Ghosts — They are highly popular entertainment fare in the world these days, given shows like "Ghost Hunters," "Ghost Whisperer," "Ghost Story," "Celebrity Ghost Story" and "Paranormal State," as well as various movies over the years.
Trying to find or contact "ghosts" is the core of all these programs.
Forget Halloween season. This flurry of new ghost programming is popular year-round and seems to be at an all-time high.
However, are ghosts real?
A 2005 Gallup poll found that 32 percent of all adult Americans believe in ghosts. Nineteen percent weren't sure, while 48 percent dismissed the idea.
Earlier, a Harris Poll in 2003 had found that 51 percent of 2,201 adults
surveyed — including 58 percent of women — believed in ghosts.
Spirits are a real aspect of Christianity.
Indeed, a "ghost" in the Biblical sense can be the spirit of the dead, as in Jesus Christ "gave up the ghost" when he died on the cross (John 19:30).
They can also be devils, demons or unclean spirits.
Matthew 8:28-34 states: "And when he (Jesus) was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce."
Matthew 10:1 says: "And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease."
So, to believe the Bible — according to some interpretations — is to believe in ghosts as spirits of the dead, or of the devil.
The Bible offers this counsel on seeking after the dead:
"And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?" (Isaiah 8:19).
What do various churches teach about ghosts and spirits of the dead? Here's a sampling of beliefs from six Christian churches:
The Catholic Church has some strong words against seeking after the spirits of dead people.
According to Peggy Frye, Catholic Answers apologist on Catholic.com:
"First, the Church forbids members to conjure up the dead (Catechism 2116-2117).
"Peter Kreeft in his book 'Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Heaven' (pages 34-35) says the reason for 'this stricture is probably protection against the danger of deception by evil spirits. We are out of our depth, our knowledge, and our control once we open the doors to the supernatural. The only openings that are safe for us are the ones God has approved: revelation, prayer, His own miracles, sacraments, and primarily Christ Himself. … The danger is not physical but spiritual, and spiritual danger always centers on deception.'
" 'Nevertheless, without our action or invitation, the dead often do appear to the living. There is enormous evidence of 'ghosts' in all cultures.'
"Kreeft said there are three types of ghosts:
" 'First, the most familiar kind: the sad ones, the wispy ones. They seem to be working out some unfinished earthly business, or suffering some purgatorial purification until released from their earthly business.
- Superman continues history of casting...
- Hamblin & Peterson: Ziggurats are temple...
- Father figure: Perceptions of God may stem...
- Defending the Faith: What about those who...
- Obama: Northern Ireland peace will be tested
- One reason Tim Tebow got another NFL chance:...
- Believers, nonbelievers vent over religious...
- Anger in southern Egypt over Islamist governor