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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Update on a public prayer station




Image result for floodgate churchI had the privilege and joy to demonstrate and lead a large “prayer station” group at the “Firefall” conference at Floodgate Church in Brighten Michigan last weekend (Oct. 7-8, 2017). I was also there as one of the speakers. The pastors of Floodgate, Bill Bolin and his wife, Clara, lead a really great church, filled with folks who are enthusiastic about the Lord.  This is the fifth year they have had Firefall.


The Floodgate congregation is well schooled in healing prayer.  In fact, last year’s Firefall speaker was Joan Hunter, the daughter of Charles and Francis Hunter, the famous Pentecostal healing teachers/innovators.[1] The group out of Floodgate that went out to do the prayer station ministry Sunday afternoon totaled over 25 persons, including several youths. Pictured above are some of them.

Pastor Bill had invited me to bring my original prayer station sign, which is still “serviceable.” That is an Army phase for junky equipment that still works OK  - note the picture of it in my garage.  I providentially forgot it in the fog of early morning packing for the trip. My wonderful host, Mr. Paul Diaz, made one in no time. Instead of painting over a real estate sign he bought a sign kit at Office Depot.  It could have easily been planted on the grass where we set up.  But I suggested a wooden base, so that it could also be used on a sidewalk in the future. Note the attractive and useful sign was made at a very small cost, and with magic markers instead of cans of spray paint, as my original one.


The prayer station outing was a great success in spite of the “stony ground” we sowed in.  We went to the center of Ann Arbor which is pedestrian friendly, and boutique laden. It is frequented mostly by students and faculty of the University of Michigan. This is a very secular and “New Age” demographic, and resistant to the Gospel. The response to our invitations to prayer was scant compared to a similar effort in my home state of Georgia where the population is much more Christian. In spite of that we got one “salvation” of a person who had never given her life to the Lord, and a half dozen significant healings. One was of a homeless veteran who had sever back problems and arthritis all over his back. 

Here I am with pastor Bill doing "spiritual warfare" during the outing. (Hey, give us a break, this was after two hours of standing). Also from this vantage point I could advise the prayer station team, as in, "Hey, you're standing in front of the sign!" 

The other interesting thing about this prayer station event was that we only had one sign for 25+ people, so many went out on their own in the park area, or local eateries, two by two, and sought the Lord’s guidance about whom to pray for.  That was very successful, and resulted in a half dozen healings and instances of prayer and godly advice.  

It was a great crew, and a great day for people fishing, as the Lord commanded us (Matt 4:19). Can your church match this?  Try it.

I still need a church to invite me to do my “Every Believer a healing evangelists” workshop, which will then move to an evangelical prayer station event.  My wish is to write this up as a chapter entitled, “From workshop to public prayer station in a wink” as a last chapter to my new book, “The Public Prayer Station: Taking Healing Prayer to the Streets – and Evangelizing the Nones and Unchurched.” Think about this. It will give your church lots of free publicity.

Anyone out there interested. Pester your pastor to invite me!



[1] I have written about the revolutionary innovations that the Hunters brought to the Christian healing ministry in an earlier posting, HERE.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Hurricane Irma and the destruction of Barbudos

Image result for hurricane irma

PTL! Hurricane Irma did not slam into either Puerto Rico or Hispaniola, sparing much grief to those islands. I and many of you at Facebook or blog followers were praying/commanding this. Latest projection is for Irma to do landfall in either Florida or the Georgia/South Carolina border.  Let’s keep praying/commanding it further east and into the cool waters of the North Atlantic.

 A commentator and critic at Facebook wonders if the people of Barbudos lacked enough faith to prevent their devastation. An interesting remark. The Church as a whole is still awakening and recovering from the long illness of cessationsim, which created a huge faith gap in the way Christianity is practiced and prayers offered. Just 100 years ago it was very uncommon for effective healing prayers to be used when a person was ill. (I recall in the 1950s, as a devote Catholic going into my parish church and lighting a candle in front of some saint for the recovery of my brother, who died from a blood clot that broke loose. He was given “extreme unction” by a very fine priest (Fr Ivan Illich of education fame) but in the whole process the biblical pattern of laying on of hands for healing or commanding the clot to dissolve was not used, and indeed beyond imagination. 

All of which is to say, we have come a long way in recovering the authority of the Christian to do effective, biblically patterned prayer, but we still have some way to go. Prayer of command to nature (the biblical pattern) are still unknown to much of the Church, and when it is brought up often raises contention, certainly not the prayers “in one accord” that should be common. 

