Movies like “The Conjuring” are nothing new to Hollywood. In 1971, The Exorcist was a novel by William P. Blatty that was adapted to the screen in 1973. The book and movie scarred horror fans to death by basing their story on a 1949 exorcism of Roland Doe, an anonymous young boy.
Similar to The Conjuring, Amityville Horror was a 1977 novel that was adapted into a movie in 1979 based on a family moving into a New York house and experiencing paranormal events due to the house having a mass murder the year before.
In 2005, Hollywood released The Exorcism of Emily Rose and in 2006, Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers. Paranormal movies and demonic possessions are nothing new to Hollywood, but are these all fiction or are they fact? Do evil spirits haunt these houses?
Demon possession and exorcism are very biblical as well as demonic oppression. From the Old Testament, king Saul, Israel’s first king, was oppressed by “an evil spirit” (1 Samuel 16:14).
The prophet Daniel was praying for three weeks with no response until he was visited by an angel who explained to Daniel that he (the angel) was dispatched when Daniel prayed but was held back by the “prince of Persia” for three weeks (Daniel 10:12-14).
Just reading the New Testament will produce a slew of exorcisms from Matthew through Acts, in fact, Jesus’s ministry in Matthew 4:24 had a demonic exorcism component. So the Bible substantiates the premise of The Conjuring-a spirit oppressing the family and household- but did the spirit of Bathsheba Sherman haunt this house as the movie portrays?
Peter C.T. Elsworth of the Providence Journal writes, “The Warrens later concluded the Harrisville house was haunted by Bathsheba Sherman, who had lived there in the early 19th century. She had been a practicing Satanist, according to the Warrens’ account in The Journal, who had murdered her young daughter as a sacrifice to Lucifer. So that she might remain on the premises to haunt the house forever more, the woman followed established black rituals and took her own life. She hanged herself – hence her apparition to Mrs. Perron, according to the Warrens.” Can Mrs. Perron, whose first name is Carolyn, been possessed? Can a spirit oppress this family?
The Bible does acknowledge that the paranormal can oppress (Matt 12:43-45) and has names (Luke 8:30). So the Bible does support that the Perron’s were oppressed and the possession of Carolyn Perron is a scenario common to the New Testament.
The likelihood that the spirit that was haunting the Perron estate was Bathsheba Sherman’s ghost is not confirmed in Scripture. The Bible says humanity is composed of spirit and body and when the body dies, the spirit either enters into the presence of God’s grace or the presence of his judgment (Luke 16:19-31).
From the biblical text, the assailant was likely a demonic force or a group of demons who referred to them as “Bathseba” and were specifically targeting mother’s to attack children. We see in the book of Daniel that the demonic realm does have specificity; there are two references in the book of Daniel, one to “the prince of Persia (Dan 10:13) and one to the prince of Greece (Daniel 10:20) who are demonic adversaries needing to be opposed, attributed to a specific territory. So the Perron’s house was likely the target of a “territorial” demon(s) and not the actual spirit of Bathsheba Sherman.
There is a reference in Scripture of a human’s spirit returning, that of the prophet Samuel who is summoned by the witch of Endor in 1 Samuel 28:3-24 which could support the paranormal entity as Bathseba but the breadth of Scripture suggests that Mrs. Sherman’s soul has gone into an ethereal realm and the oppressors are demonic servants of Satan.
The Bible’s ultimate story is one of exorcism: Satan has tricked human kind to rebel against God (Genesis 3) but God put into place a plan to exorcise sin out of humanity (Genesis 3:15; John 3:16) and redeem humanity back to Himself (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).
So does the movie The Conjuring have a biblical basis? The Bible does teach that humankind exists in a spiritual realm, not just physical. Angels and demons are at war but in the end, God wins and Satan along with his demons are thrown into eternal punishment (Revelation 20). Though stories of exorcism are scary, the Bible teaches that greater is Jesus than those who demonically oppress (1 John 4:4; Colossians 1:16; 2:13-15).