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The Fox Sisters and Things That Go Bump In the Night

The Fox Sisters and Things That Go Bump In the Night
It all began as a joke to scare their mother—so the story goes. Two sisters, fifteen-year-old Maggie and eleven-year-old Katy, decided to play a trick by making rapping sounds in their old farmhouse at night. Using strings tied to apples, they rhythmically dropped them on the stairs to mimic ghostly footsteps. When their superstitious mother awoke and came to investigate, the girls claimed they could talk to the ghost of a man who had been murdered and whose remains were buried in the basement.

The Fox sisters’ supposed contact with the dead started in the year 1848 in Hydesville, New York. What began as a prank grew into serious business when neighbors came to visit the young ladies. Through the sisters, people asked the “spirit” questions and received answers through rappings. More visitors showed up and soon overran the farmhouse. Locals thought the girls were either talented mediums or wicked witches.

Were the knockings a genuine communication from a dead spirit, sly noises made by the girls, or something else?

Modern Spiritualism

Most historians call the Fox sisters the founders of modern spiritualism. Their notoriety spawned hundreds of mediums and thousands of believers in the ability to communicate with “the other side.” As their work grew into a thriving business, the sisters began to hold private séances and public demonstrations—all for a fee. Their work was scrutinized by skeptics who said the girls made the rapping sounds by cracking their toes. But to this day, spiritualists claim the famous sisters are the modern pioneers in communicating with the dead.

Spiritualism is the belief that the spirits of dead people can communicate with the living. Because spiritualists believe that a “spirit world” is actively at work and that spirits are “more advanced” than humans, they are convinced that spirits can bring secret knowledge to people. Mediums are people who contact “spirit guides” who are said to give spiritual guidance.

Is spiritualism a useful tool to enhance our lives, an innocent game that may involve Ouija boards, a sham for people to make money, or a dangerous ploy to lead us astray? The terminology surrounding spiritualism—spirit guides, spiritualism churches, spirits of the dead, spirit world—might make this belief sound as if it were based on the Bible, but this is far from reality.

The Source of Truth

While Christians take their cues about God from the Bible, spiritualists (those who believe in and practice spiritualism) derive their knowledge about God from personal contacts with the spirits of the dead. Even though spiritualism can be made to “look” like a valid part of the Christian faith—with weekly services, hymn singing, and a type of moral system—its views of salvation, the afterlife, the divinity of Christ, heaven, and hell are distinctly different from the Bible.

Most important, the Bible strongly condemns any attempt to make contact with the dead (see Leviticus 20:6). Scripture explains that so-called communications from the dead do not come from the spirits of the dead, but from evil beings bent on deception (see Revelation 16:14). Spiritualism, whether ancient or modern, is based on the false belief that the spirits of the dead are alive and can speak to us. Spirit beings will even take on the form of a loved one and lead people to believe they are talking to their dead mother, close relative, or a famous figure in history. (Read 1 Samuel 28 for a Bible example.)

Skeptics may laugh at so-called manifestations of ghosts, yet when supernatural happenings begin to take place, they won’t be able to explain away what they see and hear; they will even become believers. God expressly forbids His people from attempting to communicate with the dead because He knows it would be used by Satan to deceive. Evil angels are ready to lead innocent people away from their loving Creator.

Denying the Deity of Jesus

Spiritualists do not see God as a person but as a kind of “infinite knowledge.” Jesus is considered only a great moral example, and spiritualists say that Christ’s words are “clarified” by “light” that comes from spiritual phenomena or spirit communications. Yet, the Bible says, “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:22, 23).

Some insist on knowing exactly what will happen in the future with their business, relationships, politics, or other events. They become impatient, like King Saul, and demand to know the events of tomorrow. God has given us glimpses into future events but has not revealed everything that will happen in our lives. All we need to know is given to us in the Bible. These are led into deception by Satan who can sometimes anticipate events and lead people into false beliefs.

Remove All Footholds for Satan

Those who are being tempted by spiritualism (or the occult or witchcraft) should remove anything that will invite Satan into their home. This includes spiritualistic literature, movies, occult objects, and books on witchcraft, Satan worship, or sorcery.

Do not curiously investigate what God has forbidden. If you would be free of any involvement in spiritualism, follow the Bible’s advice and do not give “a foothold to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27 NLT), or “give place to the devil” (NKJV). You might even follow the practice of the new believers in Ephesus. “Many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all” (Acts 19:19). Do whatever it takes to rid your home and your heart of all materials that are in contradiction to the truth of God’s Word.

The Fox sisters’ involvement in spiritualism, whether by natural or supernatural means, was a deceptive work of Satan. Spiritualism denies the deity of Jesus and the foundation of Scripture. Thus, the wise person will not pursue those who try to speak with the spirits of the dead and be defiled by their teachings and practices. They are “an abomination to the LORD” (Deuteronomy 18:12).

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