Author and theologian John Piper has warned against communicating with the dead because it goes against the Word of God.
In a recent episode of Ask Pastor John, a listener from South Africa asked the 77-year-old chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota, concerning a practice in South African folklore where the family of a deceased member has to retrieve their spirit using a tree in the spot where they died since their spirit roams around there.
In response, Piper stressed that such practices are not biblical.
“Don’t pursue communication with the dead because pursuing messages from the dead is evidence that biblical truth about God is either not understood or not believed. And in either case, God is dishonored,” he said.
Piper went on to share four points concerning God, and how that ties into why seeking messages from the dead are unbiblical, The Christian Post reports.
In his first point, Piper points out that God takes the soul of someone who’s deceased either to Himself or a place of torment. He also debunked the notion that souls can roam the Earth after dying.
“[That] part of the practice in South Africa is based on a misunderstanding of God’s action in dealing with the dead,” he said.
Second, Piper cited Biblical commands against consulting the dead, including Isaiah 8:19, which reads, “When someone tells 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?”
Third, he says consulting the dead dishonors God, who has given us everything we need to live a godly life.
“[Seeking] messages from ancestors, theBible teaches, is a dishonor to God, who has communicated so lavishly with us about all the things we need to live the way he wants us to live,” the theologian stressed.
In the fourth and final point, Piper said that looking towards ancestors for messages displays a lack of trust in God’s providence in all life. As seen in Romans 8:32 and across Scripture, Piper says God’s providential care should motivate believers to believe He will provide what they need.
“Seeking messages from ancestors implies an unbelief in the glorious implications for God’s children that God’s providence is all-controlling and all-pervasive — namely, that he works all things by that providence for our good as we trust him,” he wrote.
In a recent Pew Research survey, 53 percent of Americans say they’ve had interactions with loved ones who have passed away. Among these, 46 percent experienced the interaction within a dream, while 31 percent experienced it in another manner.
The survey also found that 34 percent of respondents said they’ve “felt the presence” of a deceased family member, 28 percent have had conversations about their lives with them, and 15 percent claimed that a deceased relative “reached out” to them.
In a 2019 survey by YouGov, roughly 36 percent of Americans said they have personally felt the presence of a spirit or ghost. Additionally, 13 percent of Americans said they have had direct communication with a ghost or spirit of someone who has died.
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Master of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.
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