Demons [Saturday, Oct. 21, 2006, 7:30 pm]
Last night I had the opportunity to watch "The Exorcism of Emily Rose," with a bunch of people - it's something I've been wanting to see since it came out, not only because the previews freaked me out, but because I was very interested in the whole concept of demon-possession being covered in a movie.
Overall I thought it was very good, as far as visuals and plot. The supporting acting wasn't phenomenal, but the girl who played Emily was very convincing. There were a few very tense, jumpy moments (for me anyway), but I like the fact that the film-makers framed the story with the trial of Father Moore, and didn't focus every moment on the girl's condition. I could tell that there was a lot of thought put into the story - it was scary, but it obviously wasn't made just for cheap thrills.
When it came down to it, the real question seemed to be whether demonic possession is real or not. And while the film didn't make any dogmatic statements on the issue of science vs. faith, you got the sense in the end that it gave a nudge in the direction of the supernatural, which, while not necessarily a theologically accurate "nudge," was nice to see.
The main problem I had with the movie was that even if it causes people to be interested in the supernatural, it alone won't point them in the right direction. Now, I believe in a lot of the ideas presented here: that things like schitzophrenia (sp?) are usually supernaturally caused, not solely physical conditions, and those "experts" who do not want to attribute things to spiritual causes like to think up other names and "cures" for such problems. Just because we call it one thing, doesn't mean it isn't really something totally different.
However, I don't believe that someone can be possessed by demons if they are truly a Christian. We are certainly still tempted by the devil, but if we actually have Christ living in us, then we cannot be possessed by both good and evil at the same time. But in this movie, Emily Rose was portrayed as a very devout Catholic, and yet she became possessed and turned to exorcism because she believed it was the only way to be free of the demons.
So first of all, either she wasn't truly a Christian, or she wasn't truly possessed, because I don't believe that both are Biblically possible. And secondly, if she was possessed, then a series of Catholic rituals would not be enough to drive the demons out. Several times in the Bible, you read of Jesus driving demons out of people, and yet you never hear about him speaking in Latin, or waving crucifixes at people, or randomly quoting scripture that has nothing to do with the actual demon. But you know what the cool thing is? Demons are actually mentioned in what is referred to as the "Great Commission" - what Jesus spoke before he ascended to heaven:
He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well."
Jesus said that we could drive out demons in his name. I find it hard to believe at times, since it really doesn't seem to be such a visible part of "modern Christianity." But I believe that if he said it, then it can be done, and should be. To be honest, however, I don't even know if I would have enough faith to do something like that. All I know is that it is possible.
And so the main problem I have with this movie is that during the exorcism, Christianity appears to "fail." Since Father Moore did invoke the name of Christ at one point, the only conclusion I can come up with is either he was not truly doing it in Jesus' name, or that it simply wasn't God's will to drive the demons out. And unfortunately, most viewers wouldn't know enough about the Bible to know that demons are not driven out through intense ritual, and that we as Christians have weapons more powerful than that.
The story certainly gave me a lot to ponder, and I hope that others who watched it pondered it as well. I'm just afraid that a lot of people received a more accurate portrayal of demonic activity than they did of God's power in the movie.
Vitality - Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009