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AN OPEN LETTER TO CHURCHES

Page 5

Exorcism
As you know, the Catholic Church accepts and practices exorcism. Other mainstream conservative Christians do also, and one leader in particular that I know of has bravely talked on national television about his personal experience with this pastoral responsibility. Honesty about exorcism is a problem in several ways. It is a problem to the liberal churches that don't seem to really believe in the existence of evil--not to mention Satan. It is also a problem because so few people talk about exorcism that even Christians who recognize its doctrinal validity do not commonly accept it.

The atheistic popular culture, weaned on movies like "The Exorcist" and “Saturday Night Live's” "Church Lady" character, considers exorcism preposterous superstition. But the Cross of Christ is a powerfully affecting symbol under certain circumstances. If a man can be sobered at the sight of the American flag being raised—seeing it as a symbol of great sacrifice and noble principles—how much more can be accomplished at the sight of the cross, the symbol of our Salvation and of our Lord's sacrifice? I understand here that I am begging the question a bit because some critics will rightly say that it depends on who is holding the cross. To take an extreme example, no one would expect the cross in Jim Jones' hands to have much effect on a decent Christian. As to whether or not I personally have the proper ministerial authority, this is something I must leave to God, my conscience, and to those who really know me. What other choice do I have? I can only add that the Bible tells us to seek out our talents; not every minister wants to, or can, do exorcisms. That certainly doesn't make him a fraud but it shouldn't make exorcism a fraud either. To a member of the congregation who is feeling great pain over his mistakes in life, a powerful reminder of Christ's purity, suffering, and sacrifice can have a gigantic effect toward repentance. How can one hold on to pride in the full realization of Christ's humility? Often, that is all that happens—a true moment of confession before the cross, and repentance. At other times, the darkness within, that is normally only revealed in moments of extreme frustration, comes forward to express its anger, its hate, and fear of the truth. If that moment is met with Christian love, it can have a substantial and very legitimate "exorcizing" effect. The presence of the Cross, and what it represents, is an important key to creating a life-changing moment in that person's life if he or she is willing. Clearly, it is not the minister who causes the change.

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