My sister tells this on herself:
Lynn and I were having a discussion, when I mentioned the Catholic practice of praying to the saints. She said, “That’s consulting the dead.” It didn’t quite click with me. Sure, I believed that “consulting [trying to contact] the dead” was wrong, per Scripture. But I hadn’t connected it to “praying to the saints.” I had Catholic friends who wouldn’t think of “consulting the dead.”
Over the next year, when the subject of praying to saints came up, Lynn’s response was the same: “That’s consulting the dead.” Each time I’d remark, “Well, it’s not really the same thing.”
Finally, I thought, OK, I need to settle this. Back to square one …
I asked myself, If Satan wanted to lure me into consulting the dead—and since I don’t pray to saints or use Ouija boards or hold seances—how would he do it?
Who would I like to talk to who had passed away? Grandma Lena, a strong example of faith from my childhood.
Now, how would I do it? I’d probably go to Grandma’s grave, like so many people do when they miss a loved one (even though the deceased is not underground in the cemetery). I might say, “I miss you, Grandma. You were such an example of joy and faith. I wish you were here to help me with a problem I’m having.” And perhaps while leaving the cemetery, the solution to my problem would pop into my head. Ah! That’s how I can solve— “Grandma …? Is that you!?”
Then it clicked. He’s got me. I’m consulting the dead. And after such an experience, my next big problem might send me back to the cemetery for answers.
To show just how serious this is … Years later I was having dinner with Marcia Montenegro, an expert on the occult (who formerly engaged in all sorts of occult practice). Discussing similar topics, I asked, “What’s the worst thing a person can do regarding the occult?”
Without hesitation, Marcia answered, “Try to contact the dead.”
Whoa! So many people do this—even Christians: dabbling in seances, Ouija boards, chatting with dead relatives in cemeteries, and praying to saints.
Thanks for the story, sis!
Most of us can’t instantly reevaluate/realign whatever we’ve long been thinking. Sometimes it’s because we already have definitions in mind and can’t compute that another definition has been assigned. Sometimes we just can’t imagine. Like, my sister had friends who wouldn’t deliberately break God’s commands about consulting the dead; therefore, the Catholic practice of praying to saints couldn’t possibly be the same thing.
This is what the Word says: “When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn” (Isaiah 8:19, 20).
Going back to square one is a way of discerning truth, and applies not only to spiritual teaching but also to information coming from the government, health professionals, bosses, financial advisers, and friends. A little healthy skepticism in today’s culture is a good thing.
How to get to square one? Here’s a related post. And a cartoon that Mom (a piano teacher) loved might drive home the point in a fun way: An old piano teacher is suffering as his little student bangs out a horrible rendition of the piece. When the teacher stops the child—shouting, “No, no, no!”—and orders him to start over, the student asks, “You mean from the beginning of the piece?” And the old teacher says, “No, from the VERY beginning. Now … this is a piano!”
What issues have challenged your thinking lately? Let’s be humble enough to go back to the VERY beginning. Back to square one.