A while back I received an email from a man concerned about someone he knows who is a Christian but claims to have the ability to sense the presence of and communicate with dead spirits (a la The Sixth Sense, only on a less dramatic scale). His friend is supposedly studying the phenomenon scientifically and is convinced it is valid. The inquirer wanted to know how I thought Christians should respond to these claims. I told him that even if someone had such ability, the Bible clearly indicates that seeking information from or about the dead is an abomination. Israel was strictly warned to stay away from it (Lev. 19:31; 20:6, 27; Deut. 18:9-15; Isa. 8:19). It cost Saul his kingdom and his life (1 Sam. 28; 1 Chron. 10:13, 14). The Apostles always rebuked occult practitioners (Acts 8:9-24; 13:6-11; 19:19-20).
Also, the claim some make of studying paranormal phenomena scientifically is laughable at best (i.e. Ghost Busters), scientifically spurious, and spiritually dangerous. Years ago several prominent American universities, including Stanford and Duke, conducted research into the paranormal. I remember as a boy in Florida (1964), my sixth grade teacher gave our class an ESP card test (see picture below) as a part of Duke’s research. Each card had a symbol and as she flipped them over we were supposed to guess which one was on each card. She did not tell us what it was, but I had read about Duke’s study and blew her cover. She was shocked. I guess she thought I was psychic.
In any case, those universities and most others by the 1980s had concluded there was no validity to it and ceased doing the research. The Soviet Union also did extensive research into the paranormal making astounding claims of discovering amazing psychic powers in some people. It was all exposed as fraud in the 1990s by American skeptic James Randi. Today, the only ones doing psychic “research” are deluded adherents of the New Age, pseudoscientific charlatans, and clever frauds. I guess P.T. Barnum was right.
Seriously though, in my study of cults I have noticed a direct connection of people falling into spiritual error and heresy when they delve into occult activity. Joseph Smith, Jr., Rev. Sun Myung Moon, Charles Taze Russell, Emmanuel Swedenborg, Mary Baker Eddy, Helena Blavatsky, Edgar Cayce, and many other cult and New Age leaders failed to heed the biblical warnings. They inevitably fell into deep spiritual error and carried many lost souls with them.
The conclusion, then, is that Christians should have no part in these practices. Satan and the demons are masters of counterfeiting spiritual powers in those who seek them. Their goal is to deceive people and draw them into spiritual darkness, even by disguising it as light (2 Cor. 11:14). I hope and pray my inquirer convinced his friend to renounce these practices and “call” only on the name of the Lord.