What does Catholic bible say about ghosts?

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  • #2074

    I am not Catholic so I do not know Catholic scripture…there is a big debate amongst Protestants about ghosts…most believe that scripture denies ghosts, other than the Holy Ghost. But I am wondering what your scripture says…could some of these beings be the souls of those stuck in pergutory? I do believe in demons and angels, which are very much scriptural…but I just wonder…? I know that the ghost of Samuel appears in 2 Kings and most Protestants have varied explanations for this…I am more inclined to believe the bible, and God says it was Samuel’s ghost. Do Catholics believe in ghosts?

    #10130

    LARobert
    Participant

    First to set things straight, there are not two Scriptures. One Catholic and the other Protestant. Historically the Old Testament and New Testament canon was decided by a Council of the Catholic Church in the mid 300’s AD. The same Canon of Scripture was re-affirmed by various Councils up to the Council of Trent in the mid 1500’s which was called for two main reasons. To respond to the errors being taught by Martin Luther, and others who were starting new religions, and to reform some of the laxity among Catholics, both clergy and laity. The times prior to the Council of Trent were in many ways similar to our own times, in that many Catholics were not well educated about their Faith. Martin Luther and other Protestants removed books from the Bible that disagreed with their new doctrines, a bit different than the Protestant charge that the Catholic Church added books.

    As to Purgatory. All souls in the state of purgation, or final cleansing before entering heaven (being able to see God face to face) will join God in heaven.

    The term Holy Ghost is a translation of the German word for Spirit, which sounds like ghost, (German Gheist) because modern english derives some of it’s words from German, the term Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit can be used interchangably and refer to the third person of the Trintity, and not a Ghost, in the sense you are asking.

    As to Angels and Demons, yes the Catholic Church holds as a matter of faith that God created Angels, pure spirits without bodies who have certain properties, ie they are not limited by time and space, they were at their creation given full knowledge of God and free will. One of the disadvantages of having full knowledge was that those angels who chose to reject God and His goodness sealed their fate, and when they rejected God, and were exclueded from seeing God face to face, they did so for all eternity, these are Satan (Lucifer) and the demons.

    Now as to Ghosts or spirits. God can allow the souls of our deasd relatives and friends to visit us as messengers like the angels, however while this is rarely done. What is more common are several other things. First there are some people who either have a mental disorder, sometimes it is caused by drugs and alcohol, or an imbalance of chemicals in the body, these are Organic mental disorders. There are also others who have psychotic episodes which are caused by extreme stress and other ailments. Lastly there are tricks of the devil and his demons. They can appear to be messages from God, angels, Saints, and our deceased relatives and friends. Because it can sometimes be hard to tell which of these events is occuring the Church disourages such things as trying to devine, or contact the spirits of the dead. If someone thinks that they are being contacted by the dead, they are encouraged to discuss the episodes with their parish priest who will help the person to understand what and where the alleged apparitions are coming from. If the local priest cannot determine there are those who have more advanced training on how to determine this who will be called in to help.

    #10134

    leegal
    Member

    While I cannot address the scripture, I believe as LARobert wrote, that God rarely allows the souls of deceased loved ones to visit us — if at all. On this I would add a caution. Aside from the fact that people may be influenced to believe they are in contact with deceased relatives, and can be victims of mental illness or drug addiction, or evil tricks (as pointed out above), I believe that there is also a fine line between belief and superstition.

    I was raised using the term “Holy Ghost” but the term now is “Holy Spirit” because of the way the term “ghost” can be misunderstood and misinterpreted. It’s too secular and generic a term.

    And though this is a bit off topic, for these reasons (that only God could allow it), I am strongly opposed to the use of psychics and those who purport to be able to contact deceased loved ones. Not only because it crosses over into superstition, but because it assumes a power that only God would have or allow. That places a belief that the psychic is greater than God’s power, which would violate a Commandment or two.

    #10139

    I guess I was too vague…I wanted scripture, not history, not opinion. I think I will just get a Catholic bible for myself and look it up. Thanks anyways. Darlene

    #10140

    Andres Ortiz
    Keymaster

    I do not believe that the Bible says anything definitive on ghosts.

    #10144

    leegal
    Member

    Then that would lead me to this rhetorical question:

    if the Bible says nothing definitive on the belief in ghosts, but the Church does, what is proper to believe?

    I still stand on what I said earlier that I believe the Church cautions us, regardless of what may or may not be in scripture, against a belief in ghosts.

    I checked the reference to Saul and Samuel’s ghost. Saul had banished all wizards and witches, but in an about face he called upon a witch who had a known “familiar” (witchcraft), to conjure up the ghost of Samuel, but it is Saul who “perceives” Samuel. Samuel tells Saul that God is displeased with Saul and Israel will fall into the hands of the Phillistines. The next day Saul falls on his own sword. 1 Samuel 28-31.

