The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Ghosts, demons and Samuel..

Well I’m no expert, but I suspect there’s a spiritual dimension that actually interacts with the physical dimensions. Although it’s hard to prove or dis-prove. I also suspect that unbelievers, who die, wait in the “grave”/Hades(?) (believers wait in heaven) for Judgment Day, however, they may occasionally interact with the physical dimensions in the meantime.

Thanks Alex.

Where does it say they may interact with the living?

And what about this verse?

John 3:13
No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

And the grave/Hades/the unseen realm…is that where souls go when we die? Or is it just where the unbeliever goes? I am all confused. :neutral_face: Then there is the doctrine of soul sleep, which i really don’t believe in, tho some verses seem to point to it. :nerd: But if that’s the case, how does that explain this verse here?

Genesis 35:18
18And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.

:question: :question: :question:

Caroleem, I agree with you that ghosts, haunting, etc. are demonic entities impersonating dead people.

I believe body, soul, and spirit are not 3 separate entities within an individual, but rather 3 aspects of the holistic person.

The idea of the soul existing apart from the body is derived from Greek philosophy including Plato’s teachings as well as those of the gnostics.

The word “nephesh” in the OT, sometimes translated as “soul” is also translated as “life”, for example, virtually all translators render the word as “life” in the following passage:

…for the life of the flesh is in the blood … (Leviticus 17:11)

As for your reference to Genesis 35:18

And as her soul was departing (for she was dying) … ESV

Suppose we render “nephesh” as “life” in this passage also:

And as her life was departing (for she was dying) …

Doesn’t “life” in this context make perfect sense?

My hope for the afterlife is not in my disembodied “spirit” or “soul” dropping its “robe of flesh” and winging its way to the “Great Unknown”, but in the resurrection of which Christ spoke, and of which Paul wrote in detail, especially in I Corithians chapter 15.

If our souls depart at death and live happily in heaven, the what is the purpose of the resurrection? Why not be content to live forever as souls?

Belief that we possess an immortal soul is pure Greek philosophy. The scripture state that God alone has immortality.

We read in Genesis about the “soul of beasts”. Do dogs and cows and horses have souls? Where do their souls go at death?

Thanks Paidion. :slight_smile:

Makes sense what you’re saying…but after reading other threads like the soul sleep thread and the intermediate state…i am more confused then ever. :cry:

i’ll be a bit counterculture here.
i am agnostic on ghosts AND demons for a number of reasons. i think that there’s a possibility that both exist as personal entities, but there’s also a chance both are products of the mind, or disorders etc, or perhaps even “eddies” in time/space caused by some of the fantastic stuff they’re discovering in Quantum Physics. (to be clear, the study isn’t causing them, but the study may help explain them).
also, if either ghosts or demons exist, i don’t buy the masquerading theory. i don’t think we should bother to sweep ghosts away with a “they’re just demons play acting” kind of response. i don’t think the house of cards that ghost stories/experiences represent stands up to logic, so we don’t need to legitimise them by saying they’re demonic. if demons exist, per se, either.

i’ve never yet encountered a ghost story that has been “convincing”, to my disappointment, as i’m a fan of fantasy fiction and it’d make the world more “magical” in a way if such things were true. however, despite having performed an exorcism, i don’t believe i have seen true evidence of any truly spiritual, personal, malevalent beings existing on their own. i feel there’s plenty of reason to believe that what i helped “exorcise” was a fragment of personality that needed removing, like a fragment of bone.

now on to Samuel. this is a strange passage. the Hebrews at this time believed that souls went to a place of nonbeing (Sheol) where there was no conscious thought. they evidently believed in ghosts, so i would presume they believed that dead people were asleep in some fashion. so therefore it seemed logical that it was Samuel himself being awoken in this instance. this seems to contradict centuries of theological and even scientific knowledge. a witch should have had no more ability to resurrect a soul then she had to ride a broom. it should have been an illusion of smoke and mirrors, or perhaps her pretending to channel. that makes this passage very confusing, because it’s told as a literal event, under inspiration.

so i’m afraid i have to remain agnostic on this, because i do not know how or why this happened, or seemed to happen. it also seems odd that God would want it recorded, although it makes for an exciting story. i’m reasonably sure God wasn’t trying to entertain us, though.

I’m perfectly convinced that there is consciousness, or being, after disembodiment.

Christ is Deity, and Deity cannot cease to exist upon death. Christ died, he did not cease to exist; for him to cease to exist would necessitate that God be subject to essential change - existence to non-existence is the most poignant form of essential change there could possibly be. If Death does not mean cessation of existence for Christ, it does not mean so for us; because Christ would have died the deepest death, not the littlest.

If one holds the belief that Christ is Deity; then one should not believe in cessation of existence after Death, in my studied opinion. If one does not hold to the Deity of Christ; then alas… :confused: I’ve got little to say of that, but nothing good so far as “Christianity” goes.

I don’t believe in Soul Sleep, and find no reason to. Samuel was Samuel when he was “awoken”, there is nothing in the text to say otherwise, and no mention of a bodily resurrection - temporary or not. Therefore we should not read such a thing into the text and call it absolute doctrine.

As far as “Ghosts” go, I lean toward the idea they exist, but probably not in the mythical sense we think of them as. But I am mostly agnostic on the issue.

As far as “Demons” go, I believe evil spirits exist, just as good ones (Angels) exist.

Lefein, i agree, been studying and reading and i am not really sold into the idea of soul sleep either. Some passages seem to lean towards it, but most do not. And the ones that do tend to be old testament, or at least that’s how those passages have been interpreted. I just cant see that when people die that their soul sleeps, or even worst, simply don’t exist anymore. I cant wrap my mind around not existing. :confused:

Now if that was really Samuel, where was he when he was brought up? And would God even allow the medium to bring up his soul?

So many questions… :angry: :laughing: :nerd:

Most likely Samuel was in the “Unseen” which the Hebrews called Sheol, and the Greeks called Hades.

Like today with Heaven, the Jews and Gentiles equally speculated on the nature of the afterlife; and like us; they were never in total agreement. So more or less they simply went into the “Unseen”, the land or realm or state beyond the grave. Which is exactly what both Hades, and Sheol mean etymologically.

As for a medium, I personally don’t believe the medium did it, or that God allowed a medium to bring Samuel forth; she was surprised I think, by the sheer fact of it happening. But I suspect God brought him forth to address Saul one last time.

Hi Caroleem,

I’m actually not aware of any solid evidence that there are actual supernatural entities involved in so-called “hauntings.” Rather than explain “hauntings” as the activity of “demons,” I think it’s much more likely that such accounts can be explained as hoaxes, people’s minds playing tricks on them, etc. Also, I’m pretty sure the “demons” of Jesus’ day were understood by the Jews and Gentiles as being essentially what we would refer to as “ghosts” today rather than “fallen angels.” That is, they were thought to be the disembodied spirits of wicked dead men who went around afflicting the living, and were thought to be the source of certain illnesses (mainly psychological ones) which were difficult to understand or heal.

My understanding of the passage about Saul and the medium can be found here: Only a few find it.

Basically, the medium was fooling Saul and his companions. The account is written from the perspective of someone who was actually present that night (probably one of Saul’s men, who was just as fooled by the medium’s show as poor deluded Saul was).

According to the OT, Sheol is not “the land or realm beyond the grave.” As I argue in the following post and elsewhere, Sheol in the OT is the grave (i.e., wherever the dead reside and return to the dust): The Intermediate State of the Dead

As you argue, but as I do not believe; or find reason to believe as you interpret it to be so.

It is the Unseen, and that’s the fact of it. I’ll never hold the cessation of existence; I am convinced it is impossible. And so I cannot hold that the Unseen is the cessation of existence, but must be a state, or realm beyond the state of the living, and the finale or end of that state which is the grave.

In general, the dead who reside wherever they would normally return to dust are unseen to the living, so calling their state “the unseen” is quite appropriate. When one visits a graveyard I can guarantee one won’t be seeing many (perhaps even any) visible dead people. When Jesus died and was placed in a tomb (and as I’ve argued elsewhere, Jesus after his death was always said to be wherever his dead body was), he was in Sheol/Hades, and would’ve begun to return to the dust from which he was made had God not miraculously prevented it. Jesus, like all men, was and is constituted by a physical body, and is conscious and able to think and feel only insofar as the physical body by which he is constituted (which of course includes the brain, the organ responsible for human consciousness and thought) is alive. Thought is an activity of living human persons, not dead human persons. A human person is alive only insofar as their body is alive, because a living human person is constituted by their living human body.

