What’s the Deal with Evil Spirits?
When reading the gospels (the stories about Jesus) in the Bible, it doesn’t take long to run across the phrase “evil spirit.” (Some translations use “unclean spirit” or a “corrupting spirit.”)
What is an “evil spirit” anyway?
- As a teenager, I thought that an evil spirit was merely ancient man’s way of understanding mental illness.
- As a young adult, my perspective flipped and I thought that mental illness was merely modern man’s way of explaining evil spirits.
- Later on, I began to consider that both mental illness and evil spirits existed, but as separate, disparate phenomena.
- More recently, I’ve been thinking that they may just be two different ways of looking at the same thing, two sides of the same coin.
Although contemplating the meaning of an evil spirit may be intellectually inviting, the central point is to remember that regardless of what it was, Jesus healed people who had evil spirits—and he gave his followers the authority to do the same!
Now, that’s something to think about.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.