Misfiring at Mysticism

This week, the Adult Bible Study Guide clearly explains its focus

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/12121

Other than this being completely nuts-on-a-cracker, I think they forgot a few:

  • Wiccanism
  • Sorcery
  • The Force
  • Harry Potter
  • Fabio
  • Ouija boards
  • Video games
  • Legos
  • Dice
  • Playing cards
  • Science

And then there’s the old trope, “be aware of but without exposing ourselves to their influences.

I have recently wondered, out loud, how it is that that works. I suspect it is a fallacy, actually. The general idea, I suppose, is that if you are exposed to a thing, you will somehow be inextricably drawn to it and it will overwhelm you.

But, I think, it doesn’t work that way: When you read Harry Potter books, you do not suddenly become an actual witch. When you play first-person shooter games, you don’t suddenly become a serial killer.

As a kid, I was instilled with the fears of the adults around me that that exact thing would happen. I’m all but sure, though, that that doesn’t actually happen. It turns out that watching a super-hero movie doesn’t turn you into a super hero after all.


If Jesus was a mystic:


And his gospel is best understood in the extra biblical, ineffable experiences of countless Christian mystics ever since, then it follows that Adventism’s assertion that mysticism is an “end-time deception” may be nothing more than a “pot calling the kettle black” projection.

An exponentially greater irony, however, is the possibility that the organization which claims to be Christian has spent two millennia pouring over a book which neither Jesus or god wrote in an effort to “be at one” with a creator who only ever communicates nonverbally.



Please look at this Sabbaths SS theme with respect to the facts that this also is written for Brazil and Uganda and Fijii.

In my environment necromancy was a matter after WW I and WW II. Nowadays the charismatic way shows more attraction - -

And here “near death experiences” are discussed by some evangelicals, also with pamphlets fostering more respect and research on the matter - in spite of the sciences answer that death is brain death with a zero line in EEG , no more ogygen uptake by the brain, no reflxes - - checked three times with three hour intervals - - Raymond A. Moodys objects simply were not “clinically dead”. And the “near dead” experiences are simply not a Satanic deception, not even partly - only their interpreation is - - nonense, maybe Satanic nonsense - -

A dear sister of the household of our faith , high age, wideowed, kidney troubles, tuberculosis - - at 11. p. m.in the hospital suffered a cardial arrest.
The monitors gave alarm. She was revitalized in time. I also was called to her bed and arrived at 11. 25, coming just after this event.The next day she - now also with neurological deficites - with a hevy reproach mumbled something like : " Our Heavenly Father has called me. You have disturbed him !!"


That’s interesting. My mother-in-law was dying in the hospital, while the family and the pastor of her church (everybody SDA) were gathered around. At one point it looked as if she passed - when she gasped and opened her eyes and was quite lucid. The pastor was trying to assure her, and said, “We’re all here, your family is here and Jesus is here with you.” My mother-in-law was very trusting and had a simple faith. Her favorite hymn was “I Don’t need to Understand”, which spoke to her faith. When the pastor assured her that Jesus was there with us all, she abruptly turned to him and said. “No he’s not”, as if she knew him to be somewhere else. She continued to interact with us and said later that she thought she had died and was surprised she was still with us.

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have intently gazed upon and touched with our hands, this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”

1 John is saying that the writer and his colleagues were primarily proclaiming their personal experience with Jesus, a life transforming experience…not a compendium of doctrinal proofs from the scriptures. They, like Paul and the other NT writers, then used the scriptures to clarify and explain what they had experienced in Christ.

What the lesson study promotes instead is practically a biblical idolatry. This is similar to what Jesus dealt with according to the fourth gospel:

“You search the scriptures for in them you think you have the life of the age. But, you will not come to me that you might have life.”

Life is not found in the written word of the Bible. it is found through connection with God through Christ, of which the written word testifies. This is all over the NT.

Too bad the SSQ writers and editors haven’t gotten the memo.



“My Lord told me a joke. And seeing Him laugh has done more for me than any scripture I will ever read.”
― Meister Eckhart

Yes, the Bible is a good book.

But the idea that The World’s Best Book About The Gospel and God has, or will ever be written, is probably the biggest joke of all.

Everyone knows that nothing, and certainly not something as big and powerful as the concepts of Jesus or god, can actually live and be considered real if they only exist inside a book.

Literalism reminds me of an old adage a former co-worker used to use: you can buy ‘em the books and send ‘em to school but they’ll only eat the pages.


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Here, again, the medium has become the message. This goes for the church and the Bible. Both, are supposed to point us to something beyond themselves. It’s what lies beyond that is the point that gets ignored, organizationally.


