A Biblical Response to Mormon Communion With the Dead Teachings

Moroni Temple Shadow Red and Grainy

“Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.'”
(Matthew 8:22, NKJV)

by Fred W. Anson
It often comes as a shock to many transitioning Ex-Mormons that contact and communication with the dead is prohibited in the strongest terms in the Bible. Please consider the following:

There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you.
(Deuteronomy 18:9-12, NKJV)

And lest the connection to Mormonism be missed, on April 6, 1853, at the ceremony for laying the Northeast Corner Stone of the Salt Lake City Temple, Mormon Apostle Parley Pratt bragged that Mormonism was ahead of the spiritist curve when,

A quarter of a century since, an obscure boy and his few associates, in the western wilds of New York, commenced to hold converse with the dead.” He further stated that, “The Lord has ordained that all the most holy things pertaining to the salvation of the dead, and all the most holy conversations and correspondence with God, angels, and spirits, shall be had only in the sanctuary of His holy Temple on the earth, when prepared for that purpose by His Saints; and shall be received and administered by those who are ordained and sealed unto this power, to hold the keys of the sacred oracles of God.” Thus temple endowed Latter-day Saints, “By one holding the keys of the oracles of God, [act] as a medium through which the living can hear from the dead.
(Parley Pratt, “Spiritual Communication”, Journal of Discourses, 2:43-46; bolding added for emphasis)

The Impassable Chasms
Yet in the gospel of Luke Jesus tells the following story which states explicitly that there are impassable chasms that separate the living from the dead and those in heaven from those in hell:

“There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

Lazaraus and the Rich Man EDITED

“Lazarus and the Rich Man” (unknown artist)

Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’

“Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’
(Luke 16:19-31, NKJV)

Again, please notice these words, “there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.” So the Bible explicitly states that there’s a gulf that the living can’t cross to get to the dead, or those in hell can’t pass to get to those in heaven (and vice versa). That pretty much precludes any notions of the dead being guardian angels for the living or the dead being able to communicate with the living in Mormon Temples or anywhere else doesn’t it?

Angels and Humans Are Different Species and Beings
And as the Compelling Truth website explains, human beings and angels are not the same species:

Angels are created beings. They are an entirely separate type of creature from humans. People do not become angels after death, and angels do not become human. They are as different from us as we are from the animals. Angels are intelligent beings (Matthew 8:29; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Peter 1:12), they are emotional beings (Luke 2:13; James 2:19; Revelation 12:17), and each has an individual personality and will (Luke 8:28-31; 2 Timothy 2:26; Jude 6). Angels are spirit beings (Hebrews 1:14) and do not have physical bodies.
(“What are angels according to the Bible?”, Compelling Truth website)

Further, as Mormon Researcher, Bill McKeever explains, the Bible does not teach that humans can become angels:

While the belief in angels is not unique to the Christian faith, Mormonism drastically differs from orthodox doctrine by espousing the concept that humans have the capability to end up as angels. Certainly Mormonism cannot be credited with originating this erroneous concept. This “human to angel” idea has long been a part of the folklore of many countries. Upon the loss of a loved one, how many children have been comforted by well-meaning people who have said this particular loved one “is an angel now”?
…the concept of men and women turning into angels has no biblical support. To begin with, the Bible declares that angels are a distinct creation of God; in other words, an angel was created as such, and is not a being that has undergone some sort of spiritual development or physical evolution. Psalm 148:2,5 clearly demonstrates that angels were created as angels when it says, “Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts…Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created.”

In his epistle to the church at Colosse, the Apostle Paul expounds the fact that it was through Christ that all things were created by Him and for Him (2:15). These include what Paul refers to as ‘principalities.’ W.E. Vine notes that the word translated principality in the KJV ‘is used of supramundane beings who exercise rule, called principalities.’ He states that this word can denote holy angels or evil angels. (An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, 1966, pg. 213). As with many other doctrines unique to Mormonism, there is no biblical justification for the claim that angels were once humans.
(Bill McKeever, “Angels and Humans”, Mormonism Research Ministry website)

So If I’m Not Contacting the Dead What Are They?
The name for what Mormonism teaches is “Necromancy”. As the GotQuestions website explains:

Necromancy is defined as the conjuring of the spirits of the dead for purposes of magically revealing the future or influencing the course of events. In the Bible, necromancy is also called ‘divination,’ ‘sorcery’ and ‘spiritism’ and is forbidden many times in Scripture (Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 18:10; Galatians 5:19-20; Acts 19:19) as an abomination to God. It is something that the Lord speaks very strongly against and is to be avoided as much as any evil. The reason for this is twofold.

First, necromancy is going to involve demons and opens the one who practices it to demonic attack. Satan and his demons seek to destroy us, not to impart to us truth or wisdom. We are told that our “enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Second, necromancy does not rely on the Lord for information, the Lord who promises to freely give wisdom to all who ask for it (James 1:5). This is especially telling because the Lord always wants to lead us to truth and life, but demons always want to lead us to lies and serious damage.

The idea that dead people’s spirits can be contacted for information is false. Those who attempt such contact inevitably contact demonic spirits, not the spirits of dead loved ones. Those who die go immediately to heaven or hell—heaven if they believed in Jesus as Savior, and hell if they did not. There is no contact between the dead and the living. Therefore, seeking the dead is unnecessary and very dangerous.”
(“Necromancy”, GotQuestions? Website)

Still Stinging From the Shock?
Many transitioning Ex-Mormons feel stung, shocked, even angry when they learn what the Bible really says about contact and communication with the dead. This shock is, no doubt, due to the casual acceptance – even encouragement – of such contact and communication in Mormon culture that contrasts so markedly with the Bible’s sound condemnation and loud, repeated warnings against these practices. For example, consider what sixth President of the LdS Church, Joseph F. Smith, taught:

“We will not finish our work until we have saved ourselves, and then not until we shall have saved all depending upon us; for we are to become saviors upon Mount Zion, as well as Christ. We are called to this mission. The dead are not perfect without us, neither are we without them [see D&C 128:18]. We have a mission to perform for and in their behalf; we have a certain work to do in order to liberate those who, because of their ignorance and the unfavorable circumstances in which they were placed while here, are unprepared for eternal life; we have to open the door for them, by performing ordinances which they cannot perform for themselves, and which are essential to their release from the ‘prison-house,’ to come forth and live according to God in the spirit, and be judged according to men in the flesh [see D&C 138.-33-34].”
(“Teachings of the Presidents of the Church, Joseph F. Smith; Chapter 46: Redeeming Our Dead through Temple Service”, p.410; Official LdS Church manual)

And as the Life After website notes:

The prevalence of necromancy in Mormonism is quite astonishing and can be seen in everything Mormons do. From Joseph Smith and the average Mormon talking to dead people to the Mormon temple endowment ceremonies; there’s always something you can spend countless hours researching.

Moreover, leaders of the Church never miss a chance reminding adults and grooming the young that dead ancestors are waiting for Mormons to redeem them. To make matters even worse they’re also told they can’t be saved without performing works for deceased ancestors.”
(“Necromancy and Mormonism”, Life After website)

And Mormon Researcher, Sharon Lindbloom notes this casual acceptance of and positive indoctrination toward Necromancy starts at a very young age in Mormon Culture:

People who have died are very important to members of the Mormon Church. The dead are a very important aspect of the Mormon gospel. Because the dead are such an integral part of Mormonism, it makes sense that Mormon children would be taught about the Church’s doctrine of baptism for the dead.

