Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Dalai Lama Says Restrain Yourself from Extreme Self-Centredness

‘Thirty-seven Practices of Bodhisattvas’ and Avalokiteshvara Preparation

Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - Arriving at the Kalachakra Maidan early this morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama first of all took a seat next to the teaching throne, facing in the opposite direction towards the pavilion containing the Avalokiteshvara mandala. For more than half an hour he undertook the preliminary procedures to prepare himself to begin to grant an Avalokiteshvara empowerment later in the morning. Once they were complete he sat on the throne.

A group of Mongolian monks gave a stirring recitation of the ‘Heart Sutra’ in their native language. When they were finished most of them offered His Holiness the sapphire blue silk scarves favoured by Mongolians. They were followed by a mixed group of Japanese who chanted the ‘Heart Sutra’ again in Japanese to the rhythmic accompaniment of a ‘mokugyo’ – a wooden fish bell. Elderly monks of Namgyal Monastery offered the mandala and the threefold representation of the Buddha’s body, speech and mind.

“First we’ll read the ‘Thirty-seven Practices of Bodhisattvas’, His Holiness announced. “Because the author Togme Sangpo lived at the Ngulchu Hermitage, Ngulchu was added to his name. He was also referred to as ‘Gyalsay’, which means ‘son of the conquerors’, to indicate that he was a bodhisattva. One of his contemporaries was Buton Rinchen Drub who had pains in his arms and asked Togme Sangpo, as a bodhisattva, to blow on them in blessing. He apparently experienced some relief as a result.

“Another story about Togme Sangpo tells how he was robbed on a mountain pass of offerings that had just been given to him in the village below. He was good-hearted enough to warn the robber which direction to take to avoid the patrons who had donated the offerings in order to keep out of trouble.”

The first verse of the text advises listening to teachings, reflecting on them and then meditating on what has been understood to thoroughly familiarize the mind with it. His Holiness remarked on Buddha Shakyamuni’s courage and determination to engage in spiritual practice for countless aeons. Once he had attained enlightenment he taught the path from his own experience. Where verse 10 advises ‘develop the altruistic attitude’, His Holiness asked, “If you remain selfish, who will trust you? The more altruistic you are, the more you will also fulfil your own goals.”

He told the story of a monk from Labrang Tashi Khyil who was due to be executed by Chinese soldiers in Tibet. He asked the executioner to wait and made a prayer to his spiritual master—“Bless me to take on the negativities of others and give whatever excellent qualities I may have to them.” He then told the soldier, “Now you can shoot me.”

Verses 15 and 16 correspond to the ‘Eight Verses for Training the Mind’ and verses 18 and 19 counter pride. From verse 25 the author explains the six perfections—generosity, ethics, patience, effort, concentration and wisdom. His Holiness drew attention to the first lines of verse 36, ‘whatever you are doing, ask yourself, “What’s the state of my mind?” He observed that Togme Sangpo’s text is very useful for people otherwise swayed by anger and attachment.

Telling the audience that monks of Dzongkar Chödey had asked him to give the transmission of a text he had written called the ‘Inseparability of the Spiritual Master and Avalokiteshvara’, His Holiness read it. He pointed out that some understanding of emptiness is essential before engaging in the practice of tantra. He mentioned that emptiness was explicitly taught during the second turning of the wheel of dharma, which deals with the object clear light. During the third turning of the wheel, in the Tathagata-garbha or Buddha Nature Sutra, he taught about the subjective clear light of the mind.

He noted that all states of mind have a basis of clarity and awareness and that both object clear light and subjective clear light are employed in Highest Yoga Tantra. He remarked that object clear light corresponds to emptiness of intrinsic existence, emptiness of self (rang-tong), while the subjective clear light of the mind is empty of other (shen-tong).

His Holiness then read from the same booklet a sadhana and a prayer to Avalokiteshvara to guide practitioners from life to life.

Following Nagarjuna’s definition of the fourfold sangha as consisting of fully ordained monks and nuns as well as lay men and women holding precepts, His Holiness offered to give lay person’s precepts to those who wished to take them. He followed this with the granting of bodhisattva vows following the style and ceremony described in Asanga’s text, ‘Bodhisattva Grounds’. His Holiness recalled receiving bodhisattva vows, which he now renews daily, from Ling Rinpoche here in Bodhgaya. Prior to that ceremony Ling Rinpoche had taken them afresh before the statue of the Buddha inside the Mahabodhi Stupa.

“The main practice in relation to these vows,” His Holiness clarified, “is to restrain yourself from extreme self-centredness, to avoid indulging in a self-cherishing attitude. If you can do that, you won’t breach the 18 root downfalls or the 42 secondary commitments.”

His Holiness then proceeded to go through the preparatory procedures for the Avalokiteshvara empowerment that he will give tomorrow. This included distribution of ‘protection cords’ and pieces of purifying kusha grass. Reminding his audience that the appearance of the Buddha and his teaching is as rare as an udumbara flower, His Holiness urged them to rejoice that they had been able to hear apt instructions, and to take the lay person’s vows, bodhisattva vows, as well as the preliminaries for the Avalokiteshvara empowerment.

As he climbed into the car to return to the Tibetan Temple, His Holiness turned to wave to the crowd that had apparently been transformed into a field of kusha grass.

original link & photos: https://www.dalailama.com/news/2018/thirty-seven-practices-of-bodhisattvas-and-avalokiteshvara-preparation

Friday, February 23, 2018

Concerning the ‘Open Letter’: The Continuity and Discontinuity of Old Testament Law

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

Referencing the 2-9-18 blog An Open Letter to Christian Pparanormal Investigators (with signatures)

