|By: Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon; ©2005|
|Who do ghosts claim to be? What are the consequences of believing in their common interpretation? What are the consequences of accepting that ghosts are human dead? Does Halloween support witchcraft? Is witchcraft dangerous? Are ghosts related to witchcraft?|
Ghosts – Part 2
Who do ghosts claim to be? What are the consequences of believing in their common interpretation?
The spirits of the occult, in general, are often contacted directly by psychics,mediums or channelers. They permit themselves to become possessed by these spirits and allow those spirits to speak through them. At poltergeist hauntings, mediums or psychics may also allow themselves to be possessed in order to discover the alleged reason for the “haunting” by establishing direct contact with the “troubled ghost.” Of course, in occult circles, the poltergeist is characteristically interpreted in line with prevailing beliefs about the dead, human psychokinesis, and so forth. But given the well-known ability of demons to assume virtually any shape and to take virtually any disguise, from angels to UFO aliens to the human dead, how can occultists be certain that poltergeists are what they think they are? Can mediums be certain the appearances of “dead loved ones” in séances are not the clever tricks of demons to foster emotional trust and dependence?
While speaking through human mediums, the ghosts that are contacted during poltergeist outbreaks have offered several reasons that explain their activities. First, some claim to be the spirits of the dead who were once atheists, materialists or rationalists while on earth and never expected to encounter an afterlife. Upon death, their shock was so great they became confused and disoriented. Like a lost and wounded traveler in a strange city, they wander aimlessly, attempting to get their bearings.
Second, some say they are otherwise confused spirits. Initially, some spirits of the dead supposedly refuse to believe they are really dead and are no longer able to live upon the earth. They now vainly attempt to convince themselves that they are still in their bodies and can somehow return to their previous existence. As a result, they not only seek to regain contact with the living through “haunting” houses where the living reside, but they desperately seek to manifest themselves materially in order to regain contact with the physical world. Bizarre poltergeist events are one result of their attempt to interact with and materialize back into their previous existence.
Third, some ghosts argue that they are alleged spirits of Christians who erroneously accepted the idea of a biblical heaven. Such persons are shocked, dismayed and angry to discover that the Bible they trusted was wrong. Rather than finding themselves in heaven with their Lord, they instead found themselves in the spirit world with no Jesus or heaven anywhere in sight. Some of these ghosts refuse to accept this, waiting instead for “Jesus” to come and take them to “heaven.” In the meantime, they vent their confusion, anger and grief through poltergeist manifestations.
Fourth, they claim to be the spirits of the dead who were evil people involved in violent acts such as murder or rape at a particular location on earth. After death, they chose to remain close to the earth to continue their evil. Or, they are deceased victims of evil people and are frightened to go forward and progress spiritually or they wish to seek revenge on the living relatives of those who harmed them.
Finally, poltergeists may say they are the spirits of the dead who are experiencing confusion resulting from suicide. Famous medium George Anderson, who communicates regularly with alleged spirits of the dead, mentioned the following anecdote concerning his personal friend: “A friend of mine who had recently taken his life came through [me] and did not know how to go into the light. I kept telling him to go forward to the light, but he was afraid of [temporary] judgment. He couldn’t forgive himself. Also, he was having a problem with the fact that after he had taken his own life, his spirit obviously lingered around the scene of the act.”
These are the claims of ghosts and poltergeists. But regardless of the spirits’ claims, we think the demonologists of an earlier era such as de Spina (1460), Nider (1470), Remy (1595), and Guazzo (1608) were correct: These spirits are not what they claim (spirits of the human dead), but lying spirits which the Bible identifies as demons. This is strongly indicated by the fact that poltergeist claims, manifestations and results tend to have five distinct consequences—all of which lend greater credibility to the Christian view.
The Consequences of Accepting that Ghosts are Human Dead
There are five consequences of accepting the common view that ghosts are the human dead or manifestations of human psychic ability.
First, as noted, poltergeist manifestations tend to involve or interest people in the occult. Poltergeist phenomena frequently cause unsuspecting people to assume the truth of an occult worldview such as mediumism, witchcraft, reincarnation and paganism. The phenomenon itself is so startling that participants become converted to belief in the supernatural and, not infrequently, end up personally involved in psychic investigation through séances, channeling, Ouija boards or various forms of divination. Thus, a parapsychologist may be called in to investigate the disturbance. Often a psychic, channeler, or medium is brought in to communicate with the troubled spirit, to attempt to “help” it or, if it is evil, to exorcise it.
