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Continuing our little discussion on demons and how prevalent -- or not prevalent -- they are, let's now take a look at what one Christian deliverance minister, Dr. Karl I. Payne, says about the way churches handle (or don't handle) such cases.

In the last installment we focused on the difference between natural illnesses and sickness that may be caused or exacerbated by spirits.

The chief manifestation of demons, however, may be psychological.

They obsess. They oppress. They depress. They torment mentally.

Over and again, they will insert negative thoughts.

I'm no good. No one likes me. I can't do this. I can't do that. I'll never amount to anything.

They will try to make you think others are viewing you in ways others are not and the first signs of their presence are usually confusion or tension.

They find entrance in mistakes we make or hurts we harbor, and they chip away and chip away until it's a large entrance (and more darkness can enter).

Once they come in, unfortunately, most Christians -- including many Catholics -- are defenseless against them.

Many don't know how to break their hold and cast them out. Many don't realize the power of Confession.

Of course, the majority of Christians don't even realize that spirits are there because they are taught next to nothing about them in a Church that has put psychology and philosophy in the historic place of mystical theology.

Why do so many ignore the existence of demons?

Where are our leaders (Catholic and Protestant)?

"I personally believe that demonic deception is increasing, even within the Christian Church, and that the worst of this deception is to come," writes Payne in Spiritual Warfare: Christians, Demonization, and Deliverance. "Too many North American churches are well on their way to becoming the same spiritually-dead museums as western European churches. It's time for Christian soldiers to stand up and contend for the faith. If God allows demonic activity to increase until His return, I believe He will also train up and equip a growing number of His children to faithfully and effectively contend with the powers of darkness who oppose His plans and people."

There are many questions in this realm. But basically, why do so many in the Church -- believers, consecrated -- balk at demonology?

"Fear of the subject itself and a reluctance to possibly be identified with theological and emotional extremism contribute significantly to the seeming boycott or outright rejection and ridicule of this subject by many Christian writers outside of charismatic circles," laments Payne, who serves as chaplain for National Football League players and operates a non-Catholic Christian church in Portland. "Like guerilla fighters, demons want to distract, destroy, and annoy right under their enemies' noses. If no one can see them, maybe people will think their work is due to fear, coincidence, paranoia, phobias, mental illness, personality quirks, or emotional instability.

"Fear of the social or theological stigma of association with the devil made me do it crowd has effectively ridiculed and silenced many Christian voices on this particular subject for a long time."

Seeing a person writhe on the floor, eyes rolling backward, lips spewing strange voices might change skeptical minds (there are case-descriptions in the book) -- if skeptics made the effort to witness such things (and thus helped to heal, as Christ directly admonished us to).

Negative opinions about deliverance, argues Payne, "are usually based squarely upon their own speculations regarding a subject with which they have little first-hand knowledge or experience. The real truth is that this is one subject that divides sincere Christian men and women across denominations."

Speaking of skepticism on Protestant churches, Payne says, "Such theological elitist thinking smacks of pride and is annoying and contemptuous. Is it possible that sincere and well-meaning doctors and counselors, who reject the reality of the supernatural a priori, are actually condemning at least some of their patients to ongoing mental and emotional torment because of their own anti-supernatural bias?

"Ultimately, regardless of where we stand on the subject of spiritual war fare, we need to agree with Romans 14 that we will all one day give an account to the Lord Almighty."

How many priests are aware of demonic workings?

How many exorcists are there?

As we revealed years ago, we are at a point where we have far fewer exorcists than we do canon lawyers, and there in a nutshell is the crisis.

[see also: Doctor tackles issue of when something is a natural illness and when it's evil]

[resources: spiritual warfare prayers]

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