Everyone is seeking a Savior, but not everyone finds Jesus to be that Savior. Man is a spirit, and can never be satisfied with just the pleasures of this world or intellectual pursuits. Sin has left a vacuum in man, and he is continuously seeking to fill it. We Christians know that Christ is the only answer that meets man's need and that only the Holy Spirit can adequately fill man's vacuum. But many people have rejected Christ and turned to other sources to fill the void that they feel. And thus the interest and fascination in the occult is rampant today.
In this article I will explain the occult practice of spiritualism, which I once practiced. Then we will examine the various related movements that are prevalent in our nation today.
What is it? Spiritualism is a religion whose basic tenet and practice is conversing with the dead. Some of its members attend seances; others attend regular services (as well as seances) in a church building, worship God, and study their philosophy of God, the universe, the spirit world, and the way man should live. Spiritualism also involves methods of healing and the investigation of psychic phenomena.
Some people have become involved with spiritualism simply because they were seeking excitement or were fascinated by the mysteries of psychic phenomena. However, most of the people who join this religion have lost a loved one through death and are seeking some type of solace in their grief. They feel lost; they don't know where to go or who to turn to. The idea of conversing with their dead loved one is both exciting and comforting to them. The idea of obtaining some guidance from that loved one who now resides in the spirit world is a great relief to them.
I became involved in spiritualism after my father died. As I lay in my bed in the small room next to his, I heard him scream in terror at his death. I was just a young boy, but I became obsessed with the thought of death. Judaism was my family's religion, but its rituals did nothing to calm the turmoil within me; so as I grew, I turned my back on that religion. At a very low point in my life, I met a spiritualist in a taxi in London. She told me a fascinating story of life after death. When I seemed interested, she sent me to a spiritualist organization. And then began what I call "my unholy fascination."
Beliefs. Spiritualists teach from the Bible. They claim to have the nine miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit (which they claim are used in the seance), and they pray to Jesus. But they do not believe that He is the Son of God; they say He is a medium of the highest order. The religion actually comforts the sinner, because spiritualists do not believe in death, the devil, Hell, or judgment. They believe that God loves everyone, that salvation is gained by good works, and that the door to reformation is never closed. They believe that when a person leaves this life,, he goes to reside on a certain plane (depending on how good he was) where someone will be there to help him.
"People turn to these 'substitute saviors' in time of sorrow and expect them to ease their troubled souls."
The church generally has services on Sunday and Wednesday. The typical service would include hymns and prayers. Then a medium (or another person adept at lecturing) would give a trance lecture dealing with metaphysics or principles of daily living. The lecture would often be followed by a demonstration of clairvoyance or clairaudience in which a medium would receive impressions (see pictures or symbols in his mind) or would hear voices and relate the messages to the audience. At times, persons could receive the healing ministries after the service concluded.
Seances and mediums. A major part of spiritualism is the participation in seances, a meeting in which the members-attempt to contact the dead through a person called a medium. There are many different types of seances, but a basic seance is usually separate from a regular service in the church building. Those who wish to participate in the seance meet in a room in the church building or in someone's home. Except for the times when one person arranges to have a private seance with a medium, the group is composed of five to twenty people. They often sit in a circle in order for all to hear the medium. As a rule, the room is darkened only if a physical phenomena is desired. With one of these, materialization, forms appear. In a trumpet seance, spirits speak through a type of megaphone that amplifies their voices.
The seance is opened with a prayer to God. Then the medium feels drawn to one member of the group and relates messages to him from the spirit world. The person will then often seek advice and guidance from the spirit. The medium moves to each person in like manner until all in the group have received a message, except when the group is too large. In some seances, the medium will go into a trance. When this happens, the spirit speaks directly through the medium and relays messages to the group, using the voice of the dead person. At times, a person in the group can be healed of physical infirmity at the seance.
As you can see, the medium is the center of attraction in the spiritualist religion. A medium is a person who is especially sensitive to non-physical forces. He (or she) has what is often called the "sixth sense." He becomes a passive vehicle for the spirits of the dead. He allows his voice and very being to be taken over by foreign forces. The spiritualists refer to the medium as the "doorkeeper." But I call a medium "substitiute savior" because people turn to them in time of sorrow and emotional upheaval and expect them to ease their troubled souls and fill their emptiness.
Ouija boards. The Ouija board is usually a rectangular piece of masonite or wood about eighteen inches long and twelve inches wide. It has printed upon it the numbers zero through nine, the letters of the alphabet, the words "yes" and "no" opposite upper corners, and the word "goodbye" at the bottom. To operate the board, usually two people sit facing each other with their fingers resting lightly on a tripod (a heart shaped piece of wood with a hole in the middle through which you see the letters as it moves across the board). They ask questions; the tripod moves, seemingly by means of a controlling intelligence, and spells out the answers.
There is actually no power in the board or tripod itself, as the power is in the person who allows those of the spirit world to control him. The Ouija board is definitely the doorway to spiritualism and the occult practices. People start by playing with a Ouija board; then they begin experimenting with automatic writing (when the spirit uses a person's hand to write messages). Soon they are ushered into the very depths of occult. Using the Ouija board is practicing a form divination---the art of obtaining secret information from spirit world---and could be called a type of seance.
We must never make the mistake of thinking that spiritualism is dealing with fantasy or figments of peoples' iminaginations. Spiritualism is real; it is a tool used by Satan to delude and captivate peoples' souls. The Bible strictly forbids God's people to deal with the spirit world (Deuteronomy 18:10; Leviticus 19:31, 20:6, 27; 1 Chronicles 10:13, 14; 2 Kings 23:24; Isaiah 8:19, 20). God would not forbid us to deal with something that did not exist. The religion deceives us by claiming to contact the dead; actually these contacts are demons who are impersonating the dead. Those who practice such divinations are actually violating the first command n given by God---"Thou shalt have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3)-and are encouraging demon activity. There is much danger inherent in such practices because of the resulting imbalance of the mind and soul when one allows demons to control his thoughts and actions.
