By Reverend Mark Hunnemann
"Are they (angels) not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?" (Hebrews 1:14)
"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." (Hebrews 13:2)
What do I mean (and NOT mean) when I say virtually all paranormal activity is demonic? I remind you that this is a blog and not a technical philosophy paper in which I meticulously clarify every comment I make. After writing nearly 200 blogs on the bible and the paranormal, the body of my writing makes this distinction clear, but I want to do so in a concise fashion.
Until the last century or so, when theology went berserk, the classical position of historical Christianity from the church fathers onwards, has been what some have dubbed the "simplistic" view....all paranormal activity is demonic.
However, there are good reasons for clarification--angelic activity and broader parapsychology issues--force us to use more precision. If we wish to communicate effectively, then we need to stop periodically and clarify the terms we use and assumptions we hold. Frankly, there are many who find my position to be simplistic or even harmful, so I want to make very clear what I mean.
Ideally, it would be helpful to distinguish between paranormal activity and supernatural activity--the former referring to psychic phenomena that is not easily explainable (e.g. Dream analysis, NDE, deja vu, and so on) and "supernatural" referring to activity caused by God, angles, or demons. However, I wrestled with this when writing my book--most folks would not know what I meant if I said, "Virtually all supernatural phenomena is demonic." I am using 'paranormal', not as parapsychologists would define it, but as the millions of folks in the street understand it, and as it is presented in so many TV shows. To confuse things further, what some may say is simply unexplainable, I MAY differ and call it demonic--it all depends upon the situation and the phenomenon.
I write as one who has been in the trenches on several dozen demonic cases and have emotional scars, and not as a detached theologian or academic parapsychologist.. I will come back to this, but it is the (and this is crucial) weirdness and evil encountered in/with innumerable people, homes, businesses, and properties that I am referring to when I speak of "paranormal activity as being demonic." That is a partial clarification, but let me clarify further. What of angels? Don't they act in supernatural/paranormal way, so how can you call it demonic"?
1. Angels. How do you fit angelic activity in this summary statement, since they are capable of interacting with our world every bit as much as fallen angels? Let me explain. From the first text quoted above (Hebrews 1:14), we have a general job description for angels. They are referred to as "ministering spirits" whose calling it is to serve Christians (those who will inherit salvation). To say that angels are "ministering spirits" (leitourgika pneumata) who have been sent here to SERVE US (diakonian...same root we get "deacon' from) is both astonishing and comforting. This is important to remind ourselves of. They minister to us...they serve us....that is why they are here! How? The text does not spell it out, and that is probably intentional because there are so many ways that this ministry of theirs can be expressed. My guess is that most of their protection of us goes unnoticed by us, but there is also a plethora of anecdotal evidence of angelic intervention in times of crisis. I am confident some you reading this have had experiences in which you scratched your head afterwards and wondered if you had had an angelic encounter.. So, when there is real angelic activity, the recipients are invariably some human/s who are being served or ministered to in some way; they are helping us. Serving and ministering are generally, by their nature, non-extraordinary or sensationalistic. They do not like to bring attention to themselves....and all the glory goes clearly to the Lord. Fallen angels are polar opposites....
Remember what I said above re the popular understanding of paranormal activity--it centers around some odd, bizarre or even frightening activity, that usually does not contain the element of helping us. To put it another way, ANGELS DO NOT DO HOME WEIRDNESS....(though they may make their presence known) Make sense? Almost by definition, the kind of cases that necessitate assistance, and find their way to TV, are usually not going to be angels quietly assisting us in some way. TV gravitates to the sensational, which angels tend to avoid. Though I hasten to add that some of their serving interventions can be extraordinary.
One last comment here, just because a spirit seems to be helping a person, does not automatically discount demonic deception. For them, the end does justify the means, and if they can gain a families trust via a "good" deed, then they are not beneath using this to destroy them at a later time. "Angels of light" remember? That is why we must always be discerning (1 John 4:1ff)
The second text from Hebrews is a fascinating comment re how common angelic encounters are! Obviously from this text, the writer is speaking of angels when they take on human form, and were visiting people. It makes sense..we know fallen angels can/do mimic people (usually deceased but not always), but their intent is always God-dishonoring and deception meant to harm us. Angles do not visit us to bring attention to themselves, but to serve us, IN SOME WAY.....which can be as diverse as the stars in the universe! But they are expert mimickers of human appearance....without the element of dark deception.
Angels delight in serving us; that is their primary job description. However, they do not bring attention to themselves. Back to what I said earlier--when I refer to "paranormal activity", I am referring to it in its generally understood usage, and not its technical definition. More specifically, when most people think of paranormal activity, they have in mind the weirdness or evil they have encountered in their home or business...or the same they have seen on TV or movie theatre. So, when I say that virtually all paranormal activity is demonic, it is demonic home invasion I am usually referring to. Again,, ANGELS DO NOT DO HOME INVASIONS OR HOME WEIRDNESS....or any activity that might instill fear or confusion (footsteps, bangs, and so on)
In addition, I find it unnecessary and harmful to attribute to deceased human beings, assistance or citings doing that what angels are supposed to do.
Suppose there is a family travelling on a remote stretch of mountain road.. Their car swerves and careens over the guard rail. Everyone is injured to some extent, but only the father dies. However, trapped out of sight, is the wreckage in which mom and two children are unable to extricate themselves. Suppose,a Highway Patrol man, who has been alerted to the missing family, sees what appears to be the dad waving his hands for the officer to stop..The officer stops....but the "dad" is not on the road--vanished! The officer looks over the guard rail, and discovers the wreckage. Was it dad, or an angel, appearing as dad? Or perhaps a demon, with an ulterior motive...?
Do we not see that this is EXACTLY the type activity that falls within the job description of angels?! It is not a peripheral activity in assisting that family--it is the primary reason they have been sent here. "ministering spirits sent to serve..." And that family certainly fits the bill.
Granted that is an extreme case, but I am concerned about ways that we are allowing demons (in the guise of deceased humans) in the back door, by finding exceptional circumstances which allegedly allow for deceased human visitation. The dad has entered his rest in heaven, and is not going to come here--that is the perogative of the angelic, not humans. "But that is deceptive Mark!" Really? Unless we are prepared to call the angelic activity mentioned in Hebrews 13:2 as ungodly deception--which we may not do--then angels mimicking humans (even deceased family members) in emergencies is GOOD. If you think about it, mimicking the "dad" was a wise angelic strategy--especially if the family has been missing, and the High Way Patrol (which has prior knowledge of the mans appearance) will know to be looking for him and the entire family.
Put another way, if demons take on the appearance of deceased humans to cause harm, then it only makes sense that angels will do the same to serve or help us--it is at the core of their job description....certainly consistent with it--to minister to us through serving.
2. Parapsychology--did Adam and Eve have some psychic powers in the Garden, that were lost, dimished, or even outlawed after the Fall? I do not know....and nobody knows for sure. However, I am inclined to say yes. However you answer that question, it is an area fraught with peril. Regardless, there is simply too much evidence to dismiss some of what is "paranormal" in the more technical sense. Some of the NDE's experience is real. Yes, some seems to be demonic...but not all. We must be careful to not demonize a phenomenon that is sometimes vitiated by the demonic. What of the psychic "connection" between twins? Some of you have had vivid dreams of the future....visions even. I know that visions of Jesus have been instrumental in the conversion of many Muslims. This dream phenomenon illustrates the need for discernment, as some are clearly supernatural, while others are simply inexplicable.
Parapsychology is a broad field, which often overlaps that which originates from God or the demonic. Studying parapsychology from professional parapsychologists can be dangerous because they routinely immerse themselves in study of things God abominates.
I am not attributing all which is inexplicable to the demonic. I am not attributing all which is paranormal (narrowly defined) as demonic. Space prohibits me from discussing in greater detail the various phenomena that is "paranormal" (above normal), but not supernatural. On numerous occasions I have mentioned the amazing sensitivity many folks have to the supernatural realm--a lot of these folks are earnest Christians. It baffles me, but I don't condemn it. We must not demonize everything we do not understand. I know that some folks think I do that, including not a few believers. Be that as it may, here is an instance where I am trying to walk a tight-rope.
What I am convinced is clearly demonic is any/all paranormal activity as it is popularly defined and understood. While I have a passion for academic parapsychology, I have a greater passion to communicate effectively in warning folks of supernatural evil.
Examples of demonic "paranormal activity" would include--shadow figures, apparitions, apportation/deportation of car keys,indoor rain, footsteps and bangs which have no natural explanation (again, angels do NOT do home weirdness), scratches....ANY POLTERGEIST ACTIVITY, as it is popularly defined, (stuff moving) is demonic. Hope that helps...or clear as mud!
"Seeing Ghosts through God's Eyes" (also in a Kindle edition)...please consider purchasing my book which uses science, logic, and the bible to analyze the true source of power behind paranormal activity.