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SPIRITISM Fraud... or Fact?
Plain Truth Magazine
September 1955
Volume: Vol XX, No.7
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SPIRITISM Fraud... or Fact?
Herbert W Armstrong   
Church of God

Born: July 31, 1892
Died: January 16, 1986
Member Since: 1928
Ordained: 1931
Office: Apostle

Herbert W. Armstrong founded the Worldwide Church of God in the late 1930s, as well as Ambassador College in 1946, and was an early pioneer of radio and tele-evangelism, originally taking to the airwaves in the 1930s from Eugene, Oregon.

Can men actually communicate with departed spirits? What about the witch of Endor? What does the Bible say of Spiritism?

   Is there anything to Spiritism?
   Granted there is trickery and deception. Houdini, one of the greatest trick-artists of modern times, exposed numerous frauds. So also have Thurston, Walsh, Gearson and many another. Some leading Spiritists have been convicted of "plain dishonesty" or "common fraud" and imprisoned.
   Yet not all Spiritism is fraud or slight of hand!
   When all the fraudulent phenomena, the tricks, the deceptions are carefully and scientifically sifted out, there remains something to be accounted for some real SUPERNATURAL EVENTS that cannot be explained away!

Wicked Spirits in Control

   Whether or not human beings like to admit it, the Bible plainly teaches that supernatural powers control and operate this world. The apostle Paul was inspired to write that human beings must struggle "against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against wicked spirits in high places" (Ephesians 6:12, marg. reading).
   Jesus Christ never contested Satan's claim that all the nations of the world were his. Said Satan: "All this power" the control of the nations "will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine" (Luke 4:6-7).
   Little wonder, then, that Spiritism should be manifest in a world controlled and operated by wicked spirits in high places!
   Modern Spiritism had its birth at Hydesville, New York, in 1848. It began with the famous Rochester knockings heard by the Fox sisters. Within less than a century Spiritism has obtained millions of followers. It is a RELIGION masquerading under the name of Christianity.
   Spiritism is based on the devil's first recorded lie! The devil has continued to deceive millions into believing that the dead can talk with the living!

The Dead Cannot Talk with the Living!

   Notice what Jesus said about the dead, "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves SHALL HEAR his voice, and shall come forth... unto the resurrection" (John 5:28-29).
   The dead cannot communicate with the living!
   But the DEVIL must perpetuate his lie! He must make it appear that the dead can communicate with the living. That is why the manifestations of Spiritism exist to perpetuate a lie!
   Spiritism is a work of DARKNESS! Paul warns us: "Have NO FELLOWSHIP with the unfruitful works of DARKNESS, but rather reprove them" (Eph. 5:11). Millions of dollars have been filched from unthinking people who have lost loved ones and who have sought to contact them in the DARKNESS of Spiritist seances. GOD'S blessings come "without money and without price." But it costs money to fellowship Spiritism's DARKNESS!
   Extorting money from innocent victims on behalf of the dead is a RACKET ALMOST SIX THOUSAND YEARS OLD! The racket is controlled by Satan the devil. Spiritism, however, is not its only form. This racket even manifests itself in powerful denominations. Sorrowing relatives are asked to pay to relieve their loved ones from suffering supposedly occurring on the other side of death!

Two Kinds of Angels

   Since not all Spiritism is trickery and since the dead CANNOT communicate with the living, then what power causes the phenomena of Spiritism!
   Remember that this world is controlled by SUPERNATURAL SPIRIT POWERS. Satan is called the prince of this world in three distinct Scriptures John 12:31, 14:30 and 16:11. He is the god of this age whom the world worships in ignorance! Paul said, "... the god of this world (or "age") hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (II Cor. 4:4).
   The Bible reveals that there are only two classes of spirit beings created by God. Man is NOT spirit. He is mortal flesh. Paul wrote of man: "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (I Cor. 15:53).
   Here are the two classes of spirits:
   1) Obedient angels of God. Paul wrote: "But to which of the angels did He say at any time: Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" (Heb. 1:13-14). Obedient angels are spirits sent to minister to mortal, fleshly human beings who are heirs to salvation heirs to immortality!
   2) Demons or fallen angels, subject to the princely authority of Satan the devil. Satan is the "prince of demons" (Mark 3:22). We read of Satan and his angels in Revelation 12:9: "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." The apostle Peter wrote of them: "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment" (II Peter 2:4).
   The two classes of created spirit beings are both angels. The only difference is that one class is obedient, the other class DISOBEDIENT.
   The spirits manifesting themselves through Spiritism are of the second class WICKED spirits.

