Are Ghosts Real?

The morning program on a Dallas radio station recently featured a story about one of the show personalities going to a “ghost hunt” at a supposedly haunted hospital. The staffer came back with video of a flashlight turning on and off by itself. She went as a skeptic but came back as a believer.

In ghosts.

She offered her perspective: we all go to heaven or hell, but some people get delayed on their way to their final destination. The discussion opened a stream of callers eager to share their “knowledge” about ghosts, such as the woman who has slept in cemeteries to learn about spirits. “Sometimes children don’t know they’ve died,” she assured the radio audience.

Are ghosts real? How should we think about ghost hunting and anecdotes of people seeing disembodied spirits? My grandmother reported that she had seen her late husband walking through the living room years after he died; what do we do with stories like that?

It really doesn’t matter how we feel or what we think—the only thing that matters is what God has revealed to us about the spirit world. And there is no room in a biblical worldview for the spirits of dead people wandering around, stirring up mischief or playing with flashlights.

The Bible says that “It is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). That means heaven or hell. The apostle Paul wrote that for the believer in Christ, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8). In chilling language, Deuteronomy 18 forbids any kind of dabbling with the occult, which the pagans already living in the Promised Land indulged in, and which God absolutely prohibited:

“When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations.
There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer,
or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.
For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you.” (vv. 9-12)

Ghost-hunting is seeking occult encounters, which is the domain of evil spirits, and God warns us to stay far away from all of it.

But people, lots of people, have reported seeing something. How should we interpret seeing those who have died, and inanimate objects moving of their own accord? I would suggest that this is all the work of demons, evil angels who have rebelled against God. God’s word tells us they masquerade as something other than what they are; Satan disguises himself as an angel of light, and his servants disguise themselves as servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). Devils lie and deceive. It makes sense that they would deceive people by appearing as ghosts and impersonating dead people. Whether they terrorize the living through fear or just distract us from what is true and good, it’s all the work of God’s enemy.

We not only live in a fallen world, we live in a war zone where we walk around as targets of the enemy, whether we recognize it or not. Paul wrote that we struggle against the powers of this dark work and against spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). Part of that spiritual war is the strategy of terrorism or distracting us by things like counterfeit ghosts and the movement of physical objects by unseen but real spirit beings who can manipulate the physical world.

When I think about the radio listeners who called in to offer their “knowledge” about ghosts, I found myself thinking about the critical-thinking “Killer Questions” that we ought always be using as a filter for what we read, see and hear. Especially “Where do you get your information?” and “How do you know that’s true?” Someone who sleeps in a cemetery to gain information about the spirit world may well be receiving information from “the other side,” but how accurate and trustworthy is it? Why should she believe everything the spirits are telling her? What kind of spirits are feeding her “facts” about how things work in the spirit realm?

I am grateful for the trustworthiness and reliability of God’s word that tells me how to think about ghost-hunting and ghost-busters. It’s about messing with demons pretending to be something other than what they are. (In my angel article Angels: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, I call them “ugly angels”) That’s why He forbids us to dabble with anything dark and occult. He wants to protect us because He’s a good, good Father.

 

This blog post originally appeared at blogs.bible.org/engage/sue_bohlin/are_ghosts_real on January 27, 2016.


A Probe Mom Looks at Halloween from a Christian Perspective

Halloween

Sue Bohlin takes at hard look at Halloween celebrations, applying a biblical worldview. As Christians, we cannot shield our children from this popular cultural event, but Sue provides some ideas on bringing a Christian perspective to this time of year.

A number of articles are available advising Christians to have nothing to do with Halloween. And I do agree that Christians have no business celebrating a holiday that glorifies something that delights the enemy of our souls. And potentially opens us up to demonic harrassment, to boot!

But if we’ve got kids, especially kids in public school or who hang around other kids in the neighborhood, it’s entirely possible that parents can feel pressured to do something about Halloween. After all, it’s pretty hard to hide under a rock for the whole month of October. A number of houses on our street are more decorated for Halloween than for Christmas!

It seems that the costume manufacturers have really cranked up production of all sorts of costumes to a degree we’ve never seen before. Gone are the days of burning a cork to blacken a face, put on some thrift-shop oversized clothes and dressing up as a hobo. (There’s probably some politically-correct term for “hobo” these days anyway. . .)

Is there anything intrinsically wrong with dressing up in a costume and getting a bunch of candy from consenting adults? I don’t think so; hey, the Bible tells us that God instructed the children of Israel to ask their neighbors for silver and gold their last night in Egypt in a VERY early version of “Trick or Treat” (Exodus 11:2). But we can cooperate with the forces of darkness, however unwittingly, by participating unwisely in Halloween festivities.

It is essential to exercise discernment in how we handle Halloween. If you can get away with ignoring it, wonderful! That would be the best solution. But you may find yourself in a place where you want to provide some way for your kids to have fun in a Halloween-immersed culture without compromising on our Christian values and beliefs. For instance, your child’s school may invite all the students to dress up in a costume on October 31. I know a number of Christian schools that do this. May I make these suggestions:

Halloween Don’ts

God gave us some very strict guidelines for our own protection, commanding us to stay away from items and practices of witchcraft and divination in Deuteronomy 18. These “doorways to the occult” make us wide open to the influence of Satan and the demons. For more information on this, click here.

So stay away from anything that glorifies:

The occult. Witches, warlocks, sorcerers and sorcery, casting spells, mediums, magic, ouija boards, crystal balls, tarot cards, and astrology are doors to the kingdom of darkness. Satan/Beelzebub masks and costumes have no place on a Christian or in a Christian family—not even “adorable”(??) little baby devil costumes complete with horns and pitchfork.

Darkness. Satan and the demons are the rulers of darkness (Eph. 6:12). There’s a reason so many people are afraid of the dark; it is a fearful thing both physically and spiritually.

Death. Satan has had the power of death over people (Heb. 2:14) ever since the Fall, and he uses it to control people through fear. Death is an enemy of God (1 Cor. 15:26), not something to flirt with. Vampires, ghosts, goblins and gargoyles (concepts rooted in the reality of demons) are all figures of death.

Fear. Fear is both a feeling and a reality where Satan dwells. It is one of his most effective means of spiritual warfare against us. When we use Halloween events, decorations and costumes to cause and build fear in other people, we are cooperating with the sworn enemy of God and of God’s people. This would include anything spooky, such as cemeteries, haunted houses, and scary stories. You can now buy “The Scream” masks that are as disturbing as Edvard Munch’s original painting; their purpose is to make people afraid, even if they don’t know why.

Anything gruesome falls in this category as well; you can buy special effects like fake slash wounds, hanging eyeballs, and stakes through the forehead. Blood and gore are neither funny nor godly. Needless to say, slasher movies and horror films that deliberately terrorize and stir up fear are a tool in Satan’s hand. Scripture tells us that God does not give us a spirit of fear (2 Tim. 1:7), nor does He want us to be a slave again to fear (Rom. 8:15). That’s Satan’s arena.

Note: there are a number of churches that use the legitimate fear of an eternity in hell, separated from God, as a platform for drawing people into a creative presentation of the gospel. Many young people have been saved as a result. This is a God-honoring use of fear, not glorifying fear for fear’s sake.

Worldliness. Costumes that glorify some of the world’s heroes and heroines can shape our values in ungodly, unchristian ways. Little girls dressing like female pop stars, exposing their midriffs and looking as sexy as possible, is completely against biblical values. God calls girls and women to dress and act modestly, decently and with propriety (1 Tim. 2:9). Costumes of movie and TV characters that represent anti-biblical values are inappropriate for believers (and believers’ children).

Halloween Do’s

• If your church sponsors a Halloween alternative event such as a fall festival, that’s a great idea to allow kids to have fun within pre-set boundaries. (Note: it’s important to specify what kind of costumes are NOT welcome!)

Child Evangelism Fellowship (www.cefonline.com) has reported that Halloween has been the best time of year for children to trust Christ, simply because the spirit of fear that pervades our culture at this time makes them more open than usual to hearing a good news of the gospel. Halloween is a great time to sponsor Good News Clubs and invite kids in your neighborhood to hear stories that will comfort, rather than terrorize, them.

