Monday, January 23, 2012

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

Do you believe in ghosts? There is a rising interest in the supernatural, with ghosts (discarnate human spirits) being one of the leading aspects of this fascination. Movies such as “Paranormal Activity” enhance in the public eye the reality of spectral figures, once living but long since passed away, moving among us day by day and occasionally interacting with us. Mediums and seers make a living off of “contacting the dead” and many Christians likewise have experienced meetings with what they deem are ghosts. But what does Scripture say about ghosts?

One of the more interesting theories regarding ghosts (in their case, demons) comes from G. H. Pember and Donald Grey Barnhouse, 19th and 20th century Christian theologians respectively. Both men advanced a peculiar theology: that demons (what most consider ghosts) are in fact discarnate pre-adamic spirits that lived on earth before God judged that world because of Lucifer’s rebellion. I am of course referring to the Gap Theory, where Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 has a pause of thousands, millions or even billions of years between “without form and void” and “there was light.” The subjective postulating that goes into this theory to sustain it in Scripture is slightly vapid but well polished, and deals primarily with a play on words; the Hebrew “tohu.” Jeremiah 4:23 etc. and Isaiah 45:18 are pillars upon which both men rest their theological cases. I wanted to showcase a clever explanation regarding demons: formerly human (or human-like) beings whose lust to have flesh again drives them to possess people. The fallen angels, according to this theory, are largely chained in the bottomless pit of Tartarus (Hell) awaiting judgment, Jude 1:6.

While the surface of this argument is engaging, there is, at best, slight Scriptural warrant for swallowing any of it. Many do believe the Gap Theory in whole because they believe Evolution or geological ages are proven facts that science has long since confirmed. This is of course fallacious propaganda that serves to undermine the faith of many in what the Bible says regarding the creation of the earth and its age. Christ’s words alone in Mark 10:6 seem to crush the Gap Theory in a single blow; not to mention Paul’s excellent argument in Romans chapter 5 that sin was not in the world until Adam sinned and death followed sin, Romans 5:12. If death existed before Adam’s sin occurred then the Bible contradicts itself and God the Holy Spirit was wrong when He inspired Paul to speak. According to the Gap Theory the fossil record indicates massive judgment and death prior to Adam: this alone demonstrates that the Gap Theory is incorrect in its assumptions, or else the Bible is.

So then, what are ghosts? Do ghosts exist, and can people legitimately contact them? The Old Testament is crystal clear in its injunction that God forbids communication with the dead, Leviticus 19:31; 20:6; Deuteronomy 18:11-12. It is clear then that contact with something is possible. Mediums believe they are speaking with the souls of departed humans. Are they? The deceased in question only affirm a happy afterlife with acceptance and lack of judgment. Is there? There is one fully chronicled case of mediumship in the Bible. Let us see how it happened and what it brought about.

In 1st Samuel chapter 28 King Saul seeks out a medium to contact familiar spirits to gain wisdom concerning a coming battle. The medium does as he requests, but contrary to her expectation she finds the prophet Samuel rising out of the earth instead of her familiar spirit! The medium is clearly frightened in this instance, 1st Samuel 28:12. Either she was a charlatan playing at being able to contact the dead, or her normal spirit guide was prevented from coming so God could send Samuel.

The prophet did not bring a message of comfort and pleasantry to Saul. He was upset that Saul called for him and delivered a message of stern condemnation for his sins, concluding with the certainty that God would deliver him to death for disobedience, 1st Samuel 28:17-18. This includes the sin of summoning familiar spirits. What are familiar spirits? Paul likens the deities and spirits venerated by the Gentiles as masquerading demons, who use a physical idol as a prop or medium through which to make contact with people, 1st Corinthians 10:20. Such idols in ancient Rome were statues of gods, emperors and the like. Today it could be a grieving family who venerate the image of their dead child and want to see them once more so badly that it creates an opening for a deceiving spirit (1st John 4:1; 1st Timothy 4:1). In other words, a demon will pretend to be anyone and anything you want them to be in order to lead you away from the truth. Satan can even still masquerade as an angel of light, 2nd Corinthians 11:14.

The message received from the “departed spirits” across the globe is overwhelming: there is no real death; no cessation of existence, judgment, or Hell, only acceptance and goodwill. The serpent used this same lie with Eve when he enticed her to defy God. She would not die; there was no real judgment awaiting. This is in direct antagonism to God’s revealed word when He said: you will surely die; it is appointed for men to die once and then the judgment, Genesis 2:17; Hebrews 9:27. Many wish to alter the word of God to permit ghosts as a legitimate source of knowledge or revelation, but Scripture forbids it. If you go farther than God wishes you to then you are abandoning the sure rock of Scripture and opening yourself to demonic intrusion and deception.

Many doubtless will find reason to disregard this warning, but I felt compelled to write it nonetheless, and pray that it finds root in our Christian thoughts, that the only spirit we should be seeking to commune with is the Holy Spirit as He leads us to greater depth of understanding in His word. May God give us clarity, Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Since they have no physical body, spirits have little impact on the physical world, but if allowed to, they can influence our minds, causing us to misinterpret what we see or hear, or encouraging us to do things ourselves. The constant bombardment with the programs and talk of the paranormal often causes us to think about these things and open our minds to give spirits access. Once they have access, they try to take control.

    Great article.


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