What is spiritualism? It is something that should be taught or is practiced in the Bible?
The Spirit World
There is another world out there that we don’t see. It includes both holy angels and fallen angels, now called demons. They seek to do harm to the church and to believers, but they have their limitations. Still, evil or unclean spirits can sometimes mimic or imitate lost loved ones, but that’s probably not why they’re called “familiar spirits.” In the ancient world, familiar spirits were believed to be supernatural entities that would assist witches in their practice of magic. Perhaps these familiar spirits were demons who worked through human agents to practice their magic. The Bible is clear that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12), and these “spiritual forces of evil” will try to distort the gospel, or in some cases, come up with their own religion.
When Jesus was speaking about unclean spirits or demons, He said, “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order” (Matt 12:43-44), but something interesting happens after this. “Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation” (Matt 12:45). We know that Satan or a demon cannot possess someone who has the Spirit of God in them. God the Holy Spirit is greater than Satan or any demon. The Apostle John wrote, “[Y]ou are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:19).
The Sons of Sceva were so fascinated by all the miraculous sings and wonders of the Apostle Paul (Acts 19:11-12) that these “Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims” (Acts 19:13). The problem arose from the fact that the Sons of Sceva didn’t really have a personal relationship with Jesus like Paul had. Paul had been born again; apparently not so with these sons. They simply knew about Jesus and the power in His name, but remember Jesus did not know them, so they had no authority to cast out demons. When they tried to cast the evil spirit out, “the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded” (Acts 19:15-16).
It is believed that the Modern Spiritualist movement dates from 1848 when the Fox sisters of Hydesville, New York produced knocking sounds that were alleged to be messages sent from a spirit. These knocking sounds were obviously hoaxes, but despite that, spiritualism never died. Spiritualists seek to communicate with the spirits of people who have died. Most Christians, I would hope, would realize that seeking to communicate with the dead is sin. Part of the Old Testament civil laws included the command, “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God” (Lev 19:31). If they do manage to contact a spirit, my question is, “What kind of spirit is it?” Most certainly it is not a holy angel because God forbids this practice, so it can only be a demonic spirit that is imitating someone who has been deceased. They might think they’re seeing a ghost or spirits of the dead, but they’re demonic spirits, and they’re nothing to mess around with for those who are not saved. Even so, the Spiritualist community is one of the quickest growing spiritual communities; the largest being the Lily Dale Assembly in New York City. It is the world’s largest Spiritualist community, and they encourage people to participate in the activities and to open their minds and their hearts. They’re welcome to witness clairvoyance demonstrations during their services. They tell you to keep an open mind, but that’s not exactly safe, is it? Remember the unclean spirit who brought his friends with him? No one leaves their doors open at night, but they lock them to keep out potential harm. We are told that the peace of God will guard our hearts (Phil 4:7), and the Spirit of God and the Word of God can help us do just that. Regular study and intake of the Word of God helps us gain more discernment about certain practices we might encounter. More exposure to the Word of God helps us more easily recognize unsound practices.
Satan has his own ministers, and they do a great job of imitating teachers and preachers. So much so that it’s difficult to tell them apart, but as for the Spiritualist Movement, it’s not that hard to see that it’s wrong to try and communicate with the dead. They may reach someone or something alright, but they might not be who they think they are (see Acts 19:11-16). Most troubling is the fact that the Church of Spiritualism defines their foundational doctrine as this: “We accept all truths and endeavor to prove their validity.” Not very scientific is it? They accept something as true, and then try to prove it is. Why not open the Bible and start out with “the truth,” and that will prove its validity easy enough. It seems like they have it backwards. All truths cannot be equally true. What if one person’s truth is 2 +2 = 4, but another says 2 +2 =7. Remember, we’re told to accept all truths, and then worry about proving it later, however, what we believe to be true does not change what is actually true. Here is what is true: Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). You are entitled to your own opinion, but no one but Jesus is entitled to their own truth. He is the One and only way, and you can’t spiritualize that away.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Christian Crier or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.