In a Mormon Church manual produced for teaching children ages 8 through 11 (“Primary 5: Doctrine and Covenants and Church History”; Lesson 34: Joseph Smith Teaches about Baptism for the Dead”, pp.193-197)

"Eminent Spirits Appear to Wilford Woodruff" by Ken Corbett

“Eminent Spirits Appear to Wilford Woodruff” by Ken Corbett

The lesson teaches children both the historical background on the development of Mormonism’s baptism for the dead as well as the scriptures that Mormons understand to be support for the doctrine. As part of the lesson, the manual offers a few “enrichment activities” designed to enhance the children’s grasp of the importance of baptizing the dead. Two of the offered enrichment activities focus on telling the children what most of us would call ‘ghost stories.1

Mormons are inspired by these stories. Unlike Christianity, which recognizes a biblical prohibition against contact with the dead (e.g., Deuteronomy 18:9-14), Mormonism embraces it. Joseph Heinerman, whose book is quoted (above) in the Primary 5 manual, states,

‘These temple manifestations signify God’s distinct approval of the temple labors performed by His people here upon the earth. Hopefully, these inspiring stories will edify the readers as they have me and motivate them to perform temple work more diligently on behalf of both the living and the dead.’ (Temple Manifestations, Preface)

God says communication with the dead is a sin, yet Mormonism teaches little children to welcome necromantic contact, be inspired by it, and interpret it as God’s direction and/or approval of proxy ordinance work for the dead. Does anyone else find this troubling?
(Sharon Lindbloom, “Mormonism and Visitations from the Dead”; Mormon Coffee website)

Grieve With Those Who Grieve – But Be Wise!
Finally, and given all this, I would encourage the reader always be patient and sympathetic to people who grieve. Often people who are grieving will have dreams, maybe even some emotionally driven experiences, that are just normal psychological processing that’s rooted in the physiology of the brain. This is normal human biology and psychology, nothing more.

For example, a friend’s mother claimed to have had a posthumous visitation by a cat she loved, and then a vivid, reassuring dream about her mother while she was still grieving their demise. She interpreted these incidents as being miraculous or supernatural in nature. But were they? What does the Bible say?
Speaking personally, each time after I lost a parent I dreamed about them repeatedly when I was early into the grieving process and still working through my loss. Sometimes they would talk to me and comfort me in those dreams. Other times I felt like I could feel them watching over me with love during times of stress and sadness. This wasn’t demonic activity, this was just my mind and emotions coming to grips with a major, emotional jolt and sudden life change. I know this now but in the overheated emotion of the moment, it was easy to think otherwise.

So one shouldn’t jump at the notion of demons when they have or hear of these experiences. Whether it’s a demon is neither here nor there – that’s not why the experience has such meaning and pull for the person who’s had it. The reason the experiences seem so striking is due to their grief and pain. What in normal circumstances would be dismissed due to stress or fatigue in a state of intense emotional pain can easily be interpreted as something it’s not. And that’s why we have to work through without swinging the pendulum too far to either the “God told me” or “I’m being harassed by demons” extreme during those seasons. The important thing is to resist being fooled by these psychologically induced experiences. They are bittersweet and fleeting.

This article was just a short primer on this subject. The Life After website has compiled a series of articles that covers this subject in depth. It is highly recommended for those who would like to learn more about this important subject. Click here for the portal page for these articles.


The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The LdS Church got in trouble with the worldwide Jewish community for vicariously proxy baptizing victims of the holocaust .

1 Ms. Lindbloom’s article continues at this point as follows:

The first [ghost story] is about two friends, Brigitte and Carla.

Brigitte and Carla met in the third grade in Europe. Carla had just been baptized and wanted everyone to know she was a member of the “only true church.” Some of Carla’s classmates made fun of her for saying this, but Brigitte became her friend.

Brigitte’s family was active in their own church, but they were respectful of other religions. Brigitte even went to Church activities with Carla a few times. Brigitte and Carla remained friends all through their school years. Then, at seventeen years of age, Brigitte died.

Two months later Carla awoke in the night to see Brigitte standing at the foot of her bed. She did not speak, and Carla wondered why she had appeared to her. The following year Brigitte visited Carla again, and she came a third time the next year.

Carla later moved to the United States and was married in the Salt Lake Temple. After Carla had been through the temple, Brigitte appeared to her more often. Then, a week before Carla and her husband were planning to go to the temple again, Brigitte appeared to Carla three nights in a row.

On the third night Carla woke her husband and told him about Brigitte’s visits. They both felt Brigitte had been taught the gospel plan in the spirit world and had accepted it. Now she wanted to be baptized. Carla and her husband prayed and asked the Lord how to obtain the necessary records. They were inspired to contact a researcher and were able to get Brigitte’s death certificate. Carla was now able to send in Brigitte’s name to the temple so her temple work, including baptism, could be done.

A few weeks later Carla again awoke to see Brigitte. This time Brigitte was dressed in a white gown and was standing in a place that looked like a baptismal room. The next morning Carla received a letter from the temple telling her that the baptism for Brigitte had been done. (See Carla Sansom, “From Beyond the Veil,” Ensign, Feb. 1978, pp. 49–50.)

The second enrichment story for the children is about the experience of a temple recorder in the Manti Temple:

Brother J. Hatten Carpenter, who served as a recorder in the Manti Temple, told of a patriarch who was watching baptisms for the dead being performed in the temple one day.

The patriarch saw “the spirits of those for whom they were officiating in the font by proxy. There the spirits stood awaiting their turn, and, as the Recorder called out the name of a person to be baptized for, the patriarch noticed a pleasant smile come over the face of the spirit whose name had been called, and he would leave the group of fellow spirits and pass over to the side of the Recorder. There he would watch his own baptism performed by proxy, and then with a joyful countenance would pass away [to] make room for the next favored personage who was to enjoy the same privilege.”

As time went on, the patriarch noticed that some of the spirits looked very sad. He realized that the people in the temple were finished with baptisms for the day. The unhappy spirits were those whose baptisms would not be performed that day.

“‘I often think of this event,’ says Brother Carpenter, ‘for I so often sit at the font, and call off the names for the ordinances to be performed which means so much to the dead’” (quoted in Joseph Heinerman, Temple Manifestations [Manti, Utah: Mountain Valley Publishers, 1974], pp. 101–2; see also The Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine 11 [July 1920]: 119).”
(“Primary 5: Doctrine and Covenants and Church History”; Lesson 34: Joseph Smith Teaches about Baptism for the Dead”, pp.193-197; official LdS Church manual)

"Transfiguration" by Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov, 1824

“Transfiguration” by Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov, 1824

APPENDIX: What About Elijah and Mose on the Mount of Transfiguration and Samuel Appearing to King Saul and the Witch of Endor?
A common objection to the impassable chasm Christ spoke of in Luke and the idea that the dead can’t visit us in this world goes something like this:

“Well, what about dead Elijah and Moses appearing to the living Jesus, Peter, James and John? And what about dead Samuel appearing to the living Saul at the house of the Witch of Endor?”

This is an excellent question! Let’s consider it shall we? First, let’s consider the Mount of Transfiguration passage:

The Mount of Transfiguration
Here’s the passage in question from the Gospel of Luke:

“Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him. Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said.

While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” When the voice had ceased, Jesus was found alone. But they kept quiet, and told no one in those days any of the things they had seen.”
(Luke 9:28-36, NKJV)

Of course, the emphasis in this passage is on Moses (representing the Old Testament Law) and Elijah (representing the Old Testament Prophets) endorsing and encouraging Christ’s earthly ministry not the how’s and why’s of how they came to be there. The text just gives us a lot of information on the latter, however, there are several possible explanations that we consider here.

First Possibility: God Made An Exception
The first possible explanation I would offer is, to my way of thinking, the easiest. It’s God’s chasm, if He wants to send or carry dead folks across it He can. However, this would be the rare exception, not the rule. This is hinted at in the Luke 16:19-31 passage which we covered at the beginning of this article: Notice that nowhere in the text does it state that God can’t make an exception, it just says that He didn’t.

