Necromancy - by Dr. C. Matthew McMahonArticles on the Christian Walk, Systematic Theology and Practical Theology
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Necromancy, or Spiritism as it is more commonly called, is one of the oldest religious counterfeits known to man. Today, it is a widely popular means by which the secular populous gains information from their departed loved ones. Yes, the Ouija board is still on sale at Toys R’ Us, and its sales have yet to drop since its inception into the common market. One trendy television show purports a medium who stands before the audience while communicating with departed spirits. He seems to be correct in much of his information as he relays it to those in the audience. He claims the spirits speak with him and have messages from the dead to others who are still alive. You can imagine the awe of the audience that surrounds these meetings. If uncle Bob had a message from beyond the grave to aunt Edna, no doubt those who prescribe to these ideas become engrossed in the persuasion of the medium’s message, or rather the ghosts haunting presence. Others, such as those who allege themselves as psychics, seem to have the power of the third “eye.” This ability allows them to foresee or foretell the future, again usually in general terms. However, there are times when they seem to “hit the nail on the head,” so to speak, and make instantaneous believers out of those who call into their show. These specific instances cause those who believe in the phenomena to be well ground in their faith on the subject. How can they deny such an experience?
It may be helpful to define the subject more specifically. What is Spiritism? The American Heritage Dictionary provides the following definition: “The belief that the dead communicate with the living, usually through a medium.” The word actually comes from two Greek words: nekros, which means “dead,” and manteia, which means “divination.” When combining these two words together we create the word “necromancy” which means “communing with the dead.” This term has given way to the more general term of Spiritism, which embodies the idea that one is communing with dead spirits. Spiritism claims a special communication to “departed souls” by means of a medium who is guided by her spirit guide through the outer planes of the spirit world and attempts to contact the dead. Through the communion with the dead, those who have passed on into the afterlife, one can find out all kinds of information about both sides of the plane of existence – this side of life, and life after death. The contacting of these spirits is usually done under the setting of a séance, though, as with that trendy TV show I noted earlier, it seems more “contemporary” to simply stand and parade one’s powers without all the mumbo jumbo of the 1950’s black and white horror movie. Even though the “show” of the séance has been done away with, Spiritists say that six things can happen while partaking in such communication: passivity, vocal reality, trumpet revelation, lights, transfiguration and levitation. Any one or combinations of these are able to manifest themselves by a spirit during a “séance.”
Why are people fascinated with the “dead” in this way? The foundation for a curiosity into the world of Spiritism is centered on the existence of life after death; if life after death is something good. People are always searching whether their “departed loved ones” are safe and happy in their new “life.” This usually gives the seeker of information about the after-life a “stable” doctrine of the afterlife to hold onto. They have comfort knowing uncle Bob made it safely to his version of paradise. It also causes the inquirer to gain information about life after death so that the unknown seems a bit more known, and not so foreboding. The link for this critical information between this world and the next is immediately made through the medium who claims to be able to talk with these spirits. Such instantaneous information is a compelling comfort for those seeking instant gratification about loved ones or the after-life in general.
Formally, Spiritism first began in America when two sisters, Margaret and Katie Fox, supposedly had communication with a friendly ghost by the name of Charles B. Rasme. Rasme was allegedly murdered in the basement of their home and had a desire to contact the two sisters and plead his case. Many times mediums allege that those in the afterlife need our help before they can pass on into “the light.” News reporters, investigators, friends and nearby towns people, came to witness the mysterious rapping that went on in the house. Rasme supposedly communicated by these ghostly taps. As the sisters asked questions, the rapping ghost would answer by “yes” and “no.” After a prolonged investigation, the sisters renounced their story, confessing they were frauds. They did admit this, stating that the taps were actually the cracking of their toes which were masked enough by their shoes to confound the investigators. However, later, after figuring that money could be made this way, they held on to their original tale and recanted of their confession.
From the famous Fox sisters many well-known Spiritists came into the lime light such as William Garrison, James Cooper, William Bryant, Horace Greeley, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (the creator of Sherlock Holmes), and even Abraham Lincoln was suspected to have a secret fascination with Spiritism. Spiritism influenced America when it first appeared nationally on television with the help of Bishop James A. Pike and Arthur Ford, the author of “The Other Side”, an occultic-based bestseller book. They held a live séance one evening across America in over one million homes through the marvel of the media. Through the medium of the television today the contemporary séance has spread the occultic notions of Spiritism to millions of people all over the world.
