Yesterday was Bible study, and as I shared last week the topics of my dad’s teachings have been pretty interesting, with this week being no exception. Just for future reference, our church does a cozy little cafe-type thing before the lesson, with a different homemade entree for sale each week at $3 per person; a pretty awesome deal for the amount and quality of the food, and since I don’t have to cook that night. I referenced this so that the next sentence would make sense.
As we sat and enjoyed our chicken pot pie with biscuits, my dad busied himself in writing out all of the lesson’s key points on a large whiteboard, as he does every week. He’s definitely one of those teachers who likes to write things out on the board as he goes, but he is also one whose handwriting will inevitably drift on a downward slope across the board if he’s rushing too much, so prepping ahead of time has worked best. Here were this week’s talking points, all neat and tidy:
So what is a familiar spirit? Is it something you summon in Skyrim when your conjuration skill is high enough?
While I do jest, this is actually a relatively appropriate example, as some belief systems see communicating with or conjuring familiar spirits to be something of benefit, a source of protection or guidance. According to scripture, however, familiar spirits are nothing to be trifled with, and are actually heavily condemned. That is because a familiar spirit is in truth a demonic spirit that has accompanied a single person for a large portion or even all of their life. This does not necessarily mean that the person was possessed, but rather they could have suffered from some sort of bondage that allowed the spirit to cling to them; think addiction, perversion, etc. In the event of this person’s death, the spirit is then given opportunity to masquerade as the person to those who would seek communion with the departed, whispering intimate knowledge and even mimicking a ghostly presence of the person. This is, in fact, the Christian explanation for phenomena such as hauntings, spirit mediums, ouija boards, and the like. You aren’t truly seeing or interacting with the trapped soul of a person with unfinished business, but rather a phantom thespian perpetuating a ruse meant to undermine the rules of life and death as defined by the Bible. Jesus spoke of the placement of a “great chasm” between the realms of the living and dead, which none would be permitted to cross. In other words, once you die, you proceed to your appointed destination, and there you stay, permanently divided from the world of the living. No WiFi or cell phones to communicate, not even dial-up access. You can read more about it here and review the scripture references if you like.
Now I’m definitely not one to ascribe a demonic aspect to all paranormal phenomena or misunderstood occurrences, but I will say I see the merit of the belief. As a Christian, the idea of a soul remaining here after death is entirely contradictory to the fundamentals of God’s established methods. In addition, I am much more comfortable believing that a haunting or eerie presence is in fact a demonic spirit, considering the alternative is that a person’s soul is perhaps trapped in perpetual unrest, even doomed to repeat the travesties of history that we so often see associated with haunting activity. Even Art Bell, the talk radio legend himself, when presenting evidence of anomalous activity such as EVPs, often referenced the disturbing nature of the idea that your family member, or close friend, or even a little child could be captive in such a state. I gladly subscribe to the option where oddly enough, demons are the less unsettling proposal of the two.
Moving on now, though…
The items listed on the right side of the board were meant to be generally broad overview of some topics, activities, etc. that could lead to the affliction of familiar spirits. Many are ones you would expect to see in this context, and were covered with little additional discussion. One of these, however, seemed to strike a chord with many in attendance, and actually kept us at the meeting for nearly an hour longer than originally scheduled due to the heated debate that ensued. Can you guess which one?
Yep, music. Particularly rock music, although rap was referenced some as well. Let me preface any of the following occurrences by stating that a large portion of our congregation is, let’s just say significantly more advanced in years than I, so I wasn’t terribly surprised by some of the push-back. To condense a great deal of debate into digestible nugget, I will just say that there were a handful of attendees who were not hesitant in vocalizing their belief that there is “no such thing as Christian rock music”, and basically all forms of rock music are a tool of the devil. Sigh…
At this point, I will just say that I am glad the Lord has helped develop within me the ability for self-restraint, as there is little more infuriating that a broad-sweeping statement of utter condemnation. I completely understand that I am two generations removed from these folks and they grew up with entirely different experiences and convictions, but I guess you could say I’m intolerant of intolerance. 🙂 After taking a moment to collect my thoughts and listen to the responses of others, I presented a simple counter-argument, basically consisting of “so who decides which genres make the Godliness cut?” There can be Christian country and Christian alternative and heck, even Christian jazz, but not rock (or rap)? Once again, I was proud of my dad, and of several other members in attendance, for siding with reason and agreeing that any form of music can be used for God if it carries the correct message and its aim is to minister to the spirit. Denouncing an entire genre and its associated culture is the perfect way to lose the opportunity to reach those who might identify with it. In I Corinthians 9:22, Paul said “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” I think the message is pretty clear that we aren’t supposed to sit in our little bubbles, condemning the outside world for not conforming to our expectations. We are supposed to be seekers and doers, and even more importantly to treat others as we would have them treat us. If you are going to mope around and stew in bitter judgement, don’t expect anything different in return.
I wish I could stay to write more, in hopes that I could possibly encompass the unexpected intensity of that night, but the hour grows late, and my mind muddled. Thanks for letting me share these experiences with you, though. I will do my absolute best to continue posting regular content, and I hope you will return for it when I do! God bless. 🙂