Posted by: davidlarkin | January 13, 2022

Encounters with the Demonic in Los Angeles, Perhaps?

Jesus Casting out a Demon - Paul Kreutzberger_Illustration for a Bible_German, c. 1620-1660_London, British MuseumPaul Kreutzberger, Jesus Casting Out a Demon, From Illustrations for a Bible, German, c. 1620-1660
London, British Museum

And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath,  and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.”  But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region.

Luke 4:31-37 (English Standard Version)

In the early 90s, my wife Susan and I went to an Assembly of God Church (Pentecostal) in Scottsdale, Arizona (We attend a church near us now, a theologically conservative non-political Reformed PCA church “Presbyterian Church in America“).  At the Scottsdale Assembly of God church, there was a woman who sat in the front row on the far right every Sunday, who clearly was very devout and serious. We met her. She was Kathy Lutz, who was the mother in the family that lived in the Amityville house in Amityville, NY, that became the book and film, The Amityville Horror. She became a Christian after that experience, which she said happened though not as exaggerated as the film, but flies on the windows, doors opening by themselves, furniture levitating, etc. Her husband did not become a believer and looked at it as “paranormal” in general. He exploited the experience with the film and other things. I read an account by Ed and Lorraine Warren, who investigated possible demonic activity for the Catholic Church and Protestant churches and people who needed help. His first book written by Gerald Brittle, The Demonologist, had incredible accounts of places he investigated including the Amityville House, and the events that became the Conjuring film series, so far 3 films which I thought were very good, knowing what they were about before hand. In Conjuring 2, during the credits, they compared the cast to the actual people involved in England, including a TV broadcaster who covered the haunting depicted in that film, which came out of the Warren’s book, The Demonologist (I have an original first edition of the hardback book and several paperback copies). The film star Patrick Wilson as Ed Warren and Vera Farmiga as Lorraine Warren. Because it is about the supernatural, great efforts are made by those who don’t believe to debunk them, easy to find on Google, but if you know the story Ed and Lorraine Warren and Kathy Lutz herself, tell you can see that the debunking is dependent upon opinions formed by those who were not there. The satanic spirits do not want us to believe that they did these things, and the Devil is happy that people don’t believe in him because it makes his life easier. God preserves all of us from the demonic manifestations generally, and typically it is those who are involved with the occult, e.g., Ouija Boards, witchcraft, etc. who are susceptible to the “poltergiests” or manifestations of the demonic. The Roman Catholic Church reports continuing need for its exorcists. See American Exorcism from the December 2018 Atlantic. And Ed Warren included photos in his book of a chair levitating in the Amityville House among other things, and a transcript of a recording of him talking with a demon in one of the episodes that became a filmed scene in one of the Conjuring films. Having met Kathy Lutz, and knowing what I know about the demonic, I believe that these things happened close to what Ed and Lorraine Warren tell in their accounts. Lorraine Warren has the “gift of discernment of spirits” (King James Version) or gift of “the ability to distinguish between spirits” (English Standard Version) of spirits which the Apostle Paul includes as one of the supernatural gifts of the spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. 

1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (English Standard Version).

Here are some of the encounters in my life with the demonic when I was living in LA in the 80s, was renewing my relationship with the Lord after 12 years as a spiritual lone ranger after being saved in 1971. I had lost everything in a computer hardware business in Phoenix, Arizona around 1981, was drinking too much and moved to LA, where I straightened myself out, quitting alcohol, now 38 years, and reading the Bible, going to church, praying, asking God to show me spiritual things, and generally reforming my life.

Around 1983-84, I was without a car in Los Angeles for about 11 months (Court ordered). I got a bus pass. I had quit drinking May 24, 1983. I was at a large meeting of AA on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, probably three hundred people. I was standing in the back with some friends and we heard someone outside making strange loud noises. The guy next to me said, “sounds like someone speaking in tongues.” and laughed. I went outside and there was a homeless Asian woman sitting on the ground, probably in her thirties, and making the sounds. I went up to her, along with another guy I did not know. Some people gathered away from us watching. I spoke to her, and asked her if she needed help. She muttered incoherently. I said to the guy with me, “I am a Christian and wondering if she is possessed.” The other guy said, “me too.” I asked her if she could say the name of Jesus, because the demonically possessed have a hard time with that, because they hate him. She hissed “Jesus” with a look of hatred. I could not be sure of course. I got the name and address of a Catholic ministry to homeless women nearby in West LA, and gave it to her on a piece of paper with the address and phone number. She took it. She got up and left.

