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Exorcise Regime

The BBC World Service has a new documentary series on exorcism. The first 15-minute episode was an informative introduction, although running time obviously limited the analysis. The programme begins with a Charismatic deliverance service, and then introduces us to Benedict Heron, London-based Benedictine and “unofficial” Catholic exorcist. Heron’s book I Saw Satan Fall is available on-line; the programme failed to identify him as a Charismatic Catholic, which makes him a bit different from the norm.

The presenter, Richard Johnson, also tells us that the Catholic Church is the only Church to have an official exorcism handbook, recently updated from the 1614 edition. Actually, the Church of England does have a kind of handbook, the booklet Exorcism: The Findings of the Commission convened by the Bishop of Exeter, albeit long out of print since publication in the 1970s (although I have a copy). It might also be worth noting that the new Anglican Common Worship liturgy includes the Christaraksha, an Indian prayer that mentions “the assaults of evil spirits.”

A bit of historical context is provided by Dr. Marion Gibson, and we also hear about Jim Peasboro, a Savannah-based preacher who supposedly believes that any computer built after 1985 has the capacity to become possessed. Alas, it looks like Rev Peasboro, and his book The Devil in the Machine, is an urban legend.

UPDATE (7 November): I’ve checked out some of the other figures featured in the later programmes.

The second programme concentrates on Ghana. We meet Matthew Addai Mensah (or Matthew Addae-Mensah) of the Gospel Light Church, who burns down witches’ shrines and claims to have raised the dead. Back in March the Ghanaian Chronicle (via Ghanaweb) reported that this Pentecostal Bishop is in a spot of bother:

The General Overseer of Gospel Light International Church, Bishop Addai-Mensah who has been accused of committing adultery with a female pastor of the Church, has described the allegation as a fabrication…the charge [is] by a member of the church choir and husband of the female pastor, Mr. Kwamena Ofori.

…The Chronicle’s information was that Bishop Addai-Mensah had been seen several times with the lady pastor in her bedroom at odd hours under the guise of conducting deliverance.

The programme also features a Dr Opoku, who believes that he can diagnose a woman as being demonised if she wears trousers…However, there is also serious analysis of the attractions of deliverance in Ghanaian society, and what can happen to a woman when she has been denounced as a witch.

The next programme features Trevor Newport, who runs Life Changing Ministries in Stoke-on-Trent. Newport practises Charismatic deliverance, and seems to be a bit of a favourite for BBC journalists – more about him can be found here. His church’s website appears to be down, but looking at an archived site identifies him as a Prosperity Gospel “Word of Faith” preacher with links to Kenneth Copeland.

In the last episode, which considers exorcism in relation to mental illness and what can go wrong, two mainline figures are introduced: Granville Gibson, a former Archdeacon in north-east England; and Canon William Lendrum. Lendrum is a Church of Ireland minister based in Belfast, and has been a media subject before. According to the Belfast Telegraph (via Religion News Blog), Lendrum apparently only became interested in the subject during his career:

As a minister in the early 70s he began “to feel a kind of perverse plan working against me. Things kept going wrong just when they’d cause most damage, like before I ran a mission. The edge would be taken off my sword, if you like

“I began to have an open mind about what was the cause of it.”

In swift succession he was loaned a book, Spiritual Warfare – “something I’d never thought about before” – and then met a young woman in an alcoholic hospital where he was chaplain. He refers to her by the pseudonym ‘Alice’ and what he witnessed chilled him to the core…”Alice started being argumentative and truculent. She talked about herself in the third person. Then it dawned on me that someone else was using Alice’s lips to speak to me about Alice. It was an evil spirit talking, it was in control of her life…Eventually I prised out details of how she’d been initiated into something called the satanic Ulster Assassination Cult in a blood-letting ritual.

I can’t find any other reference for this supposed group. The transcript of a BBC phone-in with Lendrum can be read here.

7 Responses

  1. I used to attend Trevor Newport’s organisation. While I was there, many new people were attracted, but a great many left – there was a very high turnover of congregation.
    Mr Newport demands total loyalty from his subjects, and claims that “God will tell him” when they are being disloyal. He claims people can be healed by touching his (Mr Newport’s) clothing. The ministry there is at best eccentric and at worst highly abusive.

    I know of two women with mental health problems who left there. One’s mental illness was worsened by the “deliverance”, and the other woman had no signs of illness before deliverance, but developed it later to the point where she did not even know what day of the week it was.

    Many sincere and intelligent Christians left the organisation around the time I did. They were tired of Mr Newport’s incessant demands for money, his relentless self-promotion and the spiritual abuse.

  2. […] who was the exorcist? None other than Trevor Newport, who has been featured on this blog before. Newport is a bit of an exorcist pundit, having been used several times in the past by the BBC […]

  3. […] exorcist who was previously featured alongside Newport on the BBC World Service (both were blogged here). But according to this new report, Lendrum does not think much of his Charismatic competitor (who […]

  4. Hi Mark,

    Just found this website link. I know its rather an old story, but if you get this message please email me at mike_mich.fahey@ntlworld.com, im worried about a family friend who goes to Newport’s church in Stoke-on-Trent.

    thanks

  5. […] Fortunately, although God told Griffiths to leave Manchester University, he managed to get a PhD from elsewhere, via a revivalist named Dr Stephen Houston, Overseer of the Pentecostal Holiness Church Great Britain & Ireland. Houston is UK-based, although his website notes links with US figures such as C. Peter Wagner and the Prosperity preachers Jerry Savelle and Jesse Duplantis (Griffiths, however, is hostile to Wagner, accusing him of using “the NKJV published by New World Order commercial publisher Thomas Nelson” and denouncing him for his support of Todd Bentley).  The official accounts for Griffiths’ Life Changing Ministries International also mentions the George Jeffreys School and Bible College, which uses teaching materials by Bob Weiner – Weiner headed the controversial group student Maranatha in the 1980s, which I blogged on a number of times a few years ago (e.g. see here). The document also mentions links to Trevor Newport, whom I blogged here. […]

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