|By: Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr.John Weldon; ©2012|
|If we travel through representative illustrations of spiritistic literature in the last 150 years, we discover a universal denial of biblical Christianity. The following cases illustrate both the subtlety and influence of spiritistic literature in the last century and a half.|
If we travel through representative illustrations of spiritistic literature in the last 150 years, we discover a universal denial of biblical Christianity. The following cases illustrate both the subtlety and influence of spiritistic literature in the last century and a half.
1. (1852) Levi M. Arnold, History of the Origin of All Things (Kentfield, CA: W-M Publishing Trust, 1961).
Soon after the spiritualist revival of 1848, medium Levi M. Arnold received this revelation, claiming, among other things, to offer the “true” interpretation of Christian faith. The 1852 title page alleged that the text was “written by God’s Holy Spirit, through an earthly medium, published by direction of the spirits....” Because it claimed divine inspiration and to offer the true Christian faith, it naturally found appeal among nominal or uninstructed Christians. (The title page of the 1936 edition even read “Revised by Jesus Christ.”)
Yet this book denies biblical doctrine, especially the deity of Jesus Christ and His atonement. It says of Jesus Christ, “He is not God.... We ought not to call him God” (p. 105). Concerning the doctrine of atonement, the spirits say, “It is a doctrine born in sin, in pride and in priestcraft. It is a doctrine of devils... [and] the greatest of abominations” (p. 403).
2. (1886) Phylos, A Dweller on Two Planets (Los Angeles: Borden, 1952).
A Dweller on Two Planets was written through a teenage medium in 1886, by the control spirit calling itself “Phylos the Thibetan” [sic]. One purpose of Phylos (who claimed to be a “Christian adept”) was to promote what has become an essential teaching of liberal and Masonic theology, i.e., that all people are the spiritual children of God. Thus, “All men or women, in churches or out, bear witness of the Fatherhood of God, the Sonship of Man, and the Brotherhood of Jesus with all souls, irrespective of creeds or ecclesiastical forms” (p. xvi).
3. (1870) Oahspe: A Kosmon Bible, and (1930) The Urantia Book.
These massive volumes are still popular in New Age circles today. Together they comprise over 3,000 pages of detailed occult philosophy and esotericism whose anti-Christian emphasis is clearly evident. Although frequently abstruse, both volumes have impressed New Agers and other occultists with the profound “wisdom” that may be achieved through contact with the spirit world.
4. (1889) Alexander Smyth, The Occult Lift of Jesus of Nazareth (El Cajon, CA: Unarius, nd), reprint of 1899 edition.
The title page of the 1899 edition reveals that the medium Alexander Smyth received the content of this book “from spirits who were [allegedly] contemporary mortals with Jesus while on the earth, given through the mediumship of Alexander Smyth.” In this book the biblical God is portrayed as “an emotional, vindictive even murderous god....” (preface). The text also illustrates a somewhat common spiritistic theme, that of demons impersonating the spirits of the dead who knew Jesus (like some apostles) and, having found “salvation and truth” in the afterlife, now confess or repent of the falsehoods that they once taught about Jesus or wrote in the Bible.
This is illustrated in one modern version of Smyth’s The Occult Life of Jesus of Nazareth, which is titled The True Life of Jesus of Nazareth, The Confessions of Saint Paul. This book claims that the spirit of the apostle Paul possessed Alexander Smyth in order to tell the world the “truth” about Paul’s “false” teachings in the New Testament For example, “Paul” confesses the following about how he deceived the world with his epistles and their “damning,” “wicked,” and absurd doctrines:
Indeed, with a little well performed imposture, I pretended that the spirit of Jesus had appeared to me.... My imposture was generally believed by the disciples and [I went about]... preaching certain doctrines of my own invention, which I gave to the world as being the doctrines of... Jesus.... My own fictions and lies I passed off as being the Gospels of truth.... Oh! What a terrible monstrosity! What a mountain of vile imposition I have imposed upon the world! My deeds while on earth were black and heinous enough; but the wickedness of my doctrines, which I left to after ages of blind, credulous man, were ten thousand times more damning.... The ridiculous and absurd doctrines I preached concerning Jesus—all the nonsense of faith, grace and salvation by the redemption of sins through the blood of Jesus the Christ. [Also] look at the books called the Gospels.... Examine these books, and see the mass of confused and contradictory nonsense delivered as the teachings of Jesus. See the absurd and ridiculous light in which his character is represented... (p. 23).
