Jesus said, pray then like this:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be you name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
At the time of my conversion to Christ in 1963, I was a junior in college. My major was psychology, and having embraced what I had been taught by my professors, I had trouble with certain segments of the Christian worldview, especially in regard to Satan and demons. I was not sure that the person of Satan as depicted in the Bible was something in which I even believed. The ideas of demons and demon possession were even more problematic, and I thought these were ancient and inaccurate descriptions of various forms of mental illness. That view dominated my thinking until I began living and ministering in San Francisco during the Jesus People Movement (1967-75). During that period, I was confronted with a stream of people who presented themselves in such a way that I had to conclude they had demons actually indwelling them. As a result, my views changed rather suddenly and became more closely aligned with that of the Gospel writers. It is a long story, and in what I hope to be a short and simple “how to” book about casting out of demons, I have decided to give accounts of only a few incidents that I think will help make essential points more concrete.
For ten years, from 1970 to 1980, in addition to leading a para-church ministry and pastoring a church, I operated the Marin Christian Counseling Center in San Rafael, California. Because I was unlicensed, I did not charge any fees but saw my work as a service to the community. In the process, I regularly conducted what came to be called a “deliverance ministry.” In 1973, I wrote a book titled A Manual of Demonology and the Occult, originally to be a thesis for a ThM degree and published by Zondervan Publishing House (still available at Amazon.com). The publication of this book brought upon me an avalanche of ministry that I never anticipated and grew to dislike — many hundreds of people coming to my office and home, wanting deliverance from demons. It quickly became overwhelming and led to the publication of The Deliverance Book. The goal was to teach others, pastors and Christians in the pews, how to do the work of casting out of demons, so they would not show up at my door. Rather than egocentric, it was self-protective, an attempt to return to a normal life.
Though I will set forth a brief theology of the demonic, there will be no attempt to prove the existence of Satan and the demons. This generally takes care of itself. Admittedly, it is so other-worldly that I have sometimes wondered if all that contact with the demonic world really did take place. During that period it was routine to cast out demons, actually confronting demons directly, though not visibly apart from the persons they were indwelling.
In the years since the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit that sustained the Jesus People Movement, during what are called normal times as opposed to awakening times, there is some need to cast out demons, but to a far lesser extent. Nothing I experience now is anything close to what happened from 1967 to 1975. The difference between normal and awakening times appears to be quite significant. From 1967 to 1975, although I was not aware of this and did not appreciate nor understand what I was experiencing, there was, in my estimation, an outpouring of the Holy Spirit alongside which was a counterfeit and demonic outpouring of unclean spirit. Beyond stating this, I cannot explain it. That time was a period of awakening, but from that time to this, in the geographical region where I live and minister, it is normal time. Yes, some are converted, and there are occasions when demons are cast out, but to a much lesser degree than in times of awakening.
Recently, there seems to be an upsurge in the need to minister to those who recognize they have demons and want to trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ to be free of demonic influence and control. Frankly, I never wanted to return to this time-consuming and exhausting work. At a time when I have achieved some semblance of respectability in my community, it is less than an enticing prospect to express belief in the devil and all that is commonly associated with historic episodes like the Salem witchcraft trials. It is somewhat intimidating to live in a materialistic, rationally-oriented culture and be talking about casting out demons. Reality and the commission to serve our Lord Christ must, however, trump contemporary worldviews and personal apprehensions.
So it has come around once more in my life time — engaging in this risky business and once again finding it necessary to produce a little handbook on how to cast out demons. The worry of risk, however, is well-balanced by the motivation of the knowledge that Satan has deceived too many people and that Christians need to and can bring this ancient service to those who are willing to come to Jesus and His delivering touch.
A further declaration: I am an advocate of the Reformed tradition, which for me is most closely represented by the Canons of Dordt. (Google Canons of Dordt and you will find the position of the Dutch Reformed theologians over against the theology of Jacobus Arminius.) I am also pastor of Miller Avenue Baptist Church in Mill Valley, California, dually aligned with American and Southern Baptists. The question may arise as to whether I am a cessationist — someone who holds that the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially the so-called power gifts like speaking in tongues and prophetic foretelling of the future, ceased with the publication of the New Testament. Or a similar question might be, am I a continuationist — one who believes the charismatic gifts continue into the present? “ Semi-cessationist” or “semi-continuationist,” probably both or either, describe my views. During normal times, when there is not a pronounced outpouring of the Holy Spirit in awakening or revival, I think the charismatic gifts are not as evident as when there is a time of awakening and revival. The casting out of demons, after all, does not involve any of the charismatic gifts as mentioned by Paul in Romans 12 or 1 Corinthians 12, with the possible exception of the gifts of faith and discernment.
The work at hand is not dictated by alignment with a particular theological camp. When I was theologically an Arminian, I engaged in the work of casting out of demons, and while now theologically Reformed, I engage in the work of casting out of demons.
Biblical quotes throughout this book are taken from The English Standard Version, published in 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. There is no perfect translation, and I have used many over the years, but the ESV is my current favorite.