Thursday, April 21, 2016

Battlefields: Hallowed or Haunted?

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

Hebrews 4-13
4 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2 For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.[a] 3 For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,
“As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest,’”
although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.”
5 And again in this passage he said,
“They shall not enter my rest.”
6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience,
7 again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God[b] would not have spoken of another day later on.
9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,
10 for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

My dad was a WW II vet. Shortly before he died the day after his 90th birthday, we would sit together at night and he would often relate stories regarding the war…something he didn’t do earlier in life. I held on to every word, even though I had heard some stories several times.  70 years later, his experience in Europe left an indelible mark upon his psyche. More often than not, my father would speak in a quiet, almost reverent tone, about all of the army pilots he never saw again.
He also spoke of his brother Tom who fought under Patton at the Battle of the Bulge.

Last night I watched a re-enactment of D-Day. It was heart wrenching as the German machine gunners cut men down quickly. If they made it alive to shore, they had a 1,000 yards of sand (with mines and all kinds of obstacles) to cross-- again desperately trying to avoid the advanced German machine guns. At first everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. The ‘swimming tanks’ sank in high waves…the bombers missed their marks—both of which were to give strong support to the men jumping out of the troop carriers.

Most of these men were in their late teens or early twenties.

Going backwards in time to March 15, 1781 the Battle of Guilford Courthouse took place on the very land upon which my apartment was built. Our apartment is directly adjacent to this National Military Park. It was a particularly bloody battle that prepared for Yorktown. Underneath and all around where I now sit, the larger battle was waged. And young men died.

Growing up, families would picnic and frolic on the grounds in the Park in front of the huge statue of General Greene on his horse. However, there is now a sign which forbids any such activity out of respect for the soldiers who died there.

The Korean War…The Vietnam War…The Civil War….etc. All had combatants who were also young….so very young. Through the course of human history, I doubt there has every been a time where there wasn’t a war being waged somewhere on earth. As usual, the young men fought the kings and generals wars.

When I view the beach of Normandy, or the Military Park around my apartment, I view these areas as hallowed ground. Of course, not all wars waged throughout history were what theologians call “just wars.” In fact, much of what was referred to as ‘Manifest Destiny” was an excuse for displacing and stealing people’s land, and waging unjust battles. Nevertheless, only God knows all the details, and it seems only right to consider battlefields to be hallowed ground. After Cain had killed Abel, the Lord said, “The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.”

The wars we fought for freedom, are they hallowed ground or haunted ground? I need to define what I mean by haunted: by haunted I mean that these sites are magnets for the deceased souls of the young combatants who died horrific deaths there.

According to many in the paranormal community there are certain kinds of deaths that raise the likelihood of one becoming trapped—not knowing one is dead, a violent death, an emotional death, a death that is accompanied by unfinished business, or not wanting to face judgment and go to hell.
I realize that battlefields, like Gettysburg, are also known for residual activity. But that is a distinct issue, which I cannot deal with here. I want to ask this: are these battlefields filled with the souls of deceased soldiers, or are they resting in peace? (provided they know Jesus)

One way to determine if a belief is true is extend it out to its logical conclusions….like the alleged ‘death criteria’ of the paranormal community.

Imagine you are 19 years old. You are so frightened before this battle you can hardly breathe. Behind you have left a young bride and child…who was born weeks before your deployment.

Then, it happens. An errant napalm bomb is flying your way and you desperately seek cover. Friendly fire is killing every thing moving in the kill box and your band of brothers accidentally slipped into the kill zone. Covered in burning napalm you die an unspeakably horrible painful death….by friendly fire…leaving a traumatized wife at home. So much life left unlived.

The ‘death criteria’ vs the promise of entering rest…RIP

EVERY criteria mentioned above is met by virtually ALL the men who die that day…or throughout the history of mankind in wars/battles. Violent…extremely emotional….violent death…so very young that unfinished business is written all over their short lives.

According to what the paranormal community affirms as a consensus, that battlefield SHOULD become crawling with the souls of valiant men who gave their lives to protect our safety and freedom. No RIP…no eternal rest. At least not right away because there is no consensus as to how long people get ‘stuck’ here.

