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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Is Childhood Psychopathology Rooted in Demonic Infestation?





This posting is in response to an important and widely noted article in the Atlantic Monthly by Barbara Bradley Hagertey, “When Your Child is a Psychopath.” [1] It is a depressing read.  It describes not only serious psychopathic and criminal behaviors (as in attempted murder) in very young children, but the tireless and fatiguing efforts of good parents to stop such behaviors and raise these children as morally normal – all to no avail.

I will proceed by first summarizing the article, then adding my own discernment and specifically Christian commentary to include suggestions of actions and prayers that Christians can take to help heal and prevent the development of psychopathic children.

Summary:

“When Your Child is a Psychopath” begins with the story of Samantha, an eleven-year-old who is now consigned to a treatment center where she is receiving intense treatment. As a six-year-old she practiced murder by decapitating her stuffed animals, and loved drawing the implements o murder such as guns, knives and poison bottles. She almost strangled to death her 2-year-old brother. And stopped in middle of the act by her mother, she declared, “I want to kill you all.”  Samantha’s parents, both well-educated and loving, began rounds of psychiatric analysis, tests and treatment strategies for Samantha. A curious thing, common to psychopathic children, was that Samantha’s negative actions were not impulsive, but deliberate and vengeful. Once, after being mildly scolded by her mother, she went upstairs and flushed down the toilet her mother’s expensive contact lenses.

The root cause of childhood psychopathology remains undetermined. It is presently surmised that is that some cases are attributable to genetic inheritance, and some to early sever abuse and neglect.[2] Psychologists don’t like to call children “psychopaths,” which sound hopeless. They have invented the term “callous and unemotional traits” to describe these children. In 2013 this vocabulary was added as a diagnosis to the standard psychiatric manual, DSM-5. (I don’t like the term, “callous and unemotional,” as it smacks of political correctness, and hereafter will use the more direct “psychopathic children.”)

The evidence indicates that as many as 1% of children in the United States have this condition, a huge number, and equivalent to those who have severe autism. Those with these traits are at least thee times more likely to commit serious crimes end up in jail than their peers. A large percentage of the murders committed in this country are perpetrated by persons who began as psychopathic children and proceeded to adults as full psychopaths. There are now many studies from different counties on psychopathic children.  A trained psychologist can spot its early manifestations. For instance, by age three these children do not respond at all to the sounds of other children crying – it’s of no concern to them. Normal children that age already show sympathy. By eight or nine these children delight in destructive and callous behavior when alone, whereas normal children are mean or destructive mostly in the setting of peers, as in a group of kids setting off fire-crackers to harass an elderly neighbor.
There is also an intense rage and hatred seated within these children. One recovering psychopath, now in his twenties, recalled:

“I remember when I bit my mom really hard, and she was bleeding and crying. I remember feeling so happy, so overjoyed—completely fulfilled and satisfied,” … “It wasn’t like someone kicked me in the face and I was trying to get him back. It was more like a weird, hard-to-explain feeling of hatred.”[3]
Ms. Hagertey describes how modern scan technology has discovered significant differences in the brains of psychopaths and normal persons. Specifically, the limbic system, and especially the amygdala area, is underdeveloped. This is the part of the brain that processes emotions.

But most the Hagertey’s article centers on new strategies for moving the children from psychopathic mental states to a more normal moral awareness. It is done by stressing one area the psychopath’s mental condition. That is, psychopaths respond very little to punishment, but readily to rewards.
At the Medota Juvenile Detention Center in Madison, Wisconsin, which is using this insight as strategy, progress has been made in turning off the patients’ psychopathic behaviors and leading them towards a moral normal. The psychopath’s negative behaviors are largely ignored. This takes heroic virtue from the staff as the children and youths placed there are skilled at mayhem and destruction such as squirting feces and urine at the staff. But gradually the staff builds trust, and begins to reward positive behaviors (and lack of negative behaviors) with such things as video game privileges, or baseball cards. Over the long term this strategy seems to work, at least for some. It is however immensely costly, as the Mendota center is manned with three time the staff a normal juvenile center of its size.

Hagertey’s article ends by tracing the life of one youth who transited from a psychopath to a semi-normal person, and in fact, became a successful undertaker. Ironically, as she flew to California to interview him, he had regressed and was arrested for abusing his wife.

Christian Commentary:

I believe that psychopathic children could be helped towards normal moral sensitivity by exorcism/deliverance ministry. In one of my earliest blog posting I shared that I had experience in dispersing the voices of patients suffering from “negative hallucinations” that are common to schizophrenics. I did so by exorcism, by commanding the voice entities (demons) to leave in the name of Jesus.[4] I can make no such claim regarding psychopathic children as I have not had the opportunity to minister to any – but I am certainly open to do so.

