The following is adapted from a chapter in “Occult Dangers Explained Safely” by Doug Harris and is available from Reachout Trust.

How many times do we hear the question; ‘do you believe in ghosts?’ Yet, it is difficult to give a straightforward answer. The moment you say, ‘yes’ the questioner has made up their own mind as to what you are saying and does not necessarily hear the ‘but…’ that follows. A very definite ‘but’ it is too. I do believe in ghosts but I do not believe that they are the spirits of the dead that have not as yet found rest or as I heard once “someone who has died but does not know it.” Many say that ghosts exist but will not necessarily be clear as to what they are. For instance, there were five stories printed in the teenager’s magazine, It’s Bliss, Halloween special.

Tamsin, 15, from Dundee believes she lives in a haunted house after she saw two ghostly nuns wandering through her garden… Sarah, 17, didn’t believe in ghosts until she saw a mysterious face at the window on a trip to the Scottish Highlands… Lucy, 15, and her family from Gloucester saw an apparition – and even the police agreed it was a ghost… Sarbjit, 16, from London actually quite likes the fact that her house is haunted… Nicola, 15, from Nottingham had a real holiday from hell in a spooky old Devon farmhouse.

The experiences of these young people among others led them to believe in ghosts but they did not know exactly what they saw. We would say that from the evidence gathered over the years, and from the Biblical perspective, the conclusion beyond reasonable doubt is that these are evil spirits manifesting themselves as dead people.

Over the past few years the detection and removal of ghosts has become big business. Societies such as the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP) spend time and money trying to prove the existence of ghosts.

A few years ago the average ghostbuster would come armed with little more than a crucifix, silver bullet and bag of garlic. But even the world of the paranormal is now falling prey to the march of high technology as lasers, scanners and magnetic detectors are trained on those elusive will o’ the wisps and muffled screams in the wardrobe. – The Times, 4 September 1996.

However, millions of dollars are spent to set up other groups just to prove that all such phenomena have a rational explanation.

Twenty years ago, a band of scientists and writers, and the magician James Randi, founded the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP). – New Scientist, 13 July 1996, p.47.

This Society, full of sceptics, concludes that all appearances have a rational explanation and that there is nothing there; whether the ‘living dead’ or evil spirits. Whereas they appear to be able to explain much away, a small percentage seems to have no rational explanation and must have a supernatural background.

On a different level, Hollywood want to picture ghosts as friendly and helpful. Casper, the friendly ghost, became a big hit with children in 1995. If these were just friendly beings, this portrayal would not be a problem, but if they are demonic beings, it is opening a doorway that could be very harmful. The Daily Mirror carried an article about a real life Casper and asked other children with such experiences to come forward.

Schoolgirl Melissa Liversage… has her very own Casper at home. She’ll be watching carefully to see if Casper has the same wicked sense of humour as her paranormal pal Spooky. “His favourite trick is moving my Take That doll,” says the 13-year-old from Liverpool. “He knows it’s my most precious toy, and he likes to tease me.” – Saturday 29 July 1995, p.7.

The results of these manifestations are interesting. For many there is a fear and indeed the ghosts apparently are evil, for others there is an acceptance and a friendship. Not all stories of ghosts are scary and some, especially children, accept them and in some cases even make friends with them.

Psychologist Cassandra Eason says: “these ‘friendly ghosts’ are far more common than adults allow themselves to think. But children are often afraid to speak about them because they sense the fear of the adults around them…I simply believe young children have much easier access to the psychic than adults. It’s very common and nothing to be frightened of.” – Ibid.

A Daily Mail reader in October 1996 gave similar advice. The reader was responding to a letter where a worried parent wanted advice because her ‘deceased mother’ used to visit her son. The writer of the letter had the same experience and advised,

My advice to your reader is to continue to listen to what her son has to say and when he is old enough she can explain that he is psychic. I realise that many children do have overactive imaginations, but as close relatives often appear initially, as in your reader’s case, then parents could very quickly establish whether their child is psychic from the information that the child recalls.

This advice we believe is dangerous, as we will show in a moment, but we should also note that it seems to be the opposite end of the spectrum from parents telling there children there are no such things as ghosts. Nevertheless, are not both extremes wrong? To tell them to make friends with the ghost is to encourage them to be involved in supernatural evil but simply telling them they do not exist is to open up problems if they should ever have such a supernatural experience.

Such advice above is potentially dangerous because of the bad experiences that people have suffered. These range from the family that had to move out of their house because of the activities of a Saxon ghost:

A mother of two has been rehoused because her home on a Saxon burial ground was haunted by a ghost called Antonia… Mrs Chambers had a problem with her son, who kept seeing this ghost, Antonia, by the bed… both her children had been mysteriously pushed down the stairs and her daughter had to be taken to hospital. – Daily Telegraph, 24 March 1995.

To the boy who committed suicide after watching the BBC programme Ghostwatch in October 1992. The Broadcasting Standards Council condemned the showing of the programme and ruled that,

Showing scratched faces of children and referring to the mutilation of a dog and a corpse were inappropriate for screening straight after the 9pm family viewing watershed… The council… also ruled that the BBC was wrong to build a sense of menace into a documentary-style programme about a haunting of a suburban house without giving adequate warning that it was a hoax. – The Times, 29 June 1995.

Whatever the case and whether we make friends or are afraid just who or what are we dealing with or talking to?

The Bible shows [Luke 16:26] that there is no contact between the living and the dead and that we are not to try [Deuteronomy 18:11]. Therefore, any contact that there is does not come from God’s supernatural realm as He has instructed us not to do it. The only conclusion therefore is that the contact comes from the deceptive false world of supernatural evil. Be aware that opening yourself up to contact with ghosts is opening yourself up to contact with evil.

The testimony of former medium Dr Raphael Gasson illustrates this point. Gasson, in his book The Challenging Counterfeit shows how he spent years convinced that he was talking to the dead. But that he had to give it all up and find deliverance when he realised that the apparently helpful spirits he contacted were, in reality, evil.