In his books, Fred Dickason argues that Christians can be demon possessed. Do you agree?

I agree with most of Dickason’s book Angels Elect and Evil, but I disagree with his perspective on Christians being demon possessed.

I agree with Wayne Grudem, who says in his Systematic Theology (which I highly recommend) that “Demon Possession” is an unfortunate term. In my opinion, the confusion over the term and its meaning and implications has blurred points that Christians should be able to agree on, and has led to many disagreements that are more semantic than actual.

For instance, one Amazon reviewer of Dickason’s Demon Possession and the Christian takes issue with another reviewer: “I just have to comment on a statement made by reviewer dl moore: ‘While the Bible does contain numerous examples of the demonization and subsequent deliverance of unbelievers, there is not one example involving a believer.’ Um. Excuse me? St. Paul himself was afflicted by a demon that God (apparently) was not willing to remove (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:7) and this occurred while he was a believer.”

Well, of course, it is one thing to be AFFLICTED by a demon and quite another to be INDWELT by one. But the first reviewer doesn’t clarify what he means by “demonization” and “deliverance” and the second reviewer assumes that affliction by a demon is the same as demon possession. By failing to clarify our terms we get easily sidetracked and confused, and the debate is not helpful since we are not talking with each other, but at each other. Just so you know, I would understand “demon possession” to involve not merely influencing but actually indwelling a person.

On the question “Can a Christian be demon possessed?”, and given the understanding I expressed above of what demon possession means, my viewpoint is similar to this one (somehow I’ve lost the source reference, but I didn’t write it, I’m just basically agreeing with it):

The Bible does not specifically tell us the answer to this question. However, since a Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9-11; 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19) it would seem unlikely that the Holy Spirit would allow a demon to indwell the same person He is indwelling. We definitely recognize that this is a controversial issue. However, we strongly hold to the belief that a Christian cannot be possessed by a demon. We believe there is a sharp difference between being possessed by a demon, and being oppressed / influenced by a demon. Demon possession involves a demon having direct control over the thoughts and/or actions of a person (Luke 4:33-35; 8:27-33; Matt 17:14-18). Demon oppression / influence involved a demon or demons attacking a person spiritually and/or encouraging them into sinful behavior (1 Peter 5:8-9; James 4:7). You will notice that in all the New Testament passages dealing with spiritual warfare, we are never told to cast a demon out of a believer (Ephesians 6:10-18). We are told to resist the devil (1 Peter 5:8-9; James 4:7), not to cast him out.

It is unthinkable to me that God would allow one of His children, whom He purchased with the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19) and made into a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17)—to be possessed and controlled by a demon. Yes, as believers, we wage warfare with Satan and his demons, but not from within ourselves. 1 John 4:4 declares, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” Who is the One in us? The Holy Spirit. Who is the one in the world? Satan and his demons.

Randy Alcorn, founder of EPM

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over fifty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries

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