The Psychic News trumpeted with great delight that Father Concetti, called one of the most competent theologians of the Vatican, had said that it was no longer a sin to dialogue with the deceased. The article goes on to claim that the Roman Catholic Church has been carrying out scientific experiments, with their own mediums, and have now finally decided that they are talking to the dead. Further, we read, that this time, after backing the Nazis in the past, the Catholic Church has learnt its lesson and is backing the winning side. The article then goes on to say:
It does not matter whether the scientist – seeker after knowledge – is a Christian, a Spiritualist, or an Atheist, the message from people in the etheric wavelengths is always the same: ‘You all survive death, there is no place here just reserved for Christians, or anybody else. The only thing that counts is how you have behaved during your short stay on earth.’
This statement is very revealing when compared with the belief of the Catholic Church. However, for all evangelical churches that believe that there is only one way into the after life, and that is not connected with what ‘I do,’ this statement must be investigated. It actually, I believe, leaves more questions than it answers. For instance, who judges how we have behaved during our lives? What happens to those who do not attain the ‘pass-mark’? Surely somebody has to be ‘in charge’ and doesn’t that make them God?
The area of mediumship is taken further in a paper presented by Michael Perry at the Fourth Ecumenical Conference of Christian Parapsychology on 8 October 1996. The conference was under the auspices of the Church’s Fellowship for Physical and Spiritual Studies a group that believes that mediumship is a gift of the Holy Spirit. In this paper entitled ‘Biblical Prohibitions and Christian Parapsychology,’ Perry seeks to justify this fact and show that being a medium and a Christian is perfectly compatible. We will investigate this argument and see if there is any Biblical evidence.
Perry first mentions some of the Old Testament Scriptures that seem to condemn mediumship, Leviticus 19:31, Deuteronomy 18:9-14 and Isaiah 8:19-20. Surely these Scriptures are very plain, how can you get around them? Several arguments are put forward, some of them more seriously than others.
First, he indicates that the Old Testament is such, “an amazing rag-bag of disparate materials” that if we wished we could pick and choose which bits we wanted and which to leave. For instance, most would not obey the law that we are not to wear a garment woven with two kinds of yarn.
He, however, does go on to say that this is ridiculous and that Scripture must have some “objective moral authority.” He proceeds to explain that the Old Testament laws come in three kinds:
- Some moral laws of binding permanence.
- Some ritual regulations that have today been superseded.
- Some that do not apply any longer, because a theological insight has been developed in the course of the biblical revelation.
It is obvious that he feels that the subject in question comes in the latter and because, today, we look at things differently, we adjust our view. As an evangelical Christian I would comment here that such a view is looking at the matter from our subjective viewpoint and not from the viewpoint that God had when He spoke the words. There is a further problem too, because God is an eternal God, and if we believe in the God of the Bible we believe in an eternal being whose words have eternal meaning – not one will pass away! Looking at it from this angle sheds a different light on the argument that follows.
Next Perry seeks to cast doubt over the various Biblical words translated medium, witch, wizard, sorcerer etc. This leads to the conclusion that although we are not sure exactly what they meant, although we can be absolutely sure the woman at En-Dor was not a witch, these are all tarred with the same brush. Whether a medium today was the same as a medium then is not the issue. Perry concludes,
… the trafficking with ghosts or spirits – it is contact with the departed – which is basically forbidden.
Having agreed this, it still remains then to show that today is different, and what mediums do now is not what they did when they were told not to in the Old Testament. We are, according to Perry, to look at the purpose of what was said; we need not look just at the bare words but at the thrust of the whole document of which they were part. Having done this we are informed by Perry of the reason why the commands were there in the Old Testament, but are not relevant to the people today.
It all has to do with the purity of the Israelite religion and that it should not be tainted by the belief systems of those around them. The Israelites belief was that the dead were cut off from God’s care (see Psalm 88:4-5) and so to consult the dead on the living would be acting disloyal to the God of Israel. Nevertheless, even if that was the case then why is it not still true for Christians today? Simply that when Jesus Christ died, because God was in Christ, God was now present with the departed. When Christ rose from the dead, He showed clearly that there was no place where God was not present and so no longer are we being disloyal to our God when we contact the realm of the dead.
What an amazing argument! Unfortunately, if as Perry wants to, you use the Bible we discover that it holds no water at all. Simply investigate whether God was in the ‘realms of the dead’ in Old Testament times. Perry quotes one Scripture that appears to prove his case, he does not however deal with the many verses that show that, already in the Old Testament ,God was everywhere (see for example Psalm 139:7-10) and so clearly, it was not because of disloyalty the commands were given. Reading Psalm 88 we note that although the psalmist describes himself as being abandoned, because that is what he feels like, still God is his salvation and still he calls upon Him.
There are further problems to the argument when you read New Testament Scriptures. If it was okay after the resurrection to talk with the realms of the dead why does Acts still have a number of Scriptures condemning the practice? Perry makes an attempt at this by firstly saying that,
The full implications of this did not immediately dawn on the young Church. Indeed it has not dawned on some Christians yet!
One wonders why – maybe because it did dawn on the early Church and Christians today that God had not changed His mind. Perry struggles with verses such as Acts 16:16 forward. Here we find out that discrimination is needed because not all that is psychic is godly. The girl was so obsessed by the oracular gift that she had that Paul needed to wrench it from her. Interestingly, the Scriptures seek to show no such distinction and if that supernatural gift was not from God where was it from? We do not find however Perry trying to answer other verses including Acts 19:13-20.
Things have not changed, God is the same – He always was omnipresent not just after the resurrection. His eternal word is the same; it does not alter with the whim and fancy of man. The arguments from Scripture that Perry puts forward are clearly shown, by Scripture itself, to be not proven, and talking with the dead today is just as wrong and harmful as the Lord showed it to be in the Old Testament.
How tragic that those who claim to be Christians, and followers of Christ, seek to contact and open themselves up to the very spirits He has told us not to. Do not be fooled there are only two sources of supernatural experiences and even as Perry mentions we need to test every spirit to see if it is of God (1 John 4:1-3). However, when you put these verses in context, it is not to test whether a message from the dead is right or not, as Perry intimates, but whether it comes from Christ or Satan. The context of these verses along with the many other verses we have mentioned show clearly that messages that Perry is talking about are clearly not from God.