"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."
 John 3:19

 

 "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."
1 John 4:1

Spiritism & Kindred Beguilements

Gleaned from articles by Dr. Shadduck

Preliminary By the Author

For, fifty years I have marvelled at the amazing capers of the human mind.

We are never very far removed from mental conditions that border on insanity.

In dreams and when delirious with a fever, reason only fumbles with reality. Alcohol or benumbing drugs in the blood stream will unbalance the mind. If you have ever, seen a man dropping tears in his beer or bowing to a clothing dummy in a show window you will know what I mean.

Quite apart from feeble-mindedness due to poisons in the blood stream, there are mental states that have never been explained, except to shallow thinkers. I refer to such phenomena as hypnotism, hysteria, catalepsy, and clairvoyance. I doubt if all these mental states have yet been cataloged.

One man is a miser, another a spendthrift. Which one, if either, is altogether sane? One man is thrilled with a dog fight, another is much distressed. One man can sentence women and children to death by starvation, another devote his life to service in a leper colony. Are sin and sanity joint dictators of the human will? Is sin the master of practice and sanity, the judge of theories?

It is difficult to understand how there can be hundreds of mutually exclusive cults, isms, and groups and all the product of individual or collective sanity. Most readers will agree that the vagaries of the human mind are most stridently obvious in some other folk.

If all the crack-pot theories and superstitions that men have believed, could be illustrated and displayed under one roof, it would be the world's greatest museum of freaks, and a new annex would be needed for each generation. If people who are in danger of being misled by spiritism, astrology, or some other phase of sorcery, could visit such a museum and see the witch doctors, medicine men, and voodoo performers of all ages, pretending to frighten, bribe, deceive, or appease the spirits of the dead, it would be a wholesome education for all whose minds are not already befogged with some heresy.

Uncounted millions in Asia and Africa have been terrorized with the idea that spirits of the dead are meddlesome, mischievous, and spiteful if neglected or offended. Millions have gone hungry that they might put food on graves of ancestors. In India, they walk carefully, lest they step on some creature in which grandpa's spirit may be living.

The Shintoism of Japan has to do with spirits of the dead. The author's wife was for years a missionary in Africa where illness and calamity were blamed on spirits of the dead. Witch doctor mediums were more feared than most Americans fear God. In our land, our female mediums seem to find the spirits very well satisfied with paying customers. The message of the apostles was, "Repent." The message of the "spirits" is, "Cheer up!" (consider this when you hear of today’s preachers of ‘light gospel’)

Man, by nature is conscious of the supernatural God or gods that must be reckoned with. "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." People who are aware of sin, must do one of 5 things if they are to retain any measure of self-approval. They must get rid of the guilt of sin in God's way; blame it on someone else; adopt a religion that denies it; neutralize it(?) by ceremonies or self-righteous deeds; or join so many groups and wrap life up in so many social activities that there isn't any time left for thinking about sin.

There are many more dead than persons living, and if they are all to be consulted by those in whom they are presumed to be interested, we shall have little time to consider our responsibilities to God. God tells us plainly; "Ec 9:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything,"

 Spiritism

Follies and Dangers of Spiritism

In my youth the people I knew were afraid of ghosts. In the long winter evenings, visiting neighbors related so many ghost stories that I was afraid to go out of the house alone after dark. There were some who testified that they had seen and heard ghosts, but on such occasions they were so badly scared and left the scene so hurriedly that details were amplified by imagination. If a person about to die said to an enemy, "I will haunt you after I am dead," the threatened one was not envied by anyone. No one that I knew could have believed that twenty years later people would be paying mediums to procure a haunting. It was about that time that the Fox sisters were reintroducing necromancy, one of the abominations forbidden in the Bible.

We had our superstitions. Like thousands of other communities, we had one woman who told fortunes from tea leaves and by gazing into a crystal. She also interpreted dreams. If the contribution of the customer was generous, the revelations were likely to be cheerful. I often played with the children of the fortune teller and observed that when any of the family lost anything, they hunted for it in the old-fashioned way.

