Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ghost, Spirit and Christianity: An Asian Theological Exploration 2

An Asian Theological Exploration of the Non-Material-Non-Human-Beings (2)

Over a cup of coffee and cheesecake, Yoon, Steven, Joreen, and myself were having our after-dinner chat. I shared with them my colleague who is able to listen to the NMNHB. She can even see them too but not as clearly as her mother. Usually they appeared like shadows to her.

Coming from his own experience, Yoon, who is into voodoo and black (and white) magic, told us about his encounter with NMNHB.

Yoon and his family were on a vacation. One night, he and his cousins were on their way going up a hill at the vacation spot. It was midnight. He was sitting at the back passenger seats while his cousins were at the front. There were jungles at both sides of the narrow road. The place is secluded and the headlamps of the car are the only light available on the road. So you can imagine how dark the place is.

During the journey, having nothing to do, Yoon was looking out the window into the dark and silent jungle at his side of the car. It was then he saw a little girl dressed in white hoping in the woods alone.

We might think that Yoon was being deluded or his eyes were not functioning properly at that time, but let’s just assume that there is really such NMNHB for exploration sake.

Besides that experience, Yoon had other experience in the secondary school we attended together. But we didn’t talk about that because we already talked about it before. So Yoon shared about cases involved voodoo and black magic.

OK, again, we might think that Yoon has gone out of his mind. But let just assume that there are such things as black magic and shamanism where NMNHB are being summoned and manipulated for humans’ gain.

So how do we come to terms with these assumptions? What are the theological options concerning the NMNHB?

A group of Christians lumps all phenomena involving the NMNHB as demonic activities. Another group of Christians thinks that these are not only demonic activities but also the manifestations of the dead. That means they believed that when people died their souls roam around the world and hence being encountered by the living.

“…one who casts spells, or who consults ghosts or spirits, or who seeks oracles from the dead…” Deuteronomy 18.9-14, v.11. Italic added.

“…Why have you disturbed me from bringing me up?…” 1 Samuel 28.3-25, v.15.

You can doubt whether are these two passages depicting the reality, but you cannot deny that the author(s) and readers of these literatures did actually thought that dead people do continue their after-death existence in non-material-non-human forms. This also points to the fact that interaction able to established between humans and the NMNHB.

“One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the LORD, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it…”
Job 1.6-12, v.6-7. Italics added.

The book of Job depicts Satan as roaming the world, bringing trouble and calamity along to keep people away from faith. Hence it is acceptable by most that the NMNHB cases are nothing less than Satan’s attempt to get people away from having faith.

“…Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him.” Genesis 5.18-24, v. 24. Italic added.

“…Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.”…As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven…” 2 Kings 2.9-11. Italics added.

The ‘Transfiguration narrative’ recorded at Matthew 17.1-9, Mark 9.2-10, Luke 9.28-36 has Elijah and Moses came to Jesus in front of Peter, James, and John.

These passages suggest the existent of some who escaped death (Elijah, probably Enoch) and had themselves transformed to NMNHB without dying.

“…But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw him and were terrified…” Mark 6.49-50. Italic added.

It is interesting that Jesus’ disciples thought that the figure is a ghost. And the fact that they are terrified by such encounter is evident for the fear of the NMNHB is prevalent among the ancients.

From these narratives, we can derive some of the ancient perceptions of the NMNHB during the Biblical times:

1) Humans continue to exist after death in different form.

2) Satan roams the world to hinder people from God.

3) There are humans who are being transformed into NMNHB and are able to communicate with living humans.

4) Ghosts are human-like, abnormal (walk on water), and terrifying.

5) There are technology or methods (religious rituals) which allow human to interact with the NMNHB.

Next, I'll be posting some of the theological insights concerning these 5 observations that we have thought out.

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