Biblical Archaeology Review 33:1, January/February 2007

Strata: The Bible in the News

By Leonard J. Greenspoon

When Jesus appointed his apostles, they were (in the words of Mark 3:15) “to have authority to cast out demons,” as Jesus himself was able to do. Today, as reported in the popular press, there are those who believe they have such power, others who have doubts and still others who egregiously misuse and abuse this New Testament doctrine.

As part of “the power and vitality of the Christian movement in Africa,” it is reported that “Christian ministers in Zimbabwe are regularly casting out demons and bringing healing, stability and comfort to people of all ages.”

Wayne W. Bos, writing in Alberta’s Red Deer Express, provides a graphic firsthand account of his role as an exorcist “under the auspices of ‘Do What Jesus Did’”: “The anointing oil drips from my right index finger as I sign the cross upon a woman’s forehead. The demons scream and yell ‘nooooooo’ and shake her head.” For Bos, “witchcraft” is synonymous with a demon, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series constitutes “one of the fiercest promotions of witchcraft.” Equally memorable is this description of demons by “full-time exorcist” Sharon Seevinck (as narrated in The Salt Lake Tribune): “If a house has a cockroach in it, the house is not possessed by that cockroach. I see demons as irritations, squatters that are not supposed to be there.”

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