Thursday, January 14, 2016

An Appeal to Christian Paranormal Investigators

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

Part 1 can be read here: Musings On How Superman Defeated the KKK (really!), and Discerning if your Call Really is from God

I have perhaps never felt such a heavy heart while writing a blog, as I feel now.

As of 12/29/15 there are 3,638 paranormal investigation groups in the USA (listed on “Paranormal”, which is the most comprehensive listing of groups in the USA., owned and operated by Bill Wilkens. I have an article included on the identity of shadow figures).

Of these groups, a sizable number claim to be Christian groups. The question that I wish to explore is this: what does it mean to be a CHRISTIAN Paranormal Investigator? Or a CHRISTIAN Paranormal Investigation Team?  (for ease, I will use CPI for short).This is a massive topic, as there are so many issues that one could pursue. For example, should Christians even be involved in PI? However, I think it is safe to reduce the issues to three. That is, in order to say with integrity that one is a Christian paranormal investigator they must--

1. They must be a professing Christian/s—giving a credible profession of faith, believing with all their being in the essentials laid out in the Apostles/Nicene Creed. If, for example, one disavows the bodily resurrection of Christ or the deity of Christ, then one cannot with integrity claim to be a Christian.

The Nicene Creed is the most widely accepted summary of our Faith….

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, light from light, true God from true God,
begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
By the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
He suffered, died and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures;
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father (and the Son)
Who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.
Who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. 

Do you believe this?

You are a Christian first and foremost, and paranormal investigators somewhere after that. When I was a pastor/preacher, I had to constantly remind myself of the same truth. It is so easy for pastors to get their identity wrapped up in ministry and not in Christ. The same temptation is faced by all Christians….to put the cart before the horse, especially when dealing with something as singularly alluring as the spirit realm. But God makes it abundantly clear that He is a jealous God, and the most important commandment is to love God with all of our being.

2. Praying before/after an investigation for protection in the name of Jesus, and Jesus alone.

3. And attempting to live all their lives, including all their beliefs and practices regarding the paranormal, to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31), in conformity with the Word of God….under the Lordship of Christ over the full spectrum of life.

That would entail that they would humbly seek to be teachable by the Word of God regarding beliefs/practices that are possibly taken for granted by the consensus of the paranormal community. Honestly, I have seen little substantive self-reflection by CPI’s—rigorously analyzing all the chief tenets of the paranormal community to see if they are biblical.

Your first communal allegiance is to your local church and not your group.

It is understood that nobody will attain perfection this side of heaven, and we all stumble every day. Thank God for His forgiving grace! However, after over 40 years of intensive study of the bible, I have found the following statement to be true--If the bible is stepping on your/my toes, then your feet are in the wrong place. This has happened to me more times than I can count, and the proper response is to align our beliefs/practices with the Word of God. Repentance is a lifestyle, and not a one-time event, though it must start there.

But many love their sin and will often go to any lengths to rationalize or defend it, and this corrupts the conscience until it becomes entirely mute regarding the sin in question. The bible, and not our conscience, is the final criterion for determining what is right and wrong belief/actions. The subjectivity of truth has seeped into the church, but we must reaffirm that the bible is the objective Word of God which informs our consciences…otherwise the conscience will be lead us astray.

In this blog I will NOT discuss whether ghosts exist—I’ve done that in dozens of other blogs as well as in my book Seeing Ghosts through God’s Eyes—for a comprehensive list of my blogs please see my Facebook page by same name. Neither will I discuss other significant issues that are believed by most in the paranormal community….again, which I have written about many times.

What I do want to address are the implications of #3 above. Please let me quote from a text in Deuteronomy which includes a prediction of the coming Messiah as The Prophet, while addressing “paranormal issues.” (I’ll return to this)

And remember that when Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, all three times He quoted from this same book of Deuteronomy to repel His infernal attacker….Satan. So, if ever there were an inspired Word of God directly relevant to the issues concerning the paranormal, Deuteronomy is high on the list! Jesus had a special love for this book. The Incarnate Word fed on the Inscripturated Word. I mention this because some simply dismiss this text because it is Old Testament. But 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is primarily referring to the Old Testament, as the New Testament was just coming together. And our Lord had very harsh words for any who would jettison the Old Testament. One last preliminary word—this text is part of the moral law (not civil or ceremonial) which has transgenerational and transcultural authority over all Christians today.

The text below is from Deuteronomy 18:9-22. I have my Hebrew bible open to this text and it is clear that this is one, unified section—dealing with same issue, divided into two parts….but NOT two watertight compartments. The Holy Spirit’s intention in Verses 9-22 is to explain how to attain knowledge regarding the supernatural/paranormal/God. Vvs. 9-14 tell us how NOT to attain it, and vvs 15-22 tell us how we ARE to attain knowledge about the supernatural/God. Hence, it is one logical unit, with 2 sub-divisions….strongly linked together. Linked all the more stronger with a Messianic prophecy woven into this seamless discussion.

“When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. 10 There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, 12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you. 13 You shall be blameless before the Lord your God, 14 for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do this.

15  “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—16 just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 17 And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. 20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’—22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.

I have a friend who is in communication with a Christian author of fiction. The author is of the opinion that the bible allows for ghosts as an admissible category, but this text (and parallel ones in Leviticus, 19, 20) have persuaded him that we must not attempt communication with them. Good point….very good point! Indeed, an unassailable point.
In order to not get things bogged down, I said I did not want to address the issue of ghost’s existence. I realize that the vast majority of  CPI’s do believe in some form of trapped spirits….whether by free will or some other agency.

