Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Bible and the Paranormal Part 1: Ghosts

Warning Christian Dogma and Biblical Exposition Ahead!

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 North Carolina High School:


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:

Pastor Swope,

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 Maine shortly after I was married with children, and their house was haunted, my Mother insisted it was the former resident, an old woman. Could this indeed be demonic in nature and tricking us to believe they are friendly spirits? I I would be very thankful to get your opinion on this subject. I don't want to anger God with my beliefs!

Sincerely,

K.B.

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 Bible School) claim that the popular concept of a ghost and spectral hauntings are unbiblical. Many Catholic Theologians would agree with this view. But in the whole of Christianity these beliefs vary quite broadly. I have many friends and associates that think all ghosts are actually demonic spirits mimicking the behavior of expired human beings in order to lead people astray from “pure” Christian faith. Others believe that Ghosts are merely residue of a past life and does not have anything to do with the actual person’s soul or spirit. And I have a few friends who are avid Ghost Hunters in their own right and can determine true hauntings from apparitions and discern wayward spirits from demonic entities.

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 Corinth to ease their troubled hearts. Our lives are but passing, but the afterlife is eternal. Our mortal body will die, but we will be given a new one that is immortal. The Apostle Paul desires to be in that new immortal body so he can physically be with the Lord. According to Systematic Christian Theology this new body is not given to us at death, but rather at the resurrection of the just or the ‘rapture’.

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 15: 50-58 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 15:51 reads

“Behold, I will tell you a mystery; We shall not all sleep but we shall be changed.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13 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 11:11-14). 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 Israel visit a medium when God does not answer him when war approaches. The prophet Samuel has died and King Saul asks the medium to bring up Samuel from the dead. The Ghost of Samuel talks to the King and tells him his fate is sealed just as he told him while he was alive. Verses 11-15 talk about the appearance of the Ghost of Samuel:

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,

Pastor Swope

87 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting bit as I've wondered for a long time how the "ghosts are just demons mimicing human spirits" mindset was supposed to add up to that passage STATING it to be the spirit of Samuel.

cryptidsrus said...

Loved the video of the "ghost" in the hallway, Pastor Swope.

Unsettling to the core.

As usual, the newscasters smirked ragrding the viseo. Still cynical.

Bryony said...

THANK YOU FOR THIS BLOG! :) it answered alot of questions for me.

David said...

Nice post. Been reading for a month or so now.

I would like to add Luke 24:35-40, where Jesus comes to the disciples in the upper room. They are afraid and Jesus shows that he is not a ghost by eating food.

I am a long time christian and believe that there are a lot of things out there that we don't understand, but it doesn't change my relationship with Jesus.

David

Pastor Swope said...

Thanks David,

Good one missed it!

A hearty "amen" to our common beliefs!

Julie said...

Great post as usual, Pastor Swope! This is a question that has been on my mind lately, and I really appreciate your analysis of the topic. It has helped me more than you know, and I am really looking forward to further entries in this series.

Just because it could be possible for demons to mimic human spirits, doesn't mean they always do. The Bible forbids communication with the dead, and I suppose this is as much for our protection as much as anything else, similar to many Biblical laws. 1 John 4:1 states to test any spirit that comes to you, and this could apply to any ghost that one happens to run into as well, if one is worried about demonic deception.

Anonymous said...

I've usually held the position of all hauntings as being demonic mimics, however I'm open to the idea and recognize that I don't know everything. So, in that light, I would like to ask a few questions:

1. What about Heb. 9:27 where it states that men die once and then are judged?

2. If hautings are really caused by "earthbound spirits" (a little too much ghost whisperer here)how do you deal with them in a scriptural manner? I've been a christian for many years, have seen and participated in exorcisms, and know how to deal with demons. I believe a demon must submit to the name of Jesus, however not sure all those verses apply to ghosts. Can we cast them out?

Pastor Swope said...

Good points Anonymous,

1)In my view Hebrews 9:27 allows for spectral hauntings because the Judgment it speaks of is most of the time considered the Final Judgment in Systematic Theology. It is in the context of Christ's sacrifice for sin and the ultimate destination of men, and the Final Judgment is far (?) into the future so possible spectral activity can happen in the meantime.

2)I personally believe that the basic way you interact with demonic presences and ghosts are the same..but different!

With the demonic we use the authority through Christ to demand that they obey and vacate.

With ghosts for the most part they just have to be told to leave. Personal authority. You don't have to invoke the Name or the Blood, but you demand just the same.

However in extreme cases where they refuse to stop harassing or leave there is a good chance it is not a ghost but an unclean spirit. You may have to do a cleansing of the area and sanctify it in the name of Jesus and through the Blood of Christ. Same basics as exorcism, with the binding of the spirits so they cannot flee to only return.

Anonymous said...

I believe that ghosts are indeed demons in disquise. When the witch at Endor brought up Sammuel, Sammuel's spirit was not walking the earth, his spirit was down in the heart of the earth {sheol} and I'm sure Sammuel went right back down after Saul was through talking to him.

I believe that 2 Cor.5:6,8 plainly says that when a believer leaves this life, he or she is with the Lord in heaven, not here on earth, and besides, in 1 Thess.4, it says in verse 14, "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him."

Where is God at? He's in heaven, and if He is bringing the ones who sleep in Jesus with him when He returns, they are obviously in heaven with Him, not on earth as earth bound spirits. Where is the rich man at in Luke chapter 16? he is in hell being tormented in the flame, he is not an earth bound spirit. One more thing, just because the disciples thought Jesus was a ghost when they saw Him walk on water,doesn't necessarly mean they believed in earth bound spirits of dead people.

I believe ghosts are of two things, sometimes demons, and other times, it is just the residue a person leaves behind at death, like a recording being played back under the right conditions, it is not the earth bound spirits of dead people.

Chris

Pastor Swope said...

Thanks for the comment Chris,

I understand where you are coming from but your arguments are based on ideology rather than scripture. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I just like to look at the scripture by itself in its context.

That God allowed the witch to bring up Samuel does speak to the deposition of the soul or spirit.

And with the 2 Corinthians 2:5-6 passage I do hold to my views. If we take scripture out of context for the purpose of our own theological ideals then we are no better than a cult.

The parable of the Rich man and Lazarus of Luke chapter 16 is a parable. Is it to be taken literally? If so we have a lot of parables that are to be taken literally. I believe Christ was speaking in terms that the people of the day understood.

Jesus will bring those who sleep with Him because they will rise first, according to scripture which you state in its proper context. The passages you refer to do not say that they are in heaven waiting. Jesus will descend and raise the dead, then rapture the living, then they will come victorious according to Protestant Biblical Theology.

Not to say that your ideas of the scripture and their interpretations are wrong per say, but they rely upon literal interpretations of scripture that is taken out of context. I do respect your ideas, there are a lot of Christians who embrace your view points, but a close and honest interpretation of the Scriptures themselves are in order. At least that is how I was trained in an Evangelical Seminary and in my studies for a B.A. in Biblical Literature.

I do however on a philosophical standpoint agree wholeheartedly with you on the residual hauntings. And some entities can be demonic. I have personally encountered as such.

Thanks, I do not mean to argue or nitpick but just to restate my belief in Biblical deconstructionism. I am a firm believer in Scripture.

Sharon said...

I'm so happy to see a person trained in religion who agrees with my own viewpoint, which includes the belief that the dead go to heaven at the time of the Rapture, but in the meantime they remain earthbound and can make an appearance as "ghosts." I have no doubt that ghosts exist and that demons exist also, but are different than ghosts. I cannot translate the original text of the Bible for myself, but in the translated versions, there are several passages in which death is referred to as "giving up the ghost."

Anonymous said...

looking at the following passage...

Matthew 12:43-45
43When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. 44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. 45Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.

I've read this discribed as the actions of a demon when leaving a person but to likewise seems to suggest what could occur when a person's spirit/ghost/soul leave the body at death but are not ready or willing to move on or "...go to the light."

I'm interested to read your take on this passage.

Terry

Anonymous said...

The passage of Saul and the witch of Endor does not actually state that it was really the ghost of Samuel. Saul only perceives (or thinks) that the spirit the witch brought up was Samuel, since Saul never really saw the spirit. Furthermore, God strictly forbids the consultation of witchery, necromancy and the like.

Secondly, in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, Jesus says there is a chasm between the living and the dead and therefore no contact can be made between either. I don't believe Jesus makes up things just to make a point.

Thirdly, just because the disciples thought Jesus was a ghost and the belief of ghosts was popular even during that time does not validate their existence as true. Besides, Jesus wouldn't need to correct their belief in ghosts, rather, their immediate issue was their reliance and faith in Himself, first and foremost, not the existence of ghosts.