Cause of Demon-Possession

   The demons manifest their powers in various ways sometimes in the darkness of Spiritist seances, sometimes through possessing the mental and physical attributes of human beings. This latter form is often termed "demon possession." There are several interesting cases recorded in the Bible. Turn to Acts 16:16-18 and notice one example:
   "And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, arid cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour."
   Notice that evil spirits can possess the mental and vocal faculties of human beings. They impersonate or pretend that they are human beings. They often manifest their powers in connection with religion to deceive innocent victims or to bring reproach upon the name of God by their misconduct, as in the example in Acts 16.
   In other instances they utilize human faculties in a violent manner. Institutions for the insane are filled with helpless human beings possessed with sprites of violence. Notice the example found in Matthew 8:28-33:
   "And when he [Jesus] was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with demons" the King James Version incorrectly uses the word "devils" "coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. So the demons besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters."
   Here is an example of the power of evil spirits the very evil spirits impersonating lost loved ones in Spiritist seances!

Spiritism Condemned in Bible

   God condemned Spiritism centuries ago. Here are His words: "Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God" (Lev. 19:31).
   A familiar spirit is a particular spirit who associates itself with a Spiritist medium who is usually a woman. A familiar spirit is often called a "guide" because it guides or controls the seance for the medium. A wizard is a male human being who acts as an instrument of wicked spirits. In this verse in Leviticus, God warns His people not to attribute divine power to women or men who act as slaves of evil spirits nor to regard what they say. We are to regard what God says and to attribute power to HIM! He is the Eternal your God!
   Again, notice, God's condemnation of Spiritism in Deut. 18:9-12:
   "When thou art come into the land which the Eternal thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. 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 of familiar spirits, or a wizard or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an ABOMINATION unto the Eternal: and because of these ABOMINATIONS the Eternal thy God doth drive them [the Gentiles) out from before thee."
   Spiritism is an ABOMINATION to God. We drove out the Gentiles in the days of Joshua for permitting Spiritism. And the same punishment is coming upon our nations for permitting Spiritism and its kindred arts to flourish!
   Notice that God condemns the witch a woman who pretends to contact the "spirit" of a beloved one who has recently died and a consulter of familiar spirits usually a woman who contacts a particular spirit for information and n wizard and a necromancer one who professes to predict the future by the art of communicating with the dead.
   These are all forms of Spiritism. All these forms are condemned by God Almighty. Spiritism is evil. It is a direct instrumentality of the DEVIL. Because it is so evil, God condemns those who practice Spiritism and those who seek to contact the dead in its seances! God means business. It is a question of following Spiritism and rejecting eternal life or of rejecting Spiritism and obeying God in order to receive eternal life. Spiritism perpetuates the devil's lie that the dead are not really dead. God says we must come to HIM to OBTAIN eternal life: "For the wages of sin is DEATH; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:23).
   Spiritism is condemned as one of the products of human carnality as a fruit of the flesh. Paul wrote: "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, WITCHCRAFT, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: OF THE WHICH I TELL YOU BEFORE, AS I HAVE ALSO TOLD YOU IN TIME PAST, THAT THEY WHICH DO SUCH THINGS SHALL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD" (Galatians 5:19-21).

Saul's Experience with a Witch

   One of the most noted portions of scripture yet one of the least understood is the case of Saul and the witch at Endor. This story is found in I Samuel 28. Notice verse 3 of this chapter: "Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him, and BURIED HIM IN RAMAH, even in his own city."
   Notice that Samuel was dead and buried. He was not alive.
   Continuing, "And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land. And the Philistines gathered themselves together... and when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled. And when Saul inquired of the Eternal, the Eternal ANSWERED HIM NOT, neither by dreams, nor by Urim [through the high priest], nor by prophets" (Verse 6).
   God would not listen to Saul. Saul had been disobedient. Samuel had been inspired to tell Saul: "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft" (I Sam. 15:23). What did Saul do? "Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor" (Verse 7).
   Remember that Samuel was buried in Ramah, located in the territory belonging to the tribe of Ephraim (I Sam. 1:1, 19). But the Philistines and Saul were now near Lake Galilee, in Mount Gilboa, near Endor about 50 miles from the place in which Samuel was buried. The night before the battle "Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee" (Verse 8).
   Saul sinned by seeking a witch. If God would not answer Saul by a prophet because of Saul's disobedience in government administration, how much more would God refuse to answer Saul by a prophet when Saul seeks to a witch! Remember that Samuel was a prophet (Acts 13:20) and a judge (I Sam. 7:6, 15-17). And God would not use a prophet to answer Saul! In other words, God would not use Samuel the prophet to answer Saul; neither would God use any other means, for that matter. God absolutely refused to listen to Saul because of his rebellious attitude.

