Spiritualism's "New Look" Part II

The growing challenge of spiritualism to the Adventist ministry.

Elman J. Folkenberg, Evangelist, New Gallery Centre, London, England

The  psychic experiments and practices of Dr. Ralph Alexander reveal the subtle inroads of spiritualism in modern philosophy. Combin­ing a degree in medicine with detailed studies of yoga, psy­chology, and spiritualism, Dr. Alexander developed a set of spiritual ex­ercises in an attempt to harness the power of the human will. I must confess that he gives the impression that he has succeeded to an astounding degree. His basic philos­ophy might be summed up in a belief that the will is an actual Godlike power lying dormant in every human mind. Dr. Alex­ander believes that the will, if properly developed, is capable of exerting an actual positive influence upon our material sur­roundings. The method he used to prove his thesis is in itself a sobering sight to be­hold.

In London, on several different occa­sions, he has invited numerous members of the press and representatives of televi­sion and newsreel companies to witness and photograph demonstrations of what he calls Cloud Kinesis. One such demon­stration in famous Hyde Park was attended by at least thirty press photographers, re­porters, television and newsreel camera­men, armed with batteries of photographic equipment. Cloud Kinesis can best be dem­onstrated on a day when the sky is filled with numerous puffy clouds.

Prior to his demonstration Dr. Alexan­der explained the psychological principles of the human will, asserting that when it is properly developed and combined with an­cient occult principles, it is capable of changing the entire course of human des­tiny, opening the door to undreamed vistas of human accomplishment. His philoso­phy revives the old story of the serpent's familiar Eden theme, which describes the power within man as undeveloped Godlike capabilities awaiting correct stimulation.

At the beginning of the demonstration, reporters and cameramen were asked to se­lect a group of any three clouds. Two of the selected group were chosen as control clouds. At a given signal watches were checked and cameras began to whir. Dur­ing Cloud Kinesis Dr. Alexander stands erect, faces the chosen cloud, and with reg­ular breathing and narrowed eyes places his mind in a self-induced state of a light hypnotic trance. Standing well ahead of the cameras, Dr. Alexander concentrates upon the center cloud of the three. Within the space of two minutes that center cloud is seen to have suffered a definite disruption and a diminishing of its original form. 'With the passing of two minutes more the target cloud is seen to have completely dis­appeared, while the control clouds on ei­ther side remain unchanged except for nor­mal movement produced by wind. Dr. Alexander casually finishes his experiment, having already presented more than one thousand similar demonstrations. Movies of this demonstration were widely shown by television and newsreel, and photographs appeared in England's daily newspapers.

Church of England Committee Report on Spiritualism

This discussion would be incomplete if reference was not made to the Church of England's Committee Report on Spirit­ualism. Appointed by the archbishops, this committee of eminent churchmen, educa­tors, psychiatrists, and lawyers for over two years studied the claims of modern spirit­ualism. Though for some yet unexplained reason the majority report had been of­ficially suppressed for several years, it fi­nally "leaked" to a London newspaper, which ultimately printed it in its complete form. Several committee members attribute its long suppression by the Church of Eng­land to certain conclusions it contains, the majority of which are unmistakably favor­able to spiritualism.

The following statements in the catego­ries indicated appear in London's Psychic News Publishing Company's pamphlet The Church of England and Spiritualism.

(1) Theme: Spiritualism enriches fundamen­tal Christian doctrine: "Nevertheless, it is clearly true that the recognition of the near­ness of our friends who have died, and of their progress in the spiritual life, and of their continuing concern for us, cannot do otherwise, for those who have experienced it, than add a new immediacy and richness to their belief in the Communion of the Saints. It is necessary to keep clearly in mind that none of the fundamental Chris­tian obligations or values is in any way changed by our acceptance of the possibil­ity of communication with discarnate spir­its. Where these essential principles are borne in mind, those who have the assur­ance that they have been in touch with their departed friends may rightly accept the sense of enlargement and of unbroken fellowship which it brings."

(2)     Theme: The spiritual progress of loved ones during life after death: "But there is no reason why we should not ac­cept gladly the assurance that we are still in closest contact with those who have been dear to us in this life, who are going for­ward, as we seek to do ourselves, in the understanding and fulfilment of the pur­pose of God."

(3)     Theme: The unity of the visible and invisible church: "In general we need much more freedom in our recognition of the living unity of the whole church, in this world and in that which lies beyond death."