In every home there was an almanac, and it was often consulted to determine what sign of the zodiac ruled any given period. These signs and the phases of the moon were accepted by many as unerring guides in doing or leaving undone many activities on the farm. Older folk believed that if the saucer-shaped new moon was so tilted that an Indian could not hang his powder born on the lower point, it would be a wet month, but, if it had the angle of a good hat rack, it would be a dry month. Most of the older people had a long list of portents, omens, and signs, such as dropping a dishcloth, a rooster crowing on the doorstep, or how one treated a mirror, a ladder, an umbrella, Friday, and the number thirteen.

I mention these superstitions because, to believe them, one must assume that the invisible world is filled with personalities that rival God and cheat Satan. Obviously, if there are intelligent forces that watch the wanderings of black cats, they must determine when the cats are sufficiently black and determine what kind and quantity of bad luck shall overtake the careless. Observe that the moral conduct of people is not so important as obedience to the decrees of the witch doctors who started the traditions. A rabbit's foot will do as much for a vlllian as it will for a philanthropist. The half-wit and scholar are on the same level in the kingdom of pow-wow. The hopeless phase of the system, if people would think, is that no human being can hope to know all the whims of the unnamed powers that are supposed to plague the uninformed.

Warping The Faith of Childhood

In childhood I heard fairy tales and wished that I might team up with a fairy as an intimate pal. I believed in Santa Claus, and that somehow he knew how well I behaved in December. When the myths of bedtime stories were out-grown, I began to doubt much of what was currently believed, and, as will appear later, I doubted too much.

As a boy, I sometimes tilted a chair so that only one leg touched the floor, and turned the chair as a top spins on its point. My mother solemnly warned me that it was a sure sign that I would cry before I slept. Meaning no impertinence, I said, "I don't believe the chair has anything to do with my tears." She answered, "We shall see." Mother was right. I saw it because she had seen it. Next day, I whirled a chair where she didn't see it, and went tearless to bed. I hid a silver dollar (my total wealth) and promised it to the fortune teller if she would tell where it was. I kept my dollar and my doubts multiplied. I tried secretly planting potatoes and onions in the wrong phase of the moon, and other seeds when the signs of the zodiac forbade it. I mistreated ladders and umbrellas, and defied all the traditions that I could of the "goose-bone" prophets. I discovered that the tilt of the new moon depended on how near it was to the horizon when seen. But the fear of ghosts was so deep-seated that a snow man in a graveyard at night would have suggested that then and there I discover how fast I could take my feet up and put them down nearer home.

Kept From Going Too Far

I doubted and disproved so much of the "traditions of the elders," that I began to doubt the fundamentals of Christianity. In this I hesitated, because I reflected that before there could be a counterfeit, there must be something genuine. I observed that in all nature where there was a need, there was something to meet that need. The duck hatched in an incubator craves water—it needs water, and to fit that need, it has waterproof feathers and webs between its toes. But there can be a counterfeit instead of the water. In the oil fields, I have known a duck to alight in a great pool of oil and never fly again; yet the longing in the duck argued that there is water for ducks somewhere.

The baited trap does not prove to a snared animal that hunger is superstition. The human race craves contact with the supernatural; all the fake and sham and imitation does not discredit the supernatural. Instead of fairies, there are angels. Instead of the scares of witch doctors there are demons. False prophets are only Satan's substitutes for true prophets. I never quite got away from the conviction that if there were spiritual forces that could modify my life for good, it would be abysmal folly not to tie up with such forces. In the years of my ministry I have observed that God has provided few blessings that may not be imitated, counterfeited, or modified so that the substitute is a curse.

Abnormal and Subnormal Mental States

At the age of nineteen, I took work as an officer of the Salvation Army and served where poverty and Ignorance stripped sin of its glamor. I observed the phenomena of insanity, hysteria, melancholia hypnosis, catalepsis, intoxication, delirium, and some mental states that I could not define. I surmised that clairvoyance was nothing more than self-hypnosis. But certainly God reads our thoughts and He can convey His thoughts to us without using a language. If men or demons transfer thoughts to mediums, they never reveal anything that displeases the forces of evil.