It has become apparent to me that the main objection to our ‘Open Letter to Christian Paranormal Investigators’ is the view that the Old Testament moral law has been abrogated, or done away with, by the New Covenant. I wish we had more time to deal with that issue in the ‘Letter’ but it had already had become long enough!
Four preliminary comments: First, those who reject our summons to repentance are assuming this is merely an OT matter but the NT affirms the same principles!(as we’ll see) Second, the burden of proof really lies on those who jettison large portions of God’s holy Word as being not relevant for today, especially in light of Matthew 5:17ff and 2 Timothy 3:16-17. (I’m doing this because honest questions deserve an honest reply)Third, we all have biblical principles we struggle with, and we need to recognize when we have a vested interest, and how that colors our interpretation. I can honestly say that in this case, I have no vested interest except God’s truth. Lastly, we are not being divisive: the division already existed; we just addressed it.
However, any serious student of the bible will recognize a tension between verses in the NT which uphold the OT moral law, and verses which seem to abrogate it. Below are two sections of verses which are representative of both views; I’ve labeled them ‘discontinuity texts’ (OT moral law seems to be discontinued) and “continuity texts” (those which affirm the continuing validity of the OT, especially the moral law)
Discontinuity texts
13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (Hebrews 8:13)
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Gal. 5:1)
23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.(Gal. 3:23-26)
Continuity texts
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4)
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[b] may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” (Romans 7:7)
12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. (Romans 7:12) 
The text in Hebrews 8 actually says that the old covenant has become obsolete and is ‘growing old,” and ready to vanish!  I’ve included other such verses which affirm that, in some sense, the old covenant is obsolete, enslaving, and temporary, ect. So, we must affirm that, in some sense, at least part of the Old Testament has become ‘obsolete’. We have to because the bible clearly says so. But how has it become obsolete, and why? Only an exegesis of the text can answer that. There are other verses which affirm that every inch of the OT is inspired and profitable for instruction, encouragement, and for teaching unto righteous living—a guide for how to please God. How can we reconcile these two emphasis? Perhaps the key is the word “emphasis”; context of what is being discussed makes all the difference in interpretation.
So, the IMPROPER (but common)thing to do is to simply choose sides, and prefer one over the other; jumping ‘whole hog’ on one emphasis and totally ignoring the other. However, a basic rule of hermeneutics is to compare scripture with scripture; meaning that we need to do the hard word figuring out how these two ‘seemingly’ contradictory viewpoints can be meshed. I say ‘seemingly’ because we know the bible neither errs nor contradicts itself. Surely we all can agree on that, right? The integrity of Scripture demands that we do that, so that we may rightly divide the Word of truth.
Another way of putting it is that we need to find the proper balance between the continuities between the Old Covenant and the New, as well as the discontinuities between the Old and the New. Surely, that is preferable to simply jumping ‘whole hog’ on one position or the other, while not doing justice to the full range of biblical teaching on the relation between the two covenants. That is, to simply say that all Old Testament moral law is done away with is not proper, and neither is denying that the New Covenant is NEW and that the Old is obsolete, in some sense!
The context of Hebrews 8 is that Jesus is shown to be the eternal High Priest, ministering from heaven in the true tabernacle and enacting the better promises of the New Covenant (v. 1-3).Jesus is God with us, Immanuel. But note that the fault is not found primarily with the Mosaic law itself, but with the people’s failure to keep the law (seen in quote from Jeremiah, v.9). But even in that, it serves a valuable purpose: exposing our sin and need for a savior (see Romans 7:7).
The larger context of Hebrews is that Jesus replaced the shadows (V.5)of the ceremonial/temple practices of the Mosaic law with the once for all sacrifice of Himself. Hence, we may say that the Old Covenant is ‘obsolete’ in that the reality which the shadows pointed to has arrived, and He ushered in the New Covenant.  Since the New Covenant has arrived the Old is now Old! Specifically, the obsoleteness means that Christians are no longer living in the Old Covenant; we no longer look to the earthly tabernacle and its priestly functions. We look to Jesus and His finished work on the cross! At the timing of when Hebrews was written, the temple was devoid of God’s presence, and had become the synagogue of Satan because of rejecting its Messiah. In a sense, the writer is saying: behold the New Covenant in all it’s beauty is now here! The Old Covenant was powerless to bring eternal salvation. Once the King had come, He established a new kingdom. Beyond that, the meaning of this text can only be fully explained by comparing it with other scripture.
The passage in Romans 15 is clearly referring to the Old Testament, which is given to us as a gift: to teach us, encourage us, and to instill hope. Pretty clear, isn’t it?
In Matthew 5, Jesus says that He came to fulfill the OT and not to abolish it (Law and prophets means the entire OT). These verses are the key to interpreting the entire Sermon on the Mount and indeed the whole of Jesus’ ministry. How did Jesus fulfill the OT? And how does that square with the text in Hebrews 8? All of the OT points to Christ (thus, serving a valuable function); in its specific messianic predictions of Him; fulfilling of sacrificial system; many events in Israel’s history foreshadowed His life as God’s true Son; in the Laws which only He obeyed perfectly; and He was the divine embodiment of all the Wisdom literature. This passage and 2 Timothy 3 clearly teach that Jesus did not replace/abolish the OT but fulfilled it. So, whatever Hebrews 8:13 entails it is substantially clarified by these texts.
But Jesus goes further: in v. 18 He confirms the full divine authority, and current applicability, of the entire OT, as scripture for all time (“until heaven and earth pass away”), and its ethical normativity for NT believers, as re-stated by Paul in 2 Tim. 3.
Hence, the entire OT is an expression of God’s will for His NT children. Furthermore, Jesus warns against relaxing or doing away with any OT laws (correcting any wrong interpretations of Hebrews 8)—with the proviso that He had stated regarding fulfilling the OT law. Some laws, as we’ll see, must not be literally practiced, but still have divine authority and ethical normativity in application, such as for teaching us regarding the Person and work of Christ.
James refers to the ‘perfect’ law (referring to Mosaic law) as ‘the law of liberty” (1:25)—for Christians. Here is where we are getting to the heart of the matter! The Old Testament law in itself did not have the ability to empower sinners to obey it. Thus, the Old Testament law did not liberate people but ‘enslaved them’ (Gal.3) But, and this is key, the OT law is now one of “liberty” for us because it (the OT Law) comes with the liberating word of the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit to change hearts. Please read that again. Thus, for New Testament believers, the entire OT law is now the “law of liberty”, which we are now commanded and enabled to obey! We are now His children, with greater privileges, power, and responsibilities.  The same power that raised Jesus from the dead empowers us to live righteously.
Perhaps this analogy will help: suppose you are hiking a mountain and someone hands you a 25-pound bag you have to carry in your hands. Very soon it becomes an intolerable burden, and lactic acid is burning your arms. However, if you take that same load and place it in a nice, sturdy backpack on your back, then the load becomes hardly noticeable as you bound up the trail. The load is the same, its just been evenly distributed in something that was designed to carry it. The same load which once burdened you beyond your capacity is now entirely bearable.
In similar fashion (and no analogy can do the gospel justice), with the weight of the law carried by Christ (as He both lived it perfectly for us, and died for our transgressions against it for us), and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we are empowered to live the law; out of gratitude for God’s grace—that is liberating! The burdensomeness of the Law has been taken out of our hands and placed on ‘Christ’s back.’. Jesus carried the burden for us, and the once burdensome law is now a law of liberty instead of burning the lactic acid in our spiritual muscles. Yes, we still struggle against sin (Gal. 5:17) but we are forgiven and we have the Holy Spirit in full measure!
When you look at the context of Galatians 5:1, it is dealing with the controversy over the OT ceremonial law as a means of salvation. In Gal. 5, as in chapter one, the issue was people reverting to the law to be saved, which was never its purpose; from Adam onwards, we have always been saved by grace through faith.(see Romans 4) Hebrews 8 and Gal. 3 and 5 concern the discontinuance of the ceremonial law and temple complex, as well as correcting heretical views of salvation, and the Holy Spirit’s enabling us to obey OT law, so that is not burdensome. Obedience to OT law as a guide for pleasing God was not the issue in these texts; it wasn’t the emphasis. Because of the complexity of OT law and its relation to the NT, it is imperative that we pay careful attention to each text’s context or emphasis.
Furthermore, all the continuity texts above affirm that every word, every letter, is inspired by God Himself, and is still useful for instruction, encouragement, and training in righteousness for us today. Indeed, the OT was the only bible most of the first generation Christians had for making ethical decisions (along with oral recollection of Jesus’ words), as the NT was still being formed. And it served its purpose well until the full canon was formed.
When you compare scripture with scripture, then Jesus’ and Paul’s words clarify the enigmatic text in Hebrews 8. But that still does not clarify the distinction between the continuities and discontinuities totally.
The theologian John Frame has a useful tool for dealing with this conundrum: he speaks of general normativity and literal normativity. Let me explain.
The idea is that ALL OT laws are applicable today, in some way, because, since they are divinely inspired, they are normative and require implicit obedience from us. General normativity means that a particular text is not to be literally obeyed, but the underlying, general principle is normative for us and must be applied/obeyed (hence, general normativity).
 Literally normative texts are also inspired by God and express timeless, and transcultural truths which are to be literally obeyed; they are normative in a literal way (hence, literal normativity) How does one distinguish between the two?
Theologians have distinguished between three kinds of OT law: ceremonial, civil, and moral. These are rough and ready distinctions because there is overlap and they are often mixed together, as in Leviticus.  According to Frame (and many others, including myself), it is only the moral law which is LITERALLY normative today, while the ceremonial and civil laws are generally normative.
Any law which is not ceremonial or civil is a moral law.  Note that all of the OT is ethically normative in this scheme (consistent with Matt. 5 and 2 Tim. 3); its just that the civil and ceremonial laws are generally normative. What does that mean? It means that they are not to obeyed literally, but they still are inspired teaching with absolute divine authority regarding important instruction that imposes ethical obligation upon us. Both common sense and careful exegesis of each passage is needed in determining which texts are ceremonial, civil, or moral and how they are all to be applied in our situations, in an appropriate way.
Ceremonial law mostly involves the OT temple, priestly duties, and sacrificial system. An example of ceremonial law and how it is generally normative is Leviticus 1-5. In this section, the five major kinds of sacrifices are discussed: burnt offering, grain offering, peace offering, sin offering, and guilt offering.  The NT is adamant (e.g. Hebrews)that these are not to be offered anymore, as Jesus embodied on the cross all five of these sacrifices. So, in Hebrews 8 we can see why, in this sense, these laws are obsolete! However, they are still generally normative because the ‘continuity texts’ above tells us ALL of the OT is useful for instruction and training in righteous living—belief as well as and practice. And in this case, a study of these five offerings can deeply enrich ones understanding (and be encouraged by it!)of the full-orbed nature of the atonement; it is like a finely cut diamond with many lovely facets! If we had the time, we could show how Jesus fulfilled all five of these sacrifices/offerings. That is how we apply those verses today; they are inspired instruction which is still normative for us to obey in terms of understanding how each of these offerings shed light on how we are to view the atonement of Christ, and how to live as a result. Is not a richer understanding of the Person and work of Christ a good thing?! That is general normativity. So, though they are “obsolete” in one sense (not to be literally offered), they are also generally normative in that they teach unchanging principles regarding the nature of the once, for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and how we should then live.
The civil law has to do with the laws of Israel as a theocratic nation under the kingship of Yahweh, which obviously are not literally applicable today either (just like the ceremonial) because the ‘promised land’ is now the entire earth. There is no longer a theocratic nation under God.These laws were designed to show the holy nature of God and of His people, who were surrounded by pagan nations. Circumcision would be an example. Civil laws, generally speaking, were not meant to be extrapolated to other nations.