American Tract Society (www.crossway.org/group/ats) has some terrific kid-friendly tracts to include with the candy you give out. This year, ATS has introduced the most practical Halloween evangelism resource yet! The Halloween Rescue Kit includes candy, bags, stickers and tracts — everything you need to reach 31 kids this Halloween. They suggest (and I think it’s a great idea!) that if you expect kids to actually read the tracts once they get home from Trick-or-Treating (instead of tossing them out unread with the empty candy wrappers), that you tape them to popular candy bars that kids actually want. (Find out what kids in your area consider “cool” candy.) Or make your own tract kit by putting a tract plus quality candy inside sandwich bags. Either way, it forces kids to handle the tract in order to get to the candy. Sounds like following the Lord Jesus’ command to be “shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves” (Matt. 10:16) to me!

I know several families who have purchased tracts for the neighborhood ADULTS, and when their kids go trick-or-treating, when the adults give them candy the kids will hand them a tract (aimed at adults) and say, “Thank you for the candy. Here’s a treat for you!” How often do people open their doors and make themselves open to this kind of opportunity?

Let the Little Children Come (www.letthelittlechildrencome.com) has a wonderful “Is anything better than candy?” Box-tract. Give out more than just candy this Halloween! This attractive pumpkin shaped Box-Tract is designed to contain children’s favorite candies. More importantly, the pumpkin opens up to answer the question, “Is There Anything Better Than Candy?” Yes, there is something much, much better than candy. It’s being God’s friend!

• Look for teachable moments to relate the things of Halloween to spiritual truth. Talk to your kids about the way fear is glorified at Halloween, and teach them what Jesus said about it: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27), and “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Talk to your kids about “God’s no-no list” in Deuteronomy 18 and have them help you identify those things when they see them advertised or used as decorations. (You might keep a running total of all the witches you’ll see just to quantify this concept.) This is probably the best way to prevent your children from getting desensitized to things of the occult. Help them identify all the Halloween items that strike fear in them, and encourage them to take a stand against their power by saying out loud, “God has not given me a spirit of fear!” Show them this verse in their Bibles (2 Timothy 1:7) so they know they are using the sword of the Spirit against one of the wiles of the enemy.

This story making its rounds on the internet is a good pumpkin-carving object lesson:

A lady had recently been baptized. One of her co-workers asked her what it was like to be a Christian. She was caught off guard and didn’t know how to answer, but when she looked up she saw a jack-o-lantern on the desk and answered, “It’s like being a pumpkin.”

The co-worker asked her to explain that one.

“Well, God picks you from the patch and brings you in and washes off all the dirt on the outside that you got from being around all the other pumpkins. Then he cuts off the top and takes all the yucky stuff out from inside. He removes all those seeds of doubt, hate, greed, etc. Then he carves you a new smiling face and puts his light inside of you to shine for all to see. It is our choice to either stay outside and rot on the vine or come inside and be something new and bright.”

Sue Bohlin
Probe Ministries Mom

© 2002, updated Sept. 2013


A New Look at Twilight, Different Conclusion

Twilight book cover

Last year (June 8, 2010) I blogged about Twilight, connecting the dots between the supernatural vampire character of Edward Cullen and Jesus. I suggested that perhaps the reason millions of people so resonate with that character is that what they’re really looking for is the glory and perfection of the Lord Jesus Christ, which Edward appears to manifest in various ways.

Since then, I have read all the books and done months of research. It’s like pulling the camera focus back, back, back. . . . and finding some extremely disturbing details now in our field of vision.

I have now come to a very different conclusion.

I was stunned to learn about how the idea for Twilight came to the author, Stephenie Meyer. She tells this story:

“I woke up . . . from a very vivid dream. In my dream, two people were having an intense conversation in a meadow in the woods. One of these people was just your average girl. The other person was fantastically beautiful, sparkly, and a vampire. They were discussing the difficulties inherent in the facts that A) they were falling in love with each other while B) the vampire was particularly attracted to the scent of her blood, and was having a difficult time restraining himself from killing her immediately.”

“Fantastically beautiful, sparkly, and a vampire”? Consider what vampires are, in the vampire genre that arose in the 1800s: demon-possessed, undead, former human beings who suck blood from their victims to sustain themselves. A vampire is evil. And the vampire who came to Stephenie Meyer in a dream is not only supernaturally beautiful and sparkly, but when she awoke she was deeply in love with this being who virtually moved into her head, creating conversations for months that she typed out (obsessively, she says) until Twilight was written.

When I heard this part of the story, it gave me chills. 2 Corinthians 11:14 tells us that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light, which is a perfect description of the Edward Cullen character.

Then I learned that “Edward” came to Meyer in a second dream that frightened her. She said, “I had this dream that Edward actually showed up and told me that I got it all wrong and like he exists and everything but he couldn’t live off animals. . . and I kind of got the sense he was going to kill me. It was really terrifying and bizarrely different from every other time I’ve thought about his character.”

I believe that Stephenie Meyer’s dream was not your ordinary dream. The fact that “Edward” came to her in a second dream that terrified her (but she dismissed it and kept on writing), indicates this may have been a demonic visitation. I do believe Twilight was demonically inspired.

But there’s more.

All four books are permeated with the occult. The Twilight vampires all have various kinds of powers that don’t come from God. They are supernaturally fast, supernaturally strong, able to read others’ minds and control others’ feelings. Some can tell the future, others can see things at great distances. These aspects of the occult are an important part of what makes Twilight so successful.

In both the Old and New Testaments, God strongly warns us not to have anything to do with the occult,  which is part of the “domain of darkness” (Colossians 1:13). Twilight glorifies the occult, the very thing God calls detestable (Deuteronomy 18:9). This is reason enough for Christ-followers to stay away from it!

Last year I wondered if Edward was something of a Christ-figure. Now I think this character is a devious spiritual counterfeit to Jesus that has captured the hearts of millions of obsessed fans who are in love with a demonic “angel of light.”

And they don’t know it.

 


 

Note: My article on the Probe website is now online, with much more information than what’s in this blog post: probe.org/twilight

 

This blog post originally appeared at blogs.bible.org/engage/sue_bohlin/a_new_look_at_twilight_different_conclusion


The Darkness of Twilight: A Christian Perspective

Twilight

Sue Bohlin examines the message of Twilight from a biblically informed, Christian perspective, helping Christians understand how they should approach such popular fare.

Demonic Origin of Twilight?

The Twilight saga is a publishing and movie phenomenon that sweeps tween and teen girls (and a whole lot of other people) off their feet with an obsessive kind of following. Millions of Christian girls are huge fans of this series about love between a teenage girl and her vampire boyfriend-then-husband. But it’s not just a love story made exciting by the danger of vampires’ blood-lust. I believe the Twilight saga, all four books and their corresponding movies, is spiritually dangerous. I believe there is a demonic origin to the series, and the occult themes that permeate the books are a dangerous open door to Satan and his hordes of unholy angels.

I was stunned to learn about how the idea for Twilight came to the author, Stephenie Meyer. She tells this story:

I woke up . . . from a very vivid dream. In my dream, two people were having an intense conversation in a meadow in the woods. One of these people was just your average girl. The other person was fantastically beautiful, sparkly, and a vampire. They were discussing the difficulties inherent in the facts that A) they were falling in love with each other while B) the vampire was particularly attracted to the scent of her blood, and was having a difficult time restraining himself from killing her immediately.{1}

Twilight“Fantastically beautiful, sparkly, and a vampire”? Consider what vampires are, in the vampire genre that arose in the 1800s: demon-possessed, undead, former human beings who suck blood from their victims to sustain themselves. A vampire is evil. And the vampire who came to Stephenie Meyer in a dream is not only supernaturally beautiful and sparkly, but when she awoke she was deeply in love with this being who virtually moved into her head, creating conversations for months that she typed out until Twilight was written.

When I heard this part of the story, it gave me chills. Scripture tells us that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light, which is a perfect description of the Edward Cullen character.

Then I learned that “Edward” came to Meyer in a second dream that frightened her. She said, “I had this dream that Edward actually showed up and told me that I got it all wrong and like he exists and everything but he couldn’t live off animals . . . and I kind of got the sense he was going to kill me. It was really terrifying and bizarrely different from every other time I’ve thought about his character.”{2}

I suggest that if the Twilight saga is demonic in origin, it is dangerous, to Christians and non-Christians alike.