The National Spiritist Association set forth seven principals of “theology” in which both the mediums and their spirit guides adhere to: 1) The Fatherhood of God (that God is the Father of all men no matter what they believe), 2) The Brotherhood of Man (that all human beings are unified together no matter what religion or belief structure they follow), 3) Continuous Existence (that there is an after-life (does atheism and agnosticism hinder these beliefs?)), 4) Communion of spirits and the ministry of angels (that the spiritual interacts with the material), 5) Personal Responsibility (this will determine which plane of existence you enter upon death), 6) Compensation and retribution in the hereafter for good or evil done on earth (again, your works determine your reward and which plane of existence you begin your after-life upon), 7) A path of endless progression (spirits are always striving to reach the highest plane of existence).
Spiritism supposedly offers scientific, empirical evidence that there is life (and even sex) after death. (Where these empirical facts are kept is a mystery.) As with most false religions, Spiritism teaches that the after-life is an enhancement to this life; as if the golfer who died would go to the best 18-hole golf course in the sky on whatever plane they are assigned to. Planes are like levels in a skyscraper, with the highest plane being the pent-house. With Spiritism, it attempts to unite the reality of science and religion in a twisted venue. It also embodies the modern faith in progress conception; that faith must evolve since, in the spiritual world, beings evolve into greater and more enlightened spirits. This parallels Darwin’s evolutionary science theories that, again, have no facts to back them up, but creates a type of spiritual evolution. According to Spiritism, in the spirit world, there are seven planes of existence or astral planes. Departed spirits live on these planes and communicate, willingly, to the living they are able to encounter. There is no hell, and Summerland (the highest and best plane of existence, the seventh astral plane), can be attained by everyone. Yet the spirits of bad people take longer to get there, but all make it eventually (which is universal salvation without really being saved from anything). Many of the cults today seem to possess similar theological positions of various planes, i.e. Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and New Age Trance Channeling.
Some forms of Spiritism may be more disguised than others as with the popular Parker Brothers game of the Ouija Board. The Ouija board gives the players the ability to summon spirits without the use of a medium. The game consists of a board with an alphabet written along the center of the board, and the words “yes” and “no” placed in the corners. Some boards even have astrological signs, months of the year and numbers. The spirit contacted with the Ouija speaks through an object that is placed on the board called a planchette. This planchette is touched lightly by the player’s fingertips and moved around the board by the spirit or ghost. Messages then occur by the guided planchette landing over a letter or word and spells out answers to question which the player may ask; or state anything the spirit wishes to say. In this case, the board itself is the medium. Games such as these are sitting on the shelves of toy stores across America waiting for children to pick them up and play with them. How quaint?
The Bible condemns all types of Spiritism; all of it is utterly abhorred by God. The Old Testament even condemns talking with a medium as in Leviticus 19:31, “Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.”. The Bible speaks of this practice going as far back as ancient Egypt. Exodus chapters 7-8 describe the wickedness of the Egyptians practicing magic, sorcery, and speaking to the dead. God did not allow men to interact with Spiritists because the origin of their power was demonic and satanic. It may even be argued that Spiritism began in the Garden of Eden where Satan, a fallen angel, spoke with Eve deceived her (Gen. 3:1ff). Deuteronomy 18:10 states that the Israelites are to have no mediums, Spiritists, or those who consult the dead among them in the camp. They are not even to be present! “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch.” (Is this bad evangelism?) Actually, these people were to be put to death – Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live..” (Exodus 22:18) The Israelites would be deemed unclean if they came into contact with any of these Spiritists since Yahweh desired them to walk blameless before Him – that meant God was the only means whereby they received guidance. In Isaiah 8:19-20, Yahweh tells the Israelites that they should not consult mediums and Spiritists since they have a God who can answer all things (He being omniscient) and wishes at the same time to be personal, and to love them as the only One who knows what is best for them. “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” God states that if the medium does not speak according to the Law, they have “no light in them;” another way of putting that would be-they have no idea of what they are talking about, nor are they sent by God to tell the truth of His mind. Only those who speak on behalf of God and His truth have the truth. And this truth must be tested by the authority of the Bible .