Pastor Swope said...

Thanks for the comment anonymous,

but your arguments are not Biblical.

The Scripture intently says it IS Sauls' ghost.

The parable of the rich man and Lazarus...is...a...parable. It's a story to relate a truth, and in this case I think most if not all Biblical Scholars would point out that the parable is NOT about our ultimate destination or what happens to us after death.

lastly you fail to understand the linear storyline and my argument entirely. Its not just that there was a popular belief in New Testament times of 'ghosts', but that if it was a demonic being like so many Christians think all 'ghosts' are then they simply would have tried to exorcise it. And I do believe that Scripture does accurately portray what their reaction was, so it is just a logical deduction.

I am sorry if I seem harsh or rough. But I hate it when Christians with no formal Biblical or Theological Education apart from Sunday School classes try to spout Dogma instead of what the Bible literally says. Dogma outside of Contextual Biblical interpretation is what cults adhere to. I would rather rely upon the Bible in its historical and cultural context than popular American fundamentalist Dogma.

Crusader said...

I think some of the best verification that Ghosts are real are the words right out of Jesus' mouth.

Luke 24:39 (NIV)- Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have." (Emphasis Mine)

Jesus tells the disciples stright out that Ghosts dont have flesh and bone, he doesn't say Ghsots aren't real. Now it could be argued he is applying to their understanding of what a ghost "is", but again, he could have corrected them saying "there are no such things as ghosts, here touch me, see I am flesh and bone, not a Ghost, ghosts don't exist!"

Now since so many Christians believe all Ghosts are Demons in disguise, then this would have been a VERY good reason for Jesus to have corrected his Disciples on the existence of ghosts, for think of how many Christians over the years could have been deceived by these masquerading demons!!

Furthermore, God forbids communing with the dead, why wold he forbid something that is fake? I think he would have said, all such spirits are demons, so do not commune with them. Rather to me it appears he is saying that comuning with the dead runs the risk of being deceived by Demons, and also perhaps there are other reasons He does not want us talking to the dead.

Christians are so fast to dismiss the Supernatural. But the Bible is evident that the supernatural is real. For instance, practicing magic is forbidden, again, why would God forbid something that is not real? He doesn't! The Magicians in Egypt prove to ALL True Believers that magic is very much real when they magically transform their staves into snakes!

Yours in Christ,
Crusader.

Christine said...

Pastor, I have a question. Do you think the spirits of the dead can be saved. There appears to be some scripture about Universal Salvation. These questions have been plaguing me as a new Christian. I don't want anyone to spend enternity in Hell. Please help.

Thank you,

Christine

Pastor Swope said...

Hi Christine,

In traditional protestant Christianity salvation is dependent upon a conscious choice. So to be saved you must do it while alive. However one cannot put limits on the grace of God. Mormonism does have a baptism for the dead, and until recently the Roman Catholics believed in Purgatory, which was a way point for the non-believer to attain salvation after death.

rlunsford said...

Pastor,

You keep asserting that those who don't share your beliefs are not properly educated and only a have a sunday school knowledge of scripture. It is wrong for you to assume that a lack of formal education precludes a person from having substantive or even advanced biblical knowledge.

Now to my point. Concerning the witch at En Dor you are missing one very important part of the text. The witch was surprised when Samuel appeared (1 Sam. 28:12). She didn't expect to conjure anyone or at least the spirit of an actual person. At best she may have expected a familiar spirit/demon.

Since you are so interested in scholarly opinion on the matter, try Mattew Henry's comments.

"All real or pretended witchcraft or conjuration, is a malicious or an ignorant attempt to gain knowledge or help from some creature, when it cannot be had from the Lord in the path of duty.M The whole shows that it was no human fraud or trick. Though the woman could not cause Samuel's being sent, yet Saul's inquiry might be the occasion of it. The woman's surprise and terror proved that it was an unusual and unexpected appearance."

Similar comments were made by Charles Spurgeon. I encourage everyone who reads this to check the biblical text one more time. If you want a commentary from real theologians there are plenty of them out there. Google it and you will be hard pressed to find any leading theologian of the past 200 years who agrees with the notion that somehow the witch intended or could conjure a disembodied human soul.

Pastor Swope said...

Thanks for the comment rlunsford,

I would never say that not having formal education would preclude someone from having substantive or advanced Biblical knowledge.

However formal training helps you understand how to properly interpret the Bible. I am sure whatever church you belong to would not hire a Pastor without some formal training. Without proper training and interpretation you can come up with any theory you wish.

As for the case of the witch of Endor, I saw no need to point to the fact that she was surprised, the topic was not spiritualism or necromancy but the possibility of the reality of Ghosts in Scripture. I fail to see what your point is within this topic. It has no relevance to the topic what so ever. You could use it as a supporting argument for my case that it was a real ghost since she was startled, but you didn't even do that. What was your point?

I like Matthew Henry, he is a good supplemental resource that should be on any Biblical students library, but referencing him is not scholarly. Try to use him as a reference to a major theological point in any College or Seminary and you will quickly find that to be the case. I had a friend in the early 90's who used Matthew Henry as a reference for just one point in a paper and he received a failing grade just by doing so.

That is not to say that his work is not useful, he has great insight for Christian living. But that's about it.

Instead of having people Google theological ideas perhaps one should get thyself to a Library, preferably one in a nearby Seminary or Christian College. Better yet actually take a real Theological class at such an institution.

I would advise against using Spurgeon as well, in most cases.

My major problem is that many people who disagree with my exposition of these texts DO NOT have formal education and yet they attack and condescend like they are Biblical scholars. Yet when you get down to their theological understanding it is rudimentary.

Can you have profound understanding of Biblical principles and Theology without formal training? Yes. I have known many wise old prayer warriors of the church.

But I've known quite a few heretics as well.

John said...

Your conclusions are preposterous. While I am open to possibilities, nothing you quoted even remotely proves your point. As far as "God said, I believe it, that settles it," You never verified that God said it. All that you proved from Scripture was that "ghosts" were still a superstition in Christ's time. He did correct them, He said "It is I" not a ghost. How does that PROVE that ghosts are real?!? So he didn't jump down there throat for thinking that... that still proves NOTHING.
As far as the witch of Endor goes, you left out some key details. When Samuel DID appear she freaked out. This woman, who according to you saw ghosts on a regular basis, freaked when she saw Samuel. That's because she had a "familiar spirit" a demon that consistently told her facts of those deceased in order to dupe those she performed for. Not unlike those that tell fortunes now (Silvia Brown...). So when she saw the real deal, she was greatly disturbed. Samuel was nothing more or less than an exception. God brought Samuel's spirit up, not the witch.
Your beliefs are wrong, which is fine. What is NOT fine, is your intentional manipulation of Scripture to make it sound like something you want to believe in. You inserted these meanings here instead of pulling them from the text. You are a false prophet, not because of your beliefs but because you abuse God's word.
I rebuke you for this, in the love of Christ, and ask that if you truly follow Him, to turn aside from this poor use of God's word to suit your own fanciful ideas. And in turn, that you allow God's word to say what it says, even if it does not cater to your belief system. Otherwise, accept the judgment of a God that does not tolerate those who abuse His word.

jojo4jc@hotmail.com

Pastor Swope said...

Dear John (jojo4jc@hotmail.com),

Thank you for your comment,

However you clearly were not paying attention to the comments and talk back here. I know how psychics work and you are correct about the witch of Endor being supervised. That has been mentioned here as well.

I stand by my interpretation of Scripture. I am not reading into it, only coming to the Scripture like every sane and logical minister has been taught throughout the ages: Context.

Also in regards to your tone and 'rebuking' me. I am a Seminary trained Exorcist and Christian Counselor. Your haughty attitude and self aggrandizing opinions that have no clear logical standing has me thinking you either suffer from a mental illness, cultist brainwashing, or a Pharisaical attitude.

So I would say to you, get help or learn how to walk in Christ and not in the flesh.

Anonymous said...

please respond.

the video totally broke any ghost gaurds i've put up. i just want to know whether or not ghosts can harm/make contact with us. i am deeply unsettled now and just want to know what a ghost can do

anonymous

william said...

Dear Pastor,

Many of the posts regarding heaven, hell and earth assume that all three are distincly different. I believe heaven and hell both have physical connections to Earth, and with those connections comes doorways, paths, portals, or vortexes (Whatever you want to call it). Now, Catholics and some Protestant sects believe there is room for purgatory. Purgatory is the physical place where a spirit atones ofr its sins and cleanses itself for its journey into heaven. Would it be safe to say that it is possible for ghosts to remain on Earth in a form of purgatory?