I love you…I respect you…and so I am trying to not build a straw man or worse, commit the ad-hominem fallacy—attacking the person/motive. But this brother did raise a point I’ve been trying to make repeatedly over the years. Namely, as Christians we MUST NOT ATTEMPT COMMUNICATION WITH THE DEAD. PERIOD. That is crystal clear in vvs 9-14. The Hebrew is just as clear, or more so, than your English bible on this matter.

However, a salient part of almost all paranormal investigations (Christian or non-Christian) is some form of attempted communication with the dead. Whether it’s via a professing Christian psychic/medium (also condemned as an abominable practice in God’s eyes), a ghost box, getting flashlights to blink, ect… somewhere along the line, a paranormal investigator is verbally asking if a spirit is present, and if so, would it communicate….make itself known, ect. There are many ways of doing this—all allegedly in the name of science—but they ALL fall under the prohibition of attempting communication with the dead.

God calls these practices abominations in HIS eyes, and He is going to destroy the then current inhabitants of the land because their means of communicating with the spirit realm included, among other things, mediums, necromancers, and those who inquire of the dead. When they practiced speaking to the dead it defiled the land….spiritually polluted it, and made it a haunt of demons.

How can you do something to God’s glory if that practice is condemned by God?

Christians are to have our emotions aligned with God’s emotions. We aren’t just to simply accept what is right and avoid what is wrong, we are to heartily embrace what God sees as good and to passionately hate that which He hates….without hating the person sinning.

I have heard so many Christians say that, since these deceased spirits are trapped, it would be un-Christian to not help them in some way. Jesus is the Lord of Christians and HE is the One who tells us what pleases Him and what doesn’t…not our intuition, our fallible moral sensibilities, or our feelings. God will not call you to a ministry of abomination.

In vvs 15-19 God promises a line of prophets who will speak to His people on His behalf. Pagan nations look to occultic means of communication with the spirit realm, but God’s holy people must listen to His prophets….those who have stood in council with the Lord. False prophets were the bane of God’s people back then, and not much has changed.

Not only is Moses called as a prophet but a whole line of prophets will communicate God’s will for His people. “A prophet like you…v 15, 18” A prediction is made of a special Messianic Prophet who will be the culmination of all prophetic activity in the Old Testament. In the first century A.D. Jews expected a final Prophet, whom the New Testament writers identify as Jesus (Acts 3:22-24; 7:37…these verses refer back to the prediction in Deuteronomy 18) see also Hebrews 1:1-3.

“And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. 22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ 24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. (Acts 3:17-24, emphasis added)

37 This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’ (Acts 7:37)….again, referring to Jesus.
Jesus—Prophet, Priest, and King.

And as we saw, Jesus had a special affection for the book of Deuteronomy. To be consistent, those who throw out the verses which condemn illicit means of paranormal communication, they would also have to jettison the prophesy of Jesus as The Prophet, the Divine Messiah.

The bible is not a salad bar which we can pick and choose whatever verses suit our likes and prior beliefs. Rather, if the bible is stepping on your toes, then your feet are in the wrong place. It grieves me to say this but most of the Christians who need to read this, won’t read it. Or if they do, they will commit some logical fallacy in their futile attempts to avoid its implications. Will you fear God and be teachable? Or will you bring up irrelevant issues to distract from simple obedience?

I know many who say that they are utterly convinced that God has called them to be CPI’s. It is not my place to question that, but are you willing to stop doing things God has clearly prohibited? Yes or no?

I have observed that many CPI’s feel so strongly that they have received a sanction from above, that their ‘calling’ takes on more authority than the Word of God. That is how they ‘get around’ this clear prohibition. But there is no getting around it because the texts are so clear, and God does not speak out of both sides of His holy mouth—saying one thing in Scripture and allegedly something contrary to you.

This is the great tragedy and disaster of the CPI movement of the last 3 decades or so. Sincere, but sincerely wrong, unwittingly being the agents by which the floodgates of hell are being opened. I feel sick in saying that, but like Jeremiah, it is ‘fire in my bones.’

Here I bear my heart. Jeremiah was called the “weeping prophet”, and I weep for those whom I now challenge. I am not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, but God forbade the ancient Jews from communicating with the dead because He knew it was in their best interest. Likewise, I have personally listened to many professing Christian PI’s whose homes have paranormal activity, and they have grown accustomed to it…some even enjoy it—but others are being destroyed even as I write, and it breaks my heart.

I think that most CPI’s have paranormal issues (demonic issues)—and that does not count the many who have a demonic presence that is quiet—like spiritual radiation—that is causing long term damage.

At this point I don’t care if you believe in ghosts (yes I do), but will you STOP all attempts at communicating with them? According to the Word of God, these sins are opening the door even wider to demonic activity—both in your life and in your clients --giving them legal rights due to disobeying God’s clear commands. If you truly wish to help your clients, then you need to stop this….NOW. It is just as spiritually polluting today to attempt communication with the dead as it was when the OT text above was written…probably more so because of how great a salvation is being corrupted…and because demonic activity is exploding due to end times.

Did you know that when you communicate with the spirit realm you are jumping into Satan’s sandbox? Is not the spirit realm the place that God has sovereignly placed Satan and his minions temporarily until He returns?

If you desire to obey and glorify God, then you must stop NOW.

I plead with you to stop, because I know it is bringing harm to you.

Other than historical research and employing the spiritual gift of discernment (which has nothing to do with ghosts), I do not see what else a Christian should be doing, according to the bible. But that is for another day. Deliverance of people and places from demonic activity--in a biblical manner--is what is most needed.

Mark Hunnemann is the author of Seeing Ghosts Through God's Eyes: A Worldview Analysis of Earthbound Spirits. It's also available in eBook format.