Jesus gave his disciples power over demons, and he sent them out to cure diseases. In the last century many Christians became convinced that they too, as disciples of the Lord, had those gifts. They said that all that had been needed was for them to start exercising their gifts.
I was appointed pastor in a parish where there was a group of such people. Lucky for me, they considered my role as pastor to be a special gift from God, and they put up with it when I made fun of them. I did that by comparing them to Rene Descartes, who wrote his “Principles of Philosophy”” in 1644.
Descartes began that work by saying that all previous philosophies had fallen into error by accepting false assumptions. Saying he would base his Philosophy only on what he could prove, Descartes laid the foundation for all truth, by asserting that the one thing that he could prove was that he was thinking. He worded that by saying, “I think, therefore I am.”
Using that against my parishioners who thought themselves possessed of special gifts, I told one of them, “You are like Descartes. You have the gift of healing because you say you have the gift of healing.” To another I said, “And you have the gift of driving out spirits because you say you have that gift.”
One of those ladies called me up, and said, “Father, you are possessed by a devil” When I asked her how she knew that, she answered, “I know that because I have the gift of discernment of spirits.”