The Spirit Masquerades as Samuel

   But notice what happened: "Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee?" Notice that the woman spirit medium claimed to contact the dead by supernaturally bringing them up from the grave through the familiar spirit. This form was practiced when the people believed that the dead were in their graves. Today spirit mediums have the familiar spirit produce a voice from the air because it is commonly believed today that the dead are not in their graves but somewhere else!
   Saul replied to the woman: "Bring me up Samuel."
   Instead of the familiar spirit appearing first, and then the visionary form of a dead person, the woman saw first a form that looked exactly like Samuel! "And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou?"
   Notice that the familiar spirit did not manifest itself first at Saul's seance. Instead, the familiar spirit produced the form of Samuel which ONLY THE WOMAN SAW! Saul did not see it! He asked the woman what she saw!
   "And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth" (Verse 13, last part). This is an incorrect translation. The word translated "gods" is elohim in the Hebrew. It can mean either the true God, pagan gods or judges. In Exodus 22:8, 9, the Hebrew word elohim is translated judges. In I Samuel 28:13, the verse should have been translated: "I saw a judge ascending out of the earth.'' This is proved by what follows:
   "And he said unto her, What form is he of! And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself" (Verse 14).

A Deception

   Notice that Saul still did NOT see anyone! He only perceived by reasoning that the form which the woman saw was that of Samuel! Here we have a perfect illustration of the impersonation of human beings by evil spirits. The familiar spirit produced an illusion which only the woman saw. To her the illusion was that of a judge rising out of the earth. Remember that Samuel was actually buried about 50 miles away, not: It Endor where the seance was occurring! Samuel was not resurrected. The whole thing was a SUPERNATURAL FRAUD!
   While impersonating Samuel, the spirit spoke to king Saul thus: "And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up?" notice the Lying spirit. Satan lied to Eve in a similar manner! "And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and GOD IS DEPARTED FROM ME, AND ANSWERETH ME NO MORE, NEITHER BY PROPHETS, NOR BY DREAMS: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do."
   The spirit continues to impersonate Samuel by reprimanding Saul for all his evil deeds. Finally the spirit concluded by saying: "Tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: and the Lord also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hands of the Philistines" (Verse 19).
   How did the spirit know what was to happen? Because God often makes His plans known to evil spirits! Notice I Kings 22:22-23 and II Chronicles 18:21-22. God permitted "lying spirits" to know His plans. God rules over all. But He has allowed Satan and his demons to control arid influence this entire world. The familiar spirit of the witch at Endor must have known that God would deliver Saul that next day. So it told Saul what would happen in order that its impersonation of Saul might seem real!

Saul's Punishment

   Now read what happened to Saul for inquiring about the future from a spirit medium: "So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Eternal, even against the word of the Eternal, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it; and inquired NOT of the Eternal: therefore He slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse" (I Chronicles 10:13-14).
   That is exactly how serious God regards Spiritism! He took the life of Saul for seeking information at a seance! In His Revelation to the apostle John, Jesus warns us of the growing influence of wicked spirits. They will become so influential in world affairs that the rulers of nations will act upon their deceptive, lying words. The control of these wicked spirits, described in Revelation 16:13-16, will lead to ARMAGEDDON!
   TODAY we are warned: "Believe not every spirit, but TRY THE SPIRITS whether they are of God (I John 4:1). We need to prove whether spirits are good or evil.
   Notice what Isaiah wrote: "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? T o the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isa. 8:19-20).

Evil Spirits Pretend to Bring Light

   The spirits who masquerade as human beings at Spiritist seances pretend to bring LIGHT and knowledge. Here is what Paul wrote of them: "For such [ministers who pretend to serve Jesus Christ] are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; FOR SATAN HIMSELF IS TRANSFORMED INTO AN ANGEL OF LIGHT. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works" (II Cor. 11:13-14).
   James tells us what to do when the influence of wicked spirits is present: "Submit yourselves therefore to God. RESIST THE DEVIL, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). You must not obey the devil by yielding to his temptations. Instead, ask God for help. Refuse to yield to satanic influence. Submit to God's correction. Let Him guide you.
   The most important chapter in all the Bible relating to our combat with evil spirits is found in Ephesians 6, beginning with verse 10. Here is what we read:
   "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power o/ His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against wicked spirits in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand.... Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with TRUTH" Jesus said the truth shall make us free (John 8:32). God's Word the bible is truth. We need to understand it.
   Continuing, "And having on the breastplate of righteousness" righteousness is defined as keeping all God's commandments (Psa. 119:172). "And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace" we must all work, that the good news of the kingdom of God may reach the whole world.
   "Above all, taking the shield of FAITH, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked" absolute trust in God for deliverance despite all obstacles and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the WORD of God" use the Bible to know what to do and to know what to resist. It is the only sword which can vanquish evil spirits, and which can overcome sin and produce self-mastery!
   "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints" don't slack off in praying, don't become negligent. PRAY with perseverance, not only for yourself, but for all those whom God has called.
   We are all in this battle together! It is a titanic struggle.
   Our eternal life depends upon whether we overcome the temptations of the devil and submit to the rule, the AUTHORITY of God over our lives.
   It is high time we recognized the evil powers which manifest themselves through Spiritism!

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Plain Truth MagazineSeptember 1955Vol XX, No.7
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