The Bible and the Paranormal
A New Perspective
In the first part of this article we covered the amazing human powers described in the Bible that are well known in the human experience. In the field of paranormal research there are many concepts which are found in the Bible, as well. Most of these are rejected by the Church outright as evil, with little consideration of how they are portrayed in the Bible. This is not to say that many of these concepts are rejected as something humans should avoid, but the generic portrayal of these paradigms as evil and highly dangerous must be examined in the true way they are presented in the Bible. Ghosts and hauntings, witches and wizards, magic, enchantment and divination, evil and unclean spirits, conjuring up the dead, trances, astrology, and oracles are all the staples of the paranormal world. Ghosts, hauntings, and contact with others in the “spiritual” world are the most obvious paradigms dealt with in the paranormal reality, and perhaps, the least understood by the Church.
Ghosts in Scripture
Ghosts are generically classified as evil in mainstream Christian thought, yet are dealt with as a natural event in the course of human experience in the Bible. Death, itself, is described as “giving up the ghost” in many biblical verses such as: “Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people.” (Genesis 25:8) And, it is also found in many other scriptures.
It is no stretch of the imagination to consider that this biblical event is a classic description of an encounter with a “ghost”, which anyone could recognize: “Fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake. Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up: It stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof: an image was before mine eyes, there was silence, and I heard a voice, saying, Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker?” (Job 4:14-17) There is no evil associated with this apparition and it actually seems to be imparting wisdom to Job.
The Near-Death Experience
A near-death experience, NDE, is a well documented phenomenon reported by many people, who came very close to death, or actually died, or who experienced clinical death and were then revived. This paradigm is generally either ignored, or confusingly considered as both good and evil by mainstream Christianity, depending on a particular denomination’s dogma . A simple view of the paradigm and a single biblical verse will show that near-death experiences, and how the Bible describes the actual experience of human death, seem to be in perfect harmony.
NDEs and OBEs – A Common Thread
One of the most common aspects reported by people who have undergone a near-death experience mirrors that of those claiming to have performed an out-of-body experience, or astral projection. Most report a sensation of floating above one’s body and seeing the surrounding area in a near-death experience. An out-of-body experience involves a perception of floating or flying outside of the body, and, in some cases, actually being able to see the body from a remote location. This is known as “autoscopy” or disembodiment. Another phenomenon reported by near-death experiencers is a sensation of flying upwards through a tunnel or narrow passageway and encountering a being of light, or simply a brilliant light. It is astounding how the descriptions of death, by those who seem to have experienced it, and the long-hidden biblical definition compare.
The Bible and Death
Death, as described in the Bible, is virtually unknown to both the Church and the rest of the world. Heaven, Hell, and even the grave are out of the equation in the actual biblical definition. It is surprisingly simple in its presentation, yet incredibly profound in its ramifications on the orthodox view of death. This amazing verse is considered to be the writing of David:
“The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” (Psalms 90:10)
A proper modern English translation is: We live 70 years, and if strong, 80 years, yet the only thing to show is toil and vanity, but it ends soon and we fly away. There is no mistranslation in the words fly away; it is taken from the Hebew word `uwph, pronounced oof, which means “to fly”.
The Bible is actually saying that after we die we literally leave the body behind and fly. That is not something one is taught in Christianity, or is even touched upon by the pulpit, although it is found in the very Bible Christianity uses for the foundation of its dogma. Yet, it is easily recognized and understood by believers in the paranormal, whose concepts are rejected by the Church, and who generally reject scripture as an authoritative source.
In a statement we have often repeated is found a truth, which is clearly reflected in the concept just presented, yet not considered by either the Church or paranormal researchers. We believe the Bible gives little foundation for Christian practices, beliefs, or doctrines, but it is rich with evidence that gives strong validation to many of those who believe in the paranormal.
