A Scribe of the Kingdom of God Encounters the Demonic

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A Scribe of the Kingdom of God Encounters the Demonic


This anthology of essays is an important component of my calling as a “scribe of the Kingdom,” i.e., historian on Church issues. Contrary to popular misconceptions, Jesus did not consider all scribes to be enemies to the Gospel, although many certainly were. He said that some were useful to the Kingdom of God:

Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old” (Matthew 13;52 NASB).

Even while I pastored two Hispanic congregations and ministered in various healing advances and missions, I still sensed the major calling of my life was to be a scribe of the Kingdom, specifically as Christian historian and investigator of spiritual issues. That sense began a decade earlier soon after I experienced a reconversion about 1978. I understood that I was to dedicate my training as historian to proclaim the miraculous works of God in the Christian healing movement which blossomed so vibrantly as part of the Charismatic Renewal of the 1970s.

One of the first models I found for my scribal work was the Medieval Christian historian, Venerable Bede (672-735). Here was a man limited by the resource poor environment of the early Middle Ages, but who managed to put together one of the classics of Christian historical writings, A History of History of the English Church and People.[1] Bede was judicious in using his documentary resources and discerning in his analysis and interrogations of eyewitnesses. His account included numerous miracles, signs and wonders. These were criticized by modern historians as a blemish on his otherwise fine work. However, from the perspective of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements we can see that nothing he recorded regarding the miraculous was improbable or impossible, and in fact, often repeated by faith filled Christians today.[2]

A little later I encountered the work of Fr. Herbert Thruston, a Jesuit scholar who worked out of Fordham university in the 1940s and produced a series of articles on mystical and spiritual phenomenon which were later collected into several books. He was a master of evaluating the truth or falsity of supernatural and miraculous events. Among his best works was Surprising Mystics.[3] His works have influenced me deeply and I recommend that every pastor and Christian theologian read at least ne of his works.

I began studying the Anglican-Episcopal healing awakening about thirty-five years ago. That healing awakening started in the 1900s when healing prayer was virtually unknown among the major Christian denominations, and I ran into the works of two Anglican priest who exemplified the office of “scribe of the kingdom” par excellence, the Revs. F. W. Puller and Pearcy Dearmer. Both produced master works on the history of the healing in Christianity.[4] The works they produced greatly encouraged the nascent Christian healing movement in England. All of which is to say that I have had wonderful models for my journey as a scribe of the Kingdom.

Keep in mind that Jesus’ job description for a scribe is not only historical writing and scriptural interpretation, but also one who finds “things new” (Matt. 13:52). In this work there are historical and interpretative articles but also essays that bring out “things new.” Here I need to clarify what type of “thing new” I present. These are all based on parts of scripture that are little understood or developed in classical theology.

In the past two centuries the churches of the West have fallen into deep heresies trying to add innovations in theology, many of them demonically laced. For instance, the “Death of God” theology of the 1960s denied the miracles of Jesus and the supernatural elements of the Bible and affirmed that Christianity should be a religion without thought of the supernatural – a disastrous mistake. Unlike the various modes of liberal theology, my “things new” do not take out or discard anything from the Bible, but rather point to passages of scripture that are little understood or ignored, as in my discussion of the afterlife, or the mysterious passage of 1 Corinthians 15:28-29, all of which are discussed in this book (chapters 12 to14).

My books and articles are often controversial. Pointing out “things new” ruffles theological feathers. Many Christians think that their salvation depends on the perfect theology of their denomination instead of a perfect savior. Their understanding is that their denomination has everything right and any “things new” are invariably heretical. For example, although a gifted Bible commentator, John MacArthur opposes the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit and the manifest gifts of the Spirit in the Church because it does not conform to his traditional cessationist views. MacArthur once called me out, claiming that I had “reckless faith.”[5] When I receive a judgment like that from a modern cessationsit Pharisee I consider it a compliment. I hope to continue my calling as scribe of the Kingdom and present biblical “things new” to the Church until the day the Lord calls me home.

Most of the essays originated as blog posts on the Google-based Blogger site.  I began posting there in 2017, and by 2020, I had received over 300,000 page views. One Christian reviewer put my blog, “The Anglican Pentecostal,” in the category of the top-ten Christian blogs – I was deeply grateful for his analysis. However, the Woke elites that managed Blogger did not like what I had to say, especially about the demonic. In 2020, my blog was abruptly removed. Blogger said it had written postings that were “contrary to community standards.” When I asked them to clarify, no additional explanation was given. Sadly, I was unable to make an appeal. They would not even let me negotiate the possibility of removing the “problematic” posts. They canceled me.

The actions of the Blogger “gatekeepers” were terribly disappointing because I spent considerable time researching and developing those postings. On their platform I also included some of my hobbies and personal interests. One of my pages was the “Christian Card-Stock Modeler” where I posted about card-stock airplanes and hand painted Bible figures. Another of my page had pictures documenting my Army service in Vietnam. Elsewhere, one of my articles on the blog was an aggadah, a story which gives imaginary but feasible details to a Bible event. The article imagined the Holy family while it was in Egypt, and I think it was quite a lovely piece.

Tragically, every article and image that I posted was swept away by the anti-Christian Woke cabal at Google/Blogger. Because I had no inkling that Google would shut down my site, I did not have backups. All appeared to be lost. Thankfully, through the efforts of online friends, many of the posts were recovered. Troy Day of “Pentecostal Theology” housed many of the recovered articles on his server where they can still be accessed today. Occasionally I have posted new articles on Troy’s site, but I’ve also had reviews and articles published by Pneuma Review, an e-journal dedicated to Pentecostal/charismatic issues. This anthology presents several of my best articles from my old blog, as well as what I published on Pentecostal Theology and Pneuma Review.



  1. Learning about the demonic

My encounters, research, and writings on the demonic are the fruit of a lifetime of providential events that I have come to understand in my mature years. I was born into a devote Roman Catholic family in New York City (1943) and went to parochial school, a fine Catholic prep school and finally, to Fordham University. The teachings I received on demons and the ministry of exorcism were basically sound – with the exaggerations inherent in Catholic theology (see chapter 2 below). In any case, they were way more biblically accurate than Protestant theology of the period which avoided much discussion of the demonic except for symbolic allusions, and said nothing of about exorcisms.

What was lacking in my otherwise fine education was lacking to all major Christian denominations except the Pentecostals, who were ignored by mainline Christians). This was an experiential dimension to the doctrines we were taught. As the author of Hebrews wrote, doctrine must be authenticated by the gifts of the Spirit, and “signs and wonders”

We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away… This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.  God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. (Heb 2:1-4)

Catholics taught about miracles in the saints of old, but at the parish level they were not present. Miracles thus became a sort of “mythology for the pious” that the skeptical could easily disbelieve and sneer at. When I became a charismatic Catholic, and then a charismatic Anglican, and saw and ministered with the gifts of the Spirit, I understood that the saints’ tales were not mythology but true tales of the Church’s heroes of the past. But as I boy and young man in 1950s and 1960s, I saw no verifiable signs, worders or healing in our Christian life. We prayed roseries and lit candles to St. Ann when someone was ill, but I never heard of an unambiguous and miraculous healing of the type I later experiences in Pentecostal and Charismatic churches. My older brother dies of a blood clot. In his last hours a priest came to give him “extreme unction,” the sacrament for the dying, but not a word was said about healing in that rite.

On the subject of demons and exorcisms, we were taught that is it was done by Catholic priests, but my family never knew of a priest who had done one. I experienced on “whisper’ of the reality of the demonic from a conversation with one of the parish priests. He related how he went to a home of a dying person to give the sacrament of extreme unction; he raised his hand in benediction and the troubled and unsettled patient became still. That was very thin gruel as a verification of demonic activity.

The theological and philosophical instruction I received at Fordham University in the 1960s, one of the best Catholic universities at the time, was paradoxically both very good and profoundly destructive. The Jesuits there were trying to modernize Catholic theology away from the antiquated Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas – long time the official theologian of the Catholic Church. Some progress was being made. One course I took at Fordham was taught by a theologian attempting this revision. He highlighted the work of the Catholic lay theologian Dietrich Von Hilderbrand, whose insights into the recurrence of Pharisaism prepped me to a breakthrough understanding decades later of Pharisaism as a perennial problem which stifles the Holy Spirit’s work of revival.[6]

The other aspect of my theological education was decidedly negative. The more radical Jesuits at Fordham had been deeply influenced by Protestant liberal. The liberal heresy they imbibed was the “Death of God” movement inspired by the philosopher Nietzsche, and then quite the rage. It affirmed that the miracles in the Gospels and Christian history never happened and Christian theology should adopt to that “reality.” In my writings I have called this profound heresy and apostacy by its acronym, “DOG” theology.

The tragedy was that even Evangelical theologians who believed in the miracles of the Bible would not point to modern day miracles and healings, nor contradict DOG theology with “facts on the ground.” This was because they had accepted the doctrine of cessationism, that the age of miracles ceased with the death of the Apostles. Thus, they did not look for the obvious available evidence to contradict the liberal and DOG assertions. Many reformist Catholic theologians, living in a time where the miraculous and active gifts of the Spirit were related to saints’ stories, accepted the liberal Protestant line. Of course, they could have witnesses the miraculous, had they visited Pentecostal congregations and collected evidence of present-day healings and miracles, but the Pentecostals were written off as emotional cults unworthy of serious investigations.[7]

In any case, DOG theology was seriously destructive to my generation of college educated Catholics, and many of my friends lost any belief in the veracity of the Gospels, and ultimately became agnostic or atheistic. I resisted that move for several years, but eventually (cir. 1968) became a “Nietzschean atheist,” trying to live a life as a heroically as possible without belief in God. That did not work, and after about four years of increasing unhappiness I was wooed by the Lord to belief again in Jesus and the Church via a series of dreams.[8]

But at the same time, (1974) I attended a New Age workshop called Silva Mind Control where we were taught meditation, visualizations and New Age doctrines, all as the inherent powers of the mind. . A nun went through the course in my class, so I felt right at home. At the end of the course, we were taught how to meditate deeply and contact a spiritual advisor, in reality a familiar spirit. Thankfully that exercise did not work for me.

The course put me in a circle of people who experienced spiritual phenomenon regularly and talked about it as I had never experienced in my Catholic years. I had a job which allowed me to read during certain slack periods of work, so I boned up on the current metaphysical and New Age books, and joined a local Theosophy group and a New Age teaching organization called The Foundation of Truth.

Later I took the advanced Silva course. The instructor mentioned that at certain deep meditative levels one can recall past lives. That intrigued me. A Catholic priest was going through this class also. I befriended him and said, “This reincarnations thing is heresy.”  He said, “No, not really, Origin believed in it.”  I took that as permission to investigate. A few weeks later I did a regression into past lives on a friend, and then formed a group to regularly do so. Mind you, I was a Christian as I had regained my believe in Jesus as savior and Son of God, but now believed in reincarnation as probably true. Our group was called the Christian’s Institute of Parapsychology – it lasted about four years. As we facilitated the regressions, I found many to be believable tales of lives in the past, “proving” reincarnation, but some were obviously gibberish and fantastic, which we termed “irrational regressions.”

At the same time I joined a local Theosophy group and  I was taught that Jesus was one of many “exalted masters” who had reincarnated many time, but was not the unique son of God. If I recall correctly, someone called Katonie was supposed to be even of a higher status. That made me sad (my spirit was having a fit) but decided that I had to face the ‘truth.”

Thankfully, along my journey into the New Age realms I had in mind what my religion teacher in junior year of high school said abut spiritual experiences and visions, etc. That they had three possible origins, the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Satan, or merely a subconscious invention. That made me question the regressions and the other spiritual events I was readingab out and experiencing. I was especially suspicious of mediumistic experiences as modeled at the Foundation of Truth, another metaphysical group I had joined. I began reading the classical Catholic discernment literature, which did not mention past life visions directly, but consistently pointed the three origins of spiritual experiences, and identified their characteristics. The classical Catholic literature saw spiritual visions and experience as a normal part of the Christian’s spiritual life, but warned of its dangers. Protestant cessationist literature of the era affirmed that spiritual visions were “mysticism” and all delusional.[9]

The discernment literature I was reading often discussed the major false prophecies of Church history.[10] Decades later, this gave me a heads up to the prophecies surrounding Trump’s presidency, and especially the shameful and ridiculous prophecies pertaining to the 2020 election. Had the Pentecostals and charismatic prophets been knowledgeable of the classical literature of discernment of prophecies they would not have fallen into their pit of ridiculous prophecies which so disgraced the entire Evangelical movement. I ended up writing two works about the disastrous Trump prophecies. Both books had to be self-published as Christian publishers were reluctant to offend their pro-Trump readers.[11]

But back to the 1970s. Providentially, I ran into a book called Madam Blavatsky: Priestess of the Occult. [12]  This book practically jumped out to me from a library shelf. My undergraduate and graduate degrees were in history, so I recognized the book as the work of excellent historical scholarship. It plainly documented that Madam Blavatsky, the founder of Theosophy, was a fraud and charlatan whose writings were products of massive plagiarizing. I verified that from the theosophy books I had bought. I felt immense relief and reaffirmed my belief in Jesus a unique son of God and my trust in the Bible as the word of God. But I did not leave the metaphysical movement at that time and continued doing regressions. Like C.S. Lewis’s journey to Evangelical Christianity, my exit from the Metaphysical Movement was by steps. On the regressions, a few were not merely irrational but troubling, and aligned themselves with what I was reading in the traditional literature of discernment as demonically influenced. That is, some of the regressions exalted the person to believe themselves highly evolved souls, etc.

In 1976 my sister, a nun, came to visit me in Atlanta. The Catholic bishop was Thomas Donnellan who decades earlier had been her spiritual director. She wanted to visit him, and after a telephone conversation the bishop invited us to have dinner with him. I mentioned to him what I was doing in with regressions and after he listened carefully, he said. “Keep me informed about this.”  I did so in a yearly report to him. I believe his acquiescence to my research was a blessing that helped my discernment process and kept me out of serious trouble.

By that year I had also done several deliverance sessions with much success. OK, many of you are thinking, “How can a person involved in the Metaphysical Movement do a Christian deliverance?” The answer is, I loved the Lord and trusted the Bible even through the confusions of the New Age doctrines. In regard to exorcism and deliverance ministry, I was in better position to do them than say, an orthodox Presbyterian minister who was a cessationist, and who knew nothing about demonization because the seminaries would teach nothing about it.[13] The Lord does not demand perfect theology for effective ministry, it is more important to have a trust in Him and the Bible.

I shifted my research to exorcism and deliverance, something I already some knowledge by reading Catholic discernment literature. But now it became my central focus. I had the ambition to write a book comparing the various Christian traditions of Exorcism and deliverance, the Pentecostal/charismatic, the Roman Catholic and The Eastern orthodox. After two years it occurred to me that I was not ready to write such a book and put it away for later. A wise decision. To be clear, this is not that book. Actually, chapter two in this work is a brief comparison of the Roman Catholic and Pentecostal/charismatic forms of deliverance ministry, and based on that earlier research.

At the beginning of 1979 I had managed to get an invitation to a Unitarian singles group to talk about my findings and experience in deliverance and exorcisms. After the talk I had coffee with one of the participants who told me of his strange experience with meditation. One evening while in a deep meditative state the most beautiful woman he had ever seen came into his mind. He experienced sex with her, which was extremely satisfying. But she told him that before she did it again with him, he would have to tell a lie. He did not. I told him to resist her advances if she appeared again, as she was a demon, called a succubus, and obeying it for sexual favors would lead to his moral and spiritual degeneration.  I had learned about the description of succubus from my readings, but this was the only time I had evidence of its modern occurrence. The succubus is dismissed by modern writes. I never had contact with that young man again, but he seemed to have understood and taken seriously what I said.

Earlier, about 1977 I joined a Catholic charismatic group associated with the Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta. I really enjoyed the worship and believed myself superior to them because of my knowledge of metaphysics. God’s graces truly worked on me through them. One of the reasons I definitively discerned the Gnosticism of the Metaphysical groups I was in was the comparison of love (agape) between the Charismatic Catholics and my Metaphysical friends. They talked love all the time, and did eros a lot, but had relatively little agape.

All of which is to say, that as I finished the decade of the 1970s, I had existed the New Age Movement, Theosophy, etc.  and understood them as demonic driven and Gnostic. I had accumulated a considerable understanding of the literature on the demonic and the ministry of exorcism/deliverance. In 1978, when I started courting Carolyn, who became my wife, I was still doing regressions, but also had a healing ministry and deliverance ministry which I did when the opportunity arose. I met Carolyn at a singles event at Mt. Paran Church of God, one of the great charismatic churches of the era. On our third date I invited her to “an exorcism and dinner.” I had an appointment for a session that evening. Carolyn helped me do that deliverance and discovered she had the gift of discernment of spirits. She helped me in my subsequent deliverance ministry and several of the regression, but that phased out after I had published my work, Past Life Vision 1n 1982.

Let me explain that book, my first published work (1983). The first part of Past Life Visions discussed the issue of discernment form a biblical perspective and from the traditional writings on the issue. I applied these to the findings to the past life visions that came up in our regressions as well as the metaphysical literature on reincarnation. My conclusions were that they were almost always demonically inspired. The evidence for this was in the moral fruit they produced as in vanity and a sense of high spiritual achievement; several evangelical apologetic writers have cited my work to this effect.

The last section of the work was nuanced. I suggest that the demonic counterfeit of reincarnation doctrine points to the biblically true spiritual tie between Elijah and John the Baptist (Matt 17:10-13, and Mark 9:11-13, and Luke 1 :15-17). The Luke passage is especially important as it implies a strong connection that is not reincarnation, rather a spiritual connection of the spirit. Regardless of interpretation, the tie was something significant, as the ministry of Elijah continued and morphed in the ministry of John the Baptist. That is not heresy, that is biblical.[14] Church tradition is woefully remiss in developing and explain this tie.[15] I asked in that work, “Do such ties continue in post-Biblical times? Is it common or rare?”  I found a very interesting passage pertaining to this form of spiritual relatedness one of Gregory of Nyssa’s writings. He was one of the great Church Fathers, and one of the few who paid attention to the gifts of the Spirit. His comments pertained to a vision his mother had before the birth of his sister, Macrina in which an angle announced the child’s relationship to Thecla, a martyr of the First Century. Macrina went on to live a saintly Christian life and became foundress of an influential convent.[16] Gregory did not comment on this, but it was obviously a spiritual tie of the Elijah-John the Baptist kind.

At the time I wrote Past Live Visions I believed some of the regressions I facilitated pointed to this Alijah-John the Baptist tie and I favored the reincarnation interpretation. But I now understand that some of the regression I thought true were in fact subtly demonic. So, I have done no regressions since that period, and am partisan to the spirit-relationship understanding of Luke, as it accommodates Hebrews 9:27, the scripture that most Christians quote when the issue of reincarnation comes up. After I published Past Life Visions, I encountered several Evangelical and charismatic persons who told me in strict confidence that they had experiences some sot of past life vision in dreams.  I advised them to pray over that dream and ask forgiveness for any un-repented sin that might be affecting them, and to leave the interpretation to the realm of incomplete revelation and mystery that it is.

Perhaps someone smarter than me will have the biblical insight and discernment to give a more definitive answer. Some spiritual questions the Lord has just not chosen to give us biblical detailed revelation, and sometimes nothing at all, as in the possibility of extra-terrestrial life.[17]

What I did discover in my journey out of the Metaphysical Movement was that the demonic was real, destructive and sometimes extremely subtle in its destructiveness. Anything that has spiritual importance will be distorted and counterfeited by the demonic. The demons and deliverance/exorcism ministry of the new Testament needs to be taken with upmost seriousness by every Christian church. The essays in this book will give advice on countering and limiting the destructiveness of the demonic.



  1. The Church’s wounded traditions of exorcism and deliverance

Contemporary views of Exorcism and deliverance

In the West, our attitude towards exorcism and deliverance ministries, and our ability to accept the plain Biblical evidence, has been distorted by multiple factors. In the secular West there is a strong prejudice to disbelieve in the reality of the supernatural and reduce demonic manifestations to instances of abnormal psychology. Not surprisingly, the poverty of Protestant tradition on exorcism produced by the theology of cessationism has left little to say about the topic. This leads many Protestant ministers, especially those influenced by liberal theology, to dismiss demonic activities and manifestations as psychological abnormalities.[18]

The predominance of the Roman Catholic traditions on exorcism, as portrayed in the film “The Exorcist,” has sown certain distortions. In fact, it is among the Pentecostals and charismatics that the Protestant wing of Christianity has substantially recovered a robust and Biblical practice of exorcism and deliverance as a routine practice. [19]

The confusion about exorcism and deliverance is exacerbated by a raging theological divide, fueled mostly by the non-charismatic evangelical wing of Protestantism. Certain evangelicals claim that a Christian cannot possibly be possessed or infected by demonic entities. The constant experience of ministers who venture out in this field should put that theory to rest. Cases like Tom chapter 4 below) i.e., persons who are Christian but have backslidden in their spiritual lives, come up frequently. Scripturally, the account of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-3) a born-again and Spirit-filled couple in the Jerusalem Jewish/Christian community who let Satan “fill their hearts” is Biblical proof enough that at times Christians need deliverance ministry.

A limited recovery of exorcism and deliverance ministry in Protestantism came via nineteenth century Protestant missionaries in Asia and Africa. There missionaries encountered societies where the Gospel had never been preached and the demonic presence was overt. The most famous example of this was the work of the Rev. John Nevius, perhaps the most distinguished American missionary in a century filled with heroic and dedicated missionaries (see chapter 7). He came to China out of seminary a convinced cessationist, as all his colleagues. However, he was led by the example of his own converts to abandon this belief. They read the Bible simply and without its cessationist overlay, and understood that demons were real, and could be exorcised by the name of Jesus for the healing of their friends and neighbors. This was a general pattern for many missionaries in Asia and Africa. The native lay exorcists not only taught the ministry of exorcism to their Protestant missionary teachers, but also did most of the actual ministry in this area.[20]

That lesson from the 1900s was ignored or rationalized away as pertaining only to non-Christian countries, and therefore unnecessary in Europe and America. It was forgotten until a few evangelical scholars half a century later began a new series of investigation into the occult and demonology.[21] Many mainline ministers, especially in the liberal persuasion, still dismiss the matter of the demonic and exorcism as mere “superstition” or misdiagnoses abnormal psychology.

The Catholic tradition has many good points and is especially useful in dealing with persons who are seriously infected by the demonic or “possessed.” That is, a person’s behavior is dominated by a demonic spirit, and which may manifest in bizarre phenomenon. This was well represented in the movie the “Exorcist,” based on the book of the same name, and which in turn was based on a real case.[22] Such total possession is very rare (and very destructive). I personally have never encountered anything that severe, but the literature on such severe possessions is consistent throughout the ages and should not be doubted even if it makes one uncomfortable.

But the Catholic understanding of possession and exorcism, with the priest as lead minister, leaves unanswered and under-ministered the whole issue of lesser states of demonic infestation. The Catholic lack in this area came home to me when I watched the excellent PBS program “The American Experience” on President John Kennedy. As president, and even before, he had repeated trysts and affairs in spite of having a beautiful wife.  Kennedy was asked by a friend why he had so many of these, and he answered, “I am compelled to do that…”[23] President Kennedy was not “possessed” in the Catholic definition of the word, but he did need serious deliverance ministry for a spirit of fornication, adultery and other attaching spirits. No priest or anyone else ministered to him in that way, and more than likely would have defined Kennedy’s situation as needing repentance, confession and the practice of self-control, but not an issue needing deliverance ministry.