But I am speaking as an Anglican priest with exorcism experience and one who has read widely into the literature of exorcism and the demonic.[5]  As I read the quote cited above of the person who recalled the delight in biting his mother, I understood that to be a demonic thought pattern, not a human one.

Recently, when I shared the Hagertey article with my Facebook friends and suggested that deliverance could help these children, one person immediately messaged back, “Of course not. The article plainly shows this psychopathology is a brain abnormality, not a demonic problem.”  There is a materialist-philosophical assumption present in that statement that needs to be challenged. The commentator assumes that a spirit cannot influence the physical structure of the body or brain.  That is a philosophical assumption, not an established scientific fact.

The evidence from serious exorcisms points to the fact that persons who are possessed sometimes manifest bizarre and impossible physical properties, and super-human strength.  That is, the demons directly influence the possessed person’s body. My hypothesis is that the vector of causality in psychopathic children is that an early demonic infestation hinders the normal development of the limbic system. This hypothesis could be tested by repeated deliverance ministry on multiple psychopathic children and follow-up brain scans.

Many readers are appalled by the thought that infant children could be demonically infested before they are morally responsible. But those experienced in healing and exorcism prayer can affirm that is the case.  Although the Bible does not give an explicit example of demonic infestation of infants in the womb, it does clearly show that such infants are spiritually aware and active. For example, the Gospel of Matthew recounts that when Mary came to visit Elizabeth, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb, John the Baptist, leaped in recognition of Jesus’s presence in Mary’s womb. (Luke 1:41).

The experience of exorcists and person in the inner healing ministry is that deep spiritual wounds and demonic infestation can lodge even in the womb. For instance, in inner healing prayer it is not uncommon for an adult to recall that they were unwanted in the womb because they were the “wrong” sex, or the family did not want or could not afford another child. This may result in a spirit of rejection which harasses the person until it is dislodged. Even secular sources now urge parents to talk lovingly to the developing child in the womb.[6] The Japanese are famous for being especially careful to positively influence their children while still in the womb, as in playing classical music in the house continuously. The MacNutts, a couple that have taught healing ministry to hundreds of thousands, urge parents to pray every day and speak to the developing child as soon as they are aware there is a pregnancy.[7] 



The famous healing team, Frank and Ida Mae Hammond, who produced the Pentecostal exorcism classic, Pigs in the Parlor, warned of the dangers of pre-natal demonic infestation. They described in that work several infant and child exorcisms that they have performed in their years of ministry. Possible ways of demonic infant infestation are a violent, drug-ridden home environment, fear on the part of the parents, a sudden severe fright as in a car accident, and of course any type of rejection by the parents. [8]






Resources and Present Action by the Church:

So lastly, and perhaps most importantly, how can the church minister to psychopathic children.

Most obvious, pastors and the Church as a whole need to be aware psychotic children and the possibility that such children need deliverance ministry.  Most pastors today are trained to affirm that extreme negative behaviors are psychological problems of brain disorders and should be referred out to secular psychologists or psychiatrists. They should begin considering such behaviors as diabolical in nature. Farming out a psychotic child to a psychiatrist is immensely expensive, and may in fact result in a diagnosis offering expensive treatment and medications not covered by most insurance.  An exploratory exorcism by the pastor cost nothing and may end the problem right there.[9]  This is both politically incorrect and counter to the understanding, or rather misunderstandings, of both liberal theology and cessationsits theology. Both systems underplay or completely eliminate the importance and activity of the demonic in the present world.

Church’s ministry to these children is buttressed from two angles. First, it was the ancient practice of the Church to couple baptism with exorcism ministry, and the present exorcism prayers still carried out in infant baptism by some liturgical churches. It is clear from the sources that the early Church took exorcism with utmost seriousness, and that the Catechumen (seeker) had to undergo various exorcisms before being permitted baptism.[10] The documents are unclear about infant exorcism/baptism in this early period.