Vampires, Blood, and Salvation

I explained above how the Twilight saga was birthed in an unusually vivid dream that I believe was demonic in origin. So it’s really no surprise that the books are permeated with the occult.

The Twilight vampires all have various kinds of powers that don’t come from God. They are supernaturally fast, supernaturally strong, able to read others’ minds and control others’ feelings. Some can tell the future, others can see things at great distances. These aspects of the occult are an important part of what makes Twilight so successful.

In both the Old and New Testaments, God strongly warns us not to have anything to do with the occult, which is part of the “domain of darkness” (Col. 1:13) where demons reign. He calls occult practices “detestable,” which tells us that He is passionate about protecting us. One of the reasons Twilight is so dangerous is that readers can long for these kinds of supernatural but ungodly powers; if not in real life, then in their imagination. And this is a doorway to the demonic, which is all about gaining power from a source other than God. Twilight glorifies the occult, the very thing God calls detestable (Deut. 18:9). This is reason enough for Christ-followers to stay away from it!

For a growing number of people, vampirism is not make-believe. In a special report on the Fox News Channel, Sean Hannity reported, “there’s actually a vampire subculture that exists in the United States right now and spreads into almost every community in this country.”{3} Joseph Laylock, the author of a book on modern vampires, explains that there are three general categories of people who “believe they have an ‘energy deficit,’ and need to feed on blood or energy to maintain their wellbeing.”{4} Some drink real blood, others feed only on “energy” they draw from other humans, and “hybrids” who are a bit of both.{5}

My Probe colleague Todd Kappelman, a philosopher and literature critic, observed that Stephenie Meyer took unwarranted liberties with the genre. Vampires are evil, and you can’t just turn them “good” by writing them that way.

You can’t have vampires strolling around in the daytime. You can’t make evil good and good evil, putting light for darkness and darkness for light [Is. 5:20]. It’s a law of physics: light always dispels the darkness. You can’t have the bad guys win. There is no system in the world where evil is rewarded with “happily ever after”; it violates our sensibilities too much. Either the extremely ignorant or the extremely childish would fall for it. And apart from the moral aspect, it’s doing violence to the genre—like putting Darth Vader in a Jane Austen novel.{6}

Writer Michael O’Brien comments,

In the Twilight series we have a cultural work that converts a traditional archetype of evil into a morally neutral one. Vampires are no longer the “un-dead,” no longer possessed by demons. There are “good” vampires and “bad” vampires, and because the good vampire is incredibly handsome and possesses all the other qualities of an adolescent girl’s idealized dreamboat, everything is forgivable.{7}

Closely connected to the occult is drinking blood, which is a focus of the vampire literary genre; vampires feed on the blood of humans. In Twilight, we are supposed to embrace the “good” vampires who have learned to feed on the blood of animals, calling themselves vegetarians (which is an insult to all vegetarians!). Interestingly, in Lev. 19:26 God connected the occult with ingesting blood 3200 years before the vampire genre was invented.

God understands the importance of blood; in both the Old and New Testaments, He forbids eating or drinking it. Not only did this separate His followers from the surrounding pagan cultures, but it also separated out the importance of blood because it atones for sin. In the Old Testament, animals were sacrificed as a picture of how the spotless Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, would pour out His sacred blood to pay for our sins. God doesn’t want people to focus on the wrong blood!{8}

Twilight is also spiritually dangerous in the way it presents salvation. When Daddy Vampire Carlisle turns Edward into a vampire, it is described as saving him.{9} He ended a 17-year-old boy’s physical life and turned him into an undead, stone cold superbeing, which Edward describes as a “new birth.”{10} Vampire Alice describes the process as the venom spreading through the body, healing it, changing it, until the heart stops and the conversion is finished.{11} Poison heals, and changes, and converts to lifelessness? Healing poison? This is spiritually dangerous thinking. Isaiah warns us (5:20), “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”

This upside-down, inside-out way of thinking is rooted in Stephenie Meyer’s strong Mormon beliefs. Twilight’s cover photo of a woman’s hands offering an apple is an intentional reference to the way Mormonism reinvents the Genesis story of the Fall. LDS (Latter Day Saints) doctrine makes the Fall a necessary step, called a “fall up.”{12} At the beginning of the book you will find, alone on a page, Genesis 2: 17—”But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

Stephenie Meyer explains:

The apple on the cover of Twilight represents “forbidden fruit.” I used the scripture from Genesis (located just after the table of contents) because I loved the phrase “the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil.” Isn’t this exactly what Bella ends up with? A working knowledge of what good is, and what evil is. . . . In the end, I love the beautiful simplicity of the picture. To me it says: choice.{13}

Echoing Satan’s deception of Eve with the temptation to become like God on her own terms, the heroine Bella eventually becomes a god-like vampire, glorying in her perfection, her beauty, her infallibility. She transcends her detested humanity and becomes a goddess. This is basic Mormon doctrine, not surprising since the author is a Mormon.{14}

One of the messages of Twilight is that there is a way to have immortal life, eternal life, apart from a relationship with God through Jesus Christ; that there is a way to live forever without dealing with the obstacle of our sin problem by confessing that we are sinners and we need the forgiveness and grace of a loving Savior.

This is a spiritually dangerous series.

A Love Story on Steroids: Emotional Dependency

Why are girls of all ages, but especially tweens and teens, so passionately and obsessively in love with Edward, the vampire in Twilight?

Edward is very different from the vast majority of young men today. He is chivalrous, sensitive, self-sacrificing and honorable. He wants the best for Bella, his teenage girlfriend and eventual wife. He is able to keep his impulses in check, which is a good thing since he lusts after her scent and wants to kill her so he can drain her blood. No wonder girls and women declare they’re in love with Edward Cullen!

But one of the troubling aspects of the Twilight saga is Edward and Bella’s unhealthy and dysfunctional relationship. Yet millions of female readers can’t stop thinking about this “love story on steroids,” which means it is shaping their hopes and expectations for their own relationships. That’s scary.

The best way to describe their relationship is emotional dependency. This is when you have to have a constant connection to another person in order for you to be okay. Emotional dependency is characterized by a desperate neediness. You put all your relational eggs in one basket, engaging in an intense one-on-one relationship that renders other relationships unnecessary. In fact, there is often a resentment of not only the people that used to be your friends, but you resent anyone in the other person’s world who could pull their attention and devotion away from you.

When things are going well, it’s like emotional crack cocaine. The intensity is addictive and exhilarating. When things aren’t going well, it’s an absolute nightmare. Emotionally dependent relationships strap people into an emotional roller coaster full of drama, manipulation, and a constant need for reassurance from the other.

When Edward leaves Bella for a time, she becomes an emotional zombie. The book New Moon is full of descriptions of the pain of the hole in her chest because when he left, he took her heart with him. She had withdrawn from all her friends to make Edward into her whole world, so she had no support network in place when he left. All of her emotional eggs were in his basket. Many readers see this as highly romantic rather than breathtakingly dysfunctional.

One or both people are looking to another to meet their basic needs for love and security, instead of to God. So emotional dependency is a form of relational idolatry. People put their loved one or the relationship on a pedestal and worship them or it as a false god. When you look to another person to give you worth and make you feel loved and valued, they become inordinately essential. When we worship the creature rather than the Creator as in Romans 1, what results is a desperate neediness that puts us and keeps us at the mercy of the one we worship. They have a lot of power over us, which is one reason why God wants to protect us from idolatry.

Twilight is like an emotional dependency how-to manual. At one point, Bella’s mother tells her, “The way you move—you orient yourself around him without even thinking about it. When he moves, even a little bit, you adjust your position at the same time—like magnets . . . or gravity. You’re like a . . . satellite, or something.”{15} The power of story, especially this story, is that it can set up readers to mistake emotional dependency and relational idolatry for what a love story should look and feel like.

On the Credenda blog, Douglas Wilson makes a powerful case for Twilight also serving as a manual for how to become an abused girlfriend and then an abused wife. Edward’s moods are mercurial and unpredictable, and Bella just goes along with it, making excuses and justifying his actions.{16}

Twilight is spiritually dangerous because of its demonic origin and its occult themes, both of which God commands us to stay away from. But it’s emotionally dangerous too.