Suggested readings on deliverance/exorcism


Deliverance/exorcism is not rocket science, and in fact it is very exciting and inspiring once one understands the authority that every Christian has over the demonic. Following are excellent sources:


Randy Clark. The Biblical Guidebook to Deliverance (Lake Mary:

Charisma House, 2015.  Terrific and practical.

James Kallas. The Stanward View: Studies in Pauline theology.

(Philadelphia, Westminster, 1966). Sadly, this work is out of print and hard to get. It is a masterpiece of Biblical theology which shows how central battling the demonic is to the Gospel. Kallas also shows that Paul understood Jesus’ ministry as principally that of undoing the havoc and sin produced by Satan’s intrusion into the earth.

Francis MacNutt.  Deliverance from Evil Spirits (Chosen: 1995).

Marvelously balanced and intelligent view of the demonic and the Christian’s responsibility to do deliverance ministry as part of the healing ministry.

John L. Nevius, Demon Possession and Allied Themes (London: George

Redway, 1897). Modern editions in print.  This classic work is worth reading today.



  • If it quacks like a duck

Fog of Battle:

As Christians, we are in a state of constant spiritual warfare against the demonic realm.  But as in most wars, there is a “fog of battle” in which our intelligence of the enemy is limited. Some Christian writers claim more than we can know about the demonic, as in the exact order of hierarchy and functions of the “thrones, principalities, powers, etc.” Especially difficult is the discernment and demarcation in individuals between psychological issues, chemical imbalances, etc., and demonic activity in and through a person. Actually, all three of these factors might operate in a person at the same time.

A major problem in the struggle against the demonic is that most pastors and ministers are poorly educated in the ministry of deliverance and exorcism. More precisely, many ministers have been mis-educated in this field via the theology of cessationism which limits the miraculous, including the healing ministry and exorcisms, to Biblical times. This is sadly true not only of liberal denominations which write off the demonic as mythical tales or psychological disturbances, but of many conservative, Bible-believing groups such as the Southern Baptists. Exorcism and its allied gift, the “discerning of spirits” (1 Cor 12:10) as teachable and usable subjects are simply avoided in practically all seminaries.  Exceptions are the Pentecostal/charismatic seminaries and some Catholic and Anglican seminaries.

At the time of my initial research (1976) I came across Wilson Van Dusen’s book, the Natural Depth of Man. Van Dusan was a psychiatrist in the California mental health system who treated many schizophrenics. He came to understand that many of these patients were assaulted by voices and entities that closely resemble the biblically described “demons.” Further, effective treatment required that the patient resist the voices’ suggestions to do immoral acts such as lying, stealing, or self-mutilation.  Even more revealing, Bible reading by the patient was especially helpful in subduing the voices.[24] Wow! Did you hear a quacking?

Unfortunately, Van Dusen was into Swedenborgism, a spiritualist cult, and he used its doctrines as the interpretive theology of his findings. I imagine he consulted with Protestant theologians or local pastors who could tell him nothing about the demonic spirits or about the ministry of exorcism, so he stuck with Swedenborgism. But his core insights into the negative and demonic nature of the “voices” are valid and especially useful to Christian ministers and mental health professionals.

Just after reading the Van Dusen book I saw the very fine movie, “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” (1977). It was based on the autobiographical novel by Joanne Greenburg of the same name. The movie showed a young woman driven and harassed by “fantasy beings” – just as described in the Van Dusen work. “Blau,” the young woman, was tormented by a tribe from the “Kingdom of Yi” that dwelt in her mind. Originally, they were inviting and friendly, but then rapidly turned negative. They tried to get Blau to injure herself and commit suicide as part of an initiation ceremony into the tribe. The psychiatrist at the treatment center was able to help Blau somewhat, but at the end of the movie the voices ominously whisper to her, “We will never leave you!” Well yes, there was no one who knew how to do an exorcism on her.

A test case:

A few months after this, a woman I knew was institutionalized for several days for severe depression, and then released with a medication regimen. She had been hearing nagging, negative voices that told her she was worthless, etc., and should commit suicide. After her release a prayer partner and I did a deliverance on her. In ten minutes, we challenged the assaulting voices/demons and cast them out. She never had further problems of this nature.

That was over four decades ago. Since then, the secular psychiatric literature on schizophrenic voices/entities has increased greatly. An excellent review article on the literature and current practice of treating the  voices/entities was done by T.M Luhrmann, “Living With Voices.”[25] Luhrmann reports that many psychiatrists still treat schizophrenia exclusively as a chemical disorder of the brain, and try to medicate it to submission – but result in never really curing it. Many others have learned to treat the voices as if they were real entities. (Quack quack…) They encourage the patients to ‘negotiate’ with the voices and come to some sort of understanding and livable arrangement so that the harassment ceases.

The central case study that Luhrmann cited to demonstrate the negotiation technique was of “Hans,” a German patient from a nominal Christian household. Luhrmann reports:


Hans used to be overwhelmed by the voices. He heard them for hours, yelling at him, cursing him, telling him he should be dragged off into the forest and tortured and left to die. The most difficult things to grasp about the voices people with psychotic illness hear are how loud and insistent they are, and how hard it is to function in a world where no one else can hear them. It’s not like wearing an iPod. It’s like being surrounded by a gang of bullies. You feel horrible, crazy, because the voices are real to no one else, yet also strangely special and they wrap you like a cocoon.[26]

The psychiatrist first treated him with medication, which made him sleep much and gain weight, but he was no better in his waking period as the voices continued to harass him. But then Hans joined a new patient support group in the psychiatric center which was using negotiation technique with their voices. Han’s voices declared they would cease harassing him if he became a student of Buddhism for four hours a day. He negotiated it down to only one hour, and achieved relative peace. He was able to discontinue all medication and function again in normal society.

Success! But wait. Did you hear a quack? What is missing is spiritual discernment. The voices could have been totally dismissed from the Hans’ environment with deliverance prayer, or his own persistent Bible reading and prayers as Van Dusen had discovered decades earlier. In Hans’ case the demons were apparently satisfied that they were making Hans into a Buddhist, and he would thus be shut off from the Bible and the saving grace of salvation, and true healing in Jesus Christ.

A bold article: The quacks come from demons:

In 2014 an article appeared in the academic Journal of Religion and Health which affirmed that the, “Auditory hallucinations … may be a result of the presence of more than one demon in the body.”[27] The author, Imak M Kemal, a Turkish psychiatrist, related that several schizophrenic patients he treated were healed by a local faith healer, and that this type of healing should be further investigated.

One approach to this hallucination problem is to consider the possibility of a demonic world. Demons are unseen creatures that are believed to exist in all major religions and have the power to possess humans and control their body. Demonic possession can manifest with a range of bizarre behaviors which could be interpreted as a number of different psychotic disorders with delusions and hallucinations. The hallucination in schizophrenia may therefore be an illusion—a false interpretation of a real sensory image formed by demons. A local faith healer in our region helps the patients with schizophrenia. His method of treatment seems to be successful because his patients become symptom free after 3 months. Therefore, it would be useful for medical professions to work together with faith healers to define better treatment pathways for schizophrenia.[28]

The article caused an uproar in the psychiatric establishment. Several articles vehemently contested Dr. Kemal’s findings via indignation and name calling. The author of one such the article, Luke Malone, whose training is in journalism, made multiple dismissive remarks around the argument that science and modern psychology has disproven the reality of demons. Further, he suggested that the Journal of Religion and Health should be censured for even running such an article.[29]

But Malone was only repeating a profound confusion that is common among many people. That is, that the philosophical assumption of a “physical, material only” universe is “science.”  Thus, the demonic cannot exist, nor should an experiment be designed to see if that is true.  Actually, since the seminal work of Karl R. Popper, it is clear that science is philosophically neutral, and true science pertains to the methodology of knowledge gathering, testing and verification.[30] Modern science, coming out of the 18th and 19th Centuries did indeed have many scientists who believed that there was no spiritual component to the universe, but also some like Newton and Einstein who believed in God and a spiritual component to the universe.[31]

Testing for demons:

I suppose it is true that demons cannot be directly tested for. That is, they cannot be put in a cage or made to run a maze like mice.[32] Rather, their presence and activity can only be indirectly observed, as in the immediate behavior changes that happen to a person who has been liberated of oppressing demons. But science has often progressed without direct observation of the studied item. For example, particle science, the description of sub-atomic particles, developed without ever directly seeing the particles that were discovered. It was originally done in a cloud chamber of super-saturated vapor, as targets of specific elements were bombarded by particles. The cloud chamber showed patterns of vapor trails that could be measured, and conclusions about the particles inferred. Note, the particles were never seen, only the results of their passage through a specialized environment. By analogy, I do not believe demons will ever be directly detected by scientific instrumentation, but the evidence of their presence could be inferred by changes in patients’ behavior. A cruder analogy, one can tell a fox has been in the hen house by the paw prints and dead and missing chickens – but no one saw the fox.

But there is another issue in regard to demons and schizophrenia. Most psychologists and psychiatrists believe that schizophrenia is caused by chemical and physical disturbances of the brain.  Indeed, brain scans have found significant differences between the brains of normal persons and schizophrenics.[33] But here again there is a hidden materialist assumption, as well as the logical fallacy of assumed causality. When two things occur, one does not necessarily cause the other. A famous case of this was the lawsuit brought against Corning for supplying material to make breast implants. Some women with these implants developed breast cancer, and claimed that the implants caused the cancer. Statistical evidence showed that woman with implants did not develop cancer at a higher rate than those without implants. Although some did, as in any group of women (i.e. women who eat carrots). But the lawyers were so cleaver and manipulative, and the cancerous women so piteous that the jury voted against Corning and made them pay a huge amount for damages.

Similarly, in the case of brain irregularities and schizophrenia, the presence of abnormal chemistry and structure of the schizophrenic’s brain does not mean those factors are the cause. In my hypothesis they are the signs of demonic presence.  That is, that demonic entrance into the person stopped normal brain development and caused various chemical imbalances.  The vector is: demon into brain, to abnormal brain. This of course could only be proven by large scale tests, including before and after scans of voice hearing schizophrenic patients who undergo deliverance prayer and the laying on of hands to restore normality to the brain. Such an experiment would be like examining the vapor trails of the cloud chamber. It would not show demons directly, but the “trails” of their destructiveness.

Lastly, I suppose most in the psychology and psychiatric professions will be offended by this blog posting. It suggests that their training, by avoiding considering the reality of the spiritual world, is inadequate. Indeed that is so. The good news is that incorporating prayer, including exorcism prayer, is not rocket science, and can be learned quickly as a supplement to their disciplined knowledge of the mind. The major obstacle is that of pride. A major profession cannot easily reverse itself regardless of the evidence or possible benefit to its clients. Thomas Kuhn, in his famous book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, demonstrated this quite well. Radical new discoveries have to seep in slowly with a few practitioners as the old guard dies out.[34]

But perhaps this will not take so long. Now we have parallel institutions that have an inherent interest in seeing if the demon/schizophrenic hypothesis is true: the medical insurance companies. The cost of an exorcism and the laying on of hands for healing by a ministry team is infinitesimally small in comparison to the institutionalization of schizophrenic patients.  Are there insurance executives out there who would be interested in furthering a protocol on this, and seeing if the quacking is indeed caused by demons.





  1. Deliverance in the park


When I married Carolyn (1979) I could no longer receive Holy Communion in the Catholic Church because she had been divorced, so we trotted over to a Spirit-filled Episcopal church which has excellent teaching and worship, St. Patrick’s of Dunwoody. At St. Patrick’s we joined the Order of St. Luke. This had been founded in the 1930s as an Episcopal order to promote healing prayer among the Christian churches.  That was an era when cessationism had blighted the healing ministry, so their task was quite difficult in the first decades. By the 1960s some churches had accepted healing as normal and the OSL had become ecumenical. The OSL chapter at St. Patick’s was in charge of running heling conferences and training healing intercessors who ministered healing prayer at the end of the Sunday services – a practice that was growing in popularity among many churches.

After a year at St. Patrick’s, I was elected convener (head) of the OSL chapter. Those folk were a wonderful, Spirit-filled group of mature Christians, and I wondered how to use them more effectively. I had recently read John Wimber’s classic book Power Evangelism, and there he encouraged Christians to take evangelization to the streets via healing and “signs and wonders.”[35] As I prayed about how to use the wonderful OSL crew, the Lord gave me the phrase “prayer station.”[36] I did not understand  how that might be implemented until walking my dog I saw rreal estate sign. The idea came to me to repaint a real estate sign and paint the words, “prayer station” on it and take it to the streets with our intercessors. Carolyn and I scouted for the right location, and we were guided to a spot in downtown Atlanta called “Little Five points.’ It was a Bohemian and occult part of town. Just the place that needed the grace of the Lord in great measure.

Our pastor liked the idea, and had our OSL group anointed and blessed for this new adventure. In the summer of 1987 were went out on the first prayer station.[37] The basic patten was simple, we chose a well-used pedestrian walk way. The one we chose had a shaded bench. We also brought two folding chairs and drinks for our team to rest when not directly involved in prayer. Two team members stood by the prayer station inviting the passersby to prayer, while the other two sat nearby as reinforcements when needed. I usually invited the passersby with a “Do you need prayer today for any intention?”  This was wonderfully effective and even the first outing we had several healings and one conversion.[38]

About the third or fourth Saturday at the Little Five Points, Carolyn and I were standing by our sign, and a tall, light skinned African American male in khaki shorts and white shirt passed by and I gave my usual invitation. He stopped and considered for a second, and then stepped up to the prayer station. “Yes, I have a neighbor who is addicted to drugs and it is ruining his life.”  Carolyn and I prayed for his neighbor in proxy, by laying hands on Tom (that was not his name).  I rebuked the spirit of addiction and asked the Lord to totally set him free. The supplicant was happy with the way we prayed, and went off thanking us.  I resumed my invitations to other passersby.

Ten minutes later he returned and confessed that he also had a serious drug problem. His return was not an uncommon pattern, as many persons are reluctant to share their most pressing (or embarrassing) need to total strangers. But our prayers had convinced him that we could be trusted. He shared his tragic story. He was an engineer and well on his way to the American Dream. But he became addicted to cocaine, and lost his job and family, and now was on the edge of skid row. He had been a church-going man, but after his wife left him, he stopped attending.

We invited him to sit at the nearby bench, and asked if he would let us pray for him by casting out the demons of addiction and anything else in him.  He agreed.  I motioned the other team members to join us. Carolyn and another team member began praying in tongues.

After a few moments, I began, “In Jesus’ name I come against any and all evil spirits inhabiting and harassing Tom! I come against the spirt of addiction and I command you OUT!” Tom shook as if he was struck by some invisible object. Carolyn immediately added, “Spirit of despair.”  She was functioning with the gift of discernment of spirits (1 Cor 12:10). I commanded, “In Jesus name, spirit of despair, come out!” Again, Tom shook. Carolyn injected, “Spirit of suicide.” I continued, “Spirit of suicide, leave NOW!” Again, Tom quaked. “Anymore?” I asked Carolyn. She prayed in tongues for a few seconds, “Spirit of rejection, from childhood.”

I continued, “Foul spirit of rejection, leave now in Jesus name!” Tom shook yet again. “More?” I asked.  Carolyn answered, “I don’t see anything else.” I stepped up to Tom and laid my hand on his head.  “In Jesus’ name, I ask the Holy Spirit to flow into you, and fill every empty space that the demons occupied. I command your neurological system, especially the brain, to be cleansed of all addiction to cocaine or any other drug.”  As I was praying this I could feel the vibrating energies of God flowing into Tom. His face came alive with surprise and joy.

A few moments later he got up, declaring, “I feel like a new man. I am completely… free.” We prayed for him a little longer, asking the Lord to restore his career and family. I counseled him that he must go back to church, to get Christian fellowship and continued support to rebuff any demonic re-infestation. Tom agreed and walked away thanking us and praising the Lord.

I never heard from Tom again, so I can’t affirm that his deliverance stuck, or if he allowed the spirits to come back in and finish the ruination of his life (Matt 12:43-45). But I can affirm that he was delivered that day. This, by the way, is a disadvantage of having a prayer station far from your home church, you cannot invite the person to your church to do follow up discipleship.

That deliverance/exorcism occurred back in 1987. Since then, I have ministered a half dozen others, but always in the setting of a church, and most after I was ordained as an Anglican priest. As I was ready to do the first draft of this chapter, I thought I would say that such public exorcisms are imprudent, and the successful case of Tom’s exorcism was due to God’s grace overcoming my youthful indiscretion.  Rather, exorcisms should be done with preparation and care, and at least in privacy and possibly with medical screening beforehand, etc. In effect, a prayer station deliverance should not be done.

But I received a check in my spirit about taking this approach. And I was reminded by the Holy Spirit of the exorcisms in the Gospels. In the New Testament exorcisms were done by Jesus, his Apostles, and disciples in public, but with no lengthy preparations. Exorcisms occurred as immediate, unplanned confrontations with the demonic. In fact, in the first ministry campaign Jesus’ disciples reported back with great joy that they had healed the sick and cast out demons (Luke 10:17). There was no hint there of special preparations, ministry ordinations, nor of privacy concerns, which have become a modern fetish.

Rather, exorcism was an integral part of the healing ministry. In the Gospels, when a person is sick from a disease, hands are laid on and the disease cast out (command mode), but when the sickness or disorder is due to a demon, the demon is cast out. It is all a seamless ministry of restoring wellness. Jesus instructed his disciples:


As you go, preach this message: `The kingdom of heaven is near.’  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. (Mtt 10:6-8)


To be fair, there is one instance where Jesus says that certain demons must be cast out after a period of prayer (Mark 9:29). Older translations of the Bible say “prayer and fasting” but the fasting was added on in later and not part of the original gospel. In the early church, exorcism was a lay matter in the hands of those gifted in that ministry. Irenaeus of Lyons, Bishop and writer against heretics wrote:


“Those who are in truth His disciples, receiving grace from Him, do in His name perform miracles, so as to promote the welfare of other men, according to the gift which each one has received from Him. For some do certainly and truly drive out devils, so that those who have thus been cleansed from evil spirits frequently both believe in Christ and join themselves to the Church . . . others still, heal the sick by laying their hands upon them, and they are made whole.[39]


Our attitude towards exorcism and deliverance ministries, and our ability to accept the plain biblical evidence, is distorted by multiple factors. In the secular West there is a strong prejudice to disbelieve in the reality of the demonic, and reduce demonic manifestations to instances of abnormal psychology, and the Catholic tradition sees demonization occurring only in intense forms that need formal exorcism (see chapter 2 above).

Tom, the engineer, was not “possessed” in the classic sense, but he had a spirit of addiction and other spirits. Pentecostals and charismatic ministers have a better understand of the lower states of demonization, and often call their ministry “deliverance’ to distinguish it from formal exorcism.

The Episcopal/Anglican tradition (my tradition) has no cannon or written rules as to who can lead in exorcism and deliverance ministry. Significantly, one of the questions of the Episcopal catechism, found in the Book of Common Prayer, is:

  1. Who are the ministers of the Church?
  2. The ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops,

priests, and deacons.[40]


Further questions in the catechism reveal that the Bishops and priest administer the sacraments. But the issue of healing prayer, and deliverance/exorcism (which were never defined as sacraments in any Christian church) is left unmentioned.

When I first encountered the Charismatic renewal as a Roman Catholic in the 1970s, our prayer group often worshiped together with an Episcopal group at St. Philips’ Cathedral. There the Dean of the Cathedral, and a leader of the charismatics in that church, was the Rev. David Collins. He was prominent in the Episcopal Church as the leader of the Episcopal House of Deputies, a very prestigious and responsible position.[41] Dean Collins was an excellent priest and preacher, but it was his wife Jenny who had the anointing for deliverance and exorcism ministry. Whenever some case presented itself at the Cathedral that might have demonic origins, the person was referred to Jenny. This is not to say that having an ordained, trained and designated clerical exorcist is not useful.  In my own denomination there is in fact such a diocesan position, and that person, just like a designated Catholic exorcist, handles the most serious cases of possession.


On the issue of lay exorcism ministry, let me share my favorite story on this. When I was pastor of San Lazaro in Marietta, I taught my congregation the healing ministry using the Hunter materials which includes instruction on deliverance. We demonstrated healing at practically every service as someone or another would invariably have some ailment or bring someone who did. Several in the congregation took this to heart and flowered in that ministry.

On one occasion we had a serious deliverance right in the middle of a service. Demons really do not like intense praise music, and will often act up during its performance.[73] The lady manifesting was one of our regulars, and a good Christian. However, she had played with the Ouija Board in her youth, and a demon got in (not a rare occurrence). My assistant priest and several lay persons cast the demon out right then and there as I went on to do Holy Communion – I figured the practical experience of an exorcism is better than any sermon I could give. In fact, the following Sunday I preached about exorcism and answered the congregation’s questions about the matter.

Years later, after I had retired from the church, I received a call form Ruben, one of my elders. I could hear chaotic background noises. He said, “Padre Bill, I am at church, but the priest is gone. We have a lady with a demon here; I need your help in casting him out.”  (More noise and commotion.) “Oh wait, I remember. I will call back.” Phone hangs up. Ten minutes later he calls, “I remembered, and I cast the demon out. Everything is OK here. Thank you.”  I answered, “Good job Ruben, blessings to your family.”  When I hung up, I felt God was telling me, “Good job, Bill, you taught them well.”

All of which is to say that, in spite of the disdain of this type of ministry by many clergy, and certainly their opposition to lay persons doing anything like this in public, Tom’s exorcism at the park bench was in perfect Biblical order. Some one in every prayer station team should be prepared to address and confront the demonic, or at least have some knowledge on this topic – as in reading some of the basic books on deliverance I am suggesting in the resource section (chapter 2).

Sadly, it is still true that many Christians who are mature and experienced in prayer have had very little teaching on the issue of deliverance/exorcism. It is safe to say that in the great majority of Protestant seminaries the topic is not taught. I recall a sad instance back in the 1980’s when I attended for a season a noted Methodist seminary (and ultimately left, disgusted with its predominantly liberal and even apostate faculty). In a course on world missions every student had to present his paper in class. I did a project on the Rev. John Nevius, the dean of Nineteenth Century Protestant missionaries. He rediscovered the ministry of exorcism for Protestants, but was soon marginalized (Chapter 7 below). After my presentation, which included a brief bibliography of useful books on exorcism, the fellow students came to me privately and thanked me for the presentation and bibliography. I remember clearly (though it was almost forty years ago) one telling me, “Thank you, what you gave in class was the only instruction I have received on exorcism in my three years here.”  I doubt the situation is much changed at that seminary.



  1. The ministry of command disablement



Paul vs. Elymus

The ministry of command disablement as modeled by Paul in Acts 13: 8-12 has not been understood, or used much, if at all, by Christians and is considered as something done only once. For that reason, I am taking extra space to explain it and show why it may be an effective tool to stop the demonic radicalization of America.

In Acts 13:8-12 we see Paul’s encounter with a sorcerer:


But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith.  Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?  Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.” Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand.  When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.


