How Deliverance Ministries Lead People to Bondage

There’s no doubt that Christians are in a war.  Every day we see evil in our world, and we have an enemy who passionately hates that we belong to Jesus Christ. Some churches attempt to engage with the demonic realm in spiritual warfare. Are these so-called “Deliverance Ministries” biblical?

See our White Paper on Angels, Demons, Spiritual Warfare

Are we to seek spiritual exorcism if we think a loved one may be demonically possessed?   The following article is an important message from Pastor Bob DeWaay of Critical Issues Commentary (CIC) Ministries:

In 1977 I was in a ministry that specialized in inner healing and deliverance. People came to us from all over the country seeking release from hearing voices, addictions, emotional trauma due to past hurts and abuses, and many other forms of spiritual bondage. At the time our ministry was considered “cutting edge” in the world of spiritual warfare. Ours was a Christian community where people could come and live with other Christians to find healing.

About that time a woman from another state came to stay at our ministry center for a few days to receive prayer and deliverance. She had grown up in a family that was deeply involved in the occult and had been named after a Greek goddess. When she called us she was trying to get out of her occult bondage and was being attacked by evil spirits who did not want to let her go. They manifested themselves through her taunting us and making hissing sounds. We soon found out that the demons that tormented her were powerful and had no intention of leaving. Two of us took on the responsibility of ministering to her.  After we had led her in some prayers, confronted some of the demons, and demanded them to leave in Jesus’ name, she found some relief.

The most dramatic event in our ministry to her came after one of our Tuesday night meetings. After most people had left she stayed for more prayer. Before we even got to her, she was taken over by a violent evil spirit. Her countenance changed, her voice altered, her face contorted and her hands became like claws. She let out a loud scream and charged at me, intending to gouge my face with her fingernails. As she screamed and raced across the room, I and the other man who had been ministering to her stood our ground and said, “Stop! in the name of Jesus.” When she got two feet from us she hit what seemed like an invisible wall and fell to the floor whimpering.  We prayed with her and asked God to set her free.

We had encountered many cases of demonic manifestations in our ministry, but this was the most dramatic. As I look back on this incident now, what is most significant is not what happened that night, but what happened the next day. The next day she felt much better and asked to talk to us before leaving for home. She told me, “Bob, Satan is very scared of you. You have much power and authority.” What that statement and the event that led to it meant to me then was very different from how I understand it now. The difference is due to the “warfare” worldview I held then and the “providential” worldview I hold now. The way we interpret events is determined by our worldview. In this article I will discuss exorcism from the perspective of each of these worldviews.

Exorcism in the Warfare Worldview

The warfare worldview holds that the battle between good and evil, God and Satan, is played out in human history, with an uncertain outcome. By uncertain I mean that God does not sovereignly determine the outcome.1 There are casualties in this battle. The battle to free individuals from spiritual bondage is carried on by people of faith who have learned the tools of battle and become mighty warriors for God. According to many who hold the warfare worldview, even the destiny of nations is in the hands of human spiritual warriors who will capture nations for the Kingdom of God. My fondest hope in 1977 was that I would become one of these mighty warriors who would plunder Satan’s kingdom on the field of battle.

So in that context I interpreted the woman’s statement to mean that I was succeeding. At age 27 I had become a mighty warrior who was equipped to go to battle against anything Satan could throw at me. I was so charged up by that incident that I spent the next couple of years dealing with dozens of hurting people, many who were in horrible spiritual bondage. Day and night I was casting out demons, confronting the powers of darkness and helping people escape from the clutches of demons. That woman went back home and I do not remember hearing from her again. Others who lived closer, I ministered to time and time again over a period of years.

According to many exorcists who embrace the warfare worldview, demons possess their victims because they have discovered a “right” to do so. For example, a person might be under an unknown curse that gives the demon a right to torment him or her. Famous exorcist Bob Larson explains how he sees this working: “Curses are exacting, legal arrangements of the spirit world. Just like human contracts contain fine print and carefully crafted language, satanic curses are often filled with minutia that require detailed voiding.”2 To get free requires the counselor to ferret out the exact wording and nature of the curse and then formulate a renunciation to break it.3 When I was a deliverance counselor holding the warfare worldview it was my job to find out what may have given the demons the right to enter and to close that entrance. I taught that if the demons found a legal “right” to stay they would, and that if they had no legal right, they would try to stay anyhow because they are nasty deceivers.

