Is ESP Real

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Title: Is ESP Real?

 

Text: Genesis 3:1-5, Exodus 7:10-12, 1 Corinthians 12:1

 

Time: October 30th, 2013

 

 

While we’re on the subject of occult powers I thought I’d cover the topic of ESP, or Extra Sensory Perception. What is ESP? It’s really a wide variety of things, but it usually boils down to so-called paranormal powers. It’s the ability to do things that are seemingly unexplainable through modern science, usually involving the powers of the mind – the ability to read someone’s mind, or  move an object without touching it through merely willing it to move, or knowing something without gaining information through the five normal senses, and so forth. It’s often claimed that it’s using an additional sense beyond the five known senses. It’s extra or additional senses being used, some claim. Now as Christians we need to figure out what we believe in respect to ESP because we need to know whether we are dealing with something legitimate or not. As Christians we are familiar with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, where through the power of God ordinary Christians can have extra-ordinary powers or ability or insights or knowledge. But that’s different from ESP, where there is no obvious connection with God. ESP is more connected with magic than it is with the Christian faith. Magicians like to fancy themselves as having special para-normal abilities to make things appear and disappear at will. While that’s their stage claim, magicians are usually just really good at working out the art of deception on their audiences. They trick people seeing and not seeing things in order to pull off a magic trick. That doesn’t mean that some magicians don’t really utilize ESP, it just means that most or the vast majority of magicians operate through totally natural means. Now what concerns us as Christians about ESP is that we are very careful with anything that is hidden or secret in nature, since the very word “occult” means hidden or obscure. We want to be sure that we don’t get sucked into the world of the occult, and hence, into the world of evil spirits. ESP is one of those areas that interacts with the world of the occult, and so we want to be especially cautious with it. Is it an occult activity? Or is it a para-normal realm that we simply haven’t developed science for as of yet? Are the abilities of ESP simply latent natural human abilities we haven’t yet discovered or rediscovered? Or are they powers from the devil intent on getting us drawn into a life of rebellion against the God of the Bible? These are important questions, and relevant. Most people have come into contact with some form of ESP at one or more times in their life. What is it? How should Christians approach the whole topic of ESP? Let’s look into this subject further.

 

 

First, some people think that ESP is a hidden or unknown human power. Genesis 3:1-5, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals of the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say you should not eat from any tree in the garden?’ The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, you must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die. ‘You will not surely die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’” Here is a strange account between a human (Eve) and an animal (snake). Now normally people can’t converse with animals, even though the movie Dr. Doolittle sings about, “If we could talk to the animals.” And even though scientists are getting closer and closer to actually communicating more and more with animals, as of yet nobody has shown to actually talk to animals in the sense humans talk to each other. But here in Genesis we read the account of Eve talking to the serpent in a rather matter-of-fact way. How was this done? According to some people at one point in human history we had the ability to talk to animals, if not verbally then through thought. In other words, perhaps Eve spoke with the serpent though ESP or mind reading or telepathy, as it’s called. According to this theory, before the Fall into sin, both Adam and Eve had ESP powers including the ability to communicate non-verbally through telepathy. This is what is supposed to have happened between Eve and the serpent – they communicated through telepathy. But after the Fall, these and other abilities were taken away from humans as punishment for their sins. If this scenario is true, then theoretically it might be possible for certain individuals to manifest ESP powers to some degree that are inherent and latent in all of us. If telepathy power was taken from us by God long ago, then maybe it’s possible for it to show up in some of us as a remnant, on occasion. This would make it a natural yet buried ability. According to this theory, when people seemingly exercise ESP powers they are merely utilizing something we all have by somehow tapping into an ability that usually isn’t developed or accessible. Perhaps God intends to gradually restore such ability to humans, or permit its rediscovery. There are some Christians who even believe that ESP is a gift from God for certain individuals, although they don’t know if it’s available for everyone or just a few. Nevertheless, according to this view, it’s a natural, innate ability, not necessarily requiring anything supernatural from the spiritual world.

 

 