My first real “ghost” story was the most interesting one. My art/music teacher/friend at the time told me the story of her son’s death. He was a teenager and he came home from school and came in the house, greeted her, ate some food I think and told her he loved her and went upstairs to do his homework. About ten minutes later there was a knock on the door. It was a police officer who came to tell her that her son had been killed on the way home from school.

Then the next appearance and the following 3 appearances after that are all from my grandmother who is a reliable source as well. her first was her friend who died young while she still had young children at home. When she appeared to my grandmother, my grandmother tried to talk to her to no avail, so my grandma prayed and got the feeling that her friend was worried about her children. My grandma assured her friend that she would watch over the children and assured her that they would be alright. Then her friend disappeared.

When my grandfather died he was 93, and my grandmother was 82 (same grandma - still of sound mind). I’d say it was less than a week after that she saw grandpa. He was dressed in his night clothes that he had passed away in (he had finally had a heart attack after being in severe pain for which they were giving him morphine). She saw him again a few days later. Both times she was telling him she loved him and that she would be ok. The third time was the most interesting because he was dressed in a pinstriped suit and a cool hat from the roaring '20’s I think anyway, it was from the time he played in the big bands before he got married, maybe the '30’s ?

I wish I got to see him, but I guess I didn’t need to. I dreamt of him repeatedly, including lucid dreams (where you know you are dreaming) where I was so afraid the dream would end and I would lose grandpa again.

In all these times the person looked identical to their “ghost”.

I think “scary ghosts” are demons paying tricks if there are such things as scary ghosts. Also, I have been attacked by demons before, but that is another story.

Sammy, from Hilo, Hawaii

The story of Samuel is proof that ‘ghosts’ exist, Samuel warned Saul before he died to not summon up the departed spirits for consultation, and Saul declared any who do such things will be killed. Saul of course goes against both his own and Samuel’s advice when God turns from Saul towards David and summons up Samuel through a medium. The ‘ghost’ of Samuel proceeds to give glory to God, repeating the above aforementioned warning and says that Saul will surely die because of his own edict and even tells of the exact time and place.

  1. No demon would give glory to God. As Jesus stated when the Pharisee called Him a worshiper of Satan “A kingdom divided will not stand.” meaning quite simply, no demon would give glory to God.
  2. There is no evidence in Scripture that we cannot summon those who past on, it says only not to because God is the only one we should turn to for advise in matters of the Spirit.
  3. The Medium was shocked that her ‘useless powers’ actually worked this time and she grew very scared because of it. This tells me God allowed Samuel to return to Saul rather than the Medium actually conjuring up Samuel or a fake.

In 2004, I used to believe they were ‘demons’ imitating dead loved ones but now I have learned to discern the difference between fakes, real and demon.

What is the difference?

In 2004 two things happened, my grandmother died and my Dad’s best friend died. It was six months earlier in December 23 of 2003 that I first came into understanding of Universalism and it was on December 26th that I became a confirmed Universalist. The Lord cautioned me specifically not to listen to teachings of universalists or go teaching universalism until He had taught me all that was to understand the how’s and why’s He said, it would take 6 months. Within this time period I was in very in depth study and contemplation and the Lord was showing me, everything from the definition of aion and the de-learning of archaic ECT teachings.

I didn’t see my grandmother for several years. She had practically raised me for half my life as child and we got separated by distance. We talked once and awhile and we planned on June 4 to see my grandmother and I was excited and didn’t care it was a 8 hour drive to see her. Six hours into our trip, we got a phone call, my grandmother got ill in the hospital and on the seventh hour, she died; we were 1 hour away! I couldn’t believe it, I was in shock! We stayed for the funeral, and returned home. I was numb inside the entire time and I was angry at myself for not saying good bye, as she was 89 years old and she expected that to be our last trip we would see each other. It didn’t make sense. I was in mourning for three weeks and I couldn’t shake it at all.

Finally, three weeks later on the 25 of June I couldn’t handle the grief anymore and I grabbed a picture of my grandmother and spoke to God about it. I said, “Dear Heavenly Father in Heaven, I come to you to do me a favor. You have told me my grandmother is alive and resurrected with you and so I need you to give her a message. Please God, I feel I failed my grandmother neglecting her, I would like to apologize for my error and I would like you to tell her I love her dearly and will miss her until the day we meet together again.” I put the picture down and fell asleep.

