You may or may not have heard about the uproar stemming from a recent tweet by the founder and presiding bishop of Lighthouse Chapel International, Bishop Dag Heward Mills. The great (and not so great) part of being such a popular man of God is that your speech is able to inspire and provoke anger, all at the same time.
While scores of people were highly displeased by his tweet, several others took to his defense, and rebuked those who spoke against him. I took a hard look at his tweet, the mixed reactions, and more importantly what the bible teaches.
I do not expect you to agree with it, but here’s my view on what transpired, as well as my opinion on what he said.
You can jump to any part of this article using the links below:
- How it all started: The innocent tweet from Dag Heward Mills
- Reactions to the tweet from Bishop Dag Heward Mills
- Breaking down the tweet: The case for and against
- What the Bible Says about Demons & Sickness
- Depression and Sadness: Definition and Causes
- Revisiting the Case AGAINST Dag Heward Mills
- The REAL reason people were outraged at Bishop Dag’s tweet
- Final words about the tweet from Dag Heward Mills
How it all started: The tweet from Dag Heward Mills
On the 23rd of October, Bishop Dag Heward Mills put out the below ‘innocent’ tweet, that set the social media platform ablaze.
— Dag Heward-Mills (@EvangelistDag) October 23, 2018
The doctor-turned-preacher seems to be promoting his book titled ‘Demons and how to deal with them’, however the caption is what created the uproar on Twitter. He links depression – a very serious mental ailment – and sadness, to demonic activity.
This led some to wonder how someone who is a medical doctor by profession, could possibly associate depression with demons.
Reactions to the tweet from Bishop Dag Heward Mills
Characteristic of Twitter, the tweet from the Bishop was met with several savage responses, with some even claiming that Bishop Dag’s tweet was a ‘danger to society’.
Take a look below at some replies.
As stated earlier, the tweet from Dag Heward Mills caused mixed reactions: some spoke for and some spoke against, as we’ve just seen. Now let’s take a look at some replies that spoke in defence of the preacher.
Clearly he got as much love as he did hate.
The question at the end of the day is, was there anything really wrong with what he said? Were people simply overreacting? Or was Bishop Dag out of line? Could he have found a better way to say what he said?
Now that we’ve looked at a cross-section of responses, lets actually break it down and look at the arguments for and against the tweet.
The Case for and against Dag Heward Mills
Upon close inspection of the responses from both camps, some themes begin to come up that I would like discuss.
Those against the tweet from Dag Heward Mills, are basing their argument on 2 major things:
- People can become depressed or saddened by everyday things. E.g. the loss of a loved one, termination of employment or even divorce. When these things occur and a Christian (or anyone for that matter) becomes depressed, how then do you attribute this to demons or demonic activity?
- Around the world and based on vast amounts of research, depression is regarded as a mental illness that can be triggered by a number of things. How then does someone who is a medical doctor by profession, come out to say this mental illness is caused by demon spirits?
If you look closely at these 2 arguments, there is an underlying belief behind them, and it is essentially this: sadness or depression is a physical ailment caused by physical things, and therefore cannot possibly be connected to or caused by anything spiritual such as demons.
So that’s the case from those who are against.
What about those who are for?
Believe it or not, most didn’t make any concrete arguments in support of what Dag Heward Mills said. If you check most of the responses, they were mostly caution about speaking against a man of God.
Only one individual referenced one scripture, but the vast majority just spoke generically. Of course Twitter is hardly the place for engaging in any form of meaningful debate, but most didn’t even try to pose any sort of counter argument or explanation.
So perhaps the Lighthouse Pastor is indeed in the wrong.
Perhaps he spoke out of turn and there isn’t any good rationale for how he said what he said. Maybe the Bishop was just trying to get attention for his book and decided to create some controversy. Perhaps there is no strong argument for the link between demons and depression or sadness …
Or is there?
Let’s take a look at what the bible says and find out.
What the Bible says about Demons & Sickness
Firstly, we have to agree to use the bible as our single point of reference.
If we are to judge rightly, we need to be absolutely convinced that the bible is the word of God. And that no matter what we believe or think, we will allow the bible to change our opinion if it turns out that we are wrong.
I will pick some verses of scripture about Jesus and the healing miracles he performed.
1. Mark 9:14-27 (NIV)
“… What are you arguing with them about?” he asked. A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.” … When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him … When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.”
The above portion of scripture is very clear. The young man was deaf and dumb, and from some of the other symptoms mentioned, it is clear that he was sick with some form of epilepsy.
But the bible also says that he was ‘possessed with a spirit‘ and that ‘the spirit saw Jesus and threw the boy into a convulsion’ and finally that Jesus ‘rebuked the impure spirit‘ and the boy was healed.
All this proves that the boy’s ailment was caused by a demon.
2. Luke 13:10-13 (NIV)
On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.
Here again, Jesus heals a woman whom the scripture says had been crippled ‘by a spirit‘. This time around, Jesus ministers differently: he simply commands her to be healed and does not even recognise the demon.
The point here? This woman’s ailment was also caused by a demon.
3. Mark 5:15 (NIV)
When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid.
You can read the above verse of scripture in context from verse one of that chapter. The essence of that story is that there was a mad man who was possessed by a legion of demons, meaning a group of demons. Jesus cast them out, and the man came to his senses. He became sane.
His sanity was restored after the demons were cast out, proving that demons were responsible for his mental illness.
The 3 scriptures above clearly show that epilepsy, dumbness, deafness, paralysis and insanity, can all be caused by demons or demonic activity.
