This is the beginning of a short series where we will look at various topics of the paranormal and Fortean variety and see if Christian Scripture has anything relevant to say about them.
First on our paranormal plate is Ghosts!
Since The Sci-Fi Channel’s hit TV series Ghost Hunters hit the airwaves a few years ago investigations into the paranormal has gained in popularity. Seems like people are paying attention and a week does not go by lately when you see a news report of a local haunting. Here is one from my Youtube page that I recently put up that features an apparition caught on a security camera from a
As the popularity of Ghost hunting spreads it forces many people to take a hard look at their views of the afterlife and re-examine them in accordance with their long held traditions and religious faith. To many there is a conflict between the way they view subjects of the paranormal and what the teachers of dogma in their faith dictate.
A few weeks ago I received a letter from a woman who felt conflicted with her beliefs in the paranormal and her church’s view on the supernatural:
I have been struggling with my beliefs in the paranormal, ie.ghosts, spirits, demons, ufos, etc. My fascination with this subject has me questioning if God would or does approve? I truly believe that after death, we go somewhere, we are energy and energy cannot die, our souls evolve to a higher plain, albeit ,heaven or hell. I was raised catholic and consider myself Christian. Some Christian teachings forbid any affiliation or belief in ghosts, they insist all is demonic. I would like to know what your belief is on this subject. I am a huge fan of the show "Ghosthunters" and never miss an episode, am I sinning? Throughout my life strange things have happened to me that defied explanation, during my teenage years(I am 51),while babysitting is Levittown,PA, Red Rosa Gate to be exact, there was a spirit living in the house that played strange games, and scared me more often then not. My parents bought a home in
I have known many Christians who struggle with their belief in the paranormal and church teachings. But what does the Bible say about Ghostly apparitions? What are they? Is it heresy to believe such things?
Many Evangelical and Fundamental Christian writers (I would call them Theologians but with many it is quite evident that they have not had training in Biblical Scholarship past Sunday morning
It all comes down to what view the person has on the afterlife. Where do we go when we die? There are many references in the Bible that points to the destination of the person after death. Let’s first look at these.
2 Corinthians 5:1,6-8
“For we know that if our earthly house this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
“We are always confident, 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 confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”
Many people who argue against Ghosts as unbiblical point to verses 6-8. When we are dead, we are with God in heaven. So according to this view, there can be no such thing as a real haunting because the soul and spirit are in heaven at the point of death.
However that would be taking the scripture out of context. The Apostle Paul is writing this in a Roman jail. He is about to die. Christianity is an illegal religion at this time and those who align themselves with the group face torture or even death. Paul talks to the church at
The rapture is the Christian theological belief that Jesus will descend from heaven at the end of days and resurrect all His followers just as He was resurrected after He died. The mortal body will be replaced with a supernatural immortal body. Two of the main Biblical passages that give details about this are 1 Corinthians -58 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. These passages are lengthy so I will not include them in total here, if you wish to read them in their entirety please click on the passage and you will be redirected to them.
But these passages are telling when it comes to what happens to the persona after death.
1 Corinthians reads
“Behold, I will tell you a mystery; We shall not all sleep but we shall be changed.”
1 Thessalonians reads
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.”
The term ‘sleep’ is a euphemism for death in Christian Scripture (John -14). The writer for all of these books is the Apostle Paul, so rather than supporting the idea that when we die we are with God in heaven he states that those who die ‘sleep’. What does this mean? It refers to the body, not the spirit or soul. The body sleeps at death until it is changed into a new supernatural one at the end of days.
So what happens to our invisible part, the spirit or soul after death? Can the spirit still roam the Earth after death?
The Bible does talk about Ghosts, and the spirit of the dead returning to the earth.
In the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel chapter 28:7-25 we see Saul King of
Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” And he said, “Bring up Samuel for me.” When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman spoke to Saul, saying, “Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul!” And the king said to her, “Do not be afraid. What did you see?” And the woman said to Saul, “I saw a spirit ascending out of the earth.” So he said to her, “What is his form?” And she said, “An old man is coming up, and he is covered with a mantle.” And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground and bowed down. Now Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”
The Bible clearly states that this is the Ghost of the prophet Samuel. Nowhere in the text does it state that he is otherwise. The spirit is the disembodied essence of the man, and he is recognizable. He is ‘brought up’ from the earth by the witch of Endor, brought from the grave to their presence.
According to the Old Testament, the concept of a Ghost or disembodies spirit of a deceased person is not only real, it is Scriptural.
What about the New Testament? A lot of Theological concepts evolve between the Testaments, such as Grace, Forgiveness and a host of others. What about the concept of a Ghost? Does this evolve as well after the teachings of Jesus?
Almost everyone has heard the story of Jesus walking on water, and if you ever went to Sunday School as a kid I am sure you additionally heard about Peter attempting to do the same and failing. This tale of trust and faith has been used for millennia to teach and encourage Christians. But just before the text talks about Peter’s attempt to come to Jesus on the water the text tells us something unusual:
Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” Matthew 14:25-27
The disciples thought Jesus was a ghost. And they were afraid. Now if ghostly apparitions are all demonic presences as some Christians report, why were the disciples afraid? Just a few chapters earlier Jesus had demonstrated how to exorcise evil spirits and then commissioned the disciples to go all over the land and do so. (Matthew 8:28-34, Matthew 10:1-4) Although not implicit in the text it would seem that they should have had some personal experience in exorcism by themselves. So why were they afraid? Because they believed in Ghosts-the disembodied spirits of the dead who still roam the earth. And not only that, Jesus did not rebuke them for thinking he was a Ghost, instead He just calmed them down and let them know it was Him. If the concept of a disembodied spirit is so unbiblical why did Jesus let his disciples believe such things exist without correction?
Christian Scripture itself attests to the validity of Ghosts, and supports the idea that they are the disembodied spirits of the dead. Later Bible readers and teachers have read into the text their preconceived notions instead of reading from the texts and basing their ideas from the Scripture itself. Cults do the same thing to make their religious claims seem legit.
But let no one fool you. Belief in Ghosts is Scriptural. And to turn a phrase that the Fundamentalists use against them I would say, “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it!”
Until next time,