5. (1927) Walter Franklin Pierce, The Case of Patience Worth (New Hyde Park, NY: University Books, 1964), reprint.
In capital letters the cover jacket of this book challenges readers with the following: “This book differs from every book hitherto issued on a psychic subject. It consists primarily of literature. The problem is how this literature, displaying such knowledge, genius, and versatility of literary expression, philosophic depth, and piercing art could have originated, beginning suddenly one day, in the mind of a thirty-one-year-old housewife with an eighth grade education.”
Here is a brief recap of the story. During her lifetime, Pearl Lenore (Mrs. John Curran) received some three million words, or approximately 10,000 pages of information from the spirit world. The pattern of hereditary transmission of psychic ability was evident; e.g., Mrs. Curran’s uncle had been a medium (p. 11). The first communications came through Mrs. Curran’s experimentation with a Ouija board on July 8, 1913. The spirit announced itself as “Patience Worth,” a spirit who supposedly lived in seventeenth-century England.
Given its literary style, great debate ensued over how Mrs. Curran could ever have produced and articulated the materials she did, let alone through a Ouija board or spontaneous evocation. Her detailed knowledge of seventeenth-century England, ancient Rome, and other cultures startled even skeptics. In general, the display of knowledge was entirely beyond the conscious capabilities of Mrs. Curran. For example, old French, Anglo-Saxon, and Scandinavian words were incorporated into different stories without ever confusing them. E. H. Garnett, a Chicago lawyer, commented, “There is, so far as I know, no other person in the world who can, under such circumstances, even remotely approach this work, either in spontaneity, beauty, perfection of form, or in content” (p. 30). Even the New York Times (July 8, 1917) marveled at the “remarkable” nature of Mrs. Curran’s first two novels.
Mrs. Curran’s method fit the pattern of many modern channelers. After extensive work with the Ouija board, she progressed to clairaudient inspiration, where she could hear the words without having laboriously to spell them out through the board. Occult visions also conveyed messages. For example, “when the stories come, the scenes become panoramic with the characters moving and acting their parts, even speaking in converse. The picture is not confined to the point narrated, but takes in everything else within the circle of vision at the time.... If the people talk a foreign language, ... I hear the talk, but over and above is the voice of Patience, either interpreting or giving me the parts she wishes to use as a story.... It is like traveling in new and unknown regions” (cited in D. O. Roberts, C. E. Woodcock, Elizabethian Episode, 1961, p. 15).
The philosophy of Patience Worth is as spiritualistic as her theology is heretical. From the beginning, the spirit claimed that its purpose was, through various forms of literary speech, to convince others of the truth of the spiritualist worldview (p. 294). For example, the spirit taught that the dead are close to us, hovering over us, and that efforts should be made on behalf of the living to communicate with them (pp. 295-96). Patience Worth also took pains to caricature Christian belief and Christian ministers and denied and opposed the biblical nature of God and salvation (pp. 35,156,168).
Psychical researcher and noted authority on apparitions, G. N. M. Tyrrell, observed, “Patience was a strongly marked character with a caustic tongue and an emphatic will of her own and bore no discernible resemblance to Mrs. Curran” (The Personality of Man, pp. 135,138).
6. (1928) Ida Ekert, ed., Aubrey Messages (Los Angeles: Lawrence Austin, 1928).
As a child, Aubrey never liked to go to Sunday school; in fact, he hated the God of the Bible (p. 17). After he died he supposedly began communicating messages about the truth of the afterlife, e.g., “that the blood of Christ does not wipe out our sins is [certain]” (p. 27). Thus, after death there is “no God to judge, no recording angel to read out my sins or to give me praise for anything I had done” (p. 29).
7. (1928) Kahlil Gibran, Jesus, the Son of Man: His Words and Deeds as Told and Recorded by Those Who Knew Him (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978).
