Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Are Ghosts Real?

I am asked occasionally about what the Church thinks of ghosts and other wandering spirits.  Here are some thoughts from St John Chrysostom on the point.

But what can be the reason that they love also to dwell in the tombs? They would fain suggest to the multitude a pernicious opinion, as though the souls of the dead become demons, which God forbid we should ever admit into our conception. But what then will you say, one may ask, when many of the sorcerers take children and slaythem, in order to have the soul afterwards to assist them? Why, whence is this evident? For of their slaying them, indeed, many tell us, but as to the souls of the slain being with them, whence do you know it, I pray you? The possessed themselves, it is replied, cry out, I am the soul of such a one. But this too is a kind of stage-play, anddevilish deceit. For it is not the spirit of the dead that cries out, but the evil spirit that feigns these things in order to deceive the hearers. For if it were possible for a soul to enter into the substance of an evil spirit, much more into its own body.And besides, it stands not to reason that the injured soul should co-operate with the wrong-doer, or that a man should be able to change an incorporeal power into another substance. For if in bodies this were impossible, and one could not make a man's body become that of an ass; much more were this impossible in the invisible soul; neither could one transform it into the substance of an evil spirit. So that these are the sayings of besotted old wives, and spectres to frighten children.Nor indeed is it possible for a soul, torn away from the body, to wander here any more. For the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God; Wisdom 3:1 and if of the righteous, then those children's souls also; for neither are they wicked: and the souls too of sinners are straightway led away hence. And it is evident from Lazarus and therich man; and elsewhere too Christ says, This day they require your soul of you. Luke 12:20 And it may not be that a soul, when it is gone forth from the body, should wander here; nor is the reason hard to see. For if we, going about on the earth which is familiar and well known to us, being encompassed with a body, when we are journeying in a strange road, know not which way to go unless we have some one to lead us; how should the soul, being rent away from the body, and having gone out from all her accustomed region, know where to walk without one to show her the way?And from many other things too one might perceive, that it is not possible for a disembodied soul to remain here. For both Stephen says, Receive my spirit; Acts 7:59 and Paul, To depart and to be with Christ is far better;Philippians 1:23 and of the patriarch too the Scripture says, that he was gathered unto his fathers, being cherished in a good old age. And as to the proof, that neither can the souls of sinners continue here; hear the rich man making much entreaty for this, and not obtaining it; since had it been at all possible, he would have come, and have told what had come to pass there. Luke 16:27-28 Whence it is evident that after their departure hence our souls are led away into some place, having no more power of themselves to come back again, but awaiting that dreadful day. (Homily 28 on The Gospel of Matthew)
I think he says it pretty clearly. Although there are examples of thr Saints appearing and assisting us, they never are scary nor mischievous.  If the sight frightens us, that should  be a good indication that it is a demon. Of course, there are also stories of demons appearing as IF they are "good angels" just to deceive us. In these cases it is imperative that we fight the temptation to listen to these demons in disguise. They should be tested with prayer and the power of the Holy Cross.

To say the least, when faced with ANY appearance of angels, we should test them by calling on the name of the Holy Trinity and "crossing ourselves" asking for God's protection. These demons can ONLY harm us if we or God allow them, and unless you are Job, it is doubtful God will allow them. Chrysostom was preaching on a larger story of demons as found in Matthew 8.22-34 where they couldn't even enter pigs without God's permission.

When in doubt.....PRAY PRAY PRAY!


Steve Finnell said...


What is the meaning of calling on the name of the Lord? Many assume that believing in Jesus and saying a form of a sinner's prayer constitutes, calling on the name of the Lord. The problem with that theory is none of the conversions under the New Covenant support that assumption. Not one time is anyone ever told to believe and say the sinner's prayer in order to be saved.

The apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost quoted the prophet Joel, Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." (NKJV)

The apostle Peter preached the first gospel sermon under the New Covenant. Peter did not tell the 3000 converts to believe and say the sinner's prayer.

Peter preached the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. He preached Jesus as both Lord and Christ. When they heard this they asked Peter and the rest of the brethren what they should do?(Acts 2:22-37) Peter told them what to do. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.(NKJV)

How did the 3000 on the Day of Pentecost call on the name of the Lord and become saved?
1. They believed that Jesus was both Lord and Christ.
2. They believed that God raised Jesus from the grave.
3. They repented. Repentance is a change of heart. Repentance means to be converted so that God may forgive your sins. Repentance is to make the intellectual commitment to turn from sin and turn toward God. (Acts 3:19, Acts 2:38)
4. They were immersed in water (baptized) so that their sins could be forgiven.

How did the 3000 on the Day of Pentecost not call on the name of the Lord?
1. They did not say a sinner's prayer.
2. Not one person was asked to pray for forgiveness.
3. Not one single man was told to be baptized as a testimony of his faith.
4. No one was told that water baptism was a just an act of obedience.
5. No one was informed they were saved the very minute they believed.
6. Not one person was told that water baptism was not essential for the forgiveness of sins.
7. Not one person was told to be baptized so they could join a denominational church.

Jesus said he that believes and is baptized shall be saved. (Mark 16"16) Jesus did not say he who believes and says a sinner's prayer shall be saved.

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Fr. Athanasios C Haros said...

I'm not sure what you were REALLY THIS post's context, calling on the Name of the Lord is to invoke the Name of the Holy Trinity which will drive the demons away. As for the rest of your post, I can't tell what you are responding to in my post.