Emotional Pornography

The Twilight series is touted as pro-abstinence and pro-chastity because the main characters don’t “go all the way” before they get married. A lot of parents hear that and give a green light for their daughters to read the books and see the movies. But the Twilight books are a lust-filled series, so embedded with writing intended to arouse the emotions, that it is legitimately considered emotional pornography.

Marcia Montenegro writes,

Much has been made of the alleged message of Twilight, that it is one of abstinence and shows control over desire. In truth, Edward is controlling himself because he does not want to kill Bella; her life is truly in danger from a ferocious vampire attack from the one who loves her.  Aside from that, a vibrant sensuality of attraction lies just beneath the surface. A TIME reporter who interviewed Meyer wrote, “It’s never quite clear whether Edward wants to sleep with Bella or rip her throat out or both, but he wants something, and he wants it bad, and you feel it all the more because he never gets it. That’s the power of the Twilight books: they’re squeaky, geeky clean on the surface, but right below it, they are absolutely, deliciously filthy.”{17}

The struggle with self-control is saturated with eroticism and lust. It’s so sensual that teenage boys and young men will read it simply for that reason. The protest, “They don’t have sex” is lame; the relationship is extremely sensual. One very insightful blogger writes,

To claim that the Twilight saga is based on the virtue of chastity is like calling the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition pro-chastity because the girls are clothed.

Bella gives detailed first person accounts of her “make out” encounters with Edward—everything from trying to unbutton clothing, to how loud her breathing is and how this or that feels . . . these detailed first person descriptions are designed to arouse young girls—like a gateway drug to full blown romance novels or vampire lore. How can books in which the author has written detailed first person descriptions of actions leading to arousal help readers to be chaste? The words on the page defy chastity. Anyone who claims that the books promote chastity has to explain how a young girl can read detailed first-person descriptions of “making out” as a tool to preserving her innocence.{18}

The sensuality of Twilight is not lost on even the youngest readers and movie-goers. Robert Pattinson, the actor who plays Edward Cullen in the Twilight movies, was asked in a Rolling Stone interview, “Is it weird to have girls that are so young have this incredibly sexualized thing around you?” He answered, “It’s weird that you get 8-year-old girls coming up to you saying, ‘Can you just bite me? I want you to bite me.’ It is really strange how young the girls are, considering the book is based on the virtues of chastity, but I think it has the opposite effect on its readers though. [Laughs]”{19}

God’s word says, “Flee youthful lusts” (2 Tim. 2:22). Without a strong discernment filter in place, and without a strong determination to guard one’s heart (Prov. 4:23), it will be very hard to obey that protective command when reading the Twilight books or watching the movies.

Recently at a youth discipleship camp, I asked the young men how they felt about Twilight. They booed. Real men don’t stand a chance to be enough compared to the too-good-to-be-true Edward Cullen. When girls use the emotional porn of romance novels or movies, they are setting up impossible expectations that have no hope of being fulfilled by limited, fallible, all-too-human beings. It’s a cruel twist on the way men can sabotage their relationships with real women by their use of internet porn. Is there much of a difference between using sexual porn or emotional porn? In both cases, fantasy creates unrealistic expectations that reality cannot satisfy.

Apart from the problem of unrealistic expectations, it is unhealthy to make such an intense heart connection with a fictional character. Some people choose getting lost in reading and re-reading the books over having connections with real human beings in community. One lady told me that she called a friend about going out to a movie, but her friend begged off: “Oh, I’m going to stay in with Edward tonight.” A nail technician had one 60-year-old client who confided, “Don’t tell my husband, but I’m in love with Edward.”

In the first Twilight book, Edward sweeps Bella off her feet with the intoxicating description of his intense desire for her and why she desires him: “I’m the world’s most dangerous predator. Everything about me invites you in. My voice, my face, even my smell. . . I’m designed to kill. . . I’ve wanted to kill you. I’ve never wanted a human’s blood so much in my life. . . Your scent, it’s like a drug to me. You’re like my own personal brand of heroin.”{20}

I believe there is a spirit of seduction in the Twilight saga. Something supernatural draws millions of readers to fantasize about being desired, pursued and falling in love with a character that I believe has a deeply demonic component. It’s dangerous on several levels.

The (Rotten) Fruit of Twilight

Twilight is one of the most successful series ever published. Readers don’t just read the books; many of them re-read them, multiple times. In order to be discerning, we need to examine the fruit of this series to see its effect on readers. I believe that there is a spiritual reality of evil behind Twilight that explains three kinds of fruit I see.

First is the fruit of obsession. Literally millions of fans can’t stop thinking and talking about the books, the characters, the minutia of the Twilight world. There is an addictive element of the series for many people. Addiction is bondage; why willingly submit yourself to bondage?

Some girls talk about their daily reading and study of “The Book,” and they’re talking about the whole saga—not the Bible.{21} With social networking and digital media, fans have access to an ever-growing community of other Twilight-obsessed people, which allows them to connect with their God-given desire to be part of something bigger than themselves. But the transcendence of connecting to the Twilight world is so much less than God intends for us to experience!

The second fruit is the spiritual warfare reported by Christians, especially those who disobeyed God’s leading to get rid of the books—night sweats, hearing voices and other unusual noises, being gripped by a spirit of fear, loss of intimacy with God. Some thoughtful people have reported what one woman called “a stronghold I didn’t want and couldn’t seem to overcome. I became uncontrollably obsessed over this make-believe world. And fell into a pit of manic-depressive-suicidal state.”{22}

One Christian teenager, clearly under conviction, wrote this comment on a blog:

As a 15-year-old, reading those books was a . . . strange experience for me.

I didn’t think they were too bad or morally lacking until I heard my old high-school chaplain [a thirty-something woman, I think. Never dared to ask 🙂 ] praise them. And then something inside me clicked, because it struck me as wrong that a Godly woman would find this series good. . . .

Another problem with Twilight that I had is that it drives girls to think of love before they are emotionally and mentally ready for the idea. It pretty much skews their ideas of love up. I know it’s done that to me. Because what this series has done is stick Edward Cullen in one category (i.e. “pure perfection”) and “everyone else” lumped together in another as a portrayal of pure “ocker”ness. I am now not sure to what percentage *gentlemanliness* exists in a normal, TANNED boy. So it’s not really fair to guys, or girls, because of skewed expectations. . . .

Otherwise, I enjoyed the Twilight series, but I don’t feel that I should have, so I’m going to pray about that one.{23}

The third fruit is a spirit of divisiveness. Some Christians are inordinately defensive about Twilight, choosing the books over relationships with other believers who take a negative view of the series. One Christian speaker who shared her deep concerns over Twilight at a church conference was verbally attacked at the break by supposedly mature women. Some of them still refuse to speak to her.

Of course, we hear the refrain, “Oh come on. It’s just a book. It’s just fiction.” But all forms of entertainment are a wrapper for values and a message, and we need to be aware of what it is. Remember, what we take into our imaginations is really like food for our souls. If something has poison in it, it shouldn’t be eaten. Saying “It’s just a book, who cares what it is as long as we’re reading,” is equivalent to saying, “If you can put it in your mouth and swallow it, it must be food.” What are you feeding your soul? Goodness or poison?

Readers resonate with the important themes of life and literature: romantic love, family love and loyalty, beauty, sacrifice, fear, danger, overcoming, conflict, resolution. But these themes are laced with spiritual deception: “You, too, can be like God.” You hear that Twilight is a love story on steroids, and people—especially young girls—are drawn to God’s design for a woman to be cherished, protected, and provided for. They are drawn to the way Bella responds to Edward with love, respect and submission, which is also God’s design. So it is especially devious that the elements that resonate with our God-given desires for love are poisoned as occult principles are interwoven with the story.{24}

One teenage girl made this comment on a blog: “I never thought of [the books] as arousing or erotic in any way. Like many other girls, I found myself falling for Edward as I delved into the story. Before I knew it, my heart was beating faster during the mushier scenes.” Like millions of others, she is unable to discern the line between emotional and sexual arousal. Swooning because you are in love with a fictional character, when you long for this character when you’re not reading the book, means you’ve been taken captive (Col. 2:8). And God does not want us in bondage to anything except Him!

Twilight is dangerous because it subtly stretches us into accommodating that which God calls sin. People don’t leap from embracing good to embracing evil in one giant step; it’s a series of small, incremental allowances. Readers easily accept unthinkingly an unmarried couple spending every single night together when the Word says to avoid every form of evil and to flee temptation, not lie there cuddling with it! Readers are led to accept as heroes and friends vampires who murder human beings to drink their blood.

