Tuesday, November 07, 2017


Here's a striking account of possession and deliverance:

On the last evening of the Rhineland Keswick Convention three of us set out, at about 10:15 p.m. for a walk through a small wood which led to a village on the other side. Nathan, one of the party, started to tell the story of his life, and when we came to a clearing in the wood Thomas suggested that we should sit down for awhile. Nathan continued to relate his story. On joining the Royal Air Force he had missed the influence of home, and fell into bad company, unable to resist temptation. As Nathan finished his story there was silence. I sat with my eyes closed, wondering how I, as one of the convention leaders, could help the young fellow. What happened next was over in a very short space of time. Breaking through the silence, and crashing through the darkness with tremendous power came my voice, “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ depart.” Immediately Nathan let out a half shout, and fell towards me. He said afterwards, “At those words I saw a black form appear from somewhere at my feet and vanish into the wood, and, at the same time, something indescribable left me.” 

I felt an urgency for prayer, and if Nathan did not pray, something would happen to him. It was at this point an event occurred so dreadful that since I have prayed that it should never happen again. It seemed as if horrifying pandemonium had been let loose; as if all the powers of hell were concentrated in that spot in the wood. I saw numbers of black shapes, blacker than the night, moving about and seeking to come between myself and Nathan, whom I was gripping hard...Quite independently, Nathan told of how he had seen seven black forms emerge from the trees in the wood, and how he felt some power pushing him forward out of my grip. P. Wiebe, “Deliverance and Exorcism in Philosophical Perspective” in Exorcism and Deliverance: Multidisciplinary Studies, edited by William K Kay and Robin Parry, 175-77. London: Paternoster, 2011.

What's interesting about this report is the veridical element. While we might dismiss the description of shadowy demons as a subjective impression, we have two witnesses who saw the same thing: the Anglican priest who reported the incident, and the demoniac who was exorcised. Of course, this still depends on the credibility of the witness. But that's a consideration for eyewitness testimony in general. I have no antecedent reason to believe the Anglican priest was a liar or self-deluded. And in any case, there's a tipping-point where, even if we don't find any particular report compelling, there's a cumulative effect when we read enough accounts by prima facie credible witnesses. 

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