The Bible records strong words against those who practice necromancy, or what would be defined as communicating with the dead, particularly with the intent on foreseeing the future. For instance,
Leviticus 20:27 states, A man or a woman who is a medium, or who has familiar spirits, shall surely be put to death; they shall stone them with stones. Their blood shall be upon them.
A medium was a necromancer, an individual who was believed to have the ability to communicate with dead people so as to glean “revelation” about the afterlife, or even the future.
Deuteronomy 18:9-12 lists mediums, along with spiritists, soothsayers, and those who “call up the dead,” or those who would also be necromancers, as being abominations unto the Lord. No one in Israel was to have any dealings with them.
The classic biblical account of communicating with the dead comes from 1 Samuel 28. A rebellious and paranoid king Saul secretly visits the witch of Endor and asks her to conjure up the dead prophet Samuel so he can inquire of him what he should do about the imminent battle with the Philistines. He had judgment pronounced upon him, instead.
Yet, in spite of those stern warnings, modern day charismatic leaders will often enthusiastically recount their personal communications with deceased charismatic personalities.
The latest example that stirred my interest to research this topic a bit was Creflo Dollar telling how he was visited in a dream by the late Myles Monroe, who died in a plane crash with his wife and seven other associates while traveling to the Bahamas. According to Dollar, Monroe came to him in a dream three days after his funeral and told him he was leading his own homecoming to glory. After reading of Dollar’s account seeing the dead Monroe in a dream vision, I did a few searches and found an alarming number of testimonies told by various charismatic leaders about how they will visit with dead charismatic leaders who will impart some message to them.
It is important to note that the living charismatics don’t perform some spiritualistic ritual to conjure up a dead saint. In other words, they are not intentionally visiting mediums or witches to communicate with the dead, nor are they preforming a seance. Typically, their testimonies are similar to Dollar’s regarding his visit with Monroe. They involve having the dead charismatic leaders appear in visions or dreams in which they impart some message. Hence, because they see those deceased individuals in dreams or visions without any attempt on their part to communicate with the dead, the living charismatics don’t consider their experience to be occultic.
One of the more famous stories of visitations with dead charismatics is given by flamboyant televangelist, Benny Hinn. He told an audience in 1997 of how the spirit of the late televangelist, Kathryn Kuhlman, came to him early before his own ministry became well known in the form of a night vision. She led him through a number of rooms where sick people were being healed. She tells Hinn to “do it!” that is, heal the sick, and then leads him to the Lord Himself who also shows Hinn sick people being healed and calls him to “do it.”
Now folks will say, “I expect Benny Hinn to tell some story like that, he tells that kind of stuff all the time.” Granted, that is true; but there are a number of lesser known charismatic leaders and teachers who tell of their visits from dead charismatics.
Self-proclaimed prophet and founder of Eagle View Ministries, Bobby Conner, claims the late Bob Jones, who was removed from his ministry in the early 90’s due to a sexual misconduct scandal, was revealed in a dream he had by the Holy Spirit.
Conner says of the experience,
“The Holy Spirit said, “You have a visitor.” Thinking someone was at the door, I am about to open the door. However, the Holy Spirit said, “Your visitor is at the window.” Turning to look at my windows, suddenly with a flash of light appearing just outside my window, striding down what appeared to be translucent, pearl-colored stairs, was Bob Jones. He had the most winsome, warm smile and looked absolutely wonderful. However, in the dream I was completely aware that Bob had passed and gone to Heaven on February 14, 2014.
Bob simply stepped into my study. I did not need to open the window, he just walked right in. His appearance was incredible: He was firm and fit, and he was dressed in a wonderful, soft, beautiful, elegant, white robe past his waist down below his knees, like a long shirt. His hair was extremely white and glistening. I was amazed at his skin: It was without blemish, white and soft, and his smile was truly radiant and beautiful. His eyes were bigger than normal and extremely clear, sparkling like that of an excited child.”
President of Encounters Network, James Goll, tells of how when he was ministering in Brazil, he was taken in a dream to Southern California to what he describes as the “womb of the Church.” In his vision, he was carried to an auditorium in Pasadena where he saw the deceased John Wimber shouting “Come Again Holy Spirit!” and knocking over terrified people. Goll further claims that looking upon all the commotion Wimber was causing was another dead charismatic leader, prophetess Jill Austin, who laughed and said, “I told you he was coming” and then a great cloud of other dead charismatic leaders, like Aimee Simple McPherson, was seen.
David E. Taylor, founder of Joshua Media Ministries International, who claims he has had many personal visits from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, was once taken to heaven during one of those visits, and was shown around heaven. While he was there walking around with Jesus, he was allowed to talk with a number of charismatic luminaries like Kathryn Kuhlman and Smith Wigglesworth.
Steven Springer, who is the self-appointed leader of the Global Presence Ministries, writes how he once had a dream where he encountered Billy Graham (who must’ve been astral projecting, because he wasn’t dead at the time), sitting at a desk with the portraits of John Wesley, Charles Finney, and Philip the Evangelist from Acts 8 behind him on the wall. Billy got up from his desk to lead Springer out to see five barns, and the portraits of the three men came to life and followed out with them.
Prosperity preacher, Kenneth Hagin allegedly visited two different men. Paul Keith Davis, who founded WhiteDove Ministries, claims Hagin visited him in a vision in which he came and sat down at a table with him to discuss the current state of the church and the need for faithful, truth-telling ministries. Jesse Shamp, tells how in a dream he had, he walks into a house where Hagin sat on a couch in a green suit. He laid hands on Shamp and prayed for him.