This Scripture has major implications for the present situation in the Christian West. In America and Europe, the spiritual hollowness and faithlessness of many mainline churches, and the anti-supernaturalism of the evangelical, cessationist churches, have allowed a rise of a witchcraft and occultism. Further, the demonically laced ideologies of Marxism and post-Modern Theory are allowed in many churches due to the lack of discernment about these movements.

In the incident quoted above, Paul is not being “nice” by contemporary standards. Rather he manifests the wrath of God that is forceful but also makes provision of mercy as the blindness is “for a time.” This is not an aberrant moment for Paul, nor did the Holy Spirit lose control over the formation of Scripture in this incident. Rather, it is consistent with other parts of Scripture both Old and New Testament. To start, we should remember that Paul also consigned a young man in his Corinthian congregation to Satan because he was sleeping with his stepmother. That seems worse than the blindness of Elymas, but Paul intended that the young man’s limited period under Satan’s influence (bodily disease?) would result in his salvation (1 Corinthian 5:5).[42]

In both of Paul’s actions there is a redeeming element to his commands. That is, Elymas will be blind only for a time, and presumably will have time to reconsider his sorcery and rebellion against God. The stepson would presumably also have time and opportunity to repent.  This type of action is different to the curses of the Old Testament and therefore not in violation of Jesus command not to curse our enemies, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” (Romans 12:14)

To understand a curse, let us go to the Old Testament. For instance, the curse in Deuteronomy 28 lays out the negative consequences of disobeying God, poverty and illness in unequivocal terms and with no hint of reversal:


 All these curses will come on you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the Lord your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you.  They will be a sign and a wonder to you and your descendants forever. (vs. 45-46)


The incident recorded in 2 Kings 5 also shows the curse’s pattern of irreversible negativity. This is the story of the Assyrian commander Naaman’s healing of his leprosy by the prophet Elisha. After his healing, Elisha’s servant Gehazi ran after Naaman and lied to receive gifts for himself. Gehazi then lied to the prophet Elisha about what he had just done.


 But Elisha said to him, “Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money or to accept clothes—or olive groves and vineyards, or flocks and herds, or male and female slaves? Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.” Then Gehazi went from Elisha’s presence and his skin was leprous—it had become as white as snow. (vs. 26-28)


The element of mercy is absent in Old Testament curses. Paul’s command disablement is different. Not understanding this, Liberal and apostate theologians cite it as one of those supposed contradictions in Scripture. They claim Paul was supposedly the villain of the true Gospel who distorted and often reversed the message of Jesus. To them, for instance, Jesus was a humble itinerant preacher, but Paul made him into the “Son of God”, etc.

In the case under discussion, Paul seemingly cursed a person in contradiction to Jesus’s command. But the contradiction is not real. Jesus did command we love, pray for, and not curse our enemies. But Paul did not curse his personal enemy. Rather he disabled a person who opposed the Kingdom of God through sorcery. We should also point out that through the work of the Pharisees, sorcery and witchcraft were banished from Palestine. Thus, Jesus never, to our knowledge, encountered a sorcerer in his ministry and had no occasion to act as Paul did.

But in both the Old and New Testaments there are provisions to escape from curses by way of repentance and God’s mercy. In 2 Chronicles 6, King Solomon prays at the dedication of the First Temple. Here, the king petitioned that God remove the curse of any future disobedience, provided that the people repent and return to the Lord. Further in 1 Kings 13 there is an incident that resembles Paul’s command disablement. An unnamed prophet from the Lord proclaims the destruction of one of the altars set up by King Jeroboam. The King was present:


When King Jeroboam heard what the man of God cried out against the altar at Bethel, he stretched out his hand from the altar and said, “Seize him!” But the hand he stretched out toward the man shriveled up, so that he could not pull it back. Also, the altar was split apart and its ashes poured out according to the sign given by the man of God by the word of the Lord. Then the king said to the man of God, “Intercede with the Lord your God and pray for me that my hand may be restored.” So the man of God interceded with the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored and became as it was before. (vs. 4-6)


An example from the Early Church


A Facebook brother brought to my attention the account of a command disablement done by St. Martin of Tours, a bishop in the early Church, and one of the most beloved of French saints. The incident is recorded by Sulpitius Severus, a disciple of St. Martin. The account makes up chapter 12 of Severus’ book, On the Life of St. Martin. I quote it here in its entirety:

Now, it came to pass some time after the above, that while Martin was going a journey, he met the body of a certain heathen, which was being carried to the tomb with superstitious funeral rites. Perceiving from a distance the crowd that was approaching, and being ignorant as to what was going on, he stood still for a little while. For there was a distance of nearly half a mile between him and the crowd, so that it was difficult to discover what the spectacle he beheld really was. Nevertheless, because he saw it was a rustic gathering, and when the linen clothes spread over the body were blown about by the action of the wind, he believed that some profane rites of sacrifice were being performed. This thought occurred to him, because it was the custom of the Gallic rustics in their wretched folly to carry about through the fields the images of demons veiled with a white covering. Lifting up, therefore, the sign of the cross opposite to them, he commanded the crowd not to move from the place in which they were, and to set down the burden. Upon this, the miserable creatures might have been seen at first to become stiff like rocks. Next, as they endeavored, with every possible effort, to move forward, but were not able to take a step farther, they began to whirl themselves about in the most ridiculous fashion, until, not able any longer to sustain the weight, they set down the dead body. Thunderstruck, and gazing in bewilderment at each other as not knowing what had happened to them they remained sunk in silent thought. But when the saintly man discovered that they were simply a band of peasants celebrating funeral rites, and not sacrifices to the gods, again raising his hand, he gave them the power of going away, and of lifting up the body. Thus he both compelled them to stand when he pleased, and permitted them to depart when he thought good.[43]


The contemporary reader may be shocked that the command disablement took hold even though the crowd was not engaged in direct witchcraft. However, they were Pagans and the funeral rites must have included demonic elements, as in food sacrifices to the gods, etc.  That was enough for the command disablement to take hold.


Legacy of inept commentaries


Paul’s use of a command disablement in his confrontation with Elymus, and St Martin’s encounter with a pagan funeral party, have not, to my knowledge, been seen as an example for Christians in countering either sorcery or other forms of demonic evil that oppose the Kingdom of God. Commentaries on the biblical incident are scant and largely miss the point. St. Jerome, the famous Bible translator (and one of the most irascible folks ever to slip into officially proclaimed sainthood) confused the understanding of the Paul/Elymus confrontation by saying that Elymus’ blindness was permanent.[44] St. Chrysostom, the gifted preacher and theologian of Byzantium, better understood the passage, but he gave no hint that Paul’s command disablement could be a usable technique for Christians.[45]

Modern commentators have fared much worse. In a careful search I found few references to this incident except in passing. Evangelical commentators laud Paul’s apostolic power but give no hint of modern relevancy. This would be expected from the cessationist viewpoint that barely recognizes the legitimacy of present-day healing and deliverance prayer.

I noticed a citation of a whole chapter dedicated to the incident, and I anticipated reading something useful and enlightening. It was hugely disappointing. The author blended liberal theology with sociological analysis into a mumbo-jumbo that claimed that: (1) the incident is mythological and did not happen (the de-mythologizing hermeneutic) and, (2), Paul’s other actions and prayers, as in Galatians 3:28, indicate him as a practicing Greco-Roman magician by reason of his use of repetitive incantations – awful and blasphemous nonsense. [46]

Such incompetent Biblical commentary has become commonplace among those who adhere to various forms of liberal and de-mythologizing theology, or others who have no experience in, or flatly disbelieve in, the supernatural. Several years ago, the then Presiding Bishop Apostate of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Shori, preached a sermon in which she explained that Paul sinned against feminism by casting out the demon of divination for the slave girl in the incident reported in Acts 16:16-18. To quote precisely, the Presiding Apostate said:


“But Paul is annoyed, perhaps for being put in his place, and he responds by depriving her of her gift of spiritual awareness.  Paul can’t abide something he won’t see as beautiful or holy, so he tries to destroy it.  It gets him thrown in prison.  That’s pretty much where he’s put himself by his own refusal to recognize that she, too, shares in God’s nature, just as much as he does – maybe more so!”[47]


Closer to serious analysis is Henry P. Hamann’s article, “The Church that Cannot Curse Cannot Bless Either”[48] The author rightfully makes the point that blessing and cursing are Biblically united, and that cursing evil is a sign of spiritual maturity. The article expends much time on how the church excommunicated and publicly dammed heretics and evil doers in its earlier period. The reader may remember seeing a scene in the 1964 movie Becket. Richard Burton plays Becket, the Bishop of Canterbury. He excommunicates Lord Gilbert, a friend of King Henry II (Peter O’Toole) in a dramatic and historically accurate presentation. But Hamann does not get beyond the theological into the pastoral, with the question, “Should we really do in certain circumstances what Paul did to Elymus?”


Evangelical-cessationist Objections


Some commentators attribute Paul’s command disablement and his relegation of the lustful son in Corinth to Satan to a limited apostolic privilege. That claims that only the original 12 Apostles (plus Paul) had the authority to do such things and that this is no longer possible to anyone in the Church. It is possible to read Acts in this way, as it was intended by Luke to highlight the power and authority of the Apostles and Paul. But note that the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to include a layperson to do the same type of command healing. Ananias of Damascus prayed over Paul to remove his blindness. Paul described that healing in Acts 22:


 “A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there.  He stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment I was able to see him. (vs. 12-13)


This indicates that the lay believer has the authority to proclaim a command healing as well as any exorcism (Luke 10: 17) – or command disablement. Regardless, the evidence for a command disablement is not often found in Church history. Perhaps someone who is familiar with Butler’s Lives of the Saints, a reliable compendium of Saints’ lives and their miraculous acts, can find examples.[49] Perhaps a detailed search of the literature of the Celtic monks, who often used the gifts of the Spirit in spiritual warfare against the Druids, may reveal some more occurrences of command disablements by monks and others.


Recovering the Authority of the Believer:

One reason to believe that the ordinary Christian has authority to do a command disablement is that in the last century and a half there have been radical breakthroughs in the ministries of laypersons. This has occurred across denominational lines, an indication the Holy Spirit is behind this trend. For example, as a boy raised in pre-Vatican II Catholicism, I never thought that a layperson could or should lay hands on another person for healing or deliverance. These acts are now common in Catholic charismatic circles. Pentecostals led the way (and were often ridiculed for it) for healing and deliverance prayer by non-ordained but Spirit gifted lay persons. This is now accepted in many churches.

This move, from priest/minister only, to lay person ministry, took a step with the Reformation and Luther’s famous doctrine of the “Priesthood of Believers.” That was mostly lip service, as classical Protestantism settled down to become a “less liturgical” Catholicism. Beyond a renewed faith doctrine there was little observable difference in the role of the lay person in exercising any of the spiritual gifts. This was gravely exacerbated with the establishment, right at the origins of Protestantism, of the doctrine of cessationism.

With the exception of a few daring pioneers such as Pastor Blumhardt and Dorothea Trudell, cessationism effectively shut down the healing and deliverance ministry among Protestants until the Faith-Cure Movement of the 1880s and the Pentecostalism of the 1900s. The Faith Cure movement saw the first large scale appearance of lay persons ministering healing with the laying on of hands and spoken impromptu prayers. For instance, Dr. Charles Culles, a homeopathic physician, but not an ordained cleric, often laid hands on hundreds of persons in healing events in the 1880s in what anyone today would now recognize as a “healing line.”[50]

Pentecostalism went a step further and emphasized the release of the gifts of 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 to all believers, and as described in Acts. With the arrival and survival of Pentecostalism, lay manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit became normal within that segment of the Christian Church. This was truly a step in making the “priesthood of believes” into an operational doctrine and not merely a slogan.

John MacMillan’s Authority of the Believer was one of the most important pioneer works on this,[51] as were E W Kenyon’ writings, who directly influenced Kenneth Hagin and the “Word-Faith” movement. In these writers the authority of the believer to heal and cast out demons was affirmed and encouraged. This was passed on to the Charismatic Renewal which broke out in the 1960s and has multiplied all over the world.

A more recent expansion of the believer’s authority as a practical manifestation has occurred in the last decades with the spread of “command healing” as normal by the Pentecostal couple, Charles and Francis Hunter. Their book How to Heal the Sick, and their large international healing campaigns, have shown millions of Christians how to use command prayers to heal the sick and deliver those oppressed by evil spirits.[52]

Our present discomfort with using Paul’s command disablement on the enemies of the Gospel is a result of the longstanding influence and errors of cessationism. That is, not believing that the Scriptures are models for the Church in the 4nd century, in the 12th, in the 18th and today. In a blog posting I pointed out that the Salem witch trials were a disaster because the Church had disabled, via cessationism, the use of the gifts of the Spirit, especially discernment of spirits. And it was beyond the Protestant (and Catholic) imagination to use a Pauline type command disablement upon the real witches of Salem.[53]

My own experiences proclaiming command disablements have been of a pioneer nature, and I hope for comments and shared accounts from some of my readers. My first attempt at a command disablement was triggered by a spam email of the type common several years ago. It informed me that I was the inheritor a large fortune left to me by an English millionaire whom I had briefly encountered but profoundly impressed years ago. I only needed to pay a small legal fee, etc. From my understanding most of these spams originated in Nigeria, where a cottage industry of fleecing naive Americans had arisen. My reply went something like this (I did not save the correspondence, to my regret).


“You are a liar and a thief, preying on the poor, old and mentally incapacitated. I am a man of God, and as such proclaim upon you a spirit of confusion such that UNTIL YOU REPENT, you will know nothing but poverty and want. This will not be lifted until you repent and find honest employment.”


The next day I received an email reply saying “I am sorry. I am a student in Nigeria trying to earn tuition by “sending out a few letters.”  Apparently, my proclamation had done its spiritual good. I answered that he must forsake his scams and seek honest employment. I never heard from him again.

Now the reader may ask, where is the Biblical warrant to place a spirit of confusion on these scamming folks? There is no evidence they were into witchcraft. In my estimation they were evildoers who prey on the weak with consistent malice. It also seemed the most merciful alternative that would be effective. In fact, there is Biblical warrant for wishing a spirit of confusion on one’s enemies. In Psalm 55: 9-11, the seeker asks God:


Lord, confuse the wicked, confound their words,
for I see violence and strife in the city.
Day and night they prowl about on its walls;
malice and abuse are within it.


There is also Scripture that shows that a spirit can originate from the Lord to bring confusion that is pertinent to this discussion. In 1 Kings 22 we have the story of the alliance between Ahab, king of Israel and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. They agree to go to war together, but Jehoshaphat wanted prophetic affirmation that they will have victory. The court prophets prophesy success. However, Micaiah prophesies defeat (which in fact occurred).  Micaiah explains why the court prophets were deceived:

Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’ “One suggested this, and another that.  Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’ “‘By what means?’ the Lord asked. “‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. “‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the Lord. ‘Go and do it.’ (vs. 19-22)


My original blog posting on the command disablement has been out for several years, and I received multiple positive comments – and a few negative ones. One lady described an incident when she was alone with her child at home and a mean-looking, knife wielding intruder entered. She began praying in tongues, and immediately he manifested a look of confusion, and meandered out of the house — a command disablement via praying in tongues.  Here is another comment I received:


Thank you, Dr. William De Arteaga
God in his mercy equips the gospel preacher with faith boldness and authority. I had a similar experience last year with a notorious heckler, a drug dealer and a violent man. He and his crew had attacked my first effort months before. As I began to preach, he came right up to put his body on me (a common tactic). I took authority in love that nothing would hinder the gospel preaching and that Christ name be heard in the streets. I bound up all rebellion and put down every evil in Jesus’ name, pointing at his feet. He stood there with his eyes closed and his hands raised in surrender to God for over a half hour. He didn’t move an inch, frozen. When I said my amen [at the end of the sermon] he “came to” and quietly walked off. The next week he was telling everyone no cussing and leave the preacher alone. It was quite unusual, and some were taking pictures which I resisted as it was the Lord’s doing.


I believe Churches and individuals should utilize command disablement prayers like Paul’s against the persons advocating and planning violence and bringing forward the various Marxist and PM Theory activities in the universities, private companies or elsewhere. The demonic component of Marxist ideology, PM and Theory makes these equivalent to witchcraft and all are opposed to the Gospel of Jesus. Below are several hypothetical situations that might occur in the immediate future, and how a command disablement prayer could checkmate the demonic and further the Kingdom of God.

In an American city there is another white on black police shooting. The policeman has been dismissed and a grand jury is looking into the case, but demonstrations are already forming. The chief of police calls his pastor friend and asks for prayers of wisdom and peace in the city. He shares with the pastor that he has received intelligence that a group of anarchists, led by a certain Joe Smith is planning to infiltrate the demonstration and provoke the police and fire-bomb the city center. The pastor quickly convenes his congregation that evening for emergency prayer and invites his ministry friends to bring members of their congregation to the prayer event. At the prayer meeting the pastor explains what a command disablement prayer is and then prays:


Father, in Jesus’ name, we come before your throne and with the authority you have given us, and we speak against any violence in the coming demonstrations. We ask they be conducted peacefully without harm to property, police or anyone else. We ask special protection for our police and law enforcement officers coming to keep order.

Further, in Jesus’ name we place a spirit of confusion on Joe Smith and his group, and all persons that plan violence during these demonstrations, so that their plans will not bear fruit. They will not be able to make their way to our city. We bless Joe Smith further ask for his salvation as you give him the grace to see his evil ways, and the other persons planning violence as well. Further, in Jesus’ name we place a spirit of confusion on any of the radical students in our local colleges who may want to join this demonstration to do violent acts. Thank you also for their conversion also.


In another hypothetical incident the employees of a large company learn they will have to attend a seminar on Critical Race Theory that is taught by a noted radical. A Christian employee organizes other Christians in his company to meet together before the seminar and pray against it.  An employee explains command disablement and leads the prayer:


Father, in Jesus’ Name we place a spirit of confusion on the staff and presenters of the coming CRT seminar. Their presentation will be so confused and irrational that no one will take it seriously, or be influenced by its exaggerated teachings, and many complaints will be filed on why our company wasted money of the presentation. Further we ask that the presenters repent of their slanderous and divisive doctrines, receive Jesus as their savior and strive for racial reconciliation.


Lastly, a psychology professor teaches about autism (as cited in chapter 6) and includes therapies that can be helpful to the situation. A student comes to the professor and says he was offended and demands the professor to apologize for teaching that autistic persons may be helped and thus deprived of their “heroic victim” status. Further he says he will issue a complaint to the diversity panel of the university.

The professor, who is a Christian, looks at the student straight in the eye and says, “No you won’t, and I won’t apologize for suggesting help for autistic persons. Further, in Jesus’ name, I place a spirit of  confusion and ineffectiveness on you that will not lift until you repent and cease all such threats.”

In summary, America is in grave danger from the decades-old buildup of demonically laced PM Theory and Marxist teaching in the universities, and which has now filtered into many businesses, NGOs and even primary schools.[54] There is a need to awaken to the problem and begin focused, systematic and effective prayer against this ongoing evil, which include coordinated intercessory prayers, deliverance ministry and command disablements. Although the task seems impossible in the natural, in the authority and power that Jesus gave to His Church, prayers are more than adequate for the task.



  1. The Devil’s victory in Salem, myth as reality


For the average American, Puritanism is synonymous with the Salem witchcraft trials. And the most popular account of the Salem witch trials is the 1952 play by Arthur Miller, The Crucible. It is still assigned reading in many high school and college English courses. It was also made into a movie that was seen by millions. However, The Crucible is a distorted and historically inaccurate account of the trials. In it Miller presents the liberal, materialist perspective—that nothing supernatural took place in Salem. For Miller, the young girls who accused others of witchcraft faked their curse-induced torments for various reasons, as in increased attention or sexual longings. Miller took the liberty to make one of the original thirteen-year-old accusers into a seventeen-year-old in order to play out more credibly his hypothesis of sexual longings. Miller’s presentation represents the view of most text-book histories (and sadly many Christians).24

A few things must be noted to put the trials in proper perspective. All Christians of the 17th Century believed that witchcraft was real and deserving of capital punishment. The procedures used in English courts and the Puritans were much superior to many European nations, where often mob rule disposed of the accused before any sort of trial.25 The horror movie motif of a mob attacking a vampire and driving a stake through his heart represents an echo of this. The European mob vs. witch scenario parallels the current situation in much of Africa, where persons accused of witchcraft are often lynched by angry mobs.26

In the 1950s, when Miller researched and wrote his play, only a few scholars took witchcraft seriously, or had studied it extensively. But since the 1960’s, when Wicca and other witches “came out,” and the whole occult scene blossomed, there has developed a much better understanding of witchcraft and its history.27

It is now clear that witchcraft and witch covens were common in Europe from the earliest days of Christianity. The covens were derived from the “left over” Paganism from the incomplete and haphazard way in which various European peoples were evangelized. The most extreme example of this being the Gypsy peoples, the Romani, who were never evangelized at all, and to this day regularly practice witchcraft and occultism. The early monk missionaries of Northern Europe often focused on converting local kings and tribal leaders, who then forced all their subjects to be baptized. This seemed like a good policy, and it certainly produced great numbers of baptized “Christians.” But it left resentful Pagan followers in place, baptized but unconverted, to go underground and continue their rites and religion.28

Unfortunately, the Catholic Church allowed this situation to go on uncorrected for centuries. As a result, Medieval Catholics were often quite open to all sorts of divination, occult, and superstitious practices that blended with their more orthodox Sunday practices. Most churchmen looked upon witchcraft as delusion and something that could be lived with—a curious resonance with modern secular views. This parallels much Catholic practice in Latin America, where churchmen often allow indigenous occult rituals and worship to go on without much opposition—as long as the people baptize their children and sometimes show up for Sunday services.

In Europe, the Church’s tolerance of witchcraft began to change under the medieval papacy of John XXII (1316-1334). He had a true discernment that witchcraft was serious, and believed that its rites were “demonic sacraments” capable of real spiritual effectiveness and harm. In 1320 set up a commission to make witchcraft a “heresy” that could be dealt with by the Inquisition.29 This was a theological blunder, as witches are not heretics properly speaking, but non-Christians. In any case, Catholic logic, that anyone baptized was a Christian, placed witches and sorcerers in the “Church,” and thus under the Church’s jurisdiction. The local inquisitors then attacked the problem with all of their rational, legal and investigative tools that they had used against heretics (including, of course, interrogation by torture). But nothing in the theology or practice of the Church could be a substitute for the gift of discernment of spirits that had been largely lost to the Church since the 4th Century.30

By 1484 the famous textbook guide on witch hunting, the Malleus Maleficiarum, had been compiled and published. Thus began the official witch-hunting period of late medieval Europe. No one noticed that the New Testament pattern of countering witchcraft and sorcery with the power of the Spirit by temporary immobilization, as modeled by Paul (Acts 13:6-12). More correctly, no one imagined that such a thing was possible in the Church Age. Many innocent persons died as a result of this spiritual incapacity (and real witches too). In recent decades a mythology has arisen via the radical feminists, who often have no concern for the truth, that up to nine million witches were burned from the Middle Ages to modern times.31 This is a ridiculous and fantastic number, the real number being in the thousands—not counting mob vigilantism.


Understanding the Salem Witchcraft Trials


To return to the to the Salem witch trials, we can now appreciate the tremendous work done by the recently deceased scholar, Chadwick Hansen, professor emeritus of English at the University of Illinois, in his work Witchcraft in Salem.32 Building on the new scholarship that took witchcraft seriously, he meticulously researched the Salem trials from the manuscript evidence of the trials, and studied newer archeological findings. Yes, archeological investigations had found witchcraft paraphernalia in Salem such as voodoo like dolls stuffed with goat’s hair. His careful analysis of all the evidence showed that there was indeed true witchcraft in Salem, and that some of the executed were indeed guilty.