Kahlil Gibran was a celebrated poet and the author of the well-loved classic The Prophet. But he was also a medium who received this and other books by means of psychic impressions. In Jesus, the Son of Man, the spirits of those who allegedly knew Jesus revealed the “truth” about Jesus Christ and His teaching through Gibran. In Gibran, one finds a systematic dismantling of New Testament teaching. Gibran’s spiritistic revelations accept reincarnation, deny the atonement, alter Scripture and, in general, distort Christianity (pp. 120-35,170,190). Readers are told, “Israel should have another God” (p. 31); and, “this man, Jesus, this Nazarene, he has spoken of a God too vast to be unlike the soul of any man, too knowing to punish, too loving to remember the sins of his creatures” (p. 32).
The apostle “John” reveals that Jesus was merely a man The “Christ” is the God part of Jesus and also of all people. Thus, “many times the Christ has come into the world and he has walked many lands” (p. 42). “Jotham” of Nazareth states of Jesus, “He was not a God, he was a man like unto ourselves...” (p. 109). Barca, a merchant of Tyre, comments, “I believe that neither the Romans nor the Jews understood Jesus of Nazareth, nor did his disciples who now preach his name” (p. 112). “The Galileans would make a god of him and that is a mistake” (p. 113).
In contrast to a biblical account, the rich man of Matthew 19:16-22 now argues that it was more moral for him to stay rich than to give his money to the poor (p. 148)! The spirit of Philip argues on behalf of a pagan concept of reincarnation (p. 170). “Saba of Antioch,” who supposedly knew the apostle Paul, tells us of Paul’s errors, spiritual bondages and delusions, and that, “He speaks not of Jesus” but of his own falsehoods (pp. 61-62).
In light of all this, Kahlil Gibran concludes by stating that churches today are not built upon the teachings of Jesus and that Jesus’ joy does not comfort any Christian (p. 211). In the end, then, Jesus is “a man too weak and infirm to be God” and “a god too much man to call forth adoration” (p. 211).
8. (1934) A. J. Russel (ed.), God Calling (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1945).
God Calling, which is, incredibly, now published by Revell Publishers as “The Classic Christian Devotional,” actually made the evangelical bestseller list twice (1986 and 1988). It also claims to have been inspired by Jesus Christ, and it has been read by millions of Christians.
The two English ladies who received this spiritistic inspiration in 1932-33 describe themselves as the “two listeners.” Like the modern New Age channeled text, A Course in Miracles, God Calling claims that its messages were given “by the Living Christ Himself” (p. 3). Thus, “...we were being taught... day by day by Him personally, when millions of souls... had to be content with guidance from the Bible...” (p. 10).
Characteristically, however, the text is replete with denials of biblical teaching. For example, “Jesus” affirms the following, verbatim in the text:
• So only I, being God, can recognize the God in Man (p. 103).
• All true love... is God (p. 96).
• [Certain others] can never know the ecstasy... of spirit communication as you know it (p. 55).
• Trust in the Spirit Forces of the Unseen... (p. 203).
• Power is just God in action (p. 211).
• Looking to Me all your thoughts are God inspired. Act on them and you will be led on. They are not your own impulses but the movement of My spirit... (p. 124).
• I and My Father are One. One in the desire to do good (1981 ed., p. 152).
• I need you more than you need Me (1981 ed., p. 60).
• I await the commands of my children (1981 ed., p. 63).
• I am actually at the center of every man’s being... (1981 ed., p. 55).
• Love is God. Give them love and you give them God (1982 ed., p. 72).
This text also denies the atonement (pp. 157, 216), subtly encourages psychic development and spiritistic inspiration under the guise of Christ’s personal guidance (pp. 44-45, 55-56, 117-18,203,207-08,214), and often misinterprets Scripture (p. 56).
9. (1939) Frederick H. Wood, This Egyptian Miracle (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1939).
If the goal of the spirits in the case of Patience Worth was to intrigue through literary style, the goal here was to do the same thing through an allegedly lost Egyptian language. In this case the principal spirit guides, “Nona” and “Vola,” spoke through the medium “Rosemary” (a pseudonym) in a language that the girl could not possibly have known. By the time the book was published in 1939, Dr. Frederick Wood had collected over 30 volumes of xenoglossic material. The spirit guides said that their purpose was to communicate information about ancient Egypt, occult philosophy (especially reincarnation), and the facts concerning spirit guidance (p. 112).
