Thinking Out Loud

October 13, 2017

Pigs in the Parlor

Filed under: books, Christianity, ministry — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:59 am

It’s no secret to people who work in Christian publishing that over the past 40+ years, the number one bestselling Charismatic book title has been Pigs in the Parlor by Frank & Ida Mae Hammond. Published in 1973 by Impact Books, the book may be a few million short of making this list but is well-known among Pentecostals and Charismatics, but little known outside that circle.

With the full title, Pigs in the Parlor: A Practical Guide to Deliverance, there are in fact only two small piglets on the cover, though the title always catches peoples’ attention. Through a series of circumstances, I attended a ‘deliverance’ church for two years in my early 20s and though I then moved on, I don’t in any way minimize that there are times when this type of ministry — along with seasoned practitioners of it — is what is called for.

The Hammonds credit Derek Prince for his influence on this subject. The first chapter opens with two sentences that some would challenge theologically: “Demon spirits and invade and indwell human bodies. It is their objective to do so.” The title premise is explained,

Twenty-five times in the New Testament demons are called “unclean spirits.” The word “unclean is the same word used to designate certain creatures which the Israelites were not to eat. (Acts 10: 11-14) The pig was one of these…

In the 22 successive chapters, various aspects of deliverance are explained. The publisher website highlights some of these:

Frank Hammond presents information on such topics as:
• How demons enter
• When deliverance is needed
• Seven steps in receiving & ministering deliverance
• Seven steps in maintaining deliverance
• Self deliverance
• Demon manifestations
• Binding and loosing
• Practical advice for the deliverance minister
• Answers to commonly asked questions, and more.

The Hammonds also present a categorized list of 53 Demonic Groupings, including various behavior patterns and addictions.

Testimonies of deliverance are presented throughout the book including Pride, Witchcraft, Nervousness, Stubborness, Defiance, Mental Illness and more.

Although I’d seen the book, I’d never taken the time to look closely at a copy until this summer. I didn’t read it all but did check out a few chapters in depth:

6. Seven Ways to Determine the Need for Deliverance
11. Deliverance: Individual and Group; Public and Private
12. Self Deliverance
14. Ministry to Children
15. Binding and Loosing
16. Pros and Cons of Various Techniques and Methods

Most readers here would quickly affirm that this simply isn’t their type of book, but I would challenge dismissing this genre too soon. I think it’s something most non-Charismatic and non-Pentecostal Christians need to at least be aware of; something more of us should have some basic familiarity with.

On a more personal level, it was interesting a few years ago while working at a summer camp how the leadership, when faced with a situation of demonic possession, wasted no time in contacting a Pentecostal pastor who was known for this type of ministry. While it’s entirely possible that in the days leading up to the event some might have stated they don’t believe in the danger of the demonic realm, it was a whole different story when they were confronted with it directly. 

It’s also interesting to note here that manifestations of demonic activity are somewhat foreign to the experience of Christians in North America, but such is not the case in other parts of the world.

Here’s how The Voice Bible colorfully renders Ephesians 6:12

We’re not waging war against enemies of flesh and blood alone. No, this fight is against tyrants, against authorities, against supernatural powers and demon princes that slither in the darkness of this world, and against wicked spiritual armies that lurk about in heavenly places.

Pigs in the Parlor is a book with a funny title, but spiritual warfare is no laughing matter.


  1. I have mixed feelings about this stuff. I have missionary friends who say it’s definitely very real in other parts of the world. When you go to places that are exposed to little or no Christianity, they say that you can physically feel the oppression and heaviness in the air. They say it’s not unusual for a demon-possessed witch doctor, medicine man, healer, priest, or whatever to wield a lot of control over the people in a village or region, and that casting these things out in Jesus’ name really does have power.

    On the other hand, I’ve been to a “deliverance church” a couple of times. The minister turned off the lights at one point, and walked up and down the aisles calling out the names of demons who were allegedly present in the room at the moment (“Rebellion, witchcraft, lust, envy” etc) and after he would say the name and “cast it out”, people would thrash around, start heaving or vomiting, scream or moan, or even try to run away. OK. So I’m open-minded, but the fact that this was supposed to be a room full of mostly Christians, and possibly a few of their friends or family members, brought along for “cleansing”… it just seemed weird that so many needed to have the demons cast out in that manner, on what I assume was a frequent basis?

    It also seems like the more we discover about the physiology of the human brain, and discover that the presence, absence, or imbalance of specific vitamins, minerals, neurotransmitters, chemicals, etc can be largely responsible for certain behaviors, the more it seems like things are being called “demons” when they really aren’t. Not that this nullifies demonic existence, since Jesus spoke specifically about (and to) demons, but it does make me wonder how often someone is claiming discernment of spiritual causes behind problems, when a little adjustment of brain chemistry can literally bring about an instantaneous “deliverance” in many cases.

    Comment by George — October 13, 2017 @ 11:58 am

    • That’s a very balanced viewpoint. Thanks for writing. (A future guest post perhaps? Let me know.)

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — October 13, 2017 @ 12:11 pm

      • Thanks, Paul. I’m genuinely complimented that you liked my writing and viewpoint as part of the discussion. But to be honest, I’m not really in a place in my personal life where I feel like I have anything of anointed substance to add to making guest posts. I have been reading this blog for several years and rarely comment, but I enjoy your writing very much — even when I don’t add anything in the comments. :)

        Comment by George — October 14, 2017 @ 2:51 pm

  2. Thanks for sharing, I’ve considered reading that book on a few occasions; probably will if I ever see it show up in a thriftstore again :)

    Deliverance is a tricky one to broach. Interestingly, it seems like C.S. Lewis had a fairly grounded understanding of the way the demonic operates (his depiction of the ‘possessed’ man in the second volume of his sci-fi series (I think it was called ‘Parelandra’…?) held striking similarities to experiences I’ve had (of course, the Screwtape Letters as well), to a degree that almost makes me wonder if he’d had any experience in seeing/ experiencing ‘exorcisms’ himself.

    Watchman Nee also said something interesting on the topic when he visited the US; I don’t recall word for word, but to paraphrase it was something like: ‘Americans have so much light of the Gospel… but too little faith to cast out a demon.’

    Comment by Ike12Stones — October 15, 2017 @ 2:42 am

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