Ghosts and the Christian Worldview

Posted: September 25, 2012 in Apologetics, Occult
Tags: , ,

I was just reading a post from C. Michael Patton over at Reclaiming the Mind . I have to admit, I too, am fascinated by the paranormal shows popping up on cable as of late. Ghost Hunters was the first, but since then, many other programs have arisen similarly themed.

Michael writes: “Since Ghost Hunters began a few years ago, there has been a massive surgence of television shows about paranormal activity. From Ghost Hunters spin-offs to reenactments of “actual” hauntings, the entertainment business has found a niche to peak and feed peoples’ insatiable curiosity in the spiritual world. Its popularity cannot be ignored.” 

It’s fascinating to watch some of these programs. Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, Paranormal State, etc., all attempt to scientifically validate paranormal activity. The interesting part of this as it relates to the Christian Worldview, is their use of psychic/mediums, Wiccans, and full-blown witches, warlocks, and Catholic exorcism rites in their investigations. The Webster definition of “occult” is: matters regarded as involving the action or influence of supernatural or supernormal powers or some secret knowledge of them. 

The Bible is very clear about God’s view of occult practices.

For instance, divination, witchcraft, omen interpreters, sorcerers, spell-casting, mediums, spiritists,  and necromancers were considered detestable.

Deuteronomy 18:9-12

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

“When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. 10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you. 

The same goes for Astrology.

Isaiah 47:12-14

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

12 “Stand fast now in your spells
And in your many sorceries
With which you have labored from your youth;
Perhaps you will be able to profit,
Perhaps you may cause trembling.
13 “You are wearied with your many counsels;
Let now the astrologers,
Those who prophesy by the stars,
Those who predict by the new moons,
Stand up and save you from what will come upon you.
14 “Behold, they have become like stubble,
Fire burns them;
They cannot deliver themselves from the power of the flame;
There will be no coal to warm by
Nor a fire to sit before! 

Patton continues:

“Do ghosts fit into the Christian worldview?

This is an odd question. In one sense the answer is absolutely yes. Christianity denies physicalism (the belief that the physical comprises the sum total of reality). We believe that once a person dies, their spirit leaves their body. Therefore, there are disembodied spirits. The problem comes when the claims are made that these disembodied spirits remain on earth in some form and “haunt” or communicate with others.” 

This is an interesting question. Christians believe that humans are a duality of spirit and flesh. We believe that death is the separation of the soul from the body, and that the immaterial soul is immortal.

2 Corinthians 5:6-8

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

Michael goes on to describe the 3 main perspectives that Christians take when it comes to “ghosts”:

  1. “No there are no ghosts. Any supposed paranormal experience, if authentic, should be labeled as demonic activity.”
  2. “Ghosts may be spirits of disembodied people who are left on the earth without explanation.”
  3. “All “paranormal” activity has a naturalistic explanation.”

You’ll need to read the whole post to see the strengths and weaknesses that Michael lists in each view. My own personal view is that #1 reflects the best for a truly Biblical worldview. I cannot see God losing people after they die, like some misplaced sock. I will consider the other views, but it will take stronger Biblical evidence to convince me otherwise.

The main point I would like to make is that God has given His Word on paranormal activity outside of His own miraculous work in this earth, either directly, or through the agency of angels.
Many of these shows are synergistic in their inclusions of other worldviews into their investigations. Combining Wiccans,  psychics, diviners, warlocks, and Catholic exorcists is a recipe for trouble, even disaster. Remember what happened to the seven sons of Sceva?

Acts 19:13-16

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

13 But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 14 Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16 And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

Also, remember Paul’s warning:

2 Corinthians 11:12-15

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

12 But what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.

We need to be careful with our curiosity about the paranormal. We also need to keep our eye of discernment on bringing other worldviews synergistically into our own. Using darkness to combat darkness is foolish, and dangerous. Deception and bondage are the results.

Deuteronomy 29:29

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law

Ephesians 6:10-12

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenlyplaces.

So, this Halloween, remember to wear your Christian Worldview glasses while enjoying the festivities, and be discerning when you watch paranormal shows. All of it is entertainment, and we do not know if any of it is actual paranormal activity, but it might pose an opportunity for you to discuss your faith with someone who isn’t a Christian, or it might help you practice your apologetics on a believer who may be confused on this topic.

Simil iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams

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