By Bill J
I've had some interesting experiences during my Christian life.
I was directly involved with a couple of exorcisms on people in our church. One involved a lady in her 50s who came to me for marital counseling. About the second session I'd asked her to recall some of her childhood. She told me a horrific act of child abuse perpetrated by her father. At some point she changed the subject, so I asked her to repeat something she'd said earlier. She tried to avoid my question, but I asked her again. Then she told me she didn't know what I was talking about. I wasn't sure what was happening, but I later discovered she was suffering from a dissociative disorder. She had slipped into a dissociative state and was talking to me as if she was a child again. It was fascinating, because in another session I asked her to write some of her story, and her writing was like that of a child's. I also noticed that when she was in her childlike state she took off her thick prescription glasses. I held up some printed material of varying sizes and asked her to read them. She read them from across our counseling room without the need of her glasses. When she returned to her normal age, she could not see without the glasses unless things were right in front of her.
At some point in our many sessions she made claims that her father was a satanic priest and had done horrible things to her and other people. Because of her claims I thought I should set up a meeting with our pastor and some other church leaders to come and pray for her. I asked a psychology professor from my college to join. Our pastor, the psychologist, myself, and a couple other people met to pray for her. Because of my Christian worldview at the time, I suspected my client might have a demon. When we prayed for her, a character manifested with some demonic name. It acted out and said all sorts of stuff; however, there wasn't anything supernatural, like in the movies. I really don't want to go into detail as I am embarrassed to tell anyone I ever thought this poor client of mine was demon possessed. It was also over 15 years ago, and my memory is no longer as sharp as I'd like to believe it is.
I've since attributed the exorcism to dealing with someone who had a dissociative disorder, and a bunch of people, including myself, as forcing our world view into a situation that really needed specially trained psychological care. I'm happy to say that I eventually corrected my erroneous line of thinking and changed my approach toward counseling. My client went on to complete a college degree, and last I heard, she was doing well.
I have spoken in tongues, prayed for people and watched them fall over, cry or start laughing. I was at a conference in Anaheim California where Paul Cain (alleged prophet) proclaimed that people called to serve God would experience a physical manifestation to confirm the call. I watched him call out various ministries like, pastor, teacher, and evangelist. At that time in my life, I really thought I'd been called to be a pastor. As soon as I heard the words missionary and church planter I began to cry. It was as if someone flipped a switch on my emotions. It was really strange.
I also saw a woman (Sandy) healed from deafness and cervical spondylosis right in front of my eyes. Sandy was our sign language interpreter during the service. She was mostly deaf; however, she claimed to needed two large hearing aides that she'd had since she was a child. She said she could not hear anything but tones. She also claimed to have spinal problems and occasionally used a walker or wheelchair. When she and her husband came forward for prayer, I remember thinking I should pray for her healing right there in front of the church. I began to pray for her spine. I laid hands on her back, and as I prayed for her spine, she jumped up and straightened her back. Then I felt impressed to pray for her hearing. As I was praying for her hearing, her eyes became as wide as saucers and she quickly pulled the hearing aids out of her ear (our worship team was playing in the background at the time). She said the music all of a sudden exploded in her hears as she heard music clearly for the first time. I walked behind her and asked her to repeat back what I was saying. People in the church watched in amazement as she started repeating every thing I said.
A week later, when she was at work without her walker or hearing aid, one of her co-workers gave her life to Christ as a result of Sandy's healing. Her husband was dumbfounded by the healing. You have to understand; this lady had all the trappings of someone who was mostly deaf. She had the special phone service, TV with closed caption, big hearing aids, a deaf accent and so on. It bothered me that she would not confirm the healing by going to her doctor. I asked her to, but she explained that she felt like she would be second guessing God or something like that. To this day I can not prove if she was healed. I lost touch with her about seven years ago. I have very little reason to doubt her; however, my training and life experience leads me to check and recheck the facts before I draw a conclusion. Her failure to produce confirmation from a medical professional still makes me suspicious.
Another incident, which I can not so easily explain away, involved two vivid dreams I had one night while away on military duty. The first dream was of me telling someone in my family a bunch of Bible verses, and they were just shaking their heads in agreement, but not really listening. I awoke from the dream with the strangest feeling. It was like someone was trying to communicate with me. Because it felt so different from my regular dreams, I decided to asked God if this was more than a dream.
The next night, I dreamt of the same family member, who lives in another state far from where I lived. I saw them in a restaurant with a woman other than his wife. I also felt what seemed like feelings his wife was experiencing in their marriage. When I awoke the next day I felt the same strange sensation that this was more than a dream. It was so different from my typical dreams that I eventually decided to call this person as soon as I completed my two week annual training with the National Guard. Eventually, when I returned home and had time to call him, I was tentative, but I explained what I saw and experienced in the dreams. I did not draw any conclusions for him. I just told him what I felt and what I saw. He was very quiet, but eventually told me that everything I told him was accurate. He even told me that I had described the woman and the restaurant exactly as they were. He had been contemplating having an affair with this woman, but decided that he could not go through with it.
I cannot explain away the feelings and pictures I saw in those dreams; however, neither do I draw any definite conclusions from them. My family member (whom I had the dream about) attributes it to a prophetic gift that I have. I have had other experiences; however, I can explain them away or attribute them to my perception, beliefs, or frame of mind at the time. I question the healing of the lady only because she refused to see a doctor to confirm the miracle. I doubt the exorcisms after having experienced a few cases in Southern California in the early 90’s involving false memory syndrome, multiple personality disorder diagnosis, and alleged satanic ritual abuse cases. As a result of these experiences I quickly learned how a Christian belief system can influence the perception of good people and perpetuate harm on needy people.
I really don't know where I stand today regarding God. I have many problems with Christianity, and the more I read sites likes these, or think about it, the less I want to have anything to do with it. I was just wondering if anyone else can relate to what I've written.
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Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)