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Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Did Saul See Samuel's Ghost or Not? Part -IX-

I plan on wrapping this up in the next post. I know, it isn't must of a prologue, but there are some who are following that I am sure would like to know that this train eventually will pull into a station.


In the last post we asked whether the bible teaches that spirits have both the authority and ability to compel the spirits of the departed to return to the world of the living for their own personal interrogation.

The question presumes that the spirits of the dead are available for questioning, so we first examined whether scripture even allowed the possibility, and our conclusion was that scripture does not preclude the possibility.

Given that scripture didn't deny the premise of the question, we examined, from scripture, the known powers and authority given to spirits, both as a survey in and of itself, and more particularly, to see if Spirits could compel men to do things they were not otherwise inclined to do. This we did in order to establish whether it was reasonable to conclude that a spirit could compel Samuel against his will - for we presume that if God was not inclined to answer Saul through legitimate means, it followed that God would likewise not be inclined to answer Saul through Samuel - unless Samuel could be coerced by the familiar spirit being employed by the medium.

We began by showing that our Lord gave authority to the twelve, and then to the seventy, over unclean spirits (demons), and all their power. We drew a point from this, and demonstrated its truth from scripture, that all authority comes from God, so that no creature (human, spirit, or otherwise) can act in any way unless God allows/permits it.

We showed from scripture that God has on occasion allowed spirits to compel men, either by deceit, or possession. In this way we established the fact that spirits do have the ability to compel, men while they live either through deceit or direct intervention, but we have no way to be certain that this authority extends beyond the grave.

Our honest examination of these things does not convince us that Samuel was definitely drawn out of his rest to answer the interrogation of some unclean spirit - but that same examination did not deny the possibility.

The Other Shoe For a Moment

We have, thus far, been following the narrative according to the understanding that the writer is describing the events as they were in actuality.

The other way to follow the narrative is to see it as describing Saul's perspective - which is a fancy way of saying, it describes what Saul saw.

Now, we know that Saul didn't actually "see" anything, rather it was the medium who was receiving a vision from a familiar spirit. She was merely describing to Saul what the demon was showing her.

It seems significant to me that the "vision" here is being projected in the form of a vision to the medium by the unclean (familiar) spirit. Perhaps I should say it this way for the sensational effect: A demon is giving a vision to a medium, who is relaying the details of what the demon is showing her to Saul.

Question: Given that unclean spirits are known to practice deceit, and bent on the destruction of God's people, is it possible that this demon is merely fabricating the encounter because both Saul and the medium are willing to believe it to be genuine?

Answer: I would say it is not only possible, but almost certain.

You see, a lot of people have this picture from television that there are these people out there who have the power to see into "the spirit realm" (called mediums), and so when they read this, they presume upon the sincerity of the medium, as though she had eyes to see spiritual things, and was only relaying what was happening in the spirit realm.

I mean, if one injects the 20th century made-for-tv medium into the text, one may well conclude that the medium is merely describing what is actually going on. But the truth is that the medium is only describing that the demon is feeding her.

The question then, is not "did this happen", but rather, is the demon more inclined to project a true image into the mind of the medium, or is the demon more inclined to deceive her with lying wonders?

Think long and hard about that.

The question we ought to be asking is whether or not the demon was providing the medium with a true image.

Let's Not Kid Ourselves

The question of plausibilty requires us to examine both sides of the equation.

We have examined the case, and (given what we have found), we concluded that it is "not impossible" for this demon to have given the medium a true vision. Yet we note that in order to accept the demon's testimony, we would have to:

[1] Assume that the demon was willing to help Saul
[2] Assume that the demon is portraying actual events and not simply deceiving both the medium and Saul.
[3] Assume that the souls of the dead exist somewhere between death and judgment
[4] Assume that demons have the ability to compel the dead
[5] Assume that the same God who denied Saul through legitimate means, gave authority to this demon to supply Saul by illegitimate means,

I could be more granular I suppose, but by now you should be getting the picture that in order to believe that what the medium was describing to Saul was actually happening, we need to make a heap of very significant assumptions.

Let's put this into perspective. How do some people imagine the world to be millions of years old? They do so because they begin with a few presumptions about those things they cannot know for certain. All their fine calculations rest upon established philosophical presumptions. There is no "evidence" to support, say, evolution, that doesn't, when distilled, depend upon some profound philosophical presumption.

I mention this to highlight the fact that the more presumption your opinion depends upon, the more likely it is flawed or even outright wrong, a truth I shouldn't have to convince any bible believer of.

In a word, while I do believe that it is possible that Samuel actually was there, and that the demon was giving the medium a true vision, and that she was relaying that vision accurately to Saul, and that God who had denied Saul's legitimate inquiry, did in fact reward him when he enticed this medium to commit something abominable in the service of Saul's own sin - yet I am inclined by reason to conclude that it is so far from the realm of likelihood, that I am disposed to conclude that the vision was a false and deceiving one.

Question: What about the surprise the medium expressed? Doesn't that "prove" the vision was legitimate?

Answer: No, it doesn't prove that. All it shows is that they medium was genuinely surprised by the vision, and the fact that it was Saul who was asking her to mediate between himself and the demon.

Question: What about the fact that these events happened just as "Samuel foresaw" them? Doesn't that "prove" that the vision was legitimate?

Answer: When God asked of a spiritual host, "'Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?" (c.f. 1 King 22:20), in doing so he was making a multitude of spiritual beings aware of what He indended to do before He did it. Chew on that for a second, because it means that certainly some, and possibly all spirits are aware of at last some of God's intentions before they come to pass. The fact that this unclean spirit was aware of what would come to pass does not "prove" that the vision he supplied the medium with was an actual vision.

All of which is to say that while we cannot prove from scripture that it is impossible for this mediums unclean familiar spirit to have compelled a deceased Samuel to provide for Saul what God Himself refused to provide; it is far more likely that the medium's unclean spirit provided the information to Saul, and wrapped it up in a vision that Saul would be most inclined to believe.

What We Should Take Away From This Post

At the end of the day, we aren't going to be able to say that scripture proves one opinion, while denying the other; for if that were the case, this passage would have no controversy attached to it. Yet even though we cannot rule out certain understandings, we can weigh their likelihood. This post has been an attempt to show what lays in the balance. We need to consider these things as we draw our conclusions in the next and final post.


posted by Daniel @ 11:12 AM  
  • At 1:10 PM, March 21, 2010, Anonymous Sabeian said…

    You leave me with much to chew and digest danielsan. Great post. Looking forward to the next one.

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