Q & R with Greg Albrecht – What do you think about “Deliverance Ministries”?


 Our church has begun heavy use of “deliverance ministries” type materials. I am concerned at this and have begun an in-depth search to come to a better understanding of my own. The trouble is although there is a lot of biblically-based material in opposition to this ministry view, my church leaders condemn this opposition, saying it comes from people opposed to God’s will (whatever that really means!). My pastor says that I have to be careful reading opposing views because the devil can deceive me. How do I know the truth?


As you report, it seems that those who follow some fad or fancy often become dogmatic and judgmental about those who question the wisdom of practices that are at best peripheral to the gospel and at worst contradictory and opposed to the central core teachings of Jesus Christ (see 1 Timothy 1:3-7).

Deliverance ministries put a great deal of emphasis, as you probably know, on the power and work of Satan and his demons. Some insist that we must determine the names or provinces of power of specific demons so that activities like prayer walking, done in an almost primitive, animistic manner, can deliver us from the clutches of the demons. Of course, there are many other themes of deliverance ministries having to do with disease, emotional dysfunction, and so on.
It seems that a common technique of some deliverance ministries is to pronounce a problem or difficulty as the work of Satan, and then, through manipulative behaviors, pronounce a cure. The cure, of course, is usually attributed to the specific “deliverance” methodology employed by the individual or his/her ministry.
But there is a major theological and biblical difficulty with this teaching, not to mention logical inconsistency. If we are in Christ we are not in the clutches of Satan. Jesus Christ has delivered those who accept Christ from the clutches of Satan. The “deliverance ministry” of Jesus Christ did this once and for all—it was accomplished on the cross and as a result of the empty tomb.  Jesus has triumphed over death and the grave, over all powers and all principalities. He has already, once and for all, delivered us. To God alone goes the glory for our freedom, not to some deliverance ministry.
There are times when the mere interest in those things that are evil and pernicious can lead to problems that did not exist before. Paul says in Ephesians that we should have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is, according to Paul, shameful even to talk about things that are done in secret (chapter 4, verses 11-12).
The primary concerns with deliverance ministries:
1. They often give credit to the wrong source. Jesus alone is our Savior, not some method or charismatic leader.
2. For Christians, the emphasis of deliverance ministries is “tilting at windmills.”  Christ has already, once and for all, delivered us from Satan and his minions. 
3. Deliverance ministries often obscure the primary themes of the gospel and send Christians off on wild goose chases, fighting battles that have already been won. As a result, Christians often fail to address and stress the central and core beliefs of Christianity while off on deliverance crusades.
4. The act of becoming involved with deliverance ministries often results in individuals believing that they now have problems that they never had. Real or imagined, those involved with deliverance ministries often find that they lived a less complicated and problematic life in Christ before they knew that there was such a thing as “deliverance ministry.”  The Bible gives us the standard of measuring such activities by their fruit.
5. Deliverance ministries often become the watershed issue for those involved, and those who have little time for such a ministry are often condemned and judged by advocates of deliverance ministries as being self-righteous, legalistic, uncaring, unspiritual or perhaps not even converted at all. Once again, we should look to the fruit of such practices.

For more answers to tough questions, check out our book:

Between Religious Rocks and Life’s Hard Places—101 Answers to Tough Questions About What You Believe.

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