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The Christian and Psychic Phenomena, Part 1

psychic phenomenaThis is the first of a series of postings on the authentic Christian view and attitude regarding psychic Phenomena

“The angel which shewed me these things saith he unto me, I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets” (Revelation 22:8).

“God hath set some in the church,…prophets,…miracles…” (I Corinthians 12:28.

“The mystery of Christ…is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 3:4,5).

“I will praise Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14).

“Beloved, try the spirits whether they are of God” (I John 4:1).

“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (I Thessalonians 5:21).

What is a human being?

Perhaps the first step of our inquiry into psychic phenomena as they relate to the Christian is a definition of just what constitutes the human being and what constitutes psychic phenomena.

According to Saint Paul, the human being is threefold, consisting of a physical body (soma), a mind (psyche) and a spirit (pneuma). It is from psyche–the term for mind–that we get the English word “psychic.” Therefore psychic phenomena are those that arise from the hidden regions of the mind, just as do many other subconscious forces that no one has any difficulty in accepting.

Adam, the first human being (see Robe of Light), was psychic. That is, his consciousness was centered in his psychic rather than his physical nature. since he was in the astral world of Paradise, and therefore his outermost body was actually psychic–that is, a direct extension of his mind, as contrasted with the material physical body that unhappily veils, distorts, and swallows up the mind. This is why Saint Paul says that whereas Adam was “a living soul” (psychic), Jesus was “a quickening spirit” (I Corinthians 15:45).

The practical meaning of this is then enunciated by the Apostle: “And as we have borne the image of the earthy [Adam], we shall also bear the image of the heavenly [Adam]” (1Corinthians 15:49). That is, we must first become fully functional in our psychic nature before it is possible for us to ascend into the consciousness of our spiritual nature.

Why, then, a problem?

Why, then, has there been a problem regarding psychic phenomena? The answer lies in the erroneous theology of the Western Christian Church. According to Roman Catholic and Protestant theology, man is only twofold, consisting of a body and a spirit. In the Latin liturgical texts of the Roman Catholic Church there is really no distinction made between mens (mind) and anima (spirit). No doubt this unfortunate anthropology was drawn from pre-Christian Roman philosophy.

Whatever its antecedents, this concept of human nature forces those who subscribe to it to look upon mental phenomena as spiritual in nature. In such a view psychic phenomena must also be of a spiritual character. More to the point, since they are not considered mental–and therefore native to the human being–they are looked upon as products of spirits external to man: God and the angels or Satan and demons.

So immediately the psychic is considered to be in contact with alien intelligences. As a result, any psychic not considered a saint will automatically be rejected as a trafficker with “familiar spirits” such as the Bible opposes (Leviticus 19:31). Even more, those who hold such a view will fear the development of psychic abilities, thinking that they would be in danger of contacting evil spirits and perhaps becoming possessed.

The Eastern view

In Eastern Christian cultures–unless negatively influenced by Western thought–psychic phenomena have never been feared, but have been understood to be quite natural developments of the mind. Of course, like any other natural force, psychic ability can be corrupted and turned to evil purpose. But that is no sensible basis for wholesale rejection of psychic phenomena.

In the same way, Eastern Christians have always believed it quite possible–even normal–for the dead to manifest and contact the living through the medium of their psychic (astral) bodies. On the other hand, the Western Church denies the possibility of such contact and denounces all such phenomena as either demonic or delusions.

So right away when we speak of a Christian and psychic phenomena we must distinguish between an Eastern and a Western Christian. This essay is being written for those Christians in the West who have the viewpoint of the East.

Next: What is the real Christian outlook regarding psychic phenomena?

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