To get back to the original question about Barbudos, perhaps in the not too distant future the Church as a whole will have the faith and biblically informed theology to pray in unison against a forming storm way out in the Atlantic and command it not to form into a full-fledged hurricane.  We are not there yet, but some parts of the Church have indeed some effectiveness.


For those who have not been following these postings HERE is my older posting on praying against a tornado which covers the essential biblical points of nature prayers.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Suggested prayers for Hurricane Irma

Image result for Hurricane Irma
Sunday is a great time to come “in one accord” and pray Hurricane Irma away from making landfall anywhere it could do damage. Let’s all agree that Irma will take the most east and north path now projected, away from the USA, and into the cool waters of the North Atlantic.
Let me suggest two prayers, for pastors who have their hands full with preparing the service and sermon, etc. Many of you could do much better. Go to it!
The first prayer is of the more conventional type. It is a prayer of petition to the Father in Jesus’ name. The second one is a “command” prayer, and I believe more proper to nature prayers, as modeled by Jesus for us when he stilled the storm. Some Christians are uneasy about command prayers in spite of their biblical warrant. (Note that every healing prayer in the NT is in the command mode). In any case both, prayers agree that Irma will not make landfall or destruction in the US. As I posted earlier, agreement is key in these matters.
Lord, be mindful fo the suffering and distress of the people of Texas and Louisiana, as they were buffeted by Hurricane Harvey. Guide the rescuers and multitudes of government workers and volunteers to work in harmony and wisdom to restore and refurbish that which was destroyed or damaged.
Now Lord, there is a looming threat in hurricane Irma to do a new wave of destruction. Keep it Lord far from our shores, and away from Puerto Rico and the Antilles. By your hand let it be directed north and east, and into the cool waters of the North Atlantic and naturally dissipate. We ask thsi in the mighty name of Jesus.
And now in the command mode, as taught by Agnes Sanford in her classic on nature prayers, Creation Waits (1979)
Thank you Father for sending your Son Jesus to the earth, to die for our sins, and to share his authority to heal and protect the earth. Now Lord that a new hurricane looms in the very shadow of Harvey we use Jesus’ name to command Irma away from the shores of the United States, or Puerto Rico or the Antilles, and to track north and east into the cool waters of the North Atlantic and dissipate. Irma, you must do this because we command you in Jesus’ name.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Praying in Agreement about hurricane Irma


Brief posting:
OK, let's not have a repeat of hurricane Harvey. Irma is forming in the S. Atlantic and projections for it vary form landfall in Mexico or the US coast, to a more easterly course to dissipate in the cool waters of the N. Atlantic. Let us pray in agreement that Irma will track north and east, and do no damage to Puerto Rico or other Caribbean islands. Here is the like to my previous posting on Harvey, and why it is important to pray "in one accord," as the Bible teaches, to move storms.
My previous posting on the Church's failure to move Harvey can be accessed HERE
The seminal work on praying over natural events was written by Agnes Sanford and published in 1979, Creation Waits, It can be purchased HERE

Announcements:

The noted Pentecostal scholar Dr. Jon Ruthven wrote a very positive review of my book, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal. You can access it HERE.

The book may be purchased on Amazon, either print or inexpensive Kindle HERE 






Just released is my first book of  plays. Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts). It includes two plays and their postscripts.

The play, “One Day at St. John’s” depicts what everyday life can be like in a church that practices the gifts of the Spirit and the healing/exorcism ministry as normal. Among the events that occur in the course of the play are the healing of a waitress who was scalded with hot coffee, an exorcism (led by a layman) and the “laying of a ghost” to rest.

Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts) can be purchased HERE at Amazon.

The second play, “Joseph ben Jacob,” explores Joseph, husband of Mary, as the dream interpreter, master carpenter, and father of Mary’s other children. It helps explain why Joseph was able to discern correctly his dream about Mary’s first-born.
The postscripts examine the controversial aspects of the plays and focus on two false early gospels which distorted the meaning of the true Gospels. The “Proto-Gospel of James” claimed that Mary was “every virgin” and never had other children, and the “Gospel of Nicodemus” cancelled the true meaning of Jesus’ “descent into Hell” and his ministry there as described in 1 Peter 3 & 4
Watching God Work: The Stuff of Miracles by [DeArteaga, Carolyn Koontz]

My wife has written a funny and inspiring story of how she transited from a cessionist and Baptist to a Spirit-filled Believer. The book has many stories of our three decades of ministry together.  It may be purchased HERE.







