This past Wednesday, I commented on FOX channel’s new series, “The Exorcist.” See here. Just by coincidence, the Catholic church reported last week that its chief exorcist, father Gabriel Amorth (pictured), had died at the age of 91 (see article below). Amorth was ordained as a priest in 1954 and became an official exorcist in 1986. By 2013, he claimed that he had performed 160,000 exorcisms (that number does not represent individuals; some people required multiple exorcisms).
As I stated in my previous post, I’ve never come across a person who was completely overtaken by demonic possession like the poor fellow in Mark 5:1-20 but the Bible also says demonic possession may be of a more subtler variety. See here.
But it seems to me that reports of full-blown demon possession come mainly from Roman Catholic areas and I have my theories about that. Could it be that demonic possession seems to be prevalent among Catholics because:
- Catholics are predisposed to the occult. Catholicism is notorious for syncretizing (mixing) pagan beliefs and practices with (c)hristianity. Roman Catholic sacramentals, widely used by the faithful – candles, medals, holy water, scapulars, statues, crucifixes, rosaries, novenas, prayers to the dead – promote superstition and predispose the practitioners to occultic influences. From Catholicism, it’s not a long stretch to horoscopes, seances, palm reading, etc. My deceased mother-in-law was heavily into psychic practices prior to leaving Catholicism and accepting Christ. Throughout Central America and the Caribbean, as another example, Catholicism is tightly intertwined with voodoo paganism. So in these heavily Catholic areas where quasi-occultic practices flourish, perhaps people are more susceptible to full-blown demonic possession?
- Priests are exalted as deliverers. In these full-blown exorcism narratives, Catholic families are dependent upon their priest (proclaimed to be an “alter Christus” – another Christ) to rid the demon/s from their possessed loved ones. Consequently, priests are held in high esteem as saviors and redeemers. But priests do not bring the Good News of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone to anyone. They are in bondage themselves to a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. Satan delights in false gospels of merit and may step in occasionally to assist the spiritually blinded clerics in blinding and leading their followers.
Those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior by faith and are born again by the blood of the Lamb and are sealed and indwelt by the Holy Spirit cannot not be possessed by a demon. See here. But demons can certainly tempt and influence believers. Just look at the current state of the evangelical church (TBN, prosperity gospel, doctrine-lite seeker mega-churches)! We must be constantly on guard and fighting the good fight of faith through the power of the Lord and His Word.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” – 1 Peter 5:8-9
Rome’s exorcist, Father Gabriel Amorth, dies at age 91