During the Nevada Ghost and Paranormal Series, I moderated “Religion and the Paranormal: A Panel Discussion” that featured a rabbi, evangelical pastor, Buddhist and Muslim. The pastor was likeable and passionate about his beliefs, which I respect. But, while listening to his Biblical take on the paranormal, I realized my different positions on the subjects he addressed were just as legitimate. Being the panel moderator, I stayed silent. That is, until now. Here, I present his paraphrased views and my rebuttal.
Pastor: Our departed loved ones can’t visit us.
The dead cannot talk to us, he said. Once we’ve left our bodies, God expects us to focus on Him (not the living) and restricts us to heaven, which is such an amazing place that we are fine with not visiting those we cared deeply for on Earth.
For justification, he cites Isaiah 8:19: When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living!”
Me: Love is eternal and God is love. The Great I Am would never extinguish it.
Heaven, I believe, is an amazing place (or state of existence) permeated with pure, divine love. Why would the Lord demand a departed soul stay away from those he/she held dear here on Earth? Especially when that soul could comfort and support the grieving? I believe God would never deprive us of this blessing, especially when the living need it the most.
I interpret Isaiah 8:19 differently.
This passage distressed me following my experience at the Goldfield Hotel, but now I understand it differently. For one, if the Bible says mediums can consult the dead, then the dead can communicate with people on Earth. So when God grants us the gift of psychic abilities, we are meant to use it for spiritual growth. Prophets throughout the Bible received information directly from God, spirits and the angels. Who’s to say divine personal prophecies don’t apply to an individual?
For me, the Isaiah passage conveys the need for caution and to seek answers ourselves instead of through a third party (i.e. medium). By tapping into our God-given spiritual gift, we can discern whether a message from the other world is divine or negative. Great care must be taken to avoid engaging an evil entity or following a negative energy’s instructions. Also, our psychic abilities should not be used as an excuse to eschew responsibility for our own decisions or predict the future.
Pastor: Demons pose as your crossed-over loved ones.
Parishioners have told him they received signs that deceased loved ones have visited them. The pastor said that can’t happen. He believes demons, called familiars, try to fool the living by impersonating the dead.
Me: The devil won’t divide his house.
What purpose would a demon have comforting a grieving person? Would this make the suffering person more aligned with Satan? No. I’ve been visited by two departed family members. During both instances, I felt cocooned in the most wonderful intensity of love. The Apostle John wrote several times that “God is love.” The devil’s arsenal cannot include love, as he would be dividing his house. Jesus said, “How can Satan drive out Satan? … If Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.” Evil pulls us away from God. It won’t strengthen our bond with the Great I Am.
Check out this blog in two weeks to read Kathleen’s other thoughts on the Christian perspective presented at the Religion and the Paranormal Panel Discussion.