Rosemary’s method of psychic inspiration is similar to modern channeling. After complete relaxation of mind, will, and body, the spirit enters the medium and possesses it, and this is followed by automatic dictation or writing (p. 32). The medium clairaudiently hears Nona say the Egyptian words first, the dictation being sufficiently clear and gradual for her to record them; afterward, no conscious recollection exists. Rosemary explains, “When Nona speaks through me, there is no thinking first, My lips move, and the words come but I cannot tell you how.... What Nona has said is not retained at all. I could not repeat what was said, nor could I give the substance of it, after it has been spoken” (pp. 32-33).
The purpose of the spirits was not primarily to give information on ancient Egyptian beliefs and language, lost or otherwise. It was primarily to promote occult philosophy and spirit contact by means of a seemingly credible, or at least inexplicable, revelation from the dead who supposedly lived in ancient Egypt Dr. Wood comments, “The most valuable and important communications made by her [the spirit] through Rosemary are not, in my opinion, the words, phrases and sentences of Egyptian xenoglossy. These are evidential to a remarkable degree, and they have raised the case to its present high standing among students of psychic research in many parts of the world. But far more important, I suggest, are the explanations given of psychic contact in its various aspects...” (pp. 29-30).
10. (1950) Wilfred Brandon, Open the Door (New York: G & R Anthony, 1950).
The goal of the spirits is twofold: 1) to discredit Christianity, and 2) to promote occultism. In this case, Edith Ellis is the medium through whom the deceased spirit of Wilfred Brandon conveys the “truth” about the afterlife and the importance of occultism. The spirit strongly encourages the “good work done by the societies for psychic research, in the phenomena and investigation of mediumistic powers...” (pp. 178-79). To no one’s surprise, whereas some of the most spiritually advanced souls in the next life are atheists, the most pitiful and regressive are the Christians (p. 98), who always seem to have the most trouble or the most difficulty adjusting in the next life. For example, “The most difficult class of men are those who are wedded to the ideal of a personal God” (p. 115). Among the “unfortunate souls” who suffer in the next life are those who “come here with the idea of finding ‘heaven.’... They believe that they are chosen to ‘sit on his right hand and to dwell on the actual presence of a personal God.’... [W]e are seldom able to convince them that they have been too literal in their acceptance of the statements in the Bible.... So we have to carry on a never-ending battle with these poor souls who block their own progress and are of no help whatever in our work” (171-72).
Christians are also “ignoramuses” and “poor bigots” whose personal beliefs prevent them from following the path of spiritual evolution and reincarnation. “We are beginning to wonder how, in this age, there can be so many of these backward mentalities. When you mortals realize the danger of unscientific religious dogma, you will be eager to spread [occult] knowledge by every possible means” (ibid.). Christians who teach biblical falsehoods are “liars,” and they are “more dangerous than thieves or even murderers. They are the poisoners of all” and should be condemned as those who have “wrecked the world” (pp. 181-82).
Not unexpectedly, the spirits have absolutely “no condemnation for sinners” because “sin” is merely “the result of ignorance.” On the other hand, Christians who hold fast to their “errors” will receive no mercy at all. “There is no mercy for any sinner who holds wrong ideas, and in this we include these who have a fixed idea of deity, of their personal relationship to it, and of their specially favored position in this relationship” (182).
11. (1961) Daisy O. Roberts, Collin E. Woolcock, Elizabethian Episode (1961).
“Patience Worth” used literary prose and poetry; “Nona” and other spirits employed ancient Egyptian. With this book we have the alleged spirits of Shakespeare, Hamlet, and others who claim to have dictated a set of Shakespearean plays through medium Daisy O. Roberts. Five years after her husband’s death, Mrs. Roberts, who disliked “orthodox church religion,” began to experiment with automatic writing (pp. 8-9). But the Shakespearean plays were only the means to the larger goal of promoting occult philosophy. “It will be obvious from even the most casual reading of the scripts to follow that the principle of the reincarnation of souls is one of the fundamental ideas contained therein. So much so that their literal acceptance is impossible without subscribing to this belief” (p. 21).
12. (1971) Rosemary Brown, Unfinished Symphonies (New York: Morrow & Company, 1971).
From the time she was a young girl Rosemary Brown saw the spirits of the dead. “The first time I saw Franz Liszt, I was about 7 years old and already accustomed to seeing the spirits of the so-called dead” (p. 13).