Another example of civil law, which is generally normative today, is Deuteronomy 22:8 :“When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, that you may not bring the guilt of blood upon your house, if anyone should fall from it.” Huh? In ancient times, roofs were often flat and were used to sleep on when it was hot. A parapet was basically a railing, and the principle was concern for the value of human life and safety. It is not literally normative today because we are not a theocratic nation and we don’t live on our roofs! However, this text is divinely inspired and we need to ask how can it be applied today?  Remember it is generally normative and we are ethically obligated to apply it.  An example of application might be a homeowner who has a pool, who builds a fence around their pool out of concern for the value of human life, and safety of the two year old child in the home/neighborhood. Do you see the general normativity principle? Its not literally applied but the text is divinely inspired and imposes upon us ethical obligation regarding belief and practice, but we have to use common sense and the Spirit’s guidance in properly applying it.
These are examples of what general normativity mean and ‘looks like’. It does justice to the texts above, which affirm that every inch of the OT is inspired and applicable, IN SOME WAY, but not necessarily literally.
We come now to ‘literally normative’ texts. These are moral texts—neither ceremonial nor civil—and ARE meant to believed and practiced by NT believers in a literal fashion; either in belief or practice, or both. There are texts which are literally normative: they are to be believed and/or imitated literally today, because they express timeless, objective moral values stemming from God’s holy nature, which were not shadows of the coming New Covenant, nor civil laws for His temporary theocratic nation, but express God’s unchanging attitude towards certain beliefs and practices—both good and bad, which can be seen throughout the OT and NT. God’s commands regarding pagan beliefs and practices, such as communication with the spirit realm, are a clear example of literally normative texts. These are literally normative for believers today, and not just generally normative. They must be obeyed in the letter and spirit of the law.
In stating it this way, I think we now have a way to safely navigate this confusing terrain. On the one hand, we can affirm with Hebrews that some practices/laws were abrogated, while also affirming that ALL of the OT law is inspired and profitable for instruction and training in godly living, and in some sense, still normatively applicable today; and that some laws are still to be followed literally. Common sense, and careful exegesis, is needed in determining which texts are which—generally normative or literally normative.
The text in Deuteronomy 18 is clearly in this literal normative category as it is neither civil nor ceremonial in nature; not to mention the fact that a messianic prophecy is found in it (v 15). I submit that this way of looking at the two sets of texts above is the best way of doing justice to the injunction to ‘rightly divide the word of truth.’ It affirms both the continuity and the discontinuity of the OT.  The moral law is what is neither ceremonial or civil in nature, and expresses a clear , explicit moral obligation based on the character of God—which is unchanging and was not restricted to Israel. Remember that the Canaanites were destroyed in Deut, 18 because of their systemic spiritism, which God has always hated and always will.
 Remember that Jesus quoted 3 times from Deuteronomy when being tempted and said ‘gegreptai’…”It is written”, in past perfect tense (something written in the past with current normative authority). Are you ok with jettisoning the moral laws which Jesus quoted as His sword?  Jesus modeled this principle of the moral law in the OT having binding, literal normative authority over us.
Deut 18 is perfect example because of how clear it is; it contrasts morally illegitimate and morally legitimate means of acquiring knowledge of the spirit realm. Are these not timeless? And God appeals to His own nature in expounding these laws. How can these be temporary when God ‘s nature is unchanging? Such as, ‘be holy for I am holy’. It has nothing to do with ceremony/temple, nor Israel as a theocratic state, but specific moral commands, which express God’s heart for all time. We must seek God’s prophets/apostles vs seeking knowledge via attempts to contact the dead or through psychics or mediums. Has God’s hatred of paganism and the occult changed in the NT? Absolutely not!
As we said in “ the Open Letter”, the latter half of Deut. 18 contains a Messianic prophecy. So, to be consistent, those who reject the validity of Deut 18 have to toss out the prophecy as well. Some texts are clearer than others, but none are more clear than this one. Common sense would dictate that you see this as different from ceremonial or civil law; it is our unchanging God expressing His unchanging laws regarding how we approach the spirit realm, and His persistent expressions of hatred for attempting to communicate with the dead, from the dawn of time though the entire span of redemptive history.
Without being simplistic, the heart of the pagan/occult belief (with all its vast variety) and practice is the rejection of the distinction between the Creator and His creation, as manifested through multiple means of attempting to communicate with the spirit realm: that is, attempting to acquire illicit knowledge via necromancy and psychics/mediums.
For our purposes, we must ask: are God’s OT laws regarding attempted communication with the dead, and the use of psychics and mediums, abrogated or not? Are they generally normative or literally normative? Do we simply glean principles from them or are they an expression of God’s eternal and unchanging character, which are to be literally obeyed?  Does not the text in Deut. 18 give us timeless, literal truths regarding the way to determine a true prophet? Are not the injunctions to obey God’s prophets, especially the coming Divine Prophet, literally normative? So, why should we reject the illicit means of communicating with the spirit realm, which the Holy One of Israel has hated since the shape shifting appearance of Satan in the garden? The text below from Isaiah shows the same principle of contrast: seeking wisdom from mediums/necromancers or from God’s holy law? This is many centuries after Moses, so it shows the persistency of God’s detestation of His children’s illicit attempts to engage in spiritism and mediums.
19 And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.” (Isaiah 8:19-20)
To Christian Paranormal Investigators, I would say: shouldn’t you seek wisdom from the Word of the Living God and not from demons? To the teaching (the law) and the testimony! Amen!
Dispensational theology (Schofield Bible, Charles Ryrie, ect) has introduced an unfortunate view toward the law as well as the gospel itself (easy believism, which is a false gospel)—totally disregarding this distinction between general and literal normativity. In some forms, it views the different covenants as water tight compartments. In reality, they (covenants) are progressive and assume and build upon the preceding one. The divine words given to Adam were sufficient for him, but not for Noah because of the coming flood, so God graciously gave Noah more divine words which added to the Adamic covenant. But it did not displace the covenant with Adam; rather it enriched it with progressive revelation. The covenants with Noah, Abraham, Moses and David all assumed and built upon the preceding covenants; progressive revelation.
Think of all the OT covenants and NT covenant as concentric circles, with the NT on the outside—building on its very Jewish heritage. There is a very real sense in which the Mosaic covenant was the richest of the OT covenants because God revealed so much more of Himself to His people. : 6 “Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?”
“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children's children. (Deut. 4:6-9 emphasis added).
I say all this because some people have the mistaken notion that the Mosaic covenant was totally miserable and is to be completely rejected by NT believers. How sadly mistaken! Read psalm 119 to get a godly OT perspective on the Mosaic law. Would that we had such a fervor and love for God’s law which teaches us so much about Himself, ourselves, the world, and how to love others!
The first ethical obligation/law is found in Gen. 1:24ff-subdue the earth and fill it. The institution of marriage is a law of God, as is the cultural mandate; the distinction between male and female is a law of God-are we free from those? Do you reject these because they are OT?
 The prohibition to not eat of the tree of illicit knowledge is prior to the Fall and hence a creational ordinance. At the heart of paganism is this persistent attempt to eat of the tree of illicit, hidden knowledge. Paganism at its core is some attempt to communicate with the spirit realm, just as investigators are doing.
So, I ask again, which laws are you referring to as being abrogated? It seems odd to me that many of the same people that bemoan that the 10 commandments have been taken out of the classroom, also say that is the Mosaic law that has been abrogated. But why pick on Moses when law was given from the very beginning in the Garden? And the Mosaic law was a good thing (Rom. 7:7,12)—designed to help re-establish the creational paradise in one nation, Israel--as well as pointing us to see our sinfulness and need for Christ’s grace? (Romans 1-4)
Let me ask you this: what is God's perspective on pagan beliefs and practices in the OT and NT? Does God like paganism? Is He indifferent to it? Is it not true that from the dawn of time, and right up until today, the main enemy of God and His truth has been paganism? Did not God punish Adam and Eve for what was essentially an occutlic/pagan sin-speaking to a spirit being/Satan to achieve secret knowledge? Did not Adam know that He was speaking illicitly? Did He not judge and utterly destroy Canaanite countries for their paganism and occult practices—which included spiritism and mediums? Has not pagan beliefs and practices been the chief enemy of true religion since the Fall? Did not the prophets persistently plead with Gods people to stop their spiritual adultery due to succumbing to paganism—which included spiritism, and the use of mediums/psychics? Do not the psalms, which many of you read and cherish, frequently condemn paganism and delight in God’s law? Do not the historical books record the sad history of Gods people flirting with paganism, and that they were severely judged for it, and ultimately exiled?
So, the 3 sections of the OT—the Law, the Prophets and the writings are all in agreement—paganism breaks Gods heart and is viewed as spiritual adultery. Over and over and over and over and over again, Gods prophets rail against this especially repugnant sin—paganism—and its lustful attempts to communicate with the spirit realm.
From my study, I cannot think of a motif in scripture that is more persistently repeated than God’s utter detestation of all attempts at illegitimate communication with the spirit realm. This speaks to the fact that this is a literally normative principle and not generally normative. It is certainly and most emphatically not abrogated, as it is repeated in the NT as well!
“Yet I will leave some of you alive. When you have among the nations some who escape the sword, and when you are scattered through the countries, then those of you who escape will remember me among the nations where they are carried captive, how I have been broken over their whoring heart that has departed from me and over their eyes that go whoring after their idols. And they will be loathsome in their own sight for the evils that they have committed, for all their abominations.” (Ezekiel 6 8-9, emphasis added)
I recently read through Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel and was astonished at how persistently God expressed, in the most graphic and shocking terms, His utter hatred of pagan beliefs and practices. When I read the text above, in which we have a glimpse into the holy chambers of God’s heart, and He says that the abominable practices, such as listed in Deut 18, break His heart…”I have been broken…”—I just stared at that text for a long time and wept. How can we look at our actions, knowing that they have caused God to be broken, and callously continue on?
Pagan practices and beliefs that God so passionately hates, such as are being practiced by paranormal investigators,  is a thread that runs from not only Genesis to Malachi, but from Genesis to Revelation.  Does God hate paganism or not? Yes or no? And if what you are doing is pagan/occultic in nature then its clear what God thinks about it.
I think we have done justice to the twin emphasis of continuity and discontinuity, and being faithful to the bibles teaching as a whole regarding OT moral law. Given how persistently God rails against paganism and the occult, then it would need to be explicitly stated to be abrogated in the NT…but that is not what we see.
And then we come to the NT. Has God’s character changed? Has His blazing hatred of communicating with the dead via spiritism or mediums evolved?  Say what you will about some specific laws, but can you picture Jesus, Paul, or Peter consulting a medium or attempting to contact the dead?  The notion is so outrageous that I cannot even imagine it. They never attempted to contact the dead in the gospels or Acts. Instead we see Peter and Paul confronting those engaged in occultism. And the only spiritual entities Jesus spoke to were demons, whom He was exorcising—neither Jesus nor His apostles ever communicated with deceased humans, as paranormal investigators are attempting to do all the time.
 In Acts 19 recent converts expressed their true repentance by a book burning of 6 million dollars worth (in today’s currency) of occult books and paraphernalia. Would you burn, or sell, your investigation devices, as Dana Emmanuel did, as a sign of repentance?
In Galatians 5—we see that ‘sorcery’ (humanly invented means of communicating with spirit realm) will prevent someone from inheriting the kingdom.  That is intensely sobering.
In Revelation 21 anything smacking of the occult is forbidden in Gods holy new heavens and earth.  These are but a sampling of NT teaching on pagan beliefs and practices.
Jesus IS the New Covenant. Should we not embrace our Creator and redeemers view of OT law (Matt. 5)?
The purpose of this article was to show that the objection to our Letter, that was based on the rejection of the bible’s clear condemnation of pagan practices, because the OT laws were allegedly abolished, has been shown to wrongheaded in several ways. God hates all attempts to communicate with the spirit realm, and Christian paranormal investigators must repent of their current practices, or risk not inheriting the kingdom. God is tender and gracious; ready to forgive, if we repent.
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.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Dalai Lama Discusses Human Values