Wednesday, August 30, 2017

On the Church's failure in hurricane Harvey

Image result for hurricane harvey 2017


The response of the Church as a whole to Hurricane Harvey has been for me disappointing but not unexpected. In this I do not refer to the multiple and sometimes heroic relief efforts organized and financed by many churches and Christian NGOs. Rather, my disappointment comes from the fact that the churches could not come into prayer agreement to dissipate or redirect Harvey.

Praying for a change of course of such a large storm demands multiple churches to agrees in prayer. There are of course many impediments to this. The terrible influence of cessationism, the theory that the gifts of the Spirit ended with the age of the Apostles, still lingers among many churches. These cessationist influenced churches barely pray for healing, and some still don’t, so they would find praying as Jesus did to still a storm merely a cultic heresy. No matter the scriptural promise to do “greater works” (John 14:12). The recent work by John MacArthur, Strange Fire has unfortunately re- popularized this attitude.[1]

There have been many accounts of effective praying against storms in the lives of Celtic saints, and other heroes and saints in Church history.[2]  But Protestants of every variety, including Pentecostals would tend to discount such stories. But even among Pentecostal, charismatic, and Spirit-filled believers of every stripe, many are reluctant to go to the faith level needed to pray against a threatening hurricane.

Sadly, this is forty years since Mrs. Agnes Sanford wrote her classic work on speaking and commanding natural events such as storms and earthquakes – the very way that Jesus stilled a storm on the Sea of Galilee (Matt. 23-28). That work was, Creation Waits, first appeared in 1978.[3]  This is very late in the history of the Church. That is, although changing the course of storms and other natural events was sporadically described, a theology of how that is done did not appear until Mrs. Sanford’s book in 1979. Unfortunately, there are many tradition minded Christians who believe that if something was not written about or defined in the Early Church, it can’t be orthodox or true.



In Creation Waits Mrs. Sanford described her call to pray over nature, such as storms, forest fires, and even over the San Andreas Fault.  Her prayer for it was that this fault line would release its energies in small frequent tremors rather than the “big one” that was, and is, feared.[4] In fact, while she lived in California and did that ministry there were no major earthquakes in that state. 

Mrs. Sanford mentioned in passing that praying for hurricanes to re-route was easy. But also mentioned that as the Church learned this, or rather awakened to its God given authority over nature, it would have to learn the discipline of praying in “one accord” in order for these prayers to be effective. For instance, a prayer by one church group for a sunny day for their church picnic would not be in accord with a prayer for rain to water the thirsty crops in the same area by another church.

In this context we should recall TV evangelist Pat Robinson’s famous prayer against hurricane Gloria in 1985. That hurricane was aimed straight at Virginia Beach where it was primed to wreak havoc on the Virginia coast, and Robinson’s Regent University. In fact, Gloria mysterious altered course, skirted the coast, weakened and finally made landfall in Long Island. Few believed that Robinson’s prayer had anything to do with that change of course. But I believe (we will know for sure in heaven) that it was indeed because of Robinson's prayer that Gloria changed course and weakened. This is not to say that Robinson was a super prayer, but rather that he had a live TV following of hundreds of thousands who agreed with him as he prayed.

Now, on the hurricane Harvey problem. As it approached the coast I reposted my older blog about praying against tornadoes, and suggested that churches in Texan unite in “concerts of prayer” to command Harvey to quickly pass into the interior of Texas and Oklahoma, which are still in drought or semi-drought. My postings are not especially influential in that region (strangely, I am more popular in Russia. Why?). In any case I noted a whole bevy of Christians on Facebook asking for prayers to dissipate Harvey, or send it back to sea (a disaster), etc.  There was no unity or a single person of authority to say, “We will pray in this way against Harvey…”

Here I am reminded of the prayer requested by General George Patton of his chaplain during the Battle of the Bulge (December 1945). (This is nicely shown in the movie “Patton,” starring George Scott.) The problem was that a huge weather front of fog, rain and thick clouds hovered over the battle area and prevented the Allies from using their great air superiority and ground attack aircraft to blunt the Nazi advance. The chaplain composed a prayer requesting God to clear the sky. This prayer was quickly printed on a small cards and distributed to the troops of the Third Army, and most likely agreed with by thousands. Likely, many atheists and agnostics sneered in unbelief, but that is not an active counter-prayer.  The sky cleared, and the rest is history…


Image result for James Hugh O'Neill

Image result for prayer card Patton's weather prayer

Brigadier General James Hugh O'Neill, chaplain for the Third Army under General Patton, who composed the weather prayer. 
He was a Catholic priest  with many years service as n Army chaplain


Here is that prayer:
"Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.[5]
It is too late to do anything with Harvey. We should, of course, continue to pray for the safety and quick recovery of its victims. And also pray that the churches involved have a special grace of wisdom and coordination on how to help in the relief effort.

