Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fortean Phenomena and Faith: 4 Ways Christians Respond to the Paranormal

In my experience the Christian community generally responds in one of four ways when faced with news or evidence of paranormal phenomena that wasn't ever covered in Sunday School.

  1. Outright dismissal
    The most common reaction to the strange and supernatural is one of dogged closed-mindedness. Common examples include:

    "That person must be lying.
    "That person must be crazy."
    ...and the ever popular
    "That person needs Jesus!"

    Are some alleged experiencers lying? Certainly. Are some crazy? More than likely. Do some of them need Jesus? Of course they do! We all do. But do any of these things invalidate all Fortean phenomena? Come on, man. Absolutely not.

    The fact is, something is going on. Some people are encountering what they truly believe are ghosts, aliens, Bigfoot, and all manner of the bizarre and weird. It is ignorant and foolish to write off all paranormal activity as the product lying or insanity

  2. Blame the demons
    The second most common response is to just blame the demons for everything your pastor chooses not to address. This Christian must be given some credit for at least acknowledging that there's a spiritual realm, but the props stop there.

    This is the exact same mentality Christians have been ridiculed for over the centuries, but instead of God of the gaps, it's demons of the gaps. If you can't easily explain it must be those pesky demons, right?

  3. Honest openness
    There are those, the minority, who observe the world around them and accept that there may be things they don't know. This doesn't mean to ignore the Bible or twist it to incorporate their pet theories. It only means they realize there are things, both in the Bible and out, that they don't yet understand. Discovering truth is more important than protecting one's fragile faith, or feeding one's tireless quest for the new and exciting, which brings us to.

  4. Biased acceptance and assimilation
    Then there are those at the opposite end of the spectrum from the first category, who blindly receive almost everything they hear or read because, know what? They love it! They crave the excitement that comes with each new thing, and how better to respond than to just take it all as fact?

    This stuff is extremely interesting and intriguing and it's very, very easy to get so caught up in this field of research that you forget the truly important stuff. 

Christianity is about furthering God's kingdom on earth as we, His messengers of reconciliation, deliver His Gospel to the unsaved, and as we disciple new believers, teaching them to do the same. The fringe issues are usually just that, fringe. Have fun with them but focus on what's central, the urgent and important.

All that said, I firmly believe there are issues most Christians would classify as "fringe" which are actually much closer to the center than most understand. We'll talk about those things some other time.

So, which are you? One, maybe three? Are you a four? Or... are you a three like we all should be?

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