Demons have a vested interest in all this because it not only supports the occult, it offers a novel and unexpected manner for them to influence or contact people. Poltergeist activity encourages attempts to contact the dead—something God has forbidden as being reprehensible to Him: “Let no one be found among you who… practices divination or sorcery… engages in witchcraft… or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord” (Deut. 18:10-12).
Second, in the minds of many people, poltergeist phenomena tend to discredit the biblical view of the afterlife and of immediate judgment at death. Indeed, most people in the world do think of poltergeists as the spirits of the human dead. But if these large numbers of dead are actually roaming around the spirit world and contacting our world, then the biblical portrait of the confinement and judgment of the unregenerate at death is obviously false.
This scenario also supports the goals of demons who have a vested interest in deceiving people about biblical truth concerning the afterlife. Obviously, if there is no hell in the afterlife, there is no need for a Savior in this life. But God tells us, “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Heb. 9:27). To those who reject God’s gracious offer of salvation Jesus warned, “If you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins” (Jn. 8:24). The writer of Hebrews asks, “How shall we escape [judgment] if we ignore such a great salvation?” and “See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him [Moses] who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him [Jesus] who warns us from heaven?” (Heb. 2:3; 12:25). Jesus himself emphasized that the unregenerate and unrighteous “will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” (Matt. 25:46).
The Bible teaches clearly that the unsaved dead are now confined in a place of punishment, while the saved dead are in glory with Christ (Lk. 16:19-31; 2 Pet. 2:9; Phil. 1:23; 2 Cor. 5:6, 8). Therefore, the implication most people draw from poltergeist manifestations—that the dead roam freely—is clearly false from a biblical viewpoint.
Third, poltergeist events grant spiritual authority and credibility first to the occultist (the psychic, spiritist, medium, channeler) and second to those involved with them (the parapsychologist, psychical researcher). It is these individuals who investigate the disturbance and supposedly solve the problem. Because such persons are frequently able to “resolve” the disturbance, although usually not without a battle of sorts (with the spirits gladly cooperating behind the scenes), the entire episode grants those involved in the occult, whether personally or “scientifically,” a good deal of spiritual prestige. But as many former mediums have revealed, such resolutions to poltergeist hauntings are merely a ruse of the spirits to fool people into adopting unbiblical teachings or practices. This is also something that harmonizes well with the goal of demons: to secure people’s trust toward those who, however unwittingly, actively promote the demons’ own interests and who often actively oppose Christianity. As the history of the occult reveals, all this hinders the good purposes God has intended for man.
Fourth, concerning the parapsychological view of poltergeist phenomena being a result of human psychic potential, this confuses the realm of the psychological and the supernatural, masks the activity of demons, and helps make the domain of the occult the domain of the psychologist. The popular adolescent theory suggests that when certain children approach the age of puberty, this somehow creates an excess amount of psychic energy which, in some unknown manner, is spontaneously released to create poltergeist effects. Thus, poltergeist manifestations are presumed to indicate an abnormal condition of the human mind. Therefore, the theory concludes, the true source of the poltergeist lay in the human psyche, a result of a mass of outwardly projected adolescent repression, fear, anger or confusion.
One consequence of the idea that poltergeist phenomena mysteriously emerge from the consciousness of adolescents is to draw child and other psychologists into the ranks of those who study poltergeist phenomena. Thus, the poltergeist becomes the natural domain of the psychologist and, from that point, the psychologist finds it easy to become entwined in the occult domain of the parapsychologist. In essence, the psychological theory inevitably links the poltergeist with the adolescent, the adolescent with the psychologist, and the psychologist with the parapsychologist.
This consequence can be seen in the attempt to make poltergeist phenomena part of human origin which, by definition, opens the doors to exploration of human psychic potential. As no less an authority than Colin Wilson remarks, “The recognition that poltergeists are of human origin was one of the greatest intellectual landmarks in human history. It was the first convincing proof that we possess other floors” (i.e., other psychic levels or dimensions within our own being).
Given the demonic nature of the poltergeist phenomena as a whole, it is rather incredible that so many otherwise rational people ascribe poltergeists to some kind of alleged spontaneous, uncontrollable, psychological/psychic (projected repressions)/ psychokinetic function of human beings. Yet parapsychologists, psychic researchers, and occultists who investigate these phenomena seem to consider the demonic theory hardly worthy of mention. But isn’t the demonic theory far more believable than the idea that human psychic energy can account for the kinds of manifestations we find? Again:
Objects are projected with alarming velocity, and often seem directly aimed at some human target…. Another peculiarity is the wavy path, quite irreconcilable with gravitational laws, which these projectiles often seem to follow. They turn corners, swerve in and out, and behave, in fact, like a bird which is free to pick its own way. Not less surprising is… that the stones and other missiles are for the most part invisible at the beginning of their flight. They do not come into view until they are just a few feet off. They enter closed rooms and seem to drop from the ceilings or to penetrate doors and windows without leaving a trace of their passage.
