Ask Seller a Question. Publisher: Plough Publishing House. When Blumhardt, a nineteenth-century pastor from the Black Forest, agreed to counsel a tormented woman in his parish, all hell broke loose — literally. But that was only the beginning of the drama that ensued. More than that, it reminds us that those forces still surround us today, whether we are awake to them or not.
Bruderhof – Our Initiatives
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Ralph Waldo Emerson
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God forsworn — forever forlorn! Only you have managed it, you with your persistent praying. There was no room in us for anything but praise and thanks. The bleeding had ended for good. Thinking on it further, Blumhardt began to wonder whether fasting might not be more meaningful than he had previously assumed: Insofar as fasting enhances the intensity of prayer and shows God the urgency of the person praying in fact, it represents a continuous prayer without words , I believed it could prove effective, particularly since this was specific divine advice for the case at hand.
I tried it, without telling anybody, and found it a tremendous help during the fight. I no longer needed to be present for long stretches; I sensed that I could make my influence felt without even being there. And when I did come, I often noticed results within a few moments. A few other accounts of demonic manifestations are worth mentioning here too. Oh, if only we could do what we want!
One particularly dreadful demon, whom Gottliebin had seen earlier in her house and who now admitted to being a perjurer, repeatedly exclaimed the words painted on the window shutter of that house: Man, think on eternity, And do not mock the time of grace, For judgment is not far off. There were many bizarre scenes of this kind, and Blumhardt would gladly have welcomed more witnesses to corroborate his reports of them. Now and then there were utterances that could not be assigned to any particular demon; they sounded as if they came from some other source. If it delays, wait for it; for when it comes will be no time to linger.
The reckless will be unsure of himself, while the righteous will live by being faithful. Listening to them I sensed that they came from above to strengthen and comfort me. I resisted becoming involved in any attempt at freeing them, because everything I had experienced made me suspect a pernicious ruse of the devil and made me fear for my reputation.
But in the end I could not help at least trying, since those demons that appeared to have some hope for themselves could not be moved by threats or exhortations. The first demon I attempted to help was that of the woman who seemed to have been at the root of the whole affair.
Reappearing in Gottliebin, she declared in a firm and decisive voice that she wanted to belong to the Savior and not to the devil. If I had resorted to popular means of warding off evil spirits — remedies and spells and cures — I would have been trapped. I had known this woman well in her lifetime; she had shown a hunger for the word of God such as I had rarely seen. My heart ached for her. Apart from her, however, nobody noticed anything, and the spirit soon vanished for good.
There were subsequent struggles with other spirits who also claimed to love God but were still bound to the devil through idolatry and sorcery. They, too, sought liberation and security.
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Only with utmost caution and after consulting the Lord did I consent to their requests. I do not wish to expound on this beyond saying that it always brought relief to Gottliebin. Go where the Lord bids you go. God is a judge for widows and orphans! That request was granted. Apparently, the demon was guilty of having made orphans homeless. Still, he rejected the notion 37 THE FIGHT of a purgatory — a stage of the afterlife where souls are purified by torment — and he refuted the charge that he tried to convert spirits: For me, it was never a question of conversion, but rather of freeing the souls of otherwise believing persons.
These had been involved in magical practices, which during their lifetime they had not recognized as sins. Since even in these sins they had not meant to turn away from God, they were in need not of conversion but merely of liberation. They could only find such liberation, however, if somewhere on earth a battle was being waged, in firm faith in the blood of Jesus Christ, against the power of magic. It was made the victim of frustration, not by its own choice, but because of him who made it so; yet always there was hope, because the universe itself is to be freed from the shackles of mortality and enter into the liberty and splendor of the children of God.
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Up to the present, we know, the whole created universe groans in all its parts as if in pangs of childbirth. Not only so, but even we, to whom the Spirit is given as firstfruits of the harvest to come, are groaning inwardly while we wait for God to make us his sons and set our whole body free Rom. Yet people take the liberty to exclude from the universe all those who die unredeemed. As Blumhardt once commented: Nobody thinks of the dead, and yet there are billions of them. Seen in that light, the statement that the world is in bondage to evil takes on much deeper meaning.
In general, people are careful not to say what they think about it.
When confronted by otherwise inexplicable facts, they prefer to turn off the machinery of their intellect. True, it may be better to dismiss such phenomena as Blumhardt witnessed in Gottliebin than to indulge in undue curiosity and exploration. In fact, his aversion to inquisitive dabbling gave him the objectivity and resolve he needed for a fight of such demonic dimensions.
On one occasion, after she had wounded herself dreadfully and the wounds had healed, they suddenly burst open again. Blumhardt recalled: At that I fell on my knees in my room and in my distress spoke bold words. No one can possibly know how that made me feel. Around Christmas , from December 24 to 28, the fight finally came to a climactic and decisive conclusion.
I can no longer tell the exact order of events; so many things happened that I cannot possibly recall them all, but those were days I never want to experience again. It had come to the point where I simply had to risk everything; it was a question of victory or death. Great as my own efforts were, I sensed a tangible divine protection.
I did not feel the least bit tired or worn out, even after forty hours of watching, fasting, and praying. Katharina now began to rage so furiously that it took great efforts to control her. She threatened to break me into a thousand pieces, and I did not risk going near her. At the same time she kept babbling and ranting so horribly that thousands of spiteful tongues seemed to be speaking all at once.
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Remarkably, Katharina remained fully conscious, and one could reason with her. Afterward, too, she remembered everything distinctly, which depressed her so severely that I had to spend days counseling and encouraging her. Gradually, after much prayer, these memories faded away. The demon inside Katharina did not make himself out to be a departed human spirit, but an eminent angel of Satan. He claimed that if he were forced to descend into the abyss, it would deal Satan a fatal blow, but would also cause Katharina to bleed to death.
Lasting for about a quarter of an hour, the cries were gruesomely forceful, and so loud that half the inhabitants of the village heard them.
At the same time Katharina started shaking so violently that it seemed her limbs would come loose. The demonic voice expressed fear and despair mingled with tremendous arrogance and defiance. It demanded that God perform a sign to allow it to go to hell with at least some honor, instead of forcing it to abdicate like an ordinary sinner. The strength and power of the demon now appeared to wane with every passing minute.
At this point the two-year-long fight came to an end. True, there remained things to work through afterward, but that was like clearing away the rubble of a collapsed building. Hans, for instance, was subject to a few more attacks, but they were scarcely noticed by others. Katharina had occasional convulsions as well, but soon she, too, recovered fully.
Further incidents were insignificant and unnoticed by others. As for Gottliebin, she suffered from several renewed attempts on the part of the dark power during the following months, but these attacks were doomed to failure and did not claim much of my attention. Eventually she attained complete health. All her former ailments, well known to her physicians, completely disappeared — the high shoulder, the short leg, stomach troubles, and others.
Over a considerable time her health has remained stable in every respect, which is a miracle of God. I know of no other woman who can handle children with such insight, love, and patience. I often entrust my own children to her. During the past year 43 THE FIGHT she has taught handicrafts; now I am starting a nursery school, and have not been able to find anyone as suitable as she to direct it.
Others can testify to her faithfulness in this role, and her effect on those who pass through the house. Everyone who knows her speaks of her with respect and appreciation. She is not employed by us as a domestic servant, for her gratitude will not allow her to accept payment for her work. Rather, she considers herself one of the family, as do her sister Katharina and her brother Hans. Blumhardt fondly called him his majordomo.