Christians in the paranormal community are in a particularly difficult ‘pickle’ because they want to affirm that heaven is real, but what do they do with the ‘death criteria’? Without the death criteria, then there would be no basis for ghosts.

I must press this point to make the paranormal community to see the corner they have painted themselves into. Instead of being hallowed ground, the land I live on must be haunted ground of the souls of untold number of deceased soldiers.

I find that notion so absolutely horrible, that it reveals the absurdity of the notion of ghosts.
When paranormal investigators investigate a location, one of the key questions asked is: did someone/s die on the property? And if the death was violent, then that usually becomes a crucial piece of the equation. If you multiply that by hundreds or thousands of men who died violent deaths in battle, then that would naturally lead one to think of multiple haunting. However, if they were consistent, ALL of the deaths should lead to entrapment. If not, who is making the decision as to which violent death ‘stuck’ but others didn’t? I can assure you that the Living God doesn’t make any such distinctions.

Battlefields are simply an intensified version of life. ALL deaths leave unfinished business…all are emotional to some extent, etc. Having lost both parents as well as four siblings to very emotional and ‘untimely deaths’ I know from personal experience the alleged death criteria. As a human being, and as a  former pastor, I know how hope-stripping the notion of ghosts can be on the remaining loved ones.

In my book and blogs I have tried to challenge folks to re-think the basic beliefs of the paranormal community.  When you read the average age of those who died in Gettysburg, WWII, Vietnam, ect it is usually late teens and early 20’s…. and those beliefs are put to a severe challenge. From any perspective their deaths are horrible in the extreme. However, Jesus offers certain hope and rest, while the prospect of entrapment strips hope.

When I walk through the National Military Park next to my apartment, I am filled with a sense of the sacred. I can almost hear the muted cries of the mortally wounded, spilling their blood and causing this land to be hallowed ground.

In an area where, if the death criteria were true, I should have seen many ghosts. In fact, I have not seen any. Furthermore, after cleansing over 50 active sites, I have never seen a ghost in my life. Only demons pretending to be deceased humans.

I know from experience that graveyards and battlefields can attract demonic activity. However, that does not diminish or defile the hallowed-ness of the ground. The ground has been soaked in the blood of His image bearers and that is the final and defining reality concerning it.

The text from Hebrews 4 is a picture of the rest believers enter when they are saved, and more fully when they die. We either die ‘in our sins’ or we die ‘in Christ’, and our deaths are determinative of our eternal destiny. This text does not ‘play around’…it is a sober text that both warns and comforts. If one dies outside of Christ then they enter an eternal state of restlessness in hell. However, note how often the author of Hebrews speaks of the REST believers enter. There is tension between the ‘now and not yet’. Now, we enter our rest in Christ, but when we die we RIP—rest in peace in Jesus. Both are certain, which does not allow for notion of earthbound spirits.

Does the God presented in these verses sound like He would allow anyone to hang around earth in order to avoid judgment? The notion is preposterous and unworthy of coming from the mouth of a Christian. Yet, there are not a few professing Christians who assert that very thing. Who do we think we are—God?

When Samuel was allowed to visit Saul in a singular incident (nothing else like this in the bible) he complained that ‘his rest had been disturbed’. He had entered his eternal rest (Hebrews 11,12) in heaven.

If you believe that folks who die can consciously avoid standing before the holy Judge of heaven and earth—a God of consuming fire—to avoid their sentence to hell, then you are either abysmally ignorant of scripture or you are not a Christian.

The hundreds of millions of civilians and combatants who have been violently killed in just the last 100 years SHOULD be roaming the earth if one extends the ghost criteria to its logical conclusion. How much violence…how much emotion….how much unfinished business is enough to trap a soul? And who/what makes that decision? Nobody has ever offered a satisfactory mechanism for soul entrapment…as it is contrary to the God of the Bible, and the Bible of God.

Are battlefields hallowed or haunted? I trust we view them as hallowed ground. For regardless of their individual eternal destinies, the image bearers of God shed their blood.

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.

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