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Are all exorcists Catholic priests?

Exorcism is back in the news bigtime.

The Vatican is reported to be training new practitioners to keep up with an epidemic of demonization.

Italy is reportedly facing high demand for exorcists because of increased dabbling in the occult.

Ireland, too, is said to be undergoing increased demonic activity and a shortage of specialists trained to deal with it.

On top of that, the popular and engaging “The Exorcist” TV show, inspired by the famous book and movie, is planning season three featuring engaging main characters, including one excommunicated priest and another young priest who left his position at a wealthy parish to help those tormented by possession.

It seems the devil and his minions have been very busy.

One thing has intrigued me about this phenomenon. The movies, the TV shows, the reporting by the news media all seem to focus on the Catholic Church, Catholic priests and Catholic rituals in the battles with demons.

Is that a reflection of reality?

First, the most famous exorcists in history were Jewish – Jesus and His inner circle of apostles and disciples.

Second, you seldom see, read or hear about non-Catholic Christian specialists battling demonization.

It’s a little strange. You would almost get the impression that Rome has a monopoly on this kind of spiritual warfare. But, it would seem to me, if there’s a real secret sauce to battling demons, it’s found in the Bible, not in man-made rituals, incantations, “holy water” and Latin.

The best book I’ve read about demonization and how to combat it is by a non-Catholic scholar and long-time practitioner. The book is called “Spiritual Warfare,” and the author’s name is Karl Payne.

This book grabs your attention at is details Payne’s personal story about the encounters that led him into this area of specialization. It’s harrowing stuff. It will leave you with little doubt that the forces of darkness are very real.

Payne takes his cues about battling demonic activity from Scripture, which makes sense to me. There’s a surprising amount one can learn from what the Bible tells us about casting out demons. I particularly love the story found in the gospels of both Matthew and Mark when Jesus’ disciples are unable to cast out a demon and ask their Master how and why He was able to do so.

The Matthew 17 account is found in verses 14-21.

A man approached Jesus on his knees saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.”

Jesus responds: “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.”

Jesus then rebukes the demon, and it departed from the child that very hour.

The disciples approached Jesus and asked: “Why could not we cast him out?”

Jesus responded with the secret of exorcism.

“Because of your unbelief,” He said, “for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”

He added in closing: “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”

And that raises another question I have with regard to the renewed spate of media attention on Satanic activity: Why is it that the news coverage and the entertainment shows deal so matter-of-factly with matters concerning God’s spiritual adversaries while ignoring or mocking the Creator and the power of faith?

Have you read Joseph Farah’s latest book, “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians and the End of the Age”? It’s a challenging scriptural study of the Kingdom of God, and what it suggests about the past, present and future for the world.