    It my understanding the Samuel’s apparition is not a “given.”

    This prediction also appears earlier in 1 Samuel 15 where Samuel (still alive) tells of God’s displeasure and rejection of Saul, the coming loss of Israel and Saul’s death by sword.

    It may be that the entire sequence of the seance is a repeat of Samuel’s prediction while alive, because in both passages Samuel predicts that Saul will die tomorrow, after the loss of Israel — yet, the events are separated by days. The only difference is the method of Samuel’s repeat warning is a seance.

    #10145

    Andres Ortiz
    Keymaster

    Leegal, your question is very a good one and one that Catholics and non-Catholics have fought about for centuries – that of Church authority and big “t” Tradition.

    I should rephrase my earlier statement that the Bible says nothing explicit about ghosts. While the Church might say something more explicit (and by Church I mean the Magisterium of the Church, the bishops, who have been given teaching authority by Christ) where the Church derives its information could be implicitly from Scripture and by Tradition that has been handed on over the two millennia of Christianity.

    So it isn’t a question of which to believe; that would be a false dichotomy. If the Church teaches it, the majority of the time it can be found either explicitly or implicitly in Scripture buttressed by the lived tradition of Christians that have come 2000 years before us.

    #10148

    leegal
    Member

    Oh, yes, Jon. I definately agree. I was sort of thinking aloud since the OP believes that a belief in ghosts is from the OT. I’m just not so sure. Neither am I sure that the proposition is supported by the Book of Samuel but, rather, a way of Saul recalling what was predicted would happen to him soon.

    As to Bible (OT), we all can point to examples in the OT which The Church does not follow.

    However, I think of the First Commandment, especially the part of having other gods before Him is the answer.

    To me, a belief in ghosts places a power somewhere else other than what is in God’s power alone to do or allow — until or unless the Church validates the existence of a ghost of other presence which, I understand, they rarely do.

    I should add here that my grandmother, a most devote Catholic, did believe in “ghosts” but in that case she was speaking of souls in Purgatory who were in need of prayer.

    Maybe “ghost” is too generic a term.

    #10326

    Joxios
    Member
    "Darlene1961":28nvaxvb wrote:
    I am not Catholic so I do not know Catholic scripture…there is a big debate amongst Protestants about ghosts…most believe that scripture denies ghosts, other than the Holy Ghost. But I am wondering what your scripture says…could some of these beings be the souls of those stuck in pergutory? I do believe in demons and angels, which are very much scriptural…but I just wonder…? [b:28nvaxvb]I know that the ghost of Samuel appears in 2 Kings [/b:28nvaxvb]and most Protestants have varied explanations for this…I am more inclined to believe the bible, and God says it was Samuel’s ghost. Do Catholics believe in ghosts?[/quote:28nvaxvb]
    Hi Darlene,

    At the transfiguration would you call Moses and Elijah ghosts?

    Mediums don’t actually believe they are calling up Ghosts. They do look to some demonic telepathic connection, to aide them in finding facts or clues. The woman/ medium wasn’t expecting to see a being and cried out in fear!

    Samuel name means ‘appointed by God’

    1Sam 28:12,13 (NAB)

    When the woman saw Samuel, she shrieked at the top of her voice and said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!”

    But the king said to her, “Have no fear. What do you see.?” What do you see?” “ The woman answered a ‘[u:28nvaxvb]preternatural [/u:28nvaxvb][RSV’god’] [u:28nvaxvb]being [/u:28nvaxvb]’rising from the Earth. she replied.

    u:28nvaxvb]preternatural:[/u:28nvaxvb] [i:28nvaxvb]beyond what is normal[/i:28nvaxvb

    [quote:28nvaxvb]David Guzik protestant commentary:
    b. When the woman saw Samuel, [u:28nvaxvb]she cried out with a loud voice:[/u:28nvaxvb] Why the medium so shocked? Probably she was a fraud, and [b:28nvaxvb]most of her dealings with the spirit realm were mere tricks.[/b:28nvaxvb] [b:28nvaxvb]Now, Samuel really appears from the world beyond, and she is completely surprised to have a real encounter with the spirit realm.[/b:28nvaxvb][/quote:28nvaxvb]
    [quote:28nvaxvb]NAB Catholic Bible, Oxford, send edition commentary on 1Sam 28:12;

