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Demonology is the study of demons or evil spirits.
Demon possession is a paranormal state in which a spiritual entity takes control over a person or place.
Exorcism is a religious procedure during which demons, evil spirits or other spiritual entities are 'driven' or 'cast' out of a person or place believed to be possessed.
Christians disagree on whether or not a Christian can be possessed by a demon -- and if so, to what extend. Some Christians believe demon possession did occur in the early church. For instance, Wayne Jackson -- in referring to Bible stories about Jesus casting out demons -- says the purpose of demon possession in the first century was to establish the comprehensive and supreme authority of the Son of God. He argues,
If it is the case that miraculous powers have been removed from the church’s possession, including the ability to cast out demons (Mark 16:17-20), does it stand to reason that God would allow demons to supernaturally assault people today, thus granting Satan an undue advantage over the human family?
C. Fred Dickason, in his book Demon Possession and the Christian, includes a chapter titled, "Biblical Evidence against the Demonization of Believers" as well as a chapter titled, "Biblical Evidence Supporting Demonization of Believers."
Chris Simpson points out that the New Testament uses terminology that indicates Christians can 'have' a demon, but not be 'possessed' by one.
The good angels are the holy ones, the bad angels are the evil ones, which the Bible calls demons, and the ugly angels are demons disguising themselves as good angels. These ugly angels have deceived many people in a culture that has embraced "angel mania."
In the New Testament, the Greek word 'daimonizomai' is used to express the presence of demonic spirits within a person. What this word means is: "to be demonized; to be under the power or influence of a demon in certain areas; to have a demon."
In the King James Version of the Bible this particular Greek word is translated 11 times as "to be possessed with devils". The word "possessed," however, is a misleading translation for this Greek word. To English speaking people the term "possessed" implies total ownership of something. This concept, as pertaining to the relationship between a demonic entity and a person, has no support in the scripture or in the original intent of the Greek word. There is no suggestion in the scripture that a demon has totally taken over a person as the word "possessed" implies. Even the Gaderene demoniac had enough humanity to cry out to Jesus for help.
Rather, after close scriptural study, it can be seen that the effect of demons upon people was usually in one or more areas of the personality - not the whole person. The best translatation of this Greek word is: "to be demonized" or to "have a demon."
Certainly Satan exerts great influence today. However, as God does not work miraculously in this age, but influences through his Word and through the events of providence, so also, the devil wields his power indirectly, and non-miraculously, through various media. Current cases that are being associated with demon possession doubtless are the results of psychosomatic problems, hysteria, self-induced hypnosis, deception, delusion, and the like. They have natural, though perhaps not always well understood, causes.
A sidebar to this article, Demon Theology, shows 'what demons know about theology.'
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