Bible Accounts of Supernatural Mental States

Peter was in a trance; Paul had visions; Stephen saw the heavens opened; Paul was in the third heaven; John was "in the Spirit"; and spiritual floodgates were opened at Pentecost; Pharaoh had divinely sent dreams; Saul, king of Israel, had some amazing experiences that have puzzled expositors (1 Sam. 19:24); and our Lord delivered many from demon possession. That evil spirits used human minds and vocal chords Is clearly evident in the case of the damsel who had "a spirit of divination" (Acts 16:16), and in the story of the evil spirit whose knowledge was limited (Acts 19:15). Certainly the Bible testifies that there are angel spirits who minister to the "heirs of salvation," and evil spirits that multiply the folly of sin-lovers.

People who would not allow their children to furnish a tea party from a strange medicine closet ought to read carefully the labels that God has put on those who traffic with evil spirits or pretend to be agents for good. (They should question the propriety of allowing their children to read and watch stories that glorify what God has blatantly condemned!) In Deuteronomy 18:10-12, is a list of some of them: "There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD:" In casting out evil spirits, our Lord described them as "unclean," "evil," and "devils" (demons).

A Demoniac

I have known many people whose behavior, at times, seemed to be motivated by demons, but this man suggested a cursing machine made of flesh and blood. He was looking through the window of his cell in the jail of a small county seat in the mountains. It was a warm day, and the window was open, save for the bars. Obscenity, emphasized with profanity, poured from his lips in a torrent, when he observed anything that was alive. Little children who passed the jail on their way to school were cursed with language so obscene that it was quite beyond their understanding. When no child was in sight, he cursed the sparrows hopping about in the street.

A cow went by on her way to pasture, and a blast of invective was aimed at her. I think he would have cursed an angel if one had been visible. When officers came to remove him to an asylum for the insane, they seemed much entertained and led him through the town on the way to the railroad station, and he addressed vile insults to every woman in sight. I have wondered how any self respecting person who heard him could thereafter knowingly line up on the Devil's side of any question. Well might Satan say, "If you help my helpers, you are helping me."

God planted in man a hunger for the supernatural, and made ample provision to satisfy that hunger. In the 14th chapter of John, believers are promised the companionship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Of the angels, Hebrews 1:14 asks, "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for' them who shall be heirs of salvation." Some people prefer the ministrations of mediums, because they do not rebuke the sins of the customer.

Belshazzar and Nebuchadnezzar found that their collection of sorcerers utterly failed when they were most needed, yet the soothsayers and enchanters continued through the centuries. Are all these pretended agents of dead folk and unidentified spirits inspired of Satan? I think not; some of the drivel is beneath the mentality of a demon. A clever rogue does not need diabolical inspiration to deceive those who have a misguided hunger for the supernatural. But whether directly or indirectly, there is no doubt his Satanic majesty is being served. A tallow candle can singe the wings of a moth, and a slot machine has really less intellect than the men who feed money into it.

A Ghost Story

It was when I was employed as a teacher in a training school for young men. The dormitory was a large dwelling in the business section of a large city. It had been leased for a sum little more than enough to pay the taxes, because it was a "haunted" house. There were blood stains, they said, on the floor. They penetrated the wood so deeply that we could not wash them away. Evidently they were made by some indelible dye. There were only about a dozen boys, and, being single, I stayed with them in the dormitory on the second floor. I think we were all thrilled with the adventure of rooming together in a "haunted" house, though money could not have hired any of us to stay in the house alone.

About a week after we began living there, at four o'clock in the morning, we had more chills than thrills. We were all awakened by sounds on the ground floor that easily suggested a death struggle. In those days we had neither telephone nor electricity in the house. Ten minutes before it happened my trust was in the Lord; thirty seconds after it happened, I would have trusted in my legs if there had been any place to go. Because no one dared go to bed without investigation, and no one was willing to go down the stairs alone, and no one dared to stay alone upstairs if the others went down, we were all forced to go down, or spend the balance of the night in terror. By this time all was quiet below, and with two or three oil lamps, I led the night-shirt patrol down the stairs. The place was empty, and all doors and windows were locked from the inside.

Next morning the hilarity of the older folk at the breakfast table was unrestrained when we told our story. Our fright was credited to a nightmare or a prank that some one of our number had played. The boys felt that they had been made the victims of a cruel joke.