So what do we do for the next one?  Let me suggest that Spirit-filled Christians agree to have a leader of national reputation, perhaps Jack Hayford or some such person, as designated “prayer leader” in times of threatened national disaster and have him or her then issue a prayer we can all agree with.




[1]John MacArthur Strange Fire (Nashville: Thomas Nelson: 2013).  I am one of several Pentecostal and charismatic authors who soundly critiqued MacArthur’s views , and these were gathered in splendid anthology edited by my friend, Robert Graves, Stranger to Fire; When Tradition Trumps Scripture (Canton: Empowered Life, 2016). See also the major article in Pneuma Review on this by the distinguished Pentecostal scholar, Craig S. Keener, “John MacArthur’s Strange Fire,” Pneuma Review. Posted Nov. 13, 2015.  http://pneumareview.com/john-macarthurs-strange-fire-reviewed-by-craig-s-keener/
[2] I give a brief account of some Celtic saints doing this in my blog posting, "Is Calming Tornadoes a Christian Ministry?” Anglican Pentecostal. Posted June 1, 2013.
[3] (Plainfield: Logos International, 1978)
[4] I stress the point in my work Agnes Sanford and her Companions (Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2015), that she was a pioneer in many areas of Christian life.
[5] From Wikipedia, at the site for Chaplin James Hugh O’Neill, the Catholic chaplain who wrote the prayer.

 Announcements:

The noted Pentecostal scholar Dr. Jon Ruthven wrote a very positive review of my book, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal. You can access it HERE.

The book may be purchased on Amazon, either print or inexpensive Kindle HERE 






Just released is my first book of  plays. Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts). It includes two plays and their postscripts.

The play, “One Day at St. John’s” depicts what everyday life can be like in a church that practices the gifts of the Spirit and the healing/exorcism ministry as normal. Among the events that occur in the course of the play are the healing of a waitress who was scalded with hot coffee, an exorcism (led by a layman) and the “laying of a ghost” to rest.

Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts) can be purchased HERE at Amazon.

The second play, “Joseph ben Jacob,” explores Joseph, husband of Mary, as the dream interpreter, master carpenter, and father of Mary’s other children. It helps explain why Joseph was able to discern correctly his dream about Mary’s first-born.

The postscripts examine the controversial aspects of the plays and focus on two false early gospels which distorted the meaning of the true Gospels. The “Proto-Gospel of James” claimed that Mary was “every virgin” and never had other children, and the “Gospel of Nicodemus” cancelled the true meaning of Jesus’ “descent into Hell” and his ministry there as described in 1 Peter 3 & 4



Watching God Work: The Stuff of Miracles by [DeArteaga, Carolyn Koontz]

My wife has written a funny and inspiring story of how she transited from a cessionist and Baptist to a Spirit-filled Believer. The book has many stories of our three decades of ministry together.  It may be purchased HERE.












Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Exorcism in public places

Exorcism on a park bench:

It was a Saturday afternoon in August, and very hot, Carolyn my wife, and I were standing by the “prayer station” at Little Five Points in Atlanta. For those of you unfamiliar with this ministry, a prayer station is a place where Christian intercessors set up a sign, or sometimes a table and sign, saying “prayer station” to offer prayer to passersby.[1]  

Two other prayer intercessors for the prayer station were a few yards away on folding chairs we had brought. The four of us alternated between standing by the prayer station sign and sitting in the shade (and sipping cool drinks). When Carolyn and I were at the prayer station sign, it was I who did the invitation to the passersby, “Would you like prayer today for anything?” We had had a good number of prayer supplicants that Saturday, with good results, including one who dedicated his life to the Lord, and we still had an hour to go before we closed. 

A tall, light skinned African American male in khaki shorts and white shirt passed by and I gave my usual invitation. He stopped and considered for a second, and then stepped up to the prayer station.[2] “Yes, I have a neighbor who is addicted to drugs and it is ruining his life.” 