However, it seems clear from that same text that, generally speaking, this would not only be exceptional but pointless. Further, in the case of Moses and Elijah appearing to Christ there was a very specific purpose for their appearance which is explained when the narrative says:

“And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
(Luke 9:30-31, NKJV)

Second Possibility: They Appeared In A Spiritual Vision
Ex-Mormon Christian Facebook group member Annette Welburn offered this explanation for this possibility which we liked so much that we offer it here with only light editing so it fits the format here:

Yes, they saw Elijah and Moses, but I would suggest that Moses and Elijah’s appearance was not in spirit form in the sense that many people today think people can become guardian angels when they die. We never have any occurrences in scripture of earthly people conversing spiritually – i.e. praying to, or hearing from or getting guidance or protection from dead friends or relatives. However, that said, please correct me please if I’ve missed something. I guess in my mind the transfiguration was a unique, one time event in scripture. Jesus was there, and God was revealing to a few of his disciples that this was indeed His son. I see the whole point of that being summed up with what God said:

“And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!’ And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.”
(Luke 9:35-36, ESV)

The transfiguration is definitely a spiritual earthly experience, but it is vastly unique in that it was to demonstrate God’s power. Of course God can do anything. Even natural laws He created he is not bound by. I wouldn’t even go as far as to say there is a definite natural law that God never sends people back to earth, but I would suggest that it is just not how he does it. And in the case of the transfiguration, it was not at all normal. I think the important distinction is that God does not allow dead humans to lead or watch over in a protective sense those still living on earth. Here are verses to that effect:

“For his spirit goes out and he returns to his earth and in that day all his thoughts are destroyed.”
(Psalm 146:4, Aramaic Bible in Plain English)

“For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten. Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun.”
(Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, NIV)

“As a cloud fades away and vanishes, so the one who goes down to Sheol will never rise again. He will never return to his house; his hometown will no longer remember him.”
(Job 7:9-10, HCSB)

And direct textual support for Annette’s suggestion that Moses and Elijah appeared spiritually (or in vision) rather than physically can be supported by the phrase, “Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory.”

"The Transfiguration" by 1480 (oil on panel) by Bellini, Giovanni (c.1430-1516); 115x154 cm; Museo e Gallerie Nazionali di Capodimonte, Naples, Italy; Italian, out of copyright

“The Transfiguration” by Bellini, Giovanni (oil on panel, 1480)

Third Possibility: Neither Moses Or Elijah Are Dead
While this last possibility is highly, highly speculative (and from an odd “outside of the box” source to boot) it’s still intriguing enough to be offered for consideration:

To make sense of this, we must first understand two important principles. The first is that, while the general resurrection of God’s people will happen at the end of time, there have been individual resurrections recorded in the Bible. Christ’s resurrection, for instance, was not part of the general one. Neither were those of the saints who came forth from the grave after Christ’s resurrection (see Matthew 27:52, 53). The prophets Elijah and Elisha both performed resurrections during their ministries (see 1 Kings 17:17–22 and 2 Kings 4:32–35). Individual resurrections throughout history do not invalidate the general resurrection when Christ returns.

The second principle to understand is that some people have left the earth without dying, and therefore are not in need of a resurrection.

Moses and Elijah each fit one of these two categories.

The story recorded in 2 Kings 2 tells us unmistakably that Elijah was taken to heaven without first dying. Verse 11, specifically, says he was caught in a heavenly whirlwind and taken to heaven in sight of Elisha, his successor. Appearing with Christ at the transfiguration would not have posed a problem for Elijah; he had already spent much time with Jesus in heaven before His human birth in Bethlehem.

Moses, on the other hand, died in the wilderness before the Israelite people entered into the Promised Land. The story of his death, as recorded in Deuteronomy 34:5, 6, reveals something extraordinary. The Bible says that God Himself buried Moses, and that none of the Israelites were ever aware of his gravesite. This is the first biblical hint that something special awaited Moses after death.

The New Testament, however, gives us more information. In Jude 9, we’re told that the archangel Michael contended with Satan over the body of Moses. In other words, Satan claimed Moses as his own, worthy of death just like everyone else. Michael, however, thought differently. As the archangel, He has the power to resurrect God’s people. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:16; the voice of the archangel raises the dead in Christ at Christ’s return.) Moses was not meant to stay dead. Indeed, he was resurrected from the dead and has been living in heaven since that time. Truly, he has already experienced life after death.

Therefore, the presence of Moses and Elijah at the transfiguration does not answer the question “What is death?” because neither one was dead! Elijah never tasted death at all, and Moses was given a new life at his resurrection, just like Christ’s people will receive at His return.

While the transfiguration doesn’t directly give us information on the state of the dead, it retains theological significance nonetheless. When Peter recounted his experience in 2 Peter 1:16–18, he writes that he witnessed Christ’s coming at that time. In other words, he understood the experience to represent the return of Jesus Christ. Moses and Elijah represent the two classes of God’s people who will be present at that miraculous event: Moses represents the “dead in Christ” who rise to new life, and Elijah represents “those who are alive and remain” who will be translated to heaven and eternal life without ever experiencing death in the first place (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Understanding that the transfiguration is a representation of the second coming of Christ also helps us understand Christ’s promise that “some standing here … shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God,” spoken a few days before the transfiguration (Luke 9:27).
(“If the Dead Don’t Go Immediately to Heaven How Did Moses and Elijah Appear at the Transfiguration”, Truth about Death, Seventh-day Adventist website)

"The Spirit of Samuel Appearing to Saul" by William Blake, 1783 Pen and watercolor

“The Spirit of Samuel Appearing to Saul” by William Blake, 1783

Samuel Appearing To Saul And The Witch of Endor
The final biblical incident to consider in regarding to biblical instances of the dead appearing to the living is the story of the dead prophet Samuel appearing to Kind Saul and the Witch of Endor. This incident can be found in 1 Samuel 28:3-25 (NKJV):

Now Samuel had died, and all Israel had lamented for him and buried him in Ramah, in his own city. And Saul had put the mediums and the spiritists out of the land.

Then the Philistines gathered together, and came and encamped at Shunem. So Saul gathered all Israel together, and they encamped at Gilboa. When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets.

Then Saul said to his servants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.”

And his servants said to him, “In fact, there is a woman who is a medium at En Dor.”

So Saul disguised himself and put on other clothes, and he went, and two men with him; and they came to the woman by night. And he said, “Please conduct a séance for me, and bring up for me the one I shall name to you.”

Then the woman said to him, “Look, you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the spiritists from the land. Why then do you lay a snare for my life, to cause me to die?”

And Saul swore to her by the Lord, saying, “As the Lord lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing.”

Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?”

And he said, “Bring up Samuel for me.”

When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman spoke to Saul, saying, “Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul!”

And the king said to her, “Do not be afraid. What did you see?”

And the woman said to Saul, “I saw a spirit ascending out of the earth.”

So he said to her, “What is his form?”

And she said, “An old man is coming up, and he is covered with a mantle.” And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground and bowed down.

Now Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”

And Saul answered, “I am deeply distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God has departed from me and does not answer me anymore, neither by prophets nor by dreams. Therefore I have called you, that you may reveal to me what I should do.”

Then Samuel said: “So why do you ask me, seeing the Lord has departed from you and has become your enemy? And the Lord has done for Himself as He spoke by me. For the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David. Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord nor execute His fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore the Lord has done this thing to you this day. Moreover the Lord will also deliver Israel with you into the hand of the Philistines. And tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also deliver the army of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.”

Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, and was dreadfully afraid because of the words of Samuel. And there was no strength in him, for he had eaten no food all day or all night.

And the woman came to Saul and saw that he was severely troubled, and said to him, “Look, your maidservant has obeyed your voice, and I have put my life in my hands and heeded the words which you spoke to me. Now therefore, please, heed also the voice of your maidservant, and let me set a piece of bread before you; and eat, that you may have strength when you go on your way.”

But he refused and said, “I will not eat.”

So his servants, together with the woman, urged him; and he heeded their voice. Then he arose from the ground and sat on the bed. Now the woman had a fatted calf in the house, and she hastened to kill it. And she took flour and kneaded it, and baked unleavened bread from it. So she brought it before Saul and his servants, and they ate. Then they rose and went away that night.

The Possibilities
Clearly, in this case, the third option (he wasn’t dead) won’t work since the Bible is clear that Samuel was dead and buried. And while it is possible that God allowed an exception here and let Samuel cross the chasm, the circumstances surrounding the event would seem to discount this option since God would be endorsing a practice that He calls an abomination elsewhere in the Bible. For that matter, that would preclude the second possibility that Samuel appeared as a spiritual vision sent from God.

