When stories of serious dysfunction, or patterns of sickness and mental ill-health recur in a church’s life, over decades, with personnel changing but the same patterns repeating, this may sometimes signal that there is a hidden spiritual layer to the story which the Intentional Interim will need to address. Because it is a layer about which most pastors are taught very little in theological formation, and around which there are longstanding cultural taboos and fears, pastors are often embarrassed to name this layer. And to be frank it can be a disturbing and frightening aspect to the Intentional Interim’s work. But as the Scripture says “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood.”
Demonic, archonic, and negative spiritual infestation is often easier to diagnose than it is to address. Most pastors will have a visceral sense when there is something of this kind effecting the wellbeing of a community. It is a layer I had to learn to address on-the-job through decades in service and in combatting situations suffering the effects of occult presences and entity attachments.
I always approached this layer of ministry with the tools provided me by devout Christian priests and pastors who carried with them the collected wisdom of traditions Eastern and Western. On occasions I found I needed to engage Specialist Ministers in Discernment – a more contemporary appellation for the traditional Christian exorcist.
Reverend Gilbert Shaw – Pioneer of Intercessory & Deliverance Ministries in the Church of England in the Twentieth Century
In the 1970’s Church of England, thanks to the tireless work of the English monastic pioneer Gilbert Shaw, ecclesiastical protocols required every English diocese to employ a specialist of this kind with whom the clergy could consult and whose services could be drawn upon. As an alumnus of the Community of the Servants of the Will of God, the Anglican-Benedictine community he helped to pioneer, I am deeply indebted to Fr Shaw’s profound ministry, and made sure to draw on the intercessory support of that community for my first forays into the area of entity removal at the level of community cleansing and healing. (You can read about this in my book The New Monastic.)
The Roman Catholic Church has also maintained a strong tradition in this area of ministry, headed up internationally by Monsignor Corrado Balducci. (If your denomination is lacking in resources, his department may be a good place to enquire. Pastors drawn into this kind of ministry are not too proud to draw on help and resources from comrades across the churchmanship and denominational spectrum. The perspective at the coalface is that there are more important boundaries than those!) In short, when tackling this layer I have ALWAYS inoked the active assistance of colleagues in ministry to assist in discerning and effecting this aspect of the community healing process.
Through the years I have learned that beyond the confines of Christianity, our ancestors and cousins around the world, and through the ages, have had to develop effective protocols to address this same layer of spiritual healthcare. In this video below, Australian men’s mentor Michael Lauria and I compare notes with my friend David “Hero” Aberle, Traditional Healer, and Guardian of the Navajo people.
In this conversation we make an important distinction between negative, demonic/archonic and more benign attachments and highlight the importance of discerning exactly what is happening before expecting to identify the best response. This is not a how-to video. I would just say that in this conversation I find many parallels between Davd’s indigenous Native American knowledge and protocols and the work of the Christian Intentional Interim Minister when tackling what I tactfully refer to as the “Spiritual Layer.” Enjoy!