Talking to Bihari Students & Inaugurating the Wat Pa Buddhagaya Vanaram Temple

Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - A cheer went up from an estimated 7000 local Bihari students when His Holiness the Dalai Lama stepped onto the stage at the Kalachakra Maidan this morning. He had been invited to address them by the Alice Project, an educational foundation set up by an Italian,

After offerings of welcome had been made, His Holiness was requested to release Giacomin’s latest book, ‘Universal Ethics’. Giacomin then gave a welcoming speech in which he explained how he had met His Holiness in Dharamsala more than 30 years ago. His Holiness told him then that it would be excellent if he could continue to work with education in India. Consequently, the Alice Project, focused on sustainable education and a culture of peace in an intercultural and interreligious school, was launched in Sarnath in 1994 with branches established later in Bodhgaya and Arunachal Pradesh.

He said that a major aim of the project was to find a solution to the current crisis in education that results in students showing a lack of discipline, poor attention and a general fall in academic performance. One reason for this is that modern education tends to have materialistic goals with too little time given to inner values. The Alice Project schools make a point of providing opportunities for meditation and exploring ways to lead a happy life.

“We have to know our own minds and reach beyond the limits of selfishness,” Giacomin asserted, “and we have to realise there are no barriers between ourselves and others. We focus on the inner change from which discipline and altruism are born, which also provides for improved academic performance. It is possible, as His Holiness has urged, to revive the ancient knowledge of India and combine it with modern education. On behalf of the students and staff of our schools, I’d like to thank His Holiness for meeting us here in this sacred place.”

“Good morning everybody, did you all sleep well last night?” His Holiness asked from the podium, “I hope everyone’s mind is fresh and alert.

“It’s a great honour for me to be here and I’m happy to meet so many members of the younger generation, as well as my old friend from Italy who has been trying to fulfil our educational goals.

“Time is always moving on; it never stands still. The past has gone. Only a memory remains, and the future has not yet come, which gives us an opportunity to create a better world. Young people like you represent the future. It rests on your shoulders and in your hands.

“Basically, in order to be happy, every living thing, even these flowers, despite their having no mind, wants to survive. For human beings and animals trying to survive is a part of trying to be happy. All of us want to lead a happy life. Since we human beings have such marvellous brains we have the ability to think over the past, to learn from it and to plan for the future. We’re also able to look at reality from different angles. So, we need to use our brains to explore what brings us unhappiness and suffering and what makes us happy.

“Education is a key factor because education increases our ability to think and analyse how things come about. Although none of us wants problems we face a host of them, many of which are of our own creation. Our existing modern education is inadequate for ensuring that as individuals, families and communities we are happy. This is something we need to think seriously about. One of the reasons is that our existing education tends to have materialistic goals, whereas for humanity to be happy depends on peace of mind. We have to give serious thought to how to incorporate inner values into our education on a secular basis.

“These days I am committed to trying to revive ancient Indian knowledge about the workings of the mind and emotions. We need to understand better how to tackle our negative emotions through reason and analysis from a strictly secular point of view.

“There is a long tradition of karuna and ahimsa in this country and one of the ways they are expressed is in the thriving of religious harmony. At the same time India’s secular stance of showing equal respect to all religious or spiritual traditions makes it a model for others to follow.

“You young students shouldn’t just accept what you’re taught. You should think about it, analyse it, examine the reasons behind it, and compare it to other points of view. This was the spirit of Nalanda, the great University that flourished in Bihar. Think about how everything is dependent on other factors.