Those who hold to this view of the spiritual universe see the battle as being fought on all levels. On the level of the heavenlies, they enlist troops of “prophetic intercessors” to identify, bind and cast down rulers over cities and nations.4 Warriors are enlisted to take spiritual control over cities by conducting prayer walks around areas of the city. In the warfare worldview, the deliverance counselor is the foot soldier who does hand to hand combat on the spiritual battlefield. He or she fights the forces of darkness that have captured individual souls. In 1977 I was a deliverance counselor and had just found out through a powerful experience and the testimony of one who had been deeply in Satan’s camp that I was a powerful warrior whom Satan feared. My sails where set to spend the rest of my life as a career spiritual military man freeing captives. Exorcism was where the battle got personal and I was chosen to be there.

To continue to improve in my counseling ministry, I read the books of those who had more experience. This increased my understanding of how demons worked. Many of the people I counseled, however, continued to struggle with demons in spite of many exorcism sessions.  This required fine tuning and the development of further strategies. Battles are never easily won. In a war there are always set backs.  Some of the teachings I used were very Biblical: repentance, forgiveness, the study of God’s word, and getting one’s self in right relationship to the body of Christ. Also, my counseling involved helping people make wise choices in their lives.

During those years I visited people in the lock up wards of most of the mental hospitals in our area. I had ministered to so many troubled people that one time when I went to the largest lockup ward in our county, I knew three of the patients personally.

Secret Spiritual Laws

During those years of believing the warfare worldview, I noticed that the same people kept having the same problems. As part of my study to fine tune my approach I read a book written by a famous Christian that claimed to be given to him by divine revelation. In the book he said that there are spiritual laws that govern the spirit world. One of these has to do with “passivity.” Demons are able, according to him, to move in and take over when a person has a passive will.5 For a long time I incorporated this “truth” into my counseling, figuring that passivity was why these people kept falling back into demonic bondage. I worked out techniques for people to use to strengthen their passive wills so that the demons would no longer be able to influence them. I no longer believe that what I was doing is valid.

This type of teaching is still around. Bob Larson writes, “If the core of a person’s identity is strong willed, it seems harder for a demon to take over, no matter what that person does.”6 In this scheme of things, the human will is crucial: “I always tell those bound by demons to call upon that small portion of their will that is not dominated by the devil.”7

The problem I saw was this: “passive” people seemed to be not strong willed by nature — no process changed that. They continued to feel oppressed by demons and lamented their inability to overcome “passivity.” At the time I did not realize that by telling people their will had to be stronger, I was throwing gas on the fire. The warfare worldview had led me so far astray that I did not see the relevance of the simplest of Scriptures, “blessed is the man who trusts in God . . . cursed is the man who trusts in man” (Jeremiah 17: 5, 7). According to the theory I taught, the “spiritual law” of the universe is such that passive wills get demonized, even if one is a Christian. To keep free one must gain a strong will. A person could not trust God for freedom unless the person had a strong enough will; otherwise God’s hands were tied by the spiritual law He had created.8 Bob Larson writes, “The will of the victim is the spiritual battleground on which the war of exorcism is fought. The slightest reluctance can mean defeat.”9 So where is our hope — in our own will? Larson says of one of his clients, “Her initial unwillingness to admit what happened gave the demons legal grounds for remaining.”10

Evidently we need a spiritual “lawyer” to figure out the spiritual contracts of the universe by which the demons operate, and the laws that apply. In the warfare worldview the battle is between humans and wicked spirits. The humans are at a huge disadvantage because the spirits have been navigating the spirit world for thousands of years and only they know all the “rules.” The exorcist must query the demons to find out needed information and then beat them at their own rules. Bob Larson forces demons to tell him the truth under threat of being punished by angels and sent to the pit (I had never thought of that strategy when I was a deliverance counselor). Having done so, he makes the demons tell him what he needs to know to deliver the person. He gives this advice to those who would do exorcism: “Someone should be designated to keep a log of the information received while interrogating the demons. As the internal structure of the victim’s demonic system is revealed, list the spirits according to their ranking, cite their right and occasion of entry, and note their legal ground for remaining.”11 How do we know this in reliable? — “The demons will be forced to give you this information because they must submit to the name of Jesus and His authority.”12

When I believed the warfare worldview and did exorcisms, I believed that what I was doing was valid because the reality of demons manifesting themselves was so vivid and people were being set free in the name of Jesus. There were many who felt much better after the sessions. They came in miserable and left our ministry session with a sense of love and freedom. So I believed they were being helped. I do not doubt the sincerity of Bob Larson and others like him, nor do I doubt the reality of the stories.  What I am questioning is whether the worldview that under girds their ministry is Biblical. Is it true that there is a whole unseen legal world that governs demons and other levels of Satan’s hierarchy that must be discovered and exploited to gain victory over Satan? Is it true that we need trained exorcists who have this knowledge in order to see captives freed? Later I will tell you how my ministry changed for good when I came to doubt the premises that provided the basis for what I was doing.

