An introduction to the demonic dimension in pastoral care
Published by Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd. 1974
ISBN 0 232 51250 7
HAD I, EVEN in the nineteen sixties, ventured to suggest that exorcism should be a small but real part of the Church's ministry of healing, most opinion — even informcd opinion — would have dismissed the suggestion as medieval superstition. I would have been under great pressure to justify taking such a stand within both a church and a society in which the supernatural was out of fashion.
Today the task is much easier. While the spiritual and supernatural still remain unfashionable in many quarters of the Church, no informed opinion would hold that they are unfashionable in the contemporary society which the Church exists to serve. In the 'Age of Aquarius' it is not only youth club leaders, but the police and even psychiatrists that talk more freely than many churchmen about evil influences in peoples' lives.
What follows will not fit easily into the contemporary theological scene, but I have no doubt whatever that it is, and increasingly will be, in tune with the contemporary pastoral situation. Whether it will contribute constructively to this situation time alone will tell. If it does, it will not primarily be due to the work of other writers (although my bibliography indicates my debt to them) but to my many friends in this country and elsewhere who are actively engaged in the 'ministry of deliverance', who have given their time and shared both their experiences and their confidences with me. With very few exceptions my reading has done little more than underline what I have learnt from them. I hesitate to say that it is their book, lest I appear to avoid taking full responsibility for its many weaknesses, yet not to say so would be misleading. It would have been a prodigious, and, I believe, an unnecessary undertaking to have documented all that they have shared with me at conferences and in private in the last eight years, in an attempt to give 'credit where credit is due'. I know them well enough to be convinced that they share my desire that if anyone IS helped by this book neither they nor I are thought of, but only Him in whose Name the ministry here related is undertaken; who taught us to pray:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
Michaelmas Day 1973
Even if our belief in individual demons, with names and describable characteristics, has long faded, the Christian priest or minister is still faced with people whose sickness can be understood only in the New Testament terms of possession. There are kinds of behaviour which are otherwise unaccountable and seem to result from control by an alien and evil power. These things are realities.
Psychology has not taught us that such things cannot exist; it has removed from the demonic category a variety of conditions which might well in the past have been thought to belong there-hysterical, schizoid and paranoid conditions which may often yield to the psychiatrist. There remain the possession states, seen more plainly in isolation; and it is possible to look, as this book does, at these states, to collect evidence of cases and outline various kinds and manifestations.
It is a necessary book for everyone engaged in the ministry of healing. It can show you how to recognise possession states. It cannot teach you to cure this frightening form of illness, for which there is no technique of healing which can be studied and practised. Cure is by the Church in the name of Jesus Christ, and the exorcist has authority and faith, not superior knowledge or any acquired power.
'No student of this vexed subject can afford to be without Mr Richards' work in the present situation' Church Times
1 The Healing Church
2 The Occult Explosion
3 The Occult Journey
4 The Occult Journey-continued
5 The Problem of Possession
Appendix: Exorcism of the Possessed
Copyright ©; Estate of John Richards (Renewal Servicing)