Return to About Mormons home

Spiritualism

by Elder Bruce R. McConkie

Those religionists who attempt and frequently attain communion (as they suppose) with departed spirits are called spiritualists. Their doctrine and belief that mediums and other mortals can actually hold intercourse with the spirits of the dead is called spiritualism. Such communion if and when it occurs, is manifest by means of physical phenomena, such as so-called spirit-rappings, or during abnormal mental states, such as in trances. These communions are commonly arranged and shown forth through the instrumentality of mediums.

It is true that some mediums do make contact with spirits during their sťances. In most instances, however, such spirits as manifest themselves are probably the demons or devils who were cast out of heaven for rebellion. Such departed spirits as become involved in these spiritualistic orgies would obviously be the spirits of wicked and depraved persons who because of their previous wickedness in mortality had wholly subjected themselves to the dominion of Lucifer. Righteous spirits would have nothing but contempt and pity for the attempts of mediums to make contact with them.

The classical account of Saul resorting to the witch of Endor in a vain attempt to divine the future -- because the Lord would no longer answer his queries by revelation -- is no exception. (1 Sam. 28.) From the account in the Inspired Version of the Bible it is clear that the witch -- who had a familiar spirit and could commune with evil spirits -- did not bring up Samuel; and Saul did not see the spirit of that deceased prophet. Samuel did not speak to Saul, as the King James Version erroneously says, but the medium told Saul that she saw Samuel, and then she introduced the message by saying: "These are the words of Samuel unto Saul." That is, the medium was following the common practice of all mediums; she was in contact with devils (who have great knowledge and know some future events), and she reported their message as falsely coming from righteous Samuel. (Inspired Version, 1 Sam. 28.)

Isaiah's famous statement on the falsity of spiritualism is: "And when they shall say unto you: Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep and mutter -- should not a people seek unto their God for the living to hear from the dead? To the law and to the testimony; and if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (2 Ne. 18:19-20; Isa. 8:19-20; Inspired Version, Isa. 8:19-20.)

Thus, no matter how sincerely mediums may be deceived into thinking they are following a divinely approved pattern, they are in fact turning to an evil source "for the living to hear from the dead." Those who are truly spiritually inclined know this by personal revelation from the true Spirit; further, the information revealed from spirits through mediums is not according to "the law and to the testimony." Accordingly, though some true facts may be found in it, yet its acceptance and use has the effect of leading souls into the clutches of those evil powers which give the data.

"When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee," Deity said to ancient Israel, "thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee." (Deut. 18:9-12.) Further, in ancient Israel, spiritualistic practices were punishable by death. "A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death." (Lev. 20:27; Ex. 22:18.)

(See Revelation; Is Baptism for the Dead a form of Necromancy?)

Mormon Doctrine, p.760

Copyright by Bookcraft


Other Selected Quotes on Spiritualism

Spiritualism is a mass of confusion, it is a body without parts and passions, principle or power. (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.73)

There is evil in the world, and there is also good. Was there ever a counterfeit without a true coin? No. Is there communication from God? Yes. From holy angels? Yes; and we have been proclaiming these facts during nearly thirty years. Are there any communications from evil spirits? Yes; and the Devil is making the people believe very strongly in revelations from the spirit world. This is called Spiritualism, and it is said that thousands of spirits declare that "Mormonism" is true; but what do that class of spirits know more than mortals? Perhaps a little more in some particulars than is known here, but it is only a little more. They are subject in the spirit world to the same powers they were subject to here. (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.73)

Spiritualism started in the United States about the time that Joseph Smith received his visions from the heavens. What more natural than that Lucifer should begin revealing himself to men in his cunning way, in order to deceive them and to distract their minds from the truth that God was revealing? (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p.503)

The restoration of the Priesthood to earth in this age of the world was followed by a phenomenal growth of the vagaries of spiritualism, whereby many were led to put their trust in Satan's counterfeit of God's eternal power. (Elder James E. Talmage, p. AF:211)

All About Mormons