Monday, January 30, 2012

SOLA EXPERIENTIA

Neologisms for Neoevangelicals


SOLA EXPERIENTIA [(soh-luh) (ɪkˈspɪər ee ən’ see uh)]

[(1685–95; < Italian, Latin sōlus alone); (1350–1400; Middle English < Latin experientia, equivalent to experient- stem of experiēns, past participle of experīrī to try, test; see ex-1, peril} + -ia noun suffix; see -ence) (Latin ablative, "by experience alone")]


  1. Experience alone—in contrast to the Reformation, which set forth the doctrine of Sola Scriptura (the Bible alone) as the basis for spiritual authority; experience as modern evangelicalism's basis for final authority.
  2. Giving sole or final authority to the totality of the cognitions given by emotions; placing feelings over reason, rational thought or biblical Truth.
  3. Ascribing preeminent spiritual significance to all that is perceived, understood, and remembered in personal experience.
  4. Placing sole or final authority in the knowledge or practical wisdom gained from what one has observed, encountered, or felt.
  5. Placing sole or final authority in the knowledge or practical wisdom gained from what others have observed, encountered, or felt, especially including those of spiritual leaders, popular speakers, authors and celebrities.

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." (2 Timothy 4:3-4) 



*Adapted from www.dictionary.com

NOTE: The original posting can be found HERE. Several members of the Discernment Research Group have been collaborating with Pastor Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries to develop a descriptive vocabulary for the new doctrines, practices and heresies of the emerging evangelical church.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

PLURA SCRIPTURA

Neologisms for Neoevangelicals


PLURA SCRIPTURA  ([ploor-uh] [skrɪpt ər’ uh])

[(1350–1400; Middle English  < Latin plūrālis,  equivalent to plūr-,  stem of plūs plus  + -alis -al); (1250–1300; Middle English  < Latin scrīptūra  writing. See script, -ure) ((Latin ablative, "by Scripture plus more")*


1.    Consisting of, containing, or pertaining to more than the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments; the Scriptures plus something else.
2.    The doctrine that the Bible contains knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness,  and that superior spiritual insight may be found through the supplementation of revelation, dream, impression, experience, contact with the afterlife, voice, signs and wonders, psycho-social constructs, new theory, new thought, etc.
3.    The idea that the doctrines to be admitted or confessed in the Christian faith are found directly within Scripture as well as other authorities considered co-equal, co-relevant, and or sublimely inspired, thus creating new revelation.
4.    The doctrine of the authority of the personal witness of the Holy Spirit or spirit to the heart of each man as a necessary embellishment to the biblical text.
5.    The teaching that all things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; and that only the learned, the elect, or the leadership elite may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.
6.    The evolutionary philosophy that the positive future of man, including world peace, is predicated upon the unity of world religious beliefs; syncretism.



NOTE: The original posting can be found HERE. Several members of the Discernment Research Group have been collaborating with Pastor Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries to develop a descriptive vocabulary for the new doctrines, practices and heresies of the emerging evangelical church. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

BREACHED!

The Symptoms of Seduction by Spirits

 “Now it came about when Jerusalem was captured in the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army came to Jerusalem and laid siege to it; in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month, in the ninth day of the month, the city wall was breached.”
Jeremiah 39:1-2, NASB





By the Discernment Research Group


“It was toward the end of the reading that I first noticed the whirling sensation over my head. I tried to ignore it, but it wouldn’t go away. It was a strange but not unpleasant feeling that seemed to flutter and vibrate and even tingle above me. I was startled when Bonnie [my psychic reader] picked up on it.

‘Are you aware that there is a ball of light over your head?’

I was dumfounded. A ball of light? Is that what I was feeling? This was getting a little wild. I told Bonnie that I had been feeling something over my head but didn’t know what it was. She said it again.

‘It’s a ball of light.’

For a moment I tried to understand what a ball of light was doing over my head. Then I asked the obvious.

‘Why is there a ball of light over my head?’

‘You are being shown that you have a lot of help on the other side,’ she said matter-of-factly.

‘What do you mean by “the other side”?’

‘The spirit world,’ was her quick reply. ‘Family and loved ones who have passed away, as well as angels and other spirits who for whatever reasons are sympathetic to your life. They are making themselves known to you. They are reaching out to you and letting you know that they are available if you want their help’.”
—Warren Smith, The Light That Was Dark[1]


Introduction
One of life’s most difficult experiences is the death of a loved one, especially the death of one’s own child. Yet Scripture promises Christians that,

“the God and Father the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ [has]... according to His abundant mercy...  caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5, NASB)

Appropriated by faith, this “blessed hope” is the source of strength and comfort to Christians grieving over the death of a believing loved one who also trusted in the salvation offered by and in the Lord Jesus Christ.

This series of articles has been difficult for the Discernment Research Group to publish. As we read the account of Pastor Steve and Sarah Berger’s loss of their teenage son Josiah in a tragic car accident, our hearts stirred with sympathy for them and their family, for their church and their friends. Yet we rejoiced with them in their assurance that Josiah, a professing believer in Jesus Christ, was in Heaven and in the legacy he had left here on earth.

However, amidst our sympathy for them and thoughtful consideration, we decided it necessary to rebut the New Age view of Heaven that was publicly being spread amongst the evangelical community in the Bergers’ book, Have Heart: bridging the gulf between heaven and earth.[2] Openly endorsed by such high-profile church figures as James Robison, Chuck Missler and Greg Laurie,[3] and promoted by various media outlets[4] and Koinonia House,[5] this book required a public response.[6]

In a point-by-point biblical and theological analysis and commentary, Have Heart was reviewed by Pastor Larry DeBruyn in his 5-part series “Do the Dead Communicate with the Living?” The Discernment Research Group thought this review of the Bergers’ book was necessary because the issues it introduces to America’s evangelical community; namely a New Age understanding of Heaven that allows for visitations from Christian loved ones who have entered the afterlife.

From our perspective, we are sorry that the grief and anguish of their son’s death has opened the minds of the family, their friends and their audience to “the other side”[7] for the term “other side” derives its meaning from the occult world of Spiritualism, a religious phenomena that has been around for centuries.[8] As a movement, Wikipedia describes the rise of Spiritualism to prominence in the 1840s as follows:

Spiritualism is a belief system or religion, postulating the belief that spirits of the dead residing in the spirit world have both the ability and the inclination to communicate with the living. Anyone may receive spirit messages, but formal communication sessions (séances) are held by “mediums”, who can then provide information about the afterlife.[9]

Under the subheading “Syncretism,” the Wikipedia entry also notes that Spiritualism was a forerunner to the New Age movement, with which it shares many similarities and overlapping connections, and that in the past it gained a foothold in many liberal Christian churches whose membership contains so-called “Christian Spiritualists.”[10] So herein resides our concern: the door to the doctrines and practices of Spiritualism is now being opened amongst unsuspecting evangelicals because of the information and experiences communicated by the Bergers’ book. In other words, the spiritual security of the evangelical church has been breached. This breach not only includes descriptions of their son Josiah’s afterlife appearances here on earth, but also credits to occult sources in the book and new teachings about Heaven described by the authors. Because several members of the Discernment Research Group have come out of the New Age movement and have personally experienced the psychic world, we recognize Spiritualism when we see it, no matter how its tenets might be labeled. So we became alarmed enough to write more on this topic in order to warn others of the dangers inherent with courting the beliefs and practices of Spiritualism. The following summary covers some spiritualist activities that concern us.

The Symptoms of Spiritualism
Apparitions
In Spiritualism, “apparitions” is the term commonly employed to describe that the dead in some manner, shape or form, make appearances to those who are still living. But its meaning can extend beyond this. As a term, apparition “covers all visionary appearances, hallucinations, clairvoyance, and similar unusual perceptions.”[11] This broadly includes the experience of sounds, voices, visions or images, dreams, impressions or feelings, etc. An apparition has commonly been associated with a “ghost” of a human being, a.k.a. a “familiar spirit.”[12] Contact from animals (often associated with animism), extra-terrestrials, mythological creatures and gods, and even inanimate objects have also been reported. In analyzing the vast array of historical and cross-cultural reports about apparitions, one occult source explains why these apparitions are feared: “Almost invariably the spirits of the deceased are thought to be unfriendly towards the living, desirous of drawing the souls of the latter, or their shadows, into the spirit-world.”[13] The analysis concludes:

Thus it will be seen that ancient and modern ideas on apparitions differ very little in essential particulars, though they take colour from the race and time to which they belong.... [T]he laws which govern their appearance are the same, and the beliefs concerning them are not greatly different, in whatever race or age they may be found.[14]