“As I said, the future is in your hands. You young people have the opportunity to make a better world, but you’ll have to make an effort. I may not live to see it, but if you make the attempt, in 20 to 30 years the world could become a much more peaceful place. Education is one factor, but within that we need to pay more attention to tackling our disturbing emotions. This will entail adopting a sense of emotional hygiene corresponding to the hygiene with which we protect our physical health.”

In responding to students questions His Holiness pointed out that consciousness has no beginning and that our experience of happiness and suffering is due to our own karma. He confirmed that anger is the factor that most often disturbs our peace of mind, whereas karuna or compassion is its polar opposite. With regard to religious practice he said it’s fine for individuals to think in terms of ‘one faith and one truth’. However, as far as the wider community is concerned we need to accept that there are several faiths and many aspects of the truth. He reminded his audience of his admiration for India as the only country where all the world’s major religious live together in harmony.

The practice of concentration and insight—shamatha and vipashyana—common to many of India’s indigenous spiritual traditions has given rise to experience in transforming the mind. It is understood that suffering results from mental afflictions like anger and hatred. Their source is ignorance and to counter that we need to cultivate wisdom.

His Holiness left the stage to the students’ fulsome applause. He then drove the short distance to the Thai Bharat Society’s Wat Pa Buddhagaya Vanaram Temple behind the Mahabodhi Stupa compound. He was received on arrival by Phra Bhodhinandhamunee and Dr. Ratneswar Chakma and paused to watch graceful Thai dancers reminiscent of offering goddesses giving a welcoming performance.

His Holiness turned down the offer of a ride in an e-rickshaw and circumambulated the temple on his own feet along with his hosts. He blessed the Sangharaja Kuti on the way. Inside the richly decorated new temple with its gilded statues of Buddhas and Arhats and scenes from the Buddha’s life painted on the walls, His Holiness sat with the senior monks. Verses of refuge and the Mangala Sutta were recited as the dancers performed once more.

Dr. Ratneswar Chakma formally welcomed His Holiness, who he described as a model of compassion. Phra Bhodhinandhamunee declared the Thai Bharat Society’s intention to provide opportunities for all comers to learn and practise meditation in the new temple.

When it came to His Holiness’s turn to speak, he acknowledged that historically the Pali Tradition derives directly from the Buddha’s first teachings, which make its followers the most senior disciples. Followers of the Sanskrit Tradition also rely on the Perfection of Wisdom teachings that came about as part of the second turning of the wheel of dharma.

“I have great respect for all our Dharma transmissions, just as I respect both theistic and non-theistic religious traditions, because humanity benefits from them. Today, even scientists are showing interest in what Buddhism has to say about the mind and emotions. The knowledge we’ve kept alive remains relevant because it can help reduce our negative emotions and the power they have over us.

“Discussions I’ve had with scientists have been mutually helpful. One of the few casualties has been my belief in traditional Buddhist cosmology. However, it’s clear to me that the Buddha came to teach the Four Noble Truths not to map or measure the universe. He introduced a realistic approach to suffering, an approach that is also scientific. I’d like to see scholars, scientists and practitioners gather here and sit in a circle to discuss the content of the Tripitaka, the three collections of scriptures.

“We have to study if we are to understand what the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are, what the cessation of suffering is, how to achieve it and what the path implies. Of course, we also need to understand selflessness.

“In the 70s, some of our monks went to Bangkok where they learned Thai as well as participating in various aspects of practice. They’re old now, but we could send young monks again and welcome Thai monks to our monasteries. Tibetans could learn Thai and Thais could learn Tibetan. There are some Buddhist teachings only available in Pali and others only available in the Sanskrit tradition. We should engage in research and an exchange of experience. We need closer relations and a common effort to present Buddhism in the 21st century.

“The essence of Buddhism is compassion or karuna. Since the world needs more compassion we should look into how we Buddhists can contribute to it. It’s not a question of converting others to Buddhism, but of seeing how we can contribute to human peace of mind, by, for example, showing how to tackle our negative emotions. That would really benefit humanity.”

Following a vote of thanks and a presentation of gifts, everyone present was invited to partake in a sumptuous lunch which offered a choice of delicious Thai and Indian food. When that was over and a series of commemorative photographs had been taken, His Holiness returned to the Tibetan Temple. Tomorrow, he plans to offer Bhikshu ordination to 60 monks.

original link & photos: https://www.dalailama.com/news/2018/talking-to-bihari-students-inaugurating-the-wat-pa-buddhagaya-vanaram-temple

Friday, February 9, 2018

An Open Letter to Christian Paranormal Investigators (with signatures)

laura maxwell mark hunnemann dana emmanuel
Click to enlarge image

An Open Letter to Christian Paranormal Investigators (with signatures)

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann


This is a humble and heartfelt plea to Christian Paranormal Investigators from Mark Hunnemann (who initiated and drafted this communication) and Laura Maxwell (Former Spiritualist) and Dana Emanuel (Former Ghost Hunter) who support this statement and added invaluable insights, as well as the 60 signatures at the bottom.

31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Cor. 10:31)
“Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:16
“If I profess with loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the Truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not professing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battle front besides, is mere flight and disgrace, if he flinches at that point.” (attributed to Martin Luther).

In our day, ‘that little point’ is our obedience to the inerrant Word of God in response to the onslaught of the pagan/occult worldview and techniques which have infiltrated the church. As Dr. Peter Jones has clearly shown (The Other Worldview, etc), the pagan worldview is THE dominant enemy of the biblical worldview today, and as such, it is that ‘little point where the devil is most fiercely attacking’. The question is: will we be faithful, loyal soldiers for Christ, in OUR generation, or will we flee due to accommodating it—or worse, practicing it ourselves (i.e. through occult methods)? Fascination with the paranormal has mushroomed and has demonized the spiritual landscape of America and Europe. And if we don’t respond quickly and appropriately, then our children and grandchildren will not be ready for the difficult days ahead.

Today, the Church and the world are being besieged; indeed there is an unprecedented disaster unfolding before our very eyes, and sadly, it involves Christians in the paranormal community. Hence, this letter is lovingly addressed to you.

Many of us (see signatures below) are former paranormal investigators, and all of three of us are actively involved in helping people with demonic issues, so this is not ‘ivory tower reflections’. We see it as our timely duty to write this declaration in light of the current lapses into occultic beliefs and practices amongst our fellow believers, and in the world at large. We offer this in a spirit of humility and love, with the hopes that it will stir further dialogue and change. We are all sinners, saved by grace—faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross, plus nothing (Ephesians 2:8-10; Romans 3-4). This is not us vs. them/you—it is all of US together. With a similar motivation that caused Martin Luther King, Jr. to write his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” to fellow Christians, we offer this letter of our beliefs and concerns to you, our dearest brothers and sisters in Christ.

With tears, we must insist that Christians engaged in paranormal investigating are especially surrendering at this ‘one little point’, by the adoption of occultic beliefs and practices, which are opposed to the Lordship of Christ over the full spectrum of life (1 Cor. 10:31), and the clear teaching of God’s Word, which has absolute authority over us, and demands implicit obedience. The use of occultic/pagan techniques in virtually all paranormal investigations is distressing to God, and to us. Indeed, the solicitation of EVP’s (or other electronic equivalents) has become the backbone of investigations.

“The end justifies the means” ..."We are trying to help people" is an unbiblical form of ethical reasoning that has infiltrated the paranormal community, as a former investigator, Dana Emanuel, has affirmed from her own experience. You can never truly help someone by disobeying God. Instead you will hurt them and yourselves. God’s curses/discipline is still in place just as His blessings are. (See Acts 5; 1 Cor. 10-11; Heb. 12)

God’s Truth and the work of Christ’s church both insist that truth demands loving confrontation of both evil and error. What good is it for you to profess Christ ever so loudly, and yet surrender at this point where the devil is attacking? What good is it for you to affirm the full inerrancy of the bible, and a host of other biblical teaching, if you are not living under the Lordship of Christ over the full spectrum of your lives, especially when it comes to the occult, and how we interact with the spirit realm? It is this lack of obedience to Christ in a crucial area which we are lovingly confronting, and asking you to repent of.

