What is Spiritualism?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

What is spiritualism? Is it biblical? Is it dangerous?

The Spirit World

There is a world out there that we cannot see. The Apostle Paul says these unclean or evil spirits seek to oppress, harass, and silence believers so that they don’t share Jesus Christ with the lost. Paul tells us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12). Even though these demons or even Satan himself cannot take the life of a believer, they can make their life miserable. Just ask Job who found out that there is another world out there…and one we don’t see, which makes it all the more dangerous, but if we’re armored up, we can resist the Devil and his demons (Eph 6), but if we play with fire, we’ll get burned.

“Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God” (Lev 19:31).


When someone believes they’ve contacted a lost loved one, they might be led to believe that this was their family member or friend, but the Bible says that “it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Heb 9:27). This verse destroys the notion that some people die and go to hell or heaven and then return to tell about it, but the account Jesus gave of the Rich Man and Lazarus tells us that even though the rich man wanted to go back and warn his family, he was not allowed to cross over, and so it is with those who have died outside of faith in Christ (Luke 16:19-31). They had their chance, and there is no second chance of salvation after death that I can find in Scripture. The Bible teaches us that today is the day of salvation (2 Cor 6:2), because tomorrow has no guarantee to come (Prov 27:1; James 4:13-17). So what is Spiritualism? Is it harmless? Spiritualism is a movement based upon the belief that departed souls can interact with the living, so spiritualists actually believe that the spirits of the dead still exist, so they believe they have the ability to communicate with the dead, but there are two problems with this. There are fewer things that are more abominable to God than trying to communicate with the dead. And, they may not like what they are actually communicating with… a demon or “familiar spirit” (Lev 18:11, 19:30, 20:6; 1 Sam 28;3-9; 2 Kings 21:6, 23:24; Isaiah 8:19, 19:3), and these spirits are highly familiar with the deceased in many cases, so it’s not surprising that the Bible sometimes calls them “familiar spirits” in some translations (i.e. the King James Version).

Forbidden Fruit

Although people have great curiosity about trying to communicate with their lost loved ones, God forbids this practice. It was such a serious sin to God that it was punishable by death in the Old Testament. It doesn’t matter if we’re just curious and just making an “innocent inquiry” (as some have said). People’s curiosity will still draw them to this detestable sin, but so did Eve’s curiosity, and we see how that turned out (Gen 3). The Law says, “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God” (Lev 19:31). This was not part of the Mosaic or sacrificial law, but rather a part of the moral or civil law, so Christ’s work on Calvary did not do away with this law. Jesus did away with the sacrificial system and all the laws that go with it, so how do you answer someone who thinks there is nothing wrong with communicating with the dead? The Bible has an answer prepared for us when we’re asked about such a thing. God answers through Isaiah the Prophet. He says that if they “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living” (Isaiah 8:19)? Want to know how seriously God takes this sin? The Law says, “A man or a woman who is a medium or a necromancer shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones; their blood shall be upon them” (Lev 20:27), so “If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people” (Lev 20:6).

Familiar Spirits

I know of several accounts where people have contacted me, believing they’ve contacted their long, lost family member or friend through an encounter. What they don’t realize is that these “familiar spirits” are imitating their lost loved ones. Ghosts do not exist, but demons do! Apparently, these demons knew their lost loved one’s tendencies, speech habits, and other idiosyncrasies that they had which were unique to them, but here is the biblical truth. These “ghosts” or “spirits of the deceased” are not our lost loved ones. They are demons impersonating the dead and these demons are duping millions of deceived people. Even Christians are getting infatuated with these things. In fact, we have a church near us where they have a so-called “Demon Unit” that will cast out demons for anyone that asks, but what troubles me is that they don’t care if the person is saved or not, but what this Demon Unit does is draw people! By the hundreds, so it seems this church is fascinated by demonic activity, and that’s taking their eyes off the gospel and off of Jesus Christ. In fact, it may even be a church led by demons because we know that Satan has his own ministers (2 Cor 11:14-15), meaning he has his own churches too! So I say, beware.


I hope this article has convinced some to stop dabbling in these kinds of things. The Sons of Sceva had an encounter with a demon when they tried to cast him out by using Jesus’ name, and did they ever regret it. The demon said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you” (Acts 19:15)? Immediately after this, “the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded” (Acts 19:16). Ouch! As you can see, demonic activity is something you don’t want to mess around with. This includes playing with Ouija Boards, having séances, and trying to communicate with the dead. These are clearly forbidden by God and He warns us from Scripture to have nothing to do with them. When we dabble in these things, we should not be surprised that we get burned. Just ask the Sons of Sceva. I doubt very much if they ever tried another exorcism.

Here is some related reading for you: Can People Communicate with the Dead?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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