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Thanatology, Visions and Witchcraft

Thanatology, Visions and Witchcraft

Thanatology is defined by Merriam-Webster’s as “the description or study of the phenomena of death and of psychological mechanisms for coping with them”. It is an area that we need to be very careful with as it can lead to sorcery and witchcraft. The Bible teaches that we should never initiate any activity that tries to communicate with the dead. We should also test any activity that includes communications from Satan or his demons. The Bible says that “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). One sure test is that Satan will never glorify Jesus. Also, these activities must not contradict the Bible.

Today, we are seeing an increase in extra-sensory activities. They take the form of outright witchcraft to border areas that are less defined such as telepathy, premonition, apparitions, out-of-body experiences, and visions. A study of these phenomenas without a good Bible based knowledge has led many into cults and new age studies. However, we experience telepathy (mind to mind communication) every day between very close friends and spouses. It is not unusual for someone to have a premonition which later comes true.

Today we are hearing more stories about apparitions (appearing to someone in a vision). Many claim to have seen the Virgin Mary. Dr. Maurice Rawlings, M.D. reports in his book Beyond Death’s Door that one in five patients who have been resuscitated have had an out-of-body experience. Dr. Melvin Morse reports in his book Closer to the Light (pp 115) about the neurosurgeon, Dr. Wilder Penfield, studies of the brain. Dr. Penfield discovered that if he touched the area of the brain known as “Sylvian Fission” that the patient began to have the sensation of leaving his/her body. Reports of out-of-body experiences go back thousands of years and they are not all connected to the Christian view of the afterlife. The Egyptian Book of the Dead, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, The Aztec Song of the Dead and others all report out-of-body experiences (Morse, pp 90). We will look at reports of out-of- body experiences in more detail. However, I believe we can learn more about heaven from death bed visions and they all seem to agree with Scripture.

Visions from God are rather common in the Old Testament. We read that Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and others all had dreams from God. We read in Joel these word about the future: “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions” (Joel 2:28). Peter in the sermon at Pentecost speaking about the future quoted Joel. “But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, ‘Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘and it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy” (Acts 2:14-18).

We will recall that God gave Peter a vision regarding clean and unclean animals. “Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’” (Acts. 10:10-13). This vision was in the form of a trance. Other visions take other forms such as dreams, etc.

Over the years, a number of people have claimed that either, in a trance or dream, they have had visions of parts of heaven. In the reports that I have read, Jesus is the center of attention with various details of heaven being revealed. They usually take a different form of presentation than the typical out-of-body experience. Then we have the death bed visions that have been reported for many years. For many, there is a period of time when a person seems to be between two worlds, visions of heaven, and a return to this world. We need to keep in mind that these people do die whereas out-of-body experiences do not. There have been good and bad experiences portrayed in death bed visions.

First, we will examine what the Bible says about sorcery and then we will look at some premonitions, death bed visions, near death experiences, and some of the other reported visions of heaven. By looking at Scripture and these visions, we may be able to understand more of what heaven and hell are really like.