Spiritism
Author: Professor Walter J. Veith, PhD
Publish date:
Summary: Communication with the dead has been a common topic in fiction, and also within the New Age movement. What does Scripture teach about the spirits of the dead?
 
This article is part of a series. We recommend that you first read: The Mystic Realm of Death, A Biblical Understanding of Death.
 

If the dead are in a state of unconsciousness or sleep awaiting the resurrection, how do we explain the apparent communication with the dead that is commonplace in many modern religious movements of the past and the present? 

The worship of ancestors is common in many cultures, and the New Age movement claims communion with spirit beings. In Biblical times, King Saul consulted the witch of Endor and supposedly communicated with Samuel who had been dead for some time. These issues need clarification.

Can the dead communicate with the living?

Can dead spirits communicate with living people, or return to their houses to haunt them? The Scriptures say that the dead know nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5), and that upon death the "thoughts perish" (Psalm 146:4):

As the cloud disappears and vanishes away, So he who goes down to the grave shall not come up. He shall never return to his house, Nor shall his place know him anymore (Job 7:9-10 NKJV).

Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun (Ecclesiastes 9:6).

God denounced the consulting of mediums or communication with the dead (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 19:31; 20:6, 27; Deuteronomy 18:9-14; 2 Kings 21:6; 23:24; Jeremiah 27:9-10).

God has clearly defined the means of communication with Him. He communicates through His inspired Word, the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16; Psalm 119:89, 100-101), and through His prophets (Revelation 19:10).

If the spirits that are called up by mediums or channels are not the spirits of the dead, then they must be spirits of demons who try to deceive us and rob us of salvation (Revelation 16:14).

There are numerous examples in the Bible of both angels and demons working on Earth.

Spiritism's History

The Fox Sisters—Margaret, Kate, and Leah—jumpstarted modern spiritism.
Source: Wikipedia....

Whenever God has worked with power to call people back to Him, Satan has counterfeited the message with miracle-working power.

For example, the 1840s were the beginning of what the Bible calls "the end of time." God started the Advent movement in that decade to remind people that Christ would be returning soon.

Satan responded by initiating the modern spiritism movement. It began in 1848 when the Fox sisters experienced a mysterious rapping in their farmhouse in Hydesville, New York. From these humble beginnings, spiritism has grown into a worldwide movement with its modern thrust concentrated in the New Age movement.

Read about other movements that arose in the 1800s to pull people away from the truth

Even early spiritism leaders admitted that their communication was with Satan himself. Spritten, a Norwegian spirits periodical, says, "Spiritism is the serpent in Paradise offering man to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil."

Moses Hull, an early spirit lecturer, made the following statement:

A Truthful Snake...In answer to the question, 'who then, are we to believe—God or Satan?' I answer, 'The facts, in every case in the Bible, justify us in believing Satan, he has ever been truthful, that is more than can be said of the other one...It was not the devil, but God who made the mistake in the Garden of Eden...It was God, and not the devil, who was a murderer from the beginning.i

These blasphemous statements reveal the true nature of spiritism.

Saul's Encounter with Samuel

A passage often quoted in support of communication with the dead is 1 Samuel 28:3-25, where King Saul consults the medium at Endor who supposedly calls up Samuel to advise the king. Saul had been troubled by evil spirits throughout his life, and through his actions had severed his connection with God (verse 25). Saul, however, remembered that Samuel's predictions regarding his life had all been fulfilled. In his panic, he asked for the spirit of dead Samuel to advise him.

In verse 14 Saul asks the medium, "What form is he of?" indicating that he did not see Samuel himself. Moreover, the apparition taunted Saul by telling him that his crown would go to his rival. This message did not require visionary powers. David had already been anointed, and Israel had not humbled itself before the Lord, making it more than likely that they would be defeated by the Philistines.

As the dead are in a state of unconsciousness, it is evident that the spirit of Samuel did not communicate with Saul. Rather, it was an evil spirit. According to the Scriptures, Satan can communicate with people and present himself as an angel of light (Matthew 4:1-11; 2 Corinthians 11:14).

So what happens after we die?

 


 

i. Moses Hull, The Devil and the Adventists (Chicago, 1899): 15-16, as quoted in Christian Edwardson, Facts of Faith (TEACH Services, Inc., 2001): 308.

This article is adapted from Truth Matters by Professor Walter J. Veith, an international speaker who has studied Biblical issues in-depth in his quest for truth. His popular series Genesis Conflict brings the debate between Creation and evolution to a new climax as he dissects the arguments with a scientific eye. His highly-acclaimed series Total Onslaught sheds light on the state of the world today as we move to a one-world government and an anticipated apocalypse.
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