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Free Church Pastors in Germany – Perceptions of Spirit Possession and Mental Illness

Michael Grossklaus

This book focuses on Free Church pastors in Germany and their perceptions of spirit possession and mental illness. To explore Free Church pastors’ understanding of spirit possession and mental illness is critical in light of the overlap of symptoms. Misdiagnosis may result in a client receiving treatment that may not be appropriate. Interviews with Free Church pastors were conducted. The results were analysed and four themes were identified. Based on these interviews conclusions could be drawn which ultimately made it clear that the German free church pastors’ theological training needs to be supplemented in the area of psychology and that the pastors are unable to cope in the area of «spirit possession or mental illness».

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4 Theological Theories of Spirit Possession


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4  Theological Theories of Spirit Possession27

This chapter discusses some of theological theories regarding spirit possession. Special reference is made to the current position of the Protestant and Catholic churches in Germany as well as the charismatic movement. In addition, free church associations’ position on spirit possession will be explored.

There is no simpler way to state what theology is than to describe it as the doctrine of God. The basis of theology on the one hand is the Bible28 and on the other hand the theological writings of 2000 years of history of the church. As much as there is not only one theological doctrine, there is also not only one church. This has a direct influence on the theological doctrines about spirit possession.

The theological history of spirit possession has already been detailed in Chapter 2 of this thesis, therefore this chapter will deal with the current theological theories of spirit possession. These theories are closely associated with the particular denomination. Against this background, the current situation in Germany shall be described. This will help to understand the methodology (Chapter 5) and the analysis of the interviews with free church pastors in Germany.

4.1  Theological Theories of Spirit Possession in the Protestant Churches in Germany

In Germany, the landscape of churches is characterised in a very special manner. This has historical reasons and differs from other countries. In Germany, up to the time of...

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