In the end, there’s really only one possibility left: The “Samuel” that appeared to King Saul was a demon mimicking the appear of Samuel and appearing specifically to deceive Saul. Support for this can be found in the familiarity that the Witch of Endor has with this “Samuel”. In fact, this event follows the typical template for seances and other forms of necromancy doesn’t it? This lends further support for the idea that what the Witch of Endor conjured up was a deceiving spirit manifesting itself physically.

So when considered in that light, this story mirrors and echoes many of the Mormon communion with the dead stories that one hears in Mormon cultures doesn’t it? In the end, the biblical story of Samuel appearing to King Saul and the Witch of Endor is a cautionary tale to us. If you read on, things didn’t end well for King Saul, this incident most certainly didn’t result in a happy ending. In fact, most stories of necromancy don’t.

Bible teacher Don Basham once called involvement in occult practices like necromancy, “The most dangerous game.” And when it comes to necromancy, in the words of the movie War Games, “A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”

From the movie WarGames (1983)

From the movie WarGames (1983)


  1. Here’s a compilation of Mormon anecdotes of encounters with the dead. This document was produced to provide supporting evidence in response to Latter-day Saint denials of such phenomenon in Mormon Culture that resulted from the article above.

    “I know these experiences happen. I think sometimes the world between humans and spirits come together. But I think these experiences are sacred and meant for the individual and perhaps for a select few as directed by the spirit. I agree that they are not for public consumption unless directed by the spirit to be shared.”

    “There are encounters other than by sight with spirits. I know this to be true. Some posters have suggested that they are not for public disclosure. This is not exactly true but likely falls under the category of “casting pearls before swine”.”

    “I think most people at church have had experiences – only one I can share is that prior to my son’s birth our kettle (I am in the UK electric kettles are standard equipment) constantly clicked of its own accord, the day he was born it stopped however as soon as he became mobile and could reach he started clicking the kettle himself.”

    “While telling stories like this seems wholesome and faith-promoting, usually the occurrences are for the individual alone, and not for public consumption. Most concerning is when these stories seem to suggest some new doctrine to follow that has not come through normal priesthood authority and channels.

    It is real. It happens.”

    “Yes, it does sound interesting. If we have the spirit with us, Joseph Smith taught that we can learn from all sources. Few are pure enough to do so in practice, though, without some negative consequences.

    Nevertheless, we are allowed to seek. I have found that strict adherance of temple covenants is key, for myself.”

    “I like this topic. Seeing how most answered here makes me comfortable. I have never been an LDS member but have had LDS friends… I always stick up for them on fundamentalist forums when they get ganged up on…. as far as I’m concerned we all beleive Jesus is Lord so there should be no conflict.

    Anyways, I’ve seen spirits all my life. Not regularly. Maybe once or twice a year or a whole bunch of times over a week and then nothing for months or years. I also hear them in my mind.

    Most evangelical Christians have said I have consorted with Satan, especially if I speak of spirits or beings that might inhabit other worlds besides earth. Or if I saw a Buffalo spirit appear in my room when I was 8 years old. I am part Native American so why should that be so bad?

    Buffalo visions were a gift from the Great Spirit Wakan Tanka who is the Lakota Natives realization of God. How can I be judged if God chose that vision for me as a child? God revealed himself through Jesus when I was 23. Maybe I just took a zigzag path.

    I have seen and heard spirits both good and bad. I believe some are of God, some are not, and some are neutral.

    I don’t think it is a bad thing, especially when you know where you stand in Gods family.”

    “I can’t help but chalk those experiences up.. to nothing. They’re real enough to the people they happen to.. but the ‘someone is watching me in the dark’ experience is all it is imo.

    I’m not saying that the experiences aren’t ‘real’.. i’m just saying they aren’t physical.”

    “Two of my sisters believe that they have a spirit guide like this. One of them also thinks she has had at least one past life and other interactions from beyond the physical world as we know it. Who am I to argue? I can’t explain her dreams, feelings, and impressions. I do believe that our understanding of “reality” is amazingly limited. Keep in mind that science as we know it is relatively new, and we measure things today that our ancestors couldn’t have imagined.”

    “I have had a couple experiences that stand out to me as far as being confronted or taught by angels. I truly believe that one day after a good month of studying and fasting that I was taught by the three nephites. I wont give any particulars on the lessons but heres how it went, I was in the chapel late one night for a meeting with the Bishop, my daughter (2yr old) went around the corner of the wall, the whole chapel besides the part where we were was dark, (and locked) I turned the corner and saw my daughter standing next to someone that was kneeling next to her, there was another standing at the far end of the capel in the back and the other was around a corner that I could not see, as soon as I turned the corner he ran before I could see who his face, (my daughter cried for him to come back) the other two ran as well, they ran faster than I could have imagined and moved all at once as if on command but there were no words uttered, they ran out the back door, one came back and stopped and stared at me, I felt scared at first as we locked eyes then comforted as I felt we were communicaing without words, I then went into the Bishops office where my wife and the second counselor waited in the hallway, they said they heard running on the roof then saw the three I spoke of jump off and continue running without missing a step, I did some research on them and found a few passages that helped me learn more about what thier purpose is and where and who they show themselves to as well as how they communicate (by the spirit, so there doesnt always have to be words)

    There are many other situations that happen in our daily life that we know could have only happened with the help of Christ or Heavenly Father.

    I do meditation and prayer, meditation is used for specific thoughts like foressening situations in combat or on patrol and different ways to react so that when it happens you react better because you have already been there, prayer is always to Heavenly Father obviously.

    Mediums are real, but the spirits that seek them not them seeking the spirts are unclean spirits, this is taught in Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R Mckonkey (probably mispelled)

    For the spirits that follow people around, I have heard of Priesthood holders having spirits come to them and asking for help and the Elder giving them a blessing to depart in peace to the spirit world”

    “There are many ministering spirits that come and go to this earth than the three Nephites….sometimes we can easily be mistaken unless they had identify themselves to you.
    Any righteous spirit, angel, or member of the Godhead will identify themselves to you if they are there to instruct or simply give a message. If not, then we have to the right to challenge that medium. ”

    “LDS Teachings about Ghosts
    Most people who want to know whether Mormons believe in ghosts, however, are asking a more specific question. In popular culture, the word “ghost” conjures up concepts of ectoplasm, haunting, or spirits of the dead who can’t “cross over” to the afterlife. Mormonism does not believe in this type of ghost.

    LDS theology says that all spirits, once separated from their bodies at death, automatically go to a place called the spirit world. At the second coming of Jesus Christ to the earth, all the spirits in the spirit world will be resurrected (rejoined with their bodies) and go to a kingdom of heaven. LDS theology gives no reason to suspect that the spirit of any deceased person would remain earthbound or have trouble “crossing over.”‘
    (source for all the above https://mormonhub.com/forums/topic/14405-seeing-spirits )

    “The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead.”
    (Joseph Fielding Smith (compiler), “Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith”, p.356; http://www.boap.org/LDS/Joseph-Smith/Teachings/T6.html)

    “Aid from the Unseen World…Perhaps if we would do our work in behalf of those of the unseen world who hunger and pray for the work we can do for them, the unseen world would in return give us help in this day of our urgent need. There are more in that other world than there are here. There is more power and strength there than we have here upon this earth.
    (John A. Widtsoe, Conference Report, April 1943, p.39; https://archive.org/details/conferencereport1943a)

    “The dead will be after you, they will seek after you as they have after us in St. George. They called upon us, knowing that we held the keys and power to redeem them.

    I will here say, before closing, that two weeks before I left St. George, the spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they, “You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God.” These were the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and they waited on me for two days and two nights. I thought it very singular, that notwithstanding so much work had been done, and yet nothing had been done for them. The thought never entered my heart, from the fact, I suppose, that heretofore our minds were reaching after our more immediate friends and relatives. I straightway went into the baptismal font and called upon brother McCallister to baptize me for the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and fifty other eminent men, making one hundred in all, including John Wesley, Columbus, and others; I then baptized him for every President of the United States, except three; and when their cause is just, somebody will do the work for them.”
    (Wilford Woodruff, “Journal of Discourses” vol.19, pp.229-230; http://jod.mrm.org/19/223)

    “The spirits of deceased persons who now live in the spirit world are interested in the welfare of their loved ones who remain as mortals on the earth. The Lord can employ them as guardian angels, or in singular circumstances, they might be allowed to visit a loved one still living on the earth to give comfort. These spirits might also deliver gospel information as part of the Lord’s work on earth.”
    (“Ghosts”, MormonWiki website; https://www.mormonwiki.com/Ghosts)

    “I want to say to you as I said before that Joseph said if I was faithful, I should see greater things than the angel. Since then I have seen other persons, three came together and stood before me just as the sun went down, Joseph, Hyrum and Heber C. Kimball. It was prophesied that I should see Joseph before I died. Still, I was not thinking about that. I was thinking about a sermon I had heard. All at once I looked up and they stood before me. Joseph stood in the middle in a circle like the new moon and he stood with his arms over their shoulders. They bowed to me about a dozen times or more. I pinched myself to be sure I was awake, and I looked around the room to see where I had placed things. I thought I would shake hands with them. They saw my confusion and understood it and they laughed, and I thought Brother Kimball would almost kill himself laughing. I had no fear. As I went to shake hands with them, they bowed, smiled and began to fade. They went like the sun sinks behind a mountain or a cloud. It gave me more courage and hope than I ever had before.”
    (Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, address at BYU in 1905, https://user.xmission.com/~plporter/lds/merlbyu.htm)

    “At the rededication of the Logan Temple in 1979 I recounted an incident in the life of my wife’s grandfather, which I include here.

    The Logan Temple is sacred to our family, for there my wife and I were married, and my wife’s grandfather responded to the call and helped to construct that temple.

    C. O. Law, the superintendent of construction for that temple, wrote on February 25, 1884: “This letter certifies that Brother Julius Smith of Brigham City has worked faithfully and honorably on the Logan Temple for nearly two years, and as the temple nears completion, his branch of the labor being terminated, he is now honorably released and we sincerely trust that Brother Smith may become a participant in the blessings of the House of the Lord which he has assisted to erect.”

    Brother Smith with his wife, Josephina, lived on a few acres of ground in Brigham City. There they raised fourteen children, my wife’s father being the youngest. When the call came for workers to assist in the building of the temple, he responded.

    Each Monday morning he left his family in the care of his wife and hiked up through Flat Bottom Canyon, down Dry Canyon to the south end of Cache Valley, and on to Logan. After his week’s work on Saturday, he walked home to spend Sunday with his family. . . .

    The hope “that Brother Smith would participate in the blessings of the House of the Lord which he had assisted to erect” was amply fulfilled. He went there often.

    As a young man he had lived among the Indians. In later years when Indian bands would visit Brigham City, one of the Indians would go to the home of Brother Smith. His visits were not welcomed by the rest of the family, for he would peer in every window intently until he determined that Brother Smith was home. And only then would he knock at the door.

    One night, some years after the completion of the temple, Brother Smith was reading his newspaper. He heard a noise at the window, and he saw his Indian friend peering in with an unusually sad expression. He went to the door and found no one there, and the snow beneath the window had not been disturbed.

    This incident bothered him greatly, and during the following week he tried to locate and get some information about this Indian friend. He learned that he had died.

    In due time, he recorded, “Today I have taken care of his work in the temple.” That very evening he was looking through the mail and again heard a sound at the window. When he looked up he saw his Indian friend, this time smiling. He counted that a very sacred experience, and in the record of a great amount of work done by this faithful grandfather in this temple is found the name Be-a-go-tia.

    I have wondered over the years about the meaning of the scripture recorded three times in the Book of Mormon, that “the course of the Lord is one eternal round.” (1 Nephi 10:19, Alma 7:20, Alma 37:12.)

    I can see one meaning as it relates to our work for the dead. Genealogical work, the essential preparation for temple work, puts us to seeking through the records for those who have lived in the past. We look back to the past to find them. We perform temple ordinance work for them and then we look forward to the future to meet them. Something sacred is consummated when we have safely recorded, in the list of ordinances completed, the names of those who lived in our past and who yet live in our future. This ordinance work is crucial to us and to the Church.”
    (Boyd K. Packer, excerpted from his book, “The Holy Temple” and reprinted on the LDS Living webiste as, “President Packer’s Uplifting, True Ghost Story That Teaches Us About the Next Life”; http://www.ldsliving.com/President-Packer-s-Uplifting-Ghost-Story/s/83463)

    “According to lds.org: “In a funeral sermon, the Prophet Joseph Smith declared that the spirits of righteous people who have died ‘are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and motions, and are often pained therewith’ (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 326).

    “Other latter-day prophets have made similar statements. President Ezra Taft Benson said: ‘Sometimes the veil between this life and the life beyond becomes very thin. Our loved ones who have passed on are not far from us’ (in Conference Report, Apr. 1971, p. 18; or Ensign, June 1971, p. 33). President Brigham Young said: ‘Where is the spirit world? It is right here’ (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 376),” the LDS Church’s official Web site states.”
    (Lynn Arave, “Are ghosts among us? Many believe in spirits, but churches offer stern warnings”, Deseret News, September 3, 2010; http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700062783/Are-ghosts-among-us-Many-believe-in-spirits-but-churches-offer-stern-warnings.html)

    Here’s Ezra Taft Benson’s full quote:

    “The spirit world is not far away. Sometimes the veil between this life and the life beyond becomes very thin. Our loved ones who have passed on are not far from us. One great spiritual leader asked, “But where is the spirit world?” and then answered his own question. “It is here.” “Do [spirits] go beyond the boundaries of this organized earth? No, they do not. They are brought forth upon this earth, for the express purpose of inhabiting it to all eternity.” “… when the spirits leave their bodies they are in the presence of our Father and God; they are prepared then to see, hear and understand spiritual things. … If the Lord would permit it, and it was His will that it should be done, you could see the spirits that have departed from this world, as plainly as you now see bodies with your natural eyes. …” (Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, pp. 367–69.)”
    (Ezra Taft Benson, “Life Is Eternal”; Ensign, June 1971, p.33; https://www.lds.org/ensign/1971/06/life-is-eternal?lang=eng)

    “While speaking at the funeral of Elder Thomas Williams, President Brigham Young spoke of the spirit world as follows: “How frequently the question arises in the minds of the people—’I wish I knew where I was going!’ Can you find out? Well, you will go into the spirit world, where Brother Thomas now is. He has now entered upon a higher state of being, that is, his spirit has, than when in this body. ‘Why cannot I see him? Why cannot I converse with his spirit? I wish I could see my husband or my father and converse with him!’ It is not reasonable that you should, it is not right that you should; perhaps you would miss the very object of your pursuit if you had this privilege, and there would be the same trial of faith to exercise you, not so severe a path of affliction for you to walk in, not so great a battle to fight, nor so great a victory to win, and you would miss the very object you are in pursuit of. It is right just as it is, that this veil should be closed down; that we do not see God, that we do not see angels, that we do not converse with them except through strict obedience to his requirements, and faith in Jesus Christ (DNSW, 28 July 1874, 1).”
    (“Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young” (1997), Chapter 38: The Spirit World, p.279; https://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-brigham-young/chapter-38?lang=eng)

    “ The Spirit World Is Right Here on Earth In Joseph Smith’s visit to the Johnson farm mentioned earlier, he told Benjamin F. Johnson, “From a boy I have been persecuted . . . Why should I not wish for my time of rest?” And then he said, “I would not be far away from you, and if on the other side of the veil I would still be working with you, and with a power greatly increased, to roll on this kingdom.”

    This story highlights another important doctrine of the restored gospel: the spirit world is right here on earth and the spirits of our departed loved ones are in reality among us. This doctrine is as comforting to the Saints as it is unique among Christian beliefs of the afterlife. Our deceased family and friends are not gone, neither are they far, far away in some distant “heaven.” The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “They are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and motions, and are often pained therewith.”

