|Can ghosts have close association with God?|
|Written by BILL RYAN Sentinel Religion Editor|
|Friday, 13 July 2012 08:33|
In a previous discussion of the Holy Spirt, ghosts were mentioned in passing. People in various circles have debated, what, if any, are the religious connections regarding the existence of ghosts.
Many deny their existence, others consider ghosts as the work of the devil, or perhaps just dreams or visions. On the other side of the argument are those who consider ghosts to be an earthly and/or unearthly presence of someone who has died. Millions of people have documented what they believe to be close encounters with another realm.
There are scientific studies which try to capture documentation of the paranormal. While many scholars debunk some of the data, others find it difficult to explain some of the ghostly or spiritual findings.
Most religious authorities agree one's soul is a connection to God. At death that presence is generally believed to leave the body. For people of faith, at death the soul is hopefully embraced by God's energy, commonly called heaven. Thus, the person's soul has not died, the essence has merely made a transition or "crossed over" to another realm, sometimes referred to as the parallel universe.
With that view, it is possible to conceive the energy of a ghost to embody someone's spiritual attributes. The belief in ghosts included Jesus' disciples. After Jesus appeared to them following his resurrection, they at first considered it to be Jesus' ghost appearing, not a resurrected savior.
"They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost." (Luke 24:37)
The religions of Buddhism, Judaism and Hinduism all teach that ghosts are suffering people who may need the help of living beings to move beyond their turmoil. Regardless of the religious connections, many people believe ghosts to be tortured souls. Perhaps they died an untimely or tragic death, or perhaps they have other unfinished business tying them to an earthly existence.
Religiously this idea is tied to the idea of purgatory, often associated with the Catholic Church. The church's teaching continues to evolve over the centuries. In its simplest form, purgatory is a time of purification or cleansing after death in preparation for heaven. The Methodist founder, John Wesley, believed in a similar intermediate state between death and final judgment.
Mormonism, Judaism and other religions also have belief systems which include a transitional state after death for purification. Many people pray for the souls of the departed including for safe passage on their crossing over. Other faith traditions specifically deny the idea of purification after death.
Some theologians consider that Jesus touched on the concept when he spoke of building the church with Peter as the rock or foundation, adding, "and the gates of hell will not overpower it." (Matthew 16:18)
The teachings of Christ, some contend, line up with the possibility that one's personal hell is a state of mind of not being connected with God. This equates to a tortured ghost who cannot reach salvation. Such teachings also align with some of the beliefs in Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism.
Many fundamental Christians deny the possibility of ghosts, as they believe at one's death a person either goes to heaven or hell.
No matter one's religious beliefs, most people recognize how a deceased person's spirit lives on. Those energies survive with their loved ones. Who among us has not vividly recalled the character, the vision and all the intricate details of a close friend or family member who has died?
A sight, a smell or a favorite saying or song may bring the deceased vividly to our minds. How many times have we heard or perhaps said, "It's as if she (he) was right here with me."
Occurrences and similar perceptions could be what some might call a ghost. Still others might see it as the soul of the departed, or simply their energy alive within us.
Is that real? For the one who sees or feels the presence, most definitely. For those without that experience, likely not.
What many people perceive becomes their reality. In our humanity, we routinely seek to find an earthly handle for spiritual and other unexplained events.
As children of God, the faithful feel the connection to God and believe that connection continues beyond one's earthly life. Whatever one's belief, spiritual bonds are stronger at different times in our lives.
A whisper in the wind, a graveside visit, a song or favorite verse can move us to tears. Fond memories or recalled purls of wisdom can bring us peace of mind when recalling the dearly departed.
The explanation may be as simple as God at work within and around us.
Does God use the the spirit or images of the deceased to communicate with us? Only God knows if that perception is reality.
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