What human being on earth, adolescent or aged, can duplicate such things? Indeed, it is the consistently supernatural nature of the phenomenon which so forcefully argues against a purely human origin. We believe this also advances the purpose of demons who, hiding safely behind the realms of the parapsychologist and the psychic simultaneously, promote the occult and its redefinition toward a purely psychological realm.
Fifth, poltergeist manifestations frequently harm people whether physically, emotionally or spiritually. Therefore the view of poltergeists as harmless ghosts also plays into the hands of demons. Since demons are innately evil and unredeemable, this fits well with their own desires and purposes.
In essence, all five consequences of the poltergeist are seen to support the goals of those evil spirits the Bible identifies as demons. Therefore, it is hardly out of place to suggest that poltergeists are actually a ruse of demons to further their own agendas.
After the idea of roaming spirits of the dead, witchcraft is perhaps the most common theme of Halloween. However, our cultural image of witchcraft is changing from that of something evil to something spiritually positive. Unfortunately, witchcraft is no laughing matter.
Leading former witch Doreen Irvine reports how the proselytizing activity of modern witches is designed to recast their tarnished image historically: “It was important to give witchcraft a new look, and these guidelines were laid down: ‘never frighten anyone. Offer new realms of mystery and excitement. Make witchcraft less sinister. Make it look like a natural, innocent adventure… cover up evil with appealing wrappings…’.”
One way children can be deceived about witches is through their attempt to recast themselves in a benign light. Those having this agenda use Halloween to teach children that witchcraft is good and witches are genuinely spiritual people, healers, and protectors of the environment. Of course, most witches today claim to be “good” witches, which causes much confusion. The truth is that in the tradition of witchcraft, so-called white witches can sometimes be just as evil as black witches. Regardless, from a biblical perspective all witchcraft is evil. Nevertheless, revisionist history continues to recast the witch and neo-pagan communities as those who would help both mankind and planet Earth itself.
In The Anatomy of Witchcraft, Peter Haining describes leading witch Raymond Buckland as “certainly the most important Gardnerian witch in America and perhaps the cult’s most level-headed and convincing spokesman.” In 1994, John Weldon had a radio debate with Buckland, who, in the early 1960s, was probably the one most responsible for reintroducing modern-day witchcraft to the United States. He has written over 30 books on this subject and other aspects of the occult. In that debate, Buckland claimed the following of witchcraft: “It’s just another religion… it’s not anti-Christian—it’s nothing like that. The main message is positive…. We hold pretty much the same ideas of doing good [as Christians]…. I’ve spoken at Roman Catholic colleges on Long Island, New York, I’ve spoken for Methodists, for Baptists, for Episcopalians—many, many different groups. Generally, I would say that there’s been a very good reaction: ‘Now this is interesting. Tell us more.’ That’s the sort of reaction that I’ve gotten rather than anything antagonistic.”
Buckland’s view of witchcraft as something that is not anti-Christian but something good and positive is contradicted by the facts, not to mention God’s own view of witchcraft. In Scripture we are told very clearly that anyone who “engages in witchcraft… is detestable to the Lord” (Deut. 18:10,12).
Not too long ago Time magazine estimated that there were about 160,000 witches in America and possibly half as many in Britain. Obviously, painting witchcraft in a good, positive, “white” light is part of the reason for the success of witchcraft—along with the general breakdown of Western culture.
But today, even some Christians don’t seem too convinced about the dangers of witchcraft. One evangelical scholar claims, “The majority of witchcraft and ritual magic appear to be relatively innocuous,” even going so far as to assert that ritual magic may be “essentially harmless.” Again, such attitudes are contradicted by the history of witchcraft and ritual magic and the testimony of current and former practitioners, some of which we documented in The Coming Darkness (Harvest House Publishers, 1993). And certainly Halloween has a part to play in all this.
In the opinion of Dr. David Enoch, former senior consultant psychiatrist at the Royal Liverpool Hospital and the University of Liverpool, Halloween practices open the door to the occult and can introduce forces into people’s lives that they do not understand and often cannot combat…. For too many children, this annual preoccupation… leads to a deepening fascination with the supernatural, witches and the possibility of exercising power over others.