    Human beings cannot communicate at all with the souls of the dead. God may, however, permit a departed soul to appear to the living and even to disclose things unknown to them. Saul’s own prohibition of necromancy and divination was in keeping with the consistent teaching of the Old Testament. If we are to credit the reality of the apparition to Saul, it was due, not to the summons of the witch, but to God’s will; the woman merely furnished the occasion.[/quote:28nvaxvb]
    As far as Samuel appearing in 2Kings? And the Bible saying it is his ghost? I can’t find ghost: apparition of a dead person that is believed to appear in the form of a cloud or haze/ vague or ill defined.
    The medium sees him clearly:
    That was no Ghost! That [b:28nvaxvb]was[/b:28nvaxvb] Samuel

    Strong’s # H433 which is used biblically as:

    1) (plural) a) rulers, judges b) divine ones c) angels d) gods

    2) (plural intensive – singular meaning) a) god, goddess b) godlike one

    c) works or special possessions of God d) the (true) God e) God

    No ghost in there!! In fact I can’t find any Bible translation that uses the word ‘ghost’ anywhere I checked KJV, NKJV, NIV, RSV,ASV,NASB, NLT.

    Our God is not limited to our feeble finite minds. He’s in eternity, ‘out of Time.’

    Our God is the God of the living not the dead

    [u:28nvaxvb]Mat 22:32[/u:28nvaxvb] ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.”

    [u:28nvaxvb]Mar 12:27[/u:28nvaxvb] He is not God of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong.”
    [u:28nvaxvb]Luk 20:38[/u:28nvaxvb] Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him.”

    Rev 4:4 “..seated on the thrones were [b:28nvaxvb]twenty-four elders,[/b:28nvaxvb] clad in white garments, with golden crowns upon their heads.”

    Rev 6:9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne

    CCC# 633

    “Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, “hell” – Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek – because [b:28nvaxvb]those who are there are deprived of the vision of God. [/b:28nvaxvb][480] Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into “Abraham’s bosom”:[481] “It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham’s bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell. “Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.

    [u:28nvaxvb]480[/u:28nvaxvb]
    [i:28nvaxvb]Cf. Phil 2:10; Acts 2:24; Rev 1:18; Eph 4:9; Pss 6:6; 88:11-13.[/i:28nvaxvb]

    [b:28nvaxvb]481[/b:28nvaxvb]
    Cf. Ps 89:49; 1 Sam 28:19; Ezek 32:17-32; Lk 16:22-26.

    God bless,
    John

    #10338

    Joxios
    Member
    "Darlene1961":tglaev68 wrote:
    I am not Catholic so I do not know Catholic scripture…there is a big debate amongst Protestants about ghosts…most believe that scripture denies ghosts, other than the Holy Ghost. But I am wondering what your scripture says…could some of these beings be the souls of those stuck in pergutory? I do believe in demons and angels, which are very much scriptural…but I just wonder…? I know that the ghost of Samuel appears in 2 Kings and most Protestants have varied explanations for this…I am more inclined to believe the bible, and God says it was Samuel’s ghost. Do Catholics believe in ghosts?[/quote:tglaev68]
    No But authors will use then to sell books!

    On jumpin’ Jehosaphat”

    [u:tglaev68]Popular culture[/u:tglaev68]

    The king’s name in the oath [u:tglaev68]jumping Jehosaphat[/u:tglaev68] was likely popularized by the name’s utility as a euphemism for Jesus and Jehovah.
    The phrase is first recorded in the 1866 novel The Headless Horseman by Thomas Mayne Reid.[5] The longer version [b:tglaev68]”By the shaking, jumping ghost of Jehosaphat”[/b:tglaev68] is seen in the 1865 novel Paul Peabody by Percy Bolingbroke St. John.[6]

    Another theory is that the reference is to Joel 3:11-12, where the prophet Joel says, speaking of the judgment of the dead:

    Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD. Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.
    Jehosaphat is one of the “mighty ones” who has come down to judge the wakened heathens [i:tglaev68]or he is one of the wakened himself, thus, a “ghost”[/i:tglaev68]

    There is no Bible translation that includes for Joel 3:11
    “or [u:tglaev68][i:tglaev68]he is one of the wakened himself, thus, a “ghost[/i:tglaev68][/u:tglaev68]”

    Then there’s :

    Here we have A.E. Hayward’s Great Caesar’s Ghost!

    And Great Caesar’s Goat! I’ll concede that Hayward is not exactly on the same plane as McCay and Herriman, but he does have a place in the history books as the first cartoonist to give us a regular syndicated feature centered on working women with Somebody’s Stenog.