Carolyn and I prayed for his neighbor in proxy, by laying hands on Tom (that was not his name).  I rebuked the spirit of addiction and asked the Lord to totally set him free. The supplicant was happy with the way we prayed, and went off thanking us.  I resumed my invitations to other passersby.
Ten minutes later he returned and confessed that he also had a serious drug problem. 

This is not an uncommon pattern, as many persons are reluctant to share their most pressing (or embarrassing need) to total strangers.  But our prayers had convinced him that we could be trusted. He shared his tragic story. He was an engineer and well on his way to the American Dream. But he became addicted to cocaine, and lost his job and family, and now was on the edge of skid row. He had been a church-going man, but after his wife left him he stopped going.

We invited him to sit at the nearby bench under the shady tree, and asked if he would let us pray for him by casting out the demons of addiction and anything else in him.  He agreed.  I motioned the other team members to join us. We began with prayer, Carolyn and another team member began praying in tongues. After a few moments, I began, “In Jesus’ name I come against any and all evil spirits inhabiting and harassing Tom! I come against the spirit of addiction and I command you OUT!”

Bill and Carolyn: A mean and lean exorcist team!

Tom shook as if he was struck by some invisible object. Carolyn immediately added, “Spirit of despair.”  She was functioning with the gift of discernment of spirits (1 Cor 12:10) and I commanded, “In Jesus' name, spirit of despair, come out!” Again, Tom shook. Carolyn injected, “Spirit of suicide.” I continued, “Spirit of suicide, leave NOW!” Again, Tom quaked. “Any more?” I asked Carolyn. She prayed in tongues for a few seconds, “Spirit of rejection, from childhood.” 

By this point a group of half dozen or so counter-cultural teens (bizarre hair cuts and black clothing - uncommon at that time) stood silently watching our every move at the side.

I continued, “Foul spirit of rejection, leave now in Jesus' name!” Tom shook. “More?” I asked.  Carolyn answered, “I don’t see anything else.” I stepped up to Tom and laid my hand on his head.  “In Jesus’ name, I ask the Holy Spirit to flow into you, and fill every empty space that the demons occupied. I command your neurological system, especially the brain, to be cleansed of all addiction to cocaine or any other drug.”  As I was saying this I could feel the vibrating energies of God flowing into Tom. His face came alive with surprise and joy.

A few moments later he got up, declaring, “I feel like a new man. I am completely set free.” We prayed for him a little longer, asking the Lord to restore his career and family. I counseled him that he must go back to church, and join a Bible study or such to get Christian fellowship and continued support to rebuff any demonic re-infestation. Tom agreed and walked away thanking us and praising the Lord. The counter-cultural teens sleeked away, whispering to each other. I prayed this exorcism would open their hearts to the Gospel. 

I never heard from Tom again, so I can’t affirm that his deliverance stuck, or if he allowed the spirits to come back in and finish the ruination of his life (Matt 12:43-45). But I can affirm that he was delivered that day. This, by the way, is a disadvantage of having a prayer station far from your home church, you cannot invite the person to your church to do follow up discipleship.

Issues raised:

That street exorcism occurred back in 1987. Since then I have done several others, but always in the setting of a church, and after I was ordained as an Anglican priest. As I was ready to do the first draft of this chapter I thought I would say that such public exorcisms are imprudent, and the successful case of Tom's was due to God’s grace overcoming my youthful indiscretion, etc.  Rather, exorcism should be done with preparation and care, and at least in privacy and possibly with medical screening beforehand, etc. In effect, a prayer station deliverance should not be done.

But I received a check in my spirit about taking this approach. And I was reminded by the Holy Spirit of the exorcisms in the New Testament. There exorcisms were done by Jesus, his Apostles and disciples in public, and with no lengthy preparation. Exorcisms occurred as unplanned confrontations with the demonic. In fact, in the first ministry campaign Jesus’ disciples reported back with great joy that they had healed the sick and cast out demons (Luke 10:17) There was no hint there of special preparations, nor of privacy concerns, which have become a modern fetish.[3] 


Jesus Christ healing a mute man by performing an exorcism, as described in Luke 11:14, in an engraving from Merian's Illustrated Bible, published c. 1627 



Rather, exorcism was an integral part of the healing ministry and a confrontation with the demonic. In the Gospels and Acts, when a person is sick from a disease, hands are laid on and the disease cast out (command mode), but when the sickness or disorder is due to a demon, the demon is cast out. It is all a seamless ministry of restoring wellness.