As another example, consider the following information given in Harper’s magazine. In “Toward a more P.C. [politically correct] Halloween” we find excerpts from the teacher’s manual of the Anti-Bias Curriculum: Tools for Empowering Young Children produced by the Anti-Bias Curriculum Task Force of Early Childhood Educators in California and published by the National Association for the Education of Young Children in Washington, D.C. In this manual we are told that the Halloween image of the witch as old, wicked, ugly and dressed in black “reflects stereotypes of gender, race, and age: ‘Powerful women are evil; old women are ugly and scary; the color black is evil.’” The myth of the evil witch “reflects a history of witch-hunting and witch-burning… directed against mid-wives and other independent women.” We are told that this stereotype of witches as evil should be challenged by teachers today “because it is so offensive, especially to many women.”
An example is given of a teacher named Kay who did the following activities two weeks before Halloween. She first asks the children what they think about witches. She receives the standard responses of “bad, ugly, old.” The teacher then says, “Many people do think that. What I know is that the real women we call witches aren’t bad. They really helped people…. They healed people who were sick or hurt.” This gets the children talking about doctors and the teacher replies, “Yes, the [witch] healers were like doctors.”
On other days, Kay brings in various herbs showing how they were used by witches in healing and she also sets up a “witch-healer” table “where the children can make their own potions.” At the end of the two-week course, children have a new consensus—that witches fall into two categories: “Some were bad, some good.
So although the activities don’t completely change the children’s minds, they do stretch thinking by creating a category of ‘some good witches.’”
With tens of thousands of witches in America and an undetermined number of them teachers of young children, who would think that a time such as Halloween will not be used by them to their own advantage? Of course, witches also have a lot of help from many religious liberals, radical feminists, those in the goddess movement and among adherents of the neo-pagan revival. All of them work together to support witchcraft as a benign and spiritually divine activity—but at what cost?
What is forgotten today is that witchcraft is increasingly appealing to a large number of people because of the manner in which it is presented and the community and power that it offers. For example, one former witch discusses why witchcraft was so appealing to her and has become so appealing to many others:
It all seemed so harmless and so beautiful. It was a beautiful experience…. Wicca builds community. It builds community because there are so many people out there seeking this oneness with the earth, this oneness with the universe, this oneness with the ultimate god and goddess aspect. Everybody wants love, everybody wants to get along, everybody wants peace, and in Wicca, when you are involved in a group, it starts off that way.
Yet Guadalupe Rosalez found another reality than the one she initially encountered. First, in contrast to the claims of Raymond Buckland cited earlier that witchcraft is not anti-Christian, Rosalez found just the opposite. Having a Christian background, she wanted to use Christ in her rituals but the witchcraft council would not allow her to use the name of Christ—not even as one god among many. “They just said: ‘No, you are forbidden to use Christ.’” She was taken before the council several times for discussion or discipline.
Incidentally, the modern perception that Christians were involved in the burning of witches at the Salem witch trials and elsewhere is highly distorted. For example, at the 1692 Salem trials
…one of the greatest ironies of history is that Christians were accused, Christians died, Christians tried to stop the trials, and still Christianity gets the blame. Devout lay Christians… as well as devout ministers [were accused]…. Marion L. Starkey proves [in The Devil in Massachusetts: A Modern Inquiry into the Salem Witch Trials] “Far more ministers were making a stand against prosecution than were lending themselves to it.”… [And Chadwick Hansen in Witchcraft at Salem writes], “In fact the clergy were, from beginning to end, the chief opponents to the events of Salem.”
True, the majority who were executed were innocent but there were some who were genuinely guilty of witchcraft (although this did not justify their execution). In fact, Wallace Notestein observes that “good” witches would even accuse each other in order to destroy a rival witch’s business.
Guadalupe Rosalez also eventually found that there was a great deal of envy and animosity among her coven members. And in the end:
I saw it all for what it really was when I was trying to leave and separatemyself from them. They made it hard for me. I had nightmares and visions that nobody else had and sicknesses that were not accounted for physically…. I was being pressured into going into the art of necromancy, which is raising of the dead in witchcraft…. It is just too dangerous in both a spiritual sense and a mental sense. If you are not strong enough spiritually, it will drive you crazy…. I had to make a choice. It was either witchcraft or God…. To this day almost two years later, I am still being followed. I am still being attacked on and off. I think the worst came a couple of weeks ago. I ran into this person that appeared to be demonized, on the street, and she threatened my children. She said that if I did not go back [into witchcraft] my children were going to die by the 12th of this month…. It is now after that date. I was hit pretty bad. I was sick and there was a point of stagnation where I just could not seem to move. I had no will of my own but I had much prayer through the churches and I prayed myself…. Praise God my children are now fine.
She soberly tells her former witch friends that should they, too, cross the line, “You will come to the conclusion that the people you thought loved you the most, that took you into the craft, your best friends, have become your worst enemies.”