The number one game. Monopoly used to be the best selling game by Parker Brothers, but now the Ouija board is number one. It is alarming when we realize that millions of people are playing with this seemingly innocent game that is, in reality, the gateway to the occult.
Children enjoy tinkering with the Ouija board at slumber parties. Sometimes the names of the children are spelled out on the board, and they are told that they will die on a certain day in a certain fashion. One minister told me about a young man who received such a death message. He believed the message and was troubled and terrified at the same time about it. He was confused and emotionally upset so much so that he put a gun to his head and killed himself before the day arrived. He had just turned sixteen!
I was very concerned when, a few years ago, I asked a group of 2,500 young people at a Christ In Youth rally in Oklahoma how many of them had played with the Ouija board and 2,000 of them raised their hands!
After speaking on a late-night radio program in Fort Wayne, Indiana, I received a letter from a man who related to me how he became fascinated with the Ouija board and found that in time he could manipulate it himself. After some months, the board told him to get a pencil. The pencil formed words and involvement began (automatic writing). "My Hell on earth had just begun," he said. He became obsessed with his communication with a particular spirit. He lost his family and his job; he is now considered to be mentally ill. This is only one example of the hundreds of people who are involved in such experiences.
In our schools. In Arcata, California, I was refused permission to speak at a junior high school because of the separation of church and state. But that same day the school granted permission for two self-proclaimed witches (the same as mediums) to speak to an English class. I was allowed to sit and watch, but could not speak to the children. The witches spread on the floor a black cloth about eight feet in diameter and painted with symbols of Satan. On it they placed black candles. The witches taught about witchcraft, psychic intrigues, and experiences with the Ouija board.
Religious organizations. Many organizations claiming spiritual enlightenment are in reality only sophisticated avenues for spiritualism. Here are the names of a few of these groups: Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship (denominational church organizations that practice spiritualism), the Unity Church (believes in reincarnation), Inner Peace Movement (they call their mediums counselors), Association for Research and Spiritual Enlightenment, The Rosicrucians Theosophical Society, Baha'i, and the Children of God.
In the medical field. Spiritualism in the field of medicine has been given the respectable name of para-psychology. Just recently I spoke to a sister in Christ who told me about a parapsychology class she took at a university in Kirksville, Missouri. The students were required to go to a graveyard, hold a seance, listen to any voices that might come from the graves, speak with the voices, and make a tape recording of the experience. The lectures concerned out-of-the-body experiences, reincarnation, phantoms of the dead, hypnosis, extrasensory perception, poltergeist (a noisy ghost) phenomena, and psychokinesis (movement of objects by energy forces).
In law enforcement. We read almost daily about police departments across the country that are relying upon psychics to help unravel crimes. Psychics have described murderers, have led police to bodies of missing persons, and sometimes see visions of crimes in progress. These psychics are mediums who practice spiritualism.
Prevalence of Eastern mysticism. One can hardly walk across a university campus and not see the advertisements of Transcendental Meditation sessions. One cannot walk through an airport without seeing those of the Hare Krishna sect. Yoga is taught in the schools, in the YWCA, and is promoted on television. Zen Buddhism, Hinduism, karate, and the belief in reincarnation are all part of the American scene today. These religions are all a part of the occult and related to spiritualism. They all stress achieving an inner peace, having no desire for material things, and gaining righteousness through self-will. Because they believe man can by his own effort become a part of God, they do not believe there is any need for atonement for sin.
"Spiritualism is real; it is a tool used by Satan to delude and captivate peoples' souls."
Death experiences. There is widespread interest in experiences at the point of death sparked by such books as Life After Life, Life Is Forever, and the writing of Dr. Kubler-Ross. The experiences they describe include out-of-the-body travel (which happens to patients when in surgery regardless of the nearness of death), traveling through tunnels, seeing bright lights, and having feelings of peace. All of these occur in the trances of spiritualist seances.
When I was a spiritualist developing into a medium, I would go into trances. I would see long, dark tunnels with a bright light at the end of it shaped like a cross. It was a pleasurable sensation, and I would look forward to it.
Also at some of the seances I attended, the phenomena of colored lights would appear. When I asked the "spirit" about them, he said they represented spirits who were progressing to a higher plane of development (reincarnation). The final destination, the spirit said, was to be absorbed by the Great White Spirit and to be at absolute peace. These ideas are delusions of Satan; he wants us to believe them, so we will have no need for Christ (note the similarities to Eastern mysticism cited earlier).
The similarities between recently recorded death experiences and the practices of spiritualism are apparent. Writers of such books are consciously or unconsciously advocating the practices of the occult, and the acceptance of what they have written is dangerously widespread.
The Bible says very little about the state of the dead, but it does say we are not to dabble or become involved with occult practices and that Satan will have no power over us unless we allow him to. We Christians know that our bodies will be resurrected at the second coming and will be molded by the power of Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20, 21). And we know about the marvelous eternal life in Heaven that awaits the faithful (Revelation 21). Let us rejoice in what we have to look forward to and give thanks for the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. May we all realize that spiritualism and all its practices must be rejected, for it is totally against God's will for His people.
In His Love,
*The term 'spiritualism' is also used to refer to this religion. When a Christian uses this term, he is referring to the influence of Satan in this occult practice. To a spiritualist, this term is very derogatory and offensive, for he believes he is doing a work of God and is therefore spiritual.