Bishop James A. Pike, retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California, whose recent “God is dead” theory created a furor in the ecclesiastical world, is in the news once again. September 3, while on Canadian television, he took part in a seance, a spiritualist meeting, in which he talked with his dead son, who committed suicide in 1966. His medium was the Rev. Arthur Ford, a minister of the disciples of Christ church in Philadelphia, Pa. “Fletcher,” a deceased friend of Rev. Ford, a so-called “spirit control,” was said to bring forth third-person messages through the mouth of Ford when Ford was in a hypnotic trance.
The details of who said what are not important; the point is that Rev. Ford supposedly talked with “Fletcher,” and then communicated these messages to Bishop Pike. Fletcher could talk with other dead people and bring messages from the dead to the living, as well as take messages from the living to the dead. Fletcher knew many of the now-departed people that Pike had known, and could converse with them.
What can be said of this event? It is highly unusual, mysterious, and extremely puzzling. Is it true? Did it happen? Could it have happened? No, it could not have happened. . . . There are arguments for the position that seances do happen, and that this particular one did. For instance, Ford, the medium, could hardly have known all of the people Bishop Pike knew; Ford could tell of personal relations that Pike had had with his deceased friends. Bishop Pike says, “Also, the persons who purportedly communicated had one thing in common: They were in varying ways connected with the development of my thought. They knew me at particularly significant times in my life, turning points.” (Grand Rapids Press, Sept. 29, 1967).
Although the above argument seems to prove that the seance took place, it is not valid. For one thing, Pike’s son, who committed suicide, is pictured, along with the rest of the departed people, as being happy. It is safe to infer from this that he was supposedly in heaven, the place of happiness, as were Bishop Pike’s ex-colleagues. But were they? It hardly seems possible that Pike Jr., after being brought up by a Godless and Bible-denying father, and after committing suicide, which no Christian would do, could be in heaven.
There is a still more serious aspect to this matter. Bishop Pike is pictured as communicating with deceased people, whose souls are in heaven. This is a denial of the existence of heaven. As the Bible speaks of it, heaven is a place to which the souls of God’s people go after physical death; heaven is a realm of sinless joy, completely separate from the corruption of this world. It is blasphemy against God and His Word to suggest that there can be inter-communication between mortals and immortals.
However, yet more serious is the denial of God’s revelation that this event implies. God’s revelation ended with the completion of the Bible. The church has acknowledged this fact; the true body of Christ has never attempted to add anything to God’s revelation. Not only is this true historically, but also Scripturally. We read in Rev. 22:18, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, ‘If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.’ ”
Whether or not this seance did actually take place, one thing is certain: It was not the work of God, but the work of the devil. If in this life communication with the spirit world does take place, the devil is behind it. If no communication takes place, seances are a deliberate attempt on the part of unbelievers to join in league with the devil.
It’s a sign of the times, young people! These are times in which men apostatize from the faith, putting their trust not in God, but in themselves and in the devil. We must never be taken in by these pseudo- spiritualistic, impossible happenings, but instead, place our trust only in God and His revelation to us.