Hansen’s landmark work comes short only in not affirming that supernatural events really did happen at Salem. Rather he believed that witchcraft worked because it victims had “faith” in the power of witchcraft and responded psychosomatically to the claims and curses of local witches. This is a step forward from the traditional 19th and 20th Century views that it was all fake, and that Cotton Mather, the judge, was a cruel fanatic, and the judicial system ridiculous—the view of Miller’s The Crucible.

Perhaps Hansen was reluctant to call the witches at Salem demonically empowered33 out of prudence. Doing so would have discredited his fine work within academic circles and much of the public. As it is, his work has revolutionized the understanding of the Salem trials, and has influenced subsequent scholarship.34

A major factor that made the Salem trials so awful was the breakdown of proper rules of evidence. Both Catholic and Protestant witch investigators of the period understood that “spectral evidence” was inadmissible evidence. Specifically, at Salem the girl victims claimed that their attacks began and were continued by ghost-like apparitions of real persons in the locality. Churchmen had long known that Satan can disguise himself as an “Angel of Light” (2 Cor. 11:14) and of any person. Thus, that a ghost looking just like “Mrs. A” who attacks the victim does not prove that Mrs. A is really behind the attack. It might be just an attempt by the demonic to create confusion and accuse an innocent person.

Cotton Mather, the leading cleric of the area wrote to Judge John Richards, one of the judges of the trials that spectral evidence was deceitful and treacherous, and admissible evidence must be from other sources, as in the physical evidence of witch paraphernalia or especially confessions.


And yet I most humbly beg you that in the management of the affair in your worthy hands, you do not lay more stress upon pure specter testimony than it will bear. When you are satisfied or have good plain legal evidence that the Demons which molest our poor neighbors do indeed represent such and such people to the sufferers. Though this be a presumption, yet I suppose you will not reckon it is conviction that people so represented are witches to be immediately exterminated. It is very certain that the Devils have sometimes represented the shapes of persons not only innocent but very virtuous…35


Unfortunately, in the course of the trials, and in the very court room, the young victims were constantly attacked, forced into contortions, and other phenomena—the authorities panicked. The victims’ piteous cries seemed too hideous to disregard, and several persons were convicted by spectral evidence alone.36


Is there a Biblical response to witchcraft?


Even if all of the wisdom of Catholic and Protestant anti-witch procedures had been followed, the Salem trials would have all fallen short of New Testament standards. Specifically, there was no congregation in Massachusetts, or anywhere else in Christendom for that matter, that could function as any of Paul’s Spirit-empowered congregations as described in 1 Cor. 12-14. Such a congregation would include persons gifted in exorcism and healing, and with the gift of discernment of spirits. That latter gift, exercised by tested and reliable persons, would have at the very least avoided the errors of false spectral evidence. Other members of the congregation would have used tongues to wage spiritual warfare, etc. This was impossible at the time as the Protestant doctrine of cessationism, central to its theology, had declared the gifts of the Spirit as non-existent in the post-Apostolic church, and the practice of the gifts of the Spirit as heretical or vain “enthusiasm.”37 It would take the rise of Pentecostalism at the dawn of the 20th Century before cessationism was seriously challenged in the Protestant world. Only at that time would congregations began forming in which all of the gifts of the Spirit were present on a regular basis. Even today, a century after the birthing of Pentecostalism, such congregations are rare. That is, the majority of Pentecostal and charismatic churches in the “First World” often have substantial healing and deliverance ministries, but do not systematically teach or cultivate discernment of spirits.38

In any case, the limitations of contemporary theology are not the main issue of this article. Rather I wanted to clarify why the so called Puritan “failure” or “scandal” at Salem was not what many Christian imagine. Certainly it should not hamper their appropriation of the great and valuable works of Puritan theologians and writers.



  1. The Rev. John L. Nevius: The Holy Spirit Gives a Lesson in Chinese[55]

When Protestant missionaries arrived in China early in the Nineteenth Century, they had all been educated into cessationism.  Part of this awful theology was the belief that exorcism and belief in the present reality of the demonic was archaic, as demons were supposed to have left the earth after the crucifixion. The practice of exorcism was linked to the “corrupt” and priest centered theology of Roman Catholicism.

The missionaries noticed that the Chinese universally believed in the spirit realm, and that even their Christian coverts retained a belief in demonic spirits.  For many missionaries this seemed only a passing stage of the newly converted Christians, and as they moved to a more “mature” Christian theology such beliefs would fade.  Several missionaries saw beyond this superficial analysis and understood that the Chinese converts were indeed touching on real spiritual matters.

Among those who came to understand that it was the Chinese who had a more accurate and biblical view of the demonic was the Rev. John L. Nevius, one the most distinguished Christian missionaries of all time. Born in 1829 in Ovid, New York, he received his ministerial education at Princeton Theological Seminary. He arrived in China with his wife Helen in 1854, and from that date until his death in 1893 he spent his life preaching the Gospel and organizing Presbyterian missionary effort in China, and then briefly, Korea.

Nevius developed what was later dubbed the “Nevius method.”  This was a missionary church organized with the intension of making it self-reliant in the shortest possible time.  This included severance from continued outside funding, and a structure of home churches led by volunteers. The method sought to remove undue cultural influences on the native church, and give local converts authority as quickly as possible.  This attitude was a reflection of Nevius’ appreciation for the good points of Chinese culture, which he learned after his arrival in China and had time to study the culture. Nevius especially esteemed Confucius philosophy and ethical norms as pointing to, and anticipating, the Gospel.  He often incorporated Confucius’ saying in his sermons – as Paul incorporated Greek poets into his address at the Areopagus in Athens (Acts 17:22ff).[56] The Nevius method was controversial among Presbyterian missionaries in China, and never fully implemented there, but had a major impact on the formation of the vigorous Korean Protestant churches.[57]

When Nevius arrived in China he was fully convinced of cessionism as any other Presbyterian minister of the 1850s.  As was the custom, a local scholar was employed as his language teacher. For Nevius it was a Mr. Tu.  During the moments of informal conversation between teacher and pupil,  Mr. Tu. would relate to the folklore of Chinese demons and spirit world.  Nevius’ reaction at this point was to consider these stories as a sign of the “mental weakness” of Chinese culture and to be little more than superstitions.  However, being a gentleman, he allowed Mr. Tu to go on with his tales.  Even at this early stage he felt a bothersome similarity between what he was hearing and the stories of possession and exorcism in the Gospels.

After his language training the Rev. Nevius was assigned to Shantung province which became his life-long post. There the small missionary community became aware of a case of a haunted house which was cleansed by the mere presence of a newly arrived native Christian family. This was reported to the missionaries, and Nevius recorded that: “It was accounted for as due, like other cases of “haunted houses,” to fear and hallucination, and the subject was dismissed from our thoughts…”[58]

But the Rev.  Nevius became determined to investigate the demonic, and he began to collect information on possessions, hauntings and exorcisms from local sources and from the classical Christian literature available to him.

It was my hope when I began to investigate the subject of

so-called “demon possession” the Scriptures and modern science would furnish the means of showing to the Chinese, that these phenomena need not be referred to as demons.  The result has been quite the contrary.[59]


About 1871 Nevius encountered a landmark case. It referred to a twelve-year-old boy who had repeated bouts of severe possession.  On many occasions the local medium had been employed and she would alleviate the symptoms for a while, only to have the possession state recur not long after.  However, on one occasion a recently baptized convert was called into the case instead of the medium.  The new Christian prayed over the possessed boy as he lay in an unconscious state:

Then turning to the prostrate boy he said in almost Scriptural words: “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of him!”  The boy uttering a piercing cry, was at once restored to consciousness.  I [Nevius] can say from personal knowledge that he never had another of those attacks from that day to this…

It may be well to state that no Protestant missionary, so far as I known, has ever given native converts instructions as to casting out spirits; and few, if any have dreamed that their converts would have the disposition, the ability, or the opportunity to do so. When converts have undertaken to do it, it has always been from an unsuggested spontaneous impulse, the natural result of reading the Scriptures and applying its teachings to their actual circumstances.[60]


This case converted his interest in the demonic into a permanent pursuit.  He studied each incident he heard of firsthand, with a through interview of all the persons involved, Christian and non-Christian. This was not easy, for he found that most Chinese were reluctant to talk to foreigners about these matters (his old language teacher was an exception).  The Chinese converts had perceived that the missionaries did not like to hear of the demonic, nor would they believe them if told.  Chinese rules of decorum dictated that such an issue not be pressed.  Further, many Chinese felt that in relating the stories of exorcism one placed one’s family in jeopardy of demonic retaliation.[61]  In spite of these obstacles, Nevius was able to amass interview data on a substantial number of possession cases, only a few of which appear in Demon Possession.

In 1879 Nevius sent a circular letter to fellow missionaries requesting further information and opinions on possession.  In today’s parlance, the letter would be called an open-ended questionnaire.  He received a substantial response from all over China, including some from native Christians. These responses make up the heart of Demon Possession. From the answers a clear pattern emerged that repeated Nevius’ experiences.  The missionaries came to China believing that demon possession was a thing of the past, belonging to a former dispensation, but were forced to conclude that this was not true.  Further, in every case reported it was a native Christian, not missionary, who first practiced exorcism, in much the same way and for the same reasons as related above.  Consistently, the missionaries were taught by the converts to disregard cessationism and accept as continuously valid the Bible’s descriptions of the demonic and exorcism.[62]

Helen Nevius related that the publication of Demon Possession “was strangely delayed” by one problem or another, and did not come out until after the author’s death.[63] The final draft was produced during Nevius’ last furlough in the United States (1891).  By that time he was considered the dean of American missionaries and much sought after as a lecturer.  During that furlough he spent his time researching possession outside of China, as well as researching the literature of spiritualism and mediumship which he considered a form of demonic possession.

Almost one hundred years after its publication, Demon Possession remains as one of the best works on the topic. (It has thankfully been reprinted, but it can also be completely downloaded from the web.)[64]  Among the other virtues of the book are its excellent presentation of the Biblical and Patristic views of demons and possession.  Interestingly, the Rev. Nevius freely used data of the then new discipline of parapsychology and included many references to the writings of William James  – a thing later Evangelical writers would be reluctant to do.  Nevius’ identification of spiritualism as a form of demonic possession was sound, and would well serve those seeking to understand the current New Age Movement.

Because of his great fame as missionary and churchman, Demon Possession was surprisingly well accepted and reviewed in both the popular press and theological journals.  The second edition of Demon Possession contained a collection of reviews that had appeared after the book was released. Many reviewers were convinced by Nevius’ work that possession was possible in China, but not in “Christian” countries like the United States, where the Church was strong.  In this way the whole issue of possession and the demonic was set aside as an interesting curiosity, and certainly not serious enough a matter to disturb the “sound doctrine” of  Protestant cessationism.

A careful reading of Demon Possession does not reveal if Nevius ever personally ministered exorcisms, or was always an observer of converts who did so.  What is known is that within a decade on the publication  of Demon Possession the common opinion in missionary circles was that exorcisms should be left to native converts.  For example, in 1907, in a book intended as an introduction to the Chinese missions for Americans, the missionary-author, W. E. Soothill, suggested that Western missionaries do not have enough faith for exorcisms, but the new converts do such ministry regularly.[65]  Soothill elaborates with great honesty that the main reason the Chinese are delegated the unpleasant task of exorcism was the missionary’s fear of failure, especially the possibility of failure at a ministry where the far less educated converts succeed.[66]

Sadly, a little over a decade after Nevius’ death a biography of him was written of him for the devotional market without single word of his work on exorcism and the demonic. After all the excellent reception Demon Possession received, its major discoveries and potential to re-awaken Protestantism to present day biblical realities was swallowed up by the momentum of cessationism and its hold on “churchadoxy.” Similarly, recent articles which extol his role in missionary history and the soundness of the “Nevius method” have avoided his pioneer and splendid work on exorcism.[67]

This is especially sad as his pioneer work is not one of those things that only has historical value. Its methodology of collecting and analyzing reports, its understanding that present spiritual realities are the same as biblical models, and its overall understanding of the demonic is first rate. And to use the much-abused advertising phrase in its correct sense, “it is unsurpassed.” A seminary instructor presenting a class on the demonic and exorcism would do well to use Demon Possession as one of his primary texts.[68]






  1. Spiritualism: From Mesoamerica to the present


Spiritualism was quite rare in Christendom because the Bible forbade it, and Catholic and Eastern churches rightly discerned its demonic nature and suppressed its practice. Thus, it was largely absent for centuries in Christendom.

Spiritualism experienced a resurgence in upper New York state in 1848. That year two teenage sisters, Kate and Maggie Fox, began manifesting a “raping” noise in their home which soon became a code to communicate spirits of the dead. The rappings drew nationwide attention, and by the end of the century various forms of spirit communications were in full bloom, both in the United States, England and in Europe. Many different “Christian” Spiritualist churches came into existence, all based on local mediums and the revelations channeled through them from various “guides.” The Christology was Arian: Jesus was a heavenly being, but not God; salvation comes through self-knowledge and self-effort.

Note that the amnesia on the discernment tradition about spiritualism, especially in the Protestant churches, caused much confusion and allowed for the rapid spread of spiritualist churches. The Catholic Church, via its excellent discernment tradition was not seriously afflicted by the spiritualist revival. The earliest modern specific identification of mediumship as demonic counterfeit seems to have been a couple of booklets printed by the Seventh Day Adventists in response to the American spiritualist revival of the 1850s.[69] But at the time the Adventists were considered a cult and their warnings ignored by the Protestant churches. Additionally, the anti-supernatural theologies of mainline Protestantism wrote off any spiritualist communications as merely disturbances from the subconscious mind. All of this obstructed a true discernment of spiritualism, and in fact continues to do so among liberal Protestant churches[70]

The operating practice of the demons behind mediumship is to adjust to the target audience, for instance the audience of turn of the century spiritualists usually pretended to be noble philosophical figure of antiquity. Nowadays these “dead white men” is not so much in fashion so the demonic entities pretend to be Buddhist sages, or Indian shamans, etc.[71] The channeled, spirits encourage the listeners and devotees to spiritual decline and negativity, and sometimes physical destruction, if possible, as in the cult that Elizabeth Kubler Ross fell into.[72]

Thrugch the ages there has been an immense spectrum of Spiritualism and mediumistic manifestation. Some of the cruelest and most destructive occurred in mezzo-America among the Mayas and Aztecs. The priests of those societies regularly went into mediumistic trances to receive direction from the “gods.”  Most usually the instructions were, “Go to war, and give me the hearts of your prisoners,” etc.[73] The demonic could be as destructive as it wished because there was no Church or Bible to push back about the nature of God and his love. But in Christian societies the demons must be circumspect and aim not at immediate destruction and war, but spiritual disablement, as in shifting a person from prayer to meditation (non-worship) or a shutdown of intercessory prayer, and invariably suggesting a “low Christology,” i.e., that Jesus was not the son of God, but a “model” human, as in the original spiritualism of the modern West.

Now to Nan’s book, The Fellowship of the Picture. Given that its target audience was Edwardian Christians, mostly upper-class Anglicans, it did not suggest, like the demons of meso-America that they tear the hearts out of Christian Scientists or Jews as a “burnt offering” to the gods. Rather, it is subtle in its contradictions to biblical spirituality. The central idea of the Fellowship of the Picture is that prayers for specific requests are not useful. Rather the person should meditate, achieve personal peace, and then understand the “big picture” of God’s plan on earth (an impressive sounding but impossible task). Notice in the following quote how prayers and petitions for specific purposes, as in healing, or a just outcome of a negative situation or injustice, etc., all of which are mandated in scripture, are marginalized. For instance, Jesus encouraged persistent prayer in the parable of the unjust judge and the persistent widow (Lk 18:1-8), and the Our Father, the central prayer of Christendom, commands us to pray so that what is in heaven will be mirrored on earth.  But in The Fellowship of the Picture prayers are dismissed as irrelevant to the overall task of meditation:


He [God] isn’t going to spoil his picture just for one person, you know; that wouldn’t do at all. Think of the mess it would make! No, you have got to see the picture, and then he will help you to make your life fit in; and to be part of the picture is more glorious that to have one’ own private little plans answered.”[74]


What you have to realize about God is that he want you to have his gifts…..God isn’t a miser; but he can’t waste his gifts, and he must see some preparation for their reception before they are give.[75]


All of which is to say that having a wife who participated in mediumship (did she do more?) and for Pearcy to personally having gone to a séance, would create a serious spiritual “atmosphere” in the home to grieve the Hoy Spirit, and be an impediment to further work on the healing ministry. This is of course speculation, as we do not know if Pearcy or Nan repented of their involvement in spiritualism, but there is no written record of that.

To be cleart, at the time many church leaders did not discern spiritualism as a demonic force, and many believed in it, or considered the output of spiritualist contact, in séances or automatic writing as merely the product of the subconscious mind. Certainly the Rev. Dearmer did fine work in other fields until his death in 1936 when he was serving as the honored canon of Westminster Abby. But one wonders if he could have done more to further energize the healing ministry.



  1. Beyond the strategy of run, hide and fight in mass shootings


After the Teas Church massacre (date) I wrote the following:[76]

We are all grieving the recent Texas massacre. A gunman armed with an assault rifle entered First Baptist of Sutherland Springs, and systematically murdered 26 persons, including infants and children, and left 20 others wounded.[77] The Wilson County (Texas) sheriff on the scene said that the victims had no chance to escape the building as the killer went up and down the pews shooting those who had tried to hide or shield their loved ones from the carnage.[78]

This massacre highlights limitations of the poplar workshops and instructions given to the public that the way to respond to a mass shooter is to “run, hide, or fight” at the shooter. This “triad” strategy of reaction and survival was first developed after the Sand Hook Elementary School massacre of 2012 when twenty children and six adults were gunned down by a lone shooter, armed with an assault rifle and high-capacity clips.

The survival triad was first printed in a government pamphlet, but now mostly disseminated through many workshops offered by police and sheriff departments all over the country.[79] There were special circumstances that made survival triad especially ineffective at First Baptist. The Church is small with few exists, and its doors are all an easy shot from anywhere in the building. The victims tried to hide under the pews, but that was also ineffective as the shooter walked back and forth the central aisle, spraying anyone who moved. He delighted in shooting crying children. There is no report that anyone tried to fight or throw something at him. Church pews cannot be easily lofted in defense, and the chairs on the stage were well way from throwing distance, but an easy shot for someone with an assault rifle.

A similar ineffectiveness of the survival triad was demonstrated at the Ft. Hood massacre of 2009. The Islamic murderer, Army Major Nidal Hasam, killed thirteen Army personnel by using only a pistol with high-capacity magazines. Two soldiers tried to rush him and were killed before reaching him. One threw a folding chair at him, but missed and was lucky enough to crawl away wounded to safety. Hasan continued to roam the building shooting at uniformed personnel (but sparing civilian employees) until gunned down and seriously wounded by a base policeman.  Yes, some uniformed personnel in the building managed to escape by running or hiding, but not many. One threw a chair through a window and jumped out, saving himself, but seriously injuring himself with the cut glass. Note that those shot, including the two who charged Hasam, were trained military, and the best qualified to do the “fight” part of the “run, hide, fight” triage.[80] But all of the escape strategies were largely ineffective.

To be fair about the survival triad, its authors never claimed that using it would result in the survival of all, or even most, of those present in a mass shooting situation. Rather, it gives a pre-arranged pattern of actions the entrapped persons can take, depending on the circumstances, to increase their survival chances. This is much better than improvising a plan of action during the chaos and panic of a massacre. It that sense, it is a good plan to teach the public.

After the Sutherland Springs massacre several knowledgeable church leaders have spoken out on the need for ever church to be “security aware” and take practical measures, as in teaching the survival triad ,or having a volunteer church member posted in their police or security uniform at the church service.[81] But I believe that, as Christians, we have access to strategies and modes of prayer that will vastly increase the possibilities of surviving a mass shooting or terrorist incident.

Greg Goebel, and Anglican priest, and friend of mine, posted this on his Facebook timeline right after the Sutherland Springs shootings.

Thoughts and prayers are not antithetical to action. We can pray and mourn and still take action against violence. And we can also take multiple steps to prevent future violence. We don’t have to choose one step and then argue and attack everyone who would take an alternative step. Improved gun laws, improved mental health services, more outreach to angry young men, prayer meetings, health campaigns, improved safety measures, talking with my neighbor. To me a main effort should be learning to reach out to and talk with angry men. This last thing is what churches can actually do well. I’ve seen it many times. (Posted Nov. 9, 2017)

From Fr, Greg’s advice I would stress the spiritual resources. As in praying for the safety of church meetings every time there was a planned event, and certainly more consciously seeking out neighbors and acquaintances with negative metal attitudes and praying for them, and with them so that what is a mild situation does not flower into a public disaster. This last course of action might have prevented the latest tragedy, the North California shootings at Rancho Tehama, where the shooter was long known as violent and mentally deranged.

But before I go into the most radical, and perhaps a more effective way of specific Christian prayer for this type of situation, let me say a few words about the metal state of the shooters. It seems that most (all?) of them are in a high state of demonization. I rather use that biblical phrase rather than “possession” which has unnecessary baggage related to Catholic exorcism practice. Our attitude towards the demonic and towards exorcism and deliverance ministries, and our ability to accept the plain biblical evidence for both, is distorted by multiple factors. In the secular West there is a tendency to disbelieve in the reality of the demonic, and reduce demonic manifestations to instances of abnormal psychology. All of this is to say that much of what passes as severe metal disturbance and hallucinations, and attributed to chemical imbalances, etc., is at times demonic obsession and possession. It is probable that at least several of the mass shooters of late may have had and obeyed demonic voices within them.

We can speculate as to how this happens. They are taunted and beguiled to violence by voices they cannot stop, and which reward or punish the victims in various ways. I have described how the demonic can reward a person with sexual favors. Punishment is also an option. My wife and I ministered to a person who was punished by interior spirit with severe headaches if she started to go to church. We might believe that at least some of these mass shooters have been rewarded and/or punished by interior demonic spirits in similar ways to a point of control. Finally, when the mass murdered is cornered by the police the voices/demons turn into screams of accusation and commands to commit suicide. All of this is speculative, and I especially invite comments and critiques by ministers or others in the healing profession who have experience in the deliverance ministry.

If my analysis is correct, the promise of stopping mass shooting will not be effectively addressed by any secular mental health program. Anything mandated by Congress under our present understanding of “separation of church and state” will annihilate spiritual considerations, especially any consideration of the demonic as real, or the need for exorcism and deliverance. (I really believe we Christians should begin to confront the phrase “separation of church and state” itself, and insist it be renamed to what it is, forced secularization.

All of this seems to make the possibility of effective gun control and the reduction of mass shooters, murders and countless gun suicides impossible to restrain. Especially distressing are the number of privately held assault weapons and hand guns already out there. Actually, by identifying the spiritual roots of mass shootings we can see that the opposite is true and a remedy is possible.

The remedy is called REVIVAL.

That is, the massive turning of a nation to God and the Bible as happened in the Second Great Awakening of 1797-1830 when Deism was defeated and Evangelicalism birthed (see my book, Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revival, for a detailed study of this revival,  But it must be a Pentecostal/charismatic type revival. That is, a revival in which the leadership accepts and incorporates the gifts of the Spirit, including discernment of spirits, and categorically rejects cessationism. Imagine what an America would be where a majority of its churches were actively Spirit-filled and empowered. Pastors and their prayer teams would be alert to persons in the community who were in the process of demon oppression and possession, and could intervene with deliverance ministry before they acted out.

This promise that revival can bring major social/ethical and spiritual changes may seem far-fetched only because Americans have no living memory of a major revival. The stuff that goes on in churches when the sign says “Revival tonight by Pastor Smith” is merely normal evangelizing. America has not had a nation shaking revival since the Azusa St. Revival of 1906-1913, although certain ones have had strong regional impacts, as in the Brownsville revival in Florida. No revival has ever been 100% effective in converting and transforming everyone, but such revivals as the Welsh Revival of 1903 were so profound that the crime and drunkenness rate shrunk to previously unimaginable numbers.

Let us all pray that a great revival come to America, where the murder rate shrinks to minuscule levels, and mass shooters will be discerned, uncovered and incapacitated before harm is done. Most seriously, the poverty of Protestant tradition on the demonic and exorcism, produced by the theology of cessationism, has basically left many Christian with nothing to say about deliverance/exorcism, leaving a tremendous ignorance gap (see chaptret 2). This leads many Christian ministers to dismiss or reduce demonic activities and manifestations as psychological abnormalities. More than likely such ministers refer demonized persons in their congregation to a psychiatrist, rather than minister deliverance or exorcism prayer.

serious and destructive demonization occur when the persons hears voices that direct them to destructive acts, including self-mutualization and suicide. This as common in certain forms of schizophrenia, where the person is continually assailed by negative voices shouting his/her worthlessness. I ministered deliverance to a person who was suffering from this sort of demonic voice assault and rapidly and easily dismissed the demonic entities – it really is not rocket science.[82] I have suggested above that mass shooters, such as the shooter of Sandy Hook Elementary were highly demonized, and in some cases hear voices to direct them in their killing spree, and at the end, to suicide.[83] Of course we can’t interview either the Sand Hook or Vegas shooters to verify this. However, in the 1970s the New York City serial killer, David Berkowitz (“Son of Sam”) confessed that he was directed by a voice, emanating from a dog, to kill people.[84]

All of which is to say that the many (most?) of the mass shooters of recent decades were heavily demonized while they were committing their atrocities. This is especially indicated in those killers where no other motive has been discovered as plausible. It seems that these persons, totally ignorant of spiritual hygiene or of the reality of the demonic world, fell into increasingly negative fantasies of persecution, opposition, anger, etc. that finally broached, under demonic tutelage, into active massacre.

The bad news is that given the increased secularization of the American public, combined with tremendously easy access to assault rifles and other weapons, such demonically driven massacres are likely to increase in frequency and destructiveness. But there is good news. There may be a way to stop a mass shooter right in his tracts. It is called a “command disablement” and it is described in Acts 13, when the Apostle Paul disabled the demonized sorcerer Elymas. This has been discussed above in chapter ?. but let me make it specific to a mass shooting.

If you and your loved ones are trapped in a mass shooting situation, and the triad of “run, shoot or fight” will not work well, or if you are prompted by the Holy Spirit (and can hear His voice in the chaos and fear of the moment) do a command disablement. Point your boney finger at the assailant and speak to the demons in him/her, “Stop! Be still and confused in the name of Jesus!” One of two things will happen. He will stop, and be confused and disarmed when the audience sees what is happening. Or, he will continue shooting, probably you next, but the others to follow.

I posted an earlier version of this article and received a several incredulous comments in my Facebook timeline. One person, a fellow Anglican priest, “unfriended me” and added, “You very foolish person! If you try that [command disablement] the next thing that will happen will be you will find yourself in the presence of Jesus, as he shakes his head and asks why did I do that?” My answer is that there have been no Christians who have yet tried this, so it may indeed not work. What have you got to lose? You get to heaven a minute or two before the rest of the crowd. But if the command disablement works, you and your loved ones, and the rest of the crowd, will be spared, and the press will also be confused as they try to figure out what happened on secular grounds. Then, in the many press interviews following you can give glory to God and the name of Jesus for the “sign and wonder” that you facilitated, which is the way normal Christian life should work (Heb. 2:1-4)



  1. The demonization of children and its prevention


This article was written in response to an important piece in the Atlantic Monthly by Barbara Bradley Hagertey, “When Your Child is a Psychopath.” [85] It is a depressing read. It describes not only serious psychopathic and criminal behaviors, as in attempted murder, in very young children, but the tireless and fatiguing efforts of good parents to stop such behaviors and raise these children as morally normal – all to no avail.

I will proceed by first summarizing the article, then adding my own discernment and specifically Christian commentary to include suggestions of actions and prayers that Christians can take to help heal and prevent the development of psychopathic children.


“When Your Child is a Psychopath” begins with the story of Samantha, an eleven-year-old who is now consigned to a treatment center where she is receiving intense treatment. As a six-year-old she practiced murder by decapitating her stuffed animals, and loved drawing the implements of murder such as guns, knives and poison bottles. She almost strangled to death her 2-year-old brother. When stopped in middle of the act by her mother, she declared, “I want to kill you all.” Samantha’s parents, both well-educated and loving, began rounds of psychiatric analysis, tests and treatment strategies for Samantha. A curious thing, common to psychopathic children, was that Samantha’s negative actions were not impulsive, but deliberate and vengeful. Once, after being mildly scolded by her mother, she went upstairs and flushed down the toilet her mother’s expensive contact lenses.

The root cause of childhood psychopathology remains undetermined. It is presently surmised that is that some cases are attributable to genetic inheritance, and some to early sever abuse and neglect.[86] Psychologists don’t like to call children “psychopaths,” which sound hopeless. They have invented the term “callous and unemotional traits” to describe these children. In 2013 this vocabulary was added as a diagnosis to the standard psychiatric manual, DSM-5.[87]

The evidence indicates that as many as 1% of children in the United States have this condition, a huge number, and equivalent to those who have severe autism. Those with these traits are at least thee times more likely to commit serious crimes end up in jail than their peers. A large percentage of the murders committed in this country are perpetrated by persons who began as psychopathic children and proceeded to adults as full psychopaths. There are now many studies from different counties on psychopathic children. A trained psychologist can spot its early manifestations. For instance, by age three these children do not respond at all to the sounds of other children crying – it’s of no concern to them. Normal children that age already show sympathy. By eight or nine these children delight in destructive and callous behavior when alone, whereas normal children are mean or destructive mostly in the setting of peers, as in a group of kids setting off firecrackers to harass an elderly neighbor. There is also an intense rage and hatred seated within these children. One recovering psychopath, now in his twenties, recalled:

“I remember when I bit my mom really hard, and she was bleeding and crying. I remember feeling so happy, so overjoyed—completely fulfilled and satisfied,” … “It wasn’t like someone kicked me in the face and I was trying to get him back. It was more like a weird, hard-to-explain feeling of hatred.”[88]

Ms. Hagertey describes how modern scan technology has discovered significant differences in the brains of psychopaths and normal persons. Specifically, the limbic system, and especially the amygdala area, is underdeveloped. This is the part of the brain that processes emotions.

But most the Hagertey’s article centers on new strategies for moving the children from psychopathic mental states to a more normal moral awareness. It is done by stressing one area the psychopath’s mental condition. That is, psychopaths respond very little to punishment, but readily to rewards.

At the Medota Juvenile Detention Center in Madison, Wisconsin, which is using this insight as strategy, progress has been made in turning off the patients’ psychopathic behaviors and leading them towards a moral normal. The psychopath’s negative behaviors are largely ignored. This takes heroic virtue from the staff as the children and youths placed there are skilled at mayhem and destruction such as squirting feces and urine at the staff. But gradually the staff builds trust, and begins to reward positive behaviors (and lack of negative behaviors) with such things as video game privileges, or baseball cards. Over the long term this strategy seems to work, at least for some. It is however immensely costly, as the Mendota center is manned with three time the staff a normal juvenile center of its size.

Hagertey’s article ends by tracing the life of one youth who transited from a psychopath to a semi-normal person, and in fact, became a successful undertaker. Ironically, as she flew to California to interview him, he had regressed and was arrested for abusing his wife.

Christian Commentary:

I believe that psychopathic children could be helped towards normal moral sensitivity by exorcism/deliverance ministry. In one of my earliest blog posting I shared that I had experience in dispersing the voices of patients suffering from “negative hallucinations” that are common to schizophrenics (chapter 3 above). I did so by deliverance/exorcism, by commanding the voice entities (demons) to leave in the name of Jesus.[89] I can make no such claim regarding psychopathic children as I have not had the opportunity to minister to any – but I am certainly open to do so.

But I am speaking as an Anglican priest with deliverance/exorcism experience and one who has read widely into the literature of exorcism and the demonic. As I read the quote cited above of the person who recalled the delight in biting his mother, I understood that to be a demonic thought pattern, not a human one.

Recently, when I shared the Hagertey article with my Facebook friends and suggested that deliverance could help these children, one person immediately messaged back, “Of course not. The article plainly shows this psychopathology is a brain abnormality, not a demonic problem.” There is a materialist-philosophical assumption present in that statement that needs to be challenged. The commentator assumes that a spirit cannot influence the physical structure of the body or brain. That is a philosophical assumption, not an established scientific fact.

The evidence from serious exorcisms points to the fact that persons who are possessed sometimes manifest bizarre and impossible physical properties, and super-human strength. That is, the demons directly influence the possessed person’s body. My hypothesis is that the vector of causality in psychopathic children is that an early demonic infestation hinders the normal development of the limbic system. This hypothesis could be tested by repeated deliverance ministry on multiple psychopathic children and follow-up brain scans.

Many readers are appalled by the thought that infant children could be demonically infested before they are morally responsible. But those experienced in healing and exorcism prayer can affirm that is the case. Although the Bible does not give an explicit example of demonic infestation of infants in the womb, it does clearly show that such infants are spiritually aware and active. For example, the Gospel of Matthew recounts that when Mary came to visit Elizabeth, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb, John the Baptist, leaped in recognition of Jesus’s presence in Mary’s womb. (Luke 1:41).

The experience of exorcists and person in the inner healing ministry is that deep spiritual wounds and demonic infestation can lodge even in the womb. For instance, in inner healing prayer it is not uncommon for an adult to recall that they were unwanted in the womb because they were the “wrong” sex, or the family did not want or could not afford another child. This may result in a spirit of rejection which harasses the person until it is dislodged. Even secular sources now urge parents to talk lovingly to the developing child in the womb. The Japanese are famous for being especially careful to positively influence their children while still in the womb, as in playing classical music in the house continuously. The MacNutts, a couple that have taught healing ministry to hundreds of thousands, urge parents to pray every day and speak to the developing child as soon as they are aware there is a pregnancy.[90]

The famous healing team, Frank and Ida Mae Hammond, who produced the Pentecostal exorcism classic, Pigs in the Parlor, warned of the dangers of pre-natal demonic infestation. They described in that work several infant and child exorcisms that they have performed in their years of ministry. Possible ways of demonic infant infestation are a violent, drug-ridden home environment, fear on the part of the parents, a sudden severe fright as in a car accident, and of course any type of rejection by the parents.[91]

Resources and Present Action by the Church:

So lastly, and perhaps most importantly, how can the church minister to psychopathic children. First, and most obvious, pastors and the Church as a whole need to be aware psychotic children and the possibility that such children need deliverance ministry. Most pastors today are trained to affirm that extreme negative behaviors are psychological problems of brain disorders and should be referred out to secular psychologists or psychiatrists. They should begin considering such behaviors as diabolical in nature. Farming out a psychotic child to a psychiatrist is immensely expensive, and may in fact result in a diagnosis offering expensive treatment and medications not covered by most insurance. An exploratory deliverance by the pastor cost nothing and may end the problem right there. This is both politically incorrect and counter to the understanding, or rather misunderstandings, of both liberal theology and cessationist theology. Both systems underplay or completely eliminate the importance and activity of the demonic in the present world.

Church’s ministry to psychopathic children is buttressed from two angles. First, it was the ancient practice of the Church to couple baptism with exorcism ministry, and the present exorcism prayers still carried out in infant baptism by some liturgical churches. It is clear from the sources that the early Church took exorcism with upmost seriousness, and that the Catechumen (seeker) had to undergo various exorcisms before being permitted baptism.[92] The documents are unclear about infant exorcism/baptism in this early period.

Second, Liturgical churches such as the Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox churches should return to their long tradition of coupling infant baptism with deliverance ministry (some still say words of exorcism during baptism). For instance, up until 1969 the Catholic Church included a strong prayer of exorcism within the rite of infant Baptism which read:

I exorcise thee, unclean spirit, in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, that thou goest out and depart from this servant of God, N[ame]. For He commands Thee, accursed one, Who walked upon the sea, and stretched out His right hand to Peter about to sink. Therefore, accursed devil, acknowledge thy sentence, and give honor to the living and true God: give honor to Jesus Christ His Son, and to the Holy Spirit; and depart from this servant of God, N[ame]. because God and our Lord Jesus Christ hath vouchsafed to call him (her) to His holy grace and benediction and to the font of Baptism.[93]

That was cancelled due to the influence of Protestant Liberal Theology on the Catholic Church in the 1960s and 1970s. Fortunately, the words were allowed if the parents requested them. Although that probably happened very rarely. Certainly, this should be done at every infant baptism, for even in the best of families it is possible that the parents experience a sever fright or momentary altercation that could have given the demonic entrance. It would be prudent for ministers today who practice infant baptism to incorporate this or similar words of exorcism into the baptismal rite.

Most Evangelical and Pentecostal churches do not believe in infant baptism, but many practice a rite of “presentation” modeled after the Biblical rite (and unfortunately never elevated to the status of sacrament in the Early Church). It is not hard to imagine incorporating word of exorcism in this ritual. Certainly, the pastor would need to explain the reason, taking care not to condemn the parents in any way.

In the Episcopal and Anglican Churches infant baptism includes a litany of renouncing Satan and his works, and accept Jesus Christ as savior. This is a beautiful litany, and when I was pastor I would urge not only the godparents, but the whole congregation to repeat the litany as a form of “renewing” their baptismal vows. But as beautiful as the litany is, it falls short of a definite exorcism. I often added to the litany my own words of exorcism, as in a simple command, “I command any evil spirit who has entered this child to depart immediately in the name of Jesus Christ.” I never experienced protest or opposition to that.

In Summary, the evidence points to the fact that psychopathic behavior in young children may be of demonic origins. A Christian pastor should be able to minister to these children with exorcism ministry, and move toward incorporating the words of exorcism in the child and infant rites of initiation (Protestant Presentation or liturgical infant baptism). Adult baptism usually implies a period of instruction in which the pastor should discern if exorcism ministry is needed.

I invite comments on this difficult issue.



  1. The Demonic Dimension of the Transgender movement

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; (Gen 1:27-28 NASB)

With acceptance of gay marriage, the focus of LGBTQ agenda has shifted to the “rights” transgendered individuals have in demanding that government entities, state or national, pay for the expensive procedures of transgender transformations. For instance, the State of California has instituted in its state prison system a program to grant transgender operations and procedures to inmates who want them, and who have more than two years still to serve in prison.[94]

The idea that a person is in a wrong body is a solipsism. A solipsism is an idea that has no foundation in physical reality. In philosophy the term is used to designated thinking such as: “The world is my creation, because I think it.” This is impossible o disprove, but one could comment, “why did you do such a bad job?” Solipsisms have traditionally been considered a destructive and dangerous way of thinking and sometimes as a marker of insanity, as in “I am Napoleaon, treat me as such.” The transgender solipsism has received only minor opposition from the psychiatric establishment mainly due to the enormous pressure from the homosexual lobby.

To the contrary, it is my assertion that those who believe they are in “wrong body” solipsism and who wish to have these transgendered procedures are under demonic delusion Further, that this delusion can be healed by God’s healing grace and/or deliverance prayer. This assertion goes against what is upheld in the secular psychology and psychiatry establishments. In many American and European universities any discussion of homosexuality or transgender phenomenon as less than fully normal and acceptable is suppressed.[95] Unfortunately, many Christian pastors and leaders hold similar beliefs, especially those in the tradition of liberal theology.[96]

To affirm the demonic influence on human thinking and whole sectors of the medical establishment is a contrarian position. This forces me to go through various levels of evidence and augmentation. The first level is a discussion of psychological and psychiatric authors who see the dangers in the various “I sincerely believe and feel” maladies which have arisen in the past decades.  This includes the transgendered belief, but also includes the newer delusion that various parts of a person’s body are “alien” and should be surgically removed. This obviously destructive belief has not received much acceptance, and thankfully is still viewed by the secular community as a psychological anomaly and abnormality.

I will then return to the issue of persons who wish to be trans-gendered and present evidence that in the feelings, thoughts, and interior voices that suggest they are of the opposite sex stem from the demonic realm. We will then see a case of a miraculous trans-gendered reversal that was brought about by God’s grace and instantly healed a person of his transgender delusion. Lastly will suggest ways in which Christian leaders, and the church, must recover the will and ability to talk of the demonic, and thus help others avoid the destructiveness of these delusional beliefs.

Transgendered procedures as useless and dangerous:

We will begin by summarizing a seminal, and controversial, article on the transgender issue by Dr. Paul McHugh, “Transgender Surgery Isn’t the Solution.”[97] Dr. McHugh was the chief psychiatrist at John Hopkins Hospital and worked many transgender cases in his career. He argues against transgender surgeries and transformative hormonal regimes on two levels. First, he finds that although transgendered persons are initially “happy” with their transformation, that state does not last long. In fact, one study found that suicide rates among transgendered were much higher than the normal population. The second part of his argument is that to accept the wannabe’s transgender beliefs that he or she is really in a wrong body is to accept the fallacy of “solipsism.” This is a philosophical term which means that a person believes that what he thinks determines what is real. In fact, the disciplines of psychology and psychiatry are built on the assumptions that many people come to ideas that are objectively wrong and destructive (neurosis or psychopathologies) and can be helped out of these wrong beliefs.

Take for example, in the tragic life of Howard Hughes. He was innovator and genius of aircraft design, but developed an obsessive –compulsive disorder that caused him to panic at the thought of germs and infection. Because of his great influence and economic power, he was never forced into therapy in spite of the increasingly destructive nature of his neurosis. His tragic story was well told in the movie, “The Aviator,” (2004). All of this is to say that wrong, exaggerated and destructive ideas should be challenged at their origins, as psychiatrists, spiritual counselors and pastors have done for ages. The difference in the transgendered narrative is that this delusion has come to be accepted without much challenge. It dovetailed with the acceptance of homosexuality as normal and acceptable. As such it now plays a role in many persons’ self-esteem, as they imagine themselves morally enlightened by considering transgendered longings as normal.  In a matter of a few years transgendered reached a “tipping point” where it was socially and professionally unacceptable to oppose it.[98]

Dr. McHugh’s article garnered a storm of criticism, mostly focusing on his assertion that the long-term results of transgender procedures were counter-productive and negative. In the current atmosphere it would be difficult to get an impartial study funded or completed to clarify this issue. Unfortunately, his argument about the solipsism of the transgender desires was not contested, and merely brushed aside. But this leads right to a more dramatic and extreme destructive solipsism that is currently gaining momentum.

It’s not my arm! Please cut it off!

Let us consider a new aberration of the post-modern solipsisms. It is the growing phenomenon of persons who believe that parts of their body do not really belong to them. Further, these persons often have a compulsive desire to have their “alien” parts amputated. In fact, after they execute their desire on this matter, and they often are happy and more content than before unnecessary amputation was performed.

This increasingly popular aberration (Biblical sin – Lev 19:28) is fueled by the ease of communication of the internet where likeminded persons can contact and encourage each other in chat rooms or Face Book pages about any myth, conspiracy theory, or agreed solipsism. This limb amputation aberration even has psychiatric nomenclature. The feeling that a limb or body part does not belong to you is called “somatoparaphelia,” and the strong desire to have the “alien” part removed is called “apotemnophilia.” As of now, in comparison to the highly politicized and effective trans-gender movement these aberrations have little public support. So far, no public monies have gone into providing these delusional amputations.  But wait a decade when amputees begin demanding special vans and other government funded benefits.

A masterful (and non-controversial) article on apotemnophilia appeared in the Atlantic Monthly.[99] Its author, Dr. Carl Elliot is both a medical doctor and a PhD. in Philosophy. He is currently the leading authority on apotemnophilia. The starting point of the article is that persons with this disorder are usually quite normal in other aspects of their mental health. As for the origins of this desire, “Nobody really knows, including the wannabes themselves, who often say they have had the desire since they were children.”[100]

The wannabes universally use the language of identity to describe themselves.

“My left foot was not part of me,” says one amputee, who had wished for amputation since the age of eight. “I didn’t understand why, but I knew I didn’t want my leg.” A woman in her early forties wrote to me, “I will never feel truly whole with legs.” Her view of herself has always been as a double amputee, with stumps of five or six inches.[101] One of the many persons Dr. Elliot interviewed shared his obsession to be happy with his “real” self (i.e. minus amputated limb). “Just as a transsexual is not happy with his own body but longs to have the body of another sex, in the same way I am not happy with my present body, but long for a peg-leg.”[102] Dr Eliot does not use the word “solipsism” for this attitude, but the similarity with the Dr. McHugh’s article is obvious.

In another case, Dr. Elliot recounts a telephone conversation with a wannabe, Mr. Price:

I ask Price whether he feels that his desire is more like an obsession, a fantasy, or a wish. He says, “Well, it was definitely like an obsession. Until I cut my leg off, of course.”

That brings me up short. I had been unaware that he had actually gone ahead with an amputation. “Ah,” I say. I pause. Should I ask? I decide I should. “May I ask how you did it?” Price laughs. “It was kind of messy,” he says. “I did it with a log splitter.” He then explains, in a thoughtful, dispassionate manner, the details of his “accident” ten years ago—the research he had done on anesthesia and wound control, how he had driven himself to the emergency room after partially amputating his limb, the efforts of the hospital surgeons to reattach it. He lived with the reattached leg for six months, he said, until medical complications finally helped him persuade another surgeon to amputate it.

Dr. Elis concluded:

Clinicians and patients alike often suggest that apotemnophilia is like gender-identity disorder, and that amputation is like sex-reassignment surgery. Let us suppose they are right. Fifty years ago the suggestion that tens of thousands of people would someday want their genitals surgically altered so that they could change their sex would have been ludicrous. But it has happened. The question is why?[103]

He speculates this was caused by a form of “contagion.” That is, once an idea is out there on the internet people can interact with it, and, even if bizarre and destructive, some will adopt it. (I would add here that psychiatric term “contagion” is secular language for what is often demonic influence – but that is the subject of a article in the future.

The article ends with Dr. Ellis’ complete befuddlement as to why this destructive abnormality has taken hold. There is no consistent pattern of child abuse, sexual abuse, physical trauma, or other pathologies in the case histories of these people.

