The Rite stars Anthony Hopkins and Colin O'Donoghue. It is about a young man, Michael Kovak, who has finished Catholic seminary but has not yet taken his vows for the priesthood because he is doubting his faith. At the urging of one of his teachers at seminary, Michael goes to Italy to study at the Vatican's exorcism school. Of course, he has many skeptical questions and is urged by Father Superior (Toby Jones) to seek out Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins), a seasoned exorcist who lives in Rome. The stage is set and Michael must deal with what soon follows. Are the demonic manifestations in people real or are they merely the delusions of mentally disturbed people? Michael's skepticism is formidable.
This movie is not something I'd recommend children to see. It has some obviously disturbing images as the special effects are rather convincing. You don't see any scary demonic figures, but you do see images of people contorting, faces turning different colors, demonic-sounding voices, etc. Along with the screaming and occasional foul language, the movie produces a level of intensity not appropriate for young children.
Alright, so what do I think of the movie? It was well done, had great acting, and was easy to follow. As a Protestant theologian, however, I could not help but think how the Catholics in the movie, which was based on true events, were really being deceived by such demonic manifestations. I say this because Roman Catholicism is replete with heresies, unbiblical teachings concerning salvation, Mary worship, superstitions, and its own grandiose claim to be the only true church that has the right and authority to dispense the grace of God. So, as I viewed the movie I could not help but wonder how brilliant the demonic realm really might be. All demonic forces would have to do is manifest a "possession" only to have the "authority" of the Roman Catholic Church appear to cast out the evil spirits. All the demons would have to do is play their part and become silent after an exorcism -- leading the Catholics, and others, to think that it was successful. This would serve to convince people that the Roman Catholic Church has the authority that it claims. In turn, this would further propagate the false religion of Roman Catholicism. Is such a thing possible? Yes it is.
"Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’" (Matt. 7:22-23).
Notice how Jesus himself says that there will be people who will cast out demons in his name, but were never Christians: "I never knew you."
I found myself wondering if my assessment was correct. Who am I to say what can and cannot be done in an exorcism? I've never performed one. But, I found myself returning again and again to what the Scriptures actually say. I know that the Roman Catholic Church is false because of its many unbiblical teachings in critical areas. I also know that the Roman Catholic Church claims success at exorcisms. Therefore, because I seek to be true to the word of God, I conclude that in spite of all the appearances of successful exorcism, what might be really happening is the demons are playing along to further the great deception found in the Roman Catholic Church.