As a ghost investigator and experienced in both mean and nice spirits, why would some spirits present themselves as outrightly evil entities, while others present themselves as beautifully pleasant beings. I can tell most that they are not playing "good cop/ bad cop."

ghostmanofgalveston said...

Pastor,I want to thank you for your fearlessness in coming forth with a look at something so "taboo"in the scriptures.When I became a christian I had a real struggle with ghosts and the paranormal as I dealt with each on a regular basis.My well meaning brothers and sisters tried to help me stear clear of all this and renounce my dealings with the devil and his demons.From the beginning of reading the scriptures I could see Jesus clearly differentiates between human spirits,demons and angels.When I read the scriptures for myself(without any help from them)I began to see these subjects a little clearer,though I certainly do not have all the answers.I feel blessed to have found your site.Again,thanks so much for your contributions!

Anonymous said...

Well, I can't say that I'm convinced from the scriptures that have been presented here. I'm always willing to discuss and listen to other doctrines, whether I agree or not. The problem I have, is that God is in total control of the spiritual realm. He takes custody of the spirits of both believers and non-believers after they die. It seems out of character of God to ALLOW the spirits of the dead to roam the earth and possibly decieve people. You have to admit that people who see ghosts (both christian and non) can get caught up in the occult which distracts them from God. We all know who the great deciever is, and it is not God. Therefore, why would he allow something that could possibly lead people away from him. Again, I think it totally goes against the nature and character of God to believe he allows ghosts to interact with our world.

Pastor Swope said...

Thanks for the comment Anonymous,

You have a lot of erroneous pre-conceived ideas.

First, this is not a doctrine. A doctrine is a theological conception that furthers a fundamental belief system of a specific group. This is just an idea from a direct literal interpretation of Scripture.

Secondly you make the judgment that anyone who sees a ghost or believes in them will distract them from following the Lord and be deceived. I think God's grace and personal faith is larger than that. If by deceived you talk about Necromancy, in my personal experience that the person who does this is guided by power and self glory. Also traditionally many church theologians and church fathers held a belief in ghosts, and did not fall away.

Lastly you claim that "We all know who the great deceiver is, and it is not God. Therefore, why would he allow something that could possibly lead people away from him. Again, I think it totally goes against the nature and character of God to believe he allows ghosts to interact with our world.". In this argument you actually contradict yourself.
From whence comes Satan?
Certainly he did not create himself.
Certainly God knew at Lucifer's creation what he would eventually become.
Or are you a Dualist?

Anonymous said...

Dear Pastor

I have just stumbled upon your blog and I am so glad! I've been studying the Scriptures to discover the progressive understanding of the afterlife. What I've discovered so far is that the OT idea of Sheol was a holding place for the dead before judgment, with separate places for the righteous and unrighteous. In the NT, the greek word is Hades. Christ went to this Sheol/Hades the three days between his death and resurrection. He obtained the keys to Hades. At the judgment of the Last Day, he will release those spirits to be judged. The damned go then to Hell/Geena, which is the eternal lake of fire and sulfur. This seems pretty clear-cut in Scriptures as it deals with the unrighteous. What happens exactly to the righteous/ believers is a bit muddled as to the proper sequence and timing. Did Christ open up the gates of Hades/Sheol for the redeemed and now they are in Heaven awaiting the resurrection, so since Christ's resurrection we believers get to skip right on up to Heaven? Or do believers wait out their "sleep in Christ" in Sheol/Hades until the judgment of the Last Day?
I guess what my question concerning ghosts is, do you believe that both believers and unbelievers can be ghosts? At this point, it seems to me if believers go straight to Heaven to await resurrection, only the unredeemed could potentially roam the earth as an extension of this Sheol/Hades place.

Anthony Hogg said...

Pastor Swope,

This subject is certainly interesting.

So, permit me to put in my two cents. I'll prefigure it by saying I don't have formal training in theology, so I'm interested in your thoughts.

Regarding the appearance of Samuel's spirit, I agree that it was his spirit that manifested. After all, he is quoted and referred to as Samuel himself.

But, it also appears that Samuel's spirit was also used as a vessel of Godly prophecy. Saul is also rebuked for not obeying the Lord (1 Sam. 28: 18-19). He served a purpose - a sort of jack-in-the-box for mucking about with necromancy as well, it would seem.

Getting back to the Rich Man in Hell parable. While in torment, he asks for mercies (Luke 16:24), but is rebuked (16:24-26).

The Rich Man then asks Lazarus, a poor begger, to be sent on his behalf, to forewarn his remaining family members to turn away from sin, so that they don't face the same torments he experiences. (16:27-28)

Again, he is rebuked and informed that if they refuse to listen to the testimony of Moses and the prophets, then "neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." (16:31)

If this chapter is merely a parable, then what lesson is to be gleaned from it?

Do you not think it holds any theological insights as to whether or not spirits can return from the dead?

steve said...

I dont know all the answers, but I know some things since when I met God and was saved by our Lord and savior Jesus Christ at the time I was a suicidal drug addict.. A different man now, many times on the brink of death I received visions as hope to keep fighting once speaking directly with an angel, I learned about the parable of the rich man and lazaras, when Jesus said well he died and is resting in father abrahams bosom. At first I didnt understand but later as I nearly read the whole NT and majority of the OT and studied certain parts, its like you read them and do not understand but as you continue in life God slowly teaches you what they mean. Well my point is, when our Lord is speaking about Lazaras resting with father abraham, its sort of a resting place for the righteous dead and those with grace to be comforted to rest until they are risen. Lord Jesus said it before somewhere , sorry I dont know every verse but David is not yet acsended into the heavens. What Paul says and so fourth is hope, God is not bound by time heh he is forever and our Lord and the angels as well, the things they say alot dont happen instantly they WILL happen on our Lords 2nd coming, why I dont want to die :P I wanna live till our Lords return, those who die though rest and are risen when our Lord returns and they wake up to eternal life :D

jennifer renee said...

i didn't have time to read all of the posts, but i read most of them. i have been struggling with this for a while now... about 10 years ago i decided to find out for myself if the things i was raised to believe in the baptist church was indeed scriptural. some are, some are not... the same arguments against believing in ghosts that have been posted... is what my brother told me. he is a deacon at a baptist church. when i read the scriptures myself, i didn't get what he got. the first he told me was "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord".. when i read it, i use the nasb, that's not what it said. i agree with you on that. also, when reading about saul, though it doesn't come out and say it, it is obvious to the reader that it was indeed samuel's ghost. though i disagree about the parables, i believe they are literal... when i went back and read it, to me, it doesn't say that they COULDN'T go back, it just says that there's no reason to. that it still wouldn't convince his family.
"we" tend to take what our church leaders tell us as final. i've learned to research it myself.. i'm pretty sure that's biblical, too. i understand that church leaders are there for guidance.. i'm just saying... read it for yourself...
the bible says to stay away from fortune tellers, etc. that is obvious. but, there is a difference between having your palm read and the existence of ghosts.
i don't believe that every person that has died is roaming the earth. but, i'm sure there are a few that are unsettled.
i believe in Jesus.. i may believe in ghosts (i'm still reading on it...)... will that keep me out of heaven? i don't see how one has to do with the other.
i do have a question about a scripture, i am interested in hearing your thoughts: Ephesians 4:8 when you read it, what do you think it means? i've heard many opinions about it...
thanks for the post.

Donna said...

I had a short conversation with a friend on Facebook after inviting him to join my Paranormal Group's Fan Page. He told me that he believed and loved Jesus and that he couldn't join. He told me that he didn't believe in the Supernatural. I had responded to him that I respect his beliefs and that I too consider myself a Christian and I love Jesus and believe in him, but my belief is that Jesus (GOD), the Bible, and the Supernatural go hand in hand. I told him that GOD is as Supernatural as you can get! Thanks for confirming my beliefs.

kristin said...

