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.
As always, keep in mind that the research resources we point to represent a variety of perspectives. Also, we welcome your suggestions for additional resources.
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.
- Angels: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly by Sue Bohlin
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.”
- Can a Believer be Demonised? by Tricia Tillin
- Can a Christian have a demon? by Chris Simpson
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.”
- Demon Possession and the Christian by C. Fred Dickason. Chapter 1 from C. Fred Dickason’s book by the same name. Two additional chapters can be read online as well: Biblical Evidence against the Demonization of Believers, and Biblical Evidence Supporting Demonization of Believers
- Demons: Ancient Superstition or Historical Reality? by Wayne Jackson, M.A.
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.’
- Demons, demons, where are the demons? “The unchanged and unchanging Neil Anderson” by G. Richard Fisher or Personal Freedom Outreach. The article takes issue with the teachings of Neil Anderson, who asserts that 85 percent of all Christians are struggling with various levels and depths of demonic bondage.
- Why would Jesus not let the demons “speak because they knew who he was” (Mark 1:34)? Bible teacher Ron Rhodes answers this question
- 99 Answers to Questions About Angels, Demons & Spiritual Warfare by B.J. Oropeza. Out of print, but second-hand copies are usually available. Recommended book. As one reviewer stated, “His book is carefully argued, and the author shows how many of the extreme views that people adopt today have a very short history, and were not taught by Christians who lived prior to the Second World War. Oropeza argues that Christ is supreme, and that Christians should be aware of, but not frightened by Satan and his minions. “
- Angels and Demons: Agents of God & Satan…a Biblical Study By Victor Knowles
- Biblical Demonology: A Study of Spiritual Forces at Work Today Merrill F. Unger. Out of print, but well worth obtaining as a used book. Considered to be a thorough standard work on the topic. Merrill F. Unger(1909-1980) graduated from Johns Hopkins University, and then went on to obtain his Th.M. and Th.D. degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary and his PhD from Oriental Seminary of the School of Higher Studies. He served as a pastor and professor at various seminaries including Gordon Divinity School and Dallas Theological Seminary. Dr. Wilbur M. Smith wrote, regarding this book, “The supreme merit of Biblical Demonology is that it holds closely to the Word of God. … It will remain for many years to come the standard treatment of biblical demonology.”
- Demonology, Past and Present: Discerning and Overcoming Spiritual Strongholds by Kurt E. Koch. Out of print. Considered a classic on the subject
- Demon Possession and the Christian: A New Perspective by C. Fred Dickason. Another out-of-print classic well worth to obtain as a second-hand copy. Three chapters from this book can be read online.
- Unbound: A Practical Guide to Deliverance (from Evil Spirits) by Neal Lozano, a Catholic layman. His work is described in ‘Christian deliverance work widespread‘ — a news article. Reported to be a sound book, theologically. Lozano approaches the subject devoid of the sensationalism some deliverance ministries are known for.
- Spirit Possession Entry at Wikipedia
- Exorcism news tracker and news archive Exorcism — or what passes for it — often makes the news, usually in a negative way (e.g. when it is used to cover up abuse, or when it results in unintended death). Religion News Blog keeps track of news stories involving exorcism.
- Rise of the exorcists in Catholic Church Nick Squires, The Telegraph, Jan. 4, 2014. “Forty years after The Exorcist scared the wits out of cinema audiences around the world, the Roman Catholic Church is training up a new generation of priests to meet a growing demand for exorcisms”
- Possession and Exorcism provides a Catholic perspective on the topics
This entry is curated by Anton Hein and David Anderson
Related topic(s): Demonology, exorcism
First published (or major update) on Tuesday, August 16, 2011.
Last updated on July 05, 2016. Original content is © Copyright Apologetics Index. All Rights Reserved. For usage guidelines see link at the bottom.