Spiritism—Why the Growing Interest?
FRANS is a pillar of the local Protestant church. If there is church work to do, he is the first one to lend a helping hand. Wilhelmina is God fearing too. “You have to go to church,” she says, and she goes. Esther likewise attends church regularly and does not let one day pass by without saying her prayers. All three have one more thing in common: They are also spirit mediums.
These three inhabitants of Suriname are not alone. Worldwide, there is a mushrooming interest in spiritism. Consider: In the United States alone, about 30 magazines with a combined circulation of over 10,000,000 are devoted to different fields of psychic phenomena. An estimated 2,000,000 people in England are interested in the same subject. A recent poll in the Netherlands showed that believers in supernatural occurrences are found among big-city dwellers, highly educated persons, and young people. Moreover, as inhabitants of Africa, Asia, and Latin America can testify, in numerous lands spiritism has become an integral part of daily life. No wonder authors John Weldon and Clifford Wilson conclude in their book Occult Shock and Psychic Forces: “A wide variety of commentators seem to feel we are in a time of unprecedented occult revival.”
Yes, spiritism and the occult—in the forms of astrology, hypnotism, parapsychology, extrasensory perception, magic, interpretation of dreams, and so forth—are attracting people from all walks of life. Why?
For one thing, some of Christendom’s churches condone and even sanction spiritism. They suggest that coming in touch with spirits is just another way of drawing closer to God.
As an example, take Izaak Amelo, a 70-year-old merchant in Suriname. For seven years he was a respected church-council member and a well-known spirit medium at the same time. He recalls: “Every Saturday our entire church council gathered outside the village to consult the spirits. We continued the whole night. When the next morning came, the deacon kept an eye on his watch, and about five o’clock, he signaled us to stop. We then took a bath, changed clothes, and headed for church—just in time for Sunday morning worship. All those years the pastor never said one disapproving word.”
After studying the link between spiritism and the churches in Suriname, Dutch Professor R. van Lier confirms that many view spiritism as a “supplementary religion.” In a study recently published by Leiden University, he also notes that spiritism is recognized as “a part of a broad religious constitution in which it stands alongside Christianity.”
But you may wonder, ‘Is acceptance of spiritism by churches of Christendom an assurance that it is approved by God? Will coming in touch with spirits draw you closer to him? What does the Bible actually say about spiritism?’
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Izaak Amelo recalls participation of an entire church council in spiritistic séances