Dear Pastor,

I find it interesting that you deem those who hold a belief in opposition yours as cult-like or uneducated. That sort of labeling seems the exact form of manipulation and shaming present in a real cult. I am not saying this is your intention, but there is a certain amount of hypocrisy in it.
I applaud your insistence on keeping the scripture in context, but I disagree with your conclusion that anyone who does so will arrive at your understanding. I myself am a seminary educated individual and well versed in hermeneutics and biblical interpretation. There is a very simple basic principle which plainly stated would go "It can never mean what it never meant." We need to look at Scripture not only in the context of the entire Bible, but also in its context in history, and the issues being addressed.
Simple Biblical study on the language of the time would throw out most of your arguments, because you rely heavily on the term "ghost." For example the point has been made that when the resurrected Jesus appeared, he ate to reassure the disciples that he was not a ghost. And again the disciples fear of a ghost was used in reference to Jesus walking on water. However, it is important to note that the word ghost can just as easily be interpreted as "spirit," hence the reason the Holy Spirit is often called the Holy Ghost. He is surely not a deceased person.
Jesus' act of eating to show he is not a "ghost" is more aptly understood IN CONTEXT as a rebuke of the gnostic heresy that separates spirit from flesh and asserts that he resurrected in spirit only. This is further reinforced in 1John, where we are told to test the spirits. The mark of the antichrist is to deny the resurrection of Christ IN THE BODY, which this moment with the disciples clearly reinforces.
Furthermore, to assert that because the disciples were given authority to caste out demons means they would have had no fear of a demon is simple speculation. The disciples feared for their lives when Jesus was WITH them because of stormy weather, though they knew he could save them. We see many instances of the disciples acting in fear DESPITE their knowledge. In addition, in both the gospels and Acts we see clear instances of followers of Christ FAILING to caste out demons, and in Acts not only failing, but being beaten by the demon. While they may have been given authority, I do not think that negates the human element of someone feeling fear and stating it is a "ghost" (spirit). While I myself have been given authority over demons I certainly don't look forward to the encounters, and I doubt the disciples did.
I respectfully disagree with your arguments and your interpretation of scripture in these instances. I believe that while you insist on context, you also include much speculation. But, more than that, I disagree with the attitude you portray that to have a sound Biblical education precludes disagreement with you. I do not disagree with you because I am ignorant or because I am blindly following what I was taught in Sunday school. I am disagreeing because my STUDY of the Scripture AND ITS CONTEXTS leads me to believe your conclusions are false.

Pastor Swope said...

thanks Kristin,

I only call those opposing my view uneducated when they appear to be.

respectfully back, your argument is on the surface is very flimsy and does not seem quite thought out. I think most people without any formal education in ancient language knows that ghost and spirit are the same, the greek term is pnuematos which literally means "wind" the term references an unseen force.

The wording of your argument is very vague without substantive statements or proof of your scholarly research to back it up.

You seem to be ignorant of Biblical languages, cultural context and rudimentary exposition of your argument. Your antithesis of my thesis is based on claims that have no weight or hermeneutic thought. The only scholarly reference was a side to eschew Gnostic thought, but even then it was not relevant to the main though of your point in writing.

Seriously and respectfully, you make grandiose claims but you have only vague substance to your argument.

In the end it is an opinion, one that I think is very flawed and not scholarly at all. Were did you go to Seminary? How long ago?

I am also wondering about your use of caps. Perhaps you were carried away by emotion rather than rational thinking?

YURI said...

hi
this was a very interesting blog to find and read.
there are many, good arguments here from you and others.
you said you studied at a evangelical Biblical seminary and rely mostly on "direct literal interpretation of Scripture". i think that's really great.
I'm not mocking anyone
but i think we all need to just ask God for more understanding and guidance rather trying to do things so literal.
although i don't encourage ignorance and study but in topics like these i believe we need more of God's guidance.
with that said, you have some topics that i will thoroughly look into now.

also, i think if Jesus or God wanted us to know about
ghosts or aliens, he would have addressed the issue in depth.
He just plainly said to stay away from such practices or beliefs
anyways i hope that great enlightenment and the truth come out of all of this.

will stay in touch

stay safe and God Bless

yuri

Anonymous said...

I found in the book of Genesis, when Cain killed his brother Abel, more evidence, and possibly the first reference to a ghost. When God asked Cain where his brother was, Cain said he didn't know, and he wasn't his brother's keeper. Then God said the blood of Abel is crying up from the ground. Wouldn't this be considered a haunting?

Anonymous said...

Actually anonymous, the 'blood' is simply symbolic of 'life'. The 'nephesh is in the blood' as the bible says. To the Hebrews, the nephesh was not a 'disembodied soul', but the whole man. When someone bleeds out, we say that 'their life is draining out of them'.

This is why the use of blood is associated with life. Abel's blood crying out from the ground is simply the Bible's use of metaphor through symbolism. Abel's blood was not alive but his blood crying out from the ground was proof of his murder that took his life.

This same analogy is used in Revelation 5 where the 'souls' are under the altar asking God to avenge them. In the Hebrew sanctuary service, the blood of the sacrifices was poured under the altar. This taken with the view that the 'nephesh was in the blood', shows that Revelation is not speaking of disembodied souls but is symbolic of the sacrifice of the martyrs.

Marcia C said...

In further response to Christine's question, the Orthodox Church prayers for the dead. The church teaches that we don't know for sure what happens between physical death and the final judgment, so they pray for the dead. It's implied that our prayers can have an impact on the dead and their ultimate salvation.

ryan schuck said...

There something possessing my house there are foot prints on the wall its after my children I need help it only has revealed its form to our children we are terrified we need an exorcism on the house please some one save us.. you can Facebook me Ryan schuck I live in fredericktown Ohio.

Melissa said...

I am so glad to have found this article. Thank you so much for tackling such a taboo subject. I can't wait to read more!

Anonymous said...

From my personal experiences I think we need to pay more attention to what is taking place in our world and, why this is happening. I have had many encounters with the spiritual world however, this brought me closer to God not away from him.
All things are possible and, we must not always think everything is evil. We are more worried about evilness from beyond what about in the real world.

all_outta_angst said...

wow. I have come to similar conclusions as to what ghosts are in contexts to the bible. I was a Christian, but I notice that the contradiction of our own views of who God is takes away from the context of scripture. This would include time,place, intent, reason. etc...like a conspiracy theorist, we ignore those loose tags that scream out fact or fiction to fit Agenda.

I salute your understanding and challenge of Christianity that attracts Intolerance rather than understanding of our world.

Five stars for mentioning CONTEXT over and over again. I do not understand the bible to the extent that you have, but have come to similar conclusions.

Unfortunately many Christians are biased against science and not really understanding it.

I've said this many many times....

If we do not understand the oppositions argument, we do not understand our own.

Once again...thanks for your insights.

Tiffany said...

Thank you for the post (and replies back to a few of the comments...I did not read all of them but a few to see other's thoughts) and all of it helped. A few things I've been wondering about as I too am a Ghost Hunters/GHI, Destination Truth, Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files fan and have wondered about a few personal "sightings" as well...This helped to at least have some viewpoints in mind.

God Speed.

Rose said...

Well-spoken & informative blog, I've enjoyed reading all the comments & replies as well.

Just wanted to point out that necromancy is more than just seeing or communing with ghosts/spirits - it is the purposeful disturbance of the dead (in Sheol) for gain using magic (i.e. the creation of a Golem). I've nowhere seen the Bible state that every spirit immediately enters Sheol; if unclean spirits can roam, then logically clean spirits can as well.

On the question of forgiveness for the souls imprisoned by HaSatan (Satan), the Book of Mormon teaches that Yeshua (Christ) and others minister to them offering them the freedom of Redemption until the second coming. There is also such a thing as Baptism for the dead. We're all given plenty of chances to make the right choice. (I'm not a Mormon but believe the BoM goes hand-in-hand with the Bible, "the rest of the story", so to speak.)

Anonymous said...

Hello Pastor,

I am a pastor as well, and long have pondered these questions and the spiritual world and am greatly interested in your insights as a person with obvious skills and experience.

The traditional rending is that those experiencing spiritual communicae are either experiencing 'demons' or 'angels'. these are the primary spiritual forces and that the spirit of humanity is brought to God (John 14 describes that it is Christ who comes to meet you).

In the case then, of Ghosts, these are the spirits of Demons - and as described need to be 'tested' to ensure they are indeed demonic and not of God, since Angels can also appear to do God's work in the spiritual realm. The test is whether they are able to proclaim Christ or not (according to traditional sources).
For example, on the palliative ward in the hospital where my wife works, many of those who are dying see a form of a little girl who is comforting to them. Several comment on this 'little girl' over the past years. Is she a Ghost? But given traditional teaching, she is either demon or angel. But given the fact her presence is comforting my guess is angelic - but who know if this has been 'tested'.

In the story of Christ on the sea, the traditional interpretation becomes in question because the disciples say, "it is a ghost". Given that they have been given the gift of being able to exercise demonic spirits, why are they afraid? Maybe because we are human? If I were an exorcist, I may also be frightened even if I carried God's power to repell demons in the name of Christ. So I do not know for sure if the one argument made substantiates the questions about why the disciples were afraid of Ghosts. Perhaps these ghosts are demons, and Christ demonstrated he was not demonic?

