Since it claims to communicate with the spirit world, the above title is a more correct term for this doctrine of demons, than that of the misnomer “Spiritualism,” for there is nothing spiritual about “spiritism,” and, since it seeks departed spirits independently of God, very little that is religious.
The history of spiritism has its origin in primitive Animism, a belief in evil spirits and ghosts, which are worshiped and placated, the religion of the African tribes, the aborigines of Burma, the Chinese, and all primitive peoples. Animism began not with convictions, but superstitions. For the central element in all animistic religion is fear. Men are afraid. They dread anything more unpleasant than that which has already happened to them. They aim to “ditch” the spirits, appease them, or lead them astray. In Animism, as in Spiritism, its devotees are not only deluded, they are slaves to their delusions. Belief in the reality of ghosts and phantoms was in the Dark Ages stronger and more invincible than belief in the contents of the Bible.
Spiritism in this country began about 1847, when a Michael Weekman, living in Hydesville, N.Y., was annoyed by unexplained rappings in his house. He soon left the house, and the John D. Foxfamily moved in. In March 1848 they, too, were disturbed by the same rappings from various parts of the house,—which at first was attributed to rats and mice. Fox had six children, the two youngest being Margaret and Kate, twelve and nine, respectively. These children concluded that higher beings were the cause of the disturbances, since bedcovers were pulled off beds mysteriously, furniture was moved from its place, and a cold hand was felt on the face of the youngest. Kate imitated the sounds by snapping her fingers, and found that the tapping would respond with eerie percussions. In this way she believed that she was in touch with “Old Splitfoot.”
To heighten the spookiness of the situation, it was “discovered” that the departed making all the weird physical manifestations was a Charles Rosma, a peddler who had been murdered by a John Bell, blacksmith and former tenant of the Weekman residence. His body was said to be buried ten feet under the floor of the cellar. Quite a coincidence when, later, portions of a human skeleton were actually found in the cellar! But it is said that the Fox sisters confessed to making the knocking sounds themselves by cracking the knuckles—of their toes!
Still, the rapping business rapidly spread. Other families, especially in the northern states, heard the unexplained tappings. In 1849 a committee was formed and set itself the task of investigating whether alleged spirits were the cause of the intriguing thumpings. Soon the mania infected the newspapers and through them pressed into topics of general conversation. The demand for mediums increased to a profitable commercial market. To elevate the popular parlor pow-wows to a level of respectability, Spiritism was developed into, not a religion, but, an other-world philosophy. The fundamental principle of Spiritism is the possibility and practicability of communicating with the deceased. To begin with, this philosophy of the shroud did not forbid acceptance of the Bible, and the practice of prayer. But public church worship was forsaken, the Bible abandoned and attempted communications with departed human spirits substituted for prayer.
Spiritism has no definite theology, actually no theology at all, and that because it despises and rejects the knowledge of God. “We abrogate the idea of a personal God.” “There are as many gods as there are minds needing gods to worship; not only one, two, or three, but many . . . The noble forest trees, sun, moon and stars, all things are gods to you, . . . It is vain to suppose you can all bow down to, and truly serve one God.”1 Thus the thought of God, the Judge of all the earth, is deliberately blotted out. Spiritists at a conference in Rhode Island, where eighteen states were represented, went on record as abandoning all Christian ordinances and worship, and as discontinuing all Sunday schools. Avoiding God like the plague, this cult chooses to dally with “spirits.” But doesn’t everyone know that there are evil spirits, lying spirits, as well as others? Spiritists themselves do not deem the communications received from the spirit world as consisting necessarily of infallible truth. The “revelation” that so comes depends upon the nature of the departed, and we should add, depraved, spirits, upon the motives, good or bad, of the minds from which they flow, and the mediums through which they are received. How, then, may any one be sure that the alleged good spirit communication can be distinguished from the bad, or that it is of any value? Spiritism has no standard or norm by which to judge. At best, the individual human consciousness, and the level of reason in the person receiving the supposed communications from the dead are to determine what may be accepted as truth. But this immediately puts the vaunted super naturalistic cult back in the sphere of the naturalistic philosophies.
