Discipleship: Communication With the Dead: Is it Possible?

What happens after death? Is there a life beyond the grave? If so, is it possible to communicate with those who have “passed over”? Can you contact dead relatives and friends, or famous persons in history?

Virtually all civilizations have had some form of belief in an afterlife. The idea that the spirits of people who have “passed over” can make contact with the living is popular today mainly because of the modern craze for “channeling.”

“Channeling” is part of the “New Age” movement, a modern-day mysticism that draws from Buddhism, Hinduism and Western occultism, among other traditions.

In recent years, channeling has been promoted in dozens of books, magazines, videotapes, motion pictures and television talk shows, inviting you to get in touch with a “spirit guide.” Tens of thousands have attended channeling seminars, classes and workshops. Successful channels often draw sellout crowds of people who pay large sums of money to attend. Channeling has become big business.

Classic channeling—sometimes called “trance channeling”—is a paranormal experience alleged to be contact between a human being and an entity from the spirit world. Information is communicated to or through a human being from another level of consciousness. A spirit enters the mind of the channel, who becomes its “mouthpiece.” The spirit then offers advice and counsel on everything from medical problems to financial investments to improving one’s love life.

Channeling is promoted as a personal ticket to a new and improved self, promising increased happiness, creativity and well being. For a growing number of people disillusioned with traditional churches and televangelism, it has become a virtual religion. They are seeking answers to the deep questions of life, answers that science and traditional religion are not providing. Participants claim channeling satisfies their spiritual hunger and search for meaning. It provides direct experience with the spirit realm—a way to tap into a source of “higher knowledge” beyond oneself.

What happens at a typical channeling session? The channel—the person who practices channeling—sits before an audience of anything from a few individuals to several hundred. After taking a few deep breaths or chanting a few lines, the channel may slump over in his or her chair, having achieved a neutral, semiconscious condition usually called a trance state. In this altered state of consciousness, the channel’s mind is now receptive to a particular “spirit guide.”

The channel suddenly becomes filled with an entirely different personality, as he or she becomes, so to speak, “tuned in” to the spirit’s “frequency.” The spirit now speaks through the human channel, who becomes its vehicle or conduit for communicating to listeners on the physical plane. The spirit often engages in a dialogue with the audience, answering questions, diagnosing illnesses or lecturing on a variety of subjects.

Channelers, and those who heed their messages, often feel they must restructure their lives to conform to advice from the messages. Yet in most cases, the channeled messages are only marginally useful. Typical of channeled “wisdom”:

  • “Guilt is foolish.”
  • “To know yourself is salvation.”
  • “You are God. You can do no wrong.”
  • “God is within you, so whatever you do is right.”
  • “You create your own reality.”
  • “There is no evil. All is love.”

Some of these teachings contradict biblical principles.

Afterwards, some channels have no recollection of the channeling experience. They had been in a deep trance, with no conscious control over the activity. They are unaware of the specific utterances or pronouncements that have been made through them. They awaken and have to be told what they said and did. Other channels exercise a degree of conscious control and are aware of what transpires during the channeling session.

Who—or what—is speaking through the channel? The spirits claim a variety of identities. Some declare they are deceased former humans—discarnate or disembodied spirits of ancient wise men or medieval seers. Others say they are famous persons from history, such as George Washington, Winston Churchill, Napoleon or even Jesus Christ. Others purport to be personalities from the future. Many claim to be “off-planet beings”—extraterrestrials from other planets or galaxies. Some say they are non-physical personalities or intelligences that exist on other levels or dimensions of reality. Some allege they are angels.

The spirits usually have exotic or otherworldly sounding names, like Ecton, Rajah, Ashtar or Arkon. Still others represent themselves as group entities—collective beings or minds that have pooled themselves into a larger self. Incredibly, some even claim to be the voices of plants or animals!

There’s really not much “new” about this aspect of the New Age movement. Channeling is an ancient occult art that has existed since the dawn of human history. It can be found in nearly all times and cultures. Over the centuries, channels have been called by a variety of names: shamans, medicine men, witch doctors, masters, mystics, mediums and oracles.

The famous stage magician Harry Houdini spent 30 years investigating alleged examples of communication with the spirit world. He said he had not “found one incident that savored of the genuine.” He claimed he could duplicate any effect produced in a seance by purely physical means.

Houdini uncovered some extremely clever frauds and skillful illusions. Concealed microphones, wires, mirrors, projectors, ventriloquism, sleight of hand and other ingenious techniques were used to deceive the gullible. Houdini concluded that spiritism was riddled with trickery, deceit and fraud. Other investigators have agreed that much alleged spiritism is fraud. But are all mediums fakes? By no means!

There are serious mediums—or channelers, as they are called today—who have stood up under the most rigorous scrutiny of investigators. Despite meticulous testing, they have given no evidence of any type of fraud. The researches of the late Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding tested psychic phenomena and supervised tests of mediums under stringent conditions.

The inventor Thomas Edison conceived the possibility of instrumental communication with the dead. But experimenters had to admit failure in establishing an electronic link with the spirit world—until the late 1950s. In 1959, the Swedish film maker and painter Friedrich Jurgenson played back tapes of birdcalls he had recorded in a Swedish forest. To his astonishment, he heard what he believed to be his dead mother’s voice on the tape! This began a series of experiments to record spirit voices. Hundreds of voices have been heard on his tapes.

Other researchers have claimed to have recorded the spirit voices of Churchill, Hitler, Stalin, Tolstoy and many other famous men and women of history. The voices usually require extreme amplification, and often the language patterns are disjointed and confused. Yet something is unquestionably coming across.

There is no apparent reason to doubt the sincerity or the integrity of those who have worked on this project or of other researchers in the field of EVP (electronic voice phenomena). It is unlikely that the voices have been faked in any way. There are no indications of fraud or hoax.

“It does work,” remarks one of its inventors, “but we don’t fully know those underlying laws yet.” He also admits that mediumship is involved to some degree. The device “requires an operator with a very special type of psychic energy.”

Channeling, mediumship and spiritism are often a fraud. But not all spirit phenomena can be adequately explained as fraud.

Channeling, mediumship and spiritism are often nothing more than a fraud perpetrated on gullible people. Sometimes it is the channel who is gullible. In some cases, sincere channels may believe they are being used by separate, otherworldly entities, but in actuality are not. Psychic researchers believe that channeling is often a self-generated experience. The channels are simply “going within.” It is their own inner subconscious speaking, not some outside entity. Sometimes it is not a matter ofconscious fraud.

However, not all spirit phenomena can be adequately explained as fraud. There remain some manifestations for which no entirely satisfactory explanation has been offered—other than actual spirit contact. But are they spirits of the dead—or of possibly evil spirits?

When you seek to contact the “other side,” you may be exposing yourself to the influence of Satan and the demons, who seek to deceive and confuse you. The Bible refers to the mistake Saul made in visiting the witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28:6-20).

Experience has shown that for those who let their guard down, a potential exists of being strongly influenced or even possessed by hostile spirits—demons—who want to gain control over the minds of human beings. Though demons often try to appear to be “good,” these spirits want humans to follow them or give their will to them—to surrender their minds and bodies. (Angels, whose loyalty is to God, will never try to possess a human being. There have been rare occasions when angels appeared to human beings with a message from God. At such times, the angel makes sure the person knows what is happening. A true messenger from God will not confuse or deceive and will never allow himself to be worshipped. See Revelation 22:8-9.)

Opening oneself to evil influences can have destructive and devastating consequences. Aside from the spiritual dangers, psychologists say that mental or psychological problems may—and often do—result from dabbling in the paranormal. So don’t be deceived. Channeling is deceptively easy, but it is not a safe method of contacting the spirit world nor a reliable method of receiving information.

Divination: Shortcuts to Making Decisions

NECROMANCY: consulting the dead or a spirit to obtain secret knowledge. This is done usually through a medium or channel who contacts the spirit.

RHABDOMANCY: the interpretation of the position of rods, arrows, or staffs for the purpose of divination.

AEROMANCY: divination by the air and sky. The wind, cloud shapes and other aerial formations are studied as omens or signs of future events.

ASTRAGALOMANCY: divination using dice, bones, stones or small pieces of wood bearing letters or symbols. The diviner asks a question and interprets the answer based on how the objects lie on the ground or what letters or symbols are facing upwards.

PALMISTRY/CHIROMANCY: the study of the hand and the lines of the palm to assess character and foretell the future.

PYROMANCY: divination by fire. Leaves, twigs or incense are thrown into a fire, and changes in color, shape and intensity of the flames are interpreted.

TASSEOGRAPHY: divination by reading tea-leaves. The dregs of a cup of tea are swirled around inside the cup, then the cup is inverted on a saucer. The seer interprets the patterns of the leaves remaining inside the cup.

CARTOMANCY: divination by cards. Tarot cards are the most commonly used.

NUMEROLOGY: divination by numbers. Numerologists give numerical values to the letters of the alphabet and analyze names for their numerical significance. It is claimed that one’s character and future can thus be determined.

BIBLIOMANCY: Bibliomancy is divination by means of a book. A book (the Bible and Koran are often used) is opened at random and the person points to a line while keeping his eyes closed. The randomly chosen line is believed to convey a message of significance.


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