In the resurrection events, there is also much talk about the spiritual realm and Christ was able to be unrecognized by Mary in the Garden, the Road to Emmaus until the time was correct. The spiritual bodies Paul speaks of in the resurrection and in God's kingdom was already given to Christ. So he is not a ghost, but a spiritual being (man) but also of God. That could indicate that if, IF, humans were able to be present on earth as spiritual beings, our form would be in a manner similar to Christ with the purpose and intent to lead people to faith. This is an interesting question I think in the case of Ghosts (demons) vs. Ghosts (dead people coming back).

What about also, the Transfiguration? It has not been mentioned yet, but in this even the spiritual bodies/ forms of Moses and Elijah appear with Christ, transfigured (when we see the true spiritual nature of Jesus). What are these spiritual forms of Moses/ Elijah? To me this point to the fact that God (as in the spirit of Samuel) can use recognizable spirits that have passed on into his realm, to create faith in his followers.

Given that, could God allow a spirit of a human to be presented to a loved one on earth to encourage faith? to serve God's purposes?

To me this is why the scriptures indicate that any spirit seen must be tested, to see if it is of God (who can do infinitely more then we can ask or imagine) of if it is of Satan the tempter, pursuader.

So to summarize my ramblings, I think scripture supports the existence of both spiritual good and evil beings. Whether the term is Ghost or demons/angels, or spiritual bodies of the deceased (like Christ's and like the one Paul speaks of) - there is existence of this.

Comments? right track? way off?
Rev Dwayne

Anonymous said...

I am not sure if you even read your website anymore but my name is Chris and I am currently writing a book about Christianity and the paranormal and was wondering if you would be interested in an interview? If so please give me an email that I can send you more information to...thanks.

Anonymous said...

I have been struggling for years to find the help to understand why it is that I can see many things.
Pastor Swope has answered many of the questions I have been looking for. He is one who does know his scriptures and, stands by his words. We need more like him in this world of many mysteries. There are ghosts among us everyday.

cat said...

I dont think mediums can bring up or talk to the deceased spirits of human beings. They use their "spirit guides" which are no more than decieving demonic entities trying to pull mankind away from God's truth. Yes, the spirit of Samuel did respond to her and she was in utter shock and terror because she knew she had never once before contacted any deceased person. God allowed this one time for this occurance to show that these people really arent being truthful and do not have the power to contact anyone who has passed

cat said...

I dont think mediums can bring up or talk to the deceased spirits of human beings. They use their "spirit guides" which are no more than decieving demonic entities trying to pull mankind away from God's truth. Yes, the spirit of Samuel did respond to her and she was in utter shock and terror because she knew she had never once before contacted any deceased person. God allowed this one time for this occurance to show that these people really arent being truthful and do not have the power to contact anyone who has passed. And as far as the scripture of jesus explaining he is not a "ghost". That is the new international translation. In older texts, he uses "spirit"

Pastor Swope said...

Cat,

God used the ghost of Samuel to curse Saul for his disobedience. To say it is a one time thing only for that instance does bother me. Will there be no other times that God "can" do this? Who are we to say yes or no? Perhaps God does this from time to time to comfort the afflicted or to generate faith?

I know of many people ( mostly Christians)who have lost loved ones who say that they have had visits of wives, husbands, mothers, fathers and children who have recently passed. They have told them to not worry because their hope of life after death is being verified by their appearance.

What do we make of this? Hallucinations? Demonic?
If it is evil, why does it produce faith in the gospel?
Or is it God working today as He did in the time of David and Samuel?

Ashley said...

Ashley says...

Wow! Thank you for your Biblical wisdom! My husband and I are youth pastors of a church and we disagree when it comes to the paranormal. We have lived in a house that was built in 1860 for 2 years now. And we have had many things happen! My daughter is 4 now and she has seen the man who built the house and has had convos with him when she was a little over 2 years old. It worried me and i threatened him. I told him to leave my child alone and she hasnt seen him since! Hahaa! We have many church friends that try to convince me that ghosts are not real and they are demons/evil spirits. My home 'feels' amazing and does not have a feel of evil. It just sometimes feels like i have someone there with me, almost like someone i would feel comfortable with. So thank you again for your knowledge of the paranormal. Because now i do not feel crazy!

Beka said...

Here is something to add. I don't know where in the bible it actually says we go to heaven. In revelations Where it describes a pearly gate and streets of gold it is actually describing the new Jerusalem here on earth where we are to live with the lord. Where it talks about us rising in the air to meet him it says that the dead shall rise first and the living with meet them. Well I don't think he means the dead's bodies... We wont need those so my thoughts were maybe when we pass we are left here on earth till then. Why else would the dead have to rise first? Just something I have thought of recently.

Anonymous said...

Pastor, Thank you so much for your insights. Me and my wife have always had wondered about this because we both have dealt with paranormal things in our lives and being raised as southern baptist were led to believe it was the work of Satan. We have always taught our children to never take the word of any man as "Gospel" but to verify by reading the scriptures and seeking God's counsel. We still are struggling with this (Because of how we were raised)but the more we actually research it the more we are coming to terms with it. thanks again.

Steve and Dawn

Anonymous said...

If you want a clear and truthful explanation concerning Saul and the witch of Endor, go to you tube and watch pastor Doug Batchelor and his sermon on the witch of Endor.

Natalie Reed said...

Dear Pastor,
I know this post is two years old and I am commenting now in 2012, but my husband discovered your blog and specifically this particular blog entry, and he sent it to me. I am so thankful he found your blog and this entry because it really, really helped me and I became emotional reading it. Growing up my family took us to a Babtist church and the subject of paranormal matters was taboo. I was taught ghosts are demons in disguise. I just always struggled believing that; thinking, is that really all there is to? Thank you for this entry so much because I feel it answering so many questions I had in regards to what the Bible says about it. I also read some of the comments and I was dissapointed in seeing someone "rebuking" you. It's like, seriously? Ugh. I want to say thank you so much; it was very encouraging for me as a believer in God. I look forward to reading all your entries. :)

Pastor Swope said...

Thank you Natalie,

I am blessed that it has helped you! It is the reason why I wrote it.

And thanks for support in regards to the 'rebukes". You should see some of the private messages I received! Some Christians lack discernment or wisdom and want to push their dogma instead of just looking at the Biblical text. Funny thing, some of these have now written books on Ghosts or attempted to form deliverance ministries without really knowing what they are doing.

thank you so much for the comment, it made my day! God bless you in your walk with Christ!

Anonymous said...

Pastor Swope,
Thank you for this helpful article. Yet I still have questions about if spirits can be earthbound, which I believe they can, how is it that some pass immediately to heaven and some stay? (Have you seen I Survived Beyond and Back on BIO Channel?) Can you shed light on that for me :)
Also, after having watched and studied the Long Island Medium on TLC and the healing that she seems to be facilitating in the readings she is giving, how do we explain that from a Christian perspective? Surely Satan is not helping all those people get healing and closure, but still she does admit to speaking to and getting her information from her spirit guides. Can you write an article or shed some light on this very perplexing issue for me - mediums and can someone be a Christian medium? Thanks

Pastor Swope said...

Thanks Anonymous,

I think God allows people to visit and comfort the afflicted.(In that sense are they now angels? technically yes.) In the earth bound phenomenon, many times it is a demonic spirit impersonating the living (see my recent article What is a demon part 3).

When it comes to psychics who seem to have a gift, I refer you to my article "The Seers". In the Old Testament it seemed some were gifted by God from birth.I think that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" in more areas than we can know. If we give then over to God for good, then He blesses them. If we use them for selfish purposes, it will eventually catch up to us.

Anonymous said...

Why is it every time some one claims they seen a ghost they are dressed in old close from the past times.shouldn't the gohst be naked because close Dosent have a spi.rit

Kmfresch said...

Thank you Pastor Swope,

I have been searching for this type of information for years. As a child I could see the other side (a gift I outgrew and that all 3 of my children had when young as well). I also had an "imaginary friend" who I truly saw and interacted with, to this day believe was an Angel due to the things he told and taught me. While growing up we lived in a house that was haunted as well.
All these experiences had put me at odds with most church teachings and have stopped me from attending church regularly for years.

Anonymous said...