Universalism
Implicitly or explicitly, the widespread phenomenon of apparitions suggests salvific universalism.[15] In a recently posted 5-part series on Herescope, Pastor DeBruyn explained why biblical Christians are not to condone the appearances of apparitions (in whatever form). The Bible expressly forbids association with apparitions! But the door to this type of universalistic thinking has been opened, perhaps unwittingly, when in their book the Bergers fail to acknowledge the existence of Hell. This tragic omission could imply the idea of Christian Universalism[16], that all will be saved. For those who have lost unsaved family members, this presents a particularly enticing temptation; readers may be led to embrace a false hope and hence, be distracted from the true gospel. Furthermore, Have Heart does not warn of the possibility of seducing spirits and demons impersonating loved ones, disguising themselves as angels “of light” to the grieving. (2 Corinthians 11:14; 1 Timothy 4:1) Interestingly, the premise that familiar spirits impersonate demons is prominent in occult lore.[17] Thus, the warning of 1 John 4:1 is particularly relevant to these types of experiences: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”

Spontaneity
The Bergers’ use of “spontaneity” to legitimatize a visit from a loved one is not a valid test because it doesn’t take a séance or a medium to invoke an apparition![18] Occult lore is filled with stories of apparitions which were not solicited. One source states: “Sometimes the familiar [spirit] annexed himself voluntarily to a master, without any exercise of magic skill or invocation on his part....”[19] In fact, so prevalent were the stories of uncalled-for visits from dead loved ones, that in the late 1800s societies for “psychical research” were formed for the purpose of studying apparitions.[20] These psychical research societies cataloged these reports of visitations, including encounters which warned of impending danger or delivered prophetic utterances. Shortly after a person’s death, most often the specter of that dead person came unbidden and unsolicited to loved ones. In short, they just showed up.

In the overall context of Spiritualism, the Bergers’ stories about visits from Josiah bear eerie similarity to reports collected and categorized over the past several centuries of psychic and occult research.[21] This fact may disappoint those who read the Bergers’ book and put their hope in the new way Have Heart imagines Heaven even as it sanctions visits from deceased Christian loved ones. Yet it remains a fact that these types of experiences cannot be supported by Holy Scripture and they manifest characteristics of the occult world.

Earthly Afterlife
Another common thread is Spiritualism’s belief that hauntings by departed loved ones (i.e., “apparitions”) indicate that they still have an active purpose here on earth. One occult source explains it this way:

If no definite message is conveyed, the apparition may be explained by a continued interest in earthly occupations. The spirit apparently cannot adjust himself immediately to his new surroundings, he may be seen for a while in his favorite haunts or at his usual work, being somehow enabled, when recently free from the body, to enjoy a fuller perception of earthly scenes than it is afterwards possible to retain.[22] (Emphasis added)

It is precisely at this point where the teaching of Have Heart crosses over to “the other side”. The authors assert that their son Josiah is still actively engaged in earthly affairs. He isn’t just in Heaven alive, active and aware (which biblically is true), but they go on to assert he, as others, make visits and go on missions to earth. This they validate by the various accounts of people who have had paranormal experiences with him.

The Bergers re-cast all of these post-mortem Josiah appearances into a Christian context, explaining them in terms of ministry and mission for the Master. They write, “Josiah is ministering and working to help others... He’s doing it from Heaven!”(HH, p. 5) And also, “He was fully alive on earth, and now, he is fully alive in Heaven and encouraging others [presumably on earth, ed.] to awake, arise, and receive the Light.”(HH, p. 18) Have Heart relies heavily on the ideas in an 1800s book by Rebecca Ruter Springer called My Dream of Heaven which teaches that “saints in Heaven go on ‘invisible missions’ to earth,” and who reported that her brother Frank was engaged in post-mortem “heavenly ministry... to make trips to earth for the Master.”(HH, p 89-90)[23]

The descriptions of paranormal hauntings in occult literature strongly resemble the reports of Josiah’s activities in Have Heart. The idea of loved ones coming back to comfort the bereaved, or help those on earth, is often cited as a purpose for visitations in the occult world. New Age occultist Shirley MacLaine, in her famous 1983 book, Out on a Limb (Bantam), records a conversation with her trance-channeler Kevin Ryerson:

“Do you believe everyone has spiritual guides?” I [MacLaine] asked.

Kevin looked surprised. “Why sure,” he said, “that’s what the soul does after it passes out of the body. Souls that have died, so to speak, help those who are still in the body. Why, that’s what spiritual understanding is all about.”
(Emphasis added, p. 184)

The Bergers state that they “believe that Josiah is participating in the ‘catching’ of unbelievers for Jesus Christ.”(HH, p. 87).[24] While it is true that Josiah’s life’s legacy remains as a good testimony to his Christian walk on earth (we think of the love he shared with others, his donated organs and the orphanage established in his name), the Bergers then leap into the paranormal by recording how Josiah’s ninth-grade English teacher dreamed a dream in which Josiah’s spirit told her that, “he was in Thailand because that is where he was needed.”(HH, p. 90) There are no recorded incidents in Scripture of the spirits of the dead traveling to specific locations on earth,[25] but as noticed by psychics, stories like this abound in the occult world.

Frightening Phenomena[26]
The experiences of Carl Jung, the famous psychoanalyst, reveal his lifelong connection with Spiritualism. His psychotherapeutic method grew out of his obsession with connecting with “the other side.” His family background was steeped in occult tradition,[27] and by the time he was a young man, he had begun to employ spiritualist techniques in a series of experiments with a young cousin “Helly”. Coinciding with when his father lay on his deathbed, Jung and Helly tried their first séance, which rapidly went out of control as manifestations of frightening occult activity occurred. In the midst of her trance, Helly reportedly “embarked on a ‘magical flight’” with their dead grandfather “in order to save the soul of another.” The flight included a visit to Sao Paulo, Brazil (Compare Luke 16:27-31.).[28]

Imagination
From these experiments with the occult, Carl Jung would go on to develop his concept of “active imagination.” As a result of studying the “trance” states of his cousin Helly during their experiments of connecting with the dead, Jung developed his technique for “visioning.” This trance method was later used by Jung to gain access (“initiation”) into the pagan mystery cults.[29] Jung believed “active imagination” was a way to suspend

...the critical function of the conscious ego to allow images and feelings to arise from the subconscious mind. One’s inner voice could also be found in this way and like a medium, one could speak to it and establish an ongoing dialogue with it....[30] (Emphasis added)

Today we would identify this trance technique as a classic method of meditation or contemplation the intent of which is to induce altered states of consciousness. In the occult world there is a spiritual purpose for this. Jung hoped that such a state would lead to the “creation of a New Man” in a spiritual occult sense.[31] Jung’s legacy has directly impacted evangelicals as evidenced by their widespread use of his “visualization” and “imagination” techniques.

Employing the same kind of imagination-visualization technique to connect with “the other side,” the Bergers state:

Our minds need to be stretched to the other side. I coined a term to illustrate the need to break out of the box and allow God to maximize our view of Heaven: “sanctified imagination within the confines of biblical truth.”(Emphasis added, HH, p. xxii)

The modern-day evangelical movement is precariously susceptible to the suggestive new theologies of the Bergers about connecting with the dead. Why? Because evangelicals are widely participating in “imaginative” activities like contemplation, visualization and other meditative methods that produce mystic states of altered consciousness.[32] In a vulnerable trance-like state induced by contemplative practices, new ideas, imaginations, revelations, doctrines and practices are introduced to the practitioners’ souls. Truth becomes “sourced” within. Not surprisingly, the spirit world uses such trance states to alter orthodox Christian beliefs even as it engrains anti-Christian beliefs in people’s hearts.

The Bergers explain that “Mr. Jim” received his visitation from Josiah when he was already very vulnerable; he was “tired, questioning, and drained.”(HH, p. 100) By itself, grief produces overwhelming feelings that can throw a person off emotionally, physically and spiritually. This is a normal fact of our human nature and explains why Christians should tangibly minister to those who have recently lost loved ones. But this is also a state where people can be more susceptible to false hopes. When combined with attainment of an altered state of consciousness, the agony of grief can become a recipe for spiritual disaster!

New Age psychic Ainslie MacLeod, in his book The Instruction: Living the Life Your Soul Intended, includes a story about his altered-state susceptibility to an apparition of his departed Uncle John:

The psychics had always told me that my deceased Uncle John was one of my spirit guides. Kathleen Loughery, a trance channeler I met on the island of Kauai, was no different. Toward the end of my session with her, she said, “Your uncle is here, and he’s ready to start working with you.”

I left Kathleen and walked out into the glaring sunshine in what I recognized to be a slightly altered state. I drove (cautiously) to Borders bookstore and, as I stood facing a bookshelf, suddenly saw a face to my right.

I froze in amazement. It was my Uncle John.... The image was dimensional and sharp, though it lasted a second or two at the most. At the same time I got a message, “Let’s get started.”[33]

(The fact that MacLeod’s book contains a front page endorsement by Dr. Mehmet Oz, a well-known New Age physician who is overseeing Rick Warren’s health care reform plan, The Daniel Plan, should be of additional concern to evangelicals.[34])

Synchronicity and “God Nods”
Have Heart teaches that God provides grieving loved ones with “special, supernatural moments” that “radically contribute to the healing process. They come spontaneously and when we least expect them.”(HH, p. 113) These “God Nods” are said to come in the form of “experiences”(HH, p. 114), particularly when God, in his “spontaneous sovereignty... allows gifts from the land of the living, Heaven, to touch those in the land of the dying, this earth, to bring comfort and peace.”(HH, p. 20) As related by the Bergers, these experiences had an aspect of timeliness of them, often coming in the form of dreams or impressions.