Highlighted points:
The singular honor and dignity of the Lord Jesus Christ, and His all-sufficient and perfect atonement, is our focus and passion. Certain beliefs and practices in the paranormal community, either implicitly or explicitly, deny the perfection of the Person and Work of Christ.
1. When Laura Maxwell realized she was deceived some years ago, by a group of Christians who all believed in, the now popular global Christian trend, that they were receiving revelation from alleged 'holy angels,' she left that group and sought a deliverance minister. She repented and had demons cast out of her! Even after her many years in healing and deliverance ministry, she, too, had been deceived but sought help! She shared this in a radio interview on angels we did together last year. Nobody is above being deceived!

2. Occult practices are so thoroughly and consistentlke an explicit command in the NT to abolish them. Instead, the NT continues to express God’s unchanging, implacable hatred of all occult beliefs/techniques. (E.g. see Acts and Revelation) The best book on biblical ethics (law and gospel, law and grace, and the place of OT moral law in the NT, etc, is John Frame’s book “The Doctrine of the Christian Life”, P&R).

3. The clients don’t need validation of something they already know is true; they need deliverance/conversion. If you are truly called by God, then you may consider deliverance as a vocation.

4. TESTING THE SPIRITS in Jesus's name, along with praying for protection, will often be ineffective because God does not listen to us if we are engaged in heinous sins or cherish sin in our hearts (Psalm 66:18).

5. Basing beliefs primarily on non-biblical books (e.g. Enoch) has become common, but it must be avoided, as it detracts from the sufficiency of Scripture, and has led to much unedifying speculation. For example, some take issue with our claim that all alleged ghosts are demons, and they frequently base their beliefs on extra-biblical texts, myths, folklore, and their own experience...none of which are infallible. Actually, they are all very fallible...

Dana Emanuel used to be the team leader of a highly proficient paranormal investigation team, and experienced severe oppression as a result, as are many of you. She is a vital part of drafting this letter, and here is the link to her testimony and articles, which we HIGHLY RECOMMEND.www.xposingtheenemy.com

To view dozens of articles by Mark Hunnemann on the paranormal, which we don’t have time to elaborate on, click on.....http://archive.aweber.com/paraworld

Many excellent articles and interviews by Laura Maxwell, a former Spiritualist and daughter of a Medium, and according to Mark and others, one of the worlds’s leading experts on all things
supernatural. https://ourspiritualquest.com/

We know that you like we, ache and agonize over the spiritually hostile situations many people today are experiencing. Further, we know that many of you have given so much of your heart, time, energy, and finances to help folks in distress. We know many of you personally and we love you, and are in awe of your desire to help people. That is not the issue. The issue is this: are the means by which you are attempting to help people honoring or dishonoring to God?

There are no morally neutral acts. 1 Cor. 10:31 is crucial to our view of this situation. 31 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. “ (1 Cor. 10:31) Scripture has all the divine Words we need for every situation we face, including helping spiritually oppressed people. Every thought, word, and deed is either done to God’s glory or to the glory of an idol. So, how can we help people in spiritually hostile situations in a way that brings glory to God and not to an idol?

Sadly, we know that you are not glorifying God with your actions, regardless of your motives. How can we be certain of that? God’s Word is clear…very clear, as we shall see. Because God’s Word is certain, it is possible to be certain and not arrogant. We despise and despair of any self-righteous judgementalism; but we speak the truth in love, with a collective broken heart.

Wanting to help people cannot be the sole judge of whether an action is morally right: our actions have to conform to God’s Word and glorify Him. (1 Cor. 10:31) Whether it makes us feel good certainly cannot be the determining factor of an action’s propriety in God’s eyes. Due to distressing life circumstances, some of you find your purpose or significance in helping others with paranormal problems, and that makes it all the more difficult for you to imagine life without it. It is all you have that gives your life meaning, and so you cling to it. However, as new creations in Christ (Gal: 2:20), you have to realize that such thinking is idolatrous. (See Jer. 2:13) Christ, and Christ alone, can give us security and significance.

Perhaps the greatest need in the church today is a keener grasp of God’s burning holiness; a deficient understanding of God’s holiness has led to moral laxness and deficient views of both law and grace. God Himself is our ultimate ethical Norm; and He is unchanging. (Malachi 3:6) We meet the Incarnate Word as we read His Inscripturated Word (bible); both are equally, The Word.

Often we hear: “I’ve been involved in investigating for 20, 30, and 40 years…” However, longevity in the paranormal field does not make one wiser, as many assume, because the longer you are immersed in darkness, the more your mind will be affected with a spirit of demonic delusion, confusion and obsession; and your conscience will be increasingly defiled until it is seared. (As Dana points out, it happened to her, even though she was loathe to admit it at the time).

Countless ex-investigators have confessed that they had become obsessed with the thrill of ‘the hunt’ or the collection/review of data. Obsession is often a sign of demonic oppression, or a step in that direction. There are many rationalizations and objections that folks raise against what we are saying, and we can’t address them all, but the issue is: will you have a soft, humble, teachable heart before God and bow before His absolute, sovereign authority?
Proverbs 1:7

If you read nothing else in this open letter, please read this text which was breathed out of God’s own holy Mouth (2 Timothy 3:16-17) The entire text comprises an indivisible unit in the Hebrew bible.

9 “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, [e]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[f]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. (Deut. 18:9-25, ESV, emphasis added)
6 “If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.7 Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. (Lev.20:6-7)

God wants you to listen to HIS voice (the Good Shepherd), and not the voice of demons! “Whoring after them...” reveals the true nature of what you are doing in God’s eyes: spiritual adultery.

20 “No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?” (1 Cor.10: 20-21)

By communicating with the spirit realm (realm of Satan/demonic), you are participating/communing with demons; and are provoking the Lord to jealousy, and bringing unspeakable harm upon yourselves, which grieves us deeply. Your actions are affecting your children and grandchildren; your future offspring!! Generational curses are in the bible, and we have dealt with them time and again in deliverance. Some of you are suffering in various ways because of your unwitting involvement with demons.

We'd like to ask you a question: are any parts of these texts (especially verses 9-14) unclear to you? Indeed, God’s Word is so clear that it leaves us without excuse.

To make it even plainer, let us put it in the form of a syllogism, which is common in ethical literature.
Major premise: Attempting to speak to the dead is an abominable sin (10-11)
Minor premise: Investigators attempt to speak to the dead (often electronically)
Conclusion: Therefore, Investigators are committing an abominable sin.

This syllogism is both valid and sound; the conclusion follows irresistibly from the premises, and they (the premises) are true.

It doesn’t just say that the communicating with the spirit realm is abominable but that those who do it become an abomination in His sight. That is frightening, is it not?

In light of the manifest clarity of this text, why do Christian 'investigators' still attempt to speak to the dead, or use psychics/mediums? There is no excuse. None. 

However, here are several reasons why we did, until our eyes were opened.

First, we say with utmost gentleness, many of us have been drawn to seeking the paranormal due the traumatic death of a loved one. Our heart goes out to you if that happened to you, but you must resist this temptation because it will not help you, and will only compound your pain—the devil is so cruel, and often takes advantage of us when we are most emotionally broken. The strongest believers can emotionally unravel in the face of tragic loss, and some of us deal with this agony on a daily basis. Perhaps you cling to this practice as it is the only thing that gives your life meaning.

The second reason is that perhaps your conscience allows you to investigate; it doesn’t bother you, so you assume it must be okay. However, the bible doesn’t see our conscience as being infallible; it is subordinate to scripture. It is not uncommon for us to mute the voice of conscience by habitual sin.

From personal experience, we know that it is possible to sink into devastating sin (of all different kinds), and the voice of conscience becomes increasingly dim—but we cannot remain in that situation indefinitely because “He who perseveres to the end will be saved.” (Matt.10:22) Sometimes our conscience says that something is right when the bible says it is wrong, and vice versa. (E.g.Rom.14-15) We must seek to inform/educate our conscience with the content of Scripture, or it can lead us astray, as the following text shows.

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared.”, (1 Timothy 4:1-2, ESV)

Third, many people think that Old Testament laws, like the text in Deut.18, are no longer binding under the New Covenant, and that the New Covenant gives them new freedom to contact the spirit realm.

False teachers in the church are promoting this antinomianism. We don’t have the time to adequately defend what should not need defending; namely, our comprehensive obedience to all of God’s Word.
However, God is the author of both covenants, and the covenant documents of each continue to be normative for God’s people. Jesus indicates in Matthew 5:17ff and Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that the Old Testament moral law (civil and ceremonial law has been fulfilled in Christ, but they are still normative in what they teach us) is a guide unto righteous living for New Covenant believers. In Paul’s text he is referring mostly to the Old Testament, and its abiding validity as a source for training us in godly living.

