Something strange is stirring. In a world often understood to be dominated by natural, material forces, governed by the life of the rational mind, an undeniable surge in spiritual activity is emerging.
Beyond the four walls of boardrooms and law courts, supermarkets and schools, individuals seek connection, solace and meaning through the mystical and the unseen. From ancient philosophies finding a contemporary resurgence to the emergence of new-age philosophies and practices, the rise of spiritual activity is a captivating (yet, at times, horrifying) experience that transcends cultural boundaries and resonates with the universal human quest for a deeper understanding of existence.
The failure of Secularism has re-opened the need for a world with ‘something more’, and now, neo-pagan practices, witchcraft and the Occult return to centre stage. A drama unfolds before our eyes wherein individuals journey beyond the mundane to embrace the ‘extraordinary’ through Ouija boards and yogis, to the increasingly common experience of dark apparitions in bedrooms and lights in the night sky.
In my regular ambles around the British Museum in London, UK, entire bookshelves dedicated to the occult and witchcraft have popped up over the past twelve months; podcasts such as ‘Blurry Creatures’ — which charts a theological response to these experiences — have grown in popularity, as have TV shows such as The History Channel’s ‘Skin Walker Ranch’.
What, then, are we to make of these phenomena, and how are we to engage with them?
First, we are to expect them because all things have been made through and for Christ.
Philosophers such as Plato and Immanuel Kant have cemented the view that there is a world of tangible particulars ‘down here’ and a higher realm of spiritual existence ‘up there’. The creation of this false dichotomy has influenced Christian thought and expectations regarding spiritual activity. The occurrence of spiritual activity has come to be seen as highly irregular — as a ‘breaking in’ from another metaphysical plane of existence. Paul, by contrast, assures us that all things in heaven and earth, the seen and the unseen (the visible and the invisible) are all made by, through, and for Jesus Christ.
There is no ‘supernatural’ realm.
Earth is the place of God’s divine council, and it is heaven (the new Jerusalem) which will descend upon the earth after Christ’s return and final judgement.
‘For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him’ Colossians 1:16.
Second, we are not to be afraid.
All demonic spiritual activity stems from created spiritual entities (1 Col. 1:16). They are under the authority of Christ. And for those united to Christ, they are unable to hurt our souls. If we have, are or will experience any malevolent activity, we can submit them to the authority of Christ. Of course, some may require long-term perseverance, but the head of the serpent has been crushed through the cross, as Christ has exposed and disarmed the powers of darkness. We have tremendous confidence in the cross of Christ, not needing to fear these evil days.
‘In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross’ Col. 2:15.
So, how might we engage apologetically in a world where the question is not whether angels, gods, and demons exist, but which one(s) should be called upon?
We go back to the garden.
- There are unauthorised means of spiritual access
The second question God asks Adam when calling to him in the garden is: ‘Who told you that you were naked?’ (Genesis 3:11).
Following an event where I spoke on this topic to Christians, I was asked, ‘How can I help my friend? She continues to see a yogi for spiritual guidance.’ Another then asked me, ‘How do I help my family? They regularly seek guidance from mediums.’
God’s question to Adam in Genesis 3 reveals God’s concern for not listening to and following unauthorised voices. God’s question to Adam is a question of authority: ‘To which unauthorised authority have you submitted yourself?’
A similar question can be carefully explored with those seeking or engaging with spiritual practices: ‘Who do you think the yogi is accessing/the medium is communicating with to reveal such ‘secrets’ to you?’ This can often mark the beginning of a fruitful conversation.
The questions which ensued from this event highlight two things to me: (a) There is an uptick in spiritual activity and (b) a downward trend of Churches teaching and training brothers and sisters through Scripture and experience to wisely engage with such questions and experiences in our Christian living and our apologetic witness.
2. God provides authorised means of spiritual access
Second, the issue is not that Christians do not believe that yogi’s/mediums/evil spirits are not able to communicate with us, but that we ought not to communicate with them.
This has often marked a surprising turn in my conversations. It demonstrates that we genuinely believe them! We believe that they indeed are witnessing or engaging with something ‘else’, but the provenance and means of access are where we diverge. Rather than through whispers and dark, secret corners, God wants us to have access to the divine, to Himself, but only through authorised means: through The Holy Spirit, not through unclean spirits. Through our union with Christ, we become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). And our souls are fed by God’s special revelation as he gives us insight into all he has spoken through dwelling in Christ and reflection upon his word through Scripture. So, not only are we granted access to the divine through Christ, but we are given ongoing insight through meditation upon Scripture, as those filled by His Holy Spirit.
‘Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.’ 2 Timothy 2:7.
There are no hidden secrets in Christ requiring special access through mediums or other intermediaries. Indeed, when speaking on the parables, Jesus says to his disciples (Matthew 13:11): ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven.”
‘The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.’ Deuteronomy 29:29.
Genuine mediums are able to contact spiritual entities, but they do not know who is contacting them in return. This poses a real spiritual risk and danger. It places their souls in peril.
In conversations, and only when prompted by The Spirit, we can outline this danger.
When in Vienna this summer, two members of a cult approached me in an attempt to recruit new members to their ‘religion’. This particular cult holds that a “Mother God” continues to live today in human form to guide her adherents further into the divine nature. I carefully outlined to them the danger they were placing their souls in and how they might be able to leave the cult. A brief flicker of recognition swept across their faces before they regained their composure. We are called to demolish arguments that set themselves up against a true knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:5-8) with evident gentleness (Phil. 4:5).
Behind mediums, yogis, and cults—and the people who follow them—are real spiritual forces. Yet, it is in the seen and unseen realm of this world that Jesus makes His disciples. He is calling His children Home, and we have full confident assurance as we follow him because:
‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me [Jesus]. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ (Matthew 28-18-20).
 See Beck, Richard. Hunting Magic Eels: Recovering an Enchanted Faith in a Skeptical Age (1517 Media — Broadleaf Books: 2021).
Published November 28, 2023