As pointed out in the 5-part review of and commentary on Have Heart, the idea of “God Nods” bears a striking similarity to the New Age concept of Synchronicity, often referred to as “meant-to-be” experiences that seem more than coincidental and therefore spiritual. Marilyn Ferguson, whose book The Aquarian Conspiracy brought the New Age movement to the fore of American culture, defined “synchronicity” as “guidance” for mystics.[35] In her book, she connects synchronicity to psychic phenomena such as clairvoyance, remote viewing, precognition and psycho-kinesis, and describes it as a “meaningful coincidence, a composite of the other phenomena.”[36] The New Age occult world ascribes an evolutionary purpose to Synchronicity. New Ager James Redfield in his 2011 book The Twelfth Insight: The Hour of Decision, records a conversation that explains:

[I]f we follow the Synchronicity, we will be able to learn from those in Heaven in a direct way, and that will elevate us into the next level of consciousness.[37] (Emphasis added)

While Christians believe in the absolute sovereignty of God—Who directs all of our lives—the idea of God employing paranormal encounters with the dead to influence or direct our spiritual walk resides outside the parameter of Holy Scripture. Are we Christians to believe that the Word and the Spirit are insufficient guides of faith for us?

Syncretism
Opening the door of Spiritualism not only facilitates the merging of evangelicalism with its belief system, but also its near spiritual cousin, New Age Religion. Much of the evangelical church today is now primed for a great convergence or synthesis of religious systems; i.e. Syncretism. For example, The Elijah List, which promotes the activities and beliefs of the New Apostolic Reformation, recently advertised a “School of the Supernatural,” described as a “POWERFUL ONLINE PROPHETIC MENTORING CLASSES, DELIVERANCE OR ON-LOCATION SUPERNATURAL ENCOUNTERS PURPOSED TO STRETCH YOUR PERCEPTION, FREEDOM AND INTIMACY WITH GOD!”[38] Supernatural encounters described by the New Apostolic Reformation have included a wide variety of paranormal experiences, including voices, revelations, impressions, visitations, dreams, strange phenomena, manifestations and a wide variety of encounters with the spirit world.[39]

Arcangel’s Afterlife
The Bergers cite Dianne Arcangel’s book Afterlife Encounters: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Experiences.(HH, pp. 94-95) At one of her websites, Arcangel’s bio describes her as:

Former hospice chaplain, psychiatric hospital therapist, and Director of the Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Center of Houston, Dianne is an international presenter on the topics of death, dying, grief, and afterlife encounters.[40]

This bio is significant because Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, who encouraged the formation of the hospice movement in this country and is best known for her book Death and Dying, later delved into the afterlife. It is reported that “In the late 1970s Kübler-Ross became interested in out-of-body experiences, mediumship, spiritualism and in other ways attempting to contact the dead.”[41]

This presents a huge problem for the Christian reader. The Bergers offer little warning about Arcangel or her book; however, immediately after citing her psychical research findings, they do qualify that they are “not talking about channeling, séances, or mediums trying to contact the dead.”(HH, pp. 94-95) Because of the lack of specificity in their mild disclaimer, readers might conclude that Arcangel’s book is being generally recommended as a good source regarding matters of the afterlife. This might prove disastrous to a new believer, or one who is not a discipled or discerning Christian. In reading Arcangel’s book, they could be attracted to and influenced by her appealingly-packaged New Age Spiritualism.

Arcangel’s book details her research results, which the Bergers cite in a positive way.(HH, p. 94) In Afterlife Encounters, Arcangel continues in the tradition of the societies for psychical research which sought to investigate and catalog encounters with the dead. To do her research, she admits that she turned to this “psychical” research (p. 278). Chapter 2, titled “The Survey Reveals,” gives it all a positive New Age spin:

Whether real of imagined, paranormal beliefs enhance mental health. Simply believing in the hereafter is life enhancing. Experiencing an afterlife encounter (AE) is a significant element for transcending loss. It, furthermore, offers a leap toward enlightenment.

The 1990s spiritual movement, with its focus on contacting the dead, brought a groundswell of attention surrounding the tremendous value of afterlife encounters.... [42] (Emphasis added)

Accentuating this same ideal, Arcangel’s Preface explains it in terms of world peace. “Afterlife encounters are beacons of life” she writes. “They are catalysts offering a more peaceful, loving and compassionate world.”[43] The book itself is a compendium of afterlife encounters, all cast in a most positive light. In a chapter “The World of Mediumship,” Arcangel records her private session with George Anderson, “an internationally recognized medium” who was “highly respected among [Arcangel's] Elizabeth Kübler-Ross colleagues.”[44] This medium tells Arcangel:

You have a lot of people over there. They all send their love and are proud of who you are and the work you are doing. They're helping you from the other side....[45] (Emphasis added)

Psychic Science
Arcangel’s book continues the historical tradition of the institutes for psychical research which sought to find “scientific” reasons behind the occult research findings about afterlife encounters. There were divisions between those who wanted to place all of these extrasensory experiences in the realm of the brain (psychology) and those who gave credence to the reality of the spirit world. Theories abounded about the various causes for these afterlife experiences: hallucinations, hysteria, telepathy, hypnotism, mesmerism, psychic forces, pathological conditions of the brain or nerves, trances, the cosmos, the encounters with the gods and the power of myths, split-personalities, the unconscious mind, dementia praecox, etc.[46]

Regardless of whether these afterlife encounters were explained by psychology or parapsychology, the overriding conclusion was that these contacts profoundly altered the person who had these experiences. The encounters became a pivotal, life-changing event; an experience so powerful and revelatory that Carl Jung sought to turn them into a rite of initiation into pagan mysteries.[47]

In our era, the New Age Movement has provided an over-arching platform for all of these diverse theories about the afterlife and has ascribed a global purpose to the experiences. In this context, then, the Bergers' book Have Heart finds a unique niche in the evangelical world, positing a new theology about the afterlife that comfortably merges it with the entire Spiritualism paradigm, and promising that these encounters are part of God’s “kingdom work” and “redemptive plan.” (HH, p. 91-92)

Intimidating Experiences
The problem with encountering those in the afterlife, whether spontaneous or sought after, is that things can rapidly get out of control and become scary. Occult lore is filled with accounts of frightening experiences with apparitions. While the Bergers focus on the comforting aspect of the many dreams, impressions and visitations of Josiah, there is another side of this story. One occult source summarizes the deception inherent in these experiences:

About the true nature of apparitions we do not know much. As Andrew Lang stated: “Only one thing is certain about apparitions, namely this that they do appear. They really are perceived.” How are they seen? When Lord Adare submitted this question to the control of D.D. Home, he received the following answer “At times we make passes over the individual to cause him to see us, sometimes we make the actual resemblance of our former clothing, and of what we were, so that we appear exactly as we were known to you on earth; sometimes we project an image that you see, sometimes you see us as we are, with a cloudlike aura of light around us.”[48]

But other experiences, perhaps more frightening, include encounters with ghosts, poltergeists, demons, familiar spirits and goblins, witches, werewolves, vampires, apparitions, etc., all of whom reportedly wreak spiritual havoc, cause psychological damage, and can do bodily harm (See Mark 5:1-13.). Furthermore, these appearances are often reported to be accompanied by divination and curses.[49] It is quite obvious that once one begins flirting with the afterlife, dire things can happen. A loved one might be solicited, but other spirits can show up! Ex-New Age follower Warren Smith records his frightening experience with a disembodied evil presence in his testimony The Light That Was Dark:

In the late evening hours, I was startled out of my sleep by an awful evil presence pressing in upon me. I bolted upright and in a horrified, broken voice called out, “Help me, God!”

Joy sprang out of bed in a flash and was immediately by my side. She knew exactly what was going on. Looking directly at me, she addressed the unseen presence, “In the name of Jesus Christ, leave Warren alone!”

And woosh! It... left as soon as Joy called on the name of Jesus.[50]

Another Jesus, another gospel
Some apparitions even claim to be “Jesus”. Warren Smith’s testimony recounts how he encountered a “false Christ” and “another Jesus” when he was a seeker in the New Age movement. He also relates how Helen Schucman heard an “inner voice” that said, “This is A Course in Miracles. Please take notes.” The voice, which later identified itself as “Jesus,” proceeded to dictate a body of material that completely contradicted the real gospel of Christ and whose oppositional teachings could only be characterized as “another gospel,” “another spirit,” and “another Jesus.”

