Chapter OneIN THE DARK
You were just a little kid, but you knew what you had seen.
Something had moved in the corner of your room or you'd
glimpsed a shape just on the edge of your vision. Maybe you'd
heard what sounded like a voice. Was it a monster? A ghost? A
Afraid to move and call attention to yourself, you lay
perfectly still, eyes squeezed not quite shut, hoping whatever it
was wouldn't notice you. Finally, you couldn't take it anymore
and called for mom and dad to come and investigate-or ran
to their room as fast as you could. By the time they got there,
though, the thing was always gone. Or hiding .
* * *
A friend reads your horoscope to you out of a magazine. You don't
really buy all that stuff, but it does seem to fi t your personality.
The more you think about it, the more it seems like the horoscope
was pretty much right in its predictions about your life. You
wonder how someone you've never met can write something that
matches your life so closely.
* * *
A guy on TV gathers a studio audience together like he's going
to do another Oprah-style talk show. Instead, he says that all
these spirits are talking to him. Spirits of the dead. He starts
repeating to the audience some of the things that one spirit is
telling him, looking for the person who would know this spirit.
He tells things from the spirit that only that person could know.
The person usually ends up crying because they're so glad to
have a message from a loved one who has died. And the message
is always so hopeful.
* * *
You're riding with friends or your family in a car. Suddenly, you
realize that you're about to crash. Even though everything feels
like it's moving in slow motion, you can't do anything to prevent
the accident from happening. Then, at the last possible second,
somehow the accident that should have killed or hurt all of you
is miraculously avoided. Everyone is fine. You wonder if an angel
has just stepped in and saved you.
* * *
At a party, someone brings out a Ouija (pronounced "wee-jee")
board. As one or two people hold the pointer, you begin asking
the board questions about boyfriends, or relatives who have passed
away, or what's going to happen in the future. You hear a noise in
the other room, and you all jump and laugh. You know it's just a
stupid game, but you can't help feeling a little creeped out.
You've learned in Sunday school and church that God's Holy Spirit
comes to all who trust in Jesus. And you know you've experienced
moments in which you felt God's presence or you sensed a
supernatural ability to do something he wanted you to do-like
encouraging a friend or telling someone else what you believe.
* * *
You laugh when you see a woman on TV telling people what their
pets really think about Aunt Millie or the new baby or the Puppy
Chow. Still, she seems to know things the people haven't told her.
But how could anyone believe a psychic was communicating with
pooches and parakeets?
* * *
A friend or a "friend of a friend" or someone on the Internet
tells you that he's part of the Wiccan religion. He says that they
worship nature, and that they're learning how to get supernatural
power through spells or castings or chanting. Maybe he tells you
he's going to become a warlock. You wonder if these people have
any kind of power at all. And you wonder what it would be like
to have power like that.
* * *
A popular TV show features witches, vampires, or demons who
save the day-or maybe the world-using their special powers.
Although once evil, they now use their darkness to fight againstreally evil stuff. Cartoons, books, and movies you've seen describe
good witches and wizards who use magic to do the right thing and
stop bad witches and wizards. You wonder if maybe witchcraft
has been given a bad name.
* * *
A missionary comes to your church and talks about seeing people
in a foreign country who were demon-possessed. They talked in
strange voices saying awful things and hurting themselves. You
remember times when you felt like you were in the presence of
some kind of evil, and it made you feel afraid.
* * *
You've just watched a scary movie. Maybe it was the story of an
evil videotape that causes people to die seven days after they have
watched it. And you keep waiting for the TV to turn on by itself
and a wicked little girl to climb out and get you. Or maybe the
movie focused on a broken family that is living in a haunted house
and slowly realizing that they are the ones doing the haunting.
Or it could be the tale of a vampire or some other secretly evil
creature that makes friends with people and then destroys them
when their defenses are down.
Whatever it was, you can't sleep now, and you feel just
like you did when you were a little kid. Except now you can't call
mom and dad to come and help you look for the monsters. You're
pretty sure it's all in your head, but part of you still wonders about
all that supernatural stuff.
Are ghosts real? Do angels and demons really work
invisibly to help or hurt us? Can some people talk to the dead?
Are witches and wizards just for storytelling, or can they be real?
Spiritual = Cool Again
Over the last couple of decades, interest in the spiritual and
supernatural has been growing. For most of the twentieth century,
"modern" people ignored that world. After all, everything that
existed could be explained by science.
The most popular worldview in academics and media
was naturalism. People who held this view of the world believed
that if you could not taste, touch, smell, hear, or see something,
it probably didn't exist. All that mattered was what you could
experience with your senses. Even people who believed in God
didn't have time or interest in "unexplained" phenomenon. Most
just considered everything beyond nature and their own religious
beliefs to be silly superstition.
But the supernatural is back in a big way. As a society, we
got frustrated with the limits of what science could tell us about
life, including life after death and life's deeper meaning. Today,
millions are looking for truth-and power-in the spiritual world.
Books, TV shows, and movies about supernatural and spiritual
things crowd the tops of the bestseller lists and box office reports.