As you go, preach this message: `The kingdom of heaven is near.'  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. (Mt. 10:6-8)

Similarly, in the early church, exorcism was generally a lay matter in the hands of those gifted in that ministry. Irenaeus of Lyons, Bishop and writer against heretics wrote:

“Those who are in truth His disciples, receiving grace from Him, do in His name perform miracles, so as to promote the welfare of other men, according to the gift which each one has received from Him. For some do certainly and truly drive out devils, so that those who have thus been cleansed from evil spirits frequently both believe in Christ and join themselves to the Church . . . others still, heal the sick by laying their hands upon them, and they are made whole.[4]

Misinformed attitudes towards the demonic and exorcism:

Our attitude towards exorcism and deliverance ministries, and our ability to accept the plain biblical evidence, is distorted by multiple factors. In the secular West there is a tendency to disbelieve in the reality of the demonic, and reduce demonic manifestations to instances of abnormal psychology.
Most seriously, the poverty of Protestant tradition on exorcism, produced by the theology of cessationism, has basically left many Christian with nothing to say about the topic, leaving a tremendous ignorance gap.[5]  

This leads many Protestant ministers, especially those influenced by liberal theology, to dismiss or reduce demonic activities and manifestations as psychological abnormalities, and more than likely refer the demon infested person to a psychiatrist.[6] Also, the predominance of the Roman Catholic traditions on exorcism, as portrayed in the film “The Exorcist,” has sown certain distortions. In fact, it is only among the Pentecostals and charismatics that the Protestant wing of Christianity has substantially recovered a robust and biblical practice of exorcism and deliverance as a general practice.[7]

There is also a raging theological divide among Protestants, fueled mostly by its non-charismatic Evangelical wing, which states that a Christian cannot possibly be possessed or infected by demonic entities. The constant experience of ministers who actually venture out in this field should put that theory to rest. Cases like Tom, i.e., persons who are Christian but have slid in their spiritual lives, come up frequently.[8] Scripturally, the account of Ananias and Sepphira (Acts 5:1-3) a born-again and Spirit-filled couple in the Jerusalem Jewish/Christian community who let Satan “fill their hearts” is biblical proof enough that at times Christian need deliverance ministry.

The Catholic tradition has several good points and is especially useful in dealing with persons who are seriously possessed. That is, when a person’s behavior is dominated by a demonic spirit, and which may manifest bizarre phenomenon. This was well represented in the movie the “Exorcist,” based on the book of the same name, and which in turn was based on a real case.[9] Such total possession is very rare (and very destructive). I personally have never encountered anything that severe, but the witness and literature on such sever possessions is consistent throughout the ages and should not be doubted.  

But the Catholic understanding of possession and exorcism, with the priest as lead minister, leaves unanswered and under-ministered the whole issue of lessor spirits and lesser states of demonic infestation. For instance, Tom, the engineer, was not possessed in the classic sense, but he had a spirit of addiction and other lesser spirits.[10]  The Catholic lack in this area came home to me when I watched the excellent PBS program “The American Experience” on President John Kennedy.  As president, and even before, he had repeated trysts and affairs in spite of having a beautiful wife. 

Kennedy was asked by a friend why he had so many of these, and he answered, “I am compelled to do that…”[11] President Kennedy was not “possessed” in the Catholic definition of the word, but he did need serious deliverance ministry for a spirit of fornication and other attaching spirits. No priest or anyone else ministered to him in that way, or even understood the issue.[12]

The Episcopal/Anglican tradition has no written rules as to who can lead in exorcism and deliverance ministry. When I first encountered the Charismatic Renewal as a Roman Catholic in the 1970s, our prayer group often worshiped together with an Episcopal group across the street at St. Philips’ Cathedral. 

There the Dean of the Cathedral was the Rev. David Collins, who was prominent in the Episcopal Church as the leader of the Episcopal House of Deputies. He was an excellent priest and preacher, but it was his wife Jenny who had the anointing and the gift of discerning of spirits for the deliverance and exorcism ministry. Whenever some case presented itself at the Cathedral that might have demonic origins, the person was referred to Jenny[14] This is not to say that having an ordained, trained and designated clerical exorcist is not useful.  In my own denomination (Anglican Church of North America) there is in fact such a diocesan position, and that person, just like a designated Catholic exorcist, handles the more serious cases of possession.