[M]ost of us never knew the Bible's explicit warnings that false Christs and false prophets would arise in our midst and seduce us with supernatural signs and wonders to make us think their teachings came from God. Those signs and wonders would be so convincing that “if it were possible” they would fool even the most faithful believers of the real gospel and the real Christ.[51]

Conclusion
The warning is plain. There are false voices, impressions, experiences, prophecies, and signs and wonders that cleverly counterfeit themselves to be authentic-experiential encounters with the afterlife. These spiritual experiences can seem genuinely real, perfectly timed and intimately personal as they speak to our needs and comfort our hearts. But even as they may seem to meet our emotional and spiritual needs, we must acknowledge our vulnerability to spiritual deception and therefore measure these experiences by the full counsel of God’s Word, all the while knowing that such encounters are unprecedented in and therefore unsanctioned by Holy Scripture, which reveals to human hearts the true work of the Holy Spirit (See John 5:39; 15:26).

Dr. Harry Ironside, pastor of Chicago’s Moody Memorial Church from 1930-1948, emphasizes the fact that truth mixed with error results in “all error”:

Error is like leaven, of which we read, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” Truth mixed with error is equivalent to all error, except that it is more innocent looking and, therefore, more dangerous. God hates such a mixture! Any error, or any truth-and-error mixture, calls for definite exposure and repudiation. To condone such is to be unfaithful to God and His Word and treacherous to imperiled souls for whom Christ died.[52]


“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times
some will fall away from the faith,
paying attention to deceitful spirits
and doctrines of demons....”

1 Timothy 4:1, NASB

Endnotes
1. Warren Smith, The Light That Was Dark: from the New Age to Amazing Grace (Mountain Stream Press, 2005), p. 16-17, emphasis added. This initial experience with a psychic served to propel Smith into the New Age movement. For more information on his testimony, see http://www.mountainstreampress.org.
2. Steve and Sarah Berger, Have Heart: bridging the gulf between heaven and earth (Franklin, TN: Grace Chapel, Inc., 2010).
3. In the Introduction to this series, we wrote on Herescope, “But perhaps one of the most dangerous aspects of the Berger book is the endorsements of high profile leaders such as Calvary Chapel Pastor Greg Laurie and longtime Bible teacher Chuck Missler. Not surprisingly, The Shack’s author Paul Young is also listed alongside Laurie and Missler as an endorser of the book.” (http://herescope.blogspot.com/2012/01/happy-new-age-new-year-2012.html). Elsewhere we have written about James Robison, who has deep ties with the New Apostolic Reformation. See: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2011/08/denying-dominionism.html
4. In the Introduction to this series, we wrote on Herescope: “It has already been featured on several widely viewed television programs like Robert Schuller’s Hour of Power and Canada’s Huntley Street. In addition to these and other venues, Steve Berger was invited to speak about his book at a 2011 National Worship Conference that featured a number of Emergent and evangelical leaders like Chuck Smith Jr., Miles McPherson, Chuck Fromm, and which advertised as a keynote speaker the “Christian” New Age sympathizer Leonard Sweet.” (See http://herescope.blogspot.com/2012/01/happy-new-age-new-year-2012.html and follow the links).
5. There are many interconnections between the Bergers and Chuck Missler and Koinonia House. On page 55 of the Koinonia Institute Handbook, Berger is listed as teaching a course BTE 509 Heaven, http://www.studycenter.com/downloads/KI_Handbook.pdf. For more interconnections, see also: https://www.studycenter.com/courseList.html, http://tn.kiregional.com/resources, http://tn.kiregional.com/grace-chapel, http://www.gracechapel.net/ministries/?p=detail&id=24, http://www.khouse.org/6640/KIDVD23-2/, http://www.khouse.org/articles/2010/922/print/, page 2 of http://www.studycenter.com/spyglass/Spyglass_Monthly_November_2010.pdf, and http://www.khouseafrica.com/PDF%20Newsletters/eJUN2009RSA.pdf.
6. Matthew 18:15-17. In the past, some have impugned Herescope as being guilty of not going personally to the offending party as Jesus ordered. “Did you not approach the people you are writing about privately, as the Lord commanded?” they ask. Such an accusation is irrelevant for two reasons: First, the matters under discussion are not personal within the confines of a local church. Second, in that the viewpoints expressed by the Bergers in Have Heart have been made public and publicly endorsed by other ministries, they demand a public response. A private response regarding a public matter is both non sequitur and unproductive as regards the worldview asserted by the authors and their endorsers. If Matthew 18 is applicable to this situation, then we are already at the third stage where Jesus said, “tell it unto the church” (Matthew 18:17).
7. “Our minds need to be stretched to the other side,” say the Bergers in Have Heart, p. xxii. Their use of the term “the other side” parallels its use in Spiritualism.
8. “The other side” is a very common term in Spiritualism to describe contact with the dead or other spiritual entities. For example, note the following book titles: Todd J. Leonard, Talking to the Other Side: A History of Modern Spiritualism and Mediumship: A Study of the Religion, Science, Philosophy and Mediums that Encompass this American-Made Religion (Universe, 2005); John B. Buescher, The Other Side of Salvation: Spiritualism and the Nineteenth-Century Religious Experience (Skinner House Books, 2004); Maurice Leonard, People from the Other Side: A History of Spiritualism (The History Press, 2009).
9. “Spiritualism,” Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritualism) [links not included].
10. Ibid.
11. Leslie Shepard, Ed., Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology: A Compendium of Information on the Occult Sciences, Magic, Demonology, Superstitions, Spiritism, Mysticism, Metaphysics, Psychical Science, and Parapsychology, with Biographical and Bibliographical Notes and Comprehensive Indexes, Vol. One A-L (Gale Research Company, 1978), p. 37.
12. “Familiar spirit” connotes “family” and implies close kinship. In the Old Testament, contact with "familiar spirits" is specifically forbidden, in verses such as: Lev. 19:31, 20:6; 1 Sam. 28:3, 9; 2 Kings 21:6, 23:24; Is. 8:19; 19:3.
13. Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, p. 37.
14. Ibid., p. 39.
15. In New Thought, Universalism “teaches that there is a common thread of truth at the heart of all religions.” Also, “Universalism is a term used to identify particular doctrines considering all people in their formation.” See “Universalism,” Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universalism).
16. Ibid.
17. The Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology lists a multitude of examples, including the story of a Sicilian man in 1585 whose familiar spirit was “a daemon, who in various ways, endeavoured to annoy [the] man,” performed all sorts of dreadful haunting antics, and “vaunted himself to be a daemon,” p. 323.
18. Pastor Larry DeBruyn delves into this matter in some detail under the subheading “Happenings From Heaven” in Part 3 of his series, “Spontaneous Spiritualism.” (http://herescope.blogspot.com/2012/01/spontaneous-spiritualism.html).
19. The Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, p. 323.
20. See, for example, The American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) entry on Wikipedia. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Society_for_Psychical_Research).
21. The Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology cites numerous stories cataloged by these psychical research societies, and many of the accounts bear remarkable similarity to the experiences with “Josiah” described in Have Heart.
22. Ibid., p. 43.
23. Rebecca Ruter Springer, My Dream of Heaven: Intra Muros (United Kingdom: White Crow Books, 2010).
24. This is reported in the context of the dream of a Muslim man named Sammy who saw Josiah with a fishing pole and told Sarah Berger that “Josiah has a job, and Josiah fishes,” which the Bergers interpreted to mean that Josiah was still being a fisher of men in the biblical sense, but from beyond the grave. See Have Heart, pp. 83-90.
25. In Acts 8:39-40, when Philip was caught up by the Spirit of the Lord and transported him to Azotus, he was living, not dead.
26. This phrase comes from Richard Noll, The Aryan Christ: The Secret Life of Carl Jung (Random House, 1997), p. 22.
27. For example, Jung’s maternal grandfather, Rev. Samuel Preiswerk, “regularly spoke to spirits.” And, “[a]ccording to family legends, he would talk to the spirit of his deceased first wife in weekly séances while locked in his study, much to the dismay of his second wife.” Ibid., pp. 24-25.
28. Ibid., pp. 26-27.
29. Ibid., p. 121. Author Richard Noll makes an elaborate and extremely well-documented case for this in his two books about the life of Carl Jung. His other book is titled The Jung Cult: Origins of a Charismatic Movement (Princeton University Press, 1994).
30. The Aryan Christ, p. 155.
31. Ibid. This becomes the consciousness aspect of transhumanism.
32. See “Altered States: A Different Gate,” Herescope (http://herescope.blogspot.com/2011/04/altered-states-different-gate.html).
33. Ainslie MacLeod, The Instruction: Living the Life Your Soul Intended (Sounds True, 2007), p. 9.
34. Ibid., Front Matter. For more information on Dr. Oz and his association with Rick Warren, see http://www.mountainstreampress.org/weighed-and-found-wanting/ and Herescope posts such as http://herescope.blogspot.com/2011/03/woo-factor.html and http://herescope.blogspot.com/2011/03/rick-warrens-new-age-health-gurus.html.
35. Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in the 1980s (J.P. Tarcher, 1980), p. 114. This book has often been cited on Herescope posts for its widespread influence in officially outing the New Age Movement.
36. Ibid., p. 174.
37. James Redfield, The Twelfth Insight: The Hour of Decision (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2011), p. 178.
38. The Elijah List e-mail, January 8, 2012, which links to http://www.schoolofthesupernatural.com/ and http://www.warriorsinternational.com
39. For example, see the Herescope series “Divorcing Baal,” beginning at: (http://herescope.blogspot.com/2011/07/divorcing-baal.html).
40. See http://www.arcangel.net/. Also see: http://www.afterlife-encounters.com/.
41. “Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kubler-Ross) [links deleted].
42. Dianne Arcangel, Afterlife Encounters: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Experiences (Hampton Roads, 2005), p. 16. This book was endorsed by Dean Radin, Senior Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, a group which helped to usher in the New Age movement. This group had already impacted evangelical leaders in the late 1970s, which we described in a Herescope series in the Fall of 2006. See for example, http://herescope.blogspot.com/2005_09_01_archive.html.
43. Ibid., p. xiii. See also the Introduction to this series and read the quote from James Redfield's book The Twelfth Insight.
44. Ibid., p. 176. The subheading to this section is titled “George Anderson—The Stradivarius of Mediums.”
45. Ibid., p. 183.
46. See The Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, p. 39 and numerous citations in Noll's The Aryan Christ.
47. As previously noted, described in historical detail in Richard Noll’s two books about Carl Jung: The Jung Cult: Origins of a Charismatic Movement and The Aryan Christ: The Secret Life of Carl Jung.
48. The Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, p. 40. Note that a “control” has to do with possession, meaning demonic possession, usually referring to the entity that enters a medium’s body (summarized from page 185). Punctuation resident in the source as quoted.
49. Ibid. There are numerous scary experiences described in this encyclopedia.
50. The Light That Was Dark, pp. 129-130. While this experience was not with a dead loved one, it is quite similar to those experiences ascribed to the dead in occult sources. As we stated earlier, apparitions come in all sorts of guises.
51. Ibid., p. 152.
52. Quoted in The Berean Call, April 2008.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Spiritualism’s Slippery Slope

Part 5, Do the Dead Communicate with the Living?


Have Heart: bridging the gulf between Heaven and earth
A Review and Commentary (continued)


Read Herescope's Introductory Comments
Read Part 1: Normalizing Necromancy
Read Part 2: The “Canaanization” of the Church
Read Part 3: Spontaneous Spiritualism

Read Part 4: Interpretation by Imagination

By Pastor Larry DeBruyn


Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. And he did evil in the sight of the Lord according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord dispossessed before the sons of Israel. For [among other abominations] he . . . practiced witchcraft, used divination, practiced sorcery, and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger.”
(2 Chronicles 33:1-2, 6, NASB)


In addition to misusing particular texts of Scripture while ignoring others, Have Heart contains an obvious eschatological (eschatology deals with events which are future) problem. As the Bergers propose, to be able to make “supernatural visitations” to the living-in-Christ requires that the dead-in-Christ possess “supernatural bodies” now, that their soul-spirits reside in a glorified materiality in which they can make trips from Heaven to earth and back (the Bergers call these trips missions). But as the New Testament explains, the bodies of dead-in-Christ have not yet been raised unto glory. Their bodies remain asleep in the grave. Nevertheless, to demonstrate that the dead-in-Christ possess the materiality to manifest themselves to the living-in-Christ, the authors propose an eschatology for the resurrection which departs from the New Testament.

When the Resurrection Body?
Resurrection “Now”
If the living in heaven could make “supernatural visitations” to their loved ones on earth, it would require two things: that they possess the supernatural “materiality” and familial “connectivity” to do so. If that were the case, then just as Jesus appeared in His glorified body to His disciples and loved ones after His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:5-8), so in like manner the “dead in Christ” could visit their family and friends. In these resurrected and glorified bodies, the souls of the dead-in-Christ in Heaven would possess “the technological transport” to make their presence known to the living-in-Christ on earth.

Because of Supernatural Materiality
Have Heart proposes that because the dead-in-Christ possess bodies “characterized by glory and honor and power and supernatural abilities,” they have the capacity to appear to loved ones and friends on earth. (HH, 62-65) The Bergers state:

This is so radically important for us to understand as we go through the grieving process: you will be raised to Heaven with this new and better body, and all the believers who have gone before you already have theirs. They are raised in glory, living gloriously right now with God. (Emphasis added, HH, 63)

Again, the book states:

When you think about Christ’s resurrected body, with all of its unique abilities—including miraculously appearing (John 20:26), instantly disappearing (Luke 24:31), and flying (Acts 1:9)—its pretty exciting to think we’ll have the same kind of body and that our loved ones who are with Jesus have one right now. (Emphasis added, HH, 64)

In the aftermath of the death of a loved one, the Bergers believe the grief-stricken on earth may find comfort when in their “supernatural” bodies, the deceased make their “presence” known to them, as when their son Josiah appeared that evening to Mr. Jim in Grace Chapel’s sanctuary. That the dead in Christ can make such appearances is premised upon Jesus’ appearances to His disciples after His resurrection, but the Bergers also employ diverse experiences to back up their revised interpretation of Scripture.

Because of Familial Connectivity
For the Christian dead to make “supernatural visitations” to loved ones on earth also depends upon their being “connected” to those living on earth. The Bergers derive this connectedness from Paul’s rich theological expression (used scores of times by the apostle) that Christians are together “in Christ.” (HH, 108-109) “We are one body,” write the Bergers, “connected in Heaven, and connected between Heaven and earth.” (Emphasis added, HH, 110) Because all “are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:5, NASB), the Bergers then leap to infer that the in-Christ-in-Heaven have “visitation rights” with the in-Christ-on-earth. Whether by dreams, visions or visitations, those in Heaven can supposedly manifest themselves to their family and friends on earth. We are family!

Resembling the Roman Catholic doctrine of the “communion of the saints,” this connectivity is the “maximum” view of what Heaven is like, they say. If Christians do not accept this “connectivity scenario,” their view of heaven is “minimalist,” and in today’s consciousness-expanding world, what Christian wants to be thought of as narrow-minded? But not surprisingly, the New Testament does not support such a view of Heaven. According to God’s Word, the resurrection, the reception of a glorified body by all those in Christ, has not yet happened (See 2 Timothy 2:16-18.). It’s future.

Resurrection “Not Yet”
It may surprise those fascinated by this enticing resurrection scenario created by the Bergers that according to the Bible “the dead in Christ” do not possess “supernatural bodies” with “supernatural abilities” at this point in human history. They have not yet been physically resurrected. Jesus said this will occur at “the last day” (John 6:40), at a time coordinate with His Second Coming, also known as His Parousia or Second Presence.[62] About the timing of the resurrection of believers and their reception of a glorified body, the New Testament is unequivocal. Paul coordinates the timing of the resurrection and translation of all those “in Christ” with the Parousia. Read the Apostle’s words to the Corinthians:

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming [Literally, “at the parousia his”]. (1 Corinthians 15:22-23; See Matthew 24:3, 7.).

Note two things stated in this timing text: first, in the “firstfruits” analogy, Paul states that the type of resurrection body believers are to receive will be like Christ’s; second, as to time, these resurrection bodies will be created by God at Christ’s coming (i.e., His Parousia).

The Apostle also times the resurrection of “the dead in Christ” to be contemporaneous with the translation of the living-in-Christ (a.k.a. the Rapture of the Church). Paul states the simultaneous translation of the living-in-Christ and the dead-in-Christ at Jesus’ Parousia as follows:

The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.... (Emphasis added, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

Furthermore, when all those who were, are or will be “in Christ” appear “with Christ,” then their true identity will be revealed. In that moment of truth, their physicality will reveal their spirituality. Every observer will be aware of a Christian’s true identity in Christ. As Paul states, “the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19, NASB). As he told the church at Colossae, “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear [Greek, phaneroo], then shall ye also appear [Greek, phaneroo, “to make visible what has been hidden or unknown”] with him in glory” (Colossians 3:4). In a similar vein, John wrote:

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear [phaneroo] what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear [phaneroo], we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2)

So in light of the coming manifestation of the “sons of God,” John exhorted believers against hypocrisy. He told them:

“And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear [phaneroo], we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming [parousia]” (1 John 2:28).

The point of this whole discussion is this: departed Christians can’t visit loved ones on earth in glorified bodies because they do not yet possess them. Currently, their bodies are “asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:6, 18; 1 Thessalonians 4:13, 15). Christ’s appearing will be our unveiling, and all those “in Christ” from all ages will be glorified together, and not before the time the Lord has determined.

Why “Not Yet”?
Scripture pictures the bodies of believers, no matter how they might have been lost at the end of this life—cremation, incineration, cannibalized, lost at sea, etc.—to be asleep awaiting resurrection at Christ’s Second Coming. Though from earth’s perspective their bodies are asleep (not consciously present on earth), they are, as the Bergers and the Bible point out, alive, active and aware (consciously present in Heaven). I think the apostle Paul pictures “the dead in Christ” as asleep for at least two reasons.

First, though Christians rightly sorrow at the sting of death, they do not sorrow as those who have no hope. Their loved ones who died in Christ are merely taking their beauty rest. When Christ returns, their bodies will wake up!

