Supernatural Obsession

The New York Times reports that the October 14, 2012 season three premiere of AMC’s zombie drama The Walking Dead smashed previous cable TV records with a total of 10.9 million viewers. The Twilight saga of books and films has grossed a combined $5.7 billion worldwide as of the date of this publication. Vampire-themed shows such as HBO’s True Blood and CW’s The Vampire Diaries are wildly popular. Today’s society is obsessed with the otherworldly, but this is hardly a new phenomenon. Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt wowed audiences in 1994’s Interview with the Vampire. The Night of the Living Dead was a smash hit film in the 1960s. Irish Author Bram Stoker wrote Dracula in 1897. Mary Shelly penned Frankenstien in 1818, and the film took the box office by storm in 1931. From ancient tales of dragons, werewolves, Yeti, poltergeists and beyond, the paranormal has captivated the minds of men since the beginning of time.

Zombies in the Bible?
You may be surprised to learn that there are even some Bible passages that sound like something straight out of a modern-day horror flick. Consider Zechariah 14:12-13, which reads, “And the Lord will send a plague on all the nations that fought against Jerusalem. Their people will become like walking corpses, their flesh rotting away. Their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. On that day they will be terrified, stricken by the Lord with great panic. They will fight their neighbors hand to hand.” While certainly a far cry from what we see in The Walking Dead or upcoming zombie film World War Z, we do see many instances in scripture where the dead are brought back to life; sometimes in a beautiful and redemptive manner, while other times (as in the passage above) the scene is much more horrifying.

In fact, throughout scripture we read many instances of supernatural and mystical activity. We see oceans parting, bushes burning, the sun standing still and the dead being raised to life. In Luke 8:26-39 we read how Jesus cast a “legion” of demons out of a man and into a herd of pigs, healing the man and causing the pigs to instantly commit suicide. In Daniel chapter 10, we read of an intense battle between angelic and demonic forces that lasted for three weeks, delaying God’s message to Daniel. And even a cursory read through the book of Revelation reveals frightening beings and strange happenings that even the most creative of screenplay writers has yet to match.

Don’t obsess
In taking all of this paranormal activity into consideration, whether in pop culture or in passages straight out of the Bible, the common mistake is to gravitate toward one of two extremes. On one end, you have people with an unhealthy obsession with the otherworldly. Teenage girls become obsessed with Twilight and find themselves wishing that the world of sexualized vampires and werewolves was a reality into which they could venture. Those convinced that a zombie apocalypse is imminent stockpile food, weapons and survival gear to prepare themselves for the impending onslaught of the undead. And many Christians become fanatical about demons and Satan, going around casting out the evil that they believe lurks behind every sin and mishap in life. People in this category have an unhealthy focus that completely misses God’s power and sovereignty, as well as the biblical truth that “the Spirit [the Holy Spirit] who lives in you is greater than the spirit [Satan, demons, evil] who lives in the world (1 John 4:4). If you tend to lean in this direction, finding yourself mesmerized with thoughts of supernatural forces and otherworldly beings, the remedy is to allow the Bible to bring you some balance. As we read in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (NKJV).”

Don’t ignore
On the other end of the spectrum are those who write off everything that they cannot tangibly touch and see as a myth and a fairytale. In the same camp are those who legalistically sequester themselves from anything that even mentions the mystical out of self-imposed moral obligation, a fear of instantly being pulled to the other extreme, or because those sort of things simply “just aren’t Christian.” The problem with this standpoint is that the Bible does talk about strange and supernatural beings and events. Every culture in human history has had their own set of paranormal stories and beings woven into their social fabric. And Satan, demons and evil are real. Burying your head in the sand drastically limits your ability to engage others in a culturally relevant way, and also denies realities that we find clearly recorded in scripture. In this case, the Bible also brings balance by reminding us that real evil forces exist and are something we need to be aware of.

Opportunity for redemption
One thing is for certain; 10 out of 10 people die. As such, people across the board have a yearning to know what lies beyond. For those of us who have placed our faith in Jesus, we have a confidence and certainty that our afterlife will be spent with God in a heavenly environment that is too wonderful to comprehend. And it is because we have that heavenly assurance that we can boldly engage those who are uncertain, yet who are intrigued by the supernatural creations of today’s media.

Bottom line? Don’t allow yourself to be obsessed, and don’t allow yourself to be ignorant, but do take the opportunity to engage with those wresting to know what exists beyond this life. As Paul says, “Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some” (1 Corinthians 9:23). Perhaps that common ground today, for some, just might be found in the world of lycans and vampires and zombies (oh my!).

Justin is the Staff Writer for the Good News. Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @thejustinyoung.

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