The question seems straightforward. “What is an exorcist?” But the answer isn’t so simple. First, last week the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Krill, declared that President Vladimir Putin is the “chief exorcist” of the Church. Putin’s original invasion of Ukraine was called a “denazification” campaign, an effort to bomb and destroy the country in the name of ridding Ukraine of Nazism. That’s a lie. As many of you know, I have made more than a dozen mission trips to Ukraine and spoken in more than 50 Ukrainian cities. Like any country, there are small hate groups, but by-and-large the Ukrainians are God-fearing people. In fact, there are more evangelical Christians in Ukraine than any European nation.
Now, Russian tanks, Iranian-made drones, and conscripted troops are being sent from Russia for the “desatanization” of Ukraine. The claim is that Satan worshippers are running Ukraine. The assistant secretary of the security council of the Russian Federation says that hundreds of satanic sects are overrunning Ukraine and that it is Russia’s sacred responsibility to bomb the population to destroy these so-called “hyper-sects.” The satanic groups are supposedly forcing Ukrainian citizens to abandon the true Orthodox faith. Putin himself says that Western opposition to his brutal invasion of Ukraine is “outright Satanism.” Hence, the call for him to be the exorcist battling the devil. In response, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which split from the Russian Orthodox in 2018, now says that Putin is filled with the spirit of the Antichrist and compares him to Hitler.
So, what is a true exorcist? When, two decades ago, I began to refer to myself as an exorcist, many evangelicals were outraged. I was accused of being “too Catholic.” The term “exorcist” isn’t a Catholic word. As a noun it relates to the Latin exorcista and the Greek exorkistes, “an exorcist.” It simply means one who casts out demons, which is what Jesus did. A major evangelical website (belief.net) blatantly, and with extreme theological prejudice, declares, “Though some people [in Bible times] were given the power to rid the world of evil spirits, this wasn’t something that was meant to last through modern times. It was also never something that every Christian should feel like they had to do or learn how to do.” That is both an ignorant and a dangerous thing to say. It’s devoid of the empirical reality of present-day ministry. It’s a slap in face of non-western Christians who regularly cast out demons, and it is filled with anti-Catholic prejudice.
Millions of Americans involved in witchcraft, the occult, and the New Age are possessed by demons. Many are supernaturally tormented. Are we supposed to assume that by confessing Christ they will automatically be delivered from their demons? No one in deliverance ministry believes that myopic view. Check out the more than 1,000 videos on our YouTube site. Are they all disingenuous?
If some of my fellow Christians can’t agree on the importance of fulfilling the commands of Christ to cast out demons (Matthew 10:1, Mark 16:17, Luke 10:19, e.g.), perhaps we can at least agree one thing. Vladimir Putin isn’t an exorcist.