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Fear No Evil?

(Bethany House Publishers)

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Do Vampires and Ghosts Really Exist?

By Steve Russo – Do vampires and ghosts really exist? What about witches? Can people really cast spells? Can some people talk to the dead? What’s the harm in playing with Ouija boards or Tarot cards, or party games like “Bloody Mary?”

Author Steve Russo tackles these topics and more in his new book, Fear No Evil? The author tells teens about both the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that the devil targets them. Recent research has shown that more and more teens (even Christian teens) are becoming interested in the supernatural world, dabbling in witchcraft, and falling prey to occult practices disguised as “harmless” party games. His book explains the beliefs behind paganism, Wicca, Satanism, and more. He also provides ways for teens to stand firm in their faith when the devil tries to influence them through the culture they live in.

In the excerpt below, Russo tackles the topics of vampires and ghosts.

* * *

Count Dracula and the boys
in the 'hood

Vlad Tepes—Vlad the Impaler—was a fifteenth-century prince of Wallachia. He was also known as Dracula—the Dragon. Because of his murderous cruelty, he came to represent the type of vampire often associated with Halloween. According to the legend that started with Count Dracula, vampires are reanimated corpses that drink human blood and turn their victims into living corpses. Vampires supposedly take on the form of batlike demons.

It’s a frightening truth that interest in vampires is popping up everywhere. This truth is revealed by how often they show up in movies, TV shows, books, role-playing games, Web sites, and even ‘‘vampire hunter’’ kits.

The classic book on vampires is Bram Stoker’s gothic horror novel Dracula. Vampires are also a frequent topic in books by authors like Anne Rice. Then there’s the long list of teen vampire books that includes Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde and the Vampire Diaries series and Soulmate Nightworld by L. J. Smith.

Surf the Net and you’ll find a lot of vampire Web sites. You can even take a survey online called ‘‘Am I a vampire?’’ There are chat rooms and support sites like ‘‘SphynxCat’s Real Vampires Support Page.’’ On you can buy a Vampire Hunter Kit. And if you really want to make a statement, you can order a bumper sticker that says, ‘‘Vampires suck!’’

Today people can take a week-long Halloween trip to Transylvania, Romania—the fabled home of Count Dracula. The escorted tour explores the castles, graveyards, and legends of Romania. As part of the trip, guests can have the ‘‘ultimate experience’’ by spending Halloween night in Dracula’s castle.

And think about Count Chocula breakfast cereal. Yes, there seems to be something for anyone who wants to dabble in the world of vampires.

Are vampires real?

According to the Ancient Society of Vampire Hunters, there’s a difference between true vampires and human ones. True vampires are supernatural undead creatures with specific identifying characteristics. These characteristics are lacking in the human vampires, who sometimes call themselves ‘‘real vampires,’’ but are in reality simply misguided humans.

Real or fantasy, there are people who have bought in to this way of life and developed a morbid taste for blood. They’re not like Hollywood’s Dracula. These people have been deceived into believing that they’ve been changed and now possess immortality and supernatural powers, among other things, along with some specific weaknesses. They believe that they have an awesome capacity to absorb, channel, and manipulate ‘‘pranic energy,’’ or life-force.

Becoming involved in these beliefs is really all about power and searching for it from a source other than God. The forces of darkness love to live out their deceptions in dumb humans who think it’s fun to play around with stage blood and toy fangs.

What does God think?

The word vampire is never mentioned in the Bible. But God does talk a lot about blood and power in His Word.

Blood is sacred to God, and the devil is perverting its meaning and importance, deceiving some people into thinking that by drinking blood, they can get power.

Here are just a few of the places God talks about blood:

‘‘If any native Israelite or foreigner living among you eats or drinks blood in any form, I will turn against that person and cut him off from the community of your people, for the life of the body is in its blood. I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the Lord. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible. That is why I have said to the people of Israel, ‘You must never eat or drink blood—neither you nor the foreigners living among you.’ ’’ Leviticus 17:10–12

‘‘Never eat the blood, for the blood is the life, and you must not eat the lifeblood with the meat. Instead, pour out the blood on the ground like water. Do not eat the blood, so that all may go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what pleases the Lord.’’ Deuteronomy 12:23–25

‘‘Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. . . . Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.’’ John 6:54, 56

‘‘Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.’’ Hebrews 9:22

‘‘For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.’’ 1 Peter 1:18–19

There is no greater symbol of life than blood because without blood, we are physically dead. This is true spiritually as well. Without the blood of a perfect sacrifice to pay for our sins, God says we are spiritually dead and will be eternally separated from Him. In the Old Testament, the shed blood from animal sacrifices temporarily brought forgiveness for those who confessed their sins. In the New Testament Jesus became the ultimate, perfect, permanent sacrifice when He shed His blood for our sins. He was the perfect sacrifice because He never sinned. From the time of Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, there is forgiveness and spiritual life only through that sacrificial blood. When we accept this shed blood for our sins in faith, then we will receive life—meaningful and eternal. Peter reminds us that the blood of Christ is precious (1 Peter 1:19). And anyone who understands what Christ did on the cross would agree.