The fact is that nobody really understands apotemnophilia. Nobody understands the pathophysiology; nobody knows whether there is an alternative to surgery; and nobody has any reliable data on how well surgery might work. Many people seeking amputations are desperate and vulnerable to exploitation. “I am in a constant state of inner rage,” one wannabe wrote to me. “I am willing to take that risk of death to achieve the needed amputation. My life inside is just too hard to continue as is.” These people need help, but when the therapy in question is irreversible and disabling, it is not at all clear what that help should be.[104]

Transgender desires as demonic confusion:

My presentation thus far has been molded to prepare groundwork to tackle the main subject of this article, the demonic origins of the trans-gender confusion. The first piece of evidence for this I encountered came from a popular and controversial book on exorcism, Hostage to the Devil[105] The author, Fr. Malachi Martin (1921-1999) had been a Catholic priest and Jesuit, a noted linguist and professor at the Vatican Pontifical Biblical institute – in addition to being an exorcist himself. Fr. Malachi left the Jesuits as he saw they were betraying basic Catholic doctrines by accepting liberation theology and other forms of modernism.[106] His writings continue to be highly esteemed by traditionalist Catholics.

Fr. Marin’s Hostage to the Devil is not a book for the faint hearted, as it describes the sort of demonic horrors the public saw in the movie “The Exorcists.” The book is both tremendously insightful but also deeply deceptive. The insightful parts of book come from Fr. Martin’s post exorcism de-briefings where both the liberated victim and exorcist were extensively questioned on how the possession came about and how the exorcisms developed.

But unfortunately, the book suffers from certain Catholic exaggeration of exorcism doctrine. For instance, traditional Catholic exorcism literature sees exorcism as a “hero’s battle” of the priest versus the demons, with little or no attention to the use of the gifts of the Spirit in the exorcism process. (In fact, many anointed and effective exorcists are lay persons of different denominations, especially Pentecostal.) The most serious error is Fr. Martin’s adherence to a minority Catholic exorcist’s view that during the exorcism the main demon can be forced to reveal the truth about the possession process and other spiritual truths. This is nonsense, and what the demons say in the process of exorcism is similar to mediumistic utterances – mixtures of truth and error crafted to confuse and spiritually injure the hearer. To be clear, what I cite about the following case comes from the exorcism de-briefings, not from the demon’s utterances.

One of the five cases cited in Hostage to the Devil, “The Virgin and the Girl Fixer” is an exorcism performed on a transgendered person. The person, Richard, was born male, but underwent the surgeries and hormone treatments to change his sex to female.  After the exorcism Richard returned to male identity. This case is especially bizarre/demonic. Richard as boy had two mystical events in his life where he experienced an awe and union with nature, and a profound admiration for the male and female aspects of nature. He desired to be like “all” of nature, both male and female, at the same time. In other words, unlike other trans-gendered wannabes, he desired to be an androgynous being. In one of these mystical events a voice said “I don’t want to leave you.”[107]

After he switched gender, he experienced many complications and much unhappiness. Androgyny was not blessing, but confusion.  A marriage he entered into was a one-night disaster. Later he underwent a Satanic ritual to find happiness and there he entered into a deep level of possession. This was marked by a strongly negative change in behavior. His brother summoned psychiatric and ultimately religious help which led to the exorcism and release from his demon and delusion.

To be clear, the possession came from the Satanic ritual, not from the voice or the feelings he had during his nature mystical experiences. Nor I am not claiming that all or even many trans-gendered persons are possessed. Rather, I am pointing out that the feeling and the voice that Richard had as a boy was deceptive and of demonic origins. The specific take-away form this case is that, contrary to post-modern prejudices, following an inner voice and feelings can be dangerous. It places a person in a spiritual mode without the supporting elements of a discerning church to advise the person if the voices, feeling and tendencies are godly or demonic. A post-modern secularist would be clueless about this. It is safe to say most mainline churches in America would not have helped Richard either since the traditions of discernment and awareness of the demonic side of spiritual experiences have not been taught in seminaries.

A miraculous transformation.

In the course my life as Christian scribe/scholar and pastor I learned of one case of a person who went through the trans-gender processes and surgeries, and later, at a Christian service was miraculously healed and restored to his God-given gender. That is, the transgendered surgeries and hormone treatments were miraculously nullified and reversed, and the mental sexual confusion eliminated. As I had no intention of writing about this matter, I did not keep record of that instance. A recent internet search proved of no avail in recovering that case. But I asked my Face Book buddies and blog followers if they had specific references to such transgender reversals. One case was referred to me. I am sure there are many more out there (please let me know on Facebook).

The case is of a Mr. Dimond Dee. Although born into a Christian household and born again as a lad, he abandoned his faith and lived an extremely sexually permissive life. After decades of licentiousness as a male he experienced a desire to experience sex “the other way” as a female. He invested in the considerable cost of the surgeries and hormonal treatments to achieve his new female identity and sexuality. But at a revival meeting Dee was totally healed of his sexually excessive past and his attempted gender change. The memory traces of all his sexual activities were erased, and his desire for new sexual experiences was also nullified. He was restored to his male identity, and lives in peace and true happiness, desiring now only to do God’s will and share his witness with others.[108]

Connecting the dots:

It is time to “connect the dots” and  to affirm that the movement is demonically inspired and generated. First, the context is the weakened philosophical and moral state of contemporary Western societies where Post-modernism in its many aberrations reigns. That is, the post-Modern way of thinking has taken hold from the graduate universities down to the street, and affirms that “story,” “narrative,” and “feelings” trumps rationality and clear thinking. This has made easy the triumph of solipsistic forms of thinking in the sexual matters, from simple homosexuality to transgendered longings. Thus a transsexual wannabe or homosexual can claim, unchallenged, that he or she is “really” the opposite sex because he believes it and feels it to be true. In former eras this would have been analyzed as solipsism or deluded thinking that needed to be addressed and corrected. But now these solipsism are protected by a powerful network of elites in the psychological, education and media establishments. We have a small widow of sanity left in the fact that apotemnophilia, limb amputation, is still considered and abnormality and a “wrong idea” that needs to be treated rather than celebrated.

We next showed that certain forms of schizophrenic disorders indicate the continued presence of the demonic on the human mind. This is especially difficult for the Post-modern secular person to accept, for it goes beyond New Age forms of spirituality and right to the Biblical description of the demonic. After this we examined one well documented case of transgender change that was fully uncovered from an exorcism debriefing. It showed that the mental suggestions to sexual confusion were demonic and came very early in childhood. Lastly we gave an example of a person miraculously freed of all gender confusion and transgendered procedures  via a church revival.

We can connect the dots, not as absolute proof, but as a reasonable affirmation. The demonic kingdom and personalities are at the root of the transgendered confusion. The remedy for its continued spread is a Christian Church that truly understands and discerns the demonic and will not compromise with the solipsism and post-modern irrationalities.

I can already hear many of the critics of this article say that I have built my argument on too few cases. and I certainly welcome further evidence and case studies as this article is propagated. But on the other hand, in scientific and truly logical ways of thinking, anomalies are very important. If a case or an observation contradicts normal expectations, it should be pursued until it is understood in reference to current theory (or overthrows it). I have described in my book, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions, how seeking out what was not understood helped Agnes Sanford and her fellow pioneers break the hold that cessationism had on Christianity. I further suggested that most traditional theology is pre-modern and guild like, in that it avoids anomalies and transmits conventionally received opinions – now predominantly of the liberal or radical variety.[109] The cases I presented must be taken seriously, especially in view of the fact that there are no contrary miraculous cases. That is, there is no case of a pious Christian praying, “Oh Lord, you put me in a wrong body, I want to be another sex! Change my body!” and the Lord miraculously changing that person as he desires.

Talking points for Christians:

As Christians in an increasingly non-Christian Western world, we need to recover both our understanding of the universal demonic presence and our ability to witness against it and its confusions.  We need to “come out of the closet,” to borrow a phrase from the pan-sexualists, and affirm publicly that Satan is alive and well, and his minions are doing everything to destroy us, including deluding persons into believing that their leg is not theirs.

As you witness to the reliability of the Scriptures and the power of God’s grace over the demonic, many, including some Christians, will accuse you of being a “fundamentalist fanatic.” Let me suggest that you immediately affirm with grace and confidence that they are mistaken and are ill-informed about the issue, no matter how much academic education they have. Suggest they inform themselves by reading such books as Fr. MacNutt’s, Deliverance from Evil Spirit, or other fine works on the demonic, and suggest they open their eyes to the anomalies that will present themselves if they only ask God for wisdom on this issue (James 1:5).



  1. More Mercy: A more biblical theology of the afterlife and human eternal destiny


 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits—  to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.

1 Peter 3: 18-20



But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

1 Peter 4: 5-6





In 2011 a spirited debate broke out among Evangelical circles which continues to reverberate today. It referred to a book by Pastor Rob Bell, Love Wins.[110] Bell was then the pastor of the 10,000-member mega-church, Mars Hill Bible Church, in Grandville, Michigan, and Time magazine rated him as one of the most influential pastors in America.[111]  Love Wins essentially reframed the Universalist position, that all mankind will be saved, in terms Bell believed to be modern yet Evangelical. He made quite an eloquent and rational argument that the traditional view of heaven and hell preached by many Evangelicals (and Catholics) was contrary to God’s nature as a loving God.

Certainly, the Calvinists assertion that both God and the saints in heaven will be delighted by seeing the eternal torments of the damned in hell is something few Christians believe today. Indeed, that is instinctively morally repulsive. Significantly, many Evangelical pastors today avoid teaching this “pure” Reformed doctrine, and leave the condemnation to hell of others to God’s judgement.[112]

Bell’s attempt to persuade Evangelicals of a more merciful destiny for unbelievers was not very successful, and his critics immediately saw in his presentation the old heresy, Universalism.[113] As the arguments and reviews of Love Wins fomented in the Christian press, one wished that the writings of the Victorian Anglicans were still in fashion and had been taught in seminaries. Bell could have posited a theology of “greater hope” that was more carefully and biblically defined, without ending up in Universalism, and his critics might have better recognized that his quest for a theology of a merciful destiny for unbelievers is not alien to the Biblical evidence or Church tradition. Thankfully, the debate over Love Wins was surprisingly civil, and the word “heretic” rarely used – an indicator that the resentful sectarianism of generations is fading.[114]

Both sides, Bell’s Universalism vs. traditional orthodoxy, were arguing from a flawed theological base – what should be termed the “Augustinian consensus.” That is, the theology of St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430) which became the base of Western theology. Augustine was a brilliant and insightful theologian. Unfortunately, he also made several serious misinterpretations and omissions in understanding the Bible.  For instance, St.  Augustine believed that the gifts of the Spirit were defined by the scripture in Isiah 11: 2. He did not consider the scriptures of 1 Cor 12-14 as functional gifts of the Spirit. That mistake and omission echoed down thru the centuries and weakened the spiritual vitality and ministries of the Church.[115]  Even today his truncated view of the gifts of the Spirit is taught in Catholic catechisms.

More to our point in the present discussion, Augustin did not understand the important scriptures in 1Peter 3-4 and how it could fit into a theology of the afterlife and eternal judgement. Calvin copied Augustin’s lapse and their collective misunderstanding passed on to Reformation theology boosted by a false Third Century gospel, the Gospel of Nicodemus. That gospel reversed the true meaning of 1 Peter 3-4 and its implications for “more mercy” for the lost both in the immediate afterlife and their ultimate destiny.

What I am asserting, that the Bible itself provides a more merciful judgement for unbelievers than is normative to Evangelical theology (but does not pass into Universalism) is strange to many conservative Evangelical and Pentecostal/charismatic believers. Thus, this chapter will be very deliberate in laying out the evidence for “more mercy.” It is my contention that re-incorporating 1 Peter 3-4 into Christian theology would move the Church away from the dilemma of either Universalism or the cruel theology of the Calvinist Reformed and conservative Evangelical tradition.

The distorted theology of the afterlife

Western Christian theology about the afterlife has been dominated by two traditions that sought to interpret scattered biblical revelations about the afterlife into an understandable system. The first, that of the Roman Catholic Church. This was presented by Saint Augustine of Hippo but later expanded and codified by Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). The second tradition, that of the Protestants, developed both in reaction to, and out of, that Western Catholic tradition.

In the traditional Catholic view, the afterlife before the coming final judgement was divided into several “locales” or spiritual states. There is heaven proper, which is where the saints and angels worship and experience the presence of God. There is purgatory, where persons who are destined for heaven must be purified through suffering to become eligible for the heaven state. Then there is hell, where the damned reside in agony, awaiting the final judgment and the confirmation of their status. Between purgatory and hell there was believed to be a “limbo,” named in Latin, Limbus Infanturn, where the souls of unbaptized infants reside in comfort, but without the bliss of heaven. Traditional Catholic theology also affirmed that there was formerly another limbo, one in which the souls of Jewish patriarchs and other righteous souls of the Old Testament stayed until they were freed by Jesus’ descent into the underworld described in 1 Peter 3 and 4 (upon we will comment below) called Limbus Patrum.

The traditional Protestant view developed out of Catholic theology, but with careful attention to avoid anything that would make credible the Catholic practices of prayers, indulgences, and masses for the dead. Thus, both Purgatory and the Limbus Infantum were eliminated. But interestingly, many of the Reformers accepted the Catholic view of a former Limbus Patrum of the Patriarchs.

Both the Catholic and Protestant theologies of the afterlife shared an inadequate and a highly selective biblical base. They concentrated on Luke 16 (the story of the rich man and beggar), Mark 9:43-47, and the scriptures about the Last Judgment in the Book of Revelations. Ignored were the scriptures about the afterlife found in the Old Testament, as for instance the phrase “gathered to his people” found multiple times in the Old Testament (Gen. 25:8 &17, 35:29, 49:30, Num. 20:26, 32:50). Also, traditional Catholic and Protestant theologies tend to confuse man’s ultimate destiny as described in the Book of Revelations, with the after-death state until the Last Judgment, which has been more precisely called the “intermediate state.”

The Victorian scholars and the afterlife[116]

The scattered Biblical hints about the afterlife began to be clarified in the two decades preceding the turn of the 20th Century. The new paradigm was led by, but not limited to, stirrings by scholars and clergy of the Anglican Church in Great Britain. The Anglican Church was undergoing one of its periodic reexaminations, searching to define itself in terms of the Bible, early Christianity, and the Patristic writers. It sought to avoid either the dogmatic assertions of the Roman Catholic Church or the reactive anti-Catholic theology of the Reformation.

Part of this reexamination was a fresh look at the belief in the afterlife. F. W. Farrar (1831-1903), Canon of Westminster Cathedral and chaplain to Queen Victoria, was one of the first, and perhaps the ablest, of the scholar/divines, which we will call the “Victorian scholars.”[117] They had the advantages of the system of rigorous elite Victorian education, which emphasized the mastery of Greek and Latin. They also reaped the fruits of then recent and revolutionary discoveries in biblical scholarship. These included the rediscovery of many inter-testament writings that had been lost for centuries and which helped to explain the developed and varied ideas about the afterlife in the New Testament that were not found in the Old Testament.[118]

As in any group of scholars, not everyone came to identical conclusions, but there was uncommon agreement on some findings that are especially important for any discussion of the afterlife. It was agreed that the King James translation of the Bible had unnecessarily muddled the theology of the afterlife by using one word, “hell,” for sheol of the Old Testament, and hades and gehenna of the New Testament. “Hell” is a proper translation for gehenna, a place outside Jerusalem where garbage was burned, but it is a decidedly poor translation for sheol or hades which signified the afterlife place in the Old Testament, but did not necessarily connote a place of punishment.

The Old Testament uses the word sheol often, but we are never given a definitive description of it. It was presumed to be under the earth, and most passages described it as a place that is dark and gloomy, a joyless place, and a mere shadow of life on earth. Not even God can be praised there, and the person’s consciousness is much reduced (Ps. 6:5, Ec. 9:5-10). In Job 3:13-19 it is lamented that all men, good and bad, come to the same fate in sheol.  Apparently, there was no system of rewards or punishment in sheol described in these scriptures. These scriptures indicate that sheol has much in common with the Greek conception of the afterlife, “hades.” In fact, in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament that was in common use at the time of Jesus, sheol was translated as hades. However, a few passages in the Old Testament hint that there is more to hades than just a neutral gray area. In 1 Samuel 28:8-20 it is also reported to be a place of “rest,” as the dead judge and prophet, Samuel, complains that his peace has been disturbed by a medium’s conjuring. On the negative side, in the book of Isaiah, there was described a section of sheol more ominously called the “pit” (14:15).

The idea that sheol is divided into different sections was greatly elaborated in the books of the inter-testament period. Many of these books were influential in both Judaism and early Christianity, though they were later discarded and became canonical in neither religion. The book of Enoch was especially influential in establishing the afterlife as a place of rewards and punishments per the righteousness, or lack of it, in the person’s life. By the time of Jesus, the rabbinical literature advocated a belief in an accountable and multilayered afterlife. The names gahanna, “Bosom of Abraham,” and “Paradise,” were all from the rabbinical literature of this period and utilized by Jesus to talk about the afterlife.[119]

Just as the Old Testament was ambiguous about the nature of the afterlife, the Victorian scholars came to see that the New Testament was equally ambiguous about man’s ultimate destiny. They believed “tentative” should be the key word in forming theological opinions on the matter (a critique of the traditional Catholic and Protestant positions). Canon Farrar had perhaps the strongest sense of scriptural ambiguity in this area.[120] He also identified four separate motifs about man’s final destiny within the New Testament. One motif was the final reconciliation of all men to God (Universalism), and a current that is discernible in the later writings of Paul. For instance, in Romans 5:18 Paul writes, “Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.” Farrar also cites John 1:29, 3:17, 12:32, Acts 3:21, Romans 5:15 &18-19: 1 Cor.15:22-28, 2 Cor. 5:19, Eph. 1:10, Cols. 1:20, 1 Tim. 4:10, and other scriptures.

A second motif is that the wicked and unsaved have no hope and will be doomed forever – the Augustinian view.[121] Yet another group of scriptures indicates that the incorrigible wicked will not suffer forever, but will be annihilated.[122] (This is Rob Bell’s position in Love Wins, and indeed is not unbiblical.) Finally, there are scriptures which indicate that there is a temporary punishment and cleansing fire (elaborated as Purgatory in Roman Catholic doctrine). For instance, note Mark 9:47-49 which seems to imply everyone will experience some sort of punishment fire.

Normative Christianity in the West, both Catholic and Protestant, has of course stressed the second motif – that the wicked are forever doomed, and has given less weight to, or ignored, the other motifs. Worse, these other motifs are called heresies – and thus beyond discussion. Often, this has been put forth in an embarrassingly sectarian manner. For instance, as a boy living under the classical, Pre-Vatican II Catholicism, I was taught to believe that only Catholics can get to heaven. My wife, who was instructed in Baptist Sunday schools, was similarly taught that only Protestants who were Baptists would make it to heaven – too bad for the born-again Methodists and Presbyterians!

This sectarian and unbiblical viewpoint was the product of the divides of heated controversy and warfare that racked Christianity after the Reformation. It left its mark with what one might call a “theology of resentment” towards other denominations. Its consequence is that it weakens the witness of Christianity, and is one reason why many non-believers find it difficult to take Christianity seriously. There is something silly, ungracious and ungodly about Christians consigning other Christians of varying denominations, and all unbelievers, to hell because they were born in the wrong household. More importantly, it disregards Paul’s revelation that those who have not been given the full Gospel will ultimately be judged on the light and revelation they did have (Rms 2:12-16)

But back to the Victorian scholars. Canon Farrar went to great lengths to point out that early Christianity, and especially the early Church Fathers, were more optimistic than moderns and held out the “greater hope.” That is, they mostly believed that the majority of mankind would eventually come to God, and that the punishment of the incorrigible wicked would be limited in duration, and that they would be annihilated. This “greater hope” theology is quite natural to places and times where the Gospel is new, as in the first centuries in the Roman Empire. In such environments it is not really “good news” to preach a Gospel which says that Grandma, who was a lovely lady, but worshiped Pagan gods out of ignorance, is now in eternal torment and will never be released from that.

Interestingly, the Early Church scholar Origen chose to center his theology on the Pauline scriptures of the restitution of all to God. He was condemned as a heretic in the 5th Century when the Greco-Roman world was mostly Christian and the “grandma in hell” issue had receded from immediate notice. Ironically, Gregory of Nyssa, who held the same views as Origin but was more circumspect, is celebrated as one of the great Fathers of Orthodoxy.

As a group, the Victorian scholars agreed that the afterlife was not as simple as the common doctrine of heaven and hell, and that a characteristic of the afterlife was the opportunity it offered for further growth. Again, Canon Farrar was a pioneer in suggesting a partial solution to the apparently contradictory nature of the afterlife scriptures in the New Testament. It was to understand that there is a difference between a person’s intermediate after death state and their final destiny which will be determined at the Last Judgment.[123] New Testament writers were so sure that Jesus’ second coming was imminent that they often did not discern the difference between what was revealed as pertaining to the afterlife in the intermediate state, and the afterlife after the Last Judgment.[124]

After more than a century, the scholarship of the Victorian Re-examiners stands as a major achievement of Christian theology. From the 1900s liberal Protestantism increased in influence, and interest waned in the purely spiritual (including afterlife) aspects of theology in favor of the more “practical” and social-action issues. The “demythologizing” movement in Liberal Protestantism reached a point where many of its theologians reduced all spiritual phenomenon to psychology, and even denied the concept of personal survival after death.[125] More modern works on the afterlife, such as John A. T. Robinson’s In the End God,[126] and John H. Hick’s Death and ‘Eternal Life,[127] tend to be heavy on philosophy and light on scripture. Fortunately, some advocates of “process theology” popular several decades ago, rediscovered much of what the Victorian re-examiners said about continued growth in the discarnate state, and affirmed the same biblical and Patristic positions asserted by the earlier scholars.[128]

The critical issue of more mercy in 1 Peter 3-4:

About the New Testament, the Victorian scholars carefully parsed an important passage addressing the greater hope/more mercy issue, one found in the first letter of Peter. Like Paul, Peter’s literary style leaves something to be desired, and the scriptures in question are sandwiched between moral exhortations. But the central meaning is sufficiently clear:

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is eight persons, were saved through water. …

For this is why the gospel was preached even to the dead, that though judged in the flesh like men, they might live in the spirit like God. (1 Pet. 3:18-21; 4:6)

What Peter describes is Jesus’ preaching ministry in sheol/hades (called a “spiritual prison” in this passage). This is corroborated in Ephesians 4:8-10, as there it is revealed that Jesus succeeded and led “a host of captives” into the heavenly realms.

This is why it says:

“When he ascended on high,

he took many captives

and gave gifts to his people.”

(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)

To be clear, and perhaps redundant, here is described a group of dead disobedient sinners who were given a second chance for salvation by Jesus. There was little confusion among the earliest Christian writers about the meaning of these passages. Between his death and resurrection Christ preached to the dead in hades, and those who accepted his word ascended with him to heaven.[129]

Several traditions in early Christian literature elaborated this revelation. The first generation of Christian apologists and theologians were trained in Greek philosophy and especially loved Plato, and could not see him in hades or Hell. Some affirmed he had been preached to by the Apostles, and ascended then to Heaven. But the most famous case of continued preaching in hades is found in the Shepherd of Hermas, which was held as scripture by many churches in the second and third centuries, and is canonical today in the churches of Oriental Orthodoxy (Coptic Church, etc.). This epistle asserts that the Apostles followed Jesus’ example, and at death they too preached to the heathen in hades, and baptized them!

