From Eternity Past


Chapter 67—Ancient and Modern Spiritualism

The Scripture account of Saul's visit to the woman of Endor has been a perplexity to many students of the Bible. Some take the position that Samuel was actually present. But the Bible furnishes ground for a contrary conclusion. EP 495.1

If Samuel was in heaven, he must have been summoned from thence either by God or by Satan. None can believe for a moment that Satan had power to call the prophet from heaven to honor the incantations of an abandoned woman. Nor can we conclude that God summoned him to the witch's cave, for the Lord had already refused to communicate with Saul by dreams, by Urim, or by prophets. EP 495.2

The message itself is evidence of its origin. Its object was not to lead Saul to repentance, but to urge him on to ruin. This is not the work of God, but of Satan. Furthermore, the act of Saul in consulting a sorceress is cited in Scripture as one reason why he was rejected by God: “Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord, even against the word of the Lord, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it; and inquired not of the Lord: therefore He slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse.” 1 Chronicles 10:13, 14. Saul did not communicate with Samuel, the prophet of God, but with Satan. Satan could not present the real Samuel, but a counterfeit, that served his purpose of deception. EP 495.3

Ancient sorcery and witchcraft were founded upon a belief in communion with the dead. Those who practiced necromancy claimed to obtain through departed spirits a knowledge of future events. “When they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep and that mutter; should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?” Isaiah 8:19. EP 495.4

The gods of the heathen were believed to be the deified spirits of departed heroes. Thus the religion of the heathen was a worship of the dead. Speaking of the apostasy of the Israelites, the psalmist says, “They joined themselves also unto Baal-peor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead” (Psalm 106:28), that is, sacrifices that had been offered to the dead. EP 496.1

In nearly every system of heathenism, the dead were believed to communicate their will to men, and also, when consulted, to give them counsel. Even in professedly Christian lands, the practice of communication with beings claiming to be the spirits of the departed has become widespread. Spiritual beings sometimes appear in the form of deceased friends and relate incidents connected with their lives and perform acts which they performed while living. In this way they lead men to believe that their dead friends are angels. With many their word has greater weight than the Word of God. EP 496.2

Many regard spiritualism as a mere imposture. Its manifestations are attributed to fraud. But while it is true that the results of trickery have often been palmed off as genuine, there have also been marked evidences of supernatural power. And many who reject spiritualism as human cunning will, when confronted with manifestations which they cannot account for, be led to acknowledge its claims. EP 496.3

Modern spiritualism and ancient witchcraft—all having communion with the dead as their vital principle—are founded upon that first lie by which Satan beguiled Eve in Eden: “Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, ... ye shall be as gods.” Genesis 3:4, 5. Alike based upon falsehood, they are alike from the father of lies. EP 496.4

God said: “The dead know not anything... . Neither have they any more a portion forever in anything that is done under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6. “His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” Psalm 146:4. The Lord declared to Israel: “The soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.” Leviticus 20:6. EP 497.1

The “familiar spirits” were not the spirits of the dead, but evil angels, the messengers of Satan. The psalmist, speaking of Israel, says that “they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils,” and in the next verse he explains that they sacrificed them “unto the idols of Canaan.” Psalm 106:37, 38. In their supposed worship of dead men, they were, in reality, worshiping demons. EP 497.2