    I think it is the unique doctrine of salvation for the dead that really gives personal meaning to the doctrine of the spirit world. The teachings of the early Brethren emphasized the nearness of our family, the nearness of the spirit world, the relationship between the two realms, and the fact that spirits continue to be interested and intimately involved in the Lord’s work on both sides of the veil.”
    (Brent L. Top, “Life After Death: 6 Insights into the Spirit World”, LDS Living website; http://www.ldsliving.com/Life-After-Death-6-Insights-into-the-Spirit-World/s/77329)

    “If we can look back through the generations, we see those who helped us to get where we are now—those who forged the way before us, whether they were members of the Church or not. And in the restored gospel we realize even more deeply our responsibility to link them to us through the ordinances of the temple. In a letter from the Prophet Joseph Smith to the members of the Church, we read: ‘These are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over. . . . For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, . . . they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect’ (D&C 128:15; see also verse 18).”
    (Neil L. Andersen, “Looking Back and Looking Forward”, New Era, Aug. 2009, p.5; https://www.lds.org/new-era/2009/08/looking-back-and-looking-forward?lang=eng)

    Doctrine and Covenants 110
    11 After this vision [of the Lord] closed, the heavens were again opened unto us [Joseph Smith the Prophet and Oliver Cowdery]; and Moses appeared before us, and committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north.

    12 After this, Elias appeared, and committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, saying that in us and our seed all generations after us should be blessed.

    13 After this vision had closed, another great and glorious vision burst upon us; for Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and said:

    14 Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi—testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come—

    15 To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse—

    16 Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands; and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors.
    (source https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/110)

    “We still continued the work of translation, when, in the ensuing month (May, 1829), we on a certain day went into the woods to pray and inquire of the Lord respecting baptism for the remission of sins, that we found mentioned in the translation of the plates. While we were thus employed, praying and calling upon the Lord, a messenger from heaven descended in a cloud of light, and having laid his hands upon us, he ordained us, saying:

    “Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. …

    “He said this Aaronic Priesthood had not the power of laying on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, but that this should be conferred on us hereafter; and he commanded us … that I should baptize Oliver Cowdery, and that afterwards he should baptize me.

    “Accordingly we went and were baptized. I baptized him first, and afterwards he baptized me—after which I laid my hands upon his head and ordained him to the Aaronic Priesthood, and afterwards he laid his hands on me and ordained me to the same Priesthood—for so we were commanded.

    “The messenger who visited us on this occasion and conferred this Priesthood upon us, said that his name was John, the same that is called John the Baptist in the New Testament, and that he acted under the direction of Peter, James and John, who held the keys of the Priesthood of Melchizedek, which Priesthood, he said, would in due time be conferred on us” (JS—H 1:68–72; emphasis in JS—H 1:70, 72 added)…

    During the appearance of John called the Baptist, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were informed that the Melchizedek Priesthood, with its power to bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost, “would in due time be conferred on us” (JS—H 1:72).”
    (Larry C. Porter, “The Restoration of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods”, Ensign, December 1996; https://www.lds.org/ensign/1996/12/the-restoration-of-the-aaronic-and-melchizedek-priesthoods?lang=eng)

    “Joseph Smith states that the messenger conferred the Priesthood of Aaron upon them. The angelic visitor explained that the priesthood “had not the power of laying on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, but that this should be conferred on us hereafter.” (History of the Church, 1:39). After identifying himself as John the Baptist, the messenger further stipulated “that he acted under the direction of Peter, James and John who held the keys of the Priesthood of Melchizedek, which Priesthood he said would in due time be conferred on us” (History of the Church, 1:40).

    The Doctrine and Covenants attests in several places that the higher priesthood was subsequently restored. In Section 27 (August 1830), the Lord refers to the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood as something which had already taken place. He speaks of “Peter, and James, and John, whom I have sent unto you, by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be apostles, and especial witnesses of my name, and bear the keys of your ministry and of the same things which I revealed unto them” (D&C 27:12).

    In Section 20, given four months earlier (April 1830), the Lord refers to Joseph and Oliver’s prior ordinations to the priesthood, speaking of commandments which “were given to Joseph Smith, Jun., who was called of God, and ordained an apostle of Jesus Christ, to be the first elder of this church; and to Oliver Cowdery, who was also called of God, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to be the second elder of this church, and ordained under his hand” (D&C 20:2–3).”
    (Larry C. Porter, “Dating the Restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood”, Ensign, June 1979; https://www.lds.org/ensign/1979/06/dating-the-restoration-of-the-melchizedek-priesthood?lang=eng)

    “Here is a voice that has spoken from the dust with a familiar spirit, and touched the hearts of men and women in many lands. Those who have read it prayerfully, be they rich or poor, learned or unlearned, have grown under its power”
    (Gordon B. Hinckley, Conference Reports, October 1959 as cited in Improvement Era, December 1959; https://archive.org/details/improvementera6212unse)

    “ISAIAH PROPHESIES OF BOOK OF MORMON. One of the most important predictions
    regarding the Book of Mormon is that found in the 29th chapter of Isaiah. The prophet here speaks of a people who should be like Ariel, the city where David dwelt. They should have heaviness and sorrow and should be brought down to speak out of the ground, and their speech was to be low out of the dust, and their voice was to be as of one that had a familiar spirit. Later in this same prophecy Isaiah refers to the words of “a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.”

    This prophecy was literally fulfilled when Martin Harris took copies of the engravings of the plates of the Book of Mormon to Professor Anthon in New York. Mr. Anthon answered Martin in almost the language of Isaiah, when he was informed that the book from which the characters were taken was sealed, Said he: “I cannot read a sealed book.” 213. 11 How remarkable it is that Isaiah said that the words of the book were delivered to one who was learned and that the book was delivered to the one who was not learned. How perfectly this harmonizes with the history of the case respecting Mr. Anthon and Joseph Smith!

    At the time this should take place, the Lord was to commence a marvelous work and a wonder because the people drew near to him with their mouths and with their lips honored him, but their hearts were far removed from him and their fear towards him was taught by the precepts of men. The marvelous work has commenced, and of all times in the history of the world, now is the time when the conditions of the people warrant the fulfilment of this prophecy.”
    (Joseph Fielding Smith, “Doctrines of Salvation”, vol.3, p.213: https://archive.org/details/Doctrines-of-Salvation-volume-3-joseph-fielding-smith)

    “Often in the temple, and as we engage in family history research, we feel promptings and have impressions from the Holy Ghost. Occasionally in the temple the veil between us and those on the other side becomes very thin. We get additional assistance in our efforts to be saviors on Mount Zion.

    Several years ago in a temple in Central America, the wife of one of our now-emeritus General Authorities assisted a father, a mother, and their children in receiving eternal covenants in the sealing room, where the temple mirrors are located. As they concluded and faced those mirrors, she noticed there was a face in the mirror that was not in the room. She inquired of the mother and learned that a daughter had passed away and accordingly was not physically present. The deceased daughter was then included by proxy in the sacred ordinance. Never underestimate the assistance provided in temples from the other side of the veil.”
    (Quentin L. Cook, “See Yourself in the Temple”, General Conference April 2016; https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/04/see-yourself-in-the-temple?lang=eng)

    “I, with Joshua McKune, a local preacher at that time, I think in June, 1828, heard on Saturday, that Joe Smith had joined the church on Wednesday afternoon, (as it was customary in those days to have circuit preaching at my father’s house on week-day). We thought it was a disgrace to the church to have a practicing necromancer, a dealer in enchantments and bleeding ghosts, in it. So on Sunday we went to father’s, the place of meeting that day, and got there in season to see Smith and talked with him some time in father’s shop before the meeting. Told him that his occupation, habits, and moral character were at variance with the discipline, that his name would be a disgrace to the church, that there should have been recantation, confession and at least promised reformation-. That he could that day publicly ask that his name be stricken from the class book, or stand an investigation. He chose the former, and did that very day make the request that his name be taken off the class book.”
    (The Amboy Journal, June 11, 1879, p.1, bolding added for emphasis. NOTE: This is a non-Mormon source; see http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85033348 and http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/josephsmithmethodist.htm)

    “This “precious gift” President Nelson shared was one his grandfather Andrew Clarence Nelson, or A.C. Nelson, shared with his family through his journal.

