophrenics has revealed certain brain structures that are either slightly enlarged or diminished.  Secularists, of course, often take this correlation as evidence, or proof, that a natural disease process affecting these brain structures produces schizophrenia.

That this is the case in all schizophrenics is putting the cart before the horse.  If demons are constantly verbally abusing you, one might expect that certain parts of your brain would become over-developed and larger (through constant activity) and other parts would become underdeveloped and smaller (through inefficiency, deprivation or neglect).

In defending a natural origin for all schizophrenia, some secularists are quick to point out that: (1) the onset of schizophrenia is often linked with significant, negative life events, (2) certain environmental or physical factors, (3) a similar age range, (4) that persons who have close family with schizophrenia have a higher rate of acquiring it, and that (5) rates of schizophrenia are roughly comparable trans-nationally.

That some schizophrenia is naturally caused (given its broad definition) helps in part to explain some of these points.  To respond more particularly though:

(1)  It should not be surprising that the onset of demonic voices may be linked with significant, negative life events.  During such disruptive times, persons may be depressed, vulnerable, and even despairing.  Scripture is clear that the influence of demons must be resisted (James 4:7; Eph. 6:11).  Persons who find themselves little able to resist, and without the spiritual knowledge or means to do so (Eph. 6:10-18), may be easy targets for devils, who are seeking whom they may devour (1 Pet. 5:8).  In the book of Job, calamitous life events were the manifestation of demonic attack (Job 1:12-19).  Job, however, quenched these fiery darts of the devil with the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation (Job 1:21; 19:25; Eph. 6:16-17).

(2)  Possible environmental or physical risk factors that have been associated with elevated rates of schizophrenia include being subject to one’s mother having adverse complications during pregnancy or delivery, using cannabis during adolescence, being male, being raised in a city and having significantly young parents or significantly old parents.†

† Owen MJ, Sawa A, Mortensen PB (July 2016), “Schizophrenia”. Lancet. 388 (10039): 86–97, ‘Epidemiology & Environmental Risk Factors’, citing and linking the results of numerous studies.

It should not be surprising that there may be physical correlations with demonic possession, inasmuch as evil spirits circulate in this spatial/physical world, interact with it, and have certain powers over physical things and happenings in it over periods of time, lifetimes and generations (1 Pet. 5:8; Dan. 10:13; Eph. 2:2; Job 1:7,12; Mk. 9:22; Mt. 8:30-32; Rev. 9:1-5; 16:14).

If all of the listed factors from the studies above are universally true to all times and locations beyond the scope of the sample populations surveyed, and have no significant methodological degree of error to them or other significantly qualifying factors inherent to all studies (which may be heavily doubted), yet:

– Adverse complications of one’s mother in pregnancy or delivery (involving trauma),† or drug abuse (and in particular, of certain drugs) may so weaken or disrupt the body or brain in specific ways that the person may become more liable in some conditions to the risk of demonic influence or possession.  It could also be that a statistically significant number of mothers who have pregnancy and delivery complications, possibly due to having a high-risk-behavior lifestyle, also raise their children amidst such calamitous conditions, making them that much more prone to the risk of schizophrenia.  If humans in this earth prey upon the weak and vulnerable, including the mentally unstable and/or immorally dissolute, it ought not to surprise us if demons do as well.

† It should be noted that the main hypothesis of studies seeking to document this is that the cause of schizophrenia lies in the early development, and/or injury, of the brain.  For whatever small correlations they find, the great majority of the data is not explained by such.  One must also take into consideration, as always, the amount of information that we do not know and all the studies of the whole human population that have not been done.  When that is considered, the meager results of completed studies means much less.

– Males and females have different behavior patterns in response to environmental and social factors, and consequently have different rates and extents of particular immoral behaviors,† which may lend itself to various patterns of demonic influence.  Males and females also have different physical and social abilities, which may be desirable in different degrees to particular demons and their strategems.

† Even the Bible recognizes that spirituality, or defects therein, is variously mediated between the sexes in accord with their natural characteristics and provinces (Eccl. 7:25-28; Prov. 7:10-27; Josh. 24:15; Acts 10:33; Eph. 5:26-28).

But perhaps the most likely explanation for a higher rate of schizophrenia amongst males is that females may be self-reporting less, or be reported for their schizophrenic symptoms less.  One major study† where such results come from, which amalgated their data from three other differently executed studies, admitted on the point that the “lack of internal consistency between estimates (also noted in certain prevalence distributions) [of their own study] is difficult to explain but may reflect the nature and quality of the different studies that contribute estimates to sex-specific distributions…”  In other words, the results that the medical establishement takes for Gospel-Truth, are due to error.

† McGrath J, Saha S, Chant D, Welham J., “Schizophrenia: a concise overview of incidence, prevalence, and mortality.” Epidemiol Rev. (2008), 30:67–76

It is interesting to note the different reasons devils may have for possessing one sex and not the other in different situations.  The devils possessing the male Gadarene demoniac, turned physically fierce, must have had an influence on the whole outlaying town, as even in his deliverance the town became subjugated in fear (Lk. 8:27,35-37).  On a different occasion, ‘a spirit of divination’ found a young maiden more useful for its purposes (Acts 16:16-19).

– Due to a greater prevalence of certain immoral behaviors, or other factors that might appeal to demons, demons may be more concentrated in certain localities (compare Isa. 13:21 & 34:14).

– Higher rates of schizophrenics having significantly young or old parents is likewise true for mental disorders across the board.†  Besides physical susceptibilities that might be entailed in having such parents, a major factor therein seems to be environmental: how the kids are raised.  Younger parents may be involved in greater high-risk behavior, and older parents may possibly be able to provide less oversight and restrictions to such high-risk behavior.

† McGrath JJ, Petersen L, Agerbo E, Mors O, Mortensen PB, Pedersen CB. A comprehensive assessment of parental age and psychiatric disorders. JAMA psychiatry (Chicago, Ill) 2014;71(3):301–309

(3)  The most common age range for the onset of schizophrenia is late-teens to early-thirties.  That there is a median age-range is logically necessary.  That there may be patterns of when demons begin to assult and possess people, especially in the early part of their adult life when they are making their own choices and finding themselves in this world, ought not to be surprising, especially if that is when a synchronous, natural, mental illness is developing or appearing (possibly in the context of stressful life events in conjunction with the physical maturation of the brain).  A case of ‘early onset’ appears in Scripture (Mk. 9:21, “‘How long is it ago since this came unto him?’  And he said, ‘Of a child.'”).

(4)  It is well known that schizophrenia, and nearly the whole spectrum of mental disorders, manifest at higher rates when one’s close family relations or ancestors also have had the conditions.  With regard to demon possession, this can hardly surprise the student of the Bible:

“…for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me;” – Ex. 20:5

“Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters…” – Isa. 1:4

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you…  and since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” – Hos. 4:6

Scientists struggle to find significant correlations between genetics and schizophrenia.  If such were to be truly and indisputably unearthed, they may only be related to or incidental to other aforementioned factors, which factors do seem to compose part of the total risk of demons taking possession of people.

