The image above is somewhat typical of how many think of early Christianity, martyrs dying for their faith. No question, the blood of these brave souls seeded the church. But there is much about how the early church conducted its affairs that is little understood. That’s why our International School of Exorcism teaches several courses to dispel the myths about the doctrine and practices of those who founded the faith. (For more information on the school, CLICK HERE.) One area of misunderstanding is the role that exorcism played in establishing Christianity. Our School carefully studies instances of deliverance in the synoptic gospels and the Book of Acts, along with relevant passage in the epistles and Revelation. But beyond the apostolic age, it is clear from an astute reading of church history that casting out demons was common and frequent. The School of Exorcism cites many quotes of Church Fathers validating this. Let me add some additional information that illuminates this further.
I have lately been studying a great book entitled, The Spirit of Early Christian Thought. It was written by Robert Louis Wilken, professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Virginia. And it was published, of all places, by Yale University Press. Of the earliest Christian baptisms, Dr. Wilkins writes, “When a person had completed the initial period of formation [an extensive preparation process] and was ready to apply for baptism he indicated his desire by an act of enrollment. This included a formal interrogation, followed by the making of the sign of the cross on the forehead, an initial exorcism of evil spirits, the imposition of hands by the bishop, and the eating of a tiny bit of salt” (p. 37).
Wilkens has more to say about Baptism and exorcism, which I’ll cover in my next blog. But note that this information comes from a secular scholar and was disseminated by one of America’s most liberal universities! They certainly have no prejudice to further the ministry of deliverance. Wilkens’ book isn’t about casting out demons, but the footnote above is included matter-of-factly as relevant information the modern American church would do well to note. You see, what I and the others in this ministry do is biblical, historically mainstream, and authentic. How much longer will we allow evangelical teachers with a theological axe to grind keep this ministry of liberation from those who need it most?
The ministry of deliverance didn’t end with the ascension of Christ. It wasn’t over with the apostolic age. The practices of the early church weren’t unique to that time. What Jesus, the apostles, and early Christian leaders did was normative for them, and it should be for us now. Let’s get back to doing what Jesus, and the early church did: cast out demons in the name of Jesus!
An encouraging word: PLEASURES FROM THE LORD
The ancient Psalmist has a message that our hedonistic culture would do well to note: At Your right hand are pleasures evermore (Psalm 16:11). The pleasures of the Lord aren’t just for a season. They aren’t cheap thrills. They aren’t a high followed by a low. Plus, God’s pleasures last for an eternity! Furthermore, they aren’t followed by guilt, regret, and shame. The pleasures of sin have consequences. The pleasures of the righteous bring rewards.
Bob Larson has trained healing and deliverance teams all over the world to set the captives free and Do What Jesus Did (Luke 4:18). You can partner with Bob and support this vision to demonstrate God’s power in action by calling 303-980-1511 or clicking here to donate online.