Christians speaking to the dead

trueseek1's picture

Had never thought of it this way, until I found a book on the shelf expounding on one of the well known passages of the Holy Scriptures: The Transfiguration passage. Jesus has a live visit from Moses and Elijah and in the presence of the other fallible men, a couple of apostles, he enters into conversation with these two "dead saints". The author also highlighted another instance when God rose the dead and they went into the cities to show themselves as alive in Christ. I had read these passages many times before, and heard countless evangelical sermons on them, but in all my previous readings of the last couple of hundred years of evangelical commentaries, I had never heard of the reality that these visitations represented. Does anyone know how did the faithful early Church fathers who honored God, in the nonheretical Church, view these passages?

Also, the author differentiated clearly between using a medium to reach the dead as Saul did to talk to Samuel, and both these passages, with the understanding that Christ revealed clearly that it is not sinful to have a conversation with a live saint, but evil if one tries to use mediums as the ungodly do.

Thanks for all insights on these passages.

Jerry Heath's picture

Speaking to the "dead"

I think this question becomes more relevant because of new age thinking. A few years ago the question would be burried under a metaphysics that would render all these ideas moot. The new age seems to be looking for any metaphysics as a reaction to the failure of the old "modernist" and "postmodernist" limits on metaphysics. We can deconstruct but we will not change our metaphysics.

Under that old metaphysics anyone who spook to the dead was just crazy. With the new age we are not so sure. That is good because we are opening up new concepts of just what the world is. The modernist concepts left us in a reality that was a dead box. There was no way out. The new agers are willing to risk the issue and experiment with a new understandiung of what the world is. That also could be bad too since we are not sure just where we are headed.

But then all of a sudden a religious experience that was not questioned before (because it was not realy undersood) takes on a new meaning. That new meaning is from the new age perspective.

I suggest you look up Emanuel Swedenborg. Start with Arcana Coelestia (Heavenly Secrets). Yes he was from the era when they wrote everything in Latin. He lived about the same time as Newton. But he was the first of the new agers.

Some of the text is on the web so you can read it for free. I do not have a link. There are two parts: a free translation of some old testament texts; and a description of his experience talking to...well...dead people. I am not saying I agree with Swedenborg but that we need to see that this particular writing is another "perspective."

I grew up as a scientist and even practiced science as a chemist for a number of years. I can picture the world as science does. From that view, what Swedenborg is talkin about is nonsense. But he speaks of these things in such a matter of fact way.

I am hoping the metaphysics of science is not the only metaphysics. Maybe not Swedenborg but some break in the dead envelop that science renders around us is needed.

Of course when we make a break with the old worldview we ask new questions. In that old scientific world all "unphysical" things were either nonexistant or just plain bad for you. Christianity has for too long just accepted this as our world as we know it.