Depression and Sadness: Definition and Causes
To understand whether or not the tweet from Bishop Dag has any foundation, it is worth exploring what depression and sadness mean in the first place.
Britannica defines depression as:
“… a mood or emotional state that is marked by feelings of low self-worth or guilt and a reduced ability to enjoy life. A person who is depressed usually experiences several of the following symptoms: feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or pessimism; lowered self-esteem and heightened self-depreciation; a decrease or loss of ability to take pleasure in ordinary activities; reduced energy and vitality; slowness of thought or action; loss of appetite; and disturbed sleep or insomnia.”
Mayo Clinic defines it as:
“… a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn’t worth living.”
And finally, the World Health Organisation (WHO) defines it as:
“… a common mental disorder, characterised by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that you normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for at least two weeks.”
Now, I am no doctor or psychologist, but there clearly seems to be a link between depression and sadness. Sadness seems to be one of the symptoms of one someone suffering from depression.
The definitions above make it clear that depression is a disorder that is characterised by negative emotions. It robs the individual of performing normal everyday actions like eating, working, and even thinking.
A person who is depressed has no joy, no hope, no faith and no optimism yet these are all virtues that God wants us to have and express according to the scriptures (Galatians 5:22).
The key thing here is: it is a ‘disorder’, meaning it is an ailment or form of sickness.
But, the real question is: what causes depression?
In the WHO link above, they state that:
“People who have gone through adverse life events (unemployment, bereavement, psychological trauma) are more likely to develop depression.”
These are all physical things.
In other words depression can be caused by negative, physical life occurrences.
If that is true, then perhaps there is something to be said for those who spoke against the tweet from the Lighthouse Chapel founder, isn’t there?
Let’s find out.
Revisiting the Case Against Dag Heward Mills
We’ve already seen from previous sections, that demons can indeed cause sickness. And from our previous section, we’ve also seen that negative life events can lead to depression.
So the question is: is there any connection between depression and demons?
Remember what we said previously: depression is fundamentally a form of sickness. However, it is largely a mental one, not a physical one. And the scriptures are clear that demons can cause physical sickness as we’ve seen.
So the real question is: if demons can cause physical forms of sickness, can they also cause non-physical (e.g. mental) forms of sickness?
We have already seen an extreme example of this, from Mark 5, where the demon-possessed man was insane. Insanity is a serious ‘mental disease’ where one loses the ability to reason or behave normally. If demons could cause a man to lose his mind, is it a stretch to think they could also cause a negative state such as depression?
I think not.
But then let’s ‘be practical’ as they say. Are we therefore saying, that when something negative happens – such as the loss of a loved one – and someone becomes depressed, that it was caused by a demon?
In the scriptures, not all forms of sickness were caused by demons. There were cases where Jesus simply healed people, and there was no reference to their ailment being caused by a demon. So in the same vein, not all forms of depression (a mental sickness) would necessarily be caused by a demon as well.
That being said, it is important to understand the operation of the devil: he is a predator.
The bible says he moves about like a roaring lion, seeking whom to devour (1 Peter 5:8). We are therefore cautioned to resist him. If we are told to resist him, then it means it is possible for us to invite him. It is possible for us to accept him and open a door for him into our lives.
An example of this is found in 1 Samuel 18:8-11.
It talks about Saul and David, and how Saul became angry and jealous of David, when the women began to sing his praises. The bible says the next day, an evil spirit came upon Saul, and he hurled a spear at David to kill him.
What happened? His angry emotion opened a doorway for the devil to take advantage of.
In the same way, depression or sadness are emotional states that the devil can take advantage of and perpetuate. One can become so depressed such that no amount of physical treatment can serve as a cure, because a demon has taken over.
The REAL Reason People Were Outraged at Bishop Dag’s Tweet
I believe the explanation I have given is very clear. In essence, demons can cause depression, but not every form of depression is necessarily the result of demonic activity.
So why then was there such an uproar about the tweet from Dag Heward Mills then?
The reason is simple: most people have opinions that have already been formed, and that they prefer to hold on to, rather than find out what the bible actually says.
It is easier for people to believe that depression is caused by physical things, rather than spiritual beings or factors. The spirit realm remains a mystery to most, and so they’d rather pretend that it doesn’t hold as much sway in the affairs of this world.
The truth is, we live in a spirit-ruled and spirit-controlled world. The spirit realm, and the activities of the spirit realm determine what happens here in the earth, more than anything else.
That’s why God gave us prayer; to use in deciding in the fate of this world.
In prayer, we relate with the spirit realm, with spiritual forces such as angels, and with God himself. In prayer, we liberate the souls of men and intercede for nations, families, governments and individuals.
People simply blew up on Twitter because spiritual realities are not easy to accept, especially when there is a lot of research to prove that they are right.
Final Words about the tweet from Dag Heward Mills
In conclusion, the key lesson here is read and research before you speak.
The scriptures I used in explaining Bishop Dag’s tweet were not difficult to understand at all. They were very clear and explain very well the connection between demons and sickness. The entire outrage was unnecessary.
If most people had just looked up what the man was saying, they would have been able to at the very least offer constructive feedback. And this holds especially true for Christians.
It is important that we do not engage in meaningless debates. Our arguments and communication must be based on a deep understanding of God’s word, and on sound doctrine. Simply saying ‘don’t speak that way because he’s a man of God’ simply doesn’t cut it.
You need to be able to break things down and help people understand what the scriptures say. So in that regard, I am including the following links for those of you who want to learn more from the word of God, from Bishop Dag:
The above links will help you to grow immensely in your Christian walk.
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