Assembly 2015

Everything I Know About the Church and the Way of Jesus I learned from Watching ‘The Exorcist’

By Linley McCord

When people think of the 1973 blockbuster, “The Exorcist,” they don’t often associate it with the Gospel.

However, Bert Montgomery, pastor of University Baptist Church in Starkville, Miss., finds worship in what has been called America’s scariest movie of all time.

“It’s easy to think about a little girl with a spinning head when we think about the forces of evil,” Montgomery said about the reality of the devil being a present force in daily life.

The focus of Montgomery’s workshop at the 2015 Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly in Dallas was not about the little girl being possessed by a demon, but on the fact that the priest, Father Karras, was a man who believed he was losing his faith but still laid down his life for the sake of the afflicted girl.

“The priest, with all of his guilt and inadequacies, does the only thing that can be done: he sacrifices himself,” said Montgomery. Despite the fact that Father Karras had doubts and fears, he trusted God to be able to cast out the demon from this girl, even at the expense of his own life.

So is the same with Jesus. Montgomery said that the act of ridding people of their “demon,” whether it be hatred or racism or fear, is “not just taking the demon out, but addressing Jesus as the Son of God.”

Relying on the power of the person is insufficient, said Montgomery, and it is only through Jesus Christ that these spiritual exorcisms can take place. People let their fears and insecurities take over the desire to trust God and allow him to work.

Montgomery also addressed the violence associated with an exorcism that can make others feel frightened and slightly disturbed. This is similar to how society now views the current issues around us, such as homosexuality in the church or race relations.

“If we pay attention now, we can hear the violence and the threats and the fear that surrounds us,” Montgomery said about the current “demons” that our culture is faced with every day.

Jesus Christ is the answer to all the crises in the world, Montgomery added.

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