Commentator Michael O’Brien makes a stunning analysis of Twilight:

In the Twilight series, vampirism is not identified as the root cause of all the carnage; instead the evil is attributed to the way a person lives out his vampirism. Though Bella is at first shocked by the truth about the family’s old ways (murder, dismemberment, sucking the blood from victims), she is nevertheless overwhelmed by her “feelings” for Edward, and her yearning to believe that he is truly capable of noble self-sacrifice. So much so that her natural feminine instinct for submission to the masculine suitor increases to the degree that she desires to offer her life to her conqueror. She trusts that he will not kill her; she wants him to drink her essence and infect her. This will give her a magnificent unending romance and an historical role in creating with her lover a new kind of human being. They will have superhuman powers. They will be moral vampires—and they will be immortal.

Here, then, is the embedded spiritual narrative (probably invisible to the author and her audience alike): You shall be as gods. You will overcome death on your own terms. You will be master over death. Good and evil are not necessarily what Western civilization has, until now, called good and evil. You will define the meaning of symbols and morals and human identity. And all of this is subsumed in the ultimate message: The image and likeness of God in you can be the image and likeness of a god whose characteristics are satanic, as long as you are a “basically good person.”

In this way, coasting on a tsunami of intoxicating visuals and emotions, the image of supernatural evil is transformed into an image of supernatural good.{25}

Twilight is not dangerous because people will literally want to become vampires. Twilight is dangerous because, through the powerful medium of storytelling, dangerous ideas and messages go straight to the heart like a poisoned-tipped arrow, without being passed through a biblical filter. Beware the darkness of Twilight.

Addendum: Should I Let My Children/Grandchildren/Students Read Twilight?

I have read all four books in the Twilight series. I strongly recommend against reading these books.

But I also understand that it’s a cultural phenomenon, and lots of people are going to read the books no matter what anyone says. So allow me to attempt to redeem the cultural pressure inherent in these books’ popularity by suggesting how you can help the tender, untaught minds of your loved ones to think critically as they read.

If your teen or tween expresses a desire to read the books, give an explanation for why you think they shouldn’t. (“Just say no” just doesn’t work with most kids. They need to know why, and that’s fair.) I would suggest something along the lines of, “I love you and I want what is best for you, and that means protecting you from dangers you are not aware of. This series is steeped in the occult and in demonic influence, both of which God strongly warns us against in His word. There is also a powerful emotional draw into unhealthy fantasy which could sabotage future relationships with real people. There are spiritual dangers and emotional dangers that I want to protect you from.”

If you receive pushback, then you might respond by saying, “If you want to read the books, then I’ll read them with you. We’ll talk about them, a chapter or a scene at a time. The choice is yours.” This gives your loved one the power of choice, but you remain involved in the process. What would be especially powerful for young girls is for Dad to read the books as well and talk to his daughter(s) about what’s in them. Men would have a very different take on the emotional lust in these books, as well as a sensitivity to the unfair expectations of a lover that would be formed in their daughters’ hearts. Girls need their father’s input in this adolescent time of emotional and sexual confusion, and Twilight is almost guaranteed to add to the confusion.

Talk about the books’ content frankly and openly; if they are embarrassed for you to know what they are reading, their well-placed shame will make a powerful statement about the wisdom of reading this kind of book. Make sure they know that you are completely aware of what they are taking into their minds and spirits, just as you would want to know if they were taking drugs into their bodies. Reframe the book’s content in terms of what the Bible says, and ask questions: Does this agree with the Bible’s explanation of life and reality? Does this help you draw near to God, or does it make you want to avoid Him and His Word? How do the descriptions of Bella’s, Edward’s and Jacob’s thoughts and feelings make you think about the people in your real life? Are you tempted to look down your nose at the “mere humans” you do life with?

Even though this work is fiction, it is still making statements about reality. What is it saying about life on earth? About God? About sin? About love? About the soul? About heaven and hell? About biblical truth?

How does the book compare to what the Bible says? For example, look together at the Ephesians 5 passage about marriage and why it is important. (Marriage is an earthbound illustration of the union of Christ and the church.) And what Jesus said about the nature of the marriage relationship in heaven in Matthew 22:30. (The marriage relationship is ended by death.) How does it compare with the ideas about marriage in Twilight? Look for the ways Bella relates to her father. Is it according to God’s command to children to obey their parents (Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20)? Does she get away with her deceptions and repeated acts of disobedience? (Yes.) Is this consistent with the Bible’s teaching on the consequences of sin (Gal. 6:7)?

Talk about the gold standard for what God wants us to expose ourselves to: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” (Phil. 4:8). Look for what is true and not true, noble and not noble, right and not right, etc. The books are not without statements and ideas that are true, noble, and right; the problem is that they are mixed in with even more compelling ideas that are false, ignoble, wrong, impure, unlovely, and shameful.

“As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 7:23). The things we think about by filling our minds and hearts will shape us. What are you filling your mind and heart with? Longing for the perfect lover that no human being can fulfill? Discontent with being human and wishing you could have supernatural powers? Will that serve you well?

Lia Carlile, a teacher at a Christian school in Washington State, offered these excellent critical thinking questions to help students think through Twilight or any other cultural phenomenon. Lia cites many Scriptures in her notes, which I highly recommend.{26}

Question 1 – Me and God

• How is this thing building my relationship with the Lord?

• How does my interest in this area compare with my time invested in my relationship with the Lord?

Question 2 – Me and the People Around Me

• Is this creating conflict in my family or with others?

• Does it offend other believers or is it confusing them in their faith?

• What am I saying to my non-Christian friends or what example am I setting for others?

Question 3 – The Bible

• What does the Bible have to say about this? Who does it glorify—God or Satan? Jesus or the things of the World?

Question 4 – Me and Twilight (or whatever applies)

• How is this affecting what I think about; my attitude, heart, and mind?

• Does it help me to do what is right according to God? Or, does it promote things of the world?

• Does it distract me from the Lord and my relationships with others? Serving, praying, reading Bible, ministry, etc.

• Does it cause me to say, think, or do things that are contrary to Jesus and his life?

Notes

1. www.stepheniemeyer.com/twilight.html

2. www.Twilightgear.net/Twilight-news-and-gossip/stephenie-meyer-reveals-details-of-new-dream-about-edward-cullen/2493, March 29, 2009.

3. Steve Wohlberg, “The Menace Behind Twilight,” SCP Journal: Vol. 32:2-33:3 (2009), p. 27.

4. Ibid., 28.

5. Ibid.

6. Personal conversation with the author, May 2010.

7. Michael O’Brien, “Twilight of the West,”www.studiobrien.com/writings_on_fantasy/Twilight-of-the-west.html

8. I am indebted to Steve Wohlberg’s article cited above for this insight.

9. Stephenie Meyer, Twilight (New York: Little, Brown and Co., 2005), 288.

10. Meyer, Twilight, 342.

11. Meyer, Twilight, 414.

12. http://www.truthinlovetomormons.com/basic_mormon_doctrine/doctrine/theo/fall.htm

13. www.stepheniemeyer.com/twilight_faq.html

14. “As God now is, man can become. As man now is, God once was.” James E. Talmadge, Articles of Faith (Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1976). See also Oscar W. McConkie, Jr., God and Man (Salt Lake City, UT: The Corporation of the Presiding Bishop, 1963), 5. Cited in Russ Wise, “Mormon Beliefs About the Bible and Salvation,” www.probe.org/mormon-beliefs-about-bible-salvation.

15. Stephenie Meyer, Eclipse (New York: Little, Brown and Co., 2007), 68.

16. Douglas Wilson has written a series of insightful reviews of Twilight at Credenda: www.credenda.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=author&id=64&Itemid=127

17. Lev Grossman, “Stephenie Meyer: A New JK Rowling?” TIME Magazine, April 24, 2008, www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1734838,00.html). Cited in Marcia Montenegro, “A Girl and Her Vampire: The Frenzy Over Twilight.” www.christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_Twilight.html

18. spesunica.wordpress.com/

19. bit.ly/9m4Nje

20. Meyer, Twilight, 268.

21. www.radicalparenting.com/2009/05/14/the-new-bible-Twilight-mini-article/

22. spesunica.wordpress.com/is-Twilight-anti-christian-yes/

23. bit.ly/aSKdWl/

24. I am indebted to the wisdom shown in the comment by Jae Stellari on spesunica.wordpress.com.

25. O’Brien, “Twilight of the West.”

26. www.ericbarger.com/twilight.carlile.pdf

© 2010 Probe Ministries


“Can’t God Use Reiki to Heal?”

