Adherents of various religions take for granted that their sacred texts are inspired – not necessarily every word, but the overall teachings. How does this occur and what is the nature of inspiration?
Nature of Inspiration
Inspiration is recognized in, among other texts, the Christian Bible (Old and New Testament), the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) the Muslim Koran, Buddhist writings (for example, the Pali Canon), and the Taoist Tao-te-Ching.
Many contemporary writings are also believed to be inspired, for example, A Course in Miracles, The Urantia Book, and The Padgett Messages (on which much of the information on this website is based.) In addition, we may hear a sermon that really stirs our hearts and we have to conclude that the speaker was inspired – guided from a source beyond themselves to say what they did.
Even though the teachings among the various texts appear to differ, they can be viewed as different aspects of truth, as no one has the complete and absolute truth. Also semantics can account for apparent differences – the same or related concepts can be referred to by different words or be described differently.
So, what is the nature of inspiration? It means that the information in the above-mentioned and other books is not the product of human minds and thinking, but comes from the spirit realm. It has been mediated or transmitted from Beyond – God and other spirit beings who are more knowledgeable about matters of spirit than we humans, and can communicate understanding to us that we cannot discover on our own. The purpose of this transmitted or mediated information is to help us live better and happier lives here and now, prepare for life after death, and reach our ultimate potential – immortality and becoming at-one with God, which will enable us to spend eternity as divine angels in the Celestial Kingdom of God.
How Does Information from Beyond Get to Us?
For transmission of information to occur, there has to be a way for the spirit world to communicate with humans. The teaching that this is possible and indeed occurs is known as spiritualism. Today this word is in poor repute among Christians and others, although few really understand it. Many are prevented from learning about it because of fear and prejudice — their minds are closed to investigating.
In this battle against spiritualism, the churches are fighting in the front lines. Yet, those same churches teach that they have received their religious truths through inspiration or communication with the spirit world. Judaism and Christianity are based upon the testimony of the Old and the New Testaments and hence rest largely upon spiritualism, in that much of the Bible contents hinges upon messages from the Beyond. Many times in the Scriptures, we read of communication between the spirit world and our own. Below are a few examples and more will be given in related articles.
Spirit communication has occurred from the days of the first humans down to the present. The Old Testament tells us that “God spoke” to Adam, Cain, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as well as to Moses and many others.
How did God “speak”? We know that God is spirit and that spirits have no lips of flesh or vocal chords to allow them to speak like humans. And how can we explain the appearance of the three “men” before Abraham? He knew they were not humans, but rather messengers sent by God. Still, he placed food before them and negotiated with them regarding the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
When the Bible says: “God spoke”, it was very rarely God Himself, because as a rule God speaks through His spirit messengers. Just as we have various means of communicating with those at a distance from us, the world of spirits, which is separated from us by matter, has ways of communicating with us by means perceptible to our senses. Thus some of the ways that God spoke to the Israelites leaving Egypt included a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire. He appeared to Moses in a burning bush, and His presence at the Tabernacle was also marked by a pillar of cloud.
Another way of communication from the spirit world is through a human being. A person used as an instrument for spirit-to-human communication is known as a medium. This too is a charged word (like spiritualism) and many point to Old Testament verses, in particular Lev. 20:27 and Deut. 18:11, apparently condemning mediums. Please don’t stop reading as this is clarified in detail in the related articles listed below.
The New Testament also contains many accounts of revelations made by spirits (more details is given here). Jesus Christ himself promised to all who would believe that they would receive spirit guidance (John 16:7-14). The phenomena witnessed during the Divine service of the early Christians (for example, 1 Corinthians 12 and 14) were nothing other than the coming and going of spirits. They spoke through one of the worshipers in a foreign tongue and through a second in the mother tongue of the congregation. They gave to a third the power of healing, as well as distributing other gifts. Those who received such gifts were to be tools of the spirit world. In those days these things were common and regarded as matters of course.
However, communication with the spirits (and thus inspiration) didn’t cease after the early days of the Christian era, as some churches teach. On the contrary, it should and it will continue always, for it is the only way in which humans can learn spiritual truths.
However, it rests with the people themselves whether or not they obtain communication from the spirits of God. Even in the days of the Old Testament there were times when this communication ceased almost entirely. Those were the times of estrangement from God.
Nowadays also, people have to a great extent fallen away from God and under the power of evil. When they again inwardly draw close to God as was the case during periods in the Old Testament times and in the early part of the Christian era, those things that seem miraculous to us in the reports of those times will take place again. For it is the same God then as now who loves His creatures dearly and before whom we are all equal.
The Necessity of Recognizing Spirit Communication
Both the Old and the New Testament, as well as other texts recognized as sacred by various spiritual traditions give us clear clues as to the nature of inspiration. Yet people often offer incredible explanations to account for the evidence of spirit communication so that they don’t need to acknowledge the existence of a spirit world and a Beyond. Some take this position because they deny a life after death; others, because they may lack the courage as scientists to speak up for the intervention of spirits, although inwardly they are convinced that it exists. They may be afraid that their professional reputations will suffer in consequence. But the time is coming when science will be forced to admit that the spirit world, both the good and the bad, intervenes perceptibly in our lives and does so in a great variety of ways.
If we refuse to recognize the existence of spirit communication altogether, or see it as just communication from the evil spirit world or the devil, we have to come to the following rather startling conclusions:
If it is impossible for spirits to reach us today, it would have been equally impossible in the past, and all biblical accounts of communication with spirits must be relegated to the realm of myth. If, on the other hand, it is only evil spirits that can make their presence known to us today, then the same was true formerly. This would mean that all religions based on the Old or the New Testament and other writings generally regarded as inspired would collapse like a house of cards, for they certainly claim to have received their religious truths and laws through spirits.
If, however, it was good spirits that visited mankind in the past, there is no reason for doubting that they are able to do so today as well, for it is the same God who sent the spirits then, and who sends them today. Just as He tried then to guide humankind onto the right path, He does so today, for God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Psalm 102:26; Heb. 1:12).
Reference, and parts adapted from: Johannes Greber, Communication with the Spirit World (translated from German original, copyright 1932, with subsequent translations and revisions.), pages 22-31.
Photo: John Nyberg
For background information, go to Forms of Mediumship.