Second, Liturgical churches such as the Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox churches have had a long tradition of coupling infant baptism with deliverance ministry, and some still do. For instance, up until 1969 the Catholic Church included a strong prayer of exorcism within the rite of infant Baptism which read:

I exorcise thee, unclean spirit, in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, that thou goest out and depart from this servant of God, N[ame]. For He commands Thee, accursed one, Who walked upon the sea, and stretched out His right hand to Peter about to sink. Therefore, accursed devil, acknowledge thy sentence, and give honor to the living and true God: give honor to Jesus Christ His Son, and to the Holy Spirit; and depart from this servant of God, N[ame]. because God and our Lord Jesus Christ hath vouchsafed to call him (her) to His holy grace and benediction and to the font of Baptism.[11]
That was cancelled due to the influence of Protestant Liberal Theology on the Catholic Church in the 1960s and 1970s.[12] Fortunately, the words were allowed if the parents requested them. Although that probably happened very rarely. Certainly this should be done at every infant baptism, for even in the best of families it is possible that the parents experience a sever fright or discord that could have given the demonic entrance. It would be prudent for ministers today who practice infant baptism to incorporate this or similar words of exorcism into the baptismal rite.

Most Evangelical and Pentecostal churches do not believe in infant baptism, but practice a rite of “presentation” modeled after the Biblical rite (and unfortunately never elevated to the status of sacrament in the Early Church). It is not hard to imagine incorporating word of exorcism in this ritual. Certainly the pastor would need to explain the reason, taking care not to condemn the parents in any way.

In the Episcopal and Anglican Churches infant baptism includes a litany of renouncing Satan and his works, and accept Jesus Christ as savior. This is a beautiful litany, and when I was pastor I would urge not only the god-parents, but the whole congregation to repeat the litany as a form of “renewing” their baptismal vows. But as beautiful as the litany is, it falls short of a definite exorcism. I often added to the litany my own words of exorcism, as in a simple command, “I command any evil spirit who has entered this child to depart immediately in the name of Jesus Christ.”  I never experienced protest or opposition to that.

In Summary, the evidence points to the fact that psychopathic behavior in young children may be of demonic origins. A Christian pastor should be able to minister to these children with exorcism ministry, and move toward incorporating the words of exorcism in the child and infant rites of initiation (Protestant Presentation or liturgical infant baptism). Adult baptism usually implies a period of instruction in which the pastor should discern if exorcism ministry is needed.
I invite comments on this difficult issue:




[1] Barbara Bradley Hagertey, “When Your Child is a Psychopath,” Atlantic Monthly, June 2017. The writer, Mrs. Hagertey worked as a reporter for NPR for 18 years on the legal and religious beat, and before that was a reporter for the Christian Science Monitor. She is a meticulous and celebrated journalist.  The article can be sourced HERE  An NPR interview with the authro can bee accessed HERE
[2] This writer believes what passes as genetic inheritance, such as the propensity to alcoholism, is more often a chain of generational sin that alights on the child even in the womb (Exod 20:5).
[3] Ibid.
[4] “The Demonic Factor in Mass Shootings,” Anglican Pentecostal. Posted April 25, 2013. Accessed HERE 
[5] Immediately after my re-conversion experience and exit from the occult (1976) I began research on a planned book to compare the Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical and Pentecostal traditions of exorcism. I read much of the literature then available (it has expanded considerably since) but wisely decided that I was not experienced enough to complete the work. The readings were a great assistance to me later when I pastored a Hispanic congregation in Marietta Georgia where witchcraft and curanderos were part of the background culture.  See also my first book, Past Live Visions (New York: Seabury, 1982) where I described how the Demonic manipulates visions for morally destructive purposes. As you can see, I have been on the case of the demonic for a long time, and they have reciprocated with much harassment.
[6] The classic on this is Thomas Verny’s, The Secret life of the Unborn Child (New York: Dell, 1882).
[7] Francis MacNutt, Praying for Your Unborn Child (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1988).
[8] Frank and Ida Mae Hammond, Pigs in the Parlor (Impact Books, 1973) Chapter 14 “Ministry to Children.”
[9] For examples on how to do this with sensitivity and gentleness see Ibid.
[10]Leeper, Elizabeth,  From Alexandria to Rome: The Valentinian Connection to the Incorporation of Exorcism as a Prebaptismal Rite,” Vigiliae Christianae, 44 no. 1 (March, 1990) 6-24. Leeper notes that there is no coupling of exorcism/baptism in the New Testament. But by the time of the writing of the Apostolic Tradioton (c 215) it is common.
[11] Cited from the excellent blog posting by Msgr. Charles Pope, “Should the Church Consider Reintroducing the Exorcism Prayers in the Rite of Baptism?Community in Mission. Posted Jan. 7, 2014 Accessed HERE
[12] For a personal account of how liberal Catholic theology of the 1960s devastated  many see my work, Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revival (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), chapters one and three. 
Announcements:

The noted Pentecostal scholar Dr. Jon Ruthven wrote a very positive review of my book, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal. You can access it HERE.

The book may be purchased on Amazon, either print or inexpensive Kindle HERE 






Just released is my first book of  plays. Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts). It includes two plays and their postscripts.