Those who take on the sacrifice of Christ’s blood for the forgiveness of their sins are called ‘‘Christians’’ or ‘‘Christ followers.’’ In memory of Christ’s death, Christians take Communion—a piece of bread as symbolic of Christ’s body, and a little wine or juice as symbolic of His blood sacrifice. In John 6, Jesus is not saying to ‘‘eat Him’’ literally but that He is going to give His life for us.

That’s why Jesus is the source of life and gives us the real power we need to deal with the challenges and issues of life. We have no power apart from God’s Spirit. God demonstrated His mighty power when He brought Jesus back to life from the grave and when He took Him back up into heaven after the resurrection. Think about the power that it takes to launch the space shuttle off the pad and out into space. Or the power it takes to send an unmanned mission to Mars. It’s incredible physical power. But God gives us unbelievable spiritual power. And here’s the awesome thing—we don’t have to go bite someone on the neck or drink blood. Christians already have this power; we just need to recognize that we have it and use it! (Ephesians 1:19–20; Acts 1:8; 2 Timothy 1:7)

Do ghosts exist?

Growing up in northern California, I spent a lot of time camping with my family and friends. Whether we were at the beach or in the mountains, at night we would all sit around the fire, eating s’mores and listening to someone tell ghost stories. Sometimes on Saturday morning TV we would watch scary movies about ghosts or see Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoons. And each time we made a trip down to Disneyland, we’d go on the Haunted Mansion ride. Besides seeing spirits popping out from various parts of the old mansion, we also saw ghosts that appeared to be dancing in the ballroom and ones that would mysteriously appear next to us in the car that takes you through the second half of the ride. These hitchhikers made us scream or laugh—depending on how old we were at the time.

It seems that there is a lot of talk about ghosts today. Ghosts seem to be popping up everywhere from movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and Ghostrider to TV shows like Ghost Whisperer. There are people who claim to have seen ghosts and even captured them on film. Forty-two percent of Americans believe that houses can be haunted, and 38 percent believe that ghosts or spirits of dead people can come back in certain places and situations (see Note 1 below). People even take castle-hopping trips in search of ghosts and spirits in England, Scotland, and Ireland.

But do ghosts really exist? The Bible is pretty clear about saying that the spirit world is swarming with life. God himself is a Spirit (John 4:24), and of course there’s the Holy Spirit of God (called the ‘‘Holy Ghost’’ in some Bible translations). The Bible also says that God created countless angels, most of whom are ‘‘good.’’ We also learn from God’s Word that one-third of the angels rebelled and sinned against God. These fallen angels are called demons, of which Satan himself is one. But what are ghosts? Are they spirits of people who have died?

There’s only one place where the Bible talks about the spirit of a dead person appearing to someone—when Samuel appeared to Saul in the Old Testament. (Saul consulted a medium, something God forbids.) As we look at this story, it’s important to remember that if this was actually the spirit of Samuel, this was an unusual occasion to deliver an important message, not one to scare or haunt someone.

‘‘Don’t be afraid!’’ the king told her. ‘‘What do you see?’’

‘‘I see a god coming up out of the earth,’’ she said.

‘‘What does he look like?’’ Saul asked.

‘‘He is an old man wrapped in a robe,’’ she replied.

Saul realized it was Samuel, and he fell to the ground before him. ‘‘Why have you disturbed me by calling me back?’’ Samuel asked Saul.

‘‘Because I am in deep trouble,’’ Saul replied. ‘‘The Philistines are at war with me, and God has left me and won’t reply by prophets or dreams. So I have called for you to tell me what to do.’’

But Samuel replied, ‘‘Why ask me, since the Lord has left you and has become your enemy? The Lord has done just as he said he would. He has torn the kingdom from you and given it to your rival, David. The Lord has done this to you today because you refused to carry out his fierce anger against the Amalekites. What’s more, the Lord will hand you and the army of Israel over to the Philistines tomorrow, and you and your sons will be here with me. The Lord will bring down the entire army of Israel in defeat.’’

Saul fell full length on the ground, paralyzed with fright because of Samuel’s words. He was also faint with hunger, for he had eaten nothing all day and all night. (1 Samuel 28:13–20)

There are two places in the New Testament that mention ghosts, but both times it was a misperception on the part of the disciples. Here’s one example from Matthew; the other one is found in Luke 24.

About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, ‘‘It’s a ghost!’’ But Jesus spoke to them at once. ‘‘Don’t be afraid,’’ he said. ‘‘Take courage. I am here!’’ (Matthew 14:25–27)

Throughout biblical history angels appear to people, but never in a haunting way. Usually they appear in some ‘‘human form’’ and clearly identify themselves and their message or mission from God.

So do ghosts really exist? If they aren’t angels or spirits of dead people, the only other reasonable possibility is that ghosts are probably demons. If this is true, then there’s nothing we have to be afraid of—if we have put our faith and trust in Jesus. But ghosts—whether demons or some other spirit being—are something that we should steer clear of, as 1 Thessalonians 5:22 reminds us to do when it says, ‘‘Stay away from every kind of evil.’’

Want to know more? Check out Steve Russo’s book, Fear No Evil?


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Excerpted from Fear No Evil? by Steve Russo, copyright © 2007. Published by Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.

1. Gallup News Service, "Americans' Belief in Psychic and Paranormal Phenomena Is Up over Last Decade," Frank Newport and Maura Strausberg, Princeton, NJ, June 8, 2001.

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