Ghosts in the Bible and the “Real” World
As previously noted, Job 4:14-17 is a classic description of an encounter with a “ghost”. Generally, it is commonly considered that ghosts are the spirits of the dead, which are physically detectable to the living. They often appear as vaporous human forms floating or flying, often speaking, and in some cases showing the ability to physically affect the real world by moving objects, or through other direct environmental effects.
In the previous verses presented, we have shown that the dead do fly and speak, in the cases of David’s description and Saul’s contact with Samuel’s spirit in 1 Samuel 28:7-8. There is nothing in David’s description of death that gives any indication of where we fly; only that we do. If we can speak after death, as the Bible describes, then we must have a level of consciousness. Death, therefore, is not the complete absence of reality, which is often considered what happens after we die. Unfortunately, there is nothing about what happens after we take flight. Of course, this leaves ghosts only restricted to the limits of the imagination. Thus, there is nothing biblical to discount anything considered as “ghostly” in the real world, nor is there anything biblical that associates “ghosts” with evil.
Ghosts are often associated with hauntings, which are defined by the Parapsychological Association as “the more or less regular occurrence of paranormal phenomena associated with a particular locality, (especially a building), and usually attributed to the activities of a discarnate entity; the phenomena may include apparitions, poltergeist disturbances, cold drafts, sounds of steps and voices, and various odours.”
On a more personal note; I have never seen, nor have I had any contact with a ghost; as I’m sure many of the readers can say, as well. But, long ago, I lost count of the number of times a family member, friend, or the readers of my work, all quite sane and honest, have told me of their experiences with ghosts. This seems to be a common experience; if you haven’t encountered a ghost, you have heard plenty of very believable stories about them, from very believable people. Just the volume of reports, the presence of “ghostly” subjects in our media and conversation, the high level of interest spanning all ranges of culture, religious belief, and human thought give it a high level of credibility as a valid “natural”, not a �paranormal�, phenomenon.
Magic in the Bible
Magic is a staple of our world as an entertainment form that spans the ages, both in terms of human years and world history. It crosses all social lines, religious, political, or otherwise, and is enjoyed by kings and paupers alike. Everyone knows an amateur magician who can amaze the family and keep the kids in wonder with the simplest of tricks. If magic is such a popular social reality, why are the magicians and sorcerers of the Bible condemned by the church?
Of course, a Christian will tell you that God condemned it, so it must be evil. The focus of the Christian Church on evil is, perhaps, indicative of the lack of confidence it has in a God that it claims to be all-powerful. The danger of evil is not only found in beings like Satan and demons, but in every other religion, unorthodox concept, alternative thought, and anything not understood, within the limited view of a narrowly-focused dogma. Never considered is that in every case magicians confronted any biblical figure with God on their side, the magicians lost the contest.
An Incredible Magical Competition
Moses’ encounter with the Pharaoh’s magicians shows the incredible power involved, not just in the power of the God of Moses, but the magicians of Egypt, as well. When Moses first confronted Pharaoh and demanded that he free the Hebrews, he had his brother Aaron throw down his rod and it became a snake. Pharaoh “called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt”, who all produced snakes with their rods and Aaron’s snake immediately gobbled up the others. This entire event can be found in Exodus, from chapters 7 through 12.
What followed has to be the greatest display of magical power in history. Each event is prefaced by a request to free the Hebrews, and followed with an agreement by Pharaoh to allow it, which he immediately recants. Every body of water in Egypt was turned to blood and millions of frogs come out of them. All the dust became lice, followed by flies covering the entirety of Egypt. Still refusing to free the Hebrews, Pharaoh saw all the domestic animals of the Egyptian’s die, all the Egyptians plagued by boils, a deadly hail mixed with fire that flattened every plant and tree in the land, and locust that consumed everything that was left and covered every inch of ground in Egypt. A darkness then enveloped the land that was so thick, nobody could see to move for three days, and finally the firstborn of Pharaoh and every Egyptian family died before the horrific plagues finally stopped and Pharaoh let the Hebrews go. After the devastation that fell on both him and the nation of Egypt, Pharaoh certainly had every reason to know that he was in real danger by pushing the issue any further. Yet, he goes after the Hebrews anyway, which cost him his life, and that of the entire Egyptian army.
