A British think tank has released a new report detailing that exorcisms are on the rise in the U.K., while also warning that there’s a major need to further assess the associated implications.
“Perhaps the most contentious aspect of thinking about Christian attitudes to mental health is the degree to which attention is given to the possibility of demonic possession,” reads a report from Theos, a faith and culture think tank. “Certainly there is a biblical warrant for the dangers of demonic forces, and Jesus’ great commission to the disciples includes the explicit command to ‘cast out demons.’ However, there is also need for serious caution.”
Considering that exorcisms are now reportedly “booming” in the U.K. — something driven, in part, by immigrant communities as well as Pentecostal church practices — the report cautioned that there’s a potential for “Christian over-spiritualizing,” creating a situation in which people who are mentally ill are not seeking appropriate treatment and are, instead, only looking at spiritual remedies.
The document details a number of considerations amid increases in exorcisms and questions whether there is any overlap between mental health symptoms and what happens when people are presumably possessed. In the end, though, the main fear is what happens if and when the incorrect treatment is doled out.
The report also notes some biblical accounts of possession symptoms that seem to mirror those associated with mental illness. In Mark 5:4-5, a man is seen self-harming and is unable to be restrained, though other examples appear to show physical impacts such as blindness and the like.
Clearly, questions remain as to when and how often spiritual issues are truly at play.
“If Christians start treating people with mental health issues as if they are possessed when they are not, they run the risk of doing very serious harm,” the report reads.
While not discounting the potential of exorcisms, the report urged caution in how the issue is approach, noting that medical assistance should be sought when needed for both physical and mental problems. “Caution,” according to the document, is urged.
The document recommends that a biblical approach be taken to mental health, that researchers analyze how the exorcism scene is potentially conflicting with attempts to help alleviate these issues and that professionals get involved to help Christians avoid the problems that can come from “over-spiritualizing.”
(H/T: Charisma News)