In The Coming Darkness, we spent over 300 pages documenting the dangers of occult practices. Certainly witchcraft is no harmless pastime and the use of Halloween to encourage witchcraft is terribly misguided.
The former witch cited above recalls, “[A]s a witch you always seem to seek the counsel of a spirit guide.” Raymond Buckland, quoted earlier, says that the focus of witchcraft is “a belief in deities, and a worship of these deities, thanking them for what we have, asking them for what we need.” Witchcraft, poltergeists and other forms of spiritism tend to go hand in hand. Biblically, this means that witchcraft is involved with the powers of darkness. If these spirits and ghosts are really demons, no other conclusion is possible.
Montague Summers’ Geography of Witchcraft and History of Witchcraft, as well as many standard encyclopedias and compendiums on witchcraft, show the close connections between witchcraft and poltergeists. Consider the following discussion by leading occult authority Colin Wilson in his book Poltergeist!: A Study in Destructive Haunting. He discusses the historical connection between witchcraft, poltergeists, necromancy and spiritism and points out that writing the text of an illustrated book about witchcraft “proved to be an excellent preparation for writing a book about poltergeists.”
And all witchcraft has been based on the idea of magic: that the witch or magician can make use of spirit entities to carry out her will… the chief business of a witch in those days (about 1,000 B.C.) was raising the dead. And later tales of witches—in Horace, Apuleius and Lucan—make it clear that this was still true 1,000 years later on. After the beginning of the Christian era, the witch also became the invoker of demons…. In his notorious History of Witchcraft, the Reverend Montague Summers denounces modern Spiritualism as a revival of witchcraft. He may simply have meant to be uncomplimentary about Spiritualism, but, as it happens, he was historically correct. The kind of spiritualism initiated by the Fox sisters was the nearest approach to what Lucan’s Erichtho, or Dame Alice Kyteler, would have understood by witchcraft. It begins and ends with the idea that we are surrounded by invisible spirits, including those of the dead, and that these can be used for magical purposes…. Witchcraft is about “spirits”—the kind of spirits we have been discussing in this book.
In conclusion, Halloween, poltergeists, witchcraft and spiritism are all closely connected. This means that however innocent Halloween may be at one level, at another level its innocence is lost altogether. Further, because of the modern revival of witchcraft and other forms of neopaganism, an article on the subject in Christianity Today correctly reported that “profound changes are underway in the religious climate of the West. They suggest that new religious forces are nibbling at the foundations of a society and a culture built largely upon a Christian world view.” Indeed, they are. This is why the Christian community should be more committed to prayer, sanctification and evangelism. If we do our part, God may indeed reverse the tide.
- Joel Martin and Patricia Romanowski, We Don’t Die: George Anderson’s Conversations with the Other Side (New York: Berkeley Books, 1989), p. 242.
- For more information, read former medium Raphael Gasson’s The Challenging Counterfeit and Robert Curran’s The Haunted: One Family’s Nightmares.
- Colin Wilson, Poltergeist!: A Study in Destructive Haunting (New York: Wideview/Perigee, 1981), p. 493.
- Herbert Thurston, Ghosts and Poltergeists (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1954), pp. 346-47.
- Doreen Irvine, Freed from Witchcraft (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1981), pp. 101-102.
- Peter Haining, The Anatomy of Witchcraft (New York: Taplinger, 1972), p. 93.
- “Getting Serious About Witchcraft in America,” interview with John Weldon and Raymond Buckland, Rutherford Magazine, Aug. 1994, pp. 16-18.
- I. Hexham, p. v. “Satanism and Witchcraft” in Walter A. Elwell ed., Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984), p. 974.
- Russ Parker, Battling the Occult (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), p. 35.
- “Toward a More P.C. Halloween,” excerpts from the Anti-Bias Curriculum: Tools for Empowering Young Children by Louis Derman-Sparks and the Anti-Bias Curriculum Task Force as given in Harper’s Magazine, October 1991, pp. 19, 21.
- Aida Besancon Spencer, et al., The Goddess Revival (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1995), pp. 198-99.
- Ibid., p. 200.
- Ibid., pp. 276-77.
- A History of Witchcraft in England from 1558 to 1718, pp. 22-23 in Ibid., p. 278.
- Ibid., p. 200-01.
- Ibid., p. 203.
- “Getting Serious” interview, p. 17.
- Wilson, Poltergeist!, p. 319.
- Ibid., pp. 320-21.
- Dave Bass, “Drawing Down the Moon,” Christianity Today, April 29, 1991, p. 14.