“Move over, vampires, werewolves and zombies—demonic possession and exorcism are taking over.”—The Wall Street Journal.
WIZARDS young and old, seductive witches, and good-looking vampires—these are just some of the supernatural characters that have invaded the book, movie, and video-game industries. What is the appeal?*
“Belief in ghosts has soared in recent decades, from one in ten Americans to one in three,” writes sociology professor Claude Fischer. “Young Americans are about twice as likely as old Americans to say they have consulted psychics, believe in ghosts, and believe in haunted houses.”
Not surprisingly, stories about evil spirits inhabiting humans are making a frightening comeback. “The reborn success of demonic possession in popular culture owes something to the zombie, werewolf and vampire surge of the past decade,” writes Michael Calia in The Wall Street Journal.
One report states that “anywhere from 25 percent to 50 percent of people worldwide believe in ghosts, and ghosts feature prominently in the literature of most cultures.” And a survey done in the United States by sociology professors Christopher Bader and Carson Mencken “revealed that a staggering 70 to 80 percent of Americans strongly believe in at least one type of paranormal activity.”
Is involvement with spiritism and the paranormal just innocent fun?
Supernatural: Something that is “unable to be explained by science or the laws of nature.”—Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary.
ALTHOUGH many people are skeptical about anything related to the supernatural and spiritism—considering them to be either a hoax or the product of the film industry’s creative scriptwriters—the Bible presents a different view. It provides explicit warnings about spiritism. For instance, Deuteronomy 18:10-13 states: “There should not be found in you . . . anyone who employs divination, anyone practicing magic, anyone who looks for omens, a sorcerer, anyone binding others with a spell, anyone who consults a spirit medium or a fortune-teller, or anyone who inquires of the dead.” Why not? The scripture further states: “Whoever does these things is detestable to Jehovah . . . You should prove yourself blameless before Jehovah your God.”
Why does the Bible so strongly censure all forms of spiritism?
The Bible tells us that long before God formed the earth, he created millions of spirit creatures, or angels. (Job 38:4, 7; Revelation 5:11) Each of these angels was endowed with free will—the ability to choose between right and wrong. Some of them chose to rebel against God, and they abandoned their position in heaven to cause trouble on the earth. As a consequence, the earth became “filled with violence.”—Genesis 6:2-5, 11; Jude 6.
The Bible says that those wicked angels wield great influence, misleading millions of people. (Revelation 12:9) They even exploit mankind’s natural curiosity about the future.—1 Samuel 28:5, 7; 1 Timothy 4:1.
According to the Bible, therefore, contact with wicked spirits is not harmless fun. That is why when potential disciples of Jesus were taught the truth about such activities, “those who had practiced supernatural methods brought their books together and burned them up,” even at a significant financial loss.—Acts 19:19, Byington.
Likewise, many today have decided to have nothing to do with activities and entertainment rooted in spiritism. For example, when Maria* was 12 years old, she seemed to be able to predict certain future events or dangers. She read tarot cards for her schoolmates, and since her predictions came true, she became fascinated with the occult.
Maria thought she had a gift from God that enabled her to help people. “But something disturbed me,” she admits. “When I read the cards, I read them for others. I was not able to read them for myself, even though I wanted to know my own future.”
Perplexed by many unanswered questions, Maria prayed to God and was later contacted by Jehovah’s Witnesses, with whom she began to study the Bible. Maria learned from the Bible that her ability to foretell the future did not come from God. She learned, too, that those who want God’s friendship must get rid of any objects connected with spiritism. (1 Corinthians 10:21) The result? Maria threw away her occult paraphernalia and books. She now shares with others the accurate truths she has learned from the Bible.
When Michael was a teenager, he was an avid reader of fantasy novels about supernatural characters. “I enjoyed identifying with heroes my age who explored imaginary worlds,” he says. Little by little, Michael grew accustomed to reading books about magic and Satanic rituals. “Curiosity made me want to read books and watch movies that dealt with these subjects,” he admits.
However, Michael’s study of the Bible impressed on him the need to examine carefully what he was reading. “I drew up a list of everything that had a link with spiritism and got rid of it all,” he says. “I learned an important lesson. At 1 Corinthians 10:31, the Bible says: ‘Do all things for God’s glory.’ Now I ask myself, ‘Is my reading of this material involving me with something contrary to God’s glory?’ If so, I avoid it.”
The Bible is appropriately described as a lamp. It is a unique source of enlightenment that exposes spiritism for what it really is. (Psalm 119:105) But the Bible does more. It holds out a marvelous promise of a world free of the power of wicked spirits. The effect on humankind will be immense. For example, Psalm 37:10, 11 states: “Just a little while longer, and the wicked will be no more; you will look at where they were, and they will not be there. But the meek will possess the earth, and they will find exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”
Names in this article have been changed.