“Because,” he said, “these apostles and teachers who preached the name of the Son of God, after falling asleep in the power and faith of the Son of God, preached it not only to those who were asleep, but themselves also gave them the seal of the preaching. Accordingly, they descended with them into the water, and again ascended. [But these descended alive and rose up again alive; whereas they who had previously fallen asleep descended dead, but rose up again alive. (Anonymous, Shepherd of Hermas, chapter 16)[130]

The motif of a second chance for those who have died has received scant attention in Christian theology or literature past the Third Century. A notable and modern exception is C.S. Lewis’ novel, The Great Divorce.[131]  In that work the hell is not a fiery place, but a “gray town” where everyone exercises various degrees of delusion and vanity – and universal frustration results. A bus load of these souls from hell are given an excursion to the foothills of heaven. There they are met by the spirits of those they knew on earth. The souls from gray town are invited to repent and proceed on a journey to heaven. Only one does, and the rest make various excuses on why they cannot. They return to the gray town to continue their lives of falsehood and frustration. Lewis believed that many spiritual truths were best presented in parable from (just as Jesus did) and thus, The Great Divorce may be considered as Lewis’ parable for what he considered the afterlife to be

St. Augustine and a false gospel vs. 1 Peter 3-4:

The Early Church’s view, that Jesus’ ministry in hades in 1 Peter 3-4 can be repeated by other Christians, did not make it to the Middle Ages in the Western Church. It was disabled by the circulation of a false gospel called the Gospel of Nicodemus from the Third century, and by the prestige and ascendency of St. Augustine’s theology within the Latin West.

St Augustine was so convinced about the immediate Heaven or Hell model of the afterlife that he had difficulty in crediting 1 Peter 3-4 with its literal meaning. During his lifetime a fellow bishop named Evodius wrote Augustin for guidance in interpreting 1 Peter 3-4, as he too was perplexed. Augustine stumbled around for various interpretations, but negated the literal one, that Jesus preached to the “disobedient spirits” and finally admitted that he did not have a good interpretation:

If this exposition of the words of Peter offend any one, or, without offending, at least fail to satisfy any one, let him attempt to interpret them on the supposition that they refer to hell: and if he succeed in solving my difficulties which I have mentioned above, so as to remove the perplexity which they occasion, let him communicate his interpretation to me.[132]

Calvin followed St. Augustine’s perplexity, and possibly borrows from the Gospel of Nicodemus in interpreting 1 Peter 3-4. He cavalierly dismissed the literal possibility that the souls in question were the “disobedient spirits” and affirms that they were the Patriarchs and just persons of the Old Testament waiting for Jesus in a “watch tower,” not a prison:

I therefore have no doubt but Peter speaks generally, that the manifestation of Christ’s grace was made to godly spirits, [italics mine] and that they were thus endued with the vital power of the Spirit. Hence there is no reason to fear that it will not flow to us. But it may be inquired, Why he puts in prison the souls of the godly after having quitted their bodies? It seems to me that phulake [prison] rather means a watchtower in which watchmen stand for the purpose of watching, or the very act of watching, for it is often so taken by Greek authors; and the meaning would be very appropriate, that godly souls were watching in hope of the salvation promised them, as though they saw it afar off.[133]

A false gospel obscures the “greater hope”

Let us now turn specifically to that false gospel, the Gospel of Nicodemus. It was composed in various stages by multiple authors. Part of it as a redaction of Jesus’ trial before Pilot found in Matthew. Another part is a supposed letter by Pilot describing the miraculous events about Jesus’ death and resurrection, and his own conversion. The last part, and last to be added, contains a description of Jesus descent into hades. It is written in pious and bombastic language, and easily discerned to be different from any of the true Gospels. In this gospel Jesus descends into hell – yes, hell, not hades, presided over by Satan himself. There he saves Abraham and the Old Testament saints from Satan’s dominion and leads them to the gates of heaven.  Part of the text reads:

And the Lord [Jesus]stretched forth his hand and made the sign of the cross over Adam and over all his saints, and he took the right hand of Adam and went up out of hell, and all the saints followed him. Then did holy David cry aloud and say: Sing unto the Lord a new song, for he hath done marvelous things. His right hand hath wrought salvation for him and his holy arm. The Lord hath made known his saving health, before the face of all nations hath he revealed his righteousness. And the whole multitude of the saints answered, saying: Such honour have all his saints. Amen, Alleluia.

And thereafter Habacuc the prophet cried out and said: Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people to set free thy chosen. And all the saints answered, saying: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. [134]

Note this is a contradiction of what 1 Peter 3 says. In that authentic epistle, Jesus preached to the ‘disobedient spirits” from the time of Noah, not to the Patriarchs of Israel. Further, the famous passage in Luke 16 of Lazarus and the rich man mentions a heavenly place called the “Bosom of Abraham” where that patriarch resided in obvious comfort with Lazarus the just beggar. This quasi heaven could not possible be the “prison” (or Calvin’s watchtower) mentioned 1 Peter 3, or the hell of the Gospel of Nicodemus.

I recall watching, sometime in the 1980s, the famous TV evangelist Jimmy Swaggert preach a sermon about Jesus’ descent into after-world.  On the stage, Swaggert imitated Jesus approaching each of the Patriarchs such as Abraham and Joseph. To each one he said something that rhymed about their life of faith, and released them to heaven. It was all very impressive. Wither the Rev. Swaggert got his sermon idea from a Bible commentary, or lecture notes from his Bible college days was not mentioned, but it ultimately came from the bogus Gospel of Nicodemus.[135]

If 1Peter 3-4 were the only scripture on this matter, there would be serious problem in affirming a continuing ministry to the dead I hades. It could he asserted that what happened in hades after Christ’s crucifixion was a unique event. In that case the living Church would have no role in this type of ministry. Several scriptures indicate that this is not the case, and that the Church on earth does indeed have a legitimate hand in this ministry.

The first scripture passage concerning this issue is one of the most widely known and quoted, Matthew 16:18. It is used by Roman Catholics as proof text for the establishment of the primacy of the Papacy. Protestants use it as proof text for the importance of faith in the individual believer. In all but the most recent translations its meaning has been seriously distorted by the use of the word hell instead of Hades as in the Greek text. And I tell you that you are Peter,[a] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[b] will not overcome it.

A common mistake in interpreting this scripture, based on less accurate translations, is to assume that this is a defensive commission, that is, if demonic forces attack the church, it will have the power to stand. That is obviously incorrect. Matthew 16:18 is an offensive commission. In warfare the “gates” of a fortress do not move and attack – they are not tanks, as in modern warfare. Rather, gates are designed to resist assault. This passage means that the best-fortified points of Hades (including that part within Satan’s dominion) cannot withstand the assaults of the church. Further, what did an army do when they busted open the enemy gate? Did they sit there and start a barbeque with the splintered wood? No. They went into the fortress and plundered the place, just like Jesus did in his ministry in Hades. One more confirmation for this last point must be noted in our next chapter. The proxy baptism on behalf of the dead done by the Corinthian church.



  1. Baptizing the Dead?

3 It is among
the most controversial (or most disregarded) scriptures in the whole of the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 15:28-29:

When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be everything to everyone. Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?

Neither Catholic nor Protestant commentators like this passage. For Protestants it implies a baptismal ministry to the dead. For Catholics it has no ongoing “tradition” behind it – nothing in the Church Fathers (to my knowledge) and no liturgy for this sort of rite. Thus, the peculiar ministry of the Corinthian congregation must have been short lived. Only in the modern times the Mormons took this scripture literally, and developed an ongoing ritual for the baptism of their ancestors – and everybody else’s ancestors

In spite of a general reluctance to accept it as meaningful, the passage is there – like a piece of undigested meat disturbing a good night’s rest. The Pauls’ church was ministering to those who had passed away – the “Grandma” issue I mentioned earlier.  Significantly, unlike some of the other practices of the Corinthian Church, Paul does not reprimand or criticize it. Rather he cites it as a positive practice to buttress his own argument. The biblical scholar Rudolf Bultmann notes that in spite of the strangeness of this passage, it represents the authentic sacramental viewpoint of Saint Paul and of the earliest Church.[136]  The Evangelical scholar, D. A. Carson, writing on the issue in Christianity Today, echoes Bultmann’s position. He asserts that because such a ministry is mentioned only once does not negate its importance. But he did in not actively suggest such baptisms be performed. [137] Similarly, the dean of Pentecostal New Testament scholars and commentators, Craig S. Keener. He says it is a mystery for us, but clear to the Corinthians and cannot be dismissed.[138]

Here I should inject an incident from my ministry that occurred almost thirty years ago. My wife, Carolyn, and I were ministering inner healing to a woman in her late forties, whom we will call Mary – not her name. She had been beaten and abused by her husband, and was separated from him. During a tearful and wonderful inner healing session Mary mentioned that a beatings from him, about five years previous, had resulted in an immediate miscarriage of a fetus that was barely two inches long. She was in the bathroom attending to her wounds and lushed it down the toilet.

In the Anglican tradition it is common for a priest to celebrate Holy communion for an aborted or miscarried baby and name it. I was a layman at the time and could not do that, but on a whim (inspiration!) suggested that Paul’s citation of proxy baptism was applicable in this case. Mary agreed to the proxy baptism, and since we did not know its sex, she named it “Billy” which could have a male or female spelling. As I poured water on her and said the words of baptism. Mary began a probing motion to her side with one hand and said, “There is someone here.”  My wife, operating out of her gift of discernment of spirits, distinctly saw what she was probing, “It’s a handsome boy, about five. And he is smiling and thanking you.”[139] Mary felt a wave of joy at this.

This was an apparition, and like all spiritual experiences but be carefully discerned. Some Evangelicals would say that any communication between the living and the dead is a sin of mediumship and cannot possible be authentic. Certainly, mediumship is sin, but that is not what is in question. Mediumship is communication of some spirit via the voice box of a medium, nowadays called “channeling” to bring messages for the spiritual realm. Sometimes mediumship occurs with various instruments, as in a Ouija board. These communications are invariably demonic.

But an apparition is the unexpected appearance of a spiritual being, possible a person who has died or an angel. Such events are not caused or “called in” by the living as in mediumship but originate from the spiritual realms. Apparitions can be from the heavenly kingdom or Satanic, so discernment must always be involved in evaluating an apparition. The Bible records that Peter, James and John saw the apparitions of Moses and Elijah talking to Jesus during the transfiguration. (Matt 17:1-8). All of which is to say that the apparition of Billy was not an act of mediumship and inherently sinful.

Now it is not wise to base theology on just one experience, but I believe this proxy baptism was suggestive to the proper application of Paul’s understanding on this issue. If it is repeatable, that is, if other women who have had abortions or miscarriages, have similar experiences, it could be as important in countering the sinful epidemic of abortions as the ultrasounds of fetuses have been.

It should be noted here parenthetically that the whole issue of any ministry to the dead is the basis of the Anglican tradition of “laying a ghost” to rest. This is a ministry assumes the continuity of some sort of sheol state for the lost and confused, as suggested by the Victorian re-examiners, but not damned. [140]  Laying a ghost to rest is not often done by other denominations, and unfortunately left to marginal or occult groups. I plan writing about this subject in the future.


This examination of 1 Peter 3-4 goes against current Evangelical and Pentecostal theology on the afterlife. It seems to contradict the long tradition of “hellfire and darnation” sermons that has been used for centuries to bring people to repentance and salvation. The most famous example of this being Jonathan Edwards’ sermon “Sinners in the hand of an angry God” which triggered one of the waves of the First Great Awakening – no mean feat. I have heard variations of this type of sermon several times in my Christian life and it has generally been of some effect. However, this motif seems to leave most Millennials and “nones” unmoved or to reinforce their belief that Christians are mean-spirited and believe in a cruel God. If there was such a thing as an angelic scoreboard, I would suspect that the hellfire and damnation sermons are less effective every year.

But Christian theology and sermons should not be ruled by what is most effective. Rather, what is true. Jesus’ warnings of hellfire are a repeated theme of his ministry and cannot be waved aside without peril, for instance:

This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt 13:49-50)

Certainly, some do go to hell or heaven directly. Note in the famous passage in Luke 16, of the rich man and the Lazarus. The rich man had been instructed into the Law and Prophets, but disregarded them. He was not a “Granddad” who never heard the Gospel. There is indeed a hell for the wicked and a haven for the Believer. But the afterlife is more complex, and scripture indicated that God is more merciful than those two alternatives.

So how do you construct a theology of the afterlife that recognizes both the sever warning of Jesus and the hint of mercy in 1Peter 3-4? I had the opportunity to preach this type of sermon at a small Pentecostal church I was associated with for several years. It was well received. The co-pastor, a woman who had converted from Judaism, was especially appreciative to understand that her dead relatives were not automatically damned in hell. I believe the same biblical message would greatly help in evangelizing the Millennials. The critical thing is that this kind of sermon is closer to the entire witness of scripture and the Early Church than the previous simplifications.[141]



  1. Baptizing the Dead?

The following is among the most controversial (or most disregarded) scriptures in the whole of the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 15:28-29:

When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be everything to everyone. Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?

Neither Catholic nor Protestant commentators like this passage. For Protestants it implies a baptismal ministry to the dead. For Catholics it has no ongoing “tradition” behind it – nothing in the Church Fathers (to my knowledge) and no liturgy for this sort of rite. Thus, the peculiar ministry of the Corinthian congregation must have been short lived. Only in the modern times the Mormons took this scripture literally, and developed an ongoing ritual for the baptism of their ancestors – and everybody else’s ancestors

In spite of a general reluctance to accept it as meaningful, the passage is there – like a piece of undigested meat disturbing a good night’s rest. The Pauls’ church was ministering to those who had passed away – the “Grandma” issue I mentioned earlier.  Significantly, unlike some of the other practices of the Corinthian Church, Paul does not reprimand or criticize it. Rather he cites it as a positive practice to buttress his own argument. The biblical scholar Rudolf Bultmann notes that in spite of the strangeness of this passage, it represents the authentic sacramental viewpoint of Saint Paul and of the earliest Church.[142]  The Evangelical scholar, D. A. Carson, writing on the issue in Christianity Today, echoes Bultmann’s position. He asserts that because such a ministry is mentioned only once does not negate its importance. But he did in not actively suggest such baptisms be performed. [143] Similarly, the dean of Pentecostal New Testament scholars and commentators, Craig S. Keener. He says it is a mystery for us, but clear to the Corinthians and cannot be dismissed.[144]

Here I should inject an incident from my ministry that occurred almost thirty years ago. My wife, Carolyn, and I were ministering inner healing to a woman in her late forties, whom we will call Mary – not her name. She had been beaten and abused by her husband, and was separated from him. During a tearful and wonderful inner healing session Mary mentioned that a beatings from him, about five years previous, had resulted in an immediate miscarriage of a fetus that was barely two inches long. She was in the bathroom attending to her wounds and lushed it down the toilet.

In the Anglican tradition it is common for a priest to celebrate Holy communion for an aborted or miscarried baby and name it. I was a layman at the time and could not do that, but on a whim (inspiration!) suggested that Paul’s citation of proxy baptism was applicable in this case. Mary agreed to the proxy baptism, and since we did not know its sex, she named it “Billy” which could have a male or female spelling. As I poured water on her and said the words of baptism. Mary began a probing motion to her side with one hand and said, “There is someone here.”  My wife, operating out of her gift of discernment of spirits, distinctly saw what she was probing, “It’s a handsome boy, about five. And he is smiling and thanking you.”[145] Mary felt a wave of joy at this.

This was an apparition, and like all spiritual experiences but be carefully discerned. Some Evangelicals would say that any communication between the living and the dead is a sin of mediumship and cannot possible be authentic. Certainly, mediumship is sin, but that is not what is in question. Mediumship is communication of some spirit via the voice box of a medium, nowadays called “channeling” to bring messages for the spiritual realm. Sometimes mediumship occurs with various instruments, as in a Ouija board. These communications are invariably demonic.

But an apparition is the unexpected appearance of a spiritual being, possible a person who has died or an angel. Such events are not caused or “called in” by the living as in mediumship but originate from the spiritual realms. Apparitions can be from the heavenly kingdom or Satanic, so discernment must always be involved in evaluating an apparition. The Bible records that Peter, James and John saw the apparitions of Moses and Elijah talking to Jesus during the transfiguration. (Matt 17:1-8). All of which is to say that the apparition of Billy was not an act of mediumship and inherently sinful.

Now it is not wise to base theology on just one experience, but I believe this proxy baptism was suggestive to the proper application of Paul’s understanding on this issue. If it is repeatable, that is, if other women who have had abortions or miscarriages, have similar experiences, it could be as important in countering the sinful epidemic of abortions as the ultrasounds of fetuses have been.

It should be noted here parenthetically that the whole issue of any ministry to the dead is the basis of the Anglican tradition of “laying a ghost” to rest. This is a ministry assumes the continuity of some sort of sheol state for the lost and confused, as suggested by the Victorian re-examiners, but not damned. [146]  Laying a ghost to rest is not often done by other denominations, and unfortunately left to marginal or occult groups. I plan writing about this subject in the future.


This examination of 1 Peter 3-4 goes against current Evangelical and Pentecostal theology on the afterlife. It seems to contradict the long tradition of “hellfire and darnation” sermons that has been used for centuries to bring people to repentance and salvation. The most famous example of this being Jonathan Edwards’ sermon “Sinners in the hand of an angry God” which triggered one of the waves of the First Great Awakening – no mean feat. I have heard variations of this type of sermon several times in my Christian life and it has generally been of some effect. However, this motif seems to leave most Millennials and “nones” unmoved or to reinforce their belief that Christians are mean-spirited and believe in a cruel God. If there was such a thing as an angelic scoreboard, I would suspect that the hellfire and damnation sermons are less effective every year.

But Christian theology and sermons should not be ruled by what is most effective. Rather, what is true. Jesus’ warnings of hellfire are a repeated theme of his ministry and cannot be waved aside without peril, for instance:

This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt 13:49-50)

Certainly, some do go to hell or heaven directly. Note in the famous passage in Luke 16, of the rich man and the Lazarus. The rich man had been instructed into the Law and Prophets, but disregarded them. He was not a “Granddad” who never heard the Gospel. There is indeed a hell for the wicked and a haven for the Believer. But the afterlife is more complex, and scripture indicated that God is more merciful than those two alternatives.

So how do you construct a theology of the afterlife that recognizes both the sever warning of Jesus and the hint of mercy in 1Peter 3-4? I had the opportunity to preach this type of sermon at a small Pentecostal church I was associated with for several years. It was well received. The co-pastor, a woman who had converted from Judaism, was especially appreciative to understand that her dead relatives were not automatically damned in hell. I believe the same biblical message would greatly help in evangelizing the Millennials. The critical thing is that this kind of sermon is closer to the entire witness of scripture and the Early Church than the previous simplifications.[147]



[1] Several modern translations available. I use the Penguin Classics edition first published in 1955.

[2] Se the splendid article by Dr. Rex Gardner, “Miracles of healing in Anglo-Celtic Northumbria as recorded by Venerable Bede and his contemporaries: a reappraisal in the light of twentieth century experience,” British Medical Journal 257 (Dec. 1983) 24-31. My wife’s book, one of scores of the genre, records her encounter with the miraculous as everyday occurrences in the life of a Spirit-led believer, Carolyn Koontz De Arteaga, Watching God Work: The Stuff of Miracles (Alachua: Bridge-Logos, 2013).


[3] Edited by J. H. Crehan (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1955). Fr. Thruston was brave enough to denounce false Marian apparitions when he needed to. See chapter 14 in Surprising Mystics.

[4] F. W. Puller, The Anointing of the Sick in Scripture and Tradition (London: SPCK, 1910) 1st ed., 1904       Pearcy Dermer. Body and Soul (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1909). AndPearcy Dearmer, Body and Soul (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1909). I describe their fine work in my forthcoming book, “Heroes, Saints and Villains of the Anglican Healing Awakening.”

[5] John MacArthur, Reckless Faith: When the Church Loses Its will to Discern (Crossway Books, 1994)

[6] First published in my Quenching the Spirit (Lake Mary, Creation House, 1992) summarized and expanded in an article in Pneuma Review, “Ancient Poisons” (Posted Jan. 18, 2018.) My innovative shift was to understand the pharisees as lacking discernment of the present activity of the Holy Spirit, rather than only legalistic extremists.


[7] Early during the DOG heresy Fr. Andrew Greeley, a noted Jesuit sociologist and writer, noted the grotesquely flawed methodology of DOG theologians who did no “due diligence’ in scouting congregations were God was not dead.  See his work, Unsecular man: The Persistence of Religion (New York: Delta: 1972).


[8]My process from devote Catholic to atheist and forward to a charismatic Cristian is described in some detail in my work  Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revivals (Grand Rapids, 2002) chapters 1&2.

[9] On the fine Catholic tradition of discernment see for example, Laurent Volken, Visions, Revelations and the Church, trans Edward Gallagher (New York: P. J. Kennedy and Sons, 1963). See my work, Forgotten Power (chapter  5 and 6) on how the Protestant non-discerning suspicion of visions hampered the Scottish Eighteenth Century revivals.


[10] Note especially R. A. Knox, Enthusiasm: A Chapter in the History of Religion (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1950).


[11] William De Arteaga, On Discerning Trump’s Character and Presidency (Amazon: 2020), and America in Danger Left and Right: Biblical Analysis, Actions and Intercessions for the Current Crisis. (Amazon: 2022).

[12] Gertrude Marvin Williams’, Madame Blavatsky Priestess of the Occult (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, I945).

[13] Last year I had a conversation with an older Jesuit priest who told me that if he saw behavior that seemed diabolical in a parishioner he would refer that person to a psychiatrist and avoid the “nonsense” of deliverance or exorcism. He was educated in the 1970s, the height of liberal Protestant influence on Jesuit theology.

[14] I elaborate this in chapter nine of my Past Life Visions.


[15] One of the few who dare to discuss it is John A.T. Robinson in his “Elijah, John and Jesus,” in Twelve New Testament Studies (Napeville: Alec R.  Allison, 1962)

[16] Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of St. Macrina, in Ascetical Works, ed. And trans. Virginia Woods Callahan (Washington: Catholic University of America 1967) 164-65.


[17] See my article, William De Arteaga, UFOs and Conspiracy Theories: A Christian Historian’s Reflections,” Pentecostal Theology. Posted Oct. 20, 2019.

[18] On the important, and lamentably ignored, issue of confronting the kingdom of Satan as one of the chief duties of the Church, see the classic work by James Kallas, The Stanward View: Studies in Pauline theology. (Philadelphia, Westminster, 1966).


[19] There is a recent work that covers the topic of comparative exorcism ministry, including the Protestant variety, but it is marred by a bias against the Pentecostal tradition: James M. Collins’, Exorcism and Deliverance Ministry in the Twentieth Century (Milton Keynes: Patternoster, 2009). I have not written the book on comparative exorcism yet, but many of my writings deal with the demonic, as for instance this posting: Is childhood psychopathology rooted in demonic infestation?” Pentecostal Theology. Posted Nov. 17, 2019. https://www.pentecostaltheology.com/is-childhood-psychopathology-rooted-in-demonic-infestation/


[20] William De Arteaga, “ The Holy Spirit Gives a Lesson in Chinese,” Pneuma Review. Posted May 10, 2014.



[21] Collins, Exorcism, chapter four.


[22] William Peter Blatty, The Exorcist (New York: Harper & Row, 1971). A discussion of the original case upon which the novel and movie were based is found in, Howard Newman’s, The Exorcist: The Strange Story Behind the Film (New York: Pinnacle, 1974).