Second, Paul describes the bodies of the dead in Christ to be asleep so that there will be no confusion as to their activity, whether ethereal or material, on earth. They do not appear and make visits to loved ones and friends. They are asleep. That the bodies of the dead in Christ are asleep insulates the Bible against endorsing apparitions in any form, period. Why? Because Christians live by faith, and the death of Jesus on the Cross for their sins and His resurrection for their justification is sufficient cause for them to believe. That’s the Gospel!

Then, when Jesus comes again, all glory and honor will be accorded to Him when at the end of time, He brings the bodies of all the dead in Christ back to life “together.” (2 Peter 3:9-13.). But until that day, the day of Jesus’ Parousia, the dead in Christ are not present and active on earth. This may not be how Have Heart imagines the afterlife, but it is as the Bible illumines it. In the meantime, we need to let the dead alone and let them sleep. As Samuel rebuked Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” (1 Samuel 28:15).

What is Heaven like Now?
All that is known about the state of a person’s soul after it is separated from the body (death is the separation of the pneuma from the soma, James 2:26, “the body without the spirit is dead”), is what God has revealed to us. As Dr. René Pache (1904-1979) informs:

None of those raised in either Old Testament or New Testament times recounted a thing, as far as we know, about the experience of going through death into the abode of the dead. Our curiosity could well make us want to question them about it, but God has not permitted this.[63]

We are informed little about the afterlife because we live by faith, and “faith is... the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). In our present state of being, we only “see through a glass, darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Intermediate Bodies?
Though I am aware many theologies represent the dead in Christ to be alive in a “disembodied state” in Heaven now, there is biblical evidence that may not be the case.[64] For instance, Jesus revealed the state of Lazarus and the Rich Man to be “bodied” (Lazarus had a “finger,” and Dives [the rich man] had a “tongue,” Luke 16:19-31.); Matthew refers to the appearance of Moses and Elijah at the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:3-8); Moses and the historian refer to the translations of Enoch and Elijah respectively (Genesis 5:24; 2 Kings 2:11); Jude tells of the contest between Michael and the devil over Moses’ remains (Jude 9); and John sees that deceased believers are dressed in “white robes” (Revelation 6:11; 7:9, 13, 14). It’s difficult to see how robes (materiality) hang on souls (immateriality).

Further, Paul tells us “that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1). Obviously, if the “tabernacle” refers to believers’ earthly bodies, then “building” may correspond to their heavenly bodies.

Because of this biblical evidence, some Bible teachers postulate that, short of the glorified materiality that will be given their bodies at their resurrection at Christ’s Parousia, saints who die “in Christ” and are in Heaven possess an intermediate and temporary body. If that is the case, then in contrast to a dualistic belief which holds that matter is evil and spirit is good, possession of some intermediate materiality in the afterlife would highlight that God views the union between matter and soul-spirit to be “good” because He created it so!

Conclusion
Consolation
When facing the death of a loved one, the relief for grief is belief, belief in God and in the Lord Jesus Christ, who by His resurrection conquered death. With the prospect of His death at hand, Jesus told His disciples in the Upper Room, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me” (Emphasis added, John 14:1). Based upon Jesus’ words to His disciples, Anglican Bishop J.C. Ryle (1816-1900) offers this compelling counsel:

Faith in the Lord Jesus is the only sure medicine for troubled hearts.... To believe more thoroughly, trust more entirely, rest more unreservedly, lay hold more firmly, lean back more completely—this is the prescription which our Master urges on the attention of all His disciples. No doubt that little band which sat round the table at the last supper had believed already.... Yet what does their Lord say to them here? Once more He presses on them the old lesson with which they first began: ‘Believe! Believe more! Believe on Me!’[65]

After Lazarus’ death, Jesus told Martha: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (Emphasis added, John 11:25-26).

Why does the Lord place so great an emphasis upon belief amidst grief? Because, “The just shall live by faith” (Emphasis added, Romans 1:17) and “faith is... the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith deals with the unseen, with those things not entered into by direct physical experience. The Christian expectation regarding the afterlife rests upon Jesus Christ’s resurrection and His promised coming again. The retrospect of His resurrection and the prospect of His return are our assurances “of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1, NASB). Reported visitations to and from Heaven both distract and subtract the believer’s attention from the “blessed hope... the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

When David’s young son dies (a child born out of his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba), he, after mourning, praying and fasting that the boy’s life might be preserved, states:

But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me. (Emphasis added, 2 Samuel 12:22-23)

We observe David’s words of faith: I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me. David knew his son would neither visit nor appear to him after he died. But David believed that when he died, he would go to be with his son.

Caution
I fear, with the growing emphasis on reports of Christians visiting Heaven, or of receiving visits from Heaven, whether solicited or not, that the evangelical church is stepping onto the “slippery slope” leading to spiritualism and spiritism, something practiced by the Canaanites and forbidden by God’s Law (Deuteronomy 18:9-15; Leviticus 19:31; 20:6.). In 1970, Victor Ernest offered these cautionary words:

Spiritualism is very attractive because it promises knowledge of the future and communication with dead loved ones. Many people will be influenced by demonic spirits in this way without realizing it.[66]

This explains why John told early Christians, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God” (1 John 4:1). Ernest further noted: “God has forbidden humans to try to communicate with the departed dead; such attempts result in communication with deceitful spirits, known a ‘familiar’ spirits....”[67] The spirits are called “familiar” because people think they know them from life! There is an intimate disguise to the spirits’ guise, “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel [messenger] of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).

"Thus saith the Lord:
And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."
(Isaiah 8:19-20)


Stay tuned for the conclusion to this whole series. . . .

Endnotes (continued):
62. Three New Testament terms refer to Christ’s Second Coming: parousia, which means arrival or presence (Matthew 24:27); apokalypsis, which means unveiling or disclosure (2 Thessalonians 1:7); apiphaneia, which means appearing (2 Thessalonians 2:8).
63. Pache, Future Life, 194.
64. Robert Duncan Culver, Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical (Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 2005): 1036-1043.
65. J.C. Ryle, Heaven, Large Print Edition (Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 2000): 6-8.
66. Victor H. Ernest, I Talked with Spirits (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1970): Preface.
67. Ibid. 86.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Interpretation by Imagination

Part 4, Do the Dead Communicate with the Living?


Have Heart: bridging the gulf between Heaven and earth
A Review and Commentary (continued)

Read Part 3: Spontaneous Spiritualism


By Pastor Larry DeBruyn


“Our minds need to be stretched to the other side. I coined a term to illustrate the need to break out of the box and allow God to maximize our view of Heaven: ‘sanctified imagination within the confines of biblical truth’.”
(Steve Berger, Have Heart, p. xxii)


“Communicating
Resembling the Roman Catholic teaching on “the communion of the saints,” the Bergers' premise that the dead-in-Christ can communicate with the living-in-Christ is based upon their being in union one with another.[50] The Bergers find precedent for such “connectivity” between living and dead in Christ in several biblical texts which they twist together, including Hebrews 12:1 (“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses”), Ephesians 3:15 (“Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named”), and Romans 12:5 (“So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”). To the authors of Have Heart: bridging the gulf between Heaven and earth, these Bible verses indicate, “There is one family, one name, one body, and we’re all eternally connected on both sides of the veil.” (Emphasis added, HH, 109) Because the dead and living “in Christ” share this connection, they conclude, “Our loved ones may show up in dreams or visits or other ways (who can limit God’s imagination?)....” (HH, 110)

The Bergers call such visitation phenomena, “God Nods.” (HH, 113-121) The “nods” they record include the apparition of their son Josiah coming via dreams to a friend and his sister, a visit to another sister, and Pastor Berger’s sight of “a huge white crane” which visited the family pond one morning. A few days after his son’s death, Pastor Steve had prayed for a sign. Then, for the first time since moving to their home, a magnificent white crane appeared in the pond. Later, Steve learned that Josiah had been learning a type of martial arts called White Crane from his Children’s Pastor.[51] (HH, 115-121) We turn now to some of the biblical passages the Bergers employ to demonstrate that the dead can be aware of and present with the living.

Shock and Awe!—Saul, the Witch and Samuel
To support the dead appearing to the living, Have Heart employs the incident when, in violation of both God’s (Deuteronomy 18:10-11) and his own law (1 Samuel 28:3, 9), Saul visited a witch at the town of Endor (1 Samuel 28:3-25). (HH, 95-96) Upon that visit, and to both his and the witch’s shock, Samuel appeared. “It was Samuel coming from Heaven... Samuel showed up,” they write. (HH, 96) As Saul’s biographer in 1 Samuel indicates, this incident confirms and caps the earlier words Samuel uttered to the disobedient king, “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft” (1 Samuel 15:23).

