Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on September 23, 2016 and has been revised.
The Roman Catholic church reported last week that its chief exorcist, priest Gabriel Amorth (photo above), 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).
I’ve never been personally acquainted with 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 demonic 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, 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 alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone to anyone. They are in bondage themselves to a false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. Demon spirits delight in false gospels of merited salvation and may intercede to assist the spiritually-blinded clerics in deluding their followers.
Those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone 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 (e.g., TBN, the 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