[23] PBS, “JFK” The American Experience series. Aired Nov. 11, 2013. Access to the entire program is at: http://www.pbs.org/video/2365118698/


[24] Van Dusen, The Natural Depth of Man (New York: Harper & Row, 1972). A classic and still in print. Watch out for the spiritualist theology. See his spiritual autobiography in which he reveals that his paternal grandmother was a medium, Wilson Van Dusen, and David Rounds (Editor).  “The Universal Church and the Sacred Source,” Religion East & West, 5 Oct., 2005, 11-17.


[25] The American Scholar.  Posted June 1, 2012.



See also the very fine summary article on schizophrenic patients who hear voices by the New York psychiatrist, Paul Steinberg, “Our Failed Approach to Schizophrenia,” New York Times, Dec. 25,2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/26/opinion/our-failed-approach-to-schizophrenia.html   Dr. Steinberg’s lament is that schizophrenic patients are released from hospitalization way too quickly, and the heavy medication masks that they are not healed. The costs of treating such patient is a major issue. (Note: exorcism of the harassing spirits cost very little. I would be happy to do it for a voluntary donation).


[26] Ibid.

[27] From the abstract of the Dr. Kemal’s article, available at: https://rd.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10943-012-9673-y


[28] Imak M. Kemal, “Schizophrenia or Possession?” Journal of Religion and Health, 53 #3 (2014) 773-774.


[29] Luke Malone, “Journal Under Fire for Linking Schizophrenia to Demonic Possession,”

Vocative. Posted Jun 18, 2014

http://www.vocativ.com/culture/religion/schizophrenia-caused-demons-according-prominent-junk-scientist/   See also Russ Pomeroy, “Published Paper Blames Schizophrenia on Demons,” Real Clear Science. Posted June 17, 2014.



[30] Karl R. Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery (London, Hutchinson, 1959) Often cited as “LSD.” This work is understandable only to those who are trained in mathematics or philosophy, as it contains many mathematical equations. For an explanation of Popper’s discovery in understandable English see his, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge (New York: Harper & Row, 1960). I discuss Popper’s insights and their relevance to progress in theological knowledge in my work, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions (Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2015).


[31] Isaac Newton was heavy into theology and astrology, a fact embarrassing to secular scientists who claim him as the father of modern science. See: Karl W. Giberson, “The Last Magician: Isaac Newton with Contradictions intact,” Books & Culture (Sept./Oct. 2016. Posted Aug. 18, 2016.  http://www.booksandculture.com/articles/2016/sepoct/last-magician.html


[32] My suspicion is that we will never directly see demons with any scientific device, although some persons with discernment of spirits do seem to have that ability, but it is totally subjective.


[33] Psychiatric Advisor, “Brain Abnormalities in Patients With Schizophrenia Found.” Posted July 8, 2015.  http://www.psychiatryadvisor.com/schizophrenia-and-psychoses/structural-brain-abnormalities-schizophrenia-respond-treatment/article/425215/

[34]Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1992).

[35]John Wimber, Power Evangelism (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1986).

[36] The first publishe account of the prayer station was my article Ministry at Little five Points, Acts 29 (May 1988) 1-3. This was expanded into a chapter in my book, The Public Prayer Station: Taking Heling Prayer to the Streets and Evangelizing the Nones, (Lexington: Emeth Press, 2018)

[37] I believe wewere the first, but the way the Holy Spirit works is to inspire various pesons allover the world with similar ideas. So it may be that some curch group  somewhere came up with the idea before we did.

[38] See the details in my Public Prayer Station.

[39] Irenaeus, Against Heresies. Bk II, 32, 4.


[40] Book of Common Prayer, 1979, “The Catechism.”

[41] For the story of the Collins’ joint ministry to the charismatic community in Georgia see Dean David Collins’ autobiography, There is a Lad Here (Darien: Darien News 1996)

[42] See also Gen 19:11.

[43] Sulpitius Severus, On the Life of St. Martin. In: Philip Shaff (ed) Nicene and Post Nicene Fatherss. Series II, Vol. 11. Available in Christian Classic Ethereal Library. https://ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf211/npnf211.ii.ii.html


[44] Letter #109 to Riparius.


[45] Homily #28 on the Acts of the Apostles.


[46] Clark A Waltz: “The Cursing Paul: Magical Contents in Acts 13 and the New Testament Apocrypha,” In: Paul Hertig, Robert L Gallagher, eds., Mission in Acts (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2004)


[47] George Conger, “Diversity, Not Jesus says Presiding Bishop.” The Layman, Posted 20 May 13. 2013 https://layman.org/diversity-not-jesus-saves-says-presiding-bishop/


[48] Lutheran Theological Journal 12 #2 (1978), 63-75. This journal is published in Australia.

[49] Alban Butler, Butler’s Lives of Saints, 4 vols., Rev. and edited by Herbert Thruston and Donald Atwater (Westminster: Christian Classics, 1981). I have not had the time to read its three volumes.


[50] See my discussion of the Faith Cure Movement in my work Quenching the Spirit, chapters 9-10


[51]John MacMillan, Authority of the Believer (Christian Publication, 1920).


[52] Charles Hunter and Frances Hunter, How to Heal the Sick. (Kingwood: Hunter Books, 1981), Charles Hunter, and Frances Hunter, If Charles and Frances Can Do It, You Can Do It, Too! (Kingwood: Hunter Books, 1997) See my blog on the Hunters: “The Happy Hunters’ Revolution in Healing Ministry,” Pentecostal Theology. Posted Oct. 12, 2019. Recovered from the posting removed by Blogger. /www.pentecostaltheology.com/the-happy-hunters-revolution-in-healing-prayer/


[53]William De Arteaga, “Puritanism, A great heritage – ridiculed,” Pentecostal Theology, Posted Oct. 15, 2019. https://www.pentecostaltheology.com/puritanism-a-great-heritage-ridiculed/


[54] Israel Vargas, “How did American “wokeness” jump from elite schools to everyday life?” The Economist (Sept. 4, 2021). https://www.economist.com/briefing/2021/09/04/how-did-american-wokeness-jump-from-elite-schools-to-everyday-life


[55]The biography of John Nevius was written by his wife shortly after his death: Helen S. Coan Nevius, The Life of John Livingston Nevius (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1885). This is available as a free e-book via Google Books. A sketch of his life and ministry is provided by Harlan P. Beach in his; Princely Men in the Heavenly Kingdom (New York: The Young People’s Missionary Movement, 1907), chapter IV, “John Livingston Nevius, The Christian Organizer.” For an introduction to the modern reality of the demonic and exorcism in missions see: John Warwick Montgomery (ed.), Demon Possession: A medical, historical, anthropological and theological symposium (Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, 1976), Part Five: Demonology in the Mission Fields.


[56] Norman H. Cliff, “Building the Protestant Church in Shandong, China,” International Bulletin of Missions Research (April 22, 1998).

[57] Charles Allen Clark, The Nevius Plan for Mission Work: Illustrated in Korea,

(Soul: Christian literature Society, 1937). See also: G. Thompson Brown, “Why Has Christianity Grown Faster in Korea than in China,” Missiology: An International Review, 22 #1 (Jan. 1994), 77-88.

[58]John L. Nevius, Demon possession and Allied Themes, 2nd ed., (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1895), 455.

[59]Ibid., 262.


[60]Ibid., 12.

[61]Ibid., 136-137

[62]Ibid.,chapters 4 through 6.

[63]Helen Nevius, Life of John Nevius, 455.



[65] W. E. Soothill, A Typical Mission in China (New York: Young People’s Missionary Movement, 1907), chapter 10, “Medical Work.”

[66] Ibid., 150.


[67] For instance; Everett N. Hunt, Jr., “The Legacy of John Livingston Nevius,” International Bullletin of Missionalry Research, 15 #3 (July 1991) 120-124. and Brown, “Why Has Christianity Grown Faster.”

[68] I would add two other works: Francis MacNutt’s, Deliverance From Evil Spirits (Grand Rapids: Chosen: 1995) and Frank and Ida Mae Hammond’s, Pigs in the Parlor (Kirkwood: Impact Books: 1973.)

[69] See John C. Bywater, Mystery Solved: or, A Bible expose of the spirit rappings, showing that they are not caused by the spirits of the dead, but by evil demons or devils (Rochester: Advent Harbinger Office, 1852). Another one, by an anonymous author was entitled Mesmeric and spirit rapping manifestations, scripturally exposed, as neither from electricity nor spirits of the dead, but rather from infernal evil spirits…(New York: R.t. Young, 1852).


[70] Not the wide influence and inroads that the popular spiritualist book A Course in Miracles, among Christian Churches.


[71] A discussion of the chameleon like character of the demonic entities in my book, Past Life Visions: A Christian Exploration (New York: Seabury, 1983) 86ff


[72] Note that the demon behind the New Age cult that Elizabeth Kubler Ross fell into told its adherents that heavy smoking was fine, because in the afterlife they would get perfect lungs. Kate Coleman “Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in the Afterworld of Entities,” New West, (30 July 1979).


[73] Early archeologists of the Mayas had cheated on the evidence in the attempt to make the Mayas as an innocent people who were much less violent that the Aztecs. Not so.

[74] Dearmer, Fellowship, 5.


[75] Ibid., 36-36

[76] This was originally posted on blogger, “The Demonic Factor in Mass Shootings,” Anglican Pentecostal. Posted April 25, 2013 removed by Blogger, but recovered and placed in the blog Pentecostal Theology, Nov. 13, 2019. “The Demonic Factor in Mass Shootings,” Anglican Pentecostal. Posted April 25, 2013. l

[77] Eli RosenbergAlex Horton and Mark Berman,  “As Texas town mourns, details emerge on gunman’s methodical tactics in church massacre.” Washington Post, Posted: November 7 at 7:29 AM


[78]  Associated Press, “Wilson County Sheriff: ‘No way’ for people to escape church shooting.” Posted Nov 6, 20`17. https://www.ksat.com/news/wilson-county-sheriff-no-way-for-people-to-escape-church-shooting


[79] The original FEMA pamphlet seems to have been taken off line. But downloads for the course that developed out of the original pamphlet can be had at the FEMA site:  https://training.fema.gov/is/courseoverview.aspx?code=IS-907  The triad is elaborated and well explained in the article by Brett and Kate McKay “What to Do in an Active Shooter Situation” Art of Manliness. Posted Nov 30, 2015.   http://www.artofmanliness.com/2015/11/30/what-to-do-in-an-active-shooter-situation/


[80] On the Ft. Hood shooting the Wikipedia article is clear and complete. See ‘2009 Fort Hood shooting.”


[81] For this and other good advice, see the article by Ed Stetzer, “How Do We Keep Our Churches Safe in a World Where Evil Is Present?” Christianity Today, Posted Nov. 8, 2017.  http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2017/november/church-security-how-do-we-keep-our-people-safe-in-world-whe.html


[82] See chapter 3 above.


[83] See also the very fine summary article on schizophrenic patients who hear voices by the New York psychiatrist, Paul Steinberg, “Our Failed Approach to Schizophrenia,” New York Times, Dec. 25,2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/26/opinion/our-failed-approach-to-schizophrenia.html  Dr. Steinberg’s lament is that schizophrenic patients are released from hospitalization way too quickly, and the heavy medication masks that they are not healed. The costs of treating such patient is a major issue. (Note: exorcism of the harassing spirits cost very little. I would be happy to do it for a voluntary donation).


[84] The Wikipedia article, “David Berkowitz” has the essential facts.


[85] Barbara Bradley Hagertey, “When Your Child is a Psychopath,” Atlantic Monthly, June 2017. The writer, Mrs. Hagertey worked as a reporter for NPR for 18 years on the legal and religious beat, and before that was a reporter for the Christian Science Monitor. She is a meticulous and celebrated journalist. The article can be sourced here: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/06/when-your-child-is-a-psychopath/524502/


[86] This writer believes what passes as genetic inheritance, such as the propensity to alcoholism, is more often a chain of generational sin that alights on the child even in the womb (Exod 20:5).


[87] I don’t like the term, “callous and unemotional,” as it smacks of political correctness, and hereafter will use the more direct “psychopathic children.”


[88] “The Demonic Factor in Mass Shootings,” Anglican Pentecostal. Posted April 25, 2013. http://anglicalpentecostal.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-demonic-factor-in-mass-shootings.html, removed by Blogger, but recovered and placed on the blog, Pentecostal Theology.

[89] The classic on this is Thomas Verny’s, The Secret life of the Unborn Child (New York: Dell, 1882).


[90] Francis MacNutt, Praying for Your Unborn Child (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1988).


[91] Frank and Ida Mae Hammond, Pigs in the Parlor (data) Chapter 14 “Ministry to Children.”


[92] Leeper, Elizabeth, “From Alexandria to Rome: The Valentinian Connection to the Incorporation of Exorcism as a Prebaptismal Rite,” Vigiliae Christianae, 44 no. 1 (March, 1990) 6-24. Leeper notes that there is no coupling of exorcism/baptism in the New Testament. But by the time of the writing of the Apostolic Tradioton (c 215) it is common.


[93]Cited in the excellent blog posting by Msgr. Charles Pope, “Should the Church Consider Reintroducing the Exorcism Prayers in the Rite of Baptism?” Community in Mission. Posted Jan. 7, 2014. https://blog.adw.org/2014/01/should-the-church-consider-reintroducing-the-exorcism-prayers-in-the-rite-of-baptism/


[94] Sam Levin, “California Prisons Implement Policy Allowing Transgendered Inmates to Access Surgeries,” East Bay Express, Oct. 21, 2015. http://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2015/10/21/california-prisons-implement-policy-allowing-transgender-inmates-to-access-surgeries


[95] See for example: David Robertson, “The Germaine Gree fiasco shows we no longer value free speech,” Premier Christianity. Posted October, 2015.  http://www.premierchristianity.com/Blog/The-Germaine-Greer-fiasco-shows-we-no-longer-value-free-speech


[96] For an excellent summary of the issue from a highly qualified physician see Dr. Christl Ruth Vonholdt’ article, Transgender Phenomenon in Childre and Adolescents –Medical and Psychological Aspects, Virtue Online. Posted Dec 2. 2022.


[97] Dr. Paul McHugh, Transgender Surgery Isn’t the Solution,” Wall Street Journal, posted, June 12,

[98] Time, “The Transgender Tipping Point: America’s next civil rights frontier,” June 9, 2012.  This article should be ranked right beside the spiritual destructiveness of the 1965 cover story that Christian theology now accepted the Nietzschean ‘ “The God Is Dead Movement.” Time, October 22, 1965. Online: http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,941410,00.html.


[99]Carl Elliot. “A New Way to Be Mad,” Atlantic Monthly, December 200.  http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2000/12/a-new-way-to-be-mad/304671/ See also his earlier and briefer article: “The victims of a growing mental disorder are obsessed with amputation.”

Slate, Posted July 10, 2003



[100] Elliot, “New Way.”

[101] Ibid.

[102] Ibid

[103] Ibid.

[104] Ibid.

[105] Malachi Martin, Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of five Living Americans (New York: Reader’s Digest Press, 1976).


[106] Malachi Martin, The Jesuits: The Society of Jesus and the Betrayal of the Roman Catholic Church (Simon & Schuster, 1987).


[107] Martin, Hostage, 196. To be clear, I am not against mystics per say, but only non-discerned mystical experiences.


[108] Craig Gross interview with Diamond Dee. December 27, 2012. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YywDBENRT_A&index=13&list=PLC288F509FA067A98


[109] William L. De Arteaga, Agnes Sanford and her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2015), chapters 22 and 23.


[110] Rob Bell, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. (New York; Harper Collins, 2011). The debate broke out even before the book was published, with a pre-publication review of Love Wins in the New Your Times, Eric Eikholm, “Pastor Stirs Wrath With his Views on Old Questions,” March 4, 2011.


[111]Time, April 21, 2011. http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/completelist/0,29569,2066367,00.html

[112] In the past decades when I have heard the traditional altar call message the pastor/evangelist usually ask, “If you die tonight, are you sure you will go to heaven?” and thus leaves the hell issue implied but not stated.


[113] Mark Galli, “Rob Bell’s ‘Ginormous’ Mirror.” Christianity Today. Posted May 15, 2013



 [114]See the excellent article by Mark Galli, “Rob Bell’s Bridge Too Far,” Christianity Today. Posted 3/14/11. Galli suggest that issues might best be let somewhat open due to a certain ambiguity in scripture, as Canon E. W. Fararra had done a century before (see below).


[115] William De Arteaga, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2015) Chapter 3, “The Augustinian norm: The Church without the Gifts of the Spirit.”

[116] These scholars were born and educated in the Victorian era, but some wrote their works in the following “Edwardian” decade.

[117] In my first book, Past Life Visions (New York: Seabury, 1983) I called them the “Victorian revisionists,” but the word revisionist now implies heresy and liberal theology, neither of which apply to the scholars in question.


[118] F.W. Farrar, Mercy and Judgment (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1881); E.H. Plumptre, The Spirits in Prison (London: Wm. Isbister, 1885); Arthur Chambers, Our Life After Death (Philadelphia: George W. Jacobs, 1902); Lars Nielsen Dahle, Life After Death and the Future of the Kingdom of God, Trans. by John Beveridge, (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1896); Lewis Muirhead, The Terms Life and Death in the Old and New Testaments, and Other Papers (London: Andrew Melrose, 1908); and, J.H. Leckie, The World to Come and Final Destiny (Edinburgh: T. & Clark, 1918). Note that all except the Muirhead volume have been reprinted in modern editions and are available at moderate costs. Several can be downloaded for free from the web.

[119] J. H. Leckie, The World to Come, pp. 68-102.

[120] Farrar uses the Hegelian tern “antinomies,” see his Mercy and Judgment, e.g., 12.


[121] The scriptures cited for this motif are: Matt. 13:49-50, 16:27; 25-46; Mark 3:29; Isaiah 12:1.


[122] This is often termed a heresy, “annihilism,” in spite of its solid biblical basis. See: Matt. 3:12; 5:30; 10:28; Luke 13:1-5; 20:18; Acts 3:23; Rms. 6:23; 8:13; Hebrews 10:26-31; Revelations 20:14; 21ff.


[123] See, for example, J. H. Leckie, who expanded Farrrar’s insight in: The World to Come, 68-102.


[124] Farrar, Justice and Mercy, 13.


[125] See: Russell Alwincle, Death in the Secular City: Life After Death in Contemporary Theology and Philosophy (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1974, especially chapter 3, “Theology without hope.”


[126] (New York:  Harper & Row, 1968).


[127] (New York:  Harper & Row, 1976).


[128] See: Norman Pittinger, The Last Things in Process Perspective (London: Epworth Press, 1970).


[129]Farrar takes special pains to show this: Judgement and Mercy, 76 ff., and also see: Plumpter, Spirits in Prison, 78 ff.


[130] Trans by Roberts-Donaldson. On the web at various sites.


[131] (London: Goeffrey Blos, 1945), and more modern editions

[132] St Augustine, Letter 164 (to Bishop Evodius) New Advent site. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1102164.htm


[133] John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries. Sourced November 17, 2016. http://biblehub.com/commentaries/calvin/1_peter/3.htm


[134]Gospel of Nicodemus, chapters 16-19, available on the web at various sites. Here is the likg to The Early Christian Writings text:

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/gospelnicodemus.html  Also in: Lost Books in the Bible (New York: New American Library, 1974).


[135] This is not a blanket criticism of the Rev. Swaggert, who was gifted in his ministry, and flawed in his personal life –  like many of us.

[136]Rudolph Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament (New York: Scribner, 1955), vol. 1, 136. Bultmann was a theological liberal who did not believe in the miracles of the Bible, etc., but as a careful scholar who mastered the documents of Early Christianity. Better than most scholars, he understood the beliefs and mindset of New Testament Christians.


[137] D. Au Carson, “Did Paul Baptize for the Dead?” ChristianityToday (Aust 10, 1998).


[138] 1-2 Corinthians, New York: Cambridge University, 2005) 128.

[139] I presented this case in a dramatized version in my play, “Doing the Stuff at St. John’s.” in William De Arteaga, Pentecosatal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts). (Amazon, 2017). It was self-published and contains a woefu number of typos.

[140] The best book on the ministry of laying a ghost is Requiem Healing by Michael Horton and Michael Mitton (London: Daybreak,1991). I will elaborate this in another essay.

[141] Actually, I had given thought of preaching on hell as a Stalinist gulag like place, similar to C. S. Lewis’s account of Gray Town, but including much of the horror and torture developed by Stalin’s lackeys and security services. Christian writers, beat me to it. The sermon would end with a ray of hope by pointing out the issue of 1 Peter 3-4.

[142]Rudolph Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament (New York: Scribner, 1955), vol. 1, 136. Bultmann was a theological liberal who did not believe in the miracles of the Bible, etc., but as a careful scholar who mastered the documents of Early Christianity. Better than most scholars, he understood the beliefs and mindset of New Testament Christians.


[143] D. Au Carson, “Did Paul Baptize for the Dead?” ChristianityToday (Aust 10, 1998).


[144] 1-2 Corinthians, New York: Cambridge University, 2005) 128.

[145] I presented this case in a dramatized version in my play, “Doing the Stuff at St. John’s.” in William De Arteaga, Pentecosatal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts). (Amazon, 2017). It was self-published and contains a woefu number of typos.

[146] The best book on the ministry of laying a ghost is Requiem Healing by Michael Horton and Michael Mitton (London: Daybreak,1991). I will elaborate this in another essay.

[147] Actually, I had given thought of preaching on hell as a Stalinist, gulag like place, similar to C. S. Lewis’s account of Gray Town, but including much of the horror and torture developed by Stalin’s security services. Christian writers, beat me to it! The sermon would end with a ray of hope by pointing out the issue of 1 Peter 3-4.


  • Reply January 27, 2023


    Isara Mo William DeArteaga In 1987 the Jehovah’s Witnesses visited our home. Pulling out a kingdom Interlinear New Testament they showed me things that made me question the Deity of Christ. Just a little bit of study put those concerns to rest for me. Since the Advent of Facebook I have seen many people questioning the deity of Christ.
    As for me, I am a daily Bible reader and have been since 1976. For all of my Bible reading I am still discovering ‘new things’ in scripture all the time. In the past few years I have discovered even more evidence for the belief that Jesus Christ is God robed in human flesh so that he could suffer death on our behalf in order to redeem us from sin.
    I’m thinking of writing a small book with every evidence that I have found over the past 40 years for the deity of Christ. Some of these will be the ‘usual suspects’, passages from the Gospel of John and Philippians and Hebrews that most Bible students are aware of.
    The cultists who deny the deity of Christ are also aware of these common scripture references and have crafted objections to them. I want to write to the person who is struggling on the fence trying to get to the bottom of this important biblical topic.
    There is such an abundance of evidences from all over the Bible that are rarely mentioned that I want to bring out more clearly for the person who has a deeper interest in this subject or one who is engaged in defending the Christian faith from the false teachings of the cults.

  • Reply January 28, 2023


    Nowhere does Scripture teach exorcism.
    Jesus and the Apostles cast out demon by the power of God for unique purposes in the first century. But that is not exorcism, and Jesus was not an exorcist.

    Scripture warns about dabbling in the occult. Play with fire and you’ll get burned.

    Spiritual warfare is real, but there are a multitude of false teachings in the churches about spiritual warfare, especially from so called deliverance ministries.

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