God has not, nor ever will, send mediums to His people in this satanic manner. When God speaks He speaks through His Word, through His Son, Jesus Christ. Heb 1:1-2a says, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son…” In the Old Testament God intervenes personally, through theophanies (visible or audible manifestations of Himself), such as with Moses at the burning bush, or in the tabernacle among the priests in His shekina glory. God also worked through His most used tool in the Old Testament, the prophet. Through these messengers God delivered His truth to the Israelites, and sometimes to other nations and cities (such as Jonah and Nineveh.) Yet, even though God was faithful, men such as the apostate king Saul still disobeyed and consulted a medium, the witch at Endor, since he wanted his answers directly and expediently. (1 Samuel 28:7) In no instance do we find God sanctioning the use of demonic or satanic means to gain truth for His people, even if the truth of the demonic influence is true! However, we do find Him sending lying spirits to further deceive rebellious men who desire words from satanic means. As with Saul and the witch at Endor, and with Ahab in 1 Kings 22:22-23 (And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so. Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee.) God will acquiesce to men’s rebellion and continue to give them over to their wicked intentions if they so desire. 2 Thess. 2:11 says, “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:”
Looking toward the New Testament we may glean some important information from the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:24-31, “And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, they have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” From reading the passage there are two things which should be gleaned concerning the spirit world: 1) There is a great chasm between the abode of the righteous dead and the unrighteous dead which no one can cross. The dead are therefore limited in their movement in their respective eternal abodes. 2) The rich man was refused permission to warn his five brothers of there impending fate if they did not repent. This passage indicates, along with the rest of scripture, that the dead are not allowed to speak with the living on any matter. Jesus declared through the account of Abraham and the rich man that those who hardened their hearts against the very words of God through Moses and the Prophets would not listen even if one returned from the dead to tell them. This is proven by those who reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ today. Jesus Christ did rise from the dead, came back to life, walked the earth for another 40 days, and people still rejected His Word! When judgment is given at the time of death (Heb. 9:27, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”) men are consigned to their eternal homes. They do not wander the earth, nor communicate with the living. There are no such things as ghosts. Men are either enjoying Christ in heaven as the redeemed elect (Psalm 73:24-26, “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.”), or they are assigned to hell under the wrath of God as wicked sinners (Psalm 9:17, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.). Spiritism’s teachings are a bold-faced attempt by Satan to overthrow the Bible. If Spiritism is true, then the entire Bible is false. They cannot both be right. If ghosts wander the earth, then the Bible is wrong about a judgment immediately after death, and the consignment of men to heaven or hell. If the Bible is right, then Spiritism is a false and counterfeit means to attain spiritual knowledge.
Sometimes Spiritists use the Bible to support their claims, especially the account of Saul and the witch. This seems to hold somewhat of a problem for Christians, and the seemingly contradictory account of Samuel the prophet rising up out of the flames to talk with Saul. The account can be found in 1 Samuel 28:7ff. The point that must be made should be understood in light of the entire Bible. All other passages seem to contradict this one since men go to their eternal fates at death, so there must be a way of explaining this passage while holding onto its integrity, and without damaging the other sayings of Christ and the Bible. Here it must be said that there are a number of reasons why this is not Samuel. First, if Samuel had appeared to anyone, he would have “come down from heaven” not “up out of the earth.” Second, the witch, through the Devil, does not have such power over the redeemed elect of God to call them out of the grave. Third, God would never have answered Saul, the apostate king, in this manner, but would have used the prophets or the word of God to speak to Saul. Fourth, Samuel would never have allowed the worship given to him to stand – he would have rebuked Saul and commanded him to worship God. Fifthly, Samuel would have never allowed the witch to take credit for raising him, nor would he acquiesce to the magic arts being used in such a manner since the Law condemns its use, though in the narrative the apparition says nothing of this.
God will not tolerate mediums and Spiritists because He fully understands that the power they are dealing with comes from the Prince of the power of the air; Satan. The so-called spirit guides that mediums refer to are nothing more than demons in disguise. (1 Kings 22:23, “Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee.”) Paul called them powers and authorities in the epistle to the Ephesians. Since Spiritism thrives in darkness, Paul’s words seem appropriate, “Therefore do not be partakers with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:8-9) Men are not to partake of that which is of the darkness, but rather they are to be partakers of the light of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”)
As stated above by Paul and ultimately Christ, Christians are to have nothing to do, (outside of witnessing) with Spiritists or mediums, or any activity as such. You may recall that Paul evangelized in Ephesus and many who dabbled in magic were converted (Acts 19:18-19, “And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.
