Do you remember the movie “The Exorcist”? Did you watch it?
That film is a horror movie from 1973. I am old enough to remember when everyone was watching it, and talking about it. Strangely, I have never seen the movie, but all my friends did. For a few weeks, they all became religious.
To help us remember, here is a video trailer:
That is scary!
The whole point of a horror movie is to entertain us and to make a lot of money for the producers. I’m sure “The Exorcist” did both. It was the first horror movie nominated for an Academy Award, and the highest-grossing horror movie, until 2017.
We are still entertained by exorcism stories. Recently, a news story came from a Bible Camp in Saskatchewan, Canada. At least one adult, and some boys at the camp, did an exorcism on one boy. So far, the police have investigated, but they have not brought criminal charges. Apparently, exorcism is not illegal in Canada.
Some people from the Camp claim that they did a good thing, but the secular news media is completely negative and opposed:
So, what should we think about this? Should we each make a frowny face, roll our eyes, and say “Eeeww”? That passes for a rational and moral argument, these days.
Christians are told to “test the spirits.” We are supposed to carefully examine anything that claims to be spiritual, and to see if it “comes from God.” No frowny face is required.
“Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.” (1 John 4:1)
Let’s examine exorcism, including this new story:
Do you believe in spirits? Yes, you probably do, unless you are a convinced Atheist. Every culture, everywhere and always believes in the existence of spirits. Do you believe in God? In the Bible, God is a spirit.
1. Before: If a person is possessed, oppressed, or influenced by evil spirits, how do we know?
The boy in the camp had something like a seizure, and blood on his face, according to reports.
2. The girl in “The Exorcist” screamed, and twitched, and levitated.
In the movie, something was clearly wrong with her. Also in the movie, doctors tried to treat the girl but failed.
Probably, the boy having a seizure, with blood on his face, should have been taken to a hospital first.
3. During: What happened during the exorcism?
In the movie, hours of drama happened, which was the whole point of the horror movie. People sat in theater seats, eating popcorn, while the demons entertained them.
In the camp, apparently, several people prayed for the boy. No one is reporting anything dramatic and interesting.
4) The Conclusion: In the movie, the girl recovered and was free from her condition.
In the camp story, the conclusion is not mentioned in news stories. Maybe someday, a young adult will tell us about his experience at the camp. At this time, there is no conclusion to that story.
In the Bible, there is a story about a man in a place called Gadara. You can read the details if you are interested (Luke 8:26-39). All the categories are described in that story.
Another story is about a boy who is described as epileptic (Luke 9:40-44). He had something like seizures, but he also tried to commit suicide by throwing himself into fires. He was deliberate and self-destructive, and that does not fit epileptic seizures. That boy had a bigger problem.
There is one other story about exorcism, in the Bible, and it’s kind of boring:
“The report of his miracles spread far beyond the borders of Galilee so that sick folk were soon coming to be healed from as far away as Syria. And whatever their illness and pain, or if they were possessed by demons, or were insane, or paralyzed; he healed them all.” (Matthew 4:24)
The issue seems to be a part of ordinary life, without much drama. Something pulls people into self-destruction, and harm to others. I think two of our modern gateways are pornography and recreational drugs, including alcohol. We can see the abuse of ourselves and of other people, and we know we can go very far past the gateway.
We have a spirit, the God who loves us, and we have other spiritual forces who lead us into abuse and destruction.
We are all supposed to ‘test the spirits’ and I think that is easy. Testing is not entertainment and drama. The media mostly entertains, in movies and news stories.
I hope we will accept the discipline from God, to test and consider, and judge what is really happening around us, including in the story from a Bible camp.
And many times, exorcism is a personal battle, ending in a personal decision: