Question from a Site Viewer
I would like to know your take on the movie The Conjuring, specifically in reference to it’s theological accuracy. For example, “Is this actually how demons behave?” Could this movie actually be true or is it a farce, fabricated by people hungry for money?
Thank you for writing. I do not watch many movies and have not seen The Conjuring, nor do I intend to see it. But I have read some of the hype around it as well as its claim to be based on a true story and the people who vouch for its essential truth. I do not know what is true, as I was not there. But I freely admit that I am a skeptic. For instance, I note the tie to the Amityville horror film, as the these two stories have a common connection in the Warrens. I have no opportunity to question those involved and without some probing questions one does not know whether one is telling truth or fiction. The family member that seems most assertive about the happenings was very young at the time of the events. I know some of the experiences I had when I was young; doors opening seemingly on their own, cool spots, explosions, and many scary moments. But the farm I lived on was not haunted by anyone other than my own imagination.
I note also that I was not able to find any evidence that prior residents of the house in The Conjuring considered it to be haunted nor have those who have lived in the house afterwards found it to be haunted. I note that the daughter involved who brought this all to light waited 40 years after the events to write a book and has a financial incentive in the story. So it may not be possible to find out what previous owners thought of the house. None of this means that the events she records are or are not true. But what cannot be tested I do not much trust. Memories are inherently unreliable. And I am not a fan of the Warrens as paranormal investigators.
I think the far better view of demons is that found in the pages of Scripture. In Scripture, one does not find demons acting as ghosts and attacking people. Rather, what one finds is that demons inhabit people. Demons do not come and haunt as some outside force, but they come within and torment from within. Demons never appear as ghosts in Scripture. They inhabit people (or pigs when Jesus allowed them to enter the swine). Although I have heard many stories of demons throwing knives, stalking people, throwing chairs, opening doors, and appearing to people, I find none of these stories in Scripture. But people inhabited by demons did incredible feats and terrified others until confronted by God and His saints.
Further, I find it interesting that so many of these paranormal stories are about a prior murder where the victim hangs around the place and appears to people as a ghost. The story line is well-used. But those of us who believe Scripture know that this is not true. When we die, our spirits go to God (Ecclesiastes 12:7) or to Hades (Luke 16:23). They do not hang around on this earth. Jesus said to the thief on the cross that they would both in Paradise that day (Luke 23:43) and at least one of them was being murdered. Accordingly, this idea of disembodied spirits hanging around and afflicting people finds no correspondence in the pages of the sacred texts. Jesus did not encounter such spirits or demons in this way, and neither did the apostles.
It is not that I discount the reality of demons. But I note that Christ who saved us and called us has sent us into a world that largely is opposed to Him. As Scripture says, this world lies under the sway of the evil one (1 John 5:19). Are demons more evil than the devil himself? I do not think so. But both are real. These are the forces that are aligned against the blessing God wants to bring to His creation. As Paul says in Ephesians 6:12, we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, rulers of this darkness, and spiritual wickedness in heavenly places. He tells us to stand firm in truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the word of God and prayer. If we do these things, we will be able to resist any evil that we may encounter. And, as we are reminded in the pages of Scripture, the One who is in us is greater than the One who is in the world (1 John 4:4) and has already made us overcomers of these evil ones.
I have encountered situations where I sensed there was some evil or oppression present. I do not know if my senses simply stemmed from my own imagination or whether from some actual evil force. But I know that my response has been simply to do what I always do–pray to God. I have walked through buildings and prayed that God would make the building a blessing to people. As I have often told people, I think we as God’s people have the incredible opportunity to bring some of heaven into any place we enter. We are the little Christs (Christians) who get to display His goodness to a world long on suffering and evil. It is almost as if we were invaders here. Jesus said that the gates of hell cannot prevail against us (Matthew 16:18). The image I have is not that we are beleaguered by the onslaught of hell, but rather that we are the ones attacking the gates of hell. We attack, not with violence, but with love; we overcome not with sword but with the kindness of our words and actions; we return good for evil and thus wear down the forces of the enemy.
I hope this helps. May the Lord Jesus and His Spirit guide you into truth as you focus on Jesus.