Good point. I guess the rest of the world needs to fend for themselves. But, alas, human nature is the same, wherever.

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See, I have the German and also the World Edition - Teachers Version - English.

The latter names : ENDTIME DECEPTIONS : Mysticism - Near Death Experieces - Reincarnation - Necromancy - Personation.

To take Necromancy : Well, this was an issue here after WW I and WW , many just seeking some “information” about those who did not come back from the battlefields. Nowadays we just hear at the funeral about Daddy being up there and guiding / helping / protecting you. - - by the RCC or protesant clergy. The new atheists give their deceased back to Mother Earth and offer their prayers to HER, embracing the next tree - -

Mysticism : OK. Especially as a backlash to Rationalism, quite popular.

Near Death Experiences : I had to explain this morning.

Personation : I had to explain this morning.

This with young and highrated professionals - - - -

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I think what this tells us, we need to make the message we give more basic; and let each region make it specific as needed. One size can fit all only if we concentrate on the central point. While we’re dealing with regional issues as if hey were central to the story, we lose the rest out of boredom and irrelevancy.

The 19th century concern about spiritism was important at the time; but to keep harping on it now, we toss aside issues that need to be discussed. The biblical perspective is very much spirit centred and mystical (Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus).


“But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” --Matthew 18:16

Accord to the Bible, if two eyewitnesses testified they saw something, then those of us hearing their stories were to take them seriously. And yet we Adventists are so FILLED WITH FEAR that we refuse to take seriously the personal experiences of TENS OF THOUSANDS of ordinary people from all over the world who tell us they have had Near Death Experiences (NDE).

Up until 1975 most people who had NDEs were criticized by family, friends and fellow church members, claiming what the NDE person had experienced was just something they had made up in their own head. So people who had NDEs were not thrill-seeking individuals trying to impress everyone with their trips to Heaven or a different place called Paradise. Instead, they learned to keep their mouths shut about their personal NDE.

In 1975 Raymond Moody wrote his bestselling book called Life After Life, which brought NDE stories to light, and then the power of those stories has been exponentially amplified to the public through the worldwide Internet that exploded into our world in the 1990s and social media like Facebook that came online in 2004. Now you can go online to web sites like https://www.iands.org and read thousands of these amazing stories for yourself.

I did just that by going online in 2009 and read hundreds of NDE stories, and they brought me great joy and comfort, and strengthened my fragile faith that God really was a LOVING GOD. The three main themes I learned from NDE stories are

1- God’s love for all of humankind is a MILLION TIMES greater than anything you have ever felt here on Earth.

2- Life is supposed to be HARD. That’s why we all have so many troubles and problems in life, because it takes being exposed to hard things to help us grow the Fruit of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22,23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

3- We are very well taken care of by Guardian Angels and our Indwelling Holy Spirit who is with us 24/7.

These three messages went a long way to ending my constant depression. Finally, because of NDE stories I was able to let go of all my SDA fears of the dreaded Time of Trouble and Catholics who were “supposedly” eager to torture me once the Sunday Law was passed.

I have not believed everything NDEs have reported, because I know that whenever God does a mighty work to comfort his fearful people that satan has his counterfeits. For example, here are some NDE reports that I simply ignore:

1- Reincarnation --IGNORE

2- Our spirits previously lived in Heaven and each of us planned out an earthly life for yourself filled with challenges, hardships and difficulties. --IGNORE

3- Our family members who have died are waiting for us in Heaven. --IGNORE

4- Bad people who have died are burning in a Lake of Fire. --IGNORE

I have benefited greatly from NDEs which has strengthened my confidence in a Father God of great love for me and you and everyone on Earth.

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@timteichman, I see this SS Quarterly on a topic : "On Death, Dying and
the Future Hope" - and in this framework the focus on - selected -“Endtime Deceptions”.

@sirie, of course, of course,human nanture is the same whereever, but the times and the environments shape our very deceptions - See, my grandfather, the president of then the Austrian Union Mission in Vienna, , around 1930 had to deal with the **stigmatic “Therese von Konnersreuth” in Upper Bavaria,her allegedly suffering with Jesus and bearing his bleeding wounds, allegedly with the hostia as her only nutrition - - - all “supranatural”! - - Here from Vienna RCC priests had organized pilgrimages to her ! - - Well, once upon a ime - -


Sirje, what a profound–and valuable–thought!

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I was a bit surprised that apparently, everybody in our adult SS class, except for me, heartily and vociferously asserted that all mysticism is evil. And that yoga (although apparently overlooked by the lesson author) is another tool of the devil. My parting comment was that for all intents and purposes, Daniel was a mystic…in fact, it was his job title!


