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Bible Studies/belief and practice of exorcism and discernment of spirits


QUESTION: I heard that some catholic and Charismatic protestant Christians have psychic like ability to distinguish god's holy spirit from demons. They claim that they can see whether the spirit inside a christian is really of god or not. They also practice exorcism. is discernment of spirits really accurate. is it accepted and practiced in mainstream Christianity? are you familiar with this kind of practice? are there such thing as good and evil spirits? is exorcism that practice in catholic and charismatic church for real?
can spirits really possess human body?

ANSWER: Things as discernment of spirits is part of charismatic belief and practice, both Catholic and Protestant
 This is because of their teaching on the operation of spiritual gifts, which includes discernment of spirits. They believe demonic spirits are real.  Don Bas.ham wrote Deliver Us from Evil which details these beliefs.  Hal Lindsey wrote Satan is Alive on Planet Earth.  Charismatics may exhibit psychic-like abilitites, but they do not see them as psychic.  It is the spirit.  It's hard to say if demonic spirits are real.  I'd say there are low-level spirits or those with problems. See The Unquiet Dead by Edith Fiore.  I'm not sure there are spirits who are purely demonic.  After all, God created all life.  There are souls in need of redemption.  

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QUESTION: do religions other than Christianity( such as spiritualism and new age movement) practice something similar to discernment of spirits ( psychic ability to perceive or recognize spirits of different levels)? Do people from different cultural or religious background who have spiritual gift ( or psychic ability) have different perception of a same spiritual world?(for example,the earthbound spirits is considered to be demons or fallen angels by charismatic Christians. also, Catholic saints are considered to be demons by more conservative Christians ) do different people with same  spiritual gift see the spiritual world different ways corresponding to their pre-existent beliefs?

ANSWER: Religions have various views of spirits.  The Chinese have ancestral veneration, which is about spirits and contacting them.  In religions as Santeria (which is influenced by Catholicism), there are orishas, which are like guardian angels.  Not all religions see spirits as demons
or as evil.  Christians, typically, do not contact the dead and consider that sinful.  The reason, I suppose, is that spirits take the place of God.  Contemporary Christian theologians do not believe in spirits at all and many do not believe in life after death.  Such would see something like "demon possession" as a mental disorder.

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QUESTION: how exactly discernment of spirits work in charismatic denominations? Do they learn to obtain ability of discernment of spirits or they automatically have it after baptism? do the people have such ability literally see the spirits or do they  use intuition to perceive the spirits?
do they literally see and recognize appearance of  spirits (like angels and devils in christian arts)or do they channel the energy of the spirits and interpret their energy while not actually see the spirits?

I don't know how discernment of spirits works, except that it is a gift of the Spirit.  It may work differently with different people.  I have heard people say that they have seen demons.  It is probable that, biblically, discerning of spirits is less demons and more about false teachings.  I, personally, do not believe in demons and do not think one should be concerned with them.  Such "demons" may be mental illness and, in such a case, something like exorcism or "casting out spirits" is quite archaic or even dangerous.  Such cases likely have psychological or medical causes.  Joel

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Joel Bjorling


I can answer general questions about the Bible and offer guidance in Bible study resources.


I have education in Bible from Oral Roberts University, as well as an MA from McCormick Theological Seminary. I have written several articles on Bible study topics. I am an ordained, nondenominational minister.

Articles in journals of the Foundation for Biblical Research, Personal Freedom Outreach, and Restoration Research

BA, Oral Roberts University, Behavioral Science (included courses in the Bible and theology) MA, McCormick Theological Seminary Further study, Garrett-Evangelical Theological School Further study, Moody Bible Institute, Christian education

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