If the OT law cannot justify or save us, is it then obsolete for Christians? Do we just throw the law out? Quite otherwise. 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:17-19) we can see how very clear Jesus is on this point.

We are still obligated to obey God in the New Covenant. Indeed, we are told over and over that our love for Christ is expressed through obedience to the law/commandments. (Exodus 20:6; Deut.11:27; Daniel 9:4; John 15:4, 14; 1 Cor. 7:19; Rev.12:17 ECT,) The law commands us to love, and that love commands us to keep God’s commandments. Law requires love, and love requires law. A reckless disregard for God’s law could be a sign of an unregenerate heart. The “law of love” has no content without love of the law. Some will ‘cherry pick’ the few theologians who will support their attempts to circumvent OT moral law and indeed to circumvent the prohibition of communicating with spirits.

Occult practices are so thoroughly and consistently condemned in the OT that it would take an explicit command in the NT to abolish them. Instead, the NT continues to express God’s unchanging, implacable hatred of all occult beliefs/techniques. (E.g. see Acts and Revelation)

We say this with all humility, but if you have no qualms whatsoever about communicating with the spirit realm, then you are either: 1) abysmally ignorant of scripture, or 2) you are not a true, regenerate Christian.3) Although you are a born again Christian, you are being disobedient and grieving the Holy Spirit. Thus, this is an exceedingly serious matter.

Let us return to Deut. 18:

The entire section quoted above comprises a unity in the Hebrew text: the first half is devoted to illegitimate means of seeking spiritual guidance, which includes the abominable practices of seeking to communicate with the dead, and the use of psychics and mediums. In other words, seeking wisdom apart from God via occult methods. The second half of chapter 18 is devoted to the legitimate means of seeking God’s wisdom via His prophets. Indeed, there is a Messianic prophecy of The coming Prophet, which is quoted about Jesus three times in the New Testament (John 1:21; Acts 3:22-24; 7:37).

Hence, if you reject Deut. 18:9-14 and its prohibitions against communicating with the spirit realm, then to be consistent, you would have to throw out the Messianic prophecy of Jesus as The coming Prophet, because this text is a tight unit. Or if you object that you are not seeking illicit wisdom from the spirit realm, but confirmation of their presence, then we say that the method is as evil as the motive: contacting the spirit realm is absolutely forbidden in itself. Do not consult mediums/psychics or attempt communication with the dead. Period. God tells us what will help people or hurt them; not our misguided attempts to help people by engaging in syncretism (mixing beliefs/practices); the bane of God’s church since its inception.

Moses, who was educated in the Magick of his day in Egypt, was contrasting how we are to find divine guidance, and God’s abhorrence of pagan/occutlic rituals. (See also Lev.19:26; 1 Samuel 28; 2 Kings 17:17; Isaiah 2:6; 21:6; Micah 5:12; Rev.21-22 and all of the major prophets).

As Dana says in her testimony, it was easy for her to soft-peddle these verses by thinking that she was doing the right thing and God would understand; that the culture had changed drastically since then, and possibly God Himself had changed His mind. But then she realized that God does not change—He is immutable (Malachi 3:6) That God’s Truth is unchanged and unchanging caused Dana’s change of heart. May it change your heart as well; and ours too, as we all struggle with idolatry.

Specific Points:

1. It is out of love that we call our brothers and sisters to repent of beliefs and practices which God sees as spiritual adultery. Over and over in the Major Prophets, God exposes His heart regarding His holy and infinitely intense jealous hatred of paganism and occultic activities, and how much it tears at His heart. How can you read Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel and not be affected by the constant barrage of God’s intense, jealous rage over occult practices, such as you are doing?

Entire reigns of kings in the historical books were summarized as good or bad, depending on how they dealt with the occult. In one sense, Josiah was the greatest Old Testament king, and his zeal for God was manifested in how thoroughly he rid the nation of all occult practices. “”4 Moreover, Josiah put away the mediums and the necromancers and the household gods and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might establish the words of the law that were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord. 25 Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.”(2 Kings 23:24-25) Notice the close connection between Josiah’s unprecedented love for God, love for His law, and his putting away mediums and necromancers.

2. We lovingly challenge paranormal investigators to see their primary identity as children of the Living God and part of His Church-the Body of Christ, and not primarily as members of the paranormal community. (Romans 12; 1 Cor. 12; Eph.5; Gal. 3-4) He wants us to transform culture and not be conformed to it (Romans 12:1-2)-to be salt and light. Further, we believe that it is the paranormal community itself which is accelerating this individual and corporate disobedience due to it being a plausibility structure; shared beliefs and passions make it easier to rationalize disobedience to God’s clear commands, and to believe things which are actually implausible. Two of the attributes of scripture are its sufficiency and clarity, and your lack of perceiving the clear truth is deeply concerning to us. The more deeply you become involved, the more of a deluding darkness takes hold of the reasoning process, where things that should be clear, aren’t; a dark veil has descended, and you begin to blame God for the distressing circumstances that your actions have brought about—God’s discipline and/or demonic oppression.

Praying for protection, or for discerning spirits in Jesus’ Name, before/during an investigation will often be ineffective because God does not listen to us if we are engaged in heinous sins or cherish sin in our hearts (Psalm 66:18) Why do you pray to Michael for assistance, or other angels, when neither Jesus nor the apostles ever did? Why pray to an arch-angel when God, the Holy Spirit, is infinitely stronger and present with us always? It’s one thing to pray to God for HIM to send His holy angels, but angels do not want us to pray TO them, which is a form of worship. And your requests for discernment will be blocked as well because of grieving the Holy Spirit, who gives discernment.

Does it concern you, as it does us, that so many investigators are themselves plagued with demonic activity, and are suffering in a multitude of ways? This is the deep, dark secret of the paranormal community.

3. Specifically, we call our brothers and sisters to stop all attempts to communicate with the deceased (e.g. EVP’s, Ghost box, Ovulus, etc.); to not view oneself as a medium/psychic, nor use mediums/psychics in investigations. It is disturbing to see the unabashed use of ‘Christian Mediums’, when that should be seen as an unholy oxymoron. You are utterly deceived if you believe God has gifted and called you as a medium; He has not. He does not speak out of both sides of His Mouth. He doesn’t condemn mediumship and then call one to it. It is a common error for folks to mistake their human spirit/passions for the voice of the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit works in tandem with the Word. And the relativism of truth has crept into many Christians approach to the moral absolutes of the bible.

Investigators are increasingly using parapsychological categories in place of biblical categories; being conformed to the world by the allure of false science instead of being transforming agents of culture (Rom. 12:1-2) Many investigators affirm the dangers inherent in Ouija Board use, but they fail to see that there is no qualitative difference between soliciting EVP’s (or other electronic means) and a Ouija session.

Not all Ouija sessions are frivolous; some are serious and sincere attempts to communicate with the spirit realm, (just as you are doing), yet we know the horror stories associated with them. Many cases we are called to are rooted in playing with Ouija boards and the like. And those of us in deliverance ministries often have to come in after investigations have stirred up the hornet’s nest due to the use of occultic techniques.

Both Ouija and EVP’s address any spirits there to make their presence known. Both are explicit attempts to communicate with the dead, which is clearly forbidden and condemned throughout the bible. The means of communicating with the spirit realm are mushrooming, but they are equally heinous in God’s eyes. The veneer of science behind these methods must not be seen as excusing them, much less sanctioning them. It is whitewashing wickedness.

It is our experience from studying all the relevant biblical texts, that every attempt to support notions common in the paranormal community, always commit one or more exegetical/hermeneutical fallacies. Indeed, the texts appealed to usually undermine the very beliefs being defended by Christians in the paranormal community. (E.g. Mark 6)

In paranormal seminars what is often called "phenomenology'', is the tendency to identify entities in your investigations by your five senses and intuition...which is naive'. If Satan can appear as an angel of Light (2 Cor. 11:14) then it would be a snap for him/demons to appear as anything. (And we have seen some really bizarre manifestations.) In light of this biblical fact, why do Christian investigators continually attempt to identify entities based on appearance, sound of voice, smells, or some kind of intuition? Why believe the voice of a demon? If they are anything, demons are masters of deception, who were there 100 years ago and can mimic all the findings of the historical research. Thus, they have been successful countless times in misguiding investigators into thinking that they have discovered the alleged ‘deceased human’ who is causing the problems. Failure to take into account the reality of demons has led many Christians to embrace shameful beliefs and to view the phenomena/data through distorted lenses.

