Friday, October 17, 2014

What are We to Think of Mediums?

A medium is someone said to have an intuitive ability to communicate with the dead. For Christians, two key questions emerge: First, are mediums legitimate (do they actually communicate with the dead?). Second, what does the Bible say about mediums?

A “Yes” or “No” answer to the first question is inadequate. Let us assume, for a moment, that it is hypothetically possible to communicate with the dead. In such a case, it STILL wouldn’t demonstrate that just anyone claiming to be a medium is actually communicating with the dead. There are other possibilities.

For instance, they could be purposefully deceiving their cliental in order to make money in a lucrative industry (taking advantage of people’s desire to communicate with lost loved ones, for example). Or, perhaps, they could be deceived themselves (believing that they are communicating with the dead when they are, in fact, not. They may even be communicating with the demonic realm). Worse still, they could be intentionally communicating with the demonic realm.

But, hypothetically, it is possible that some people do, somehow, acquire the ability to communicate with the dead (most Christians do believe, after all, that the dead exist somewhere). The Bible, it could be argued, assumes that there are such people who ‘consult with the dead.’ (they are not simply condemned as frauds). Biblical scholars debate whether Samuel, for instance, was actually consulted by the medium at Endor (1 Samuel 28).

Our second question, the Scriptural one, is much more black & white. The Bible clearly forbids God’s people from turning to mediums: “Do not turn to mediums” (Leviticus 19:31). Doing so would result in being cut off from God’s people (Leviticus 20:6). In fact, under the Old Covenant, this practice was considered so serious that anyone found guilty of doing it was subject to the death penalty (Leviticus 20:27).

The practice was considered one of the detestable ways of the nations (along with activities like child sacrifice, divination, sorcery, interpreting omens, witchcraft, spell-casting, etc. See Deuteronomy 18:9-13). These are things that people of the world do, but God’s people refuse to participate in. Saul was right to expel the mediums from the land of Israel (1 Samuel 28:3), but wrong to consult one (1 Chronicles 10:13).

As it turns out, then, the Christian approach to supposed mediums is not overly complicated. Either they are really not contacting anyone (it’s a hoax); contacting the devil and/or demons (knowingly or ignorantly); or they are legitimately contacting the dead (which is forbidden by God). None of those scenarios are favorable, to say the least.

When Christians find themselves interested in such practices, it begs a bigger question... what is the motivation behind such interest? Are we looking for comfort and/or answers? Go to God! As it says in Isaiah, “When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?”


Deborah Miller said...

Awesome! Paster Matt,you are never afraid to deal with what people are really thinking about. I like it. Deb Denny

matthew said...

Thanks Deb :)