19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.”) But if one desires to play with the fire of the devil, they will ultimately be burned. When cooperating with Satan and his subjugated demons through any demonic channel such as Spiritism, one will ultimately be condemned to hell for their rebellion before God unless they repent of their sin. Essentially, such people are Satanists, and they will spend eternity in the presence of these deceptive demons, and the devil to be tormented with them and by them forever. (Matthew 18:34; Revelation 14:10; 20:10)
How do so many buy into the realism of this sin condemned in the Scriptures? Aside from being dead in sin, there is another means of attraction. Let me illustrate by using the popular TV show “Crossing Over” with John Edwards (no relation to Jonathan Edwards). Edwards is a contemporary self-proclaimed medium who maintains that he can speak with departed spirits. The proof of this is his actual dialogue with audience members as he speaks with these ghosts. The ghosts give him information about those who are still alive, and certain situations they would remember (though most of the time this information is not complete.) I always wonder why the ghosts have such a hard time in simply giving names, dates, philosophical treatises, or the like. I mean communication is communication – if they can give initials, why not just spell out the name? Anyway, Edwards communicates with these spirits and relays the information to the audience. Someone in the audience responds to what is being said, and the conversation with the “spirit world” is the highlight of the show. Edwards is the medium while all this is taking place. It seems the mark that formulates this conversation as real, is the truth to the facts given. Things no one could possibly know, unless it was all staged (which Edwards emphatically denies) are given by the spirits of these relatives. It all seems too real because they seem to know so much. Is it true? How could it not be true?
According to the Bible John Edwards is really communicating with demons, but he would never know this, nor even think this – and if someone told him this, he would emphatically deny it. The situation goes like this: demons have lived among us since the beginning of time. (Jude 1:6, “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.”) They study us, know everything about us that is possible to know, and are out to deceive us. (1 Peter 5:8; 2 Timothy 2:26; 1 Timothy 3:7; Ephesians 6:11) Because they hate God with an unimaginable malice, they desire to pull as many men (God’s pinnacle of creation) to hell as they can. They do this thinking it will bring them some type of satisfaction, which it can never do given their fallen and immutable disposition to wickedness and sorrow in such a state. However, since they are masters at deception, why not pose as dearly departed uncle Bob, whisper in the ear of John Edwards, and dupe aunt Edna into believing Bob is speaking to her from the grave? They know everything about Bob and have no problem explaining any situation, any event, any special moment, even things only Edna and Bob could know because they have studied Bob all through his years on earth. “Bob” may even supply some information about Edna’s childhood which only her mother may have known, but now, Bob knows these things as well since he too has crossed over and has spoken to her mother who is on the “other side.” Edna will be quickly deceived if she is unregenerate. Unregenerate men live under the power of the wicked one. (Romans 8:5; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Hebrews 2:14) Thus, aunt Edna lives in unbelief according to the truth of the Word of God, is pulled that much farther away from Christ, and rejects church (unless she is Roman Catholic and gives into all their superstitions as many do; oftentimes Roman Catholics are quite vulnerable to such ideas). The message the demons purport is that in the after life there is no hell, they deny judgment, and make the afterlife something which everyone can have a great time in. They remove a holy God, have no place for Jesus Christ, and deny the infallibility of the Bible. But because John Edwards is hearing all this in his ear as the demons communicate it to him, he believes it, tells others, and they are duped into the same deception. The incredible knowledge of facts is the decisive factor and acts as their proof without ever considering the above truism of the Scriptures. How can you even deny such an experience?
Spiritism, and all that surrounds it, is of the devil. It is a counterfeit and false religious view that bypasses God’s ordained means to the truth of men’s fallen and lost situation. Men are wicked and need to be saved by Jesus Christ, the only Redeemer of God’s elect. Christians must be aware of this when they watch TV shows, movies, read books, and the like about such topics. The media is constantly enamored with the supernatural because the supernatural is always that much higher and more mysterious than anything they would come up with. For instance, in the Star Wars saga the higher level, the ultimate weapon, is not the light saber of the Jedi, but the force around him – the spiritual. The spiritual is much more mysterious and exciting than a technological gadget because it is beyond us. In many movies, even those that purport technologically advanced and futuristic societies, the spiritual is always greater and more powerful than any computer or technological machine that could be built or imagined. When Christians partake in exposing themselves to such ideologies, they must be aware of the Spiritism they are “enjoying.” They must be keenly aware of the ideologies behind what they are watching or reading. Should the Christian’s mind be filled with Spiritism and its theologically unsound ideas? Paul says in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” And in Colossians 3:1-4 he says, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” The word “set” means to “set in concrete.” Our minds and thoughts should be set upon Jesus Christ and all that pertains to Him. Shall we become edified by the voice of Christ in the Bible or by Satan through the various influences of Spiritism? May we guard our hearts and mind in Christ Jesus from the devilish forms of divining the dead.