The belief in ghosts, though a universal phenomenon transcending all ages, has a limited variety of scholastic writings. Thus, it demands an extra mile from any researcher. Showing that Jesus did not teach in favor of ghosts, and he was not one, and revealing His incarnation will be the purport of this excerpt. I will deal with the following: docetism and Jesus’ humanity, and the conflict between reincarnation and Incarnation, objective and subjective apparitions to prove that if Jesus was not a ghost and did not teach about ghosts, then God would not send the ghost of Elijah in the person of John the Baptist. This popular view, decries the negative impact on the person of Christ, our society and the preachers who remain vulnerable to its persistent permeation as a biblical doctrine.
This excerpt carries with it the lacuna of the author not having seen a ghost himself or taken part in any of the practices (that can provoke its manifestation), though has lived amongst a people who have had it as a religion.
In oriental religions, three words: metempsychosis, reincarnation and transmigration are interchangeably used having as a theme of predilection the cyclical movement of the soul; life, death and rebirth though different in usage from one religion to another. Exponents of these cults allude to what Christ was teaching when he said, “Elijah has already come” (Matt.17: 12); meanwhile, in Africa, two words: ghosts and devils are interchangeably used to describe someone who died and supposedly reappeared.
Let me quickly show the difference between ghosts and zombies. Zombies are man made while ghosts are influenced by evil spirits. There is also a difference between the western zombie and the oriental zombie. The oriental zombies deal with the spirit while the West's deals with the body. That is for a zombie to be created in Africa, the sorcerers seize your spirit from your body, influence it by a charm, then when you are buried, they will come back reinstate the spirit into your body, you wake up, but you are influenced and directed only by the charm in you. In the west, they use a portion mixed with tetrodotoxin which may cause partial death. The victim breathes once every four minutes. Then he is later engraved and fed with another magical portion melanged with datura stramonium. This is what the Cameroonian Anglophones call nyungu and the Francophones call famla or kong. In all this, they want to send you to the underworld in other to make money for them. Do you know anyone like that?
Considering the phenomena like ghosts and zombies, some dare say that Christ was a kind of a phantom. They claimed that he did not have a human body but rather appeared as a phantom. This doctrine is not only derogatory to the person of Christ but deviating to human beings who will not see in Him the Son of God who made Himself human that He might blot out their sins. They will see only some sort of a phantom who only had the likeness of flesh.
This confusion whereby people think the dead would be brought back to life to talk to them was not only in the New Testament but also in the Old Testament. When Saul went to the ventriloquist at Endor, he wanted to consult Samuel. Saul was used to Samuel, knew his dressing and gait. Immediately as the woman said:
And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself’’ (I Samuel 28:14).
Sometimes because we are too preoccupied with an enigma it may appear in our subconscious in the night as a dream. To better explain this phenomenon we listen to a story of a man who impersonated himself as a ghost.
Years ago in Ntenako (the cleanest village in Cameroon), the epilogues of ghosts were so popular that people lived in perpetual and utter fear, so a man seized the opportunity to exploit the situation. Each time it was 8-9 P.M he went to a segment of a road where there was a forest and stayed there waiting for women (with baskets filled with food to the brim) going to other villages for funeral services. He was dressed in all white to imitate the customary white that dead people were buried with. Immediately as they came nearer to him, he jumped out of the forest and the people ran helter-skelter, stumbling on one another and throwing their food. He will then come out, collect the food and eat everything. The next morning, for about one to two months, nobody will pass on that road because “women, who were attending the burial of Mr. X met a ghost who seized their food.” Nobody used that track on foot for such a long time until it was uncovered that the old man was not a ghost.
My aunt once told me that a man died and his hands were brought together to the chest. By chance or fortune one hand dropped by the side of the bed. So everybody started screaming and running. Unfortunately for one old woman the kabba (gown) hung on the handle of the door. Without looking behind, thinking that it was the dead man who was holding her she screamed in zoom and zounds. “Am I the one who killed you? What have I done Mr. Agbor that you want to kill me? May the gods finish your whole family including unborn children”! One courageous man then took a stick to combat the ghost when to his greatest amusement it was the handle of the door that held the woman behind.
I am stressing the fact that when you make a god as you keep on worshipping it, you start looking like the god. A people could be so obsessed with a phenomenon that it starts to hunt them.
Coming from a mission trip, I met an army officer who was from Batibo to consult a necromancer. Then he told me he was disappointed because the spirit had the dress of the child, but only the voice was different. The King James Bible uses the right word "the familiar Spirit." That spirit is used to you, knows you, can imitate you, as the devil could become an angel of light to seduce many. So when Samuel is invoked it is the familiar spirit that shows up. The spirit of Samuel had gone to God, and I don’t see God lending the spirit of the righteous to a necromancer for even a minute. I will talk lengthily on this as we go ahead. Just stay in touch. How then do ghosts show up? What is really a ghost?
When man was created God put in him his spirit. Then immediately, the devil sends one of his evil spirits to sway him away from following God. So man has at this time two spirits around him each fighting for his spirit or soul to give to the master. The spirit of God dwells in man and the spirit of the devil dwells outside of man. The spirit of God comes to know you and master you because it is part of you but the spirit from the devil being outside can only familiarize itself with you and so we call it familiar spirit. There is no doubt that such a spirit exists when Isaiah says, "And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust (Isaiah 29: 4)."
Sometimes people have wanted the dead man to speak like the one of Samuel when Saul visited the witch at Endor. It can only bring the familiar spirit of Samuel or the defunct. This practice, including other forms of divinations like chiromancy, pyromancy, cartomancy, and a lot more were prohibited as a practice by God:
There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee (Deut. 18:10-12).
Firstly, God would not have brought Samuel a prophet of his to partake in a ceremony he has prohibited among his people. Secondly, the dead do not speak.( Eccl 9:6); Thirdly, God did not lack a prophet to give the message of doom to Saul. After the dead of Samuel prophecy did not end in Israel. So why would God change his word only for an instance?
Once the powers of ventriloquism are put into motion and the image of a demon similar to that of the defunct is in full exhibition it is easy to think “I am talking to my dead father.” The spirit of man goes to God while the familiar spirit remains on earth. It is this spirit that appears in instances where in witchcraft we invoke the name of the dead. Since the dead can not come back to life except resurrected, we may then embrace the idea of ghosts to appease our quenchable desires to be with the dead.
Sometimes we really see someone like the dead person. That is called objective apparition (an apparition we can see and touch). Other times, what we see are mere hallucinations or make up images from the subconscious. These are called subjective apparitions.
Christianity talks of one soul and one life and not through rebirths. If ever rebirth is mentioned, it is in terms of regeneration (when a soul is given divine life). More so, we have the perfect example of Christ who incarnated to a human and not reincarnated. Many teach reincarnation as what Christ taught but on the contrary he teaches resurrection.
Therefore, my friends, the belief in ghosts is still very rampant, yet its source is devilish and its benefits little or none.
Until then, let us believe in Jesus through whom we can obtain eternal life.
Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk