Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Are there any Christian traditions that have specific teachings that supporting the existence of Ghosts (in the sense of being the spirits of or at least resembling dead people)?

For example, I have heard that JW's believe that ghosts are evil spirits that are made by Satan to take on the form of dead people and appear to men (who mostly fear them) in order to deceive men into thinking that the wages of sin is not death but that we become like gods. For this they cite:

"And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." (Genesis 3:4-5).

Are there there any other similar doctrines, and if so what Biblical basis do they claim for these teachings, and among which traditions are they given?

share|improve this question
2  
Small word of caution here for the Westerners, and Nok, I don't mean to sound condescending here. My understanding is that African Christianity has a much stronger emphasis on the spiritual realm than many Westerners probably understand, or even believe. Please be careful not to rule this question out too quickly! (That said, I'm not aware of any biblical sources that would bear this on this. ) –  Affable Geek Apr 9 '12 at 2:26
2  
Secondary to the above; some individuals (even disciples) being superstitious and fearful about a spirit or ghost is not the Bible saying "their fear is true and correct", but rather "they were afraid of something". Wow; that almost sounded like I defended something in the Bible. Careful now. That even sounds like a possible answer to this question... thoughts? –  Marc Gravell Apr 9 '12 at 8:14

3 Answers 3

I wish I had discovered this question earlier. Berea is a famous dominion for teaching about existance of Ghosts. As I have written here, Of course, Berea is known in Korea majorly since it started there. Ever since it started, it received a lot of persecution of heresy, but after 2008 those heretic charges were cleared. The directer and founding Pastor wrote a book, "Argument of Ghosts"(the translation is not official) or 귀신론, which describes what exactly Ghost is, and other stuff. In our opinion, Ghosts/Demons are essentially the souls of those who did not believe in Jesus while in their mortal lives. They go around, tempting other people who do evil deeds, and they are angry for not believing in Christ earlier and receiving grace.

Note that I am condensing 300~400 page book into few sentences. I will give more information if the readers request... after I find the book of course.

share|improve this answer

The first thing that comes to mind when I see this question is the post-Resurrection appearance of the Savior to the disciples:

Luke 24:37-39:

37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.

38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?

39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

Jesus didn't tell them "I'm not a ghost because there's no such thing as ghosts," he said "I'm not a ghost because I have a solid physical body and ghosts don't."

share|improve this answer
2  
Yes, but a "Spirit" and a "Ghost" are not necessarily the same thing. A Ghost is specifically the spirit of a deceased person. It is generally held throughout the bible and christendom that there are other spirits as well. Except for the Holy Spirit itself, these other spirits are almost universally described as evil. –  RBarryYoung Apr 17 '12 at 17:21
1  
@RBarryYoung: A ghost is specifically the spirit of a deceased person... such as the man they saw standing before them, who had been executed just a few days ago. –  Mason Wheeler Apr 17 '12 at 17:57
    
Ah, right. Sorry, I didn't register the chapter:verse and was thinking of the calming of the storm where there's a similar concerns about spirits.. (and that's probably in Matthew rather than Luke ..). –  RBarryYoung Apr 17 '12 at 18:01
1  
The Bible has many other accounts of pagan beliefs. Their mentions don't validity them as doctrines, only acknowledge that they existed. In this case I don't think we can make a case that what Jesus was refuting here can be taken as not generally applicable just because he tackled the specific misconception. Even if the disciples wouldn't have dreamed of believing in ghosts, they had seen that guy die and his appearance would have been enough to inject all kinds of superstitions in a moment! –  Caleb Apr 17 '12 at 18:08

I think you could make a pretty solid case from the Bible that the spirits of men, once dead, stay dead to this world and are are only active* in another place. In fact, no mainline traditions I know of teach specifically in the existence of ghosts, and quite a few teach against such a thing being possible. There are of course a few exceptional groups claiming to be Christian that have other doctrines, but they are on the fringe and many could arguably be counted as cults.

What is taught and believed by wide swaths of Christianity is that evil spirits are real and can manifest themselves in physical fashions in this world. The exact teachings on this are very diverse, some peddling such an obsession with the spirit world that every shadow comes to hold it's own set of wraiths. Others seem proclaim that the spirit world is irrelevant in our modern times and couldn't care less.

I believe the truth lies somewhere between those two extremes. Most of Protestantism (certainly the Reformed and more conservative circles on down the lines to some pretty generic Evangelical branches) would argue that while evil spirits are real and can and sometimes do have physical manifestations, the important thing to remember is that "He that is in us is stronger than he that is in the world." In other words, as believers in Christ with his Spirit living in us, we have naught to fear from any spirit. Those that are not in Christ run a risk both in not heeding the spirit world and in listening to it and catering to it without possessing any power that can overcome it. I would say the greater risk they run is in their relationship with God not being set to rights, spirits --however real-- should be the least of their worries.

* The timing of this is widely disputed, but is of no consequence to answering this question. Whether spirits sleep until the final judgement or whether the saints are taken directly to be with the Lord doesn't matter here as there is general agreement that this world is no longer their domain.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.