“I’m a practicing demonologist, not a theologian.” – Ed Warren
There are few public figures I’ve found more instantly likable than Ed & Lorraine Warren. I’ve spent a fair amount of time watching interviews and documentaries involving the Warrens, out of personal interest in their lengthy career as “demonologists” which had spanned nearly thirty years.
My introduction to the Warrens was a documentary about the Enfield case – known as the “most documented paranormal event in history.” I’ve been fascinated ever since.
Naturally, The Demonologist was a must-read for me.
The Demonologist contains a series of interviews conducted with Ed & Lorraine Warren by Gerald Brittle. The Warrens, primarily Ed, unpack some of their most infamous cases, spanning from their research of the Amityville story to Enfield – perhaps most recently brought to cultural awareness through 2016’s blockbuster horror film, The Conjuring 2.
They discuss their various experiences and answers some of Brittle’s pressing questions regarding the subject of the “supernatural.”
As I said before, few are as instantly likable as Ed & Lorraine Warren, and the matter-of-fact, conversational way that they answer each question gives the reader the sense of sitting at a dinner table hearing your grandparents tell you stories from their youth. Even with the horrific subject matter, there’s a warm nature about the Warrens that makes the read feel very welcoming and in a strange way – enjoyable.
The book is jam-packed with fascinating tidbits and gripping anecdotes that make it a hard volume to set down.
While Ed & Lorraine are certainly wonderful storytellers, the book should not be treated as some great theological tome. Heterodoxy abounds. While I do personally believe that the Warrens have likely encountered some legitimate demonic activity, I do not believe – from a reformed protestant perspective – that the extent of the Warren’s theology is Biblically defensible.
Ed and Lorraine both make several fallacious claims in the book. To list a few:
- They affirm the existence of human ghosts who have “lost their way” in eternity. “…if you died suddenly and unexpectedly—say in an accident—and you refused to accept the fact that you’re physically dead, then quite likely you’d remain earthbound until such time as you realized that you were out of the game; that you were dead. In the meantime, while you’re trying to sort this problem out as a spirit, you’d probably remain earthbound in familiar surroundings—like your home. Nothing would seem different to you: you’d be able to see and hear other members of your family just like before, but they wouldn’t be able to see or hear you. ‘What’s the matter?’ you might ask, ‘why don’t they pay attention to me?’ So, frustrated, you find a way—through mind over matter—to start causing objects to move, or you slam doors in order to get attention. Of course, all you’ll really succeed in doing will be to scare the wits out of your family. At that time, your folks might get hold of Lorraine and me, who would then come to the house and have a little discussion with you as a spirit—so you’d be able to pass over correctly.”
“There are two types of spirits that are encountered in true haunting situations, one is human; the other, however, is inhuman. An inhuman spirit is something that has never walked the earth in human form.”
- They deny the existence of a fiery hell as created by God. “No,” he answers. “I don’t believe in a fiery hell. Although, through the possessed, I’ve heard the demonic spirit wail about ‘hell-fire,’ I can’t for a moment believe that an all-loving God would create such an incomprehensible horror as hell. However, through their perverse approach to existence, these spirits may have created their own fiery hell; insofar as their existence is the antithesis of the positive, such torment would be their own doing.” (Ed does affirm ultimate hell as eternal separation from God.)
- They affirm an all-inclusive method of ministry, partnering with leaders in various religions. “I’ve worked with exorcists from almost every major religion, I’ve found them to be older men, usually between forty and eighty. They tend to be very saintly, humble men who care deeply about people and their welfare. Usually, they have no other title than monk, priest, rabbi, minister, or yogi but they all seem to embody a combination of wisdom, kindness, and compassion that you don’t see in ordinary people.”
- They are involved in necromancy and Lorraine claims the gift of clairvoyance. “Clairvoyants like Lorraine can see and ‘read’ the human aura, which appears in three layers, reflecting the physical, emotional, and spiritual status of the person.”
While the Demonologist does contain some interesting anecdotes and genuinely fascinating accounts, discerning Christians will notice theological errors throughout the book.
As a literary volume alone, I can recommend it as a decent read which provokes some fascinating questions. However, the book should by no means be considered an authoritative voice on the Christians understanding of demonology, regardless of whether it serves as an interesting read or not.