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“There is a lot of talk about demon-possessed men in the New Testament. What is that—actual inhabiting by demons or perhaps an illness that they did not understand?”— Devin
This is a highly debated topic among biblical scholars (not to mention medical professionals and therapists!) We will not satisfy anyone completely in this brief treatment.
Nevertheless, let us proceed fearlessly!
The prima facie assumption in Scripture: demons are real and can inhabit people. Jesus’ ministry is marked by encounters with people possessing “unclean spirits” (Mk. 1: 23, 34, 39; 5:1ff; passim).
His “casting out” of these demons stands in contrast to His healing of people from diseases (Mk. 1:32, 40; 2:1ff; 3:1ff; 5:21; passim).
Paul cautioned his readers about “spiritual forces of wickedness” that exert power over people (Eph. 3:10; 6:10ff).
In our modern, sophisticated, enlightened times, the idea of “spiritual forces” is treated mostly with disdain. Emotional and mental disorders are seen exclusively as “illnesses” (if that’s not too strong a word) to be diagnosed and treated (and the APA’s DSM continues to expand!)
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