Demonic Possession and Personal Responsibility

Fox picked up a Connecticut Post article about a man who went on a window smashing spree at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Milford Conn. Apparently after smashing all the windows he went for a nap in the nearby cemetery. So then what was the man’s defense? He was possessed by “demonic forces.”

Traces of blood were left on all but three of the church’s smashed windows…”The blood was smeared and splattered on the broken glass in a manner that indicated the windows were punched and not broken with some object.”

Police suspected Ruszkowski because on July 3 and 4 he had been investigated for allegedly causing a public disturbance and believed he “may have mental health issues,” according to the warrant.

Police spokesman Officer Vaughan Dumas said he didn’t know the details of the incidents, but said they involved Ruszkowski “chanting in the streets.”

Back then, they determined that he was “practicing religion” and ordered him to cease from his alleged disorderly conduct, the warrant says without giving further details.
…When he awoke the next morning, he went to Milford Hospital for treatment to his injured hands

Flip Wilson used to make quite a joke out of this routine, “The Devil made me do it!” I’m not laughing.

Whether you believe the guy or not the case is clearly intended to raise the question: “just how responsible is someone for their behavior if they’re not in control of their behavior?

The question arises in this instance because people assume that the demonically possessed are innocent bystanders. While I cannot at this juncture speak for every person who has ever been demonically afflicted it is poignant to recognize that Ruszkowski’s former behavior is an indication of intentional demonic invitation (if not merely mental illness).

If a drunk driver runs over and kills a child is that drunk driver responsible? Yes he is. The reason that driver is responsible doesn’t stem from the fact that everyone believes that he hit that little girl intentionally. But they inherently recognize that he bears responsibility because he is the one who drank all that alcohol. Thus when he may have been out of his mind when he was driving – he is the one who chose to be in that state.

There is a parallel to demonic possession in that while possessed (more accurately: demonized) an individual is being controlled by another being.

There are instances in the Bible where this could be called into question since when the Bible speaks of demonization it doesn’t appear to give any indication as to how or when or where an individual became demonized. There is the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman (Mark 7:26) for instance who was terribly possessed but we’re never given a why? In fact I’m not aware of a single instance in the New testament that indicates a reason for demonic possession demonization. So how can I make the claim?

For the moment the claim is based upon the old testament occurrences of king Saul (1 Samuel 16:14,23; 18:10; 19:9) suddenly being seized by an evil Spirit. The reason for the demonization is directly linked to Saul’s conscious decision to ignore God’s commands and to follow his own path. In principle we can make the inference that once God is rejected – the demonic has influence.

While not the point of Jesus’ parable of the empty house (Matthew 12:43-45) it is a teaching point. An empty person – presumably devoid of the Spirit’s presence is a person subject to controlling demonization.

I’ll return to this topic soon.