I'm very excited about this topic, mainly because the Paranormal Pastor - Rev Robin Swope is going to do the main blog on this subject in a couple of weeks time. I will be looking forward to that as much as our readers because I am a huge fan of Robin, not just as a colleague, but I'm probably a bit of a Robin groupie as well. He has had a huge impact on me in my ministry which has enabled me to discuss the paranormal now with thousands and thousands of people in every forum from school classrooms, large auditoriums of Christians all over Sydney and now to cyberspace through the great work Bryony has done with the blog. I consider myself to be a novice in the industry and feel incredibly blessed by the experience of other ministers like Pastor Swope, Rev Dr Gladwyn Turner and the team at Ellell Ministries at Menangle in South Western Sydney who I have relied on for help, who have relayed experiences and real life stories and practical advice from a ministry and theological perspective.
The story of the witch (or a more appropriate term could be medium) of En Dor is interesting because it forces us to look at a subject that is very uncomfortable in evangelical circles and that is the whole issue of ghosts and those who have contact with them. There is a prevailing view in western evangelical Christianity that all ghosts are demons impersonating those who have died to lead them away from God in some way. Dove tailing into that view is the prevailing opinion that people who can contact the dead have a 'familiar spirit' like the fortune telling slave girl in the book of Acts 16:16.
One of the verses used starts in Deuteronomy 18:9 in which the newly freed from Egypts children of Israel are warned "Not to consult a medium or spiritist..." because these are the very people who will lead them away from God. In fact, it basically implies that the Israelites will recieve the land from these people because their practices are an abomination to God.
The question is - what were the practices being conducted and what or who were they consulting? Were they demons or the 'spirits of the restless dead' the 'unclean spirits' as described by Professor of New Testament Studies at Moore College, Peter Bolt in his book "Living with the Underworld" (Matthias Media).
So it is an interesting tale in the book of Samuel, Chapter 28 when King Saul, Israels first King in the Old Testament, goes to consult the Medium of En Dor, after his own statutes and laws had them cast out of the land. Due to his disobedience to God, the Lord will no longer speak to Saul in dreams and visions, or using the Urim device or by prophets. God basically stops talking. So Saul breaks his own laws by disguising himself and taking a posse to consult a medium.
What happens in this confrontation needs to be discussed in a way that that combines great biblical and historical understanding, and then brings the answers into our time and space. What does Sauls interaction with a medium and conversation with the dead imply about where the dead go and those who claim to be able to contact them? Does a world post the ressurection of Jesus Christ interpret this verse differently. Who are the 'restless dead'? How could they not go straight to heaven, hell, paradise or hades.
This is where the theological meets the practical reality of what people are encountering all over the world. Ghosts? Demons? or both?
I look forward to Robin's blog next month and we would love to hear your comments:)
God bless you - Pastor Baz.