In the light of these facts, it is not a mark of bigotry, nor a purveying of hatred to say that spiritists are not Christians. That is simply the historical fact. A spiritist, whatever else he may be, is no Christian. He who flatly denies the divinity of Jesus Christ and the deity of the Son of God has no right to call himself a Christian. He may be, as Paul regarded the Athenians, “very religious,” but he is not a Christian. Nor is anyone a Christian who denies the personality of God, or denies that there is one only true God. Christianity has its foundation stones deeply imbedded in the doctrine of God, the personal, triune, covenant God. Christianity also has its keystone in the absolute, co-equal Godhood of Jesus Christ, who is consubstantial with the Father. Without that one foundation and that keystone, the structure crumbles into ruins and is rendered extinct. There is no Christianity left to profess. Spiritism on these rocks has already been wrecked!
Then, in all honesty, the spiritist being no Christian, he, if the same honesty is to be maintained, can be no spiritualist! The spiritist is not only far from being a Christian, but he is the deadly enemy of the Christian faith. For in almost every case where we have a spiritist, there we have an individual who once belonged to a true church, or who at any rate belonged to one of the apostate churches rotting in nominal Protestantism, and who now abnegates everything of the Christian religion. Spiritual they are not, denying as they do that Jesus is a Saviour, that He is the divine Son of God, coequal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. This misinformation they secure from the spirits with whom they communicate. The spirits are responsible for this bad counsel. For what ignorant, lying spirits they must be! For the evil spirits, the demons, know better, and confess to the reality blind men attempt to deny. They admit, “We know Thee who Thou art! Jesus, Thou Son of God!” A medium, a Mrs. Conant, under the influence of a controlling spirit at a sÃ©ance asked, “Do you know of any such spirit as a person we call Devil?” The answer communicated to her was, “We certainly do, and yet this same Devil is our god, our father.”² But the devil and the fallen angels are not such liars as to deny Christ is God in the flesh.
Many of our readers are familiar with the famous novels, Sherlock Holmes and The Hound of the Baskervilles, by the Scot, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, M.D. It may be of interest to note what this physician, war correspondent, novelist and addict to spiritism had to say in the latter connection. On the atonement he stated, “One can see no justice in a vicarious sacrifice, nor in the God who could be placated by such means . . . The whole doctrine of original sin, the Fall (elsewhere he said, “Never was there any evidence of a fall.”—RCH), the vicarious atonement, the placation of the Almighty by blood—all this is abhorrent to me. The spirit guides do not insist upon these aspects of religion.” Concerning Hell, he remarks, “Hell, I may say drops out altogether, as it has long dropped out of the thoughts of every reasonable man. This odious conception, so blasphemous (quoth the blasphemer!—RCH) in its view of the Creator, arose from the exaggeration of Oriental phrases, and may perhaps have been of service in a coarse age when men were frightened by fires, as wild beasts are scared by the travelers. Hell as a permanent place does not exist. But the idea of punishment, of purifying chastisement, in fact of Purgatory, is justified by the reports from the other side.” Again, “Hell does not exist and never will . . . All spirit people of wisdom, knowledge and love know there is no hell and no devil . . . no resurrection—no judgment . . . When you believe in spiritual (sic) manifestations, you will feel far happier than you do now. You will not fear the threats of damnation and hell . . . Such doctrine is wrong . . .”³ Of Christ he said, “High above all these is the greatest spirit of whom they (the spirits) have cognizance—not God, since God is so infinite that He is not within their ken—but one who is nearer God and to that extent represents God. This is the Christ spirit. His special care is the earth. He came down upon it at a time of great earthly depravity—a time when the world was almost as wicked as it is now, in order to give the people the lesson of an ideal life. Then he returned to his own high station, having left an example which is still occasionally followed. That is the story of Christ as spirits have described it.”
The Word of God finds no place for a spiritist medium (Ex. 22:18). God Himself turns away from the person who applies to a “medium,” and affirms that He will cut off such a person from his people (Lev. 20:6). This is exactly what did happen to Saul (I Chron. 10:13). They who turn to spiritism have despised their own wisdom and counsel has fled them. God destroys their counsel, abandoning them to idols and charmers (Is. 19:3). Spiritism must be completely re jetted, for the Lord Himself abominates it as the utter rejection of His Christ (Deuteronomy 18:9-15).
¹ Spiritists quoted in “Chaos of Cults,” p. 54.
² ibid., p. 54.
³ Heresies Exposed, p. 165; Chaos of Cults, p. 57; Outlines of Spiritualism, p. 68; The New Revelation, 1918, p. 68, 57.