Do You Believe in Ghosts?

Debbie Holloway

Seeing a Ghost (or any sort of paranormal creature!) is par for the course during Halloween season – at least in a mall or a haunted house. But Rick Barry argues that when Christians buy into believing in real ghosts, they aren’t looking at Scripture closely enough.

“Even new students of the Bible quickly notice that it never portrays souls as lingering after death. (The immediate destination of heaven or hell rules out that idea. See, for instance, Luke 16:22–23, Luke 23:43, and 2 Corinthians 5:8) Yet Scripture bluntly affirms the existence of immaterial intelligences. Mark 5:2–15 details Jesus’s encounter with a man indwelt by a multitude of unclean spirits. Christ ordered them out but permitted them to enter a herd of swine. In Samaria, Philip preached and “unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed” (Acts 8:7). Later, Acts 19:14–17 tells of a man inhabited by a demon. The sons of Sceva tried to exorcise it, but the man attacked them. However, these aren’t ghosts; they’re demons—fallen angels—governed by Satan (Matthew 12:22–28).”

Crosswalk’s Roger Barrier in his Q&A Column “Ask Roger” also addresses the question of ghosts in an article entitled, “Are Ghosts Real?” Like Rick Barry, Roger concedes that ghost sightings could very well be the presence of a demonic spirit. He also allows for human imperfection in cases of supernatural sightings, writing:

“Contrary to popular belief, the brain is not a tape recorder. It records “highlights” and then fills in the blanks between the “highlights” according to what the brain “thinks” most likely happened—based on previous experiences…

…Memory of strange noises, frightful moments, mewing cats, imbedded pictures of horror movies—just to name a few stored emotional triggers—can bring up “highlights” that remind us of ghosts. Stress, tension, fear and/or expectations can cause “ghostly” highlights to emerge. It is possible for the brain to fill in a “ghost” between the recorded “highlights. Then, we actually “see” a ghost. The various parts of the brain that would be involved in actually encountering a ghost light up positive simultaneously during fMRIs.”

As the buzz on ghosts and other supernatural activities draws to its full height with the approach of October 31st, Sarah Hamaker reminds us that fixating on darkness won’t do us any good if we don’t remember to shine out the light of Christ.

“Focus on the Light. The best place to start is with God and what his Word has to say about following Jesus (see John 3:16-19). ‘An obsession to seek the darkness is a judgment from God’s perspective of those who refuse the Light. Understanding Jesus, his goodness, righteousness and holiness, is real the issue. To focus only on the darkness, and its dangers and risks, is to still miss the Light. God did not warn us with scare tactics to follow him, so we need to follow his example and not use fear to scare our kids away from the scary stuff,’ says [Kim] Wier. ‘Our kids need to hear truth from someone who knows the source of Truth—and truth, like love, casts our fear.’”

So, are you convinced by their arguments? Or are you inclined to believe there might be more to the supernatural than what meets the eye?

Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor for

Publication date: October 29, 2013