Do You Believe in Ghosts?
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It wasn’t the first time the subject had come up in our Bible Study.
As I listened to several people share ghost stories and their encounters with “spirits,” I felt like I had walked into a New Age seminar rather than a Christian Bible study. These were Christian women that I had known for several years. Did they seriously believe that their dead relatives continued to visit them as ghosts?
How could I lovingly explain that this concept is not biblical?
I couldn’t argue with their experiences. They had obviously experienced something supernatural. But what they had experienced, I feared, was demonic or occult activity. And with their high level of interest in it, they were opening up themselves to whatever else Satan wanted to throw at them.
I opted to remain silent. I decided nothing I could say would change their minds. I had no other explanation to offer them for what they experienced, and I don’t think they would have been very happy had I politely shared my theory that these “relatives” of theirs were actually demons in disguise.
But ever since that night I’ve second-guessed my silence. As a Christian, shouldn’t I stand up for biblical truth? These were fellow believers, shouldn’t I set them straight?
The problem was that I had no idea what to say to them. Not being an expert on the subject, I felt like I couldn’t offer them any answers.
Since that night I’ve been more attuned to how often the topic of the paranormal comes up, even in church settings. During a recent Sunday school lesson several people admitted having visited a psychic, and many people said they read their horoscopes (although, supposedly, they don’t really take them seriously).
We need look no further than current popular television programs and movies to see that the paranormal has become of huge interest in secular culture. Many of the popular cable channels offer shows where you can watch mediums contact the dead or follow ghost hunters as they travel from one haunted place to the next using strange devices to “scientifically measure” their findings and explain the hauntings.
Teens have also become involved in occult activities at an alarming rate. A study conducted by George Barna found that three-quarters of America’s youth (73 percent) had engaged in some type of psychic or witchcraft related activity beyond watching TV shows and reading horoscopes. In addition, one out of 10 teens said they had participated in a séance and one out of 12 said they had tried to cast a spell or mix a magic potion.
Even more surprising, only one quarter (28 percent) of churched teenagers said they recalled receiving any teachings at church in the last year that helped shaped their view of the supernatural world.1
Maybe church leaders are also at a loss for how to explain psychic phenomenon and supernatural experiences.
With the enormous amount of interest in the supernatural, perhaps it is time that more Christians, both leaders and lay people, start studying and addressing the issue. When you look at what Scripture says about paranormal activity and where it originates from, you will find that it is a grave issue with life and death ramifications. God takes it very seriously, and as His followers we should too.
One author who wants to help Christians educate themselves about the supernatural is Ron Rhodes, president of Reasoning from the Scritpures Ministries. His book, The Truth Behind Ghosts, Mediums, & Psychic Phenomena, offers a wealth of information.
Written in an easy-to-understand format, Rhodes defines terms associated with psychic phenomenon. He also explains what spiritual forces are behind psychics’ abilities and why their “powers” do sometimes seem to work.
Contrary to what many people believe, not all psychics are fakes. Some of them use powers that are very real and very dangerous. They have opened themselves up to satanic influences and practices that Scripture forbids Christians to take part in.
Rhodes also explains the growing popularity of using mediums to contact the dead. He discusses how Scripture supports the idea that Satan and his demons can impersonate dead humans. Why would they do this? Their goal is always to direct a person away from God.
Often they will use a person’s deep grief at the loss of a loved one to gain their attention. Once the person believes they are hearing from their loved one, and that they can renew contact with him or her through the psychic or medium, they are hooked on the supernatural experience. Satan can then use this to lure them away from God and into a myriad of other occult activities.
Rhodes also discusses numerous popular psychics and mediums who believe their powers are a gift from God. Too often, Christians are enticed by the Web sites or advertisements on which the psychics claim their practices to be godly. They convince themselves that visiting this psychic is okay because he or she is a “Christian psychic.”
The Truth Behind Ghosts, Mediums, & Psychic Phenomena explains that at the heart of all occult activities are dark spiritual forces that God does not want His people to play with. By offering a thorough overview of many of the topics related to ghosts and paranormal activity, Rhodes seeks to educate Christians so they will not be led astray by false teachings on the subject.
As Christians, we need not fear these issues or the questions they raise, but we also should not be ignorant of them either. Educating ourselves about what Scripture teaches on the matter is the best way to prepare for times when the topic comes up with friends or family.
Rhodes’ book is an excellent resource to address questions that arise from both Christians and nonbelievers. Having read it I feel much more equipped to speak about the subject. Now when the conversation turns to ghosts, whether it is in my local church or in the local supermarket, I will proudly proclaim God's truth.
Want to learn more? Check out The Truth Behind Ghosts, Mediums, & Psychic Phenomena.
1. All statistics taken from "New Research Explores Teenage Views and Behavior Regarding the Supernatural," The Barna Update, January 23, 2006, Internet edition.
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