The report concludes with these indica­tive words: "If Spiritualism with all aber­rations set aside and with every care taken to present it humbly and accurately, con­tains a truth, it is important to see that truth not as a new religion but only as fill­ing up certain gaps in our knowledge, so that where we already walked by faith, we may now have some measure of sight as well."

Just before us is the most momentous struggle of the ages. In a thousand ways, both seen and unseen, vast evil forces are amalgamating and confederating for the final assault upon the truth of God. With eager confidence multitudes of deluded souls are readily accepting the deceptions of spiritualism. It was not a mere slip of the pen that led the messenger of the Lord to warn that spiritualism would someday prepare the way for Satan's masterpiece of final deception. Protestants, papists, and worldlings alike are being swept en masse into the ranks of spiritism, which provides a subtle occult basis for their unification. Not only is this prediction being fulfilled, it has already progressed much further than meets the eye.

A Challenge to the Adventist Ministry

It is all well and good to shake our heads while lamenting the staggering speed with which "doctrines of devils" are captivating the world, but this ominous development confronts Seventh-day Adventists with a real problem. How are ministers of this de­nomination going to set about to counter­act these terrible trends? Is our duty that of merely holding and defending the fortress of truth already established amid this re­volted world? Are we commissioned only to adopt a defensive stance and merely await the attack that is surely coming? And come it will; soon, and with stagger­ing power. Our gospel commission bids us, "Go ye into all the world." It bids us mount sustained, determined, vigorous assaults upon these consolidating forces of evil. How shall we assault this staggering array of healings, of occult manifestations, of ap­parent miracles, daily multiplying around us? Humanly speaking, the battle we face cannot be won. Only through divine power can the victory be ours. When it comes to prayer for the sick we must rightly inquire whether their sins are confessed, whether they are willing to obey the laws of health, whether they have faith to believe, and whether they are subservient to God's will for their lives. Meanwhile the spiritualist healer asks neither a confession of faith nor any surrender to the will of God. He sends the patient away chanting the praises of spirit guides who have supposedly ef­fected a miraculous cure.

Are we prepared for the final fearful struggles against evil spirit powers? Let us suppose we find ourselves forced to occupy the public platform with a clairvoyant able to quote Scripture as readily as we can. But as an accompaniment to his assertions he looses a barrage of astounding psychical phenomena, easily captivating the modern audience, which basically has come to be­lieve that all phenomena must of necessity originate from good sources or advanced learning. The preaching of a literal devil and the reality of evil angels disappeared from the popular pulpits of the world long ago, and multitudes refuse to admit the actual presence of evil!

One of the harshest facts of these closing days is that we are now facing a mighty display of cunning psychic phenomena in miraculous manifestations of devilish "principalities, . . . powers," of "spiritual wickedness in high places." A mere smug assertion that such phenomena are of the devil is utterly worse than useless in the coming struggle for the control of the mind of modern man. Were the apostle Paul alive today he would be wearing "the whole armour of God," and thus be able to "stand against the wiles of the devil." Paul, I believe, would earnestly seek out the enemies of truth. Armed with not only a theory of the truth, he would go forth to preach in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." However, the apostle would not be content with the mere loosening of a few arthritic joints. He would not be interested in a temporary alleviation of disease. Di­vine miracles performed through the apos­tle by the power of the living God could cause organic disease and devils to flee to­gether.

It is high time we face the fact that un­less we are personally readying our lives to seek for and receive extraordinary sup­plies of divine power, we are absolutely in no position to withstand the events that are looming ahead. If we allow ourselves any longer to float along on a "business as usual" attitude, we are doomed to suddenly awake and discover a tragic unreadiness for the type of warfare we shall soon be compelled to fight. Before our eyes there is occurring a vast amalgamation of spir­itism, the occult sciences, hypnotism, and a runaway psychology. Each claims to ana­lyze and develop certain latent powers within man. Each requires an inordinant amount of self-concern. Each is a subtle enemy of that enduring faith strongly founded upon self-forgetfulness and a total dependence upon God.

If it be necessary, may God give us the strength to make an agonizing reappraisal of our own current experience. May He impart to us clear visions of the Holy Spirit as it yearns for an unreserved surrender of our lives. Only then can we receive the power from Heaven that will enable us to mount sustained and successful assaults upon these bastions of evil. Hence by His grace, God will make us "more than con­querors through him that loved us."


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Elman J. Folkenberg, Evangelist, New Gallery Centre, London, England

August 1958

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