A very limited recovery of exorcism and deliverance ministry in Protestantism came via Nineteenth Century Protestant missionaries in Asia and Africa. There missionaries encountered societies where the Gospel had never been preached and the demonic presence active and overt. The most famous instance of this was the work of the Rev. John Nevius, perhaps the most distinguished American missionary in a century filled with heroic and dedicated missionaries. He came to China out of seminary a convinced cessationist, as all his colleagues. He was led by the example of his own converts, who read the Bible simply and without its cessationist overlay, that demons were real, and could be exorcised by the name of Jesus. This was a general pattern among missionary churches, and the native lay exorcists not only taught the ministry of exorcism to their Protestant missionary teachers, but also did most of the actual ministry in this area.[15]

That lesson from the 1900s was mostly ignored or rationalized away as pertaining only to non-Christian countries, and therefor unnecessary in Europe and America. It was forgotten until a few evangelical scholars half a century later began a new series of investigation into the occult and demonology.[16] Many mainline ministers, especially in the liberal persuasion still dismiss the matter of the demonic and exorcism as mere “superstition” or misdiagnosed as abnormal psychology.[17]

On the issue of lay exorcism ministry, let me share my witness on this. When I was pastor of a Hispanic Church in Marietta GA, I taught all in my congregation healing prayer which included instruction on deliverance. We demonstrated healing at practically every service as someone or another would invariably have some ailment or bring someone who did. Several in the congregation caught this and floured in that ministry.

On one occasion we had a serious deliverance right in the middle of a service. Demons really do not like intense praise music, and will often act up during its performance.[18] The lady manifesting was one of our regulars, and a good Christian, but she had played with the Ouija Board in her youth, and a demon got in (not a rare occurrence). My assistant priest and several lay persons cast the demon out right then and there as I resumed with Holy Communion.

Years later, after I had retired from the church, I received a call from Ruben, one of my elders. I could hear chaotic background noises. He said, “Padre Bill, I am at church, but the priest is gone. We have a lady with a demon; I need your help in casting it out.”  (More noise and commotion.) “Oh wait, I remember. I will call back.” Phone hangs up. Ten minutes later he calls, “I remembered and I cast the demon out. Everything OK here. Thank you.”  I answered, “Good job Ruben, blessings to your family.”  When I hung up I felt God was telling me, “Good job, Bill, you taught them well.”

All of which is to say that, in spite of the disdain of this type of ministry by many clergy, and certainly their opposition to lay persons doing anything like this in public, Tom’s exorcism at the park bench was in Biblical order. That is important to acknowledge.

Every prayer station person should be prepared to address and confront the demonic, and at least one person in the team have some knowledge on this topic - as in reading some of the basics books on deliverance I am suggesting below.

Suggested readings on deliverance/exorcism:

Randy Clark. The Biblical Guidebook to Deliverance (Lake Mary: Charisma House, 2015.  Terrific and practical. 

Frank and Ida Mae Hammond. Pigs in the Parlor. A classic Pentecostal view. Very useful. The chapter on schizophrenia is a classic

James Kallas. The Stanward View: Studies in Pauline theology. (Philadelphia, Westminster, 1966). Sadly, this work is out of print and hard to get. It is a masterpiece of biblical theology which shows how central battling the demonic is to the Gospel. Kallas shows that Paul understood Jesus’ ministry as principally that of undoing the havoc and sin produced by Satan’s intrusion into the earth.

Francis MacNutt.  Deliverance From Evil Spirits (Chosen: 1995). Marvelously balanced and intelligent view of the demonic and the Christian’s responsibility to do deliverance ministry as part of the healing ministry.

John L. Nevius, Demon Possession and Allied Themes (London: George Redway, 1897). Modern editions in print.  This classic work is worth reading today