Yet, as the chapter title indicates, the Bergers employ this incident to show of deceased saints that, “They are Aware and Present.” (HH, 93-104) That dead persons, both saved and unsaved, are alive is not in question (See Luke 23:43.). Neither are the issues of whether they are active (See Revelation 7:9-12.) or aware (See Luke 16:19-31; John 8:58.). As the book points out, the state of the dead in Heaven involves all of the aforementioned.[52] (HH, 51, 54, 92, 95, 98, 102) But, as will be shown, whether the dead are aware of and present among the living is a matter of an altogether different sort.

Earlier in the book, the authors opine that Christians commonly “imagine” the saints in heaven to be “resting in peace instead of participating in God’s kingdom work.” (HH, 92) Apparently, their view of “kingdom work” includes the dead not only being active in Heaven but also active and taking mission trips to earth. The Bergers support this theory from Samuel’s manifested presence to Saul; this despite the prophet’s expressed annoyance with the king, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” (1 Samuel 28:15). Samuel, it appears from his rebuke of Saul, was more at rest and not as “present” as Have Heart supposes.

To substantiate their belief in manifested presences of the dead like that which Samuel made to Saul, the authors refer to the research of hospice chaplain and psychotherapist Dianne Arcangel and her book, Afterlife Encounters: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Experiences (mentioned previously in this review).[53] (HH, 94) They state their agreement with the research in her book which they think agrees with the Bible. In affirming their belief in continuing presences of the dead, the Bergers protest that they’re “not talking about channeling, séances, or mediums trying to contact the dead,” and that “Deuteronomy 18:10 forbids seeking those types of encounters.” (HH, 94-95) Yet inconsistently, perhaps disingenuously, they illustrate their belief in ongoing presences of the dead by referring to Saul’s unlawful visit to a witch!

By any Old or New Testament standard, Samuel’s coming from the dead to Saul was exceptional, not normal. In the prophet’s coming, it can be noted that the protocol of a séance was not followed. Samuel did not communicate with Saul through the witch. In a séance-turned-sermon, Samuel addressed the king directly. God’s prophets do not employ mediums! In contrast to the comfort sought by those seeking to contact those who have entered the afterlife, and in the face of Saul’s wanton disobedience, Samuel offered no comfort or hope for Saul. Rather, Samuel announced to Saul that the Lord had departed from him, that he was being dethroned by David, that his armies would be defeated by the Philistines, and that both he and his sons would die the next day—not exactly consoling news for the king (1 Samuel 28:16-19). This contrasts to Arcangel’s statement in which she tells people, “Qualified mediums can benefit the bereaved population. They provide evidence for survival of bodily death, which reduces anxiety.”[54]

Neither did Samuel share anything specific about the afterlife with the king. In fact, Samuel’s message is way out of sync with what many believe postmortem presences of the dead have to offer the living, namely, that of communicating to and comforting them about the afterlife. As the French theologian Dr. René Pache (1904-1979) observed from Scripture: “None of those raised in either Old Testament or New Testament times recounted a thing, as far as we know, about the experience of going through death into the abode of the dead.”[55]

No matter how much we might wish it were otherwise, Samuel’s unique appearance to Saul gives no biblical precedent for imagining the dead are present with the living. Indeed, as the Preacher in Ecclesiastes informs us, the dead “no longer have a share in all that is done under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 9:6, NASB).

The Crowd in the Clouds
In the chapter “Connected” (HH, 105-112), and to establish that the dead remain present with the living, Have Heart employs the opening line of Hebrews 12: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses...” (Hebrews 12:1). The Bergers interpret these “witnesses” as those who are deceased, and therefore are “universal companions” with saints alive on earth. (HH, 107) The Bergers say that these witnesses are “alive, active, and aware,” and that those in Heaven become “onlookers” of those on earth. (HH, 107) Earth below becomes theater above as these heavenly inhabitants watch how the lives of their loved ones are playing out on earth. But based upon Hebrews 12, this scenario is implausible.

First, the conjunction “wherefore” ought to be noted. The inferential conjunction connects chapter 12 to chapter 11. The “witnesses” therefore refer to those Old Testament persons who exemplified what it means to live by faith in chapter 11 (This chapter might be called “The Hall of Faith” chapter.). Faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Emphasis added, Hebrews 11:1). By drawing upon the example of these "witnesses,” the author of Hebrews encourages his readers to be faithful to the Lord, no matter what the cost. The heavenly faithful serve as models to, not spectators of, believers on earth.

Second, the word “witnesses” means martyrs (Greek, martus). Had the author of Hebrews meant the dead are spectating our lives, he might have stated that we are surrounded by a great cloud of eyewitnesses (Greek, epoptes), as for example, when Peter and two other apostles personally witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration (2 Peter 1:16; See Luke 1:2); or that we are surrounded by a great cloud of onlookers (Greek, blemma), as when Lot lived amongst the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah and saw and heard the “the filthy conversation of the wicked” (2 Peter 2:7-8); or that we are surrounded by a great cloud of spectators (a nominal form of Greek verb, theoreo, from which the English word theater derives), as when Peter observed the grave clothes of the resurrected Christ in the empty tomb (John 20:6).[56] But instead, the author uses the word “martus.”

Third, the phrase in Hebrews reads: we are surrounded by “a great cloud of witnesses.” We note the plural witnesses. Though they are many, they are corporate. Together, they form a singular cloud-crowd.

Fourth, there’s a world of difference between those in heaven having visage of brethren on earth and making visits to them. Even if it is conceded that saints in heaven might be able to observe their brethren on earth, the crowd of “spectators” would be limited to the names in chapter 11.[57] That they are “witnesses” does not suggest that individuals might separate themselves from the grandstand above to visit the playing field below. Based upon the context of the passage in which “witnesses” occurs, theologian W.H. Griffith Thomas (1861-1924) cautioned,

It has been tempting to many writers to speak of our race being run in an arena surrounded by spectators, as though those who have passed on before are still interested in our welfare. But, however attractive the idea, it is impossible to derive it from this passage.[58]

Missions for the Master
Scripture records how Moses and Elijah appeared to the disciples and talked with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-13). In the sixth chapter of their book about the dead (“They are active”), the Bergers ask, “So do saints in Heaven go on invisible missions to earth?” (HH, 90) Yes, they do, say the authors as they employ the dreams and reports of others along with Matthew’s record of Moses and Elijah’s appearing in support. But reports and dreams are what they claim to be—personal experiences and, absent confirmation by two or three witnesses, are not verifiable. Note in the Gospel record that three disciples—Peter, James and John—witnessed Moses and Elijah’s coming to Jesus (2 Corinthians 13:1, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”).

While Moses and Elijah “appeared” to the three disciples, they came and spoke only to Jesus (Matthew 17:3, “And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him,” NASB). Their stay on the mount was not prolonged (Matthew 17:8, “And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.”). Furthermore, Moses and Elijah never appeared to the disciples or spoke to Jesus again. For this reason, Christians need to be careful of making a rule out of an exception, of setting a spiritual precedent out of a single biblical incident.

By their coming, Moses (the typical representative of the Law) and Elijah (the eschatological representative of the Prophets) glorified Jesus Christ! Their appearing bore witness to Jesus’ coming resurrection (Matthew 17:9) even as it gave the disciples a foretaste of their coming glorification (John 17:24). While in some respects the appearing of Moses and Elijah might have been for the disciples, it was to the Lord. Jesus was the center attraction. If the Lord of Glory had not been present, then Moses and Elijah would not have come (See Malachi 4:4-6; Matthew 17:10.).

Did Abraham Watch Jesus?
Much of what the Bergers say in the Introduction and first six chapters of Have Heart peaks in chapter seven. Of the dead in Christ, the chapter title tells readers, They are aware and present. (HH, 93-104) To support this chapter’s message, the authors preface it with Jesus’ statement to Jewish leaders who resisted Him even as they gloried in their descent from Abraham. Jesus told His enemies, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to [in order that he that he might, NASB margin] see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56).[59] (HH, 93) From this biblical verse, the Bergers deduce that just as Abraham observed Jesus’ ministry on earth, so also others in Heaven are aware of and present with their loved ones on earth. But what does the biblical record actually say?

Among the Pharisees, controversy erupted over Jesus’ statement, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). For making such a bold assertion, Jesus’ enemies charged Him perjury, denied His heavenly origin, slandered Him as a Samaritan, accused Him of demon possession, and wanted to stone Him (John 8:13-14, 23, 41, 48, 59). To refute the charge that He bore false witness, Jesus verified He was “the light of the world” by calling upon two witnesses: His Father and Abraham. If Abraham had rejoiced that he might see Jesus’ day, then why didn’t they?

But according to John’s Gospel, Abraham was not an ongoing spectator of Jesus’ life. If Abraham had been, we might have expected John’s record of Jesus’ statement to read, Abraham rejoices to see my day; he sees it and is glad (present tense), or Abraham was rejoicing to see my day; he was seeing it and was glad (imperfect tense). But John records the verbs in the aorist tense (rejoiced... saw... was glad...). As time markers, the aorist tense is “like taking a snapshot of the action while the imperfect [tense] (like the present [tense]) takes a motion picture, portraying the action as it unfolds.”[60] What Abraham saw and rejoiced in was completed when in his lifetime he saw it. Respected scholar D.A. Carson comments that, “Some scholars... propose that John 8:56 means Abraham was already in paradise, seeing Jesus in his ministry....” But he adds, “There is no biblical sanction for this perspective....”[61] Furthermore, it can be noted that the Jews understood Jesus’ claim to be that He saw Abraham, and not vice versa (John 8:57-58).