(5)  It used to be thought, upon inadequate evidence, that schizophrenia occured uniformly in roughly 1% of the human population across nations.  However, “…this uniform view of risk was efficiently dismantled in a series of meta-analyses” in 2008.  Those studies:

“documented a large variation across studies, five-fold or more, that could not be ascribed to diagnostic or other methodological differences, but which pointed towards real differences in occurrence and exposure to etiological [causative] factors.  These findings have revitalized schizophrenia epidemiology…”

– Owen, Sawa, Mortensen, “Schizophrenia”, Lancet., ‘Epidemiology & Environmental Risk Factors’, citing McGrath J, Saha S, Chant D, Welham J., “Schizophrenia: a concise overview of incidence, prevalence, and mortality.” Epidemiol Rev. (2008), 30:67–76

That is consistent with a Biblical view of demonology.  However, how is it explained that there is some uniformity of schizophrenia across the world?  And that seemingly otherwise normal persons, not involved in the occult or sociologically ‘high-risk’ behavior, get a sudden onset of schizophrenia, their life going downhill as a result?  Besides that ‘schizophrenia’ encompasses some naturally caused mental illnesses:

– The onset of demon assault or possession is not necessarily due to a specific sin of the person.  Regarding a man born blind from birth, the Gospels record the disciples of Jesus asking, “‘Who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?  Jesus answered, ‘Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.'” (Mt. 9:1-3)  God allows demonic possession generally across populations for his purposes and greater glory, and, in some cases, in order to manifest his grace in delivering the individual through Christ.

– All persons outside of Christ, being sinners, having a sinful nature and being under the power of sin, are liable to the Devil and demonic possession:

“Jesus answered them, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.'” – Jn. 8:34

“…who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience…  in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” – Eph. 2:2

– As demonic possession would appear to be in every nation, so it shows that demons have a foothold in every nation.  We live in the times of the gentiles (Lk. 21:24; Rom. 11:25; Rev. 11:2).  If the rate of demonic possession is somewhere around 1% throughout the world, more or less, that is because that is all the Lord will allow at this time in the restraint of demons (Job 1:12; Lk. 8:31; Rev. 20:3).

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Where to Go from Here?

It is estimated that 3.5 million people in America have schizophrenia.  As most of them hear malevolent voices, it is likely that most of them are demonically possessed.

It has been amazing to see, in my experience, when a person comes to be tormented by voices, how quickly other family members despair of any solution, and turn religious, often showering the sufferer in religious sentiments and knick-knacks.  These are people that cared little for God in their lives before this; and the religion now exuded is self-evidently shallow, carnal and erroneous.

When you are possessed by demons, there is no natural thing on this earth that will be able to cure you of it (except if the demons decide to leave you of their own whim).  Your only hope is in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who has power over all demons, and has compassion for the afflicted.  He turns away none that sincerely call upon Him with faith.

For more guidance, I hope to write an Introduction to our page On Exorcism, which has many resources on the topic.  Suffice it so say for now that the power to exorcise demons on command was miraculous and unique to the apostolic era.  Today it is through the more ordinary means of the suffering person turning to the Lord Jesus Christ in the gospel, spiritual warfare and through persons earnestly fasting and praying unto Christ (before whom demons tremble) to exert his almighty power and set captives free.

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Articles

1600’s

Hall, Joseph – Contemplation 5, ‘Christ Among the Gergesenes; or Legion and the Gadarene Herd’  in Contemplations on the Historical Parts of the New Testament  (d. 1656; London, 1868), pp. 451-60

Hall (1574–1656) was an influential reformed Anglican bishop.  These devotional and practical contemplations savor of deep spirituality and are very insightful.

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1800’s

Trench, Richard C. – Ch. 5, ‘The Demoniacs in the Country of the Gadarenes’  in Notes on the Miracles of Our Lord  (London, 1847), pp. 150-178

Ryle, J.C.

Expository Thoughts, for Family and Private Use, Mt (chs. 1-11)  (London/NY: Robert Carter, 1859/1860)

‘On Mt. 8:28-34’

‘On Mk. 5:1-17’, pp. 92-93, footnote

Ryle (1816–1900) was an evangelical Anglican who wrote many first-rate practical and devotional works.

Barry, Alfred – ‘Demoniacs’  in ed. William Smith & J.M. Fuller, A Dictionary of the Bible, Comprising its Antiquities...  vol. 1.1 (A-Ely)  (1863/93), pp. 751-54

Barry was bishop in Australia.  He outlines the three views on the topic and defends the orthodox position.

Henderson, James – ‘Demoniacs’  in ed. Patrick Fairbairn, The Imperial Bible Dictionary...  vol. 1 (A-J)  (London, 1867)

Henderson was a minister in the Free Church of Scotland, as was the general editor, Fairbairn.  Henderson argues the Bible-believing position.

eds. McClintock & Strong, Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature  (1867-1887)

‘Possessed with Devils’

Describes the characteristics of demoniacs.

‘Demoniac’

Defends the orthodox view.

Denham, J.F. – ‘Demoniacs’  in ed. John Kitto, Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature, vol. 1 (A-H)  (1880)

Denham was a Cambridge scholar.  He first gives 13 arguments for the orthodox position.  He then gives 13 counter-arguments to those, defending the liberal view.  His defense is one of the best and most concise for that erroneous teaching on Scripture.  His counter-argument #10 is especially weak.

Ebrard, Johann Heinrich – ‘Demoniacs’  in ed. Philip Schaff, A Religious Encyclopaedia, or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal and Practical Theology, vol. 1 (A-D)  (1891), pp. 624-5

Ebrard was a pastor in Erlangen, Germany, and defends the orthodox position.

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1900’s

Sweet, Louis Matthews – ‘Demon; Demoniac; Demonology’  in ed. James Orr, et al., International Standard Bible Encyclopedia  (1915/1939)

Sweet stops short of affirming literal demon possession.

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Books

1500’s

Viret, Pierre – The Second Part of the Demoniac World, or World Possessed with Devils, Containing Three Dialogues, 1. Of Familiar Devils, 2. Of Lunatic Devils, 3. Of the Conjuring of Devils  (London, 1583)  Latin

Viret (1511-71) was a Swiss reformed protestant reformer.

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1600’s

Cobbes, Edmund – The Parable of the Unclean Spirit Pithily Opened & Plainly Applied, wherein is showed Satan’s Possession, his Dispossession & Repossession…  (London, 1633)

Casaubon, Meric – A Treatise Concerning Enthusiasm: as it is an Effect of Nature, but is Mistaken by Many for Either Divine Inspiration or Diabolical Possession  (London, 1655)  260 pp.