Rosemary Brown, who learned to play the piano moderately well, nevertheless claimed that, in trance, the spirits of a half dozen great composers dictated compositions through her in their own unique style. Hundreds of pieces of music and a number of albums based on the compositions have been published. “My words and the music are constantly analyzed. The music has been put through countless tests. I have voluntarily taken musical tests, intelligence tests, psychological tests, psychic tests—every kind of test imaginable... “(p. 19). Music authorities have investigated Brown’s compositions and found them to be similar in style to the deceased composers, but no one has been able to explain exactly how an unaccomplished musician could perform such a feat.
Nevertheless, again we see the common themes: An unexpected phenomenon becomes the vehicle for expanding spiritist philosophy. And the individual revelations by these alleged spirits of the dead composers reject biblical teaching. For example, “I remarked that because of the usual Christian beliefs, there are people who believe that one has to be ‘saved’ here on earth. ‘That is not true,’ he [Liszt] said. ‘Life on your earth is rather like a nursery school. When people die... they still have the chance to go on and to catch up’“ to the more advanced spirits (pp. 111-12). Liszt also said that God is “not as those on earth think of Him. God is Spirit, a life-force which permeates everything and is everywhere,” personal and impersonal simultaneously (p. 110).
13. (1972) Estelle Roberts, Fifty Years a Medium (New York: Avon, 1972).
The spirit guide of Estelle Roberts, “Red Cloud,” has also “toiled unceasingly to demonstrate eternal spiritual truth” (p. 210). But again we find the same old spiritistic philosophy. Red Cloud teaches that “God is not a being but a force of good which permeates the universe and is infinite. Evil is not a force, but an error in thought
“Every individual is part of the whole which is God. And because we are all part of the Infinite Spirit of God, we cannot die.” “The gradual unfolding of the consciousness of the Mind of God within us is the process of the evolution of our souls” (pp. 211-12).
14. (1968-1995) The books of Ruth Montgomery.
Medium Ruth Montgomery has written over a dozen books in conjunction with her spirit guides, usually through the method of automatic typing. From the first book they dictated through her, the spirit guides have demeaned Christianity and promoted occultism. In A Search for the Truth (1968), her guides emphasized that occult development and spiritistic contacts are positive spiritual methods blessed by God. “The Guides were quick to emphasize that such contact between the two planes is good, not evil.” And, “This [ability] could not exist, were it not that God wishes it to be used for the advantage of us all, His children.” Thus, “Those who mistakenly call it the work of the devil are shortsighted indeed, for this power would not be suffered to continue through the ages unless God the Father wanted it used” (Bantam, 1968, pp. 159-60).
In A World Beyond, Montgomery records the messages of the famous trance medium Arthur Ford, who returned to inform the world of the glories of occultism and the errors of Christianity. Note Ford’s description of God: “For if each of us is God, then taken together we are God” (p. 7). “God is the core of the universe from which all else flows forth. He is truth and energy...” (p. 30). “I have seen no signs of a devil on this side of the veil” (p. 70). “The devil was not a person ever.... Man, not God, created Satan...” (p. 71).
The above are examples of only a few of the more obvious cases of spiritistic inspiration. There are also the more subtle but equally large number where such inspiration is unconfessed, and yet the religious and moral implications are just as unbiblical.
For example, few realize how famous novelist Henry Miller’s extensive interest in the occult, including theosophy, anthroposophy, magic, Eastern metaphysics, and astrology, beginning in the mid-1930s, influenced his pornographic novels. Another famous novelist, Taylor Caldwell, author of such books as I Judas and Great Lion of God about the apostle Paul, was also influenced by the occult, beginning in 1938 at a spiritualist meeting with Dr. Charles Nicholson of England. At this meeting Caldwell allegedly received a message from her dead father through the medium (Nicholson), encouraging her literary efforts. Subsequent visionary experiences and dreams convinced her concerning the truth of reincarnation and the development of psychic abilities.
Caldwell’s eventual conversion to the occult interested many in that realm. Some have suggested that the meticulous detail of her novels came not from primary research but from a form of spiritistic inspiration, especially since she confessed that her own 1967 text, Dialogues with the Devil, came as the result of such a method. In the foreword, she wrote that the devil and his “brother” Michael the archangel are the real authors: “...Two personalities took over the book in mid-passage, but what they are I do not know. Certainly the thoughts of the book are not my thoughts.”