So the question arises, what was involved in Abraham seeing and rejoicing in the day of Jesus Christ? Hebrews states that, along with other Patriarchs of the faith, Abraham saw the promise of Christ from a distance before he died (Hebrews 11:13). Their faith looked forward. At the time Abraham saw and rejoiced in Christ, it was not up close and personal, but foreshadowing. Abraham’s sight of and rejoicing in Jesus’ day was premised upon God’s promise of a seed (Genesis 12:3, “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed”) and a son, that even though both he and Sarah were beyond their child bearing years, their progeny would some day bless to the world (Genesis 17:16; 18:10; Romans 4:19-25). Perhaps Abraham's sight of and rejoicing in Jesus’ day culminated when, as he was prepared to sacrifice Isaac, God intervened and provided a lamb in his son’s stead (Genesis 22:13-18).[62] But in all of this, Jesus’ statement about Abraham does not support the idea that in some ever-present way he was spectating and rejoicing over Jesus’ life.

A Great Gulf Fixed
As is perhaps being alluded to in Have Heart’s subtitle (bridging the gulf between Heaven and earth) (Emphasis added), in His revelation of The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), Jesus mentions “a great gulf” which separated Hades and Heaven in the afterlife. The Old Testament deceased lived in parallel, but separate realities.[63] The gulf Jesus revealed between the existences of Hades and Heaven was impassible, was “locked down.” But as the book’s subtitle implies, the gulf is not “fixed” between earth and Heaven. The Bergers believe that souls located in Heaven can visit loved ones and friends on earth; that a spiritual freeway runs between the two realities, one above and the other below.

It can be noted that the New Spiritualists of the New Age believe that there are no separate existences of Heaven on the one hand and creation on the other, that the reality of “whatever is” is one and therefore, that God and humanity are not distinct, but integrated.[64] But according to the Bible, this is not so! Throughout the Gospel of John as well as the rest of Scripture, the two realities of Heaven above and creation below are disintegrated and find integration only in the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:3; 3:31; 8:23; 19:11).

Thus, one key aspect of Jesus’ teaching must be reckoned with by those who believe that the gulf between Heaven and earth can be bridged by the Christian dead possessing “visitation rights” to loved ones on earth. Would Father Abraham allow Lazarus to leave Paradise to visit the Rich Man’s five brothers on earth and warn them of the peril awaiting them in the reality of the afterlife? Read the answer: “They [the Rich Man’s five brothers] have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.”(Luke 16:25). Then the Rich Man remonstrates to Abraham: “Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent,” to which Abraham then finalizes his verdict that a visit will not be allowed by Lazarus to the Rich Man’s five brothers. He said to the Rich Man: “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:27-31). From this dialog, what is to be learned from Jesus’ revelation about the afterlife?

First, the alive in Heaven do not make “up close and personal” visitations to earth. Lazarus was not allowed to make such a visit, even with the peril of the destiny of the Rich Man’s brothers weighing in the balance. Of this incident, Ron Rhodes writes: “The dead and the living could not contact each other. A visitation to earth (in this case to warn five brothers) was not an option.”[65]

Second, only the Word of God, the Scriptures and the Savior, bridge the gulf between the realities of Heaven and earth. In matters of life and death, either we take God at His Word or we do not. Abraham told the Rich Man: “They [your five brothers] have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them....” (Luke 16:29). In matters regarding the afterlife, either God’s Word is sufficient or it is not. Isaiah framed the issue like this:

And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:19-20)

Third, if in His revelation regarding the afterlife Abraham had visited the Rich Man’s five brothers, Jesus would have opened a Pandora’s Box for the cult of spiritualism to flourish (Contra Deuteronomy 18:9-14.). Satan and his hosts want the box open. But in this revelation about the afterlife, Jesus Christ made sure the box stayed shut. In His revelation regarding the afterlife, Jesus didn’t break out of the box, did He?

Fourth, the Bergers’ book may imply a kind of universalism. Only Jesus Christ bridges the gulf between Heaven and earth. A “medium” cannot become the Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5). Only Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Anticipation of visitations from “beyond” by any other person is a sideshow and distracts people from the One who is the only true Bridge. To hope the deceased, whether saved or unsaved or in whatever form, whether material or ethereal, will visit us is an anticipation that is fraught with spiritual peril.

“None of those raised in either Old Testament or New Testament times recounted a thing, as far as we know, about the experience of going through death into the abode of the dead. Our curiosity could well make us want to question them about it, but God has not permitted this. In the whole realm of the future life, the Scriptures, in their sober restraint, have to satisfy us.”
Dr. René Pache[66]


Stay tuned for Part 5 . . . .

Endnotes (continued):
50. The doctrine of the communion of the saints derives from a later version of the Apostle’s Creed (circa fifth century) which in its Western expression reads, “I believe in... the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of the saints....” The earlier Eastern version, which it is claimed originated from the apostlic era, reads: “I believe in... The holy church.” See Henry Bettenson and Chris Maundet, Editors, Documents of the Christian Church (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, Third Edition, 1999): 26. Legitimately, the later version of the creed denotes the union of all believers in Christ, living and dead, as it stresses “their common life in Christ and their sharing of all the blessings of God.” See Walter A. Elwell, Editor, “Communion of Saints, The,” Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1984): 257. Illegitimately, the unbiblical practice of praying for the dead or the novel applications of “connectivity” taught in Have Heart cannot be extracted from even the creed’s later version.
51. As to the significance of the White Crane, it is noted that, “Since ancient times, because of the Birds connection to the sky, they have been thought of as a supernatural link between the heavens and the earth.” See “Birds as A Spiritual Symbol of The Divine,” Squidoo (http://www.squidoo.com/divine-birds). As to the place of the White Crane in Chinese spirituality, “The Chinese believed that spirits and immortals rode about on cranes and that they conveyed departed souls to the heavens. Heavenly Cranes (tian-he) and Blessed Cranes (xian-he) were symbols of wisdom. Their powerful wings were said to convey people to higher levels of consciousness.” Emphasis added, see Kirsty Sloman, “The Symbolic Bird of China,” White Crane Martial Arts (http://www.whitecranemartialarts.co.uk/wcrane/?p=1325). As to the place of cranes in the martial arts, “The crane is a very special bird. Our whole system is an embodiment of this creature whose movements have provided inspiration for a whole series of fighting techniques that are designed to swiftly take out an opponent.” Ibid.
In all of this spiritual symbolism, the words of Jeremiah might be considered: “Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the Lord” (Jeremiah 8:7).
52. The Bible does not support the doctrine of soul sleep.
53. Arcangel, Afterlife Encounters.
54. Ibid. 200.
55. Pache, Future Life, 194.
56. In all, Vine lists eleven categories for the verb “see.” Witness (Greek, martus) is not among them. See W.E. Vine, Merril F. Unger, William White, Jr., An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984): 1009-1010.
57. Based upon a few usages in the New Testament where the word martus can mean eyewitness (Hebrews 10:28; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 2:2)1), Australian evangelical Leon Morris (1914-2006) stated that “the idea of ‘spectator’ is hard to eliminate....” He concludes: “All in all, it seems that the author includes the idea here that the heroes of the faith are aware of what we are doing as we maintain the struggle in our age that they had in theirs. It is something like a relay race where those who have completed their run watch their successors.” See Leon Morris, Hebrews: Bible Study Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1983): 119-120.
58. W.H. Griffith Thomas, Hebrews: A Devotional Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, n.d.): 157.
59. The infinitive phrase “to see my glory” (iva + subjunctive) explains why Abraham rejoiced. See Daniel B. Wallace, The Basics of New Testament Syntax: An Intermediate Greek Grammar (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2000): 206.
60. Ibid., 239.
61. D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991): 357.
62. To this reviewer, there are at least two lessons to be learned from this incident in Abraham’s life. First, human sacrifice, as commonly practiced among the ancients, was not an acceptable approach to God. Second, Abraham (as well as those who by faith are Abraham’s children), are to look to God’s Lamb as the one true and necessary sacrifice for sin. As John the Baptist exclaimed: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
63. By saying this I do not affirm the two compartment theory. In my estimation, “Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22) was a synonym for Paradise, the Jewish designation for Heaven (2 Corinthians 12:4). Jesus told the thief being crucified on a cross next to His, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43, NASB).
64. One can note the New Spirituality website by Allan, Bridging Heaven and Earth: an International Television Format of Awakening. See: http://www.heaventoearth.com/home.html. The website contains these lines: “We are all made of love, God is love, and We are God.” See: http://www.heaventoearth.com.
65. Ron Rhodes, The Truth Behind Ghosts, Mediums and Psychic Phenomena (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2006): 76.
66. Pache, Future Life, 194.