Reiki

Hi Michael,

I am a Christian and I love Jesus with all my heart and believe in His healing power provided for us at the cross. I believe the provision is there, in the spiritual realm and it is up to us to connect with it and receive healing through prayer and taking authority in Jesus’ name. I believe He works through us and doesn’t refuse any prayer for healing, but does need us to connect with the healing and bring it into the physical realm.

Many Christians go to the doctors, take medication, have operations and none of these practices are frowned upon as “not being dependent on God for healing,” but many do not glorify Jesus in their healing, they usually give the glory to the doctor or hospital who treated them.

I pray for healing and the power to receive and have had healing on many occasions and if I haven’t immediately received, I do not for one minute think God hasn’t healed me, I know it’s my connection or the connection of whoever is praying for my healing that is not quite right.

Yesterday I went for a massage. The therapist asked me about any problem areas. I told her I had had problems with my back on and off for many years, but believed God had healed me. She began the massage, then she suddenly said, “I found the problem spot,”—which she had, she was right on it—”My hand has gone really hot, I’m doing reiki on it.” She didn’t ask me, she just did it. I didn’t mind, didn’t know much about it. The next morning I woke up and for the first time in years got out of bed without any pain or stiffness and my back has been great all day, despite lifting and carrying as is the nature of my job. I know it has been healed and I thanked God for the healing and texted the lady to tell her my back was healed. I don’t for one minute think she healed me, no more than Benny Hinn heals anyone, he is just a channel like the massage lady was. I gave the glory to God and always will.

I wanted to know more about reiki; that’s why I looked on the internet for information and read your article with interest. I must say I am confused and must look into this further, I only want to do the right thing and I will of course speak with my pastor and other Christians, but my main point is that it seems instead of using man-made drugs and procedures for healing, we used natural energy that I believe was created by God for our use.

I’m glad to hear that your back is feeling better! At the same time, I must honestly say that some of the views expressed in your letter strike me as biblically and theologically unsound. Allow me to explain.

I think your first paragraph is a fairly good example. I personally don’t believe that what you’re describing here is actually biblical Christianity. After all, where does the Bible teach that God needs us “to connect with the healing and bring it into the physical realm”? What does this even mean? I’ve read such things in books by Wiccans (I’m being totally serious here), but I don’t believe that this is a Christian notion. After all, is God not sovereign and omnipotent? Can He not heal anyone He wants—and at any time He wants?

And if God does not refuse a request for healing, then what do you say to all the truly godly Christian people who (along with their churches and families) have urgently pleaded with God for healing—and not received it? Please think very carefully about this, because you could unintentionally end up causing a great deal of spiritual and emotional pain by insisting that such people do not have enough faith to be healed. Let me offer a bit of biblical support for this contention.

Many evangelical biblical scholars believe that Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was some kind of physical malady. But the Lord refused to heal him of it (2 Cor. 12:7-10). Now did Paul really not have enough faith to be healed? Was it not actually God’s will that he NOT be healed? Similarly, in Galatians 4:13-14 he mentions preaching the gospel to the Galatians while he was ill, an illness which was a trial to them. But if Paul could have been instantly healed, then why did he put the Galatians (and himself) through such an unneccessary trial? Finally, Elisha was a very great prophet of the Lord. And yet, in 2 Kings 13:14 we read that he was suffering from the illness from which he died (2 Kings 13:20). But such a state of affairs seems totally unnecessary (indeed, virtually impossible for a great prophet like Elisha) on the view which you have presented. It thus seems to me that we need to adopt a more nuanced, biblical view of prayer. To see what I mean, please carefully read my article on petitionary prayer here: www.probe.org/problems-and-promises-of-petitionary-prayer/.

In addition, please carefully re-read the last section of my article on Reiki entitled, “Does All Healing Come from God?” at www.probe.org/reiki/.

Of course, I certainly agree that modern Western medicine is not perfect. But its reliance on quality control, reproducible results, the scientific method, extensive training, education, and licensing, etc., clearly distinguish it from much of energy medicine. In addition, since those who practice it are not typically calling upon spirit guides and other questionable entities, it is much less likely to entangle those making use of it with possible demonic involvement.

At any rate, I’m sincerely glad that you’re feeling better—and I hope that that continues to be the case. But I would caution you against getting any more deeply involved in Reiki energy medicine.

This is maybe not what you were hoping to hear, but I must give you my honest opinion before the Lord.

Shalom in Christ,

Michael Gleghorn

© 2010 Probe Ministries


“What’s the Difference Between a Prophet and a Clairvoyant?”

How can I show my friend biblically that clairvoyance, tarot cards, and such are wrong? She seems to think that there is no difference in a prophet and clairvoyant (psychic reading), seeing as they both can predict the future. Can you help me explain the differences?

You might try to get your friend to understand the importance of making distinctions between prophecy and clairvoyance by pointing out the difference between poisonous mushrooms and safe mushrooms: they can both be eaten, but one kind will kill you! Those who claim to be clairvoyant are either fraudulent, making things up as they read the body-language responses of their customers, or they are being fed information from demons. [For an example of a fradulent psychic, see our answer to email “What About Crossing Over’s John Edward?“] And Jesus told us that demons lie (“[W]hen he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44).

The biblical standard of a prophet of God is 100% accuracy. This is because the information about future events is coming from God Himself, and He is powerful enough to overcome the limitation of speaking through a fallen, fallible human being. That is a long way from the fuzzy “information” from self-proclaimed psychics and clairvoyants! If anyone is receiving their “power” or information from anyone except God, which would be demonstrated by 100% accuracy in their predictions (and, I would suggest, the mark of Christlikeness in their character and life), it is coming from the dark side—the Evil One. There is no such thing as morally neutral supernatural information or power.

It is a dangerous thing to play around with the occult, as many can testify that this is how they opened the doors to demon oppression in their lives.

We have several articles you may find helpful in showing your friend God’s warnings to stay away from the occult:

“What’s a Biblical Description of Witchcraft?”

The World of the Occult

The Occult Connection

Hope you find this helpful.

Sue Bohlin

© 2010 Probe Ministries

 

See Also:
“Is Clairvoyance Wrong?”

 


“How Can I Have a Better Relationship With Angels?”

Dear Sir / Madam,

I live in Ghana [West Africa] and am a Christian who is seriously looking for a possible and better way to strenghtening my relationships with the Angels. I actually want to have a physical angelic encounter, even though I might have had a spiritual expereince, however, I wish that my physical encounter with the Angel will enable them act swiftly when I call upon them.

May I also know why is it that sometimes when we call the Angels in times of trouble they do not appear? Please do help me to have an encounter and also to have their swift response.

Dear _____,

Thanks for your letter. I want to strongly discourage you from attempting to contact angels. As a Christian, you should seek to strengthen and develop your relationship with the Lord—not with angels. The Bible nowhere tells us to seek to contact angels, and indeed, seeking such contacts may lead you to actually contact demons. If God wants to send an angelic messenger your way, He is fully able to do so. You do not need to seek contact with angels. Work on developing your relationship with the Lord through daily Bible reading, prayer, fellowship with other Christians who love and follow the Lord, etc. The Lord is fully able to meet all your needs as you look to Him and trust in Him. You shouldn’t busy yourself with trying to contact angels. If God wanted us to do such things, He would have told us to do so in the Bible. But He did not. He wants us to seek Him alone. Remember, Satan can masquerade as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Seeking to contact angels could lead to demonic deception. And believe me, you don’t want to get involved with demons! So please, for your own spiritual well-being, focus your spiritual energies on developing your relationship with the One who created the angels—the Lord God almighty.

For more information on angels from the Probe website, please use the Search function at Probe.org to search the term “angels.”

I hope this advice is helpful and well-received.

Shalom in Christ,
Michael Gleghorn, Probe Ministries

© 2009 Probe Ministries


“Is Reiki Occultic?”

Reiki

I recently pulled up your website when a friend of mine told me she has a counseling center that practices Reiki. Wondering what Reiki was, I began to search it out. Despite all the Christian voices that support it, I refuse to buy into it, and I feel it is the Holy Spirit working in me. I emailed my friend and told her of my concerns. One of her responses was, “In my mind healing is ultimately the result of God’s love, whether it is a doctor doing a heart transplant or a Reiki master transmitting love through themselves.” She feels it is “God’s action occurring in and through people.”

Is it the work of God to transport some energy through our hands to someone else? Doesn’t sound right. What it all sounds like to me is an occult type practice that people have tried to squeeze into a Christian box and it’s not quite fitting!

Thanks for your letter. I’m assuming you’ve already read my article on Reiki, but if not, here is a link to it: www.probe.org/reiki/.

I begin the article by briefly considering what Reiki is. I then look at whether or not there is scientific support for Reiki. I consider the success claims of Reiki, ask whether Christians should be concerned about it, and also whether all healing comes from God. If you haven’t yet read the article, I would encourage you to do so.

Like you, I think there are reasons for Christians to be concerned about Reiki. For one thing, as it’s often represented, it has a very different understanding of “God” than biblical Christianity. Thus, when it claims that healing comes from “God,” it is asserting something different from what a Christian would mean when he/she claims to have been healed by God. Second, the emphasis on spirit guides should cause us concern. The Bible never tells us to seek a spirit guide, but often warns us of deceptive and demonic spirits. Third, the Bible doesn’t talk about a universal life force energy which we can learn to manipulate for health and healing. This sort of language is very foreign to a biblical worldview and is only at home (really) in an Eastern worldview, or one influenced by Eastern thought.

For these reasons and others (spelled out in my article), I think it’s a mistake to get involved with Reiki. My perspective would really be the same as yours. Reiki sounds like “an occult type practice that people have tried to squeeze into a Christian box and it’s not quite fitting.”

I would gently challenge your friend to consider the many ways in which Reiki beliefs and practices seem so foreign (and even contrary) to the teachings of the Bible. For a bible-believing Christian, Reiki seems like a difficult practice to justify.

I hope this helps a bit. Please see my article for a bit more information.

Shalom in Christ,

Michael Gleghorn

 

© 2008 Probe Ministries


Edgar Cayce: The Sleeping (False) Prophet

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Dungeons and Dragons and FRPGs

Dungeons and Dragons is a fantasy role playing game (or FRPG). Role playing in and of itself can be a useful exercise of the imagination, such as helping kids practice saying no to drugs or alcohol when offered them at a party, or learning to set boundaries by practicing with a part of one’s support group. Fantasy can also be a legitimate exercise of the imagination, and learning to distinguish fantasy from reality is an essential part of maturing intellectually. The problem comes when the values and content in the fantasy affect a person adversely.

In this way, D&D or any other FRPG can be compared to rock music: the genre itself is not inherently evil or dangerous, but the content (lyrics, in the case of rock music) is what makes the difference. (For more on that concept, see Jerry Solomon’s article “Rock Music” on our website.)

The content of D&D and its effect on players are worth examining.

Worldview

In contrast to a Christian worldview, D&D was created with a magic worldview (and this has not changed over the years). Rather like “the force” of Star Wars, magic is a neutral force, something like gravity, that pervades reality. Characters learn to use magic to manipulate the universe to get what they want. It’s a very mechanistic universe, like a vending machine where you insert your coin and out comes a productonly in this universe, people use spells and magical instruments to manipulate the magic toward their desired end. Magic can be used for good or evil.

Two insightful writers, Brian Onken and Elliot Miller, offer a responsible analysis of D&D and FRPGs in general in a paper from Christian Research Institute, “Fantasy Games People Play.”{1} They point out that many proponents of D&D try to draw a parallel between their game of choice and the Christian fantasy of J.R.R. Tolkien in Lord of the Rings. There are some common elements, but it’s the great differences that are a real problem, differences which proponents of FRPGs “either ignore or rationalize away. Christian fantasy works by Tolkien, Lewis, and others are accepted and considered to be a good use of fantasy because they offer a reflection of an essentially Christian world view.”{2}

“Though the creators of Dungeons and Dragons may have borrowed many aspects from Tolkien’s ‘middle earth,’ one part they did not consider was the overall setting in which everything took place and from which everything derived its ultimate meaning Tolkien’s Christian world view. As a result, the game’s world view does not represent the moral universe God created. In place of the creator God, its universe is governed by a multiplicity of gods and demigods. Moreover, its universe is not infused with an absolute, inherent morality. The more thoroughly one investigates the writings of Tolkien, Lewis, and others and compares them to FRP games, the more one will see that there are not only crucial differences in the theological and moral perspectives but also in the context and motives of their respective inventors. Furthermore, there are important differences in the kind and extent of participation required in each (e.g., the cultivation of fantasy in the participatory amoral milieu of Dungeons and Dragons versus the passive moral universe of Tolkien).”{3}

The worldview of D&D is anti-biblical because it presents a universe without a transcendent, good God. The deities of D&D are mythical, like the ancient pantheon of the Roman gods and goddesses.

Morality

Because most FRPGs pit good against evil, some of their proponents point to the games as moral. But their overall morality is pragmatic (what works to get what you want) at best and amoral at worst.{4} “[T]he universes created in fantasy role-playing games generally tend to be confused on the issue of morality. Though they have borrowed many aspects of Tolkien’s ‘Middle Earth,’ the makers of Dungeons and Dragons and other FRP games have not created theistic ‘universes.’ Rather, their universes are generally governed by a multiplicity of gods and demigods. While in a theistic universe, good is determined by the attributes of God Himself, in FRP worlds good and evil are presented as equal and opposite impersonal poles, and the gods as well as the creatures may align themselves with either. Since there is no supreme God, and since good does not ultimately triumph over evil, many players eventually find themselves preferring to play evil roles; fewer demands are placed on them that way. “Cornerstone [magazine] quotes Rett Kipp, a college student who plays FRP games forty hours a week: “‘In D&D it’s better to be evil. You get more advantages being evil, and it’s easier to go on and not have to think of what to do and what not to do. If for some reason you had the idea in your head that you no longer trust someone, if you chop him down from behind as an evil character there’s no penalty for it…’”{5}

Time-eating Monster

You can find any number of family members who have watched FRPGs gobble up their loved ones as they spend hours every day, or each week, engrossed in “their game,” either online or in real life. Students have flunked out of school because they didn’t go to class or do their homework. People have lost their jobs because they were more committed to playing their game than keeping their commitments at work. And nobody knows how many relationships have collapsed because people were consumed by their games to the exclusion of all else. The popular online game “EverQuest” has been aptly nicknamed “EverCrack” by many players.{6}

Brian Onken writes, “In a world where more and more demands are made on our time and there seems less and less time available to accomplish the tasks at hand, Dungeons & Dragons (and other fantasy role-playing games) is indeed a creature with a voracious appetite. One of the main requirements of the game is time, and lots of it. Gary Gygax, the originator of Dungeons & Dragons, says: ‘the most extensive requirement is time.’{7}

“As advocates of the game get more involved it has a tendency to become a sort of time eating monster in and of itself. After playing the game with her family, a New West magazine researcher noted that, ‘Good or evil, it becomes a compulsive force in the lives of those who play.’{8} “What is the problem here? Well, we are exhorted to ‘walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil’ (Eph. 5:15, 16). In the light of such words, a fantasy game with a ferocious appetite for time is hardly the wise way to walk. To play one will require a tremendous amount of time, and since no one wants to play badly, perhaps such time consumption would best be exchanged for more profitable pursuits.”{9}

Bill Schnoebelen, who spent years in the occult before coming to Christ, says, “Remember, as a Christian, we are exhorted to bring ‘into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ’ (2 Cor. 10:5). How can this be done with so many hours being spent in a game which never mentions Christ and pushes the very sorcery He forbids?”{10}

Blurred Reality

While many people have no trouble distinguishing between reality and fantasy, some FRPG players are sucked into what could be called “reality distortion.” Players sometimes begin to think of their characters as real people with separate existences. (This is not limited to FRPG, however. I know of one person so caught up in the Left Behind series that she fell asleep thinking about the characters and action in the book she was reading, and upon waking, found herself praying for a character in crisis! And many fans of TV shows don’t really “get it” that the actor who plays a character has a real-life, different existence from the one he or she plays on TV. Not to mention the many letters the author of the Harry Potter books has received from children begging for acceptance into the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!)

