In the Lutheran Witness, I stumbled across this great article on exorcisms:
In 2009, LCMS World Relief and Human Care sponsored a Mercy Mission Expedition to Madagascar. Along with Prof. John Pless and several other seminary students, I was invited to witness firsthand how exorcism—something I knew little about—is a part of the Malagasy Lutheran Church’s regular expression of Christ’s mercy.
While in Madagascar, we learned that demon possession is usually the result of satanic cults or practices, which are quite common among the traditional tribal religions. To encounter demon-possession in Madagascar isn’t nearly as rare as in America.
That’s why exorcism functions as part of the regular ministry of the church there. Casting out demons is simply the natural response of Christianity in a pagan context. The Gospel cannot but help to cast out the very demons seeking to enslave men in their sin.
In Madagascar, the rites of exorcism are incorporated into Sunday worship at least once a month. While attending a church service, we saw the rite performed firsthand. No, there weren’t any spinning heads. Rather, everything seemed like a normal worship service. Set together with readings from Scripture, hymns, prayers and even a short sermon, the exorcism certainly was a sight to remember!
Here at Messiah Lutheran Church, in little La Crescent, MN, you may be surprised to find out that we actually do perform exorcisms. We do so in each Baptism. In the Alternate Rite for Baptisms, which is based on the Baptismal Booklet that was printed in the Small Catechism during Luther’s lifetime, after the reading of the Baptismal Scriptures, the pastor says “Therefore, depart, you unclean spirit, and make room for the Holy Spirit, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Whether this line is said or not, each and every Baptism is an exorcism.