Evidence for the Devil – The Testimony of Former Spiritists

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2003
The authors point to the testimony of former spiritists and the phenomenon of spirit possession as they continue the bring evidence of an entity we call the Devil.

Evidence for the Devil

The Testimony of Former Spiritists

The testimony of many former spiritists and occultists is that the spirits they once com­pletely trusted were really demons who were seeking to deceive them. Their once-friendly spirit guides turned on them and/or attempted to destroy them. These frightening accounts are reported by Raphael Gasson in The Challenging Counterfeit, Victor Ernest in I Talked With Spirits, and Ben Alexander in Out From Darkness, all of whom are former long-stand­ing spiritistic mediums.

Douglas James Mahr was the author of Ramtha: Voyage to the New World. Mahr had a significant personal history with “Ramtha.” Yet today he is convinced that Ramtha’s true identity is not that of a venerable “mystical embodiment of 35,000 years of life experience,” but rather that of a lying, demonic spirit.[1]

Doreen Irvine was a leading European witch who relates her horrifying story in Freed From Witchcraft. Johanna Michaelsen was a former psychic and assistant to a noted Mexican psychic surgeon. Michaelsen discusses her experiences in The Beautiful Side of Evil.

All of these people agree that the spirit guides they once considered divine or enlight­ened entities were actually demons.

The Phenomenon of Spirit Possession

This malevolent phenomenon has occurred in nearly every culture and religion, ancient or modern. Former witch Doreen Irvine declares, “Demon possession is real, very real and is increasing at an alarming rate in this present day and age.”[2] Indeed, the very act of a spirit invading and controlling a person implies, even demands, hostility and malevolence (see Mark 5:2-7). In People of the Lie, well-known psychiatrist M. Scott Peck observes: “It seems clear from the literature on possession that a majority of cases have had involve­ment with the occult—a frequency far greater than might be expected in the general popu­lation.”[3]

Dr. Peck also records an incident he witnessed personally at an exorcism:

When the demonic finally spoke clearly in one case, an expression appeared on the patient’s face that could be described only as Satanic. It was an incredibly contemptuous grin of utter hostile malevolence. I have spent many hours before a mirror trying to imitate it without the slightest success. I have seen that expression only one other time in my life—for a few fleeting seconds on the face of the other [mentioned] patient, late in the evaluation period. Yet when the demonic finally revealed itself in the exorcism of this other patient, it was with a still more ghastly expression. The patient suddenly resembled a writhing snake of great strength, viciously attempting to bite the team members. More frightening than the writhing body, however, was the face. The eyes were hooded with lazy reptilian torpor— except when the reptile darted out in attack, at which moment the eyes would open wide with blazing hatred. Despite these frequent darting moments, what upset me the most was the extraordinary sense of a fifty-million-year-old heaviness I received from this serpentine being. It caused me to despair of the success of the exorcism. Almost all the team members at both exorcisms were convinced they were at these times in the presence of something absolutely alien and inhuman. The end of each exorcism proper was signaled by the departure of this Presence from the patient and the room.[4]

The phenomenon of possession is well documented in both Christian and non-Christian literature.[5] Dr. John Warwick Montgomery asserts:

The problem involved in determining whether demon possession occurs and whether witchcraft works is absurdly simple. The documentation is overwhelming. Even if ninety-nine percent of all witchcraft cases are thrown out (and that would be very difficult to do) the remainder would easily establish the reality of the phenomenon.[6]

In a major text on altered states of consciousness, Religion, Altered States of Con­sciousness and Social Change, Dr. Erika Bourguignon (ed.) observes that of 488 societies surveyed, fully 74 percent believed in possession by spirits: “It will be noted that such beliefs occur in 74% of our sample societies, with a maximum of 88% in the Insular Pacific and a minimum of 52% in North America. The beliefs are thus characteristic of the great majority of our societies.”[7]

In The Devil’s Bride: Exorcism Past and Present, psychic researcher Martin Ebon ob­serves, “The uniform character of possession, through various cultures and at various times, is striking.”[8]

Therefore, we must ask ourselves where, in fact, such a dominant belief came from if not from the fact of spirit possession itself? Are rationalistic explanations credible? We don’t think so. Rather, we think its very uniformity suggests (in Ebon’s words) the “universal presence of devils, demons or possessing spirits.”[9]

Note the following illustration from John S. Mbiti, African Religions and Philosophy. Here we see not only the universal fact of spirit possession in Africa but also the resulting bond­age to the alleged spirits of the dead:

Spirit possession occurs in one form or another in practically every African society. Yet, spirit possession is not always to be feared, and there are times when it is not only desirable but people induce it through special dancing and drumming until the person concerned experiences spirit possession during which he may even collapse. When the person is thus possessed, the spirit may speak through him, so that he now plays the role of a medium, and the messages he relays are received with expectation by those to whom they are addressed. But on the whole, spirit possessions, especially unsolicited ones, result in bad effects. They may cause severe torment on the possessed person; the spirit may drive him away from his home so that he lives in the forests; it may cause him to jump into the fire and get himself burnt, to torture his body with sharp instruments, or even to do harm to other people. During the height of spirit possession, the individual in effect loses his own personality and acts in the context of the “personality” of the spirit possessing him. The possessed person becomes restless, may fail to sleep properly, and if the possession lasts a long period it results in damage to health. Women are more prone to spirit possession than men.[10]

If belief in spirit possession is a dominant belief of the vast majority of cultures through­out human history, is it not a bit presumptuous to deny the fact, especially if such a denial is based on personal preference or presupposition, not real evidence?

(to be continued)


  1. Cf., Douglas Mahr, letter, in SCP Newsletter, Vol. 16, No. 3, Dec. 1991, p. 3.
  2. Doreen Irvine, Freed From Witchcraft (Nashville, TN: Nelson, 1973), p. 138.
  3. M. Scott Peck, People of the Lie (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1983), p. 190.
  4. Ibid., p. 196.
  5. Cf., John Ankerberg, John Weldon, The Coming Darkness (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publish­ers, 1993), p. 325, note 14.
  6. John W. Montgomery, Principalities and Powers (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany, 1975), p. 146.
  7. Erika Bourguignon, ed., Religion, Altered States of Consciousness and Social Change (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1973), pp. 16-17, Table 2.
  8. Martin Ebon, The Devil’s Bride: Exorcism Past and Present (Harper & Row, 1974), p. 11.
  9. Ibid., p. 14.
  10. John Mbiti, African Religions and Philosophy (New York: Doubleday/Anchor, 1970), pp. 106-107.

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