New Interest in Exorcism

New Interest in ExorcismIn 1973, movie theaters were showing The Exorcist adapted from the novel by William Peter Blatty. The movie featured Linda Blair’s screaming, a spinning head, and green vomit. It also contained a statement by the Roman Catholic Church on what demon possession is and who could perform exorcisms. Those who study the Bible in-depth will find that there are clear statements that Jesus overcame all forces not from God and that these things would cease. (See Zechariah 13:2, 1 Corinthians 13:8-10, Colossians 2:15, and 1 John 3:8.) First Corinthians 10:13 says that everything that happens to us is a common experience of humanity. Demon possession requiring an exorcism is clearly not a common experience. James 4:7 tells us that we simply need to resist Satan, and he will flee from us. So why is there new interest in exorcism?

The new interest in exorcism is because people have found that they can make a lot of money by reviving exorcisms. They include both believers and nonbelievers. There is a stage play based on Blatty’s novel which has debuted in Los Angeles and London and is scheduled to go on tour. The Vatican has opened its course on exorcism to members of Christian denominations which have included Lutherans, Anglicans, Greek Orthodox, and Pentecostals. The official practice of exorcism by the Catholic Church is governed by the 1999 Vatican document De Excorcisms et Supplicationibus Quibusdam which translates to “Of Exorcisms and Certain Supplications.” The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops published it in 2017. They also sell online a book for $6.95, which is an English translation of the appendix of the De Exorcism manuscript and is titled Prayers Against the Powers of Darkness.

Those who minimize this new interest in exorcism as a byproduct of Catholic tradition need to understand that interest in the occult has grown. People write off the popularity of Harry Potter as an entertainment fantasy, but the number of people involved in the occult is huge. The Satanic Temple (which is a tax-exempt religious organization) has been effective in attacking Christianity. Requests for exorcisms in Indianapolis reported by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis exceeded 1700, and in Italy the number is more than 500,000 per year.

This false use of religion is as old as religion itself. In 1 Samuel 28, Saul goes to a woman who ran a séance to try to get advice in a battle. To the woman’s horror, the real deal (Samuel) shows up as a miracle. In Acts 19:13-16, a group of vagabond Jews try to use exorcism as part of their act, and the results are catastrophic. In Jesus’ day, exorcisms had a spiritual purpose to show the power of God over even those who were in spiritual trouble. Today, that purpose doesn’t exist. While Satan is alive and well on planet Earth and despite the new interest in exorcism, he is not allowed to attack us on a level that we cannot resist and overcome. (See I Corinthians 10:13.)

For a detailed discussion of this, see our May/June 2011 issue by clicking HERE. We also deal with this issue in video number 16 on our website. Click HERE for the videos page.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Data from: “The New Wave of Exorcism” by Stuart Vyse. Skeptical Inquirer, September/October 2019

Talking to a Dead Loved One

 Talking to a Dead Loved One

Most of us have seen, heard of, or perhaps even witnessed psychics who seem to do some amazing things. This may include telling some detail about a person’s life that only the person or a close family member would know. Sometimes psychics turn into what debunkers call “grief vampires” in which they convince grieving family member they are talking to a dead loved one. According to financial analysts, this has turned into a two billion dollar industry.

In the old days, psychics and mentalists learned how to read body language and would give vague generalities about a person that seemed pretty amazing. They were mostly just games with little money involved and no recruitment of followers. These are called “cold readings” and don’t involve family finances. In the last few years, this has turned into “hot readings” where a psychic reveals personal information and tells the customer what to do.

Hot readings may require giving a family fortune to an unknown person because a dead uncle said to do it. Marrying someone so that a wealthy person’s estate is accessible is another example. Paying a cancer clinic for a miracle cure of cancer is a third example. The list of exploitative psychic claims that involve talking to a dead loved one is vast.

One reason for the resurgence of psychic activity using hot readings is because of technology. Psychics will focus in on a customer and review their Facebook postings for a year or more to gain information that previously only family members would know. The Week magazine (April 5, 2019) described some cases where psychics used Facebook material to build up a dossier of information that convinced people they were talking to a dead loved one such as a parent or child.

Our apologetics studies necessarily involve claims that someone has the power to talk with the dead. The Bible makes it clear that no human can communicate with the dead. First Samuel 28:7-20 tells the story of Saul contacting the witch at Endor. The witch conducted a séance to bring Samuel back from the dead. Seances are scams, and this woman was going to perform her usual scam activity when the real deal shows up – the spirit of Samuel! The woman screamed when she realized that Samuel was actually there (verse 12) and that a miracle beyond the reach of her scam activity had taken place.

No one has power over death except God, and Jesus destroyed the power of death (1 Corinthians 15:26). Revelation 21:4 shows that being with God is the antidote to death and all the bad things that can be a part of life. A group called “Guerrilla Skeptics” has been posting false data on Facebook to see if psychics would use it. They have caught so-called psychics at their own game. People who are skilled in psychic techniques can put on a convincing show, but it is just a show. No human can contact us after we die, because talking to a dead loved one is not possible.

— John N. Clayton © 2019

Channeling the Spirit World

Channeling the Spirit World
An enduring scam is spirit guiding or psychic medium guiding, also called channeling. Those who practice channeling claim that a spirit takes over the channeler’s body for the purpose of communication. Shamans, witch doctors, and spirit prophets claim to hear voices from the spirit world which gives them a higher consciousness. Channeling the spirit world is part of the New Age belief system that has gained popularity in today’s culture.

In the 1970s an American channeler named Jane Roberts claimed to channel an ancient entity named Seth. In 1972 she released a popular book titled Seth Speaks. In the last 30 years J.Z. Knight has claimed to channel Ramtha who is supposed to be the spirit of a warrior born on Atlantis 35,000 years ago. Knight became a multi-millionaire publicizing wisdom that she claimed Ramtha gave her. The latest successful channeler is Neferatiti Ife whose books Shine Your Divine Light and Conversations with the Blackman’s God claim to give healing power and spirit knowledge coming from Africa. Her popular workshop is called African Ancestral Channelling and Healing Workshop and promotes the “Ankh Healing System.”

One has to be reminded of the rather humorous incident in Acts 19:13-16 where a group of “vagabond exorcists” saw what Paul was doing and tried to copy it. They attempted an exorcism on a man, but he responded by saying, “Jesus I know and Paul I know; but who are you?” Then he beat them up. The vagabond exorcists ended up running out of the house naked and wounded. Ancient people attributed almost everything to spirits. In Matthew 14:23-27 when Jesus walked on the water His disciples became frightened and declared that it was a spirit they were seeing.

Channeling the spirit world is a scam. God condemned cases like the Witch of Endor and Saul and Samuel recorded in 1 Samuel 28:7-19. In fact when the witch saw Samuel actually come back from the dead to speak to Saul, she was frightened and screamed. She was conducting a scam and the real thing showed up which scared her badly.

The Bible tells us that all we need to be complete is God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It also says that God works directly to help us deal with life (1 Corinthians 10:13). Neferatiti Ife has no checkable academic credentials. No experiment has ever verified the claims of her or other channelers, and numerous fakes and failures have been documented. Psychologists know that automatism, a form of dissociation, explains most positive claims of channeling. We need to rely on God’s Word and on our relationship to Jesus Christ. Paying money to people making claims of channeling the spirit world is a waste of both money and time.
–John N. Clayton© 2018

Data from Skeptical Inquirer, November/December 2018, pages 32-33.