I prayed that night for God to show me the difference between mental illness and demonic possession and I believe He did over the next couple of months where I had two encounters with women, one in downtown LA near the Post Office, and one on the bus in the Melrose area.

After the incident with the Asian woman in Beverly Hills and praying for discernment, I was riding the bus in the Melrose, Beverly Blvd area east of Beverly Hills, and a woman got on the bus, who was unwashed, thin, wearing a thin dirty white cotton shift and possibly Hispanic or Middle Eastern, not unattractive but with a disturbed look on her face. She walked down the bus aisle, looked at me, and sat down in the seat next to me, probably the only vacant seat, I don’t recall. She looked at my Bible, looked at me and said something repeatedly like, “Rabayuga, Rabayuga, the door is open,” with a vacant look on her face. I began asking the Lord if this woman was possessed by a demon? As I silently prayed that God would let me know if I should speak out words to the demon, and demand it leave her in Jesus’s name, as the Jesus and New Testament saints, she stood up in the aisle and backing away, looked at me. I silently asked God, “should I now speak to the demon?” wondering how that would impact the other riders on the bus nearby to hear and see that. Before I could sense a response from God, suddenly, the bus driver slammed on the brakes, and stood up, calling to the woman, “You, get off the bus. Now.” And she obediently walked down the aisle got off the bus, and the driver sat down without a word, and the bus moved on. I believe she was possessed and that my prayer to see the difference between someone mentally ill and possessed by demonic forces was answered because of the correspondence between my inner dialogue with God, and what happened as I did have that dialogue. I believed the demonic spirit did not want to be made his existence public, nor did it want to be cast out of her. Of course, there are other possibilities, like coincidence only, but after my prayer to be shown the difference between mental illness and possession, and what happened, that is what I believe occurred.

Soon thereafter, I was walking on a sunny Sunday afternoon in downtown LA near the post office, dressed in a very nice bright yellow Palm Springs sports jacket and white slacks, looking sharp, and praying in my mind as I walked. Suddenly from behind me I heard in a very angry and gravelly voice, a woman shouting, “It’s all in your head. You know who I’m talking to. It’s all in your head.” It sounded like someone telling me that my prayers were not real and were all in my head. It did not seem like something I had broadcast to the folks on the sidewalk. I turned as saw a short stout black lady holding a shopping bag and pointing at me, with a twisted angry look on her face, yelling, “Yes, I’m talking to you. It’s all in your head.” I started talking to God, “Is this lady possessed? Do you want to call out to the demon, tell it to leave her?” As I prayed these words, I spoke to her, “Ma’am, did I do something to disturb you?” as calm and nice as I could, and slowly walked towards her. All of a sudden, she covered her eyes with her arm, and ran away down the street. I asked a Hispanic lady standing nearby if she thought I had done something to disturb the woman, and she said, “No, that woman was crazy!”

So, I believe those two incidents were examples God gave me in answer to my prayer to see the difference between mental illness and demonic possession, in the way that my inner dialogue with the Lord, and questions and prayer, corresponded to the sudden act of the bus driver, and the lady covering her eyes, and running away, which seemed like something a person with a demon would do, the covering of the eyes especially to avoid the light of the Holy Spirit in me. I have not asked God for any more of these experiences. God graciously spared me the danger of an actual encounter of speaking to the demonic as I was ready to do with my Biblical faith.

Some accounts I have read from pastors and theologians who believe in the activity of demonic spirits and angels, have said that most people who are possessed by demons are not obtrusive and go about their business, sort of like psychotics who don’t murder or commit crimes, doing the bidding of the evil one. I think that is likely true. Here where most people are not Christian believers, the devil doesn’t have to do much special activity to keep the lost in his fold.

I haven’t had any close encounters with spiritual evil like that since. I believe God protects me and most people from the extreme evil of demonic possession, though not from the influence of spiritual evil, through his common grace. Most of the recorded accounts of possession begin with someone dabbling with the occult, and opening the door, so to speak.

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