Over at the blog run by several key folks at BIOLA’s Torrey Honors Institute, The Scriptorium Daily, today’s date elicited a meditation on Johann Christoph Blumhardt (1805-1880) and the exorcism that propelled him to fame, such that he came to influence Karl Barth, among others. The following is written by Fred Sanders:
Today (December 28) in 1843, an unclean spirit cried “Jesus is victor!” as it departed from a young girl in Möttlingen, Germany.
The possessed girl was Gottliebin Dittus, and the presiding pastor was Johann Christoph Blumhardt (1805-1880). An account of the conflict can be read in the book The Awakening, available as a free pdf from Plough books. In fact, several books by and about Blumhardt and his son are available from Plough. The account of Blumhardt’s encounter with the unclean spirit is carefully written to avoid anything prurient, and to discourage unhealthy curiosity. But given the subject matter, it’s inevitably chilling and weird. It ranges from standard poltergeist behavior (loud knocking) to apparitions of the guilty departed, to intimations of the dark, spiritual world inhabited by fallen angels. Some of the scenes are, to speak anachronistically, straight out of exorcist movies.
Is this possession story just another weird, charismatic wrangling with the devil in the haunted hills of the Black Forest? Certainly purveyors of the sanctified paranormal will find plenty of standard fare in the story of Gottliebin Dittus. But the best thing about the Blumhardt story is the prominent role of Jesus. Blumhardt was relentless in his emphasis on Christ as the conqueror, the one who was engaging in victorious warfare against the powers of darkness in this strange event. The demon yelled “Jesus is victor!” as he departed, partly because he had heard a lot of solid preaching and theologizing in the course of the conflict.
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You can finish the article here. Also you’ll find other posts on this blog about Johann Christoph Blumhardt and his son Christoph here (a piece that starts by noting Rick Warren‘s recent tweeted advice that everyone needs to know the Blumhardts, followed by a pithy summary of the Blumhardts senior and junior by Blumhardt scholar and friend Christian Collins Winn) and here (a notice of the very first English translation of the standard German biography of the elder Blumhardt, Johann Christoph).
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