There are gradations of sin (and hell, Romans 2:5) and occultic sins are especially heinous in God’s eyes. (John 19:11; Lev. 4:2, 13; 5:17; Numbers 15:30; Ezekiel 8:6, 13, 15; Matt. 5:19; 23:23; Deuteronomy 18—all the Major Prophets). And to engage in them is to jeopardize one’s eternal destiny. How can you continue doing what you know God hates? “He who perseveres (in obedience) to the end, will be saved.” Since it is the HOLY Spirit who gives us assurance of salvation, it is impossible to have genuine assurance of salvation when engaged in such unholy activities. Hebrews 12:14 We fear that many, who profess Christ, don’t possess Christ. “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord…” Matthew 7:21-18 ... without holiness no one will see the Lord.

Have you ever stopped to ask if your spiritual authority is being compromised as a result of your grievous sin? And we know from painful experience that investigating the paranormal causes demonic oppression, whether you realize it or not. So, when you go to help someone, you are likely bringing demons with you, which unwittingly infest them further. And without a doubt, your occultic techniques make it worse for the client by opening new demonic doors, or making old ones ‘wider.’

Many of you are hesitant to even mention demons to your clients because it might ‘scare them.’ But is that wise since the bible says that there are only two entities in the spirit realm: good and bad angels (demons/unclean spirits/elemental spirits are all synonyms)? Laura responded the same way in her first few years as a Christian, scared she'd frighten people, until she felt God urged her to tell the truth or otherwise she’d be lying to them!

Have you ever stopped to ask if your spiritual authority is being compromised as a result of your grievous sin? And we know from painful experience that investigating the paranormal causes demonic oppression, whether you realize it or not. So, when you go to help someone, you are likely bringing demons with you, which unwittingly infest them further. And without a doubt, your occultic techniques make it worse for the client by opening new demonic doors, or making old ones ‘wider.’

Many of you are hesitant to even mention demons to your clients because it might ‘scare them.’ But is that wise since the bible says that there are only two entities in the spirit realm: good and bad angels (demons/unclean spirits/elemental spirits are all synonyms)? Laura responded the same way in her first few years as a Christian, scared she'd frighten people, until she felt God urged her to tell the truth or otherwise she’d be lying to them!

The bible mentions demons and Satan. It's the truth. They'll be more scared if they die without knowing the truth or knowing Christ as Savior... Laura was grateful when a Christian told her that the spirits she spoke with were demons. As soon as she believed this, she was desperate to be free of them, scared or not!

If you don’t tell them the truth about demons, you are in a sense allowing them to continue to believe a lie; you are lying to them.

And by appealing to earthbound spirits, poltergeists, and residual energy (a book is forthcoming showing how vacuous this notion is), you are telling the client there is peace, when there is no peace. False prophets were condemned in the OT for saying that. It also destroys biblical hope.

Hence, we see no positive purpose behind paranormal investigating, as it is practiced today. The clients don’t need validation of something they already know is true; they need deliverance/conversion. If you are truly called by God, then you may consider
deliverance as a vocation. In light of 1 Cor. 10:31, we can see no redeeming value nor any hope of paranormal investigating bringing glory to God. Indeed, it dishonors God’s holy Name, when we are called to “hallow His Name”.
We affirm that all genuine paranormal activity is demonic activity, as neither holy angels nor the Holy Spirit will act mischievously, and angels are our servants. (Hebrews 1:14). And humans immediately go to heaven or hell after they die. (Heb. 9:27)The perfection of the atonement is at stake regarding the demonic notion of ‘earthbound spirits.’, and it is one of Satan’s most effective lies.
If your ultimate authority is the Roman Catholic Church, and the teachings of its well known exorcists, then we gently but firmly state that their view of justification is a false gospel (Gal. 1), and no human authority must be placed on par with God’s Word. Purgatory is a direct assault on the singular honor and dignity of the Person and Work of Christ and His finished work on the cross.

Conclusion: There is much more we had wanted to say, but from the depths of our hearts we beg of you to listen carefully to what we have said, even if it initially upsets you. In summary, even if you persist in believing in earthbound spirits, the bible clearly says to not attempt communication with the dead. Neither Jesus nor the early church communicated with earthbound spirits (Moses and Elijah weren’t earthbound), and they didn’t conduct paranormal investigations or assist deceased spirits in “crossing over”, because our thrice-holy, omnipotent God and Judge Reigns over every atom in the cosmos, especially our souls! (Eph. 1:11)

We are called to imitate Christ, and Jesus Himself is the Light—let us point them to Him. Our Savior didn’t have a ministry to the dead, and neither did the apostles. They weren't involved in paranormal investigations. So, why should you? Certainly this would have been part of the Great Commission if it were true! Focusing your time and energy on paranormal investigating and assisting souls to ‘cross over,’ is not part of the Great Commission. Thus, we feel you have been distracted from that explicit calling to all believers.

We urge you to re-focus your energies on reaching out to the lost and making disciples, while they may still be found, and helping those who are demonically oppressed, by cleansing them and their homes of unclean spirits. God is so gracious and merciful and He can use you to re-direct your focus on reaching the ‘living lost’ and delivering people from demons! If He can use us toward that end, then He can certainly use you!

When Laura Maxwell realized she was deceived some years ago, by a group of Christians who all believed in, the now popular global Christian trend, that they were receiving revelation from alleged 'holy angels,' she left that group and sought a deliverance minister. She repented and had demons cast out of her! Even after her many years in healing and deliverance ministry, she, too, had been deceived but sought help! She shared this in a radio interview on angels we did together last year. Nobody is above being deceived!

Like Laura did, please seek deliverance if it is needed, as we know many of you are oppressed.
Please send any replies to Mark Hunnemann at mhunne@aol.com. He was the primary drafter of this letter. Laura Maxwell and Dana Emanuel gave invaluable support and insights.

P.S. We intend to produce several 5-10 minute videos in the near future which reply to the frequent questions asked and can be viewed on our YouTube channels and blogs.

Love in the Lamb,
Mark A Hunnemann, M.Div. (Author, Deliverance Minister and Former Pastor), http://archive.aweber.com/paraworld

Laura Maxwell B.A. Hons. (Author, TV and Radio guest, Radio host and Former Spiritualist) https://ourspiritualquest.com/

Dana Emanuel (Author, Deliverance Minister and Former Paranormal Investigator) https://xposingtheenemy.com/

The undersigned lovingly call you to ‘put off’ your pagan/occult ways, and re-affirm that Jesus’ Lordship extends over every area of life. Seek the Lord while He may be found, and bow before Jesus as your Savior and Lord.

Signed by: Jerry Blasé, Dan Langenfeld, Lena Bonnick, Garry Keogh, Bonnie Giese, Mary Kirk, Neil Thompson, Sonya Saporito, Tracy Jackson, Larry Thompson. Donald Jones, Philip Ness-Thomas, Christopher Milner, Richard Lohman, Ariel Vega, Sandy Ragland, Christina Steel, Darren Steel, Krystal Clawson, Danny Clawson, Jr., Randy Sims, Melissa May, Sheila Jones, Jonathon Chai, Tammy Dajamette, Deborah McBride, Michael Quillen, Ashley Sidney, Rhonda Anne, Debbie Tucker, Jason Tirre, Connie Williams, Dwayne Follick, Tami Jocasta, Lynda Smith
Miller, Cheri Kharsah, Kara De Jesus, Zita Grant, Tina Storey, Ruth McGuire, David Abreu, Joshua Hopping, Billy Posey, Joe Miroddi, Dana Carrigan, Garry Combs, Rose Queener, Kelly Dello, Liese Sukeforth, Marilyn Chastain Haning, Bre Greer, Jen Wigolo, Aaron Knight, Phillip T Oliver, Billy Vanderbilt, Cynthia Hampton, Pastor Michael Sanders-Biblical Counselor, Hope Glover