The next morning, I was awoke by a familiar voice “Craig” she said, “Craig, wake up.” I opened my eyes, the sun was bright through my window and I could see a silhouette come into focus and sit at the corner of my bed. My eyes focused and there was my grandmother sitting at edge of my bed like she used to do. She bent down and kissed me on the cheek and the forehead. I sat up immediately, and she stood up and smiled. In the morning light, she back up and walked out of the room through my window wall. I called my mother to tell her.

For those who doubt, I know the difference between being awake and asleep, I also know the difference between hallucinations and reality, and what sleep paralysis is and this was not it. The Lord answered my prayer, but He also demonstrated what He was telling me the entire time. In October of that year, my father’s best friend died as well and his 2, 4 and 5 year old grandchildren came back with a story that the day after he died, he appeared to them to tell them to comfort them and told them about Jesus and the hope he had (He died also as a convinced universalist).

Do the math, it was exactly six months of preparation that the Lord revealed my resurrected grandmother to me as proof of what He was teaching me and after that day I was now allowed to enter into the world to teach it.

**So what is the difference? **

The difference is, once we understand Universal Salvation (or Universal Reconciliation) of all mankind, we recognize that not everything is what we were taught in the first place from our former ECT roots. The Lord revealed that the secret to life is the resurrection of the dead. Those who die do not sleep, even though it appears to us that they are. The reality is that when Jesus raised from the Dead, He filled the entire universe from beginning to the end and He indeed is the Alpha and Omega doing which was already done before the foundations of the Creation.

  1. The resurrection of the dead has already happened even before Christ even though they all waited for first fruits of the Resurrection.
  2. In the Resurrection Body, we are and will be like Him just as He is. Therefore neither space and time has relevance in the resurrection.
  3. All are alive to God, for He is the God of the living not the Dead. If all are saved or reconciled in Him, then all are alive there is none dead even if they died.
  4. Spirits are not disembodied souls, spirits are abstract and are forces of ‘life’ whether real or pseudo that take on a ‘life’ of their own they can either be evil, neutral or good in nature depending on who gave it life.
  5. Evil spirits never give glory to God in any form, they are completely against Him and His kingdom and therefore will not give Him praise or credit.

So there are no disembodied spirits roaming around earth. So if a person claims to find ethereal ghost or disembodied soul of a man, this person is either a liar or he is witnessing a spirit (not the spirit of a departed, but an abstract force which has been given life and has the appearance of one who was once alive). OR If that person claims to see a loved one who died, and that loved one possesses a body and can physically interact with his environment, this is a resurrected individual who has appeared by God’s permission for a purpose and they are actually interacting with that resurrected man just as I did and the grandchildren of my father’s friend.

While I think it’s pretty much inevitable that someone who already believes - or is inclined to believe - that the dead are conscious will find confirmation of their views in the story of Saul and the medium of Endor, I find the above arguments less than compelling.

  1. “Samuel” does not, in fact, credit God with having brought him up. God is nowhere said to have been directly involved with the conjuring up of Samuel’s “ghost.” Rather than “giving glory to God” for his being brought up, “Samuel” charges Saul with having done it. The woman wasn’t stupid; she was covering herself by having Samuel make Saul the one responsible (or at least share responsibility) for bringing Samuel’s “ghost” up from the netherworld.

  2. Since it’s evident that Saul couldn’t see what the medium claimed to see (which is what we would expect if Samuel wasn’t actually there), he relied on the medium’s response to tell him what was going on. And wouldn’t feigning ignorance, fear and surprise be exactly what we would expect someone skilled in this woman’s art/profession to do in order to more effectively deceive a client (and give them their money’s worth)?

  3. Why would God allow Saul to believe that either he (Saul) or the medium had brought Samuel up from the netherworld? And why answer Saul in the first place, after making it clear that Saul would receive no answer from God (28:6)?

  4. What was “Samuel” doing under the ground? If this was actually Samuel’s “spirit,” shouldn’t it have returned to God at his death (as per Eccl 12:7; cf. 4:19-21)? I guess “Samuel” took a wrong turn when he left his body! Of course, I can imagine that being “disembodied” and lacking the organ that allowed one to think would be pretty disorienting.