Casaubon (1599-1671) was a reformed scholar and divine, and son of Isaac Casaubon (1559-1614), a classical scholar and ecclesiastical historian.

The cause of this treatise was Casaubon reading a contemporary account of the claimed, prophetic visions of a Romanist maid.  Casaubon set about to document at length, through pagan and Christian history, how much of what is taken in false religions and Christian sects for prophetic, or demonic, speech and actions, is fully explainable by nature and an inclination of enthusiastic behavior.  This lesson, derived from masses of history the world over, is a needed lesson in our day of Pentecostalism and Charismaticism.

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1700’s

Twells, Leonard

An Answer to the Enquiry into the Meaning of Demoniacs in the New Testament [by Arthur Sykes]  Ref  (London, 1737)

Twells (1684?–1742) was an Anglican cleric and theological writer.  He argues for the orthodox position.

“It has been affirmed by several learned writers that the Daemoniacs mentioned in the Gospel were persons laboring only under natural diseases, such as a deep melancholy [depression], madness or epilepsy, and not at all affected by any evil spirits.

This opinion was intimated above a hundred years ago by Mr. Joseph Mede [d. 1639, in his 4th Discourse on John 10:20], and, about forty years since, urged with great vehemance by Dr. [Arthur] Sykes [an Anglican, latitudinarian, Arian, clergyman, 1684–1756, in his Enquiry into the Meaning of Demoniacs in the New Testament, 1737], when it was as warmly opposed by some other divines.  The same hypothesis was afterwards taken up by Dr. [Nathaniel] Lardner [d. 1768, a Socinain-Unitarian] in his Case of the Demoniacs of the New Testament; and is now revived again and enforced by the Reverend Hugh Farmer…” – John Fell, ‘Introduction’ to Daemoniacs

Wikipedia on Sykes:  “…rejecting any belief in the existence of demons and regarding those possessed as simply suffering from mental illness. In this he went further than Joseph Mede’s exposition of the Doctrine of Demons, as in the later work of Dr. Richard Mead.

Sykes also rejected the devil as a supernatural evil being, anticipating the allegory argument of John Epps [d. 1869]…  These works were part of a larger debate on demonology and possession, with Sykes siding with the sceptics Francis Hutcheson and Thomas Woolston, against Zachary Pearce and Richard Smalbroke.”

An Answer to the Further Enquiry Into the Meaning of Demoniacs in the New Testament: Wherein the Arguments to Prove that the Demons of the New Testament were Fallen Angels, are Defended: and the Objections Against the Scheme of the Enquiry are Made Good. In a Second Letter to the Author  Ref  1738

This work responds to Sykes’s A Further Inquiry…

Church, Thomas

An Essay Toward Vindicating the Literal Sense of the Demoniacs in the New Testament, in Answer to a Late Enquiry into the Meaning of Them [by Sykes]  (London, 1737)  123 pp.

Church (1707–1756) was an Anglican clergyman who defended Christian miracles and criticized Deism and Methodists.

A Reply to the Farther Enquiry Into the Meaning of the Demoniacks in the New Testament [by Sykes], as Far as the Essay Towards Vindicating the Literal Sense of Them is Concerned…  Ref  (1738)  96 pp.

This work responds to Sykes’s A Further Inquiry…

Sharpe, Gregory – A Review of the Controversy about the Meaning of Demoniacks in the New Testament…  (1739)  79 pp.

Sharpe (1713-1771) was an Anglican clergyman, classical and oriental scholar, author and chaplain to King George III.

Sharpe reviews four pieces in the controversy, including Twells’s Answer to the Further Inquiry.  Unfortunately Sharpe comes to unsound conclusions, such as:

“4. That the New Testament speaking of Demons as possessing men, speaks in words of common use, and in the common vulgar notions, not concerning itself in strict philosophical speculations.

5. That possession by devils, being granted to be believed by people, it does not follow that he that cures distempers supposed to be owing to that cause, and that speaks as such people speak, i.e. that uses words in common language, must certainly admit as truth that philosophical speculation which the ignorant people imagine to be true.” – pp. 79-80

Sharpe’s work, though, has valuable lexical information on the use of the word ‘demoniacs’ in classical literatue.  Church critiqued Sharpe’s work in his Short State of the Controversy, below.

Church, Thomas – A Short State of the Controversy about the Meaning of the Demoniacs in the New Testament, with a Vindication of the Reply to the Farther Enquiry from All the Objections of a Late Tract entitled, A Review of the Controversy [by Sharpe]  (London, 1739)  31 pp.

Church (1707–1756) was an Anglican clergyman who defended Christian miracles and criticized Deism and Methodists.  Church responds to Sharpe above.

Calmet, Augustine – Dissertations 50-52  in Treatise on the Apparitions of Spirits and on Vampires or Revenants of Hungary, Moravia, et al.  ed. Warren; tr. Christmas  Buy  (Paris, 1746)

Calmet (1672–1757) was a French, Romanist, Benedictine monk and Biblical scholar, known for his Bible dictionary.

“A 1700’s treatise surfaced two centuries ago regarding the supernatural and scientific phenomenon that plagued Europe in an era when magic, witchcraft, demonology, instances of haunting and even cases of vampires were recorded in historical documentation.  It was during the age of reason when a Black Monk from the Benedictine Order of the 18th century penned a work that would become one of the most influential and controversial works of his time.  A plethora of cases regarding events in the supernatural had plagued mankind with fear and mystery throughout history, many inhabitants to the regions of Europe came under an epidemic of social hysteria which steamed from reports of corpses rising from their graves, killing and sucking the blood of victims inhabiting small villages or visitations and the haunting of ghosts, evil spirits and demons.

The Black Monk, Abbot Don Augustin Calmet tasked himself with the study of these…  historically documented reports for the purpose of providing the public with the rules to determine a claim’s legitimacy through philosophical reasoning and scientific examination that was approved by the King of France in 1746.  This work provides an in depth look into the history of most superstitions, mythologies, the analysis of events depicted in ancient texts from various religions and historically renowned cases…

Calmet lays out the rules for determining the fraudulent claims from the real while also providing a “how to” manual when dealing with or investigating occult matters in witchcraft, ghosts, vampires and demonic possessions. This work was written by an ordained abbot monk and was accepted by European society as scientific research in his time.”

Sharp, Granville – The Case of Saul, Showing that his Disorder was a Real Spiritual Possession, and Proving (by the Learned Researches & Labors of a Strenuous Promoter even of the Contrary Doctrine) that Actual Possessions of Spirits were Generally Acknowledged by the Ancient Writers Among the Heathens as Well as Among the Jews & Christians…  to which is Added, A Short Tract, wherein the Influence of Demons are Further Illustrated by Remarks on 1 Tim. 4:1-3  (1777; London, 1807)  187 pp.

Sharp (1735-1813) was a biblical scholar, a classicist, and a talented musician.  He is known for the ‘Granville Sharp Rule’ in Greek grammar.

Fell, John – Daemoniacs: an Enquiry into the Heathen & the Scripture Doctrine of Demons, in which the Hypotheses of the Rev. Mr. Farmer, & Others on this Subject, are Particularly Considered  (London, 1779)  432 pp.  ToC

Fell was a classical tutor and English Congregationalist minister known for his rigid orthodoxy.  

Hugh Farmer (1714-1787), an English Independent minister, had written the influential, An Essay on the Demoniacs of the New Testament (1775), which explained away the demoniac testimony of the Gospels on naturalistic grounds, which was the rising, popular view of the Enlightenment.  Such a naturalistic view had precedents in the 1600’s, for instance, in the Works of Joseph Mede [4th Discourse on John 10:20].  Fell wrote the thorough, orthodox refutation of the Enlightenment thesis in Farmer.

Pegge, Samuel – An Examination of the Inquiry into the Meaning of Demoniacs in the New Testament [by Arthur Sykes], in a Letter to the Author, wherein it is Shown that the Word ‘Demon’ does Not Signify a Departed Soul, Either in the Classics or in the Scriptures; & Consequently, that the Whole of the Enquiry is Without Foundation   (London, 1789)  86 pp.

Pegge (1704–1796) was an Anglican clergyman and antiquary.

“In defending the literal interpretation of demoniacs against the figurative scheme of the author of the Enquiry into the Meaning of the Daemoniacs of the New Testament [by Arthur Sykes], my design is not to enter upon a discussion of the several cases recorded in the Evangelists, being happily prevented as to any attempt of that kind by the labors of a much abler hand, into whose harvest it would be equally presumptuous and impertinent for me to thrust in my sickle.

But as the learned author may seem to have left some room for a few further observations upon the general argument, it will not be thought improper to examine the grounds of the Enquiry; neither will Mr. [Leonard] Twells be displeased to see the foundation of his own excellent answers established, and his exposition of each particular text consequentially enforced and maintained.” – Pegge, ‘To the Reader’

“The learned writers who oppose what is called the vulgar and absurd notion of possessions maintain that the more immediate objects of religious worship among the Heathens were dead men, or departed human spirits; that, the word ‘daemon’ is not only used by the Heathens themselves for their deities, but also by the sacred writers for the objects of Pagan worship, which the prophets of God always affirm to be dead men; that the apostles, when speaking of possession, use this phrase in the same sense, and by ‘daemons’ understand nothing more than the souls of deceased persons…” – John Fell, ‘Introduction’ to Daemoniacs

Nevius, John Livingston – Demon Possession & Allied Themes  (NY: 1894)  ToC

This work is highly recommended; it is an account of Nevius’s encounters with demon possession as a Chinese missionary, and the related exorcisms of nearly all by prayer.

Nevius (1829–1893) was, for forty years, a pioneering, reformed American missionary in China, appointed by the American Presbyterian Mission; his missionary ideas were also very important in the spread of the church in Korea. He wrote several books on the themes of Chinese religions, customs and social life, and missionary work.

“I brought with me to China a strong conviction that a belief in demons, and communications with spiritual beings, belongs exclusively to a barbarous and superstitious age, and at present can consist only with mental weakness and want of culture.” – Nevius, p. 9

The first three chapters describe Nevius’s own experiences and accounts, and of those whom he knew and trusted.  Nevius then put out a circular letter to Chinese missionaries and native Christian pastors and Christians requesting from them documentation of any such experiences or credible accounts that they knew of.  Nevius gives highlights from these accounts in chs. 4-6.  In ch. 10, Nevius lists 10 points as to the credibility of the accounts, and then gives 11 summary points describing the commonalities of the accounts and the typical presentation of demoniacs.

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1900’s

Alexander, William Menzies – Demonic Possession in the New Testament: its Relations Historical, Medical & Theological  (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1902)  ToC

Alexander (1858-1929) was a minister and professor in the Free Church of Scotland, and was trained in medicine.  He served as moderator of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland in 1911/12.  He rejected evolution and believed in the miraculous and demonic possession.

Alexander, while leaning conservative in the work (which is a mine of information on the subject), yet seeks to be as sensitve and fair to both sides and possible natural/medical causes as possible.

On p. 3 he lists six of the main reasons urged for the unbelieving view, which he subsequently critiques.  In Appendix O, ‘Did Jesus Practice Accommodation?’, Alexander masterfully argues against it. 

Alexander is quick and sensitive to assess issues of (modern) textual criticism; his conclusions therefrom are sometimes open to question or doubtful.  He, and the new Free Church College, did receive accusations of non-belief in the inspiration of Scripture due to the book.

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Quote

1500’s

The Hungarian [Reformed] Catholic Confession  1562

ed. James Dennison, Reformed Confessions  (RHB, 2010), 2.596, ‘Concerning Witches, Birds that Suck Children’s Blood, Wandering Spirits, or Demons’

“When God hands over the wicked to the hands of Satan, Satan can do much in them with power recevied from the Lord, indeed at the urging of God (1 Kings 21,22; Eph. 2; see Augustine)…

As devils cannot assume real organic bodies, nor bodies united with souls, so they are not capable of secual actions [Gen. 6], but enter men and cattle and act wildly in them.  We confess that the black arts, magic, necromancy, and reading of palms have sprung from the authorship of Satan (Jerome and Luther, on Isa. 24 & 28; Ambrose’ Chrysostom and Anselm, on Eph. 2:2; Hilary; Ambrose; Jerome; Origen; Augustine; Chrysostom; Cyril and Matera).”

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Can a Regnerate Believer be Demon Possessed?  No.

1 Jn. 5:18  “…but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.”

1 Jn. 2:13  “I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one.”

1 Jn. 4:4  “You are of God, my little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.”

1 Jn. 3:8  “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”

Col. 1:13  “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:”

Acts 26:18  “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

Eph. 2:1-2  “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:”

2 Cor. 6:15  “And what agreement has Christ with Belial? or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?”

2 Tim. 2:25-26  “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

Eph. 1:13-14  “In Him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in Him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of His glory.”

2 Cor. 5:17  “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”

1 Cor. 6:19  “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God? and you are not your own…”

2 Cor. 6:15-16  “And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, ‘I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.'”

Rom. 8:38-39  “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord…”

1 Cor. 15:56-57  “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Pet. 1:5  “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

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Can a Regeneate Believer be Assaulted or Influenced by Devils?  May Devils have Activity amongst Professing Christians & Churches?  Yes

Eph. 4:26-27  “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:  Neither give place to the devil.”

Job 1:12  “And the Lord said unto Satan, ‘Behold, all that he [Job] hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand.'”

Mt. 16:16-17, 22-23  “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.  And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

Then Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.’  But He turned, and said unto Peter, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.'”

James 4:7  “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Mk. 1:21-23  “And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught…  And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out…”

Lk. 4:33  “And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice…”

1 Tim. 4:1-3  “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;  Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;  Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”

2 Thess. 2:4  “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”

James 3:14-16  “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.  This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.  For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”

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Latin Articles on Demonic Possession

1600’s

Erni, Heinrich – A Theological-Philosophical Disputation on the Demonic Possession of Men & the Ejection of Demons  (Zurich, 1626)

Erni (1565-1639) was a reformed professor of philosophy, logic and theology at Zurich.

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1700’s

Nonnen, Nicolaus – A Theological Dissertation Exhibiting Something of the Demoniacs which are Mentioned in the New Testament  (Bremen, 1743)  29 pp.

Nonnen was a reformed professor of theology and practical philosophy at Bremen, Germany.

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French:  on Demonic Possession

1700’s

Calmet, Augustine – Dissertations 50-52  in Dissertations on the Apparitions of Angels, Demons & of Spirits, & on Ghosts & Vampires of Hungary, Bohemia, Moravia & Silicy  (Paris, 1746), pp. 149-157

Calmet (1672–1757) was a French, Romanist, Benedictine monk and Biblical scholar, known for his Bible dictionary.

“A 1700’s treatise surfaced two centuries ago regarding the supernatural and scientific phenomenon that plagued Europe in an era when magic, witchcraft, demonology, instances of haunting and even cases of vampires were recorded in historical documentation.  It was during the age of reason when a Black Monk from the Benedictine Order of the 18th century penned a work that would become one of the most influential and controversial works of his time.  A plethora of cases regarding events in the supernatural had plagued mankind with fear and mystery throughout history, many inhabitants to the regions of Europe came under an epidemic of social hysteria which steamed from reports of corpses rising from their graves, killing and sucking the blood of victims inhabiting small villages or visitations and the haunting of ghosts, evil spirits and demons.

The Black Monk, Abbot Don Augustin Calmet tasked himself with the study of these…  historically documented reports for the purpose of providing the public with the rules to determine a claim’s legitimacy through philosophical reasoning and scientific examination that was approved by the King of France in 1746.  This work provides an in depth look into the history of most superstitions, mythologies, the analysis of events depicted in ancient texts from various religions and historically renowned cases…

Calmet lays out the rules for determining the fraudulent claims from the real while also providing a “how to” manual when dealing with or investigating occult matters in witchcraft, ghosts, vampires and demonic possessions. This work was written by an ordained abbot monk and was accepted by European society as scientific research in his time.”

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Historical Theology

On the Pre-Enlightenment, late-1600’s to early-1700’s

Hagenbach, K.R. – Section 265, ‘Angels & Demons (Devils)’  in A Text-Book of the History of Doctrines, vol. 2  (1861), pp. 341-43

Hagenbach (1801–1874) was a liberal, Swiss scholar.  Surveys mainly the rationalistic teachings of Christian Thomasius and Balthasar Bekker.

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On the mid-late 1700’s Enlightenment

Article

Ed. Taylor, Scott – ch. 3, ‘The Gadarene Demoniac in the English Enlightenment’  in ed. Michelson & Venables, A Linking of Heaven and Earth: Studies in Religious and Cultural History in Honor of Carlos M.N. Eire  Pre  (Routledge, 2012), pp. 49-66  Includes at the end a bibliography of the debate on demoniacs through the Englightenment

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The History of Demonic Possession

In World History & Church History

White, Andrew Dickson – A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom  2 vols. in 1  (NY: 1898)

Ch. 15, ‘From ‘Demoniacal Possession’ to Insanity’

Ch. 16, ‘From Diabolism to Hysteria’

White (1832–1918) was a state senator, U.S. diplomat, a bibliophile, a professor of history and the first president of Cornell University (an Ivy League school in New York).

He was one of the founders of the conflict thesis, which states that science and religion have historically been in conflict with each other.  White was on the side of science in that ‘conflict’.  This theory is widely rejected among contemporary historians of science.

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In Early Modern France

Ferber, Sarah – Demonic Possession & Exorcism In Early Modern France  (Routledge, 2004)

“This is a highly original study of demon possession and the ritual of exorcism, both of which were rife in early modern times, and which reached epidemic proportions in France…

The rite of exorcism…  generated as many problems as it resolved.  Possessed women endured frequently violent exorcisms, exorcists were suspected of conjuring devils, and possession itself came to be seen as a form of holiness, elevating several women to the status of living saints.”

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On Cases of Demonic Possession in Church History

Early Church

Nevius, John Livingston – ‘Testimony of the Early Christian Fathers’, pp. 127-133  in ch. 9 of Demon Possession & Allied Themes  (NY: 1894)

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1500’s

The Hungarian [Reformed] Catholic Confession (1562) – ‘Concerning Witches, Birds that Suck Children’s Blood, Wandering Spirits, or Demons’  in ed. James Dennison, Reformed Confessions  (RHB, 2010), 2.595-96

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On the English, Exorcist Minister John Darrel  10

A Brief Narration of the Possession, Dispossession & Repossession of William Sommers and of Some Proceedings Against Mr. John Darrell, Preacher, with Answers to such Obiections as are made to Prove the Pretended Counterfeiting of the Said Sommers…  ([Amsterdam, 1598])

On Darrel, see below.

The Trial of Master Darrel, or A Collection of Defences Against Allegations not yet suffered to receive convenient answer, Tending to Clear him from the Imputation of Teaching Sommers & Others to Counterfeit Possession of Devils, That the Mist of Pretended Counterfeiting being Dispelled, the glory of Christ his Royal Power in Casting out Devils (at the prayer & fasting of his people) may evidently appear  (Middelburg, 1599)

Harsnett, Samuel – A Discovery of the Fraudulent Practises of John Darrel…  in his Proceedings Concerning the Pretended Possession & Dispossession of William Somers at Nottingham: of Thomas Darling, the Boy of Burton at Caldwall: & of Katherine Wright at Mansfield, & Whittington: & of his Dealings with one Mary Couper at Nottingham, Detecting in Some Sort the Deceitful Trade in these Latter Days of Casting out Devils  (London, 1599)

Harsnett (1561–1631) was an Arminian, Anglican clergyman and academic who became the Archbishop of York in 1629.  He was a chief prosecutor of Darrel below.

Wikipedia: “Harsnett is noted for his sceptical attitude towards demons and witchcraft.  As the chaplain to Bishop [Richard] Bancroft, Harsnett was commissioned to write a treatise condemning the 1590’s exorcisms of John Darrell, having sat on the 1598 commissions which investigated his activities.  Darrell, curate at St. Mary’s Church, Nottingham was a puritan [leaning] minister who performed a series of public exorcisms in the English Midlands.  Eventually, the exorcisms caused such a disturbance that they attracted the attention of Anglican authorities in London.”

Darrel, John

A Brief Apology Proving the Possession of William Sommers. Written by John Darrel, a Faithful Minister of the Gospel: but published without his Knowledge, with a Dedicatory Epistle Disclosing some Disordered Proceedings Against the said John Darrel  (Middelburg, 1599)

A True Narration of the Strange & Grievous Vexation by the Devil, of 7 Persons in Lancashire, and William Somers of Nottingham, Wherein the Doctrine of Possession & Dispossession of Demoniacs out of the Word of God is particularly Applied unto Somers & the Rest of the Persons Controverted: together with the Use we are to make of these Works of God  ([England: English secret press] 1600)

Darrel (b. 1562) was an Anglican clergyman noted for his Puritan views and his practice as an exorcist, which led to imprisonment, being charged with fraudulent exorcism under the Archbishop of Canterbury, John Whitgift.

Wikipedia: “The prosecutor was Samuel Harsnett, who was to end his career as Archbishop of York. Harsnett’s views about Darrell were published in A Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures in 1603.

Shakespeare read it, and King Lear contains the names of devils, like Flibbertigibbet and Smulkin, taken from [this book]…  Darrell himself maintained that there was no fraud in his activities. What he wanted to prove was that Puritans were as capable as Roman Catholics in the matter of dispossessing evil spirits.”

Deacon, John & John Walker

A Summary Answer to All the Material Points in Any of Master Darrel’s Books, More Especially to that One Book of his, entitled, the Doctrine of the Possession & Dispossession of Demoniacs out of the Word of God  (London, 1601)

Deacon & Walker were Anglican ministers.

pp. 15-16:  “Wheresoeuer the Scriptures so speak of the possession of devils, they speak it only by metaphor…  you cannot possibly allege throughout the whole Scriptures any one text wherein either angels or spirits, or devils are otherwise spoken of than only by metaphor, the which places being interpreted literally, would pester the Church with many absurd and inconvenient opinions.”

Some of the more erroneous or questionable views of Deacon & Walker were collected by Darrel in, ‘Part of their Absurd & Unsound Positions’ in The Reply of John Darrel...  (below).

Dialogical Discourses of Spirits & Devils, Declaring their Proper Essence, Natures, Dispositions & Operations, their Possessions & Dispossessions: with other the appendantes, peculiarly appertaining to those special points, verie conducent & pertinent to the timely procuring of some Christian conformity in iudgement, for the peaceable compounding of the late sprung controversies concerning all such intricate & difficult doubts  (London, 1601)

Not recommended; see above.

Darrel, John

The Reply of John Darrel to the Answer of John Deacon & John Walker Concerning the Doctrine of the Possession & Dispossession of Demoniacs  ([England: English secret press,] 1602)

A Suruey of Certain Dialogical Discourses written by John Deacon & John Walker concerning the doctrine of the possession & dispossession of devils, wherein is manifested the palpable ignorance & dangerous errors of the discoursers, and what according to proportion of God his truth, every Christian is to hold in these points  ([England?] 1602)

A True Relation of the Grievous Handling of William Sommers of Nottingham, being possessed with a devil, showing how he was first taken & how lamentable from time to time he was tormented & afflicted  (London, 1641)  6 pp.

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Other 1600’s Books

R.B. – The Kingdom of Darkness: or the History of Dæmons, Specters, Witches, Apparitions, Possessions, Disturbances & other wonderful & supernatural delusions, mischievous feats & malicious impostures of the Devil: Containing near fourscore memorable relations, foreign and domestic, both ancient & modern. Collected from authentic records, real attestations, credible evidences & asserted by authors of undoubted verity. Together with a Preface obviating the common objections & allegations of the Sadduces & Atheists of the Age, who Deny the being of Spirits, Witches, etc…  (London, 1688)  169 pp.

R. B. (1632?-1725?)

Mather, Cotton – Memorable Providences, Relating to Witchcrafts & Possessions: A Faithful Account of Many Wonderful & Surprising Things that Have Befallen Several Bewitched & Possessed Persons in New-England  (Boston, 1689)  EEBO

Mather was a New England puritan minister.

Taylor, Zachary – The Devil Turned Casuist, or, The Cheats of Rome Laid Open in the Exorcism of a Despairing Devil, at the House of Thomas Pennington in Orrel in the Parish of Wigan & County of Lancaster  (London, 1696)  15 pp.  IA

Taylor (1653-1705) was a conformed, Anglican clergyman, known for his controversial writings. One of his opponents dubbed him the ‘Lancashire Levite’.

See also below on Taylor.

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On ‘The Surrey Demoniac’  5

Jollie, Thomas – The Surrey Demoniac, or, An Account of Satan’s Strange & Dreadful Actings, in and about the body of Richard Dugdale of Surrey, near Whalley in Lancashire & how he was dispossesed by God’s Blessing on the fastings & prayers of diverse [non-conformist] ministers & people, the Matter of Fact Attested by the Oaths of Several Credble Persons, before some of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace in the Said County  (London, 1697)

Jollie (1629-1703) was an English, Independent minister, ejected from the Church of England in 1662.  Surrey is a county in England.

Wikipedia: “On 28 April 1689 Jollie took up the case of Richard Dugdale, the alleged ‘demoniack’ of Surrey, near Clitheroe. He maintained that Dugdale’s was ‘as real a possession as any in the gospels.’  With the aid of over twelve non-conforming divines, including Richard Frankland and Oliver Heywood, he tried exorcism by prayer and fasting.

The young man’s recovery was slow; the religious meetings began on 8 May 1689, and were not effective till 24 March 1690.  In a tract of 1697, Jollie ascribed his cure to the prayers of the nonconformists.  Zachary Taylor (d. 1703), [Anglican] vicar of Ormskirk, son of an ejected minister of the same name, wrote two tracts (1697–9) to expose the ‘popery’ and ‘knavery’ of this business.  John Carrington (d. 1701), presbyterian minister at Lancaster, who had taken part in the exorcism, came forward in its defence; Frankland and Heywood were significantly silent.”

Wikipedia:  “Richard Dugdale, who was born about 1660…  near Whalley, Lancashire, a gardener, and servant…  In 1689 (or according to another account about 1694), aged around eighteen, he went to the rushbearing festival at Whalley, and got into a drunken fight with one of the other revellers.  On returning to his master’s house he professed to have seen apparitions, and the following day, being unwell and lying down, he declared that he had been alarmed by the door opening and a mist entering, followed by various supernatural appearances.  Becoming subject to violent fits, Dugdale left his situation and went home, when a physician was called in without benefiting him, as the fits continued and increased.

Dugdale’s father now applied to Thomas Jollie, the ejected minister of Altham, who with eight or nine other nonconformist ministers met almost every day at the house and endeavoured to exorcise the devil, which Dugdale affirmed to possess him, by prayer, examination, and fasting, but without result for at least a year.  Meanwhile Dugdale’s fame had spread abroad, and he was visited by several thousand persons, some dozens making declarations of his strange condition before Lord Willoughby and other magistrates.  It was claimed for Dugdale that he foretold future events, spoke languages of which he was ignorant, and sometimes with two voices at once, was at times wildly blasphemous, and at others preached sermons, that he was possessed of extraordinary strength, and was sometimes ‘as light as a bag of feathers, and at others as heavy as lead,’ that he vomited a large hair broom, and did a number of other miraculous things.

[Richard] Baxter and [Increase] Mather were so impressed that they wished to quote his case in their works on witchcraft; but Lord Chief Justice Holt is said to have discovered that the whole affair was an imposition…  After the lapse of considerably more than a year the fits left him, and up to 1697, when he was last heard of, he had only had one unimportant return of them.”

Taylor, Zachary

The Surrey Impostor: being an Answer to a Late Fanatical Pamphlet entitled, ‘The Surey Demoniack’ [by Jollie]  (London, 1697)

Taylor (1653-1705) was a conformed, Anglican clergyman, known for his controversial writings. One of his opponents dubbed him the ‘Lancashire Levite’.

Wikipedia: “Taylor is remembered for the part he took in exposing the handling of Richard Dugdale, the ‘Surey demoniac’, by publishing The Surey Impostor, 1697.  Many nonconformist ministers in Lancashire, including Thomas Jollie, took Dugdale’s condition to be demonic possession.  Taylor denounced the affair as imposing on the credulous.  Jollie replied, and Taylor rejoined in Popery, Superstition, Ignorance, and Knavery … very fully proved, 1698.  He was then attacked in The Lancashire Levite Rebuk’d (1698, anonymous, perhaps by John Carrington of Lancaster), and hence his nickname. Taylor retorted in Popery, Superstition, Ignorance, and Knavery confess’d and fully proved (1699).”

Popery, Superstition, Ignorance & Knavery Very Unjustly by a Letter in the General Pretended, but as far as was Charged, Very Fully Proved upon the Dissenters that were Concerned in the Surey Imposture  (London, 1698)

Carrington, John – The Lancashire Levite Rebuked, or, A Farther Vindication of the Dissenters from Popery, Superstition, Ignorance & Knavery Unjustly Charged on them by Mr. Zachary Taylor in his Two Books about the Surey Demoniac, in a Letter to Himself  (London, 1698)

“John Carrington (d. 1701), presbyterian minister at Lancaster, who had taken part in the exorcism, came forward in its defence…” – Wikipedia

Jollie, Thomas – A Vindication of the Surey Demoniac as No Impostor, or a Reply to a Certain Pamphlet Published by Mr. Zachary Taylor called, ‘The Surey Impostor’, with a further clearing & confirming of the truth as to Richard Dugdale’s Case & Cure  (London, 1698)  IA

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1700’s

Clarke, Adam – pp. 245-91  of Memoirs of the Wesley Family; Collected Principally from Original Documents  2nd ed. in 2 vols, vol. 1  (London, 1836)  in The Miscellaneous Works of Adam Clarke, vol. 1  (London, 1836)

Clarke was the well-known Arminian Bible commentator and theologian.  The Wesley Family refers to that of John and Charles Wesley, the founders of Methodism.  The recounting centers around the experiences and narrations of Samuel Wesley, their father (an Anglican minister).  These accounts were well confirmed in their day.

Calmet, Augustine – Dissertations 50-52  in Treatise on the Apparitions of Spirits and on Vampires or Revenants of Hungary, Moravia, et al.  ed. Warren; tr. Christmas  Buy  (Paris, 1746)

Calmet (1672–1757) was a French, Romanist, Benedictine monk and Biblical scholar, known for his Bible dictionary.

“A 1700’s treatise surfaced two centuries ago regarding the supernatural and scientific phenomenon that plagued Europe in an era when magic, witchcraft, demonology, instances of haunting and even cases of vampires were recorded in historical documentation.  It was during the age of reason when a Black Monk from the Benedictine Order of the 18th century penned a work that would become one of the most influential and controversial works of his time.  A plethora of cases regarding events in the supernatural had plagued mankind with fear and mystery throughout history, many inhabitants to the regions of Europe came under an epidemic of social hysteria which steamed from reports of corpses rising from their graves, killing and sucking the blood of victims inhabiting small villages or visitations and the haunting of ghosts, evil spirits and demons.

The Black Monk, Abbot Don Augustin Calmet tasked himself with the study of these…  historically documented reports for the purpose of providing the public with the rules to determine a claim’s legitimacy through philosophical reasoning and scientific examination that was approved by the King of France in 1746.  This work provides an in depth look into the history of most superstitions, mythologies, the analysis of events depicted in ancient texts from various religions and historically renowned cases…

Calmet lays out the rules for determining the fraudulent claims from the real while also providing a “how to” manual when dealing with or investigating occult matters in witchcraft, ghosts, vampires and demonic possessions. This work was written by an ordained abbot monk and was accepted by European society as scientific research in his time.”

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1800’s

Griesinger, W. – pp. 168-171  of bk. 3, ch. 1, ‘States of Mental Depression–Melancholia’  in Mental Pathology & Therapeutics  (NY: 1882)

Griesinger was a physician and professor of medicine at the university of Berlin.  This is his account of demoniacs in his day, giving references to other sources as well.

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The Testimony of Secular Psychiatrists

Intro

The books below are only here to give evidence of secular psychiatrists becoming persuaded, out of natural honesty and their otherwise inexplicable observations, of the reality of demonic influence and possession.  Our intent here is that their accounts be made aware of, not that their books are recommended.

The larger medical article from which the quote below comes, shows how secularists differently interpret the evidence (in this case, by simply asserting over and over again, without any proof, evidence, or even explanation that such symptoms are a part of the claimed, natural, disease process, requiring implicit and blind faith in themselves).

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Quote

Tajima-Pozo, Zambrano-Enriquez, de Anta et al. – ‘Practicing Exorcism in Schizophrenia’  BMJ Case Rep. (Feb. 15, 2011)  PMID: 22707465

“When she was 22 years old, the patient began to hear voices during a trip to the Canary Islands. The patient reported feeling that on one occasion someone or something invisible pushed her down the stairs. She stated, ;the spirit got inside… raped me more than once… I started to feel a presence that made me squirm in bed, vomiting and feeling sick….’  These behaviours led to her first psychiatric admission, following which she remained in hospital on a voluntary basis, describing a pattern of kinesthetic hallucinations and delusional interpretations.  Her diagnosis at discharge was paranoid schizophrenia, treated with risperidone (6 mg/day) and alprazolam (0.5 mg/day)…

A year and a half later the patient was admitted for a third time to the acute unit after jumping from a railing in an airport in response to instructions from auditory hallucinations. During this period the patient was treated with clozapine (300 mg/day), alprazolam (0.5 mg/day) and lormetazepam (2 mg/day).

Her last admission to the acute unit occurred after cessation of antipsychotic medication and cannabis use, resulting in promiscuous behaviour. Her treatment at discharge was risperidone (12 mg/day), risperidone depot (50 mg/14 days), biperiden retard (8 mg/day) and lormetazepam (2 mg/day).

On examination, no particular psychomotor disturbance was evident, and facial expressiveness was preserved.  The patient displayed empathic contact with mood reactivity…  Kinesthetic hallucinations were described as an agent which entered and left her body, twisting her stomach.  The patient denied having auditory hallucinations, although she stated they had occurred in the past.  She displayed apathy and anhedonia, and social withdrawal, with a poor social life outside the family environment.  The patient…  took medication correctly, but believed there was a spiritual presence in her body.

The patient had persistent kinesthetic hallucinations despite receiving pharmacological treatment (high doses of risperidone, and previous treatment with clozapine, olanzapine and ziprasidone, and psychotherapy).

…The peculiarity of this case rests not only in psychotic symptoms refractory [resistant, unmanageable] to medication…”

“Some months later the patient contacted a clergyman via a website. The clergyman was a renowned expert on exorcisms and a frequent guest on TV programs on paranormal phenomena. During this period the patient received a total of eight sessions of exorcism, and described deeper sleep and feeling more restful…  the patient shouted, writhed and occasionally vomited during the sessions.”

“In such cases good communication with priests is recommended, but we are surprised that in 21st century and in Europe, there are still experts and clerics who believe that some types of schizophrenia are due to demonic possession.  Our intention was to ask an expert cleric from the Madrid archdiocese to try to convince the patient that her symptoms were due to a mental disorder, in an effort to improve her insight. To our surprise, [Romanist] clerics assumed that the patient’s psychotic symptoms were due to a malign presence.”

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Books

Peck, M. Scott – Glimpses of the Devil: A Psychiatrist’s Personal Accounts of Possession, Exorcism & Redemption  Buy  (Free Press, 2005)

“Until the day Dr. Peck first met the young woman called Jersey, he did not believe in the devil. In fact, as a mature, highly experienced psychiatrist, he expected that this case would resolve his ongoing effort to prove to himself, as scientifically as possible, that there were absolutely no grounds for such beliefs. Yet what he discovered could not be explained away simply as madness or by any standard clinical diagnosis…

…he recounts his journey from skepticism to eventual acknowledgment of the reality of an evil spirit, even at the risk of being shunned by the medical establishment.”

Gallagher, Richard – Demonic Foes: My Twenty-Five Years as a Psychiatrist Investigating Possessions, Diabolic Attacks, and the Paranormal  Buy  (HarperOne, 2020)  267 pp.

“Successful New York psychiatrist Richard Gallagher was skeptical yet intrigued when a hard-nosed, no-nonsense Catholic priest asked him to examine a woman for a possible exorcism.  Meeting her, Gallagher was astonished.  The woman’s behavior defied logic.  In an instant, she could pinpoint a person’s secret weaknesses.  She knew how individuals she’d never known had died, including Gallagher’s own mother, who passed away after a lengthy battle with ovarian cancer.  She spoke fluently in multiple languages, including Latin—but only when she was in a trance.

This was not psychosis, Gallagher concluded.  It was, in his scientific estimation, what could only be describe as paranormal ability.  The woman wasn’t mentally disturbed—she was possessed.  This remarkable case was the first of many that Gallagher would encounter…” – Amazon

“Gallagher, MD, a board-certified psychiatrist, is Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at New York Medical College and a faculty member of the Psychoanalytic Institute of Columbia University.  He is a Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude graduate of Princeton University and winner of the Stinnecke Class Prize, a scholarship award in classical Latin and Greek.  He trained as resident in psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine…

He has also helped train major groups of exorcists in the United States in distinguishing possession cases and other diabolic attacks from medical and psychiatric pathology.” – Amazon

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Bibliographies

Malcom, Howard – ‘Demoniacal Possession’  in Theological Index…  (Boston, 1868). p. 145  44 brief references in multiple languages, only some of which are on this page.

ed. Taylor, Scott – ‘Appendix: the English Controversy Over the Gospel Demoniacs, 1737-1805, Arranged Chronologically’  in ch. 3, ‘The Gadarene Demoniac in the English Enlightenment’  in ed. Michelson & Venables, A Linking of Heaven and Earth: Studies in Religious and Cultural History in Honor of Carlos M.N. Eire …   Pre  (Routledge, 2012), pp. 63-66

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May Demons Inhabit Certain Places?  c.f. Isa. 13:21 & 34:14

Quote

William Perkins

on Mt. 6:13  in A Godly & Learned Exposition of Christ’s Sermon in the Mount...  (Cambridge, 1608), pp. 315-6

“([Margin Note:] Places Haunted by Evil Spirits must be Shunned)

3rd Use.  This branch of the petition serves to direct us what to do in this case: say that a dwelling house or some other place is by God’s permission haunted and abused by some evil spirit, whether may a man lawfully frequent or abide in such a place?

Answer:  By this petition is plain he may not; for here we pray to be delivered from evil, and therefore we may not voluntarily thrust ourselves into such a place as is haunted by the devil: would we come within the compass of the lion’s paw, or within the chain of a mad dog, or of an hunger-bitten bear?  Why then should we rashly thrust ourselues into the danger of the devil, who like a roaring lion seeks continually whom he may devour.  Many ignorant people are so bold-hardy that they will raie upon and defy the deuil, and command him to be gone.  But without a calling thereunto we may not so do.

Indeed, if by God’s providence we be called to live in such places necessarily, then this we may do, we must not reason with the devil, but betake ourselves to God by humble and earnest prayer, and complain of Satan’s vexation, making God our shelter and defence both for soul and body: else if we presume to meddle with him without a calling from God, we may justly be foiled and abused by him (as the sons of Sceva were, Acts 19:14,16) because we have no promise from the Lord to be protected from him.”

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Counsel Against the Assaults of Devils

Sprint, John – The Christian Sword & Buckler, or a Letter by Dr. Sprint to a Man Seven Years Grieviously Afflicted in Conscience & Fearfully Possessed by the Devil, Very Comfortable & Commodious to Withstand the Assaults of Satan  (London, 1623)  18 pp.

Sprint (d. 1623) was an English clergyman and theologian, as well as a writer in favor of conformity, despite earlier Puritan views that had led him into conflict with the authorities.  Both of his sons were ministers, and were ejected in 1662.

‘Possessed’ in the title may be an overstatement, as nothing in the letter clearly implies that the man was actually possessed; Sprint speaks of the man’s condition for seven years being ‘senseless’, though the title speaks of his conscience being afflicted for that time, till he was ‘delivered’ from it.  Sprint, writing after the seven years, considers the man to be a Christian.

The letter, in counselling against the further assaults of devils, in general, is excellent.

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And it came to pass…  a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:  The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, ‘These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.’  And this did she many days.  But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.  And he came out the same hour.”

Acts 16:16-18

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