The United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio is one of the official U.S. seminaries that treats supernatural aspects as real and even have multiple conferences that focus on divine healing. This tends to go against the common upper-middle class American Protestantism belief. Non-Catholics refer to casting out demons as “spiritual warfare and deliverance” and Catholics refer to this act as “Exorcism.”
I was taught that there are invisible and spiritual forces out there that are undetectable by any scientific instruments. It is a general Christian belief that demonic activity occurs regularly and that there is a constant battle against evil. The phenomena has been documented across cultures and across time. There are many biblical mentions of demons and exorcisms. The New Testament even commands believers to battle demons.
I was always taught that the Methodist Church has appointed people to handle deliverance or exorcisms and that they have strict guidelines about determining whether or not an exorcism is actually necessary. My father always remained adamant that the need for an exorcism is actually very rare. For the purpose of this blog post, I want to be clear that this post in based on my personal opinion gathered from information that I was taught. Please feel free to do your own research and come to your own conclusions on the subject.
The Roman Catholic Church is more commonly known for performing exorcisms. Despite what you see in the popular films, it is not done on a regular basis. The guidelines are very strict and each case is investigated thoroughly. It is very rare for an exorcism to be authorized and exorcisms are not considered a Sacrament. Unlike Christians, most Catholics believe that if a priest did not obtain special permission from the bishop, he can still perform a prayer of deliverance but it is not considered to be a full exorcism. It also does not include addressing the evil spirit directly. Therefore it is not recommended for cases of possession. However, in cases of a real possession, priests must never conduct solemn exorcisms without the permission of a bishop. They can only assist in exorcism through prayer and helping the exorcist. The only formal exorcism rites sanctioned by an established church can be found in the Ritual Romanum.
In Christianity, exorcism is better known as “casting out” or “spiritual warfare and deliverance.” It is the practice of casting out demons from someone who has been deemed to be possessed. The person who is performing the “exorcism” or “casting out” is commonly known as the exorcist. The exorcist is usually a minister, a lay person, or an individual who is believed to have special powers or skills. However, it is common for many Christians to believe that any mature Christian can perform an exorcism, not just members of clergy. Most Christians believe that the authority to cast out demons is given to them by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (also known as the Holy Trinity).
My father stressed that before determining that a person is suffering from a spiritual issue, the person should be assessed by a medical doctor to rule out any medical or psychological conditions that may be causing the symptoms they are experiencing. It is also important to make sure that the person is not experiencing symptoms caused by medications, alcohol or drugs.
Exorcisms should never be performed on someone who has not been properly examined by a medical doctor first.
After all medical and psychological conditions have been ruled out by a medical doctor, the “possessed person” is not labeled as “evil” or held wholly responsible for their actions. The possessed person is considered to be an unwilling person who is manipulated by a demon. This usually results in harm to self or others and for this reason, exorcism is believed to be a cure instead of a punishment. the Exorcist and their assistants must do everything possible to ensure that proper precautions are taken so that no one (including the possessed individual) is harmed during the exorcism.
The majority of exorcisms usually include at least one or more of the following: prayers, scripture, gestures, symbols, sacred or blessed religious items. God, Jesus and archangels are invoked and asked to intervene during the exorcism. My father also stressed the importance of having at least two spiritually mature adults, preferably clergy or laymen, performing the exorcism.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency or religion. Recommendations within this article are only recommendations. They should not be utilized in real-world scenarios unless advised by trained and experienced persons. Assumptions made within the articles are not reflective of all Christians or Catholics or any other religious organizations. The author advises you to exercise your own judgment and to seek out your own answers through research and guidance from experienced and educated leaders. It is the authors’ opinion that there is no such thing as a demonologist and if there is, they did not take an online class to receive this certification. Demonology is not a subject to be taken lightly or without in depth study. The author also recommends that proper education and experience certifications should be requested from individuals claiming to possess such skills. No pun intended.