Pastor Perry Stone, whose Cleveland church was recently seen in a video performing some bizarro worship ritual around a replica of the Ark of the Covenant, interviewed his late father, Fred Stone. He tells how the ghost of a charismatic friend of his by the name of Al Collins, visited him. Fred’s inner man was taken to the edge of the universe and took a trip to heaven.
Those are just a smattering of charismatic teachers and preachers who testify of extravagant dreams involving, not only dead charismatic leaders imparting to them special prophecies, but also trips to heaven, and visits by angels, and in some cases, the Lord Jesus Christ.
I imagine a number of charismatic/Pentecostal individuals will read my report and complain that I am highlighting relatively unknown, fringe individuals associated with the New Apostolic Reformation. But I believe their “fringiness” can easily be contested.
Just click over to the websites of any of those individuals I listed and read their event calendar. Nearly all of them are scheduled to participate in major charismatic conferences both here in the U.S. and internationally. Additionally, if one were to click over to Charisma Online, the website of Charisma magazine, and do a search for “dreams” or “interpreting dreams” or even “visions,” there a number of articles, a few written by some of the “ministers” I name here, exhorting readers to consider how God is revealing special plans in your own dreams.
Folks may charge me with pointing out fringe elements, but the fact of the matter is, the idea that God can and will speak to Christians through their dreams is believed to be a standard, spiritual experience within charismatic and Pentecostal circles. While it may be true that level headed continuationists are rightly embarrassed that charismatic leaders will excitedly retell churches about their encounters with departed charismatic personalities, if you promote the belief that the Holy Spirit speaks in dreams to Christians, as outlandish as they may sound, who is to say they are not from God?
I am reminded of the words of the prophet Jeremiah,
25 “I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My name, saying,`I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’
26 “How long will this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies? Indeed they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart,
27 “who try to make My people forget My name by their dreams which everyone tells his neighbor, as their fathers forgot My name for Baal. (Jeremiah 23:25-27)
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If you haven’t had a visit from Jesus, seen or unseen, you’re not a Christian.
Also, not that I think any of these stories are credible or incredible, but being taken up to Heaven is not ‘necromancy’. Jesus himself met with Moses and Elijah. Seeking the counsel of the dead is something else entirely
But that was Jesus. The big, distinguishing difference.
Once again, it’s that pesky 95% Charismatic fringe that makes the 5% look weird.
“While it may be true that level headed continuationists are rightly embarrassed that charismatic leaders will excitedly retell churches about their encounters with departed charismatic personalities, if you promote the belief that the Holy Spirit speaks in dreams to Christians, as outlandish as they may sound, who is to say they are not from God?”
When one believes in extra-biblical visions and dreams (thus denying the sufficiency and completeness of Scripture), one will end up endorsing the nonsense. One goes from “it’s possible” to “it happens”. Cases in point: Matt Chandler (visions and prophecies who has been on TBN three times), Mark Driscoll (visions and dreams), and John Piper (audible-like voice of God). In other words, the “view” or position of ongoing signs and visions does not remain a mere “view” or position, but has experiences that back up that view. In some instances, the experience (deception by Satan) convinced them to change their doctrine to one that allows and justifies such anti-biblical experiences.
Chandler has been on TBN three times? In what context exactly? Just wondering.
I hope you don’t mind me commenting on this everlasting theme. I quite agree with the analysis about all the charlatans you list. Deceivers and deceived. I left charismaticism behind during the Toronto era, though when it came to town it was the charismatic evangelicals who prayed against it, the classic evangelicals were fast asleep.
We must, though, get our doctrine on the gifts solely from the scriptures, not the experience of fakes. I don’t see this happening; rather as Denise above is an example, the claim is made that the sufficiency of scripture rules out the gifts – that the very same scripture tells us to pray for. This is a false dichotomy.
I have been indifferent to the gifts issue for quite a while now, mainly due to church situation.Like it or not, I have been forced back from this recently. I’ve started to see the spirit behind some of the attack made on Da Gifts. A mocking of God’s word Rachel Held Evans style – ‘did God say’ follow after love and earnestly seek spiritual gifts?. Arrogance. Party spirit. A torturing of the text of the NT to fit an agenda that leaves the mind reeling.
I’ve recently heard testimony of ‘tongues’ being real languages from people I have no reason to believe are lying. Whether this is common or not I don’t know. It never seems to occur to those who vehemently deny the gifts that in doing so, they are in the minds of charismatics who do honour the scriptures attacking the integrity and authority of the bible. I’ve know many godly people in this category who wouldn’t dream (no pun intended!) of adding to the scriptures.
The term charismatic is as generic as evangelical, there are streams of thought and belief covered by both terms, and there are unsaved in both camps. I’ve not ‘gone charismatic’ again, but as I get older and the time is starting to approach for me to give account, I don’t want to be found guilty of unbelief regarding Luke 11 : 10 to 13.
These guys go from bad to worst. I’m waiting for blatant idol worship in the near future.
The proliferation of abuse (and faking) of biblical gifts does not negate the biblical gifts themselves. Was Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry “proven” to be illegitimate by the presence of the false prophets who stood against him? Of course not.
NT prophecy (per 1st Cor. 13) will be “done away with” when we see Jesus “face to face”, in glorified bodies at the rapture of the Church. Last I checked, that hasn’t happened yet.
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