I came across this while looking for some answers for my daughter. I've had many experiences in my life...some simply paranormal & some downright terrifying. I've known there were ghosts even before I was old enough to know what a ghost was or what to call them. When I was little I came across some I knew were ok, but some I just knew were evil...even if they looked like a perfectly nice man or woman. My daughter has seen things as well, & is worried that it's somehow sinful to have seen them. She's a good sweet child who wants to do right in God's eyes. It's not something we can keep from happening, & I've always taught her my interpretation of what the bible says, but I wanted to make sure I wasn't teaching her something horribly wrong. I've always interpreted the bible exactly how you've pointed out here. I've been told I'm wrong, but it does say that when Jesus returns those who have died before that will rise up into heaven, right? So why would they be rising up into heaven if they're already there? I've always accepted that as the reason for ghosts...as well as the presence of demons. We've been taught in our church that they're all demons & that anyone who can talk or communicate with them is bad. I'm just relieved to see another point of view!

Anonymous said...

Since I was young, I've had visitations from a multitude of beings, and have had a sense of demonic power. I generally have little trouble distinguishing what is a demon and what is not. As I've grown closer to the Holy Spirit, I believe this ability has gotten stronger. However, when I did not detect a demonic presence, but something else, it left me with questions. A few years ago, my father (a retired minister) spoke of beings from the old text that were said to have existed before God created man. I have found nothing specific in the Bible to support this, but I also believe so much has been removed over the years, and have questioned exactly what our common-day Bible is lacking. I have titled these mentioned beings as "The Forgotten," but I'm wondering if anyone else has heard information regarding them? I'm told some watch us out of curiosity, and some are jealous because they were once God's most beloved and have been "replaced" in a way by humanity. What is your take on this?

Anonymous said...

This comment is to Pastor Swope. I wonder at your knowledge of scripture. Are you not familiar with Jesus' descent into hell as His body lay in the tomb? The bible clearly states that He went to Hell to bring back souls from before His time on earth. You should also be familiar with the story of Lazarus and the rich man. Lazarus the humble beggar waited for Christ in Abraham's Bosom while the rich man roasted in hell on the other side of the chasim. The righteous wait for Christ in Abraham's Bosom while those that are unsaved begin their punishment of eternal torture.

Throughout the bible God makes it very clear about calling up spirits, mediums, fortune tellers, ect. Anything of the occult nature is of the devil, which is why He warns us so strongly and repeatedly. Our Heavenly Father knows all, if He says ghosts are of the devil then that's what they are. Remember how powerful Satan is and we are warned that he can perform miracles to fool the unwary.

I don't have to wonder about ghosts and the afterlife. God, through scripture, tells us all we need to know. He tells us where we go when our physical bodies die. Our souls go one of two places, Abraham's Bosom to await Christ's return, or to hell to await final judgement.

I am confident those that do not heed His words of warning will spend eternity in hell where the doubting and faithless will be with their 'god', Satan. For your own sake, reject the occult in all it's many forms. The bible tells us that this earth is Satan's world. If we do not walk a separate path, the path less travelled, the consequenses will be dire, and permanent.

Pastor Swope said...

Hi Anonymous,

You do not have to wonder at my knowledge of Scripture, I have a B.A. in Biblical Literature and a Master of Divinity.

From your statements, it is obvious that you have not had formal training, which is ok, but if you are going to seriously approach biblical topics, please know what you are talking about.

First the Rich Man and Lazarus from
Luke 16:19-31 is a parable. Parables are stories that point to larger spiritual truth and not meant to give systematic theological concepts. And even those that think that Abraham's bosom actually existed think that the Resurrection and the incident of Matthew 27:51-53 emptied out Abraham Bosom and they went to heaven.

However most people like you who only have a remedial Biblical understanding do not understand that the Bible is actually very vague about what happens after death. We have a gap in scripture between death and the Resurrection that only has vague hints that sometime conflict each other. Such as Jesus descent into hell and His words to the thief that he would be with Him in paradise this day. How could the thief be with Jesus in paradise if He would descend into hell? Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:8 that to be absent from the body is to be with the Lord, but earlier in 1 Corinthians 5:18 Paul says they are asleep in the Lord. There is obviously something going on that is not explicit in the Biblical texts. This time between death and Resurrection is called the Intermediate State. If I were you anonymous I would read up on the subject. Every book on Protestant Systematic Theology has a chapter on it. Please read it.

Second. Where in the Bible does it say that ghosts are from the devil. Please give me the chapter and verse because my College and Seminary Bible and Theology professors (some of whom have actually translated parts of current Bible translations) forgot to mention those verses to me. And to think they are called Biblical Scholars by their peers and the general Christian community!

Lastly, your condescending and judgmental attitude in this comment is the very reason many people have forsaken Christianity and it is not in the spirit of Jesus Christ. It is attitudes like yours that is the reason churches are emptying out in record numbers and the world is entering into an apostate post Christian age. The real meaning of the Rich Man and Lazarus is that we should care for the poor and homeless. What have you done for the homeless and poor? I hope you can answer with a long list because I can guarantee that Jesus Christ our risen Lord is more concerned about what you think and do about the homeless and poor than what you think and do about ghosts.

When it comes down to where the rubber hits the road in your Christian walk, the question about what ghosts are is what Paul calls in Romans 14 'doubtful things' that are really of no consequence. What is of consequence is how you treat other human beings. A condescending and judgmental attitude of self righteousness keeps people away from church. most people who I meet who believe in ghosts and are involved in the paranormal have been driven away from the church to begin with by such narrow minded unscriptural attitudes that are of the flesh and not of the Spirit of God. It is the attitude of the pharisee and not of the humble servant of Christ.

So if you thought you were writing a grand rebuke with your comment, you really just showed that you need to spend some deep soul searching and take some time to fully understand what Christ really wishes of us as His servants.

"For a fool speaks nonsense, And his heart inclines toward wickedness: To practice ungodliness and to speak error against the LORD, To keep the hungry person unsatisfied And to withhold drink from the thirsty." Isaiah 32:6

Dan said...

Hello every one,especially to pastor swope,
pleease read,the dream i have concerning my father who died oct 2010
THE DREAMS GOES THUS-he came to me naked in the dream and i was asking him if he did accepts jesus before he died cos i was concious in that dream that he is dead and he said no and i asked him why and he said he did not understand that while he was alive.why i asked the question in the dream was bcos before he died he wanted me to be in his place after he dies but am a christain and i tried then before he died to preach to him but he was deep into occult.and he also told me in the dream that he went up there(HEAVEN) but they did not allow him in and now he is looking to come to life and rent a house cos i noticed that in the dream he did not want to go to hell.that was all i saw and i woke up from that dream.and i was sad and trouble cos it felt so real that i actually talked to him and though i know he was occultic when he was alive but now in the dream he is regreting for not giving his life to Christ and he was rejected in heaven.please tell me can this dream be actually TRUE?

Pastor Swope said...

Hi Dan,

that must have been a most disturbing dream. I can relate my father died without verbally repenting from a rough life of alcohol and violence and turning to Christ. But I have always hoped and prayed that he did somehow.

Dreams are sometimes just...dreams. We go over things that have been bothering us on a subconscious level. Sometimes they are made out of images that we have to interpret and sometimes they are very blunt but we still have to derive the meaning of why we had them. You could be in a turmoil about your father and your mind if going through what it must be like and what could happen.

Some people do believe dreams like this could be a real message or a perception of a deeper reality. But to get a message from God or an angelic presence is rare, but it does happen.
In your case just as advice I would not put too much weight to this dream. I think it was just a dream but even if it was true there is nothing you could do about it. I would advise you to just have hope that perhaps your father did do a deathbed conversion and that he is at peace. No matter what, he is in the Lord's hands and God is full of grace and mercy.

Anonymous said...

Hello Pastor Swope,
I have had many paranormal experiences from a young age. The most memorable being an elderly woman standing behind my mother (to this day I dont know who she was) and a roman sandaled or possibly bandaged foot and at another time, what appeared to be the feet of my great grandmother. I struggle to balance my faith and my paranormal experiences with others at my church because I am afraid of being judged for having seen these things. What would be the sole purpose of people on earth seeing their disembodied loved ones and even people who they dont even know? and how would be pick up the courage to face people in my church and carry my paranormal beliefs as well? I would love a response for my life long worry. from Holly,19.

Anonymous said...