The play, “One Day at St. John’s” depicts what everyday life can be like in a church that practices the gifts of the Spirit and the healing/exorcism ministry as normal. Among the events that occur in the course of the play are the healing of a waitress who was scalded with hot coffee, an exorcism (led by a layman) and the “laying of a ghost” to rest.

Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts) can be purchased HERE at Amazon.

The second play, “Joseph ben Jacob,” explores Joseph, husband of Mary, as the dream interpreter, master carpenter, and father of Mary’s other children. It helps explain why Joseph was able to discern correctly his dream about Mary’s first-born.

The postscripts examine the controversial aspects of the plays and focus on two false early gospels which distorted the meaning of the true Gospels. The “Proto-Gospel of James” claimed that Mary was “every virgin” and never had other children, and the “Gospel of Nicodemus” cancelled the true meaning of Jesus’ “descent into Hell” and his ministry there as described in 1 Peter 3 & 4



Watching God Work: The Stuff of Miracles by [DeArteaga, Carolyn Koontz]

My wife has written a funny and inspiring story of how she transited from a cessionist and Baptist to a Spirit-filled Believer. The book has many stories of our three decades of ministry together.  It may be purchased HERE.







Thursday, May 11, 2017

Why Agnes Sanford and Her Companions is a valuable resource for Christians

A Facebook buddy from the West Coast and fellow blogger, Dr. Cameron Jackson, asked me to describe to her readers why my book "Agnes Sanford and her Companions" is an important resource for the Christian. Here is what I wrote. I believe it would interest many:


William L. De Arteaga. Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2015). 

Reviewed for Dr. Cameron Jackson by the author

This is my fourth published work, of which Quenching the Spirit (1992,1996) was my most remembered one. That book was instrumental in shielding the Charismatic movement from ill-informed attacks by Dave Hunt in his Seduction of Christianity (1984), to wit that the whole movement was nothing but heresy.

I also believe that Agnes Sanford and her Companions to be my best work. This is partly because I did not have to spend much time on “defense,” and could thus deal with several mega-issues that impact every Christian’s maturity and effectiveness.

The first is the issue of the importance of history in giving the Christian wisdom in his/her spiritual walk. Have you noticed how many historical books there are in the Bible? Some even repeat themselves, as in the Gospels and the book of Israel’s history (Kings, Chronicles). God is showing that attention to historical trends and details is important. I pointed this out Quenching the Spirit when I showed that the phenomenon of churchmen opposing revival and the gifts of the Spirit is a recurring element in Christian history.

The first chapters of Agnes Sanford and her Companions deal with the history of why healing prayer and the gifts of the Sprit, which are normal and normative to the New Testament, “went missing” after a few hundred years. This was mostly due to one variety or another of cessationism, that is, the belief that the gifts of the Spirit and healing stopped after the death of the Apostles (Or in the Catholic version, are reserved only for the very holy saints).  They are still some churches that believe in cessationsim. The popular radio Bible commentator John MacArthur is of this stripe. For those of you who have friends who follow MacArthur in this destructive idea (heresy?), my book will provide both insight into how this awful theology got established in the Church, and much documentation as to why it is and has always been bogus.

The second mega-issue deals with science and its relationship to the Christian. Like historical knowledge, some attention to science and the scientific method greatly enhance the Christian’s spiritual maturity. I demonstrate this in the life of Agnes Sanford (and also Glenn Clark, her mentor). Mrs. Sanford began her quest for knowledge about healing prayer there was NO information on that in the main-line denominations.  They were captive to cessationism and thus believed healing prayer to be improper to the Christian (amazing, isn’t it?) Mrs. Sanford had to look to unconventional sources, probe and experiment in order to properly understand and confirm the Biblical evidence on the laying on of hands, command prayer, etc.  The methodology she used was basically scientific, sans the jargon of science, and missing some later refinements such as double-blind testing.

On a practical level of the current healing ministry, I weave into the narrative of Mrs. Sanford’s story very effective ways of healing prayer, some of which have fallen into disuse and need to be recovered. For instance, nowadays inner healing prayer is mostly done by trained specialist or counselors.  But Mrs. Sanford began inner healing began as a prayer of Holy Communion intercession for others. That is something any Christian can do without special training. Other accounts of her healing ministry, as for instance how she reversed the fatal heart attack of a neighbor, are very useful for every Christian to know and be able to apply.

 Again, Agnes’ “nature prayers,” as in praying against storms, models something that all Christians should know about and do as the situations arise.  Although there are many recorded instances of stilling storms, and other nature prayers in the lives of saints and heroes of the Church, her work, Creation Waits was the FIRST book ever to discuss this as a normal and repeatable ministry and duty of Christians.

