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01.01.1970 01:0000    Comments: 0    Categories: You Asked (Text Files)      Tags:

You Asked...

 

(This question was submitted some time ago. If you have already received this please forgive the inconvenience. It had not been posted on the IATM web site.)

 

You asked...

I read an article published in Christianity Today, February 5, 2001. There seems to be a disagreement in what I have heard you teach in recent days concerning demons and the Christian. Can you clarify this for me?

 

Ed's response...

 

The CT article was written about five years ago. Where I was in my thinking five years ago is much different that where I am today (and I hope the same is true for you). Growing in the Christian life has much to do with expanding our thinking and growing and developing our own personal faith with the Lord. Healthy theology is an organism that is alive and growing. Theology that is stagnant is legalistic and binding and never totally without error. None of us has a corner on the truth. If this were not so, then we would not have all the splinters and fragments we proudly call denominationalism. However, the written Word of God and God Himself is constant and never changes; how we understand and live out this constancy is always on the move, dynamic and flourishing and sometime floundering. Theology is how we understand and comprehend the consistent Word of God. However, with all this said, this article was also not an accurate representation of where I was even then. As is common for media reporting, what goes to print is often very far removed from what was originally provided in the interview.

 

I was contacted by a free-lance writer asking for an interview to which I agreed. He seemed very sincere and interested in this ministry. I do not have any reason to believe his motives were anything less than honorable, but he did fail to report the information in the manner in which I was lead to believe he would. During the interview I was very clear with him that TPM was NOT a deliverance ministry per say and that we gave little attention to dealing with demons. However, during his interview he kept coming back to this issue. I should have had red flags go up then, but I was naive and actually excited that CT had shown interest in what we were doing. I have since learned the hard way not to give interviews so readily. My contemporaries in ministry have since then have given this same counsel to decline interviews when possible. I have given a few interviews since and they all have had some level of negative outcome. You tend to be misquoted or the writer has an agenda that he or she does not reveal until the article comes out in print.

 

This was unfortunate since this article did not accurately reflect the teaching of this ministry. The author misrepresented us as a deliverance ministry even after I asked him specifically not to do so. He positioned this article as though there was a controversy and put us on the side of those who look for the demon "behind every rock." Those who have taken this training realize that this is simply not so.

 

What follows is a portion of the article that addressed the demon issue:

 

CT: "Some critics fault Theophostic for its approach to the demonic. Smith teaches that demons, sometimes numbering in the hundreds, may inhabit and influence even a Christian's mind.

 

Ed: This was a misquote. I believe that demons (numbers impossible to know) influence all people in varying degrees. Demons tempt us, speak lies to our minds, oppress us in the areas of our hidden pain and deception and would love to destroy us if that were possible and do indwell some people as in the days of the New Testament. The theological question that is up for debate is whether Christians can have a demon living inside of them or not.

 

CT: "These demons often work to keep people enslaved to what Smith calls the "lie-based thinking" causing their pain."

 

Ed: I do teach that demons may be at work in the life of the person, operating in the area of the person's lie-based thinking. However, I do NOT teach that demons are the root cause of people's problems or even the primary source of one's lie-based thinking. Demons are limited to two basic things in a person's life; belief and choice. Demons cannot violate a person's will, therefore it requires the person's willful cooperation at some level in order for the demon to do what he does. This willful cooperation will be directly connected to the person's true belief. Demons are present as a result or consequence to lie-based thinking and the choices the person makes based upon this belief but demons are not the source or cause of people's problems.

 

CT: "He teaches that these demons have to be expelled for a client to see full relief."

 

Ed: This is misinformation and not taught at all by this ministry. This ministry teaches that if a person's problem is lie-based then such lies must be exposed and replaced with truth before freedom comes and if there is a demonic presence it will lose its hold once the lies are dealt with. The demon is never made to be the target nor is exorcism the primary solution in a TPM session. I teach that most demon issues are immediately resolved once the lies are exposed and replaced with truth. If there is no deception then there is any ground for the demon to stand upon.

 

CT: "While some evangelical theologians believe that Christians can fall under the strong influence of demons, few would agree with Smith that hundreds of demons can inhabit a believer."

 

[Ed: (Once again the number "hundreds" is not the issue but rather can a demon inhabit a believer.) This is a question that is being debated by many biblical scholars from both sides. I am at a much different place today than I was five years ago. I have not come to a clear position (and may never) concerning this issue but I am looking at it from both positions and from both what I understand to be a biblical viewpoint and experiential one. I personally do not see a strong biblical argument for either side. However, both sides believe that it does exist. Some are "convinced and determined" in their position. I respect this but just simply cannot go there with them; either side. I am in transition.

 

CT: Millard Erickson teaches at Truett Seminary in Waco and is the author of Christian Theology, a standard work on systematic theology from a broadly evangelical perspective. Erickson says Scripture is silent on whether Christians can be possessed by demons. "I am concerned about [any] approach that sees demons behind every rock," he adds.

 

[Ed: I agree and teach this as well.]

 

CT: "Smith is undeterred. "The primary distinction between those who believe that Christians can be inhabited with demons and those who do not is simply lack of experience," he says.

 

[Ed: It is true that I did hold this view five years ago as did many people doing intense inner healing ministry, but today I am undecided and listening to the debate. There is no question in my mind that some emotionally wounded Christians do display what clearly looks like demonic inhabitation. I have had this experience many times during a ministry session. In these cases I did not do anything to elicit this or encourage this; it just happened. I have watched people that I know who appear to be Spirit-filled, Jesus loving people manifest what look just like a demonic presence. I try to explain this in the 2005 edition of the Basic Seminar Manual. However, I really cannot say for certain what is actually happening in these cases. I believe that they appear to be demonic, but I cannot say if the demon is actually inside or a deception thereof. I do believe that it is not necessary to know one way or the other since I still deal with the demonic presence in the same fashion as before; focusing on the person's belief and choice as oppose to the demon itself.

 

My question today to both sides of the debate is, "can a believer be deceived to the degree that a demon can create a manifestation that appears to be inner working, but is actually accomplished from outside of the person. I believe that this is possible. To just dismiss this as non-existent is invalid and an unwillingness to look at people's real life experiences. This phenomenon does exist and thus requires our attention and honest discussion. I am very open to dialoging with people who are willing to consider all possibilities and who are not deeply entrenched to one way of thinking. I am uncomfortable with anyone who demands this theological debate be strongly stated either way. My teaching today has moved a long way from the warfare model I once held and focuses on helping people identify the falsehood they believe as opposed to the demons they may be housing. I view the demon as a symptom of deception and not a root cause. If you have serious interest in knowing what I teach today concerning demons and the believer you are encouraged to obtain a copy of the new 2005 edition of the Basic Theophostic Prayer Ministry Manual.

 

Bottom line, I am glad that you asked for clarification rather than just assuming that since it was in print (CT) then it must be accurate. I am amazed how many people read a quote on the Internet and assume that it is accurate without ever going to the primary source to see if it is so. I encourage each of you to be faithful to do this.

 

I hope that this helps,

 

Ed Smith

 
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