Second, some people think ESP is demonic power from the spiritual world. Exodus 7:10-12, “So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts; Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. . . .” Now the point of this biblical passage is to show that Pharaoh’s magicians were apparently able to do paranormal or supernatural things as well. God had shown Moses how to thrown down his staff to become a serpent – clearly a miracle from God, because Moses’ staff was made of wood and a serpent is a living creature. So throwing down a wooden staff and producing a hissing snake is clearly impossible without the supernatural power of God. Well, Pharaoh’s magicians could do the same thing. How? Through their own supernatural powers from the devil. They may not have know their powers were from the devil, but clearly their powers were supernatural, and they weren’t from God, so they’d have to be from the devil. The Bible shows that these magicians were obviously trying to match Moses’ miracle, so we can rule out any magic or slight of hand. No, something supernatural was taking place and it wasn’t from God, it was from the devil. So then most Christians see ESP as a form of the occult world, that is, the realm of the devil. Fallen angels, the devil and demons, are active in the world, and one of the ways they draw attention and lead people astray is through supernatural or paranormal powers. Demons can reveal things to humans, pass along information, and so forth, in what we think of as ESP. I’m inclined to believe this is the best explanation for ESP today. It’s part of the world of the occult. It’s part of the realm in which Satan and demons work in the world today. One of the clues that it’s demonic in origin is usually people who get interested in ESP are led away from Christian orthodoxy. In other words, people who get heavily into ESP usually become less Christian in the process. They usually begin to question Christianity and the Bible, while they start believing more and more in human potential, or the powers of man. This is usually a tactic of the devil, at least historically, to get men and women to turn inward, towards their own ability, rather than trust in God. The human potential movement sets no limits as to what man can achieve, and looks to man alone for knowledge and ability. That sounds like something the devil would delight in, anything to rob God of his glory on earth.

 

 

Third, some people think ESP might be a supernatural gift from God. 1 Corinthians 12:1, 4-7, 11, “Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. . . . There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” For some Christians, ESP abilities would fall under the category of supernatural spiritual gifts. Now some believe they are natural gifts that humanity had before the Fall, but now only certain individuals are able to use them, or have access to them. They would be natural gifts that were rediscovered. Others believe that they are actually an extension of the spiritual gifts the Apostle Paul describes in 1st Corinthians, and were practiced in the early church, and are used somewhat today in certain places. Gifts of healing are mentioned in the Bible, why not gifts of reading someone’s mind? Gifts of prophecy the early church had, why not ESP gifts today? The problem with this view is that most of the time, as mentioned before, people who use ESP aren’t much interested in promoting biblical Christianity. They usually aren’t very loyal to the Christian church, but instead are more attracted to discovering new powers for their own sake, not for advancing the kingdom of God. That’s another clue that these abilities are probably not spiritual gifts from God. For example, Edgar Casey was a member of a Presbyterian church, yet his ESP powers were used in ways that not only promoted occultism but actually contradicted Christianity. He had abilities from somewhere to diagnose illnesses and prescribe medical treatments even though he wasn’t a trained doctor. He claimed that his gifts came from God, but his theology was not Christian because, for example, he advocated reincarnation. And that’s what we usually see in all those involved with ESP – they lack strong Christian conviction and commitment, while they promote teachings that outright contradict Christianity. There is no question that Edgar Casey had supernatural abilities, but he’s wrong in attributing them as from God. God wouldn’t endorse and encourage heresy and apostasy. God wouldn’t bless the activity of a man who taught false teachings opposite of Christianity. The spiritual gifts from God come for carrying out the ministry and mission of God. But ESP powers are used to promote individuals and movements that have nothing to do with Christianity. They usually exalt the individual, not God.

 

 

So when we think of ESP we must be very cautious of it. It doesn’t seem to be a gift from God like the spiritual gifts mentioned in the Bible. And it doesn’t seem to be a natural ability, although there is always the possibility that it is something that humans once possessed but lost due to sin and corrupt. But that’s not likely. Why not? Because if God took it away due to the Fall, because of sin and disobedience, why would he restore it now, since sin and disobedience are still with us? When we look around at the world, when we examine society even in our own country, can we honestly say men and women are getting better, holier, more righteous? Hardly. If not, then why would God restore a supposed gift that humanity once had but lost due to sin? If the sin is still present, then the need for removing the gift is still there, and restoring it wouldn’t be in order. It just doesn’t make sense for God to restore ESP gifts, assuming we ever had them to begin with. Maybe we simply lost the gifts not because of the Fall but because of ignorance over the many years of human history? Again, that’s a possibility, but it’s strange that nobody would have rediscovered them before, and then made the knowledge available for the public if it were just a matter of relearning what we lost. No. It makes more sense to believe that ESP power is tapping into the world of the occult, and that behind it all are demonic forces that seek to lead humanity astray. Like I said before, usually people who work in ESP are big into the human potential movement, or in other words, the so-called unlimited ability of mankind. That’s humanism, that’s secular optimism. It’s the belief that mankind can return to the garden of paradise without God. All that’s needed is human knowledge and ability. ESP plays into an over inflated opinion of humanity. According to the Enlightenment philosophers of the 18th Century mankind is perfectible. But according to the Bible man is sinful and will continue to rebel against God until the Judgment Day. Only through salvation in Jesus Christ can we be saved from our sinful condition. No knowledge or ability on our own can save us. In fact, our own thinking and acting will eventually destroy us. As Christians we can agree that because we’re made in the image of God we have great potential – but only under the control of God. God can give us knowledge and powers for use in his kingdom, but we probably don’t possess secret abilities on our own that we can develop on our own. That would seem to contradict how God operates. Anything we need we’ll get from God, not by looking deeper within ourselves.

 

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