It seems the author of the Bible Study Guide has forgotten Saul and the Medium at Endor, from 1 Samuel 28. The term translated “meduim” means, “a necromancer, one who evokes the dead”.

As the text states (and it is not a parable, before someone makes that claim) Saul, after attempting to determine God’s will from dreams or through runes/magic stones called Urim, seeks out the necromancer and she raises Samuel from the dead. Samuel is quite irritated by this, but still is able to tell Saul - from the grave - that he has strayed from God’s will and so the enemy would be victorious over him and he and his sons would die shortly and join Samuel in Sheol, the underworld of the dead. Which is exactly what happened.

Samuel 28:
Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in his own town of Ramah.

Saul had expelled the mediums and spiritists from the land.

The Philistines assembled and came and set up camp at Shunem, while Saul gathered all Israel and set up camp at Gilboa. When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. He inquired of Yahweh, but Yahweh did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets.

Saul then said to his attendants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.”

“There is one in En Dor,” they said.

So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. “Consult a seance for me,” he said, “and bring up [from Sheol] for me the one I name.”

But the woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?”

Saul swore to her by Yahweh, “As surely as Yahweh lives, you will not be punished for this.”

Then the woman asked, "Whom shall I bring up for you?” “Bring up Samuel,” he said.

When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!”

The king said to her, “Don’t be afraid. What do you see?”

The woman said, “I see a ghostly [or god-like] figure coming up out of Sheol, the underworld.”

“What does he look like?” he asked.

“An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said.

Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.

Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”

“I am in great distress,” Saul said. “The Philistines are fighting against me, and Elohim has departed from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.”

Samuel [newly brought up from Sheol] said, “Why do you consult me, now that Yahweh has departed from you and become your enemy? Yahweh has done what he predicted through me. Yahweh has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David. Because you did not obey Yahweh or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, Yahweh has done this to you today. Yahweh will deliver both Israel and you into the hands of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. Yahweh will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.”

Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, filled with fear because of Samuel’s words. His strength was gone, for he had eaten nothing all that day and all that night.

Samuel 31
Now the Philistines fought against Israel; the Israelites fled before them, and many fell dead on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines were in hot pursuit of Saul and his sons, and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua. The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him critically.

Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.”

But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.

When the Israelites along the valley and those across the Jordan saw that the Israelite army had fled and that Saul and his sons had died, they abandoned their towns and fled. And the Philistines came and occupied them.

So, Samuel - from the grave - correctly relayed Yahweh’s rejection of Saul, and then made a prophecy about the future, relaying what Yahweh’s punishment would be. A punishment which then came true - the next day, when Saul and his sons were killed and so they joined Samuel in Sheol.

Seems that, according to the bible, necromancy works just fine. And that the dead can discern God’s will and also predict the future. Funny how I missed that in sabbath school.

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They have a way of explaining it all away, Tim…



It’s ironic that Ted and team want us to take the bible literally, as if every word is historical fact. Except, of course, the parts that disagree with their theology - with their house of cards. No, not those passages, for sure!

1 Peter 3,4 is interesting, given that we teach the dead know nothing:

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits—to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built…” - 1 Peter 3

“For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.” - 1 Peter 4

For some reason, I was never taught that Jesus went to Sheol and preached the gospel to the dead, who apparently could hear him and understand his message. Weird, don’t ya think?


They have a way of explaining away 1 Peter as well. The big systematic theology (read proof texts) cancels what individual books or passages are saying in context. Always…


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A bit of dialog from the Irish RTE Series Bridget and Ehman:

Bridget: Do you expect me to believe that, Father Gabriel?

Father Gabriel: I’m a priest in The Roman Catholic Church, Bridget. Do you think I don’t get asked that at least once, every single day?

@frank_merendino is an expert on the context in which whomever wrote 1 Peter actually penned those words and I suspect he’d say that most everyone in Peter’s 1st century audience had no problem with the idea that some bad people are currently living in hell just as a majority of the people on this planet continue to believe this, even up until to day.

(Please correct me if I’m wrong or putting improper words in your mouth, Frank.)

So yes, the SDA belief is “weird” and even unbiblical in that sense but only because the Adventist view holds that EGW’s writings supersede the Bible, in this and many other cases.

Does that mean they’re both right and that the soul survives physical death, either in some sort of afterlife according to mainstream Christianity or in a suspended state of slumber per EGW?

That, my friend, seems like the only question bigger than the “to be or not” conundrum.


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