About a week later, the ghost performance was repeated with more noise than before. This time we acted quickly; we had been badgered until we were eager to catch our tormentors in the act. The noise suddenly ceased when we started downstairs, and by the time we reached the lower floor, all was quiet and no door or window had been opened. Just then, it occurred to someone that there was a cellar under the house that we had never thought of before. With courage activated by fear, we went wide-eyed and trembling into the cellar to find it empty and no visible entrance other than the way we entered,—Just stone walls, and one place where it appeared that the wall had caved in and had been mended with planks. Seeing this, I directed that every light be extinguished, with matches held ready to relight them. In the total darkness I discovered the thinnest, faintest line of light between two planks. The planks closed the end of a tunnel, and at the other end, under another building, were bakers putting loaves of dough in a great oven. We slept well the balance of the night and then hammered in some spike nails where they did the most good.

Next morning, one long table was surrounded with heroes. We admitted it. Our elders were abashed; they admitted it. Why was the house "haunted"? We surmised that someone desired to force the owner to sell it for a fraction of its value.

Beware of Fortunetellers

Ten Reasons Why These Charlatans Cannot Help

Some months before I was married, I served a small congregation in an Ohio town. While visiting in a section called "Shantytown," I found a man who was paralyzed from his hips down. I explained as best I could God's good news for sinners, and the afflicted man seemed to be happily converted: The next time I called, he was eager to see me and ask me a question. He said: "The only way I have of getting money to feed my family is by telling fortunes. Must I give that up?"

I answered as kindly as I could, "You cannot be a Christian and swindle people."

He protested: "I do not swindle people. What I tell people comes true."

Obviously he was sincere, and seeing that I was unconvinced, he said, "Let me prove it by telling your fortune."

Gently I explained that I would think it a sin to consult a fortuneteller.

He said, "Before you decide that it is a swindle, give me a chance to prove that it is not."

Seemingly A Fair Test

This seemed so fair that I consented to listen. He said that I was one of seven children or would be the father of seven children. This was not true then or now. He said that I was engaged to be married. This would be a safe guess in the case of a young minister living in bachelor's quarters. He said that the young woman of the romance was coming to see me very soon. This I denied as impossible, because such a visit would have been considered most improper. His next revelation astounded me—I was utterly bewildered. He said, "You are soon to go on a very long Journey. You will cross a very large river that is deep and dark." How did he know that?

I supposed that only three people on earth knew that I had that week accepted an appointment to take charge of a similar work In St. Louis, and at a time when the Mississippi River was near flood stage and discolored with mud. He had no information as to which direction I was going or what river I was to cross. There were other items to my "fortune," but they were commonplace, and I was so puzzled that they made no lasting impression on my memory. I do not even remember my parting words and the prayer that I offered.

On my way home I stopped at the Post office and was handed a letter from the young woman who later shared my name. In the letter she said: "Father is driving through to East Liverpool on business. I am riding with him. We shall stop at your place for dinner." My mind was in great confusion. I wonder how many people have had their faith warped by such evidence. Fortunately for my peace of mind, a letter came two days later and it said, "Father has changed his plans. We are not coming." Then I began somewhat prayerfully to take the experience apart to see what had really happened.

(1) I had received no helpful information.

(2) Revealing my expected trip did not tell me anything I did not already know. It did not tell me more than a fraction of what I knew.

(3) The predicted visit was a plan in someone's mind, and the fortuneteller could not foresee a change of mind.

(4) If, as some believe, an evil spirit was speaking through an impoverished cripple who had professed faith in Christ, then that spirit was a meddling, eavesdropping gossiper,—without power to bring things to pass.

(5) If, as some believe, it was a mere coincidence, then such coincidences are quite out of proportion to mathematical probabilities.

(6) Whatever the source of the information, other matters of vastly greater importance—matters wherein I needed guidance, were omitted.

(7) The prophecies of my future did not in any way depend on my moral conduct. The word "if" was not in the predictions. In the Bible, God offers men alternatives.

(8) If the promise of seven children were really dependable, it would wrap my life up in fatalism, until the prediction reached consummation.

(9) If the prediction of the visit was mind reading, there were millions of minds, and some directive force must bring into focus the mind that contemplated the visit.

(10) The predictions did not deal with finalities; fortunetellers never do. If he had guaranteed me long life, prosperity, popularity, and power to rule multitudes, yet I could have asked, "After that what?" Eternity was left untouched.