How to diagnose demon oppression

Fundagelicals, mostly of the neo-Pentecostal persuasion, believe there are demons everywhere. They also believe that many people are demon oppressed. You might wonder how a person knows they are demon oppressed or how a so-called deliverance minister can tell if a person is demon oppressed. Many deliverance ministers claim a special gift of discerning spirits or a word from God. Many deliverance ministers also discern evil spirits in everyone all the time everywhere. If you are unsure about whether or not you need deliverance, there are several websites that provide a self-diagnosis. Of course, be careful, it’s like reading WebMD and self-diagnosing an exotic disease based on some general symptoms.

According to the CBN website (That’s the Christian Broadcasting Network who shows Pat Robertson’s 700 club) here are signs you are demon oppressed.

  1. Compulsion to abuse animals or people;
  2. Sexual perversion and immorality (homosexuality, molestation, etc.);
  3. A compulsion to abuse your body (drugs, alcohol, gluttony, abuse or misuse of other substances, etc.);
  4. Seeking spiritual knowledge through Eastern religions and other counterfeit religious groups (TM, Yoga, humanism, etc.);
  5. Involvement in occult practices (fortune-telling, Satanism, etc.);
  6. Mental distress or oppression (anxiety, fear, anger, disorientation, etc.);
  7. Psychological disorders (split and multiple personalities, paranoia, etc.);
  8. Physical disorders may be demon caused (Matthew 9:32, 33);
  9. Lack of freedom or joy in the Lord (spiritual bondage);
  10. Inability or constant refusal to repent of sin, though you know you are sinning (rebellion).
Do you trust this man to diagnose demon possession?

Most of the items on this list fall under the category of being human. Many of these supposed signs are psychological disorders. CBN mentions physical disorders, which is not only very vague but also very common. Two items on the list caught my attention. Under sexual perversion, homosexuality, a complex variation in human sexuality caused by genetics, birth order, prenatal hormone levels, and other factors, is listed. I’ve written before on change therapies/ministries and how unsuccessful these quack treatments are. Casting out demons of homosexuality has no corroborating evidence to its effectiveness except anecdotal evidence of exaggerated claims. The other item on the list is lack of joy in the Lord. Does this mean if you experience the blues one day you are demon oppressed, or does it just mean that you are suffering from the everyday ups and downs of life? Every symptom on this list can be attributed to natural causes. Spiritual bondage and rebellion can be attributed to our own sinful human nature. This list, I’m afraid, can lead to some serious misdiagnosis.

According to the guys at Bibleknowledge.com, the list of manifestation is a long one. The list includes:

  • Hearing voices
  • Feeling demons move inside them
  • Seeing demons
  • Compulsive behavior

Many of the items on the list could be attributed to psychosis or schizophrenia. This is my major issue with all of this demon possession and demon oppression nonsense. You have untrained people, or people “trained” in quickie online become a deliverance minister school (More about those later) attempting to treat possible medical or psychiatric disorders through rituals. Many of these rituals are similar to reciting magic spells. These deliverance ministers prevent people from going to medical doctors, psychologist, and the psychiatrist because they place the blame on outside demonic powers instead of real physical and mental health problems.

People caught up in deliverance ministries often fall into bondage to the very ministries trying to free them. Instead of dealing with their actual problems, they turn to deliverance ministers to perform exorcism after exorcism for every problem they encounter. They start to believe they have no control over their own lives and the “demonized” person becomes dependent on the deliverance minister.

The Rev Stephen Parsons, author of Ungodly Fear: Fundamentalist Christianity and the abuse of power, said: “The charismatic movement wants to demonize mental illness so they can deal with it through exorcism. They say the Lord has given them a special insight that science and medicine cannot offer. But persuading vulnerable people that they are possessed gives you a great deal of power over them. It’s a form of emotional abuse.”

Mr. Parsons said sexual abuse, homosexuality, and unwanted pregnancy were often seen as routes for demonic possession. “Imagine telling someone who has been raped they’re now possessed – that is terribly abusive.”

What’s happening in deliverance ministries is that people with no training in medicine or mental illness and dubious training in “spiritual warfare” are diagnosing sick, hurt, and broken people. These deliverance ministers convince people that normal human problems are demonic in origin and proceed to treat them with mumbo-jumbo deliverance techniques.

Take some advice from a rational Christian; if you are physically sick, go to a doctor. God gave us medicine to heal us. If you are depressed, go to a therapist. God gave us insight into the human mind to help those in need. If someone tells you that you need an exorcism, don’t trust their online exorcism school certificate, go to a real pastor, minister, or priest and talk to them. Beware of people who tell you that you have a specialized problem and they just so happen to sell the specialized cure for it too.

Thanks for reading. Big shout out to great followers like noblethemes and Grrgory Bradford for following, liking, and sharing my blog!  Don’t forget to like the post and subscribe if you haven’t already. You can watch my vlog at Rev’s Reels on YouTube. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Join me and a bunch of other former Fundagelicals at Open Door Ministries in Westminster at the Westminster Mall.

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