Apologetics, Questions, Issues
A Ghost of A Chance
by Ed Vasicek
When I was a young child, I remember learning my first riddle: "What do ghosts eat for breakfast? Ghost Toasties and evaporated milk."
Then there's the one about the woman who told her friend, "We had a séance last night with a new spiritist."
"Really?" asked the friend. "And how was she?"
The first woman replied, "Oh, medium."
Unfortunately, ghosts are no laughing matter. According to Pulpit Helps magazine, "A total of 2,012 people in the U.K. (Great Britain) were polled on their beliefs regarding the supernatural. More than two-thirds (68%) said they believe in the existence of ghosts and spirits while just over half (55%) said they believe in the existence of a God.... The survey found that 12% believe they have actually seen a ghost" (Pulpit Helps, January 2006, p. 27).
Although we addressed the UFO phenomenon a couple of years ago via our Sunday night cult series (and a video about UFOs from a Christian perspective is available in our church library), we never tackled ghosts—until today.
So how do we handle this issue? Are people who see ghosts crazy? If not, what are they really seeing? Do the spirits of your deceased relatives wander your hallways?
Although skeptics tend to write off anyone who sees a ghost or UFO as mentally unstable, this is frequently not the case. Because people with psychological disorders might drink coffee does not mean everyone who drinks coffee has a personality disorder. Likewise, because many mentally unstable people see UFOs or ghosts does not negate the fact that many sane people do so. Jimmy Carter, for example, saw a UFO, and I have a couple of very sane relatives who have seen ghosts. Sane people DO see these things. As a matter of fact, the odds are that a number of Body Builder readers have seen one of the above phenomena or know a person whom they respect who has.
So how does this mesh with the Christian faith? We believe that at death (We'll define death as the cessation of brain waves.), the soul of a person returns to our Maker. We believe that the saved are immediately conscious with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8) while the lost are conscious in the outer darkness of hell (Luke 16:22-23). We believe that "man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).
If you have seen the UFO video or read books from a Christian viewpoint about this, such as John Ankerberg's, The Facts on UFOs and Other Supernatural Phenomena or The Omega Conspiracy, some UFOs can be accounted for by mistaking objects in the sky. However most are sightings of evil spirit beings who may pose as friendly and benevolent creatures. People who are "abducted" by "aliens" usually develop characteristics associated with the demonically oppressed. These "aliens" are not visitors from another planet but from another dimension.
But this particular article is focusing upon ghosts. Appearances of ghosts can have a number of explanations. Ghost visitations can be the result of mental disorder. The brain thinks it is seeing what is not there. The brain is highly complex, and we are still very ignorant of its workings. Many apparitions can be accounted for via this explanation.
Whether we are talking about ghosts or UFOs, they typically encourage those to whom they have appeared to forsake Christianity, accept New Age religion and embrace occult practice. Sometimes when people see ghosts, they consult mediums because they conclude a dead relative has a message to deliver. These demons imitate the voice and appearance of someone they have studied, but that is precisely what they are: imitators. People want to believe they are contacting a loved one; such a thought appeals to the emotions (For example, I would love to talk to my parents.) and lures unsuspecting folks into the occult.
Interestingly, most demonic problems such as ghosts, oppression, etc. are restricted to families where someone perhaps a parent or even grandparent has dabbled in the occult (interpreting dreams, astrology, reading tea leaves, palm reading, ouija boards, etc.). Christian authorities on demonism, e.g., Mark Bubeck, The Adversary, and Merrill Unger, What Demons Can Do to Saints, have documented that demons love to stay in families; some relate it to the curse of Exodus 20:5 (to the 4th and 5th generation).
God's Word to believers is to lay off the occult. In Deuteronomy 18:9-12 we read,
When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spirits or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you.
In Acts 19:19 converts to Christianity forsook their occult practices: "A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas."
As a Christian, God calls us to follow Him completely. We cannot be involved in both the doctrines of demons and the truth of God. Remember there is power in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is also power in the prayers of believers. But if we dabble in the occult, we are asking for problems.
Reprinted from the February 2006 Body Builder, a publication of Highland Park Church.
Highland Park Church
516 West Sycamore Street
Kokomo, Indiana, USA