By Robert Harrell
This article as originally published on 9/12/18
This is the time of year when we begin seeing houses festooned with the trappings of Halloween. I must admit that of all the holidays, Halloween is my least favorite. This Scottish 18th-century expression, “Halloween”, in my judgment is no longer befitting of October 31st, inasmuch as this for many has become anything but a “hallowed or holy evening”. I do, however, hold fond memories of the day as a young lad dressed in costume and running door-to-door for candy, but honestly, those cheery thoughts are little more than memories for me.
Occasionally people will ask me my thoughts on spiritual occurrences and apparitions that they have experienced. Some have come to me privately claiming to have seen a close relative in nights past, speaking words of comfort and assurance to them. They then want to know whether I believe about such things. Can spirits appear and converse with us mere mortals? Mostly I listen, and perhaps I will offer a light thought. Let us get a little more pointed in our questioning, now, about this and ask the direct question, “Do we believe in ghosts?” Are they real? Most ministers, I safely graciously assume, do believe in the supernatural, and so then we can safely say the generality concur with the idea of the existence of specters and phantasms. Can there then be more to the sounds of the bumps in the night? Can houses be haunted? and so it goes…
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In my judgment, when we approach this circle of questioning, we are in immediate danger of dropping into one of the two primary pitfalls: the first being that of overstating the matter, i.e., believing all are real and everywhere, including all fantastical claims and concepts, when we think on incorporeal beings, and secondly, of understanding the reality of dark shadows, demons, and spirits, i.e., downplaying or outright denying their existence..
First, then, the overstatement. Let us not be so simple-minded as to believe that some manifestations are anything more than Hollywood-like fabrications and dressed-up imitations. I remember cutting out holes in an old, white bed sheet, throwing it over me and saying, “boo”. I am sure I raised no one’s hair on the back of their cold necks. Some Christian people fall into this trap, looking for demons under every rock and behind every bad occurrence, life has to offer. Some spooks are nothing more than empty sheets the fog in the murky, midnight hours. Let us not, then, dilate the matter, and unnecessarily terrify our imaginations.
Secondly, then, the understatement. This is the trap of the rationalist and the liberal mind. Such advanced thinkers discard such primitive notions of phantasms and spirits and attach them to a pre-scientific era, not to be taken seriously in the 21st century. They say, “I believe in what I see and can explain.” Can you, sophisticated one, see and explain love in its deepest form and passion? Write it out in a letter, and read it to yourself. Evaluate its compass, and see if it describes it all in its depth and totality. Can you tell me what truth truly is? Put it into a simple sentence, and see if it can cover all the vicissitudes and outreaches of your life if you can. What about human consciousness? Do you now understand the “mind-body problem”, where the mental realm connects and relates to the physical realm, and how and whether or not the physical mind produces thought? Greater minds than hours have spent decades on this, and the matter is yet unresolved. Do you now have the answer? Tell us then, what is thought? And Deity: Do you dare say there is no God over you looming over heaven’s precipice and staring down into your very soul? Or will you be like the mighty Assyrian king, Sennacherib, who ridiculed and blasphemed the God of heaven, raising his voice and lifting his eyes in pride (Isa. 37)? Unbelieving one, remember what Hamlet told his dear friend, Horatio? He said to him, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Think not that your personal philosophy contains the whole of reality and existence! Think not, confident reader, that all bumps are simply “bumps”? All your striving is not with the material. No, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Is that not what the Word of God tells us? Or have you no space in your new philosophy for such archaic notions? Is your mental thought capacity now so reduced as to allow for a fuller increase of flowing truth about what is on the dark side of the moon? Let us not, then, shrink the matter, to our miniscule notions and miniature mindset.
Do, then, in sum, we believe in ghosts? I say I believe in spirits, both benevolent and malevolent. Why? Because this is what I read in the Bible, and this is what I have “seen”. “Seen?” you ask — Yes, for I have seen many deviltries in my time and have stared into more than one pair of reddish, devilish eyes. I have seen the face of Satan in the face of man. Perhaps you have as well? The explication of this all is dimensions beyond me and you. Have we not seen immortal immorality? Wild wickedness? Have you not ever said, “He is pure evil”? Do you think men like Theodore (Ted) Robert Bundy, the sadistic sociopath, committed his long string of heinous acts solely by his own doing? and other sick minds like him? No! No! We know this evil is beyond the human dimension, far, far beyond our psychological tools of measurement.
Then, let us all shake this black dust from our clothes and shoulders, now, and look to Him once again who sits upon the highest of thrones. He is our peace and our security. All powers move about under His mighty scepter. All spirits are subject to His supreme authority. Let us close this brief chat of powers, then, seeing all things rightly, and calmly, and as the sun once more lays to rest in the horizon’s somber skies, let us confidently lay our heads to rest on providence’s soft pillow. Amen.
Rob Harrell is originally from the Detroit area, and he has living in the Blue Water area for 20 years. He is 61 years old and has three grown children and 6 grandchildren, all of them living in Michigan. He has served as a pastor in Michigan, Connecticut and Virginia, and currently leads a home church, Oakwood Fellowship in Port Huron. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree, with a major in Psychology, from Wayne State University in Detroit, and a Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He is a resident of Fort Gratiot, and enjoys golf, reading, travel.
Oakwood Fellowship meets at 10:30 am Sunday mornings. For more information contact Robert at (810) 385-6877.
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