Spiritualist Church meeting in Darwen Congregational Premises

Whenever I get the chance, I like to visit other churches and sniff out what they’re up to. This weekend, I had arranged to walk up to Darwen Tower with friends. Arriving early, I called at Hollins Grove Congregational Church. It was established in 1876, and looks like it was once a prosperous establishment.

I was somewhat surprised to see its noticeboard advertising ‘Darwen Christian Spiritualist Church’. Often, small fellowships meeting in large buildings will allow other congregations to use their premises and share the running costs. But this is rather different.

Spiritualism is the belief that spirits of dead people have both the ability and inclination to exchange messages with the living. It has secular varieties, often taking the form of ‘shows’ with the mediums (people through whom the spirits communicate) providing the entertainment. There’s also a version of it that models itself on a Christian denomination, with ministers, liturgy and hymns. The largest ‘Christian’ group was founded in 1890, and became increasingly popular in the 1920s when most British households were mourning their lost young men.

I have a real problem with this belief system and I’m surprised that a Congregational church sees fit to accommodate it. The Bible forbids such practices in very clear terms:

“When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you. Deuteronomy 18:19-20 (ESV)

I do not believe those spirits with whom the mediums converse are what they claim to be. Scripture says that it is appointed for man to live once and after that to face the judgement. Those in hell cannot respond; those in heaven have no desire. Might it be that these spirits are not dead people at all?

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1

In Leviticus 20:6 we’re told “If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.” ‘Whoring’ is a strange expression. It refers to marital or sexual unfaithfulness. As spirits don’t have bodies, the text must be using the word in a metaphorical sense. So how is seeking to speak with spirits an act of infidelity? Those who seek to flirt with and pay court to dirty spirits instead of seeking their Creator perform an act of spiritual adultery.

I therefore object to the words ‘Christian’ and ‘Church’ being used when describing Spiritism. Such practices, though no doubt popular, are opposed to the Christian scriptures. They’re also in contravention of Christian practice. Why would I want to contact the dead? I’d rather speak with Him who was dead, but arose three days later. Only He can satisfy my hopes and pacify my fears of death and the world of spirits.

Let Isaiah (8:19) have the last word: And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?

If you want to know about life’s spiritual dimension, to operate in spirit and in truth, to gain assurance of life after death, seek the Lord while He can be found, find Him while He is near. Inquire of God in his book, not dark spirits in Congregational churches.