[1] My blog on this ministry is: “The Prayer Station,” Anglican Pentecostal. Posted June 25, 2013. http://anglicalpentecostal.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-prayer-station.html
[2] This exorcism was briefly described in my original article, “Ministry at Little Five Points,” Acts 29, May, 1988) 2.
[3] To be fair, there is an instance where Jesus hints certain types of demons need prayer, and not merely by command (Mk 9:29). This leaves room for the Catholic understanding of substantial preparation.
[4] Irenaeus, Against Heresies.
[5] I discuss this extensively in Quenching the Spirit (Lake Mary: Creation House, 1996) and Agnes Sanford and Her Companions (Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2015). By the mid-Twentieth Century there was some attention to the demonic by Protestant pastors and theologians, way over-due and still mostly ignored by their colleagues.
[6] A recent book that compares the varies exorcism traditions of Christendom calls the renewed Protestants understandings of exorcism “Evangelical Fundamentalist,” James M. Collins, Exorcism and Deliverance Ministry in the Twentieth Century (Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2009).
[7] The classic Pentecostal text on this is the book by Frank and Ida Mae Hammond, Pigs in the Parlor: A Practical Guide to Deliverance (Kirkwood: Impact, 1979). Don Basham’s Deliver Us From Evil (Old Tappen: Chosen, 1972) might be cited as one of many excellent early works in the charismatic wing.
[8] A good presentation from someone experienced in healing and deliverance of this issue is found in the blog, “Can a Christian Have a Demon?” Great Bible Study.  Accessed July 18, 2017. http://www.greatbiblestudy.com/deliverance_believers.php
[9] William Peter Blatty The Exorcist (New York: Harper & Row, 1971). A discussion of the original case upon which the novel and movie were based is found in Howard Newman’s, The Exorcist: The Strange Story Behind the Film (New York: Pinnacle, 1974).
[10] I believe these lesser spirits to be the “elemental spirits” mentioned by Paul in Gal 4:3 and Col 2:8, and are more “psychic clusters” than demonic entities – this is opinion, not provable fact.
[11] PBS, “JFK” The American Experience series. Aired Nov. 11, 2013. Access to the entire program is at: http://www.pbs.org/video/2365118698/
[12] It is probable that Kennedy’s spirit of fornication, and other lesser and “elemental spirits” which laid unmolested by any deliverance ministry, led to his weakness of character. He was not only unfaithful to his wife, but unfaithful to the Cuban heroes at the Bay of Pigs who were defeated for lack of promised American air support. Further, he had campaigned that President Eisenhower (and Nixon) had allowed the Russians to outpace the U.S in ballistic missiles, but when he got to be President he was shown the intelligence date which showed that claim was not true. Rather than face embarrassment, he chose to order 1.000 new intercontinental missiles to “catch up” with the USSR. This ignited the very costly missile, anti-missile arms race, as the Russians interpreted this as an attempt to build a “first strike” capability.
[13] Although there are priest or monk led liturgical exorcisms in Eastern Orthodoxy, exorcism ministry never underwent the codification of its Western counterpart in Roman Catholicism. See Torsten Lofstedt, “Countering Exorcist Excess in Russia,” Penteco Studies, 13, no. 1 (2014) 80-111.
[14]For the story of the Collins’ joint ministry to the charismatic community in Georgia, see Dean David Collins autobiography, There is a Lad Here (Darien: Darien News, 1996).  Dean Collins passed to his heavenly reward in 2017, “full of years” – he was a naval officer in World War II.    
[16] Collins, Exorcism and Deliverance, chapter four.
[17] A classic of this destructive form of interpreting the demonic in liberal theology is Henry Ansger Kelly’s, The Devil, Demonology and Witchcraft: The Development of Christian Belief in Evil (Garden City: Doubleday, 1968).
[18] This is more common in Africa, where witchcraft is prevalent. In fact, some pastors consider a service incomplete and lacking in the Spirit if a demon does not manifest and is thrown out.

Announcements:

The noted Pentecostal scholar Dr. Jon Ruthven wrote a very positive review of my book, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal. You can access it HERE.

The book may be purchased on Amazon, either print or inexpensive Kindle HERE 






Just released is my first book of  plays. Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts). It includes two plays and their postscripts.

The play, “One Day at St. John’s” depicts what everyday life can be like in a church that practices the gifts of the Spirit and the healing/exorcism ministry as normal. Among the events that occur in the course of the play are the healing of a waitress who was scalded with hot coffee, an exorcism (led by a layman) and the “laying of a ghost” to rest.

Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts) can be purchased HERE at Amazon.

The second play, “Joseph ben Jacob,” explores Joseph, husband of Mary, as the dream interpreter, master carpenter, and father of Mary’s other children. It helps explain why Joseph was able to discern correctly his dream about Mary’s first-born.

The postscripts examine the controversial aspects of the plays and focus on two false early gospels which distorted the meaning of the true Gospels. The “Proto-Gospel of James” claimed that Mary was “every virgin” and never had other children, and the “Gospel of Nicodemus” cancelled the true meaning of Jesus’ “descent into Hell” and his ministry there as described in 1 Peter 3 & 4



Watching God Work: The Stuff of Miracles by [DeArteaga, Carolyn Koontz]

My wife has written a funny and inspiring story of how she transited from a cessionist and Baptist to a Spirit-filled Believer. The book has many stories of our three decades of ministry together.  It may be purchased HERE.