    Great Caesar’s Ghost! And Great Caesar’s Goat! is a Sunday strip that follows the exploits of Julius Caesar who is living in a Rome that has more than a passing resemblance to contemporary society (of the mid 1910’s anyway). This setting features suffrage parades and the strange fashion statements involving the ankles of the fairer sex among other things. Julius himself is less the figure you might remember from history class, and more the sort who might fib to his wife to sneak out with the fellas.

    I stated earlier Ghost was not used in any Biblical translation?
    Oopps! The good ole KJV, who also brought the mythical creature Unicorn to the Bible well used ghost also:

    KJV Act 12:23 And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and [b:tglaev68]gave up the ghost.[/b:tglaev68]

    The KJV uses it only once, from the Greek ‘ekpsychō’ Strong’s #G1537 which means:

    1) to expire, to breathe out one’s life.

    The NKJV does not use the word ghost, in its translation.

    God bless,
    John

    #10339

    Joxios
    Member
    "leegal":22dv89o5 wrote:
    Oh, yes, Jon. I definately agree. I was sort of thinking aloud since the OP believes that a belief in ghosts is from the OT. I’m just not so sure. Neither am I sure that the proposition is supported by the Book of Samuel but, rather, a way of Saul recalling what was predicted would happen to him soon.

    As to Bible (OT), [b:22dv89o5]we all can point to examples in the OT which The Church does not follow. [/b:22dv89o5][/quote:22dv89o5]
    Hi Leegal,
    The Catholic Church uses the entire Bible..

    CCC# 121 [b:22dv89o5]The Old Testament is an indispensable part of Sacred Scripture.[/b:22dv89o5] Its books are divinely inspired and retain a permanent value,92 for the Old Covenant has never been revoked.

    #129 Christians therefore read the Old Testament in the light of Christ crucified and risen. Such typological reading discloses the inexhaustible content of the Old Testament; but it must not make us forget that the Old Testament retains its own intrinsic value as Revelation reaffirmed by our Lord himself. Besides, the New Testament has to be read in the light of the Old. [u:22dv89o5]Early Christian catechesis made constant use of the Old Testament. [/u:22dv89o5] As an old saying put it, [b:22dv89o5]the New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New[/b:22dv89o5]. (*107)

    107 Cf. St. Augustine, Quaest. in Hept. 2,73:PL 34,623; Cf. DV 16

    Priests, ordination, passing on of authority, High priest, sacrifice, atonement, original sin, creation all come from the O.T.

    God bless,
    John

    #10388

    Joxios
    Member
    "Darlene1961":2losd5xt wrote:
    I am not Catholic so I do not know Catholic scripture…there is a big debate amongst Protestants about ghosts…most believe that scripture denies ghosts, other than the Holy Ghost. [b:2losd5xt] But I am wondering what your scripture says[/b:2losd5xt]…could some of these beings be the souls of those stuck in pergutory? I do believe in demons and angels, which are very much scriptural…but I just wonder…? I know that the ghost of Samuel appears in 2 Kings and most Protestants have varied explanations for this…I am more inclined to believe the bible, and God says it was Samuel’s ghost. Do Catholics believe in ghosts?[/quote:2losd5xt]
    What our Scripture says? Same scriptures, protestants interpret some things differently

    Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin:

    The Book of Revelation mentions a period of a thousand years in which the souls of those who died faithful to Christ will reign with him on earth until the final judgment (see 20:1-3). Some early Church Fathers interpreted this literally, as do some modern Christians.
    But Ludwig Ott, in “[b:2losd5xt]Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma[/b:2losd5xt],” observes, “The doctrine that there is particular judgment for each soul after death … is presupposed by the dogma that … [b:2losd5xt] souls go [immediately] after death into heaven or into hell or into purgatory. ”[/b:2losd5xt] The Catechism of the Catholic Church reaffirms this belief, remarking, [u:2losd5xt]“Each man receives … eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death”[/u:2losd5xt] ([b:2losd5xt]No. 1022).[/b:2losd5xt]
    This leaves little room for belief in ghosts or “earthbound” spirits. By whom (or what power) might spirits be bound? Souls destined for eternal life must surely be eager to enjoy their reward, and a merciful God would hardly delay their happiness. Likewise, his justice demands those condemned to hell begin their punishment at once.
    The New Catholic Encyclopedia discusses the perceived presence of spirits (see “Spiritism”) and says some believe this to be a psychological phenomenon, while many Catholic theologians “hold these occurrences to be the work of the devil.”

    CCC#1022 Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven-through a purification [Ref 594 ] or immediately, [ref595] — or immediate and everlasting damnation.

    [594] Council of Lyons II (1274):DS 857-858; Council of Florence (1439):DS 1304- 1306; Council of Trent (1563):DS 1820.

    [595] Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336):DS 1000-1001; John XXII, Ne super his (1334):DS 990.

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