Saturday, April 24, 2010

Haunted History...

(photo from
Ok, I got a question a couple weeks ago that I don't have an answer for. Right now I can't even remember who asked, and honestly, had totally forgotten about it until I read the devos for this morning. With so much in scripture open to interpretation, what do we do with a passage that creates more questions than it answers? That wasn't the question I was asked, I was just setting it up.

Here is the question I was asked a couple weeks ago: "What does the bible say about ghosts?" Now you may be thinking, "Come on Jamie, you're not even going there are you?" Well, yeah, I think I will, and here's why. When I turned 30, my wife, ever not so gently, took great pleasure in reminding me of my own mortality. Hitting 35 nearly killed me because it was half of that biblical "three score and ten" that we get in scriptures, but I suffered that birthday in silence. And now, I wake up every day one day closer to 40.

Even in the best case scenario we might get 95 or 100 years here, then what? Well, for us as Christians, the "then what" is an eternity in the presence of God. Doesn't sound too bad at all, but the reality is, this life is all we've known so we try to hold on to it. I would be lying if I said part of me wished that I could stick around after I'm gone just to keep an eye on things. You know, to help guide my kids, their kids, and their kids' kids so that they don't do a lot of really stupid stuff. But what does that say about our, or rather my, thoughts on the soul's journey after death? I have to say, I don't have a clue. I mean, yeah, I have some clue but still have some questions. And...what does the bible say about it? After all, that was the question I was asked.

Well, "Not much actually," would be the short answer. In Leviticus, necromancy, or the practice of divination through inquiring of the dead was forbidden. So mediums are out, scripturally. What about hauntings? Mark 5 talks about a legion of demons possessing a man and that man then, I guess you could say haunted the folks of that region. But it doesn't mention hauntings anywhere else. So, what about ghosts?

If by ghost, you mean "spiritual being" then the bible is full of stories like that. Angels and demons are in no short supply, and they are spiritual beings. God is a Spirit. So there are many examples of spirit beings. But if you mean "ghost" as the disembodied spirit of a deceased person, then the number of references drops dramatically. Christ does mention the word ghost in Luke 24. He says: "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have." So, evidently the folks then were asking the same questions.

But...then there is 1 Samuel 28. The one solid reference to someone in scripture seeing, or at least communicating, with the disembodied spirit of one who had already gone on. Saul was worried. The Philistines were getting ready to march against him. He had already prayed about it and gotten no answer. So, he sought a medium. Scripture calls her "the Witch of Endor." Long story short, she does indeed call a spirit, the spirit of Samuel to be exact, then Samuel's ghost and Saul had a rather lengthy conversation, which is recorded in scripture. So, what do we do about that?

But...there's also Hebrews. Paul, if Paul wrote Hebrews, leaves no room for question. He seems to say that after our one earthly death, our spirit goes to face judgment. According to that, there is no time for our spirit to hang around here for a while to take care of unfinished business.

So, in answer to the first question, I'd have to say, I'm still not sure. I'm not passing judgment on this one, you have to decide for yourself. I'll not condemn those who believe there are those who have stayed around after their death, mainly because I have experienced some things I can't explain myself. But, at the same time, I'm not going to make scripture say that it's real based on one reference to it.

So, let me hear your thoughts. No one will judge. No one will get angry. I'm curious to see what you think about this.


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