Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Most people remember Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as the creator of Sherlock Holmes, the brilliant sleuth of Baker Street. What is not so well known is that Sir Arthur was a Spiritualist--and a singularly dedicated one. He traveled the world with his family for the express purpose of spreading the message that the dead survived death, and could communicate with the living.

In his book Wanderings of a Spiritualist (1921), Doyle tells of seances and spiritualist "Rescue Circles" where believers would help a lost soul find its way to the "light."

The circle sits round with prayer and hymns while Mr. Love falls into a trance state.
The medium suddenly sits straight and his whole face changes into an austere harshness.
"What is this ribald nonsense? he cries.
"Who are you friend?" says Tozer (the host of the Rescue Circle).
"My name is Matthew Barret. I testified in life to the Lamb and to him crucified. I ask again: what is this ribald nonsense?"
"It is not nonsense, friend. We are here to help you and to teach you that you are held down and punished for your narrow ideas, and that you cannot progress until they are more charitable."
"What I preached in life I still believe."
"Tell us, friend, did you find it on the other side as you had preached?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, did you, for example, see Christ?"
There was an embarrassed silence.
"No, I did not."
"Have you seen the devil?"
"No, I have not."
"Then, bethink you, friend, that there may be truth in what we teach."
"It is against all that I have preached."
A moment later, the Chinaman was back with his rolling head and wise smile.
"He good man--stupid man. He learn in time. Plenty time before him."

This account is chilling when viewed from a Christian perspective, since there can only be one dark source of this information. The cunning shown by demons in Doyle's encounters is simply horrifying; they will do or say anything to destroy us. Another example of this is found in Sir Arthur's comments on his own belief in Spiritualism:

"If this were the only life I do not know how the hypothesis of the goodness of God could be sustained, since our history has been one hardly broken record of recurring miseries, war, famine, and disease, from the ice to the equator. I should still be a materialist, as I was of yore, if it were not for the comfort and teaching from beyond, which tells me that this is the worst--far the worst--and that by its standard everything else becomes most gloriously better, so long as we help to make it so."

This world is the worst thing humans will experience? Preaching Christ is narrow-minded and deserving of punishment? A man dedicated to Christ will not see Him after death? There is no devil? These are the teachings of the demons, and we can never forget we are at war with them. We wrestle with powers and principalities bent on our destruction. What better way to get back at God, a loving Father, than to attack his beloved children?

As far as I know, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle remained a Spiritualist until his death. We can all safely assume that in that moment, he recognized his error. I used to think that the character of Sherlock Holmes was based on Doyle's personality, but after reading his work on Spiritualism, I have to say that Doyle reminds me very much of Watson (and he even looks like him). His life is a sad story, and the fact that he influenced thousands makes it tragic.

The world of darkness exists but we as Christians should never fear it--we have great joy and power in knowing that Jesus Christ conquered evil a very long time ago.

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood , but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints." Ephesians 6:10-19


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