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Makestraightpaths.com examines the teachings of the religious group variously known as “the Family,” “The Family International,” the “Children of God,” or the “Family of Love,” and evaluates these teachings from a Christian perspective.

This page is one in a series examining the Family teachings about spirit helpers.

 

God forbids calling on the dead

One of the most controversial Family teachings concerns their long-standing belief that Christians may freely communicate with “spirit helpers.” To the Family, spirit helpers are  people who have died, or angels, or other spiritual beings who are active in the ‘spirit world,’ an unseen dimension that coexists with the visible material world. According to the Family, these beings are unrestricted by human limitations and actively assist Christians in their work for the Lord.

However the Bible strictly forbids people from attempting to receive messages from the dead.

Deut 18:9-14

9 "When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. 10 "There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 "For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you. 13 "You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. 14 "For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do so.

NASU

Other translations for verse 11:

Deut 18:11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. NIV

Deut 18:11 or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. NKJV

Deut 18:11 or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. NLT

The NET uses the word "necromancer" with the footnote: "Heb 'a seeker of the dead.' This is much the same as 'one who conjures up spirits.' "

Earlier in the book of Deuteronomy, God had specifically commanded the Israelites not even to inquire about the gods and practices of the pagan nations.

Deut 12:29-32

29 "When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations which you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, 30 beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?' 31 "You shall not behave thus toward the Lord your God, for every abominable act which the Lord hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.

32 "Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.

NASU

Actually, God had prohibited mediums or spiritists in the book of Leviticus.

Lev 19:31 'Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God. NASU

(NASB footnote alternate translation: Do not turn to ghosts or spirits).

An alternate translation of the same verse is given in the NET Bible:

Lev 19:31 Do not turn to the spirits of the dead and do not seek familiar spirits to become unclean by them. I am the Lord your God. NET

(NET footnote: The prohibition here concerns those who would seek special knowledge through the spirits of the dead, whether the dead in general or dead relatives in particular)

Again:

Lev 20:6 'As for the person who turns to mediums and to spiritists, to play the harlot after them, I will also set My face against that person and will cut him off from among his people. NASU

(NASB footnote alternate translation: Do not turn to ghosts or spirits).

Lev 20:6 “‘The person who turns to the spirits of the dead and familiar spirits to commit prostitution by going after them, I will set my face against that person and cut him off from the midst of his people. NET

Much later, the prophet Isaiah warned Israel that these practices were still wrong in the sight of God.

Isa 8:19 When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people enquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? NIV

Commenting on the passage in Deuteronomy, David Guzik defines some terms:

Medium: The idea is of someone who "stands between" the physical world and the psychic world; they channel knowledge from the psychic world into the physical world.

Necromancy: the conjuring up or contacting of the dead. Necromancer :One who investigates, looks into, and seeks information from the dead.

David Guzik's commentaries

Such practices are an "abomination" to the Lord:

abomination OT:8441

a disgusting thing, abomination, abominable

(Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon)

Bob Deffinbaugh explains:

The point of these first eight verses of Deuteronomy 18 is that the Israelites were to support the Levites, through whom they were taught the Word and the will of God. The Levites had no inheritance, and thus they had to be supported by the other tribes in Israel. The function of the Levites was not just to carry out tasks related to the temple, but to teach the Law of God and to instruct the Israelites concerning the will of God. The forbidden mediators of verses 9-14 were not necessary, because God had provided the means by which His Word and His will were to be conveyed to His people (cf. 2 Kings 1:1-4, 16). The Levites were the usual means by which God communicated His Word and His will to men, as they taught and applied the law. The prophets were yet another means of instruction and interpretation. Israel did not need to turn elsewhere for divine guidance. God had more than adequately provided for the instruction and the guidance of His people. Men turn to illegitimate sources of guidance because they have rejected God.

While the prohibitions of our text seem to cover virtually every illicit form of communication with “supernatural powers,” we are given very few details—here or elsewhere in the Bible—as to how these pagan practices were performed. For example, we know little about how the Canaanites caused their children to “pass through the fire.” This appears to be child sacrifice, and in our text, it seems related to efforts to obtain divine guidance. There is a good reason why the Bible tells us as little as it does about such practices:

It is neither necessary nor profitable to spend a great deal of time studying that which is an abomination to God.

These forbidden means of achieving contact with divine powers are all an abomination to God, as are all those who practice them.

These forbidden practices constituted participation in the occult. These practices were not a valid means of seeking God’s will or His help, but an illicit attempt to enlist the help of unclean “supernatural” powers. This was not the way to the divine God of Israel, but the means of making contact with the demons. The occult rejects God and seeks to make contact with the supernatural powers through an encounter with the dark side—through those practices which seek to contact and make use of the demonic forces of evil.

False Prophets Part II by Bob Deffinbaugh

Conclusion

There is no possible misunderstanding or misinterpretation: the Bible unequivocally condemns the practice of contacting the dead.

The only way that the Family can get around these prohibitions is by declaring that as they occur in the Old Testament, they no longer apply. This is faulty reasoning at best, or intentional deception at worst: Can anyone seriously claim that the prohibition against murder (Exodus 20:13) no longer applies, simply because it occurs in the Old Testament? The book of Deuteronomy says that contacting the dead is an "abomination" to the Lord. Is the Family seriously claiming that with the coming of the New Testament, this practice changed in the sight of God from being an "abomination" to something pleasing and acceptable? Surely not. God did not qualify His prohibition, by saying that the Israelites were permitted to contact the spirits of their own dead, or the spirits of the godly prophets. Contacting the dead is wrong.

These verses are so clear and so condemnatory that before any Family member accepts the practice of hearing from the spirits of the departed, they need to study these passages in order to understand the mind of God on this matter.

Family members: This is a practice that was condemned in the Old Testament as an abomination to God. However, it is not too late to obtain forgiveness if you stop, repent, and ask God to cleanse you, your families, your homes and your church.

 

 

 

 

 

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