CBF Podcast: The Intersection of Psychiatry and Demonology, Featuring Dr. Ragy Girgis

By Andy Hale

As a child, I had a highly vivid imagination. In the woods of our family’s backyard, I could become Robin Hood, Indiana Jones, Han Solo, or a member of the Goonies. A storage box became a spaceship. A stick became Lion-O’s Sword of Omens. 

There are the downsides to such an imagination, such as the times you discover what demons are from reading your children’s Bible. I can remember at the age of 5 being completely terrified by the idea that, I too, could be possessed by a demon and chained up outside of my town like the man from Luke 8.

Have you ever wondered what we should do with all the demonology and demon possession from the sacred Scriptures?

“There must be a way to understand why such language was used if this story is not actually about demon possession or exorcism as we should understand them today,” said Dr. Ragy Girgis on the CBF Podcast.

We sat down with the associate professor of clinical psychiatry at the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry to discuss the intersection of psychiatry and demonology and the dire need for mental health awareness within the Church.

“I would suggest that believing that serious mental illness is primarily volitional and related to moral weakness, rather than biological in nature and no different than high blood pressure, diabetes, or cancer, does a disservice to individuals with serious mental illness and their families.”

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This podcast episode is brought to you by The Center for Congregational Health, Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, and McAfee School of Theology Doctor of Ministry program.

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Andy Hale is the creator and host of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Podcast. Hale is the senior pastor of University Baptist Church of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, following eight years as the founding pastor of Mosaic Church of Clayton and five years as CBF’s church start specialist. Follow on Twitter @haleandy

One thought on “CBF Podcast: The Intersection of Psychiatry and Demonology, Featuring Dr. Ragy Girgis

  1. This is a very interesting topic to discuss. Demons are real and the New Testament incidents where Jesus performs exorcisms on demon possessed people I believe are real and not any mental illness. I have personally witnessed people being possessed, and being delivered from evil spirit possession. The evil spirits fear the name of Jesus and the Word of God – The Bible. They can do us no harm as long as we are under God’s protection. Job was a righteous man and his example is unique. Satan had to ask God to take off God’s protective fence around Job. Those who are unrighteous have refused God in the first place and so are vulnerable to Satan’s attack.
    1 Peter 5:8 says – “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
    Satan is deceptive as we read in Eve’s case in Genesis. Assuming demon possession to be mental illness could be a deception. In today’s culture we have normalized sin (I do not want to give any specific examples here), which is Satan’s greatest deception. He is too smart, more than what we could imagine.
    I am a Mechanical Engineer and a Software Engineer and my father is from a medical background. I can tell whether a person is sick, or has some mental illness or is addicted to drugs etc., by the way they behave.
    As long as we put on the whole armor of God as mentioned in Ephesians 6, we are safe. The Word (Bible) can be taken literally, in addition it has a deeper meaning. (That’s not what is taught in some Seminaries, which is very sad.)
    All I can tell is “do not be deceived”, “Be sober, and be vigilant.”

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