Anglican theologian: The lectionary reading for Trinity 1, Year C, is Luke’s version of Jesus meeting and healing the demon-possessed man in the ‘region of the Gerasenes’ (Luke 8.26–39). The account occurs in all three Synoptic gospels; in Mark (the shortest gospel) the story is in the longest and most detailed version; Matthew 8.28–34 is the shortest, and just includes the main points in summary; here in Luke, the story is only a little bit shorter than in Mark, and Luke includes much of the detail…continued
Gary: What I find odd is that in the Synoptics Jesus seems to find demons in every nook and cranny…yet not one mention of demon possession is found in the Gospel of John! I guess demonology did not fit with the theme of John’s gospel. It is also odd how prevalent demon possession appears to have been in the time of Jesus, but I can’t remember the last time my local Anglican priest cast out a demon!
Anglican theologian: That’s an interesting observation, and one that I think has been made before. Worth making some responses. First, all the gospels are selective, so in some ways it seems odd to us that any omit anything e.g. why do the synoptics not mention Lazarus? (There is a simple literary/geographical explanation.) Second, it is clear that some things we would explain in other ways are accounted for by demon possession. That is not a sceptical comment, merely noting that the gospels were written in a pre-scientific world. Thirdly, I think it is fair to say that the average parish priest does not represent the eschatological breaking in of the kingdom of God to quite the degree that the ministry of Jesus does. Therefore it is perhaps not surprising that the Evil One is not so stirred to action. Having said that, every C of E [Church of England] diocese has someone responsible for deliverance ministry, and friends of mine have been directly involved in this.
Gary: I did a little research on the subject of exorcisms and discovered this: Exorcisms in the ENTIRE Church of England are “rare”. See this quote from an Anglican newspaper, dated January 17, 2017:
“EXORCISM might be an activity with obvious appeal to the makers of horror films, but it is not a word that crops up much in conversation about deliverance ministry in the Church of England. The need for major exorcisms is rare, the Archbishops’ Adviser for the Healing Ministry, the Revd Dr Beatrice Brandon, says.”
If we only judged the prevalence of demon possession by the statistics of the Church of England, your suggestion that demon possession was much more prevalent during Jesus’ ministry due to the impending introduction of the “Kingdom”, would appear reasonable. However, as you are aware, Anglicans are not the only Christians on the planet today. If one searches Pentecostal literature, one finds that demon possession is still RAMPANT—all over the world! (See here) Entire crowds have been exorcised of demons by Pentecostal preachers, according to these sources. And what’s more, according to these Pentecostal sources, exorcisms in Latin America, Africa, and Asia are MUCH more prevalent than in the United States.
Isn’t it odd that demon possession, now and during the time of Jesus, seems to be much more prevalent among the uneducated, the ignorant, and the highly superstitious? Maybe the reason why so many Pentecostal clergy have exorcised MANY demons, but my local Anglican priest has never exorcised a single demon in his entire pastoral career is because all of his Anglican parishioners are educated, upper-middle/upper class people with sensible heads on their shoulders; people who would never jump up during a mass begging to have “Bob” the demon cast out of him or her?
End of post.