One Dungeon Master (the person with the most control and power in a D&D game) noted that sometimes, when a player’s character gets killed, the game player sometimes suffers psychic shock and may go into depression.{11}

Magic and the Occult

Whether the discussion is Harry Potter or D&D, the objection inevitably arises that this is make believe, it’s fiction, and fairy-tale magic doesn’t exist in the real world, so what’s the big deal?

Elliot Miller of CRI points out, “We must agree that there is a fundamental difference between actually attempting to work magic, and only pretending to do so (this point has not been sufficiently recognized in some of the Christian reviews). However real this distinction may be in the minds of the players, though, I feel no assurance that the spirit world will not respond when it is beckoned.”{12}

Others experienced in spiritual warfare have observed that the very real demonic realm are quite legalistic and literal: when anyone opens a door to them, they will come through it! Most people are completely oblivious to the reality of their choices opening a door to the demonic, but the consequences catch up with them. This is one reason God has said that all forms of magic are an abomination to Him (Deut. 18)out of His loving desire to protect us.

Miller continues, “Though the possibility of actual contact with the satanic realm through role-playing cannot be denied, my greatest concern is that FRP involvement can create a predisposition toward actual occult activity. There are certain needs and desires which draw people to FRP in the first place. Many sensitive teenagers and adults continually bombarded with evolutionary theories and naturalistic philosophies, seek through FRP an escape from the cold, mechanistic view of the universe which they’ve been led to believe is ‘reality.’ Who wouldn’t prefer an adventurous existence in a magical, purposeful world over the complex, impersonal ‘real world’ being pushed on young people by our educational institutions and the media?”{13}

I would suggest that that “predisposition toward actual occult activity” is indeed, a door propped open for demons to enter in. When players’ views of magic and occultic exercises of power (even pretend) are shaped to see them in a positive, friendly light, they are accepting the very things God condemns. They are buying a lie, and intentionally or not, embracing rebellion against one of God’s absolutes. Internalizing lies and rebellion provides a place for the Enemy to gain first a foothold (Eph. 4:27) and then a stronghold (2 Cor. 10:4-5).

So the occultic magic element of D&D and any other FRPG can be spiritually dangerous.

Bill Schnoebelen says, “Even if you have no intention to ‘do magic’ when you play D&D, you are immersing yourself in an alien, magic worldview which can gradually change the way you think about life and spiritual matters.”{14}

But what about the magic in the works of Tolkien and Lewis? That kind of fantasy magic is different because the worldview of the literature is biblical, and consistent with the world God made. Behind all the magic is a good, transcendent, holy God. Magic doesn’t have a life and power of its own, as a force to be manipulated. Furthermore, the magic in the books of Tolkien and Lewis and other Christian fantasy writers is viewed passively by the reader. In D&D, the player is immersed in the story, and actively uses occult magic as part of the game.

Lust for Power

Elliot Miller writes, “The human craving for power is also given an avenue for expression in FRP games. . . The various magical abilities that players exercise in these imaginary worlds can also whet their appetites for power. The same young man who is unable to prevent his parents from separating, or to make the cute blonde in his history class notice him, can, through FRP, conquer a kingdom or obtain immense treasure simply by casting a spell.

“What happens, then, when the inevitable occurs and this young man is befriended by someone who can introduce him to the occult world? He will discover that practices he has enjoyed in his fantasy world actually go on in the real world. He would like nothing more than to believe that he can divine the future, project his soul outside of his body, perform healings, or cast a spell and get results. The transition from make-believe sorcery to actual sorcery would not be all that difficult. Once he encounters the real power that exists in the occult world, he will happily accept the magical world view of occultism in place of the naturalism he had absorbed.”{15}

Bill Schnoebelen makes an excellent point about the lust for power: “Make no mistake about it, magic and sorcery ARE spiritual. It does not matter if they are ‘make believe’ magic or not. It is the mind that is the battleground. I just recently had a D&D player who professed Christ tell me that everything he did had Christ in it, because Christ lived in him, even as he was playing D&D. While that may be true of a Christian, the question needs to be asked: is Christ pleased with what His servant is doing? “I used the metaphor of a porn role-playing game, where the participants play acted in various forms of sexual sin such as fornication, adultery or homosexuality. There was no actual sexual touching involved among the players, nor any nudity required. It was all in the mind. Would Jesus be pleased with that? “See, most of us can understand that concept better because most of us are more familiar with the power human sexuality can have over our minds. It is one of the most powerful forces God created within us. Yet, what most Christian gamers do not understand that magic is a kind of spiritual lust. Allowing the concepts of magic and sorcery into our minds awakens within us a kind of sexual itch that has no definable source or cause. It is, however subtle, an itch for power. Magic, at its root, is about power and about rebellion. It is about not liking how God runs the universe and thinking you can do a better job yourself.

“Now of course, we are not saying that everyone who plays D&D is going to end up a sorcerer or a Satanist. But we are saying that being exposed to all these ideas of magic to the degree that the game requires cannot but help have a significant impact on the minds of the players, no matter if they are Christian or unbeliever, and no matter what the ‘template.’

“This is not just chess, football or bridge. This is a game that envelops the player in an entirely different fantasy world in which the power of magic and violence is pervasive. It is a game with a distinct and seductive spiritual worldview that is diametrically opposed to the Bible. Yes, sorcery appears in the Bible. But it is NEVER in the context of a good thing to do. It is always presented as something dangerous and utterly contrary to the will of God.

“The question still stands. Why would a Christian wish to involve themselves in such a game?”{16}

Heart Issue

Onken and Miller offer this insightful analysis of the heart issue:

“[N]either fantasy nor fantasy role playing is wrong in and of itself. When carried out within the context of the Christian world view, it can serve as a useful and creative activity. We are creatures made in the image of an imaginative God, and we should consider it a privilege to possess and exercise this precious gift of imagination. But we must also realize our obligation before God to use this gift in a wholesome way, and to guard against any misuse.

“Discerning the difference between a wholesome use and misuse begins with the question, ‘To what end or for what purpose (is the imagination) being exercised in a particular direction?’ This certainly appears to be the question Jesus had in mind in His Sermon on the Mount when He stated, ‘Every one who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart’ (Matthew 5:28). “If Jesus taught that lust is tantamount to adultery (which God condemns see Deuteronomy 5:18, 22:13-27), would He approve of the deliberate cultivation and enjoyment of fantasy regarding other things that God condemns? Obviously not. To fantasize about those things that God has forbidden in His Word (immorality, the occult, the pursuit of other deities all elements of Dungeons and Dragons) is tantamount to doing them. This cannot be understood in any other way than a misuse of our God-given imagination.

“With the Bible as our guide, this is what we as Christians must guard against ‘so that [we] may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects’ (Colossians 1:10).”{17}

 

Notes

 

1. “Fantasy Games People Play,” Christian Resource Institute, http://www.equip.org/free/DD401.pdf
2. Ibid, p. 2.
3. Ibid., p. 2-3.
4. “Should a Christian Play Dungeons and Dragons?”, William Schnoebelen, www.chick.com/articles/frpg.asp.
5. “Fantasy Games People Play,” p. 7.
6. “When Games Stop Being Fun,” April 12, 2002, http://news.com.com/2100-1040_3-881673.html
7. Gary Gygax, Dungeons and Dragons, basic manual. TSR Hobbies, Inc., 1979, 3. Quoted in “Fantasy Games People Play,” p. 4.
8. Moira Johnston, “It’s Only a Game Or Is It?”, New West, (August 25, 1980), 34. Quoted in “Fantasy Games People Play,” p. 4.
9. Fantasy Games People Play, p. 4.
10. Should a Christian Play Dungeons and Dragons?, op.cit.
11. John Eric Holmes, “Confessions of a Dungeon Master,” Psychology Today (November 1980), 89. Cited in “Fantasy Games People Play,” p. 4.
12. Fantasy Games People Play, p. 5.
13. Ibid.
14. Should Christians Play Dungeons and Dragons? Op cit.
15. Fantasy Games People Play, p. 5-6.
16. Should Christians Play Dungeons and Dragons? Op cit.
17. Ibid., p. 3.

© 2005 Probe Ministries