Hello Pastor Swope, My name is Holly and I am having trouble balacing my paranormal beliefs and my faith. In my 19 years I have experienced a lot of paranormal activity, the most memorable was an elderly lady behind my mother (to this day I havent been able to find out who she is) and to occasions of just seeing the feet of spirits because I was too afraid to look up. One pair of feet appeared to be either roman sandalled feet or bandaged feet, and the other on a different occasion appeared to be the feet of my great grandmother who i was very close to, I saw the feet when I prayed for her help when I was lost overseas. My question is why would people on earth see disembodied spirits of people who you dont know, and how do you balance faith with the paranormal when you feel you'd be judged for it? I have left a church and joined a new one because of being judged for believing in God and the paranormal- but how can you disregard seeing what I have seen? It is hard to explain to some that seeing these spirits can bring you closer to God. I would loe a reponse, Pastor Swope, to my life long worries. Thankyou. from Holly

Anonymous said...

The only problem I have with this is that "God is perfect". That said, he does not lose our spirits enabling them to walk this world willy nilly. He knows exactly where each and every one is and has complete control of them while they rest. He said they would be at rest until rapture and that is that. He didn't misplace a spirit here and there. I believe that if you experience a supernatural event, it is the Devil doing what he does best. Deceiving you. Yes Jesus did teach the disciples to perform exorcisms because he knows Demons do exist, but I am positive he also knew that our spirits were under complete control of his father, and that he need not worry about any of them. So when I think I have seen or heard of a supernatural experience, I know it to be a trick of the Devil. They still scare me, and I like to get scared every now and then, but I still know it’s the Devil and just laugh about it.

Ryan said...

I really appreciated this story and writing. You see I am a Pastoral student and technically already a minister...I have heard the same thing over and over; "it is all demonic", however if we as Christians say to non believers what Jesus has done for us and what we have seen him do...should it not be the same for this. I remember my experience I first had with a ghost. Yet, I don't feel as if I am sinning one bit, and I pray for God to help me with this. Better yet, my group before we go somewhere spend a good portion of our time in prayer before we go. I just want to thank you and if you have anything you think might help. It would be amazing! God bless!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for backing up your belief with correct translation! I have struggled with this since I began seeing spirits as a child. I am not schizophrenic or mentally ill, I might add. Even as a child I read the Bible myself (we rarely went to church) & understood that what I was seeing was either unclean spirit, residual energy or demonic. I could not figure out why I could see or communicate with them if this is supposed to be wicked, but after many years of religious study, baptism & church membership, I am more sure than ever God has given me the gift of discernment of spirit. I can immediately tell if a person is good or evil. I always thought it was just intuition, but it is clearly more than that. My husband has been a conservative protestants preacher for many years, so this is hard to discuss with him or those without the gift....and I don't know anyone at church with it!

Greg Pocha said...

I just wanted to say that I found your web site informative and interesting from a professional point of view. I am certain to bookmark it for fast reference when I need a Christian insight to paranormal activity. Two thumbs up!!!

Kristen Kizer said...

Hi my name is Kristen and my grandfather has died a year ago. I see him all the time and can feel him here still with me. This has really helped me in my search to understand if ghosts are real or not because iv spent my whole life in the church. But this really proves that maybe im not crazy. And even more comforting to know its my grandfather and not a demon. Believing that i was just being tricked by a demon really just tore at my heart i would much rather it be my grandfather.

Anonymous said...

I have researched some of the very same things that you mentioned in your blog and tried to talk to others who just kinda shut down. I am so intrigued by paranormal and even demonic spirits, just to understand and have knowledge. I am usually the one, in church, who wants to run to the front and help cast out demons, not the one who wants to run out the back door lol. But often i have been criticized for this, told that it was not Christian like. So I really appreciate you taking the time to write this and share with others that the Bible DOES speak of such things, and that it does not make us any less Holy, that we are interested in it. Please continue to share more. Thank you!
A Minister in AZ

Anonymous said...

I've encountere mostly friendly or neutral ghosts, or whatever they are,some seem protectors even,others seem mischievous,still another was clearly hurtful & evil. Most haven't shown themselves,,a few have.

It seems there are a range of entities & perhaps different types, as they present themselves differently..

I was told they "didn't exist", to not talk about it,that it as "crazy"& many other things,so learned to not talk about it,so I didn't for many years,and still rarely do yet I KNOW there are entities around us,perhaps all the time,we just have to listen

Anonymous said...

I know it's 2013, but I have to say something. People keep saying the witch on Endor screamed in fear cause she'd never seen a ghost before. I've noticed that people now days seem to lack in reading comprehension skills. Sorry if that sounds condescending, but I've taught elementary school kids how to read properly. and I see this problem many times when commenting with people about news articles. It actually makes me sad, not feel superior.

If you reread what the scripture says, ”...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?”

She isn't screaming out because she's afraid of the spirit. She is screaming out because she is afraid of Saul. When she recognized Samuel as the Prophet Samuel, she then realized that it was Saul who had come to her. She didn't recognize him cause Saul had disguised himself. It's very clear as to why she would scream out and be afraid of Saul. Samuel the Prophet had banished mediums, and Saul had purged them out. That is why he says to her, be not afraid. He wasn't telling her not to be afraid of Samuel's ghost. He said that because he wasn't there to banish or kill her, but to use her services.

Uhg, I hate it when people read a scripture out of context. It's a pet peeve of mine. Always, always read the Chapter in its entirety before formulating an opinion of a single scripture.

Also the bible infers that human time is irrelevant to G-d. It says that a day is a thousand years to G-d. What does immediately go to heaven or hell mean when we no longer look to the cycles of the sun and moon to determine time? Maybe to a spirit they've just died, but in human time standards it's been 100 years. You're very right on this. The bible is vague as to what exactly happens between the time of death and the resurrection.

Thank you so much for this blog. I've enjoyed this entry.
-Kathryn

Anonymous said...

okay my mama died three and a half years ago. i got a message from a guy this mornin that i didn't even know and he said he had seen a woman walkin in a long white dress on the road where she wrecked three years ago and died. he said he tried to yell at her but she never looked up she was focused on the road and she was goin the way she was goin that mornin that she died. it was the same time she died that he drove by. he said he got to work and researched it and found at that my mama had died there a few years ago thats when he messaged me. her hair was blowing in the wind and he said she looked pretty from what he seen. what does this mean? is she lost? is she trying to tell someone something? or is it a demon?

Kerstin Smith said...

okay my mama died three and a half years ago. i got a message from a guy this mornin that i didn't even know and he said he had seen a woman walkin in a long white dress on the road where she wrecked three years ago and died. he said he tried to yell at her but she never looked up she was focused on the road and she was goin the way she was goin that mornin that she died. it was the same time she died that he drove by. he said he got to work and researched it and found at that my mama had died there a few years ago thats when he messaged me. her hair was blowing in the wind and he said she looked pretty from what he seen. what does this mean? is she lost? is she trying to tell someone something? or is it a demon?

Pastor Swope said...

Hi Kirsten,

Just because a driver saw an apparition near the site of your Mom's death does not mean that the apparition if your mother. Even if you could see it and it does look like your Mom, it still wouldn't mean that it is her spirit. The world is full of unseen forces that can assume human form and it seems there are also ways that human activity can be recorded and played back in some way. Many think it has to do with naturally occurring minerals or running water in the area somehow 'records' and plays back events in some natural way that we do not understand. So I would not be overly concerned.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, you are missing the point! The whole Samuel Saul thing whether demon or real was wrong behavior by Saul and disobedient to the Lord. Certainly not an example for us to follow. Scriptures make clear that any delving into the occult or consulting mediums contacting the dead etc. is forbidden. Why as a Christian would you seek to make it ok? Or more acceptable? As Christians we should be seeking to be more like Christ and be pleasing to God in all we say and do. I don't understand wanting to "explore" the areas that are forbidden. It isn't really important if you are right or wrong about ghosts/demons you are leading others to go into areas that clearly are never OK in God's Word. You don't want to find out at Judgement day that you have caused others to "stumble".

In the last days the Apostle Paul declared that there would be a segment of people that would give heed to “seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.” don't dabble in the things that draw you away from the Lord.

Pastor Swope said...

Dear Anonymous...

I only put out there what the Bible actually says, not a church dogma.
Today Christians rely upon what their church or Sunday School teacher teaches instead of looking to Scripture. One of the principles of the Reformation is the primacy of scripture over dogma. Sadly the modern evangelical church acts more like the Catholic Church in the dark ages.

And please stop the garbage about heresy by using Paul. As an Exorcist for more than 20 years now I think I know a bit. There are other things out there than just demonic spirits. And Scripture does talk about Ghosts. Please read my other articles about the dangers of communicating with them. I do not mention it here, this article just looks at Scripture for the topic of ghosts.