Secret Knowledge and Deliverance

Those who hold to the warfare worldview claim that knowledge about Satan, his emissaries, and their hierarchical structure is important in winning the battle. This is true on all levels, from battling principalities over nations to casting demons out of individuals. For example, when I was in this movement we were seeking to purchase property in one of the suburbs here in the Twin Cities. Because of difficulties with the purchase, we decided to hold an all night intercessory meeting. During the middle of the night, someone got a revelation that a principality called “Manitou” was ruling over the city, keeping us from buying the property. This principality supposedly ruled because Native Americans had practiced their religion there at one time. So we were instructed by our leaders that we needed to cast down the spirit of Manitou over the city so that we could claim it for God. The successful finishing of the purchase “proved” that our prayers had been effective which consequently reinforced the idea that we needed special revelations to cast down principalities over cites.

When one holds the warfare worldview such practices make all the sense in the world. Everything one wants to accomplish is tied up in the complex interaction of curses, demons, principalities, and the legalities that control the spirit world. There is no part of life that does not operate in this realm. Individual exorcism is the micro level of the battle, cities and nations the macro level. On every level it is necessary to gain knowledge if one wants to win battles. The necessary knowledge is usually the names of demons or principalities, the nature of the curse invoked, or the structure of the spiritual hierarchy in Satan’s kingdom. Bob Larson tells about performing an exorcism when one of the demons was away on another mission and had been missed during the procedure.13 He learned to “lock out” these demons. Larson writes: “If I had ended the procedure prematurely, I would never have known about this spirit, and he would have come back later.”14

One might ask what role God plays in the warfare worldview. The answer is that He commissions us to the battle, equips us for the battle, and gives us the tools we need. God gives the exorcist knowledge and power for battle. However, it is up to the exorcist to use his toolbox to cast out the demons. The exorcist must use the tools properly or the demons will stay. For example, Larson tells how he taught a pastor why demons kept coming back: “You probably never found the gatekeeper demon. It didn’t matter how many demons you cast out, they don’t have to go to the pit because the gatekeeper kept the door open for them to return.”15 The arrangement and locations of the spirits are determined by the knowledge and ability of the exorcist. Larson claims the right to assign demons to the pit if he does everything right.

What we must keep in mind is that the information needed to do effective spiritual warfare according to the warfare worldview is not revealed. What I mean is that it is neither found in God’s specific revelation (the Bible) nor in general revelation (what may legitimately be learned about the creation using our natural senses and rational mind). The knowledge that is required is secret knowledge. God has not revealed the names of demons over nations, cities, neighborhoods, or in demonized persons. The only source of such information is from some other type of revelation, either extra biblical divine revelation or revelation gained from demons themselves. Those who hold to the warfare worldview believe that it is their role to gain this knowledge and use it in the battle. Since the knowledge is “secret” it is of the realm of the occult. They have to somehow justify gaining forbidden knowledge in the name of helping the victims of evil spirits.

Spiritual “Geek Squad”

In our city there is a company called “The Geek Squad” which will come to your home or place of business and solve your computer problems. They are very good at what they do and fix most hardware or software problems promptly. The reason they can do so is that they understand the nature of computers and computer software. They have technical knowledge. How is this possible? It is possible because humans created computers. Detailed manuals are available or computers can be reverse engineered by experts. Having complete knowledge of a computer is possible because computers are human creations.

The problem with the warfare worldview is that it has created the perceived need for a “Geek Squad” for souls. Not only must the demons and curses that are affecting the person be understood in detail, but the human soul must be also. The complex relationship between all the spiritual factors affecting the person and the nature and inclination of his or her soul, must be discerned and diagnosed by a skilled spiritual “technician” (they call themselves counselors) who can do the proper “fix.”  Computers are complex, but they are exponentially simpler than the human soul and the spiritual world it inhabits.

For example, consider Bob Larson’s description of his ministry to a person in bondage. The person in question had numerous “alters” (multiple personalities) as well as demonic bondage. This person with “dissociative identity disorder” had a demon called “Gatekeeper” who kept letting demons back in after they had been cast out.16 Larson describes the causes of such disorders and how he learned to speak to different identities within a person.17 He was dealing with a person who had alternate personalities called “Facilitator” and “Regulator.” Larson theorized that in this person demons could possess an “alter.” 18 Larson explains:

In the realm of multiple personalities, there are good alters and bad alters. Good alters are the part of the person’s consciousness that has acknowledged Christ as Savior. Bad, alters, for one reason or another, refuse to make that spiritual surrender.19