Since I'm all about talking to teenagers about the
I wanted to find out
exactly what this
So I commissioned
Group to conduct a
scientific survey of
U.S. teenagers. The results surprised me and the rest of my staff.
It turns out that nearly three of every four teenagers believe there
is, indeed, a world that exists beyond what our senses can detect.
As you might guess, however, there's a ton of disagreement about
what goes on in that world. You'll find the responses of teenagers
to various questions on our survey throughout this book-and
some of the results may surprise you.
Our survey also told us that people really care about this
stuff. Part of the attraction is that we want to know what's "out
there." We want to believe. We're hungry to confirm what our
hearts tell us-that power exists beyond what our limited human
bodies can experience or produce.
As Bible-believing Christians, we are convinced
something specific is out there. We know that a supernatural
world does exist. We believe in an invisible Creator God who
raised his own son from the dead and will give us an eternal life
after death through that son.
But what about all this other supernatural stuff? What
about ghosts and horoscopes and angels and demons and Satan
and vampires? How are Christians who take the Bible as God's
Word supposed to sort all that out and decide what's true and
what's just really creative imagination or-worse-really powerful
That's what this book is all about. We're going to dig
into the supernatural world and figure out how to think logically
about the unseen. We're going to look at exactly what the Bible
teaches about the supernatural. And we're going to pick up a
few skills to keep from being deceived by people who lie about
Why does it matter? Because when people go looking
for truth in a world of the supernatural, they open themselves up
to being deceived. They put themselves right in the crosshairs of
the great liar who wants to confuse them about the truth. They're
ready to put more value in their "experience" of the supernatural
than in the truth behind their experience. I should know. I've
spent much of my life using the power of illusion to make it seem
as if I had supernatural power.
Art of Deception
My own interest in the supernatural-or at least in faking the
supernatural-started when I was just a kid. Fascinated by
magicians and magic tricks, I spent hours and hours practicing
illusions I could show to my friends and family. I loved being able
to impress them with my "power." That's why I became a junior
member of the prestigious Magic Castle in Southern California at
the age of 17. Many famous magicians (as well as folks who work
with David Copperfield and David Blaine) belong to this club,
along with actors and other celebrities.
Through that association, I met many other illusionists.
These men and
use sleight of
and the power
of suggestion to
they had powers
natural. As I got
older, I made friends who specialized in using "psychic abilities."
I was amazed by their ability to convince audiences they could
read minds or move objects with their mental energy.
In this group, I got to know two types of illusionists.
One group used their skills to entertain audiences-but everyone
understood they were being "tricked." The other group of
illusionists used their well-practiced abilities to convince people
they really could tell the future or read minds or talk to the dead.
Either for money or just out of a perverse idea of fun, they would
dupe overly trusting people into paying t hem for information t hat
In other words, they lied about the supernatural world.
One time, one of these mentalists asked if he could show
me something. I sat down across the table from him, and he told
me to make a fist with one hand. Then, on a piece of paper, he
drew a picture of a hand. Next, he took his cigarette and touched
it to the middle of the hand he'd drawn. Of course, the paper
caught fire and burned up.
Finally, this guy told me to open my fist. When I did, I
found ash right in the spot where he had touched his cigarette to
the hand on the paper. Even though I'd been studying illusion for
a while, this shocked and startled me. It took me quite a while to
figure out exactly how the trick was done-and, yes, it was a trick.
But it helped me see how powerful illusion can be in convincing
people to believe lies about the supernatural.
Like Fox Mulder on The X-Files, people want to believe
so badly that they'll buy just about anything. They want to
experience talking to lost loved ones or knowing the future before
it happens. They want to be convinced that the supernatural really
exists. So my "psychic
friends" gladly took
their money and-worse-warped
The goal of
this book is to help
you avoid making
the same mistake.
Sometimes, it's actually
easier to fool
Christians about the
we already believe
things exist, don't
we? We believe in
God and Satan and
demons and angels. So why not just add ghosts and vampires and
talking with the dead to the list? Our supernatural worldview
opens us up to deception.
Of course, those with a naturalist view of the world are
less likely to get caught believing in supernatural lies. Atheists,
agnostics, and pure evolutionists who refuse to believe in any kind
of supernatural world are not likely to waste time with spiritual
lies. Instead, they'll end up being deceived about what really is
true, right? They'll miss out on the true supernatural God and the
real supernatural world he controls.
Obviously, it's no good to be deceived about supernatural
things that don't exist. But it's no better to refuse to believe in
supernatural things that can save your soul-or put it in danger.
We can't just say, "Believe it all." And we certainly can't go
back to, "Don't believe any of it." One way or another, we have
to figure out what's true and what's a lie when it comes to the
We're going to kick this book off with a quick overview
of how to think about supernatural stuff. Then we'll dig into
exactly what the Bible says (and doesn't say) about God and his
angels. We'll look at truths, lies, and strange ideas about Satan,
demons, hell, and heaven. Along the way, we'll turn the spotlight
of God's Word on ghosts, vampires, talking to the dead, and even
a young wizard named Harry.
I hope you're ready to do more than just experience
the supernatural. I hope you're ready to let God teach you
the truth about what goes on behind the veil of the natural
world-what's real, what's fake, and how you can live every day