It is sad how Christians all jump to judgmentalism when they don't understand something or it conflicts with their church's view.
You could have found my view with little effort, but you chose to judge. That is sad and not Chistlike whatsoever.

We are on the verge of an anti-Christian age. Brothers and sisters in the middle east are becoming Martyrs at a rate that overshadows the Roman persecutions. Christian faith is being pushed out of the Western World, you can't even mention God in school.It is time for Christians to stop stabbing one another in the back and judging each other and stick to the basics. I advise you to read Romans 14-15;13. And get a good commentary, you will probably be surprised as to what Paul is really addressing.
Think and read before you judge!

Anonymous said...

Greetings Pastor Swope!

My name is Adam Kovacs. I'm a student in Hungary at the Baptist Theological Academy, and I'm a baptist christian more than two years from now. I'm very interested in the paranormal, because I always longed for to discover the unknown. Before I became a christian, I researched the occult ways, I had experiences as a child and since that...saw apparitions, phantoms, had a lot of wierd stuff, before I turned to Christ. And even after I repented, I experienced demonic attacks two times...like sleep-paralysis, but different in that I did not see anything, nor did I suffocate. I just had this intense fear of death and what I heard was like a crowd of people cursing constantly in my mind. I couldn't make a sound, but I was able to say: "My Lord Jesus help me!" And then it was over...this happened two times before my baptism, and later I met someone who experienced this during the day, before he became a christian.

To be honest, I'm a paranormal researcher myself, just like you, and it pleases me to know there are others (so I'm not alone with my task), even pastors, who think outside the box. Ofcourse, after I became a baptist, a whole year has passed, before I started my research guided by God... I felt and thought like every "good ol' church-goer" when I got my calling: "do not dabble in these things, this can't be the will of God". But God called me...and this is another story.

Well what I wanted to comment on this subject, is that until September 13, I really thought about this just as most christians do. "Ghosts are the work of the Devil." And you have to admit, that it is a more safer approach (considering weak christians) than accepting the reality of wandering human souls, because if people think these are just malicious demons, they would not feel tempted to gain information from them (which is a sin Isaiah 8:19), instead they would just avoid them altogether.

But, the church ghost-photos in Peter Underwood's 'Ghosts' book really made me wonder. And then there is your own haunted church article. How can demons haunt a church building, if it is supposed to be sanctified by God's presence? It's impossible...it would deny the very laws of the Spirit World...of the Bible. Demons can't share one space with God.

Well I thought about your arguments, and I searched in the greek translation the Matthew 14:26. And Mark 6:49. It turs out, that there is a total 259 mention of the word pneuma (spirit), but in these verses the word phantasma (phantom) had been used. And I think you are right when you argue, that if the Apostle Matthew really thought, that they thought they saw a demon, then Matthew would wrote daimonion or akathartos pneuma (unclean spirit). But since he (and Mark) used phantasma, and all the other translators, it is obvious they didn't think it was other than a ghost of a dead man. And I also agree with you, that if there is no such thing as a wandering human spirit, than Jesus would surely correct them. Like when Thomas said to Him: "My Lord and God!" And Jesus did not say "I'm not God, I'm just His son", but He said: "Because you see me, you believe?"

Some years before, I found a peculiar chapter in the book of Job. I think this could be interesting to you:
Job 4:12-21
It's like a description of a haunting of Eliphaz.
Ofcourse, it can be an angel or a fallen one also, but still.
What do you think?

Pastor Swope said...

Thanks Adam,

Great research!
As Christians we should avoid our preconceptions on issues like this.
Calling something a demon without actually examining the details can make a lot of chaos out of situations and damage some people's perception of Christians.
Spirits of the dead roaming the earth was part of the Classical Worldview that was the background context of the New Testament.
In my consultations and cleansing of residences and other buildings, On the other hand, I have found that a lot of the 'apparitions' reported do not fit into the demon category or the deceased human spirit category. A lot seem like some sort of recorded activity that somehow is able to be played and repeated during certain conditions.
I guess we really will never know for sure until we get to Glory and the Lord reveals it to us!
Blessings,
Robin

laurie schaefer said...

Howdy Pastor!
Just wanted to say thanks for your blog - very informative! The comment section, equally interesting for sure!
Looking forward to reading some of your other posts. Keep up the good work!
Lauri

Rusty said...

Thank you Pastor for this post on the bible and ghosts.

I have family members who are trying to push the belief upon me that all paranormal activity is demonic.

Thank you for pointing out that the Bible states that ghosts are real.

Pastor Swope said...

Thanks Rusty.

Just remember Hebrews 1:14
"Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?"

John Ryan said...

Dear Pastor Swope,
I'm a bible believing Christian, and I also have 13 years of personal experience in researching the paranormal. I agree with your posts and use of scripture concerning the subject.

Here is a very brief summary of my experience:

I came to the Lord Jesus on 9/11/2001. Prior to that I was a professional psychic for over 25 years, and a priest in an occult order. I did not believe in Jesus as the Son of God, and I truly disliked Christians (dislike is a mild description). My conversion took place while I was watching the news of the attacks. While I was watching the news I suddenly became aware of the need for prayer, and suddenly Jesus appeared and said "John it's time to pick up your cross." I then gave up, and renounced my past practices and affiliations.

I had some online friends who were paranormal investigators, and they lived in Buffalo NY, while I lived in Lynden WA. These friends would tell me stories of their haunting experiences that they had where they lived which was in an old funeral home. After discussing their experiences over time we decided to try to do an experiment to see if I could provoke the spirits at their location long distance via phone and online audio chat room. All of this I have on video by the way. We did this, and long story short their haunting became my haunting. It appeared that the spirits came to my location.
Over a few weeks of this activity I truly felt haunted by evil spirits. I have video, audio and pictures of this which I can provide. Anyway, back to my point. I really didn't have any real understanding of scripture, but one day I walked in my home and felt this extreme heaviness. I can only describe this like being in an air conditioned room all day, and then opening the door and stepping out into a furnace, it just hit me in the face it was so heavy. Then, out of know where I suddenly shouted with a great deal of anger, frustration and fear to get out in the name of Jesus! Suddenly it was all gone. Just like that.

It was this paranormal experience that turned me into a bible believing Christian because it's exactly what scripture says to do which I didn't know at the time, and I've never looked back. Prise God!

Since that time I've investigated many haunted locations, but I had some very serious questions concerning the where and why of some spirits staying earth bound, while others seemingly do not, or at least do not interact with us. Are all these spirits demons? I would ask myself? Are these earth bound spirits unsaved souls? These and many more questions I had asked myself, but always staying true to scripture.
My final answer came when I met another group of investigators who are Christians, and they preach the gospel to the spirits that they encounter.

I Peter 3:18-22 NKJV

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.

My own calling is spiritual warfare which includes preaching the gospel to all creatures. I see spiritual warfare and evangelism as one and the same. In my own personal experiences, and study of scripture, and the gift of spiritual discernment of good and evil spirits.
I'm sorry for such a long post, but I felt that it is important to explained my personal experiences.

God bless,
John

Anonymous said...

Well i would have to say that just because a parable is indeed a parable doesn't automatically negate it from being taken literally. God teaches us in parables to teach us in ways we can understand by using real life experiences we are or can be familiar with. So saying that just because a lesson was taught through the use of a parable and there for was not made to be taken literally is not true. Think of the parable of the sower. In order for us to learn and understand the lesson given by the parable we have to take the parable as literal such as if you literally sow seed in shallow or rocky ground it literally won't root well. Yes the lesson or parable is symbolic but it is also commensensically literal as well. It sometimes seems Pastor that you talk down on people who arent seminary students which i dont think you should do because they are only trying to find truth and being obedient to scripture in testing every belief rather than just agreeing to believe what a leader of a church says. Because you do have to admit that the scriptures say there are wolves in sheeps clothing amongst us and false teachers and all they r tryinf to do is becareful of that. I dont think you should be so offended by others if indeed u know the truth. In the end God will reveal all to us and at present we only need to be concerned and focused on what God deems is most important. I think the best way to know the truth for sure is not to solely rely on teachers but inquire of the Holy Spirit himself in our relationship with Him and He will reveal or answer for us. Not everyone can be a well educated and good seminary student but all can have a relationship with our God, the author and Creator of it all and there is no better way to get unbiased and incorruptible answers/information than just going to the Source for answers. You have to remember we are all only human no matter how educated therefore we will never be perfect and can be erroneous without even knowing or intending to be therefore in all matters, consult and ask He who is without error. :) ...im nit trying to be rude or sarcastic or demeaning in anyway, that is not my intent, just being real

Only in Love and in Christ,
Ur sis in Christ