The Reluctant Exorcist: A biblical approach in an age of scepticism
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IN THIS book, Canon Ken Gardiner seeks to share his long experience in the ministry of deliverance and writes from the point of view of someone within the Charismatic Evangelical tradition. The reader can, however, be assured that the author does not see demons everywhere, or exorcise everything that moves. He writes: “Of the cases referred to me, far more required counselling or medical treatment than deliverance.”
The book is not an academic study, but an account of ministry by an experienced member of a diocesan deliverance-ministry team, although he does reflect theologically, and also speculates about issues, including Freemasonry, psychic gifts, and alternative medicine.
Gardiner has a literal biblical view of the existence of demons, and is at pains to point out the dangers of involvement in the occult, which he sees as accounting for a great deal of demon possession. “Senior” demons are described as being accompanied by lesser demons who try to put the exorcist off the scent, and also as being like naughty children who need to be taken by surprise.
While reservations are expressed about traditional liturgy and ritual, it is noticeable that the author uses some of his own, including formulae for demons to depart, the use of the sign of the cross, and holding a Bible over the head of a disturbed person.
I would commend this book to those who are involved in the ministry of deliverance primarily because it contains many interesting cases involving both people and places, and describes how Gardner ministered to them. It may be that others would have ministered differently, or might have alternative explanations for what was taking place.
Nevertheless, what shines through in this book are two important lessons in deliverance ministry. First, good pastoral care is paramount, because people may not always remember what you said or did, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Second, Christ has triumphed over evil, and it is in his strength alone that we minister.
If the title of this book sounds familiar, it is because it was first published in 2002. The author concedes that the amendments to the original text are minimal.
The Rt Revd Dominic Walker OGS is a former Bishop of Monmouth and is Co-chairman of the Christian Deliverance Study Group.