Last year, a Dallas jury, sentenced a Hispanic, female minister to 99 years in prison for starving to death a small child in an exorcism gone wrong. Pastor Aracely Meza tortured a little boy named Benjamin to drive out his demons. Meza claimed the little boy had the demon of manipulation and starved the youngster, not allowing him to eat for 21 days until he was skin and bones. Meza eventually stopped the fast, but it was too late, and the child died from malnutrition. The baby wasn’t even hers. The boy belonged to a congregant from whom Meza had forcefully taken the victim.
What are we to make of this? Religious devotion over the line? A mentally ill pastor exercising unreasonable authority over a family in her church? A legitimate attempt at deliverance gotten out of hand? A demonic act in the name of ridding demons?
Perhaps what happened is a little of each. But the real problem may be the lack of established boundaries of ethical practices in ministry, which leads to dangerous assumptions about how to drive out the devil. Occasionally stories hit the press of other exorcisms gone wrong. Children beaten to death. Lye poured down the throats of victims to exorcise evil. And starvation techniques, like this Texas tragedy.
We can blame pastor Meza or other misguided souls who are used by the devil to drive out devils. But perhaps there’s one more place to put blame: the failure of Christian leaders to speak openly and rationally about deliverance has created a moral vacuum which mentally deranged, self-styled exorcists exploit. When there is no theologically articulated standard of understanding about exorcism, false and distorted ideas of deliverance flourish, whether in Hollywood movies or cultic churches. Spiritually and psychologically sound measures of what constitutes legitimate demonic confrontation must be articulated so that distortions of deliverance do not result; otherwise, innocent victims may suffer. That’s why we established the International School of Exorcism, the public proclamation of a credible approach to casting out demons. By God’s grace we’ve set a standard by which inner healing, deliverance, and exorcism can be responsibly measured. Enroll today and learn the safe boundaries of spiritual warfare and avoid exorcism excesses.
An encouraging word: RESPECT OLD BOUNDARIES
There is some good advice in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 19:14): Do not move your neighbor’s boundary stone set up by your predecessors in the inheritance you receive in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess. I have some advice for youth, based on age and experience: Be careful what you disregard from previous generations. In this high-tech time there is a bit of cultural arrogance about dismissing the past as irrelevant. It has seeped into the church and extends to worship styles, behavioral standards, and theology. Don’t too casually dismiss the old boundaries. They may have been there for a good reason you can’t yet comprehend.