How Open Should Christians Be to the “Paranormal?”

Posted by K R on

American popular culture loves the paranormal and almost anything can be lumped into that category and depicted for entertainment. But as much as Americans love to imagine ghosts, clairvoyance, and supernatural powers, most do not really believe in them. We are the opposite of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his fictional character Sherlock Holmes. Holmes did not believe in anything beyond reason and sensory evidence. He was, to all appearances, anyway, the ultimate modern man—a true naturalist who sneered at the paranormal. On the other hand, Doyle, Holmes’s creator, was a man of science (a medical doctor) who believed passionately in the paranormal. He attended séances and funded investigations into “garden fairies.” Holmes and Doyle, inseparably linked in history and literature, were the ultimate odd couple. Americans are, by and large, the opposite of Doyle and Holmes. We love to read books, watch television shows, and view movies soaked in the paranormal, but, for the most part, we don’t really believe in any of that. Today’s local newspaper carried an advice column that struck a nerve with me. The mother of a five year old boy asked the two women who write the column for help. She described her son’s belief that he was seeing and communicating with ghosts. In one case, he seemed to know a lot about a cousin who had died before he was born and about whom he had no natural knowledge. The advice columnists simply suggested the mother take the boy to a doctor for a medical examination. Clearly they think he is “touched” mentally. Exactly what good a family physician would be I don’t know. I assume what they really meant was to take the boy to a child psychologist. Now, those two advice columnist are not visibly (i.e., by any of their own publicity) Christians. They might be, but there’s no reason to think so based on their advice. (And I have perused their web site and not found evidence of any religious belief or affiliation there.) My question today, however, is not about them but about “us”—Christians—people who claim to believe in God and the Bible (whether we believe in its inerrancy or not). This is one area where we are torn between the biblical worldview and scripture’s numerous reports of what we now call paranormal experiences and our modern culture. Modernity rejects the paranormal; the Bible everywhere assumes it. Can a person be a Bible-believing Christian and reject all paranormal experiences—like those of the five year old boy? Or must a Christian who takes the biblical worldview seriously be open to the paranormal? Read more via Patheos.

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