Just days ahead of Halloween, theologian John Piper has warned against communicating with the dead and explained why seeking messages from the deceased not only goes against biblical teachings but also dishonors God.
In a recent episode of Ask Pastor John, the 77-year-old chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota, responded to a question from a reader from the Gauteng region of South Africa, whose question revolved around the belief that when a person dies, their spirit or soul remains on Earth, requiring their family to retrieve it using a tree before the deceased can “rest in peace” and go to God.
This practice, the reader said, is rooted in South African folklore and is followed by several Christians who incorporate these superstitions into their faith.
Piper began by emphasizing that the Bible is clear on the matter: “Don’t pursue communication with the dead, because pursuing messages from the dead is evidence that biblical truth about God is either not understood or not believed. And in either case, God is dishonored,” he said.
The bestselling author presented four crucial points about God that need to be understood and believed in order to grasp why seeking messages from the dead is contrary to the Christian faith.
First, Piper stressed that, according to the Bible, when a person dies, God immediately takes their soul either to Himself or to a place of torment. Citing verses like Luke 23:43 and 2 Corinthians 5:8, he debunked the notion that souls can roam the Earth after death.
“[That] part of the practice in South Africa is based on a misunderstanding of God’s action in dealing with the dead,” he said.
Second, he pointed to explicit biblical prohibitions against consulting the dead. Citing Isaiah 8:19, he made it clear that God has strictly forbidden seeking messages from the deceased. The verse reads: “When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?”
Piper also emphasized that God has already provided abundant communication and guidance to His people. He stressed that seeking messages from ancestors displays a lack of trust in God’s sufficiency to communicate what is needed for a fruitful, God-honoring life.
“[Seeking] messages from ancestors, the Bible teaches, is a dishonor to God, who has communicated so lavishly with us about all the things we need to live the way he wants us to live,” he stressed.
Finally, he highlighted the notion that seeking messages from ancestors reflects disbelief in God’s providential control over all aspects of life. He contended that God’s providence, as stated in Romans 8:32 and throughout the Bible, should inspire trust that He will provide everything His children need.
“Seeking messages from ancestors implies an unbelief in the glorious implications for God’s children that God’s providence is all-controlling and all-pervasive — namely, that he works all things by that providence for our good as we trust him,” he wrote.
A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that 53% of Americans say they’ve had interactions with loved ones who have died. Of these, 46% experienced the interaction within a dream, while 31% claimed it took place in some other manner.
Additionally, 34% of respondents said they’ve “felt the presence” of a deceased family member, 28% have spoken about their lives to them, and 15% felt that a deceased relative “reached out” to them.
Similarly, a 2019 survey from analytics company YouGov found that more than one-third of Americans (36%) say that they have personally felt the presence of a spirit or ghost. Just over one in 10 (13%) of Americans said they have communicated directly with a ghost or spirit of someone who has died.
V1 Church Pastor Mike Signorelli recently told CP that in today’s culture, where people seek supernatural experiences in all the wrong places, pastors are going to have to “get comfortable” with tackling the issue.
“As a result of New Age and tarot card reading, sage, and all these crazy things that people are getting involved with, unfortunately, for a lot of pastors, we’re going to have to get comfortable with engaging the supernatural aspects of the Gospel, because people are going to all the wrong places for supernatural experiences.”
Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: email@example.com
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