Thus Agnes Sanford and her Companions, would be a great help to most Christians in both reaching a higher level of Christian maturity, and enabling Christians to minister healing more effectively to those around them. I intended the work as both a resource for scholars and encouragement to the layperson.  It has hundreds of footnotes where “further information” can be sought, but the text itself is plainly written so the lay person will have little difficulty in understanding the text and appropriating its lessons.

Blessings to all of you, and I hope you read this work and are blessed, informed and encouraged by it.


 Announcements:

The noted Pentecostal scholar Dr. Jon Ruthven wrote a very positive review of my book, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal. You can access it HERE.

The book may be purchased on Amazon, either print or inexpensive Kindle HERE 






Just released is my first book of  plays. Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts). It includes two plays and their postscripts.

The play, “One Day at St. John’s” depicts what everyday life can be like in a church that practices the gifts of the Spirit and the healing/exorcism ministry as normal. Among the events that occur in the course of the play are the healing of a waitress who was scalded with hot coffee, an exorcism (led by a layman) and the “laying of a ghost” to rest.

Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts) can be purchased HERE at Amazon.

The second play, “Joseph ben Jacob,” explores Joseph, husband of Mary, as the dream interpreter, master carpenter, and father of Mary’s other children. It helps explain why Joseph was able to discern correctly his dream about Mary’s first-born.

The postscripts examine the controversial aspects of the plays and focus on two false early gospels which distorted the meaning of the true Gospels. The “Proto-Gospel of James” claimed that Mary was “every virgin” and never had other children, and the “Gospel of Nicodemus” cancelled the true meaning of Jesus’ “descent into Hell” and his ministry there as described in 1 Peter 3 & 4



Watching God Work: The Stuff of Miracles by [DeArteaga, Carolyn Koontz]

My wife has written a funny and inspiring story of how she transited from a cessionist and Baptist to a Spirit-filled Believer. The book has many stories of our three decades of ministry together.  It may be purchased HERE.











Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Review of "Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays



I have been blessed by a positive and lovely review on my anthology of plays by Mr. John Ballard. It has been published in the current issue of Pneuma Reveiw. 

Here is what he wrote:

Those who only know Bill DeArteaga from his scholarly work will find this little book, less than 150 pages, to be a delightful romp. Unlike his columns in Pneuma Review or previously published books These two scripts are a breath of fresh air.


Here are two unrelated plays suitable for parish wannabe actors. Both, in the church drama tradition, are entertaining and didactic, in that order. Following each script are comprehensive endnotes in which Bill takes the reader deep into historic and theological weeds explaining material which many will find new, even surprising.

One Day at St. Johns consists of three acts with three scenes each. The cast includes a conemporary parish priest and an old friend, the church secretary and half a dozen members of the laity. In a variety of natural settings, we in the audience are treated to a banquet of spiritual gifts -- including but not limited to speaking in tongues, miraculous healings and an exorcism -- all moving along as naturally as the waitress bringing food in the restaurant scene.

Nearly twenty pages of serious endnotes document the significance and validity of these and other spiritual events with solid theological references. These notes would furnish more than enough
material for program notes as well as resources for a study group.

The other play, Joseph ben Jacob, the Dreamer, is much shorter and takes place prior to the birth of Jesus. This is a two-act play with a larger cast, and most of the action takes place over the course of a month. Joseph (yes, that Joseph) is a widower about 32 years old, preparing to wed Mary (who will be the mother of Jesus) not yet eighteen. He is a man of deep spiritual sensitivity, dedicated to serving the Lord, but the shock of discovering that his new bride-to-be has turned up pregnant has an unimaginable impact on his faith. The denouement is too poignant to describe in this review, but you can be sure it is nothing like the reader can imagine. Most of the action takes place during the days leading up to their wedding. But the final scene, which is quite short, takes place 33 years later. No spoilers from me, but know it ends prior to the crucifixion so the reader/audience member is spared that terrible ending.


Again there are extensive endnotes, rich with historical references. De Arteagas principal expertise is early church history and many readers will discover historic details that give new energy to old familiar biblical themes. Incidental New Testament details let us know that Joseph and Mary were a typical Jewish couple with several children in addition to Jesus, and Joseph probably died some time before Jesus earthly ministry. This little play gives new energy to one of the oldest and most beloved stories of biblical origin. Together with the first play this little book is a breath of fresh air in a sometimes stuffy old place.

Mr. John Ballard

The link to the Pneuma Review review is HERE.

This work can be purchased on Amazon as a paperback or in an inexpensive Kindle edition HERE