Monday, 31 October 2005

Exorcism today

An article a few days ago in The Australian (27/10/05, p. 11) discusses the contemporary practice of exorcism. A Roman Catholic expert on exorcism, Sydney bishop Julian Porteous, says that Italy has experienced an increase in requests for exorcism in recent years, as a parallel to increasing occult activity.

This year, Rome’s Pontifical Academy Regina Apostolorum even introduced a new course in demonology and exorcism. Julian Porteous explains that the signs of possession can include speaking in unknown languages and recoiling from symbols such as the cross and holy water.

Clearly there are evils in the world. There are even overarching supra-human structures of malevolent evil that can rightly be described as “demonic.” The church really does have something to say about such evils; but it seems to me that mythological talk of ghosts and holy water can all too easily become an evasion of our true task of confronting evil with the gospel of Christus victor.

3 Comments:

Ken said...

I agree with you, though I would stress that there is power represented in symbols. If there weren't, communion, e.g., would be meaningless. That is to say, symbols, handled by those who confess and believe rightly in the things symbolized, are very powerful. Indeed, the Apostle Paul even warns that symbols, used improperly, can be bring condemnation. So, to be clear, symbols have no power in and of themselves, but what they represent, for good and for ill, can be very powerful.

Other biblical examples of powerful symbols abound, especially in the OT, e.g. the serpent of Moses, the rod or sceptre of a king, the Ark of the Covenant, and so on.

Water is another very powerful symbol in both the Old and New Testaments. What makes it holy? That I don't know. But, while I'm not buying into the late night huckster of holy water, I will respect an RCC priest who speaks on this issue.

One of Freedom said...

I had the fortunate experience of being exposed to spiritual realities before I became a Christian. Even still most of what is done as exercism (Isn't that what the sons of Sceva did?) is an exercise in missing the point. While I am painfully aware that there are forces at work beyond the visible (and on rare occasions they have been made visible) I have found that helping people deal with root issues and immaturity in their faith is more than adequate to remove the footholds these "hitchhikers" can have. On the rare occasion where a confrontation is warrented it is good to know that Christ is indeed the victor and don't mess around, just tell them to get out.

Anonymous said...

doing an assignment on exorcism. so far what i have found is that symbols used include, the crucifix and holy water. Is there any significance behind these other than to show gods power/presence over that of the devil?

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