During this whole event it can be seen that God is orchestrating the entire scenario on both sides. Why would God, who sent Moses to Pharaoh to free the Hebrews, make it difficult for that to happen? There is no indication that evil is associated with any power exhibited by the Pharaoh’s magicians, and it seems that God is making a point that his power is stronger; not fighting an evil power. Just two statements from God show that, indeed, this is a display of power meant to impress the power of God, not just on the Egyptians, but the entire world.
“And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.” (Exodus 9:16)
“And the Lord said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my signs before him: And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son’s son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am the Lord.” (Exodus10:1-2)
Is Magic Evil
The word “magic” does not actually appear in scripture, but the words magician and magicians do, and the word they are translated from is the Hebrew word ‘chartom’, pronounced khar-tome’,and means; a horoscopist; not one who practices magic. The words “sorcery, sorcerers, and sorceries� appear only twelve times in the Bible, and in all verses it means to practice magic. The word sorcerer appears twice, and has the same meaning as that word used for the wise men who visited Jesus at his birth; oriental scientists. The word sorceress appears once and means “to act covertly”, not practice magic. Also, in some places where the word sorcerers appear they are associated directly with wise men, horoscopists, and astrologers.
Added to this, the “sin” of being a sorcerer is put in the same category as adulterers, idolaters, liars, and greedy people who pay low wages and do not show compassion for widows, orphans, or strangers. Of course, what magic was 2000 to 5000 years ago was different from how it is considered today. And, considering the infrequent times words associated with magic are used, it was not a major evil, in either the Old or New Testaments. In other words, it is condemned, but generally considered a common sin along with lying and greed.
Witches and Wizards
Amazingly, the word witch only appears twice in the Bible, and is not even referring to an individual, but the practice of magic. The best know instance is the one most often used to condemn witches to the fate practiced between the 15th and 19th Centuries; death: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” (Exodus 22:18) A simple study of this verse will show why theologians generally agree that it actually means; do not allow magic to be practiced, not that we should kill all witches.
T he concept of wizards is a complete misconception, all eleven times, where it appears in scripture. The words wizard and wizards are translated from the word yidd`oniy, pronounced yid-deh-o-nee’, meaning; properly, a knowing one; specifically, a conjurer; (by implication) a ghost. It is not associated with magic, but possession by a ghost; presumably the same spirits that were called devils in the New Testament. Magic, therefore, is considered a sin, but there is no indication that it comes from a source of evil as is so commonly believed by the church.
Why the Threat?
To this point, we have seen that every aspect of the paranormal found in the Bible, so far discussed, has either been ignored or altered. As our research into this paradigm has progressed, a distinct pattern of demonizing or radically focusing on many concepts, not deserving such attention, has clearly developed. This extends far beyond just these few paranormal instances to other religions, social realities, and the worst form of psychological terrorism ever devised; an eternal suffering, in a unimaginable Hell. Terrorism is defined as “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion” in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Terror is defined as “a state of intense fear” or “one that inspires fear”, AKA, a terrorist.
The direct threats of horrific torture by fire for eternity are a tool used to keep church members in line. If they do not obey, they are thrown out of the congregation, told they are going to Hell, and all others under the same threat are told not to communicate with them. This is a standard practice in Christianity and keeps every member in stark fear of the pulpit’s control. Although Hell is the strongest weapon used to keep the flock in fear, it creates other perils to prevent the flock from seeking other greener, or at least, more interesting pastures.
In the first installment of this series on the paranormal, several anomalous human powers were shown to be evidenced in the Bible. Levitation and psychokinesis, astral projection, telepathy, pyrokinesis, metamorphosis, glossalia, physical transmutation, invisibility, and super human strength are all passed off as quaint Bible stories, which are seldom heard from the pulpit in their proper perspective. Just the thought of anyone claiming a human with enough belief in their own capabilities could do the impossible, will earn the labels of heresy, blasphemy, or lunacy, despite the fact that Jesus clearly declared it so. Could it be that the church does not want its captive audience to think they may have power and, therefore, more difficult to threaten and control?
Up to now, we have also discussed ghosts, communicating with the dead, near-death experience, out-of-body experience, and shown no evil connected with them. And, sorcery, magicians, sorcerers, witches, and wizards are, either not what the church portrays, or less of a threat than the pulpit declares. Yet, as with human power, attempting to trivialize or question any aspect of these anomalies as anything other than pure evil will get the same result. Is the radical demonization of these anomalies used as further unwarranted threats to keep the flock in fear? Perhaps a better historical understanding of how the purging of witches will give the answer and show the prejudiced environment that prevailed during the translation of the Bible by King James.
The War on Witches
Almost never considered is why paranormal phenomena are presented in the Bible the way they are by the original translators, which were strongly influenced by a 17th Century social environment. An environment focused on witch hunts and burnings, and a purging of everything even remotely considered evil by the church, which was led by a monarch with personal obsessions that would shame even the most perverse.
The Demonic Association Begins
Originally the concept of supernatural power was completely dismissed by the church. In the 5th Century AD, Saint Augustine of Hippo, an influential theologian in the early Catholic Church, argued that God alone controlled the laws of the universe. Thus, neither Satan, nor witches, had supernatural powers or were capable of effectively invoking magic of any sort, and it was an error of pagan thought to believe in some other divine power other than the one God. If witches were indeed powerless, the Church had no need to overly concern itself with their spells or other attempts at mischief. The move toward labeling all things unusual in the Bible as dangerously evil to humanity did not begin until centuries later. Pope Innocent III began an assault in the early 13th Century on Cathar heretics, who believed that God and Satan both had supernatural powers and were at war, by spreading stories that the heretics personally worshiped Satan. Propagandists for the Church depicted Cathars in such a vicious way that the public’s perception of Satan was changed from that of a mischievous spoiler to a deeply sinister force.
This belief gained force, when Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican monk in the late 13th Century, argued that the world was full of evil and dangerous demons. Aquinas argued that these demons had the habit of reaping the sperm of men and spreading it among women, thus association between sex and witchcraft began. Demons, thus, are seen as not merely seeking their own pleasure, but intent, also, on leading men into temptation.
The Cathars fled the papal persecution of Pope Innocent III for their alleged heresies, and migrated into Western Europe. There, in the mid-1400s, torture was inflicted on heretics suspected of magical pacts or demon-driven sexual misconduct, which led to alarming confessions. Tortured defendants admitted to flying on poles and animals to attend satanic assemblies presided over by Satan, who appeared in the form of a goat or other animals. Some told of having repeatedly kissed Satan’s backside as a display of their loyalty. Still others admitted to casting spells on neighbors, bestiality, or even to conjuring up storms. Witchcraft, as a defined practice and crime, began to take shape.
The participation of King James in the persecution of witchcraft and witch-hunting had its origins in his marriage to Princess Anne of Denmark in 1589. During the voyage to Scotland for the wedding, Anne met with a bad storm, and landed in Norway. James traveled to Scandinavia and the wedding took place in Denmark. The royal newlyweds encountered terrible seas on the return voyage, which the ship’s captain blamed on witches. When six Danish women confessed to causing the storms that the royal couple experienced, King James authorized torture and burning of any and all suspected witches. Dozens of condemned witches in England were burned at the stake, in what would become the largest witch-hunt in British history. With the demonic relationship of all things paranormal in the Bible firmly entrenched in mainstream thought, and with King James fresh from the horrific torture and slaughter of witches, the translation of the Bible began in 1604.