Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Being Spiritual, But Not a Spiritualist

I have encountered several positive references to "Spiritualism" recently by people I know profess Christianity and thought it important to clarify that Spiritualism is not part of Spirit-filled Christianity.

You probably have heard people say they are spiritual, but not religious. What they usually mean is that they deny religious "institutions" and rigid belief systems, but do believe in some sort of spiritual world/God system, etc.

Equally possible is being a spirit-filled "spiritual" Christian who does not adhere to all things "spiritual."

One example is Spiritualism, a belief system that the spirits of the dead live in the spirit world and are able to and inclined to communicate with the living world. People are often drawn to this type of practice in the pain of having lost a loved one. They seek to still communicate with their deceased friend, and so the spiritualist encourages such a person to be open to the spirit of the deceased person, to look for signs of their presence, and experience the presence of the spirit.

There tend to be two immediate responses to this. First, this is a hoax that takes advantage of hurting people. Or second, this is real--I believe in it.

Perhaps for the Christian, the best case scenario is that it is not real and is a hoax. Far more problematic might be, what if it is real? The scriptures are pretty clear on warning us against consulting mediums and the like (Leviticus 19:31, Deuteronomy 18: 10-13, 2 Chronicles 33:6).

So what is the difference between opening yourself to the spirit of a deceased person and opening yourself to the spirit of Christ? We believe Christ is alive. Isaiah wrote:
When men tell 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?
Death is part of life, and something we all have to deal with. But rather than living in the desire to reconnect to loved one who have died, part of the good news is that we can continue to live in hope of the resurrection. We pray to a living God and seek connection with the living Spirit of God in Christ. It is the living Spirit that enables us to face death with boldness.

Have you had experiences with friends who have claimed some form of spiritualism, or who think of all things "spiritual" as related and essentially the same? How have you dealt with the death of loved ones?

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