What I Believe

Ok, here goes the height of wishy-washyness. Do I believe in ghosts? Yes...and no. Let me try and explain myself. I believe that when people die, their spirit is no longer on this earth. The body is buried, cremated, or ends up in a tragic ending such as those that died inside the World Trade Center Towers when they collapsed or if you went overboard and were eaten by a Great White. The spark of that electrical connection between the brain and body ceases to exist, thus the soul is extinguished when the body dies. The spirit lives on either in Heaven or Hell, or at a waiting place until Judgment Day.  I realize a lot of people use the terms "spirit" and "soul" interchangeably in terms of the paranormal, but I get what they are talking about. However, there is a distinction when looking at the original texts in the language of the day. Now, I'm not a Greek theological scholar, but if memory serves me correctly, the word for soul means your mind, your psyche, or what makes you different from the next person. The word for spirit means the immortal and intangible part of your person. I do not believe that when you die, you roam around your old house or walk around the cemetery where you were buried. You either move on to wherever you are going in the next life, either Heaven or Hell.

Just to put it out there and get it out of the way, I am a Christian (former Assembly of God / Faith Movement) and a skeptic. I know some people out there think I'm nuts to be a skeptic and a Christian but whatever. I believe in an afterlife. I believe in God, Satan, angels, and demons. I do not believe that holy water does anything except get people wet, burning sage does nothing more than stink up the joint, and salt is only good for seasoning your food or killing slugs. I believe psychics are fakes. I believe that sacred chants and rituals do nothing except make you feel like you're cool because you can pronounce words in their original tongue. I believe that if you are not a Christian and you try to cast out a real demon, you could end up getting your ass kicked by the demon because you have no authority to do so. I'm not really a ghost hunter in the modern sense of the word, I'm just someone who spends time at haunted locations with my wife on our honeymoon and anniversaries. I watch paranormal shows and enjoy the history of locations. I am skeptical of most paranormal claims and am skeptical of people who are always seeing shadow people or have a vortex in their house.

I look at the paranormal from a Christian background. I grew up in the Assembly of God church from around 1978 - 1985. After a church split I eventually went with Mom to the church the former pastor started. This guy was a graduate of Oral Roberts University so he essentially started his own non-denominational church that was based on the Word of Faith Movement. The Assembly of God church was pretty mainstream for the time. There was Sunday School, Sunday morning hymns followed by an offering and a sermon. Evangelical and fundamentalist tenants. They believe in salvation not by works and deeds, but by belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Water baptism is not required but is advised and recommended to show publicly your devotion to Christ. The Assembly of God church also believes in the gift of the Holy Spirit by the evidence of speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues, so it wasn't uncommon during that time between the last hymn and the start of the sermon for someone to start speaking in tongues and someone else received the interpretation. It's just what happened. Sunday night services were basically Sunday morning lite. On Wednesday nights, it was the mid-week service for the adults and there was usually some sort of youth program. I remember at the time I was involved it was the Royal Rangers and the Missionettes, which was pretty much the Assembly of God's version of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. When the new pastor from Oral Roberts University was leader of the church, he brought in a whole new bag of tricks. Almost every sermon was about prosperity, success, faith, and healing, etc. Things that may sound nice and spiritual but it was basically man using God as a piggy bank. If you give your tithe then God MUST reward you for your faith. If you are not rewarded, then it was your lack of faith. Same thing went for healing. If you ask God to heal you of cancer and you still die, well it was a lack of faith on your part. I was involved in that whole thing from 1985 - 1989 when I graduated high school and entered the Marine Corps.

Now that you are thoroughly bored by my religious background and upbringing, I said all that to say this. The topic of paranormal or ghosts never really came up and when it did, it would be explained as demons or evil spirits. It was actually very Zak Bagans-esque where everything is a dark entity or demonic in nature. Keep in mind this was the 1980s. Rock music, especially heavy metal was evil. Dungeons & Dragons was evil. Halloween was evil. I do not actually recall a sermon or anything on the topic of ghosts. Some people actually said there are no such thing as ghosts. However ghosts actually are mentioned in the Bible. In the Old Testament, the story of the Witch of Endor (no, not where the Ewoks live) where the spirit of the departed Samuel is summoned by a medium at the request of King Saul who wanted advice. It seems pretty clear in the text that God allowed Samuel to come back, to chastise King Saul for summoning him, and told him of his demise. Soon after, King Saul's army is defeated and Saul kills himself. Another example is in the New Testament, when Peter walked on water. Peter and some disciples saw Jesus on the water and freaked out because they thought they were seeing a ghost. It doesn't really make much sense to include that in scripture if there aren't actually ghosts. This is kind of in the same territory I believed espoused by Jesus after the resurrection, when he appeared to the disciples. Once again, they were scared because they thought they were seeing a ghost and Jesus tells them to touch and see that He is of flesh and bone, and ghosts do not have flesh and bone. Again, if ghosts do not exist, why would Jesus refer to Himself as not being a ghost?

So, I do believe that ghosts exist. I just do not believe that they are the spirit of dearly departed sweet Aunt Millie or psycho killer Ted Bundy. I believe that people are made of energy and when we die, some of that energy still lingers somewhere. Most of what is considered paranormal can most likely be explained by natural or normal phenomena but I'm sure there are cases that can leave us wondering. The spirits of Aunt Millie and Ted Bundy have moved on and are no longer here. Perhaps some negative energy is left behind stuck in the fabric of time and space but I do not buy the idea of some place being actively haunted by a former living person. If there are things happening in a location that seem to terrify people, I would either chalk it up overactive imaginations or an actual evil non-human spirit. And using the rationale of evil spirits being from Hell, do you really think they will distracted because of some burning sage smoke? Would they really be afraid of salt poured in a doorway or "holy water" sprinkled around the room? Doesn't sound too terribly evil and malevolent if some Mortons Salt and Aquafina can shoo it away.

I will get into this in another section but I do know for a fact that my mom died in the house I now live in, since I was there just a few minutes after it happened. She was a Christian and I believe she is with the Lord right now, and not wandering the house. My mom bought the house after the former resident passed away, not in the house, but her husband supposedly died in the house back in the 1980's. Myself and others have experienced weird things here, but I do not believe my mom, Ralph, or Alice (the former owners) are sticking around. As a Christian, I believe when we are absent from the body, we are present with the Lord. When we die, that's it. Our work here is done and we move on.

If you are looking for a definitive answer on ghosts from me, I just told you what I believe. I'm no religious fanatic and I am not some paranormal "expert". When truly unexplained things happen such as objects flying around the room, well you're on your own!.

Biblical references:

I Samuel Chapter 28
Matthew Chapter 14
Luke Chapter 24
II Corinthians Chapter 5
Hebrews Chapter 9

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