  5. No supernatural knowledge was needed for the predictions given by the “ghost.” “Samuel” (i.e., the medium via a ventriloquistic technique - see the LXX, where the woman is actually referred to as a “ventriloquist”) said nothing that other people did not already know or could have surmised. It was common knowledge that the kingdom of Israel was going to be taken from Saul and given to David (1 Sam 15:23, 26; 21:11; 23:17); all the medium needed was knowledge of current events. And the prediction that Saul and his sons would die in the battle between the Israelites and Philistines need not be understood as anything more than an educated guess; considering the circumstances at the time (e.g., Saul’s having been forsaken by God, his emotional distress, the strength of the Philistine army), I’m not sure how a more favorable outcome could’ve been expected by the medium. Before he died Samuel had told “all Israel” that if they did not rebel against the commandments of God it would be “well” for both their nation and their king (1 Sam 12:14). However, disobedience to God and rebellion against his commandments would bring judgment upon both Israel and Israel’s king (vv. 15, 25). It was obvious to the medium that God had forsaken Israel’s king, and so she simply had “Samuel” predict a realistic and likely outcome.

  6. We know from 1 Sam 30:1 that David came to Ziklag three days later and Saul did not die until sometime after that (see chapter 31), which means the only “new information” in the alleged prophecy (i.e., that Saul and his sons would die the next day) was actually incorrect. See also 2 Sam 1:1, where it is even more evident that the events being described in the concluding chapters of 1 Samuel (28-31) are meant to be understood as taking place in chronological order.


If there seems to a conflict between what you think Scripture teaches and reveals, and someone else’s unsubstantiated and unverifiable personal experience (whether it be my experience, a family member’s, or Joseph Smith’s), don’t you think it would be most reasonable for you to go with Scripture?

It is all covered by Scripture, I just didn’t get into it. The resurrected have already risen, the moment you die your spirit returns to God who gave it, and as Jesus said ‘in my father’s house are many mansions if it were not so I would have told you.’ speaking of our new bodies, as Paul elaborates in 1 and 2 Corinthians. The dead who die before us have risen and we still await to be raised but when it is our time to die, the Last Trumpet, we shall also raised in a twinkling of an eye.

Matthew 27:52 The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.

Unfortunately, most people don’t believe that people have been resurrected from the dead ever since the first fruits was raised and have been raised afterward and appearing to many.

Ecclesiastes 12:7 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.
John 14:2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.
**2 Corinthians 4:16-18 **Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 5:1 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 6-8 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—for we walk by faith, not by sight—we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:42-44 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 51-52 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

Lastly, no demon or evil spirit would EVER glorify God in any way. :wink: And this is the difference between someone who believes that there is actually a unseen realm of existence, and one who only thinks that what we see is all we have. Joseph Smith gave glory to himself and made a new religion centralizing on him and his ‘visions’.

1 Corinthians 15:9 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

Hi Craig,

I’ve already responded to your “past, present, future” position on the resurrection elsewhere on this forum (Miroslav Volf - Yale Divinity), and if I’m not mistaken I’m still awaiting a response from you to the first and last posts linked above. :wink: So I guess I feel that any further comments from me would be a little redundant and unhelpful to our discussion.

As I noted above (Ghosts, demons and Samuel..), I think it’s significant that “Samuel” didn’t glorify God for his being miraculously brought up to speak to Saul; instead, he credited Saul with having done it (and he wasn’t too happy about it, either; apparently, Saul had interrupted his peaceful sleep/rest in the subterranean netherworld!).

And regarding Joseph Smith, I think you may have misunderstood my question. While I do think it is important to consider a person’s possible motivation for making extraordinary claims (e.g., is one seeking to glorify themselves and eager to look important and “special” in the eyes of others? etc.), this point is, I think, irrelevant to my question. I was simply asking you the following: If someone claimed to have had a supernatural experience that is not verifiable or able to be substantiated, and their claim was inconsistent with your understanding of what Scripture teaches, wouldn’t you think it most reasonable to go with Scripture? If not, why not?

Thanks guys for your many replies… :slight_smile:
And i am still not 100% about this issue but what you all say sure makes me think. :nerd: