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Apologist Warns About “Dabbling” in Occult

Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D. Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D.

A well-credentialed Protestant scholar and apologist is warning the public about the dangers of fooling around with Ouija boards and psychics because these practices open doors to the supernatural that are extremely difficult to close.

The Christian Post (CP) is reporting on an interview with Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D., who is an Associate Professor of early Christianity at Houston Baptist University and the founder of the Christian Thinkers Society.

During the discussion, which centered around Dr. Johnston’s new book, Unanswered, the young scholar focused on the public’s growing fascination with the occult and paranormal entertainment.

According to his research, 71 percent of Americans say they’ve had paranormal experiences; 37 percent believe in ghosts; and 56 percent say they believe ghosts are spirits of the dead.

This could explain why shows like The Walking Dead brought in more than 22 million viewers during its fifth season. While Johnston doesn’t outright condemn these shows, he does caution Christians to “find a healthy balance” when it comes to consumption of shows with paranormal content.

"It's important to balance. … This is one of these difficult issues, like alcohol in the Church and others," Johnston told the Post earlier this month. "It really comes down to one's spiritual maturity, it comes down to the priesthood of the believer."

However, "Anything that takes away from your love for God, anything that detracts you from all the joys that we have in Jesus Christ — [you] should be very careful [about]."

This is especially true when dabbling around in any kind of game or practice that attempts to contact spirits.

"The paranormal is a slippery slope, and it always starts with a Ouija board or reading a horoscope — something that just seems harmless," he told the Post. "Once you open that door to the demonic it is very difficult to close."

He cited a 2006 study which found that 73 percent of teens have participated in practices that attempt to contact the dead or engaged in “other related witchcraft activities” beyond just watching shows on TV. And yet only 28 percent say they learned anything at church about the supernatural.

Johnston also fumes about “psychic ministers” who comprise more than 300 psychics in the U.S. who claim to be ordained ministers.

"Astonishingly, some psychics, mediums, and necromancers claim to be Christians in order to lure new clients. They advertise the fact that you are not consulting any ordinary medium but an ordained medium!"

He calls these people “charlatans.”

“They give false names. They rip people off. I get really passionate about this because I have buried children of parents, and I have seen how, in a grieving state, that parent will do anything to contact that child after death — anything," he told the Post.

"They [grieving Christians] have a target on their backs and these liars, these charlatans, claiming to be Christians, target them with some kind of would-be clairvoyance. … The Church has an opportunity to really minister to those who are grieving, [to] be there for them. Be there and be present [so that] they don't feel like they need to go to a psychic to find some kind of closure."

His book cites research which has found that nearly 42 million Americans have consulted a psychic, medium or fortune-teller — many of whom report negative experiences.

"Stories are legion that confirm the paranormal world preys on the weakness of a grieving human disposition,” he writes.

Christians must be careful to heed the Bible’s warnings about false prophets, such as 1 John 4:1 which states: "Beloved, do not trust every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world."

But that could be tough for many Christians, the majority of whom lack discernment, he says.

"They do not take this command seriously. Christianity has the most educated general membership in its history, but also the most undiscerning."