A Glimpse into the Possessed Mind: Phenomenological Events Surrounding Exorcism and Conversion

By Robert Bennett.

Published by The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society

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This paper explores the phenomenology surrounding conversion and exorcism as found within the Malagasy Lutheran Church. This study provides an insiders' perspective into the live experiences of those who have underwent a conversion event leading them to Christianity, specifically, Malagasy Lutheran Christianity. The data collection occurred through phenomenological methods of interviewing. The sampling comprised of members of the Fifohazana movement found within the church. The findings of this research seek to elucidate the inner workings of the traditional Malagasy psyche by expressing the experiences of those who have undergone a conversion into the Christian Faith. The majority of those interviewed described having a great spiritual struggle at some time during their lives. The research also demonstrates a strong evangelical character within the Church. Other considerations uncovered are a strong catechesis model used by the church and the communal nature of its members. This research is helpful because it demonstrates the effectiveness of the Gospel within an animistic context. This research adds to the scholarship of Hans Austnaberg and Cynthia Holder-Rich by providing an even greater insight into the exorcistic phenomenon occurring in Madagascar. This is accomplished by describing the experiences of those who have undergone this phenomenon.

Keywords: Spiritual Warfare, Spirit Possession, Power Evangelism

The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp.147-154. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 564.372KB).

Dr. Robert Bennett

Adminstrative Pastor, Concordia Theological Seminary, Reese, IN, USA

Robert Bennett is dedicated to studying Malagasy culture and the Evangelist methods employed by the Malagasy Lutheran Church. His research includes a collection of hundreds of ethnographic interviews that seek to understand the phenomenology of conversion that has led to the incredible growth of Christianity on the island. He is the author of a recent PhD dissertation titled, “Out of the Darkness and into the Light; A Phenomenological Study of the Events Surrounding Exorcism and Conversion As Found in the Malagasy Lutheran Church.” Bennett is also the Administrative Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church and School, located in Reese, Michigan.