    Through this entry, President Nelson and his family were able to learn of a visitor from the spirit world his grandfather received 27 years before President Joseph F. Smith’s 1918 vision of the redemption of the dead and gain important answers to what life after death is really like:

    ‘When my Grandfather A. C. Nelson was a young husband and father, just 27 years old, his father died. Then, about three months later, his father, now deceased, came to visit him. The date of that visit was the night of April 6, 1891. Grandfather Nelson was so impressed by his father’s visit that he wrote the experience in his own journal for his family and his friends. And thanks to your encouragement, I took his journal entry and created this document and made copies of this document for every member of the family.

    Listen to my grandfather’s words about that sacred experience:

    “I was in bed when Father entered the room. He came and sat on the side of the bed. He said, ‘Well, my son, as I had a few spare minutes I received permission to come and see you for a few minutes. I am feeling well, my son, and have had very much to do since I died.’

    “‘What have you been doing since you died, Father?’

    “‘I’ve been traveling together with Apostle Erastus Snow ever since I died. That is, since three days after I died. I received my commission to preach the gospel. You cannot imagine, my son, how many spirits there are in the spirit world that have not yet received the gospel. But many are receiving it, and a great work is being accomplished. Many are anxiously looking forth to their friends who are still living to administer for them in the temples. I’ve been very busy preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.’

    “‘Father, can you see us at all times, and do you know what we’re doing?’
    “‘Oh, no, my son. I have something else to do. I cannot go when and where I please. There is just as much and much more order here in the spirit world than in the other world. I have been assigned work to do, and it must be performed.’

    “‘We intend to go to the temple and get sealed to you, Father, as soon as we can.’

    “‘That, my son, is partly what I came to see you about. We will yet make a family and live throughout eternity.’

    “‘Father, is it natural to die?’

    “‘It is just as natural to die as it is to be born, or for you to pass out of that door.’ And here he pointed at the door. ‘When I told the folks that I could not last long, it turned dark and I could not see anything for a few minutes. Then the first thing I could see was a number of spirits in the spirit world. The paper you gave me, my son, is dated wrong. But it makes no particular difference. Correct records are kept here.'”

    “‘Father, is the gospel as taught by this Church true?’

    “‘My son, do you see that picture?’ Pointing to a picture of the First Presidency of the Church hanging on the wall.

    “‘Yes, I see it.’

    “‘Just as sure as you see that picture, just as sure is the gospel true. The gospel of Jesus Christ has within it the power of saving every man and woman that will obey it, and in no other way can they ever obtain salvation in the kingdom of God. My son, always cling to the gospel. Be humble, be prayerful, be submissive to the priesthood, be true, be faithful to the covenants you have made with God. Never do anything that would displease God. Oh, what a blessing is the gospel. My son, be a good boy.'”
    (Katie Lambert, “The Questions President Nelson’s Grandfather Asked a Visitor from the Spirit World + the Surprising Answers”, LDS Living website, Jun. 19, 2017; http://www.ldsliving.com/The-Questions-President-Nelson-s-Grandfather-Asked-a-Visitor-from-the-Spirit-World-the-Surprising-Answers/s/85664?utm_source=ldsliving&utm_medium=email)

    (What follows is setup for the necromancy story that follows it in the next citation)
    “Throughout my life, I have been blessed by such women. My departed wife, Dantzel, was such a woman. I will always be grateful for the life-changing influence she had on me in all aspects of my life, including my pioneering efforts in open-heart surgery.

    Fifty-eight years ago I was asked to operate upon a little girl, gravely ill from congenital heart disease. Her older brother had previously died of a similar condition. Her parents pleaded for help. I was not optimistic about the outcome but vowed to do all in my power to save her life. Despite my best efforts, the child died. Later, the same parents brought another daughter to me, then just 16 months old, also born with a malformed heart. Again, at their request, I performed an operation. This child also died. This third heartbreaking loss in one family literally undid me.

    I went home grief stricken. I threw myself upon our living room floor and cried all night long. Dantzel stayed by my side, listening as I repeatedly declared that I would never perform another heart operation. Then, around 5:00 in the morning, Dantzel looked at me and lovingly asked, ‘Are you finished crying? Then get dressed. Go back to the lab. Go to work! You need to learn more. If you quit now, others will have to painfully learn what you already know.’”
    (President Russell M. Nelson, “A Plea to My Sisters”, General Conference, October 2015; https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/10/a-plea-to-my-sisters?lang=eng)

    “Six months ago in the October 2015 general conference, I spoke to the sisters of the Church about their divine role as women of God. Now I wish to speak to you brethren about your divine role as men of God. As I travel the world, I marvel at the strength and sheer goodness of the men and boys of this Church. There is simply no way to number the hearts you’ve healed and the lives you’ve lifted. Thank you!

    In my last conference message, I related my devastating experience many years ago when, as a heart surgeon, I was not able to save the lives of two little sisters. With permission of their father, I would like to say more about that family.

    Congenital heart disease afflicted three children born to Ruth and Jimmy Hatfield. Their first son, Jimmy Jr., died without a definitive diagnosis. I entered the picture when the parents sought help for their two daughters, Laural Ann and her younger sister, Gay Lynn. I was heartbroken when both girls died following their operations.1 Understandably, Ruth and Jimmy were spiritually shattered.

    Over time, I learned that they harbored lingering resentment toward me and the Church. For almost six decades, I have been haunted by this situation and have grieved for the Hatfields. I tried several times to establish contact with them, without success.

    Then one night last May, I was awakened by those two little girls from the other side of the veil. Though I did not see or hear them with my physical senses, I felt their presence. Spiritually, I heard their pleadings. Their message was brief and clear: “Brother Nelson, we are not sealed to anyone! Can you help us?” Soon thereafter, I learned that their mother had passed away, but their father and younger brother were still alive.

    Emboldened by the pleadings of Laural Ann and Gay Lynn, I tried again to contact their father, who I learned was living with his son Shawn. This time they were willing to meet with me.

    In June, I literally knelt in front of Jimmy, now 88 years old, and had a heart-to-heart talk with him. I spoke of his daughters’ pleadings and told him I would be honored to perform sealing ordinances for his family. I also explained that it would take time and much effort on his and Shawn’s part to be ready and worthy to enter the temple, as neither of them had ever been endowed.

    The Spirit of the Lord was palpable throughout that meeting. And when Jimmy and Shawn each accepted my offer, I was overjoyed! They worked diligently with their stake president, bishop, home teachers, and ward mission leader, as well as with young missionaries and a senior missionary couple. And then, not long ago, in the Payson Utah Temple, I had the profound privilege of sealing Ruth to Jimmy and their four children to them. Wendy and I wept as we participated in that sublime experience. Many hearts were healed that day!”
    (President Russell M. Nelson, “The Price of Priesthood Power”, April 2016 General Conference; https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/04/the-price-of-priesthood-power?lang=eng)


  2. The #1 Mormon response to my article is that it’s invalidated by the fact that Mormons don’t conjure up the dead. In response, I would ask the reader to consider the fact that while no OVERT or direct conjuring or calling forth of the dead occurs in Mormonism, all the elements are still there:

    1) A sacred space is set up where it’s understood that the living can and will have encounters with the dead: Mormon Temples.
    (see the Parley Pratt quote in the above article if you doubt this)

    2) A sacred ritual is practiced that facilitates such encounters as a byproduct, or if you prefer, “side effect”. (Proxy Baptism in Mormon Temples)

    3) Practitioners are told by their leaders to expect such encounters as a result of said practice. (See the first comment above for proof of this)

    4) Practitioners report such encounters.
    (Again see the first comment above for examples from both rank and file Mormons AND Mormon Leaders)

    Does that not, in fact, meet the criteria for “conjuring”?


  3. The most common response to the above article from Mormon Apologists has been to point to Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration. The response has typically gone something like this: “Well if Christ was setting an example for us by communicating with the spirits of the dead, then the meta-thesis of your article is baloney!”

    Some have even gone so far as to suggest that I cheated in the appendix of the article by citing from, as I said there, “highly, highly speculative’ and “an odd “outside of the box”’ source: The Seventh-day Adventist apologist website, “The Truth About Death” (see https://www.truthaboutdeath.com/q-and-a/id/1606/if-the-dead-dont-immediately-go-to-heaven-how-did-moses-and-elijah-appear-at-the-transfiguration) where this anticipated argument was addressed in some detail.