This complex situation leads to this task for the spiritual technician: “Our task is to sort through the maze to gain the assistance of the good alters. Then we can attempt to win the bad alters to God.”20 Larson proceeded to have the alternate personality within his client help him identify the “dark ones” and went through an incredibly complex task of sorting out the demons and “alters” within this person. He even leads “Facilitator” to Christ.21 Larson uncovers hidden memories, legal ground that the demons had, and the names of obscure demons.22 This is one prayer he used to help the victim find freedom: “I command that angels of God search out and torment the spirit of pain. I bind Pain to Regulator the demon, and command that both of them experience all the torment they’ve put on Randall. I increase that torment seven times greater.”23

The complexity of this process is mind-boggling. How can we be sure we are talking to demons, alters, or a real person? How does one know that a person can be saved but some of his alter egos still need to accept Christ? Do we really have authority to command angels to torment demons so that they will decide to leave? The problem, in my opinion, is that the complexity Larson is describing is actually under estimating the complexity of the bondage and neediness of the human soul. The reason there can be no ultimately successful “Geek Squad” for souls is found in the difference between computers and humans. Computers were created by man, souls are created by God. Only God truly knows the heart of man. Only God knows the details of the spirit world and its interaction with the human soul.

The Bible tells us why no human spiritual technician can solve the problems of the inner person: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind” (Jeremiah 17:9, 10a).  That only God knows the heart is a claim found throughout the Bible.24 Those holding to the warfare worldview see a pressing necessity to train a cadre of spiritual technicians who can free human souls from the complex psycho-spiritual situation that torments them. These technicians by whatever name they are given must rely on techniques and knowledge that are not revealed in the Bible. Furthermore, they must gain information about human souls, secret curses, hidden or forgotten memories, demons, names of demons, relationships between demons, relationships between alter identities within a soul, and relationships between demons and alter identities. All of this is probably just the tip of the iceberg. The “Geek Squad” for souls has no reverse engineering capabilities, no detailed record of the process by which a soul came to be, and no objective tools for examining the soul and the spirit world it inhabits.

Not only this, but the spirit entities that they interview to gain information share at least one attribute with their leader Satan — they are liars. This does not stop the priests of the warfare worldview from interrogating demons for secrets. For example, Bob Larson tells this story:

Step by step I cornered the adversary until he could no longer resist. Before his final doom was pronounced, the demon looked at me quizzically. “Who taught you the rules?” he asked curiously. “What do you mean by that?” I asked. “The spiritual rules that determine what we can and can’t do. Someone from our side must have taught you. I’ve never met anyone who knows the rules as well as you do.”25

It seems to me that if this warfare worldview is true and the claims of its technical “priesthood” are true, then we are all in very serious trouble with no clear way out. One must interview demons for years to figure out the “rules” since the information necessary to deal with them is neither revealed in Scripture nor accessible by any ordinary means.

In my case I was to run out of energy in trying to “tweak” the details of the warfare worldview to make it work. I would find out that what was necessary was a conversion to an entirely different view of the world God has created and governs. This conversion changed me from a spiritual technician to a gospel preacher. The rest of this article will describe how that happened.

Read the rest here.

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This entry was posted in Berean Research Articles, New Age, New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), Occult and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to How Deliverance Ministries Lead People to Bondage

  1. Sonja says:

    Thank you for posting this article. This article was extremely important in my quest to make sense of the mess I was in! A must read for everyone who is involved in deliverance ministry.

    Like

  2. JM says:

    Thank you so much for posting this article! When the enemy of our souls can’t get in the front door–he uses the back door–and always because he exploits our common weaknesses. The enemy always makes what is simple more complex with the intent to put space between us and our God and us and His Word. It is all about keeping us in bondage or putting us back in bondage.

    I remember a book title that went something like, “Everything I ever needed to know I learned Kindergarten.” Pulling from that idea, everything we ever needed to know about discernment or spiritual warfare is likely learned by Eve’s short exchange with the serpent in the Garden of Eden. The serpent’s approach to make Eve fall is the same one used throughout the centuries. “Did God say?” , and, “You shall be like God.” It’s all there. It is the foundation of all the cults and aberrations. The enemy causes us to either question God’s Word (or think it needs to be supplemented)–or he subtly uses something to feed our flesh (ego) without us really seeing it. DeWaay does an excellent job of showing this process. These Deliverance ministries use a lot of so-called “Scripture-based” extra-biblical information to justify what they do. (In reality it questions God’s Word). Further, when he allowed the woman to speak, relaying a message from a lying spirit that tried to make DeWaay believe he was more special and more feared, it appealed to the flesh. When Jesus cast out demons, He didn’t always allow them to speak and it was for good reason–they lie. To his great credit, DeWaay has written an article that should help people who are still in bondage to that convoluted way of thinking and viewing Scripture. Praise God that there is only one mediator between God and man–Christ Jesus. He said the truth will set us free. I hope those that need to will see this and be set free.

    Like

  3. Mike says:

    Excellent! Thank you!

    Like

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