John Stone & Hugh Fogelman



Exorcism is the attempt by religiholics to drive out imaginary evil spirits by religious commands, prayers, or ceremonies.

In the Roman Catholic Church, exorcism is a religious act performed in the name of Jesus/God. Exorcism is a form of magic when not performed in the name of God.1 Judaism, in particular its practice of Kabbalah, is steeped in demons 2, from Lilith at the time of Adam and Eve to exorcism of evil forces battling dybbuks and the dead.

In 418 CE, the Catholic Church council decided that every human child is born demonic as a result of its sexual conception, because the baby inherits the sins of their parents; thus automatically damned unless baptized. During a Catholic baptismal ceremony, the priest still addresses the baby,

“I exorcise thee, thou unclean spirit…Hear thy doom, 0 Devil accursed, Satan accursed.”

This “exorcism,” described above, is the Church’s (Catholic as well as many other Christian variants) means to remove any obstacles resulting from the effects of Christianity’s original sin [Old testament Adam and Eve story] and the power of their devil/satan over humans. Paul wrote that Satan is “god” of THIS world in 2 Corinthians 4:4. Paul’s Ephesians tells about God and His battle against the rulers and the powers of this dark word (6:12) and  Paul’s 2ndTimothy,  says Satan has his own will (2:26). In Acts, Paul said he was told to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light and from the POWER of Satan (Acts 26:18).

In Christianity, a demon is an evil spirit, or devil, in the ordinary English usage of the term. This definition is, however, only approximate. In polytheistic religions the line between gods and demons is a shifting one: there are both good demons and gods who do evil. In monotheistic systems, evil spirits may be accepted as servants of God [Jesus. Hashem, Allah etc] , so that demonology is bound up with angelology and theology proper, or they may be elevated to the rank of opponents of God, in which case their status as diabolic powers differs from that of the demons in polytheism.

Moreover, in none of the languages of the ancient Near East, including Hebrew, is there any one general term equivalent to English "demon." In general, the notion of a demon in the ancient Near East was of a being less powerful than a god and less endowed with individuality. Whereas the great gods are accorded regular public worship, demons are not; they are dealt with in magic rites in individual cases of human suffering, which is their particular sphere.3

Exorcism, the process of expelling evil spirits from an object, person, or place; is also used as a preventive measure against illness and misfortune, especially during times of celebration, such as the New Year; in Buddhist and Taoist exorcisms both laity and priests participate; in early Christianity any person could exorcise spirits, but since about 250 CE only certain clergy are allowed to perform rite; regulated by canon law in the Roman Catholic church; such rites of preliterate people sometimes considered witchcraft.4

New Testament demonology in part reflects contemporary popular belief, and in part the dualism attested in the sectarian literature from Qumran. Demons are called "unclean spirits" or "evil spirits," as in rabbinic literature. They are believed to inhabit waste places. Possession by demons causes, or is associated with, various sicknesses, especially those in which there is a perversion of the human personality, so that the demon, not the man himself, directs his acts and speech (Mark 1:23, 26; 9:17–29).

The story of how Jesus cured a demonic possession by sending a legion of unclean spirits into a herd of swine (Matt. 8:28–34; Mark 5:1–20; Luke 8:26–39) illustrates vividly the persistence of very ancient popular belief in Christianity, as does the parable of Matthew 12:43–45, in which the unclean spirit after wandering through the wilderness takes seven devils with him.

On the other hand, in the New Testament lesser demons have little independent personality or power, but are subject to a prince, Beelzebul or Satan, and the demonic is often presented, not as something occasional and relatively harmless, but as a cosmic reality of great importance, the enemy of God and man (Eph. 6:12). Beelzebul (Beelzebub) is a name applied to the chief demon by both Jesus and his opponents (Matt. 10:25; 12:24, 27; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15–19). The correct explanation of the name is much disputed, and new evidence from Ugarit has not completely cleared up the etymology. The spelling Beelzebub reflects identification of Beelzebul with Baal-Zebub, god of Ekron (II Kings 1:2). Possibly there were two different original forms, Beelzebul meaning "Baal is prince" or "Lord of the shrine," and Beelzebub "Lord of flies" (cf. Ugaritic il dbb [in Gordon, Textbook, nt 3:43]). [Delbert Roy Hillers]

Demonology in the Hebrew Bible is practically nil, but is found ingrained in the Talmud and Zohar. The Israelite conception of demons, as it existed in the popular mind or the literary imagination, resembled in some ways that held elsewhere. Demons live in deserts or ruins (Lev. 16:10; Isa. 13:21; 34:14). They inflict sickness on men (Ps. 91:5–6). They trouble men's minds (Saul, I Sam. 16:15, 23) and deceive them (I Kings 22:22–23). The Jewish "dybbuk" is a demon that enters the body of a living person and controls that body's behavior.

This is all part of the master plan to put fears into the minds of religious believers or religiholics. It is the same mind-set of “hell and damnation” which church-goers hear every Sunday. This fear tactic is one tactic employed to keep congregations in place and prevent defections. Along with these head games, the Church throws in the “guilt” card―this simple man-god died for you― knowing human nature would  bring out the sympathy and love for the martyr. 

"Religions are like glow-worms: they need darkness in order to shine. A certain degree of general ignorance is the condition for the existence of any religion, the element in which alone it is able to live." -Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860)



1-  The World Book Encyclopedia

2-  The 1st Century CE Jewish historian Josephus wrote the only report of Jewish spirit possession by the dead prior to the 13th Century: "....it [a special root] quickly drives away those called demons, which are no other than the spirits of the wicked, that enter into men that are alive and kill them, unless they can obtain some help against them" (Wars 7:6,3).

3-  Encyclopedia Judaica

4-  Compton’s Encyclopedia 2000


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