    In a nutshell, the Seventh-day Adventist stance is that neither Moses or Elijah was in fact, dead, but translated into heaven (directly in the case of Elijah, and indirectly in the case of Moses via an immediate resurrection after death). Further, both my article and the Seventh-day Adventist article echo the apocryphal speculation that since Moses was translated he was not dead on the Mount of Transfiguration. Since this speculation didn’t fit their counter argument to my article it was ridiculed by these Mormon Apologists rather than being addressed from logic, reason, or evidence – a classic Appeal to Ridicule Fallacy.

    Yet, oddly, the quasi-official, BYU produced “Encyclopedia of Mormonism” both supports and endorses this speculative stance, even going so far as to identify Moses and Elijah as translated beings on the Mount of Transfiguration:

    “Translated beings are not resurrected beings, though all translated beings either have since been or yet will be resurrected or “changed in the twinkling of an eye” to a resurrected state (3 Ne. 28:8). In effect, this last change is their death, and they therefore receive what amounts to an instantaneous death and resurrection. Resurrection is a step beyond translation, and persons translated prior to the resurrection of Christ were resurrected with him (cf. D&C 133:54-55); it is expected that those translated since Christ’s resurrection will be resurrected at his second coming.

    During the period from Adam to Melchizedek, many faithful persons were translated. Enoch and the righteous residents of his city of Zion were translated not many years after Adam’s death (Moses 7:18-21, 31, 63, 69; D&C 38:4;45:11-14;84:99-100; Gen. 5:22-24; Heb. 11:5). During the period from Enoch to Noah, it appears that faithful members of the Church were translated, for “the Holy Ghost fell on many, and they were caught up by the powers of heaven into Zion” (Moses 7:27).

    After the Flood, others were also translated. In his inspired rendition of the Bible, Joseph Smith tells of many who “were translated and taken up into heaven” (JST Gen. 14:32-34). Fewer translations apparently occurred in the New Testament era, though John the beloved (John 21:20-23; D&C 7) and the three Nephites were translated (3 Ne. 28).

    Translated beings are assigned special ministries, some to remain among mortals, as seems to be the case of John and the Three Nephites, or for other purposes, as in the case of Moses and Elijah, who were translated in order to appear with physical bodies hundreds of years later on the mount oftransfiguration prior to the resurrection of Christ. Had they been spirits only, they could not have laid hands on the mortal Peter, James, and John (cf. D&C 129:3-8). Why those of Enoch’s city were translated, we are not specifically informed, although the Prophet Joseph Smith explained the role of translated beings thus: “Many have supposed that the doctrine of translation was a doctrine whereby men were taken immediately into the presence of God, and into an eternal fullness, but this is a mistaken idea. Their place of habitation is that of the terrestrial order, and a place prepared for such characters He held in reserve to be ministering angels unto many planets, and who as yet have not entered into so great a fullness as those who are resurrected from the dead” (TPJS, p. 170).

    The scriptures do not define differences between transfiguration and translation, but it appears that transfiguration is more temporary, as in Matthew 17:1-9 andMoses 1:11, occurring primarily to permit one to behold spiritual things not possible in the mortal condition.”
    (“Translated Beings” by Mark L. McConkie, “The Encyclopedia of Mormonism”, p. 1485; http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Translated_Beings, bolding added for emphasis)

    So now I have not just one but two, hostile witnesses, endorsing this speculative view – and one of them is a respected Mormon Scholar and Apologist for FAIRMormon (see https://www.fairmormon.org/testimonies/scholars/mark-l-mcconkie). It would seem that it’s not my hostile witness and I, but those Mormon Apologists (who are claiming that Moses was a dead spirit rather than a translated being on the Mount of Transfiguration) who are unaligned and not in agreement with the Latter-day Saint stance on this point.

    Simply put, Mormons who use this argument are making a weak one indeed – they are incongruent relative to what their own scripture and leading scholars say. Perhaps that’s why they chose to appeal to ridicule rather than engage in substantive arguments.

    Further, I would point out to these Mormons that there is nothing wrong with using hostile witnesses as long as it’s made clear that they are in fact hostile witnesses who might not entirely be in agreement with your meta-thesis, in whole or in part. My criticism of Mormon Apologists who use such sources has only been when they not only fail to make this qualification but cite them in a way that implies that these sources are in full agreement with them. The latter is known as “abusing one’s sources”, the former isn’t. The use of hostile sources isn’t the problem, the failure to identify them as hostile is.

    Thank you.


  4. Here’s a new one to add to our collection of stories of necromancy from Mormon Culture: http://www.ldsliving.com/When-I-Heard-My-Deceased-Daughter-s-Voice-The-Profound-Lesson-She-Shared/s/84762


  5. UPDATE: In this two-part ViewPoint on Mormonism Eric Johnson and Bill McKeever tackle the subject head-on using an address by Mormon Apostle Russell Nelson as a springboard.

    This is WELL worth a listen! Each podcast is only about 13-minutes long (26-minutes total for both), so there isn’t a huge time commitment required here.

    [audio src="https://archive.org/download/ViewpointOnMormonism-2017/2017.11.15.OpenTheHeavensPart1.mp3" /]

    [audio src="https://archive.org/download/ViewpointOnMormonism-2017/2017.11.16.OpenTheHeavensPart2.mp3" /]

    And for those interested in direct sourcing the Russell M. Nelson article that they refer to in the show: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2017/10/open-the-heavens-through-temple-and-family-history-work?lang=eng


    • UPDATE: In a Spring 2018 General Conference, it’s believed that Russell M. Nelson became the first LdS President to preach to those on “both side of the veil” – that is both the living and the dead – in General Conference. This is what he said:

      “Our message to the world is simple and sincere: we invite all of God’s children on both sides of the veil to come unto their Savior, receive the blessings of the holy temple, have enduring joy, and qualify for eternal life.”
      — President Russell M. Nelson, “Let Us All Press On”; https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2018/04/let-us-all-press-on?lang=eng

      Given President Nelson’s fondness and enthusiasm for Mormon Necromancy (please see his contributions to the examples from Mormon Leaders in a previous comment – it’s a regular theme in his addresses), I think that we can expect it to be common and recurring theme throughout his tenure as LdS President.


  6. […] on the other side of the veil.” (David O. McKay, Conference Report, April 1948, p.172; also click here for more variations on this theme from Mormon […]


  7. In the 2+ years since this article published, we have heard one public denial after another from Latter-day Saints that Mormonism in any way practices any form of necromancy. This despite the clear evidence presented in the above article and comments.

    Then on July 11, 2019, LDS Living published an article by Danielle B. Wagner entitled, “Advice from a Temple Sealer That Changed My Experience in the Temple” (see http://www.ldsliving.com/Advice-from-a-Temple-Sealer-That-Changed-My-Experience-in-the-Temple/s/91187) that contains some of the clearest evidence for necromancy I have ever read. As one former Mormon, now Evangelical Christian, noted well after reading this article:

    “How many more dangerous, anti-Biblical doctrines can you fit in a single article? This about breaks the record:
    [Note, I know this isn’t an article written by an official LDS source or a leader of the LDS church, but members write for this magazine and many members subscribe to it]

    1. Conversing with the dead (necromancy/spiritualism):
    “[The temple sealer] told us that if we wanted to make our next trip to the temple more meaningful, to peer beyond the veil and truly experience something divine, then we needed to make the endowment a continual conversation.

    “The next time we received one of those blue or pink temple cards, we needed to concentrate long and hard on that name printed in black at the top. We needed to understand that name represents a living soul, one of our brothers and sisters. The sealer told us that if we wanted to deepen our temple experience, we needed to thank the person on that card for allowing us to be in the temple performing their work. We needed to tell them at every step, “This is for you.” We needed to speak and feel their name at every turn, to truly converse with those on the other side of the veil. If we did, the temple would become more meaningful to us.

    “That simple advice transformed how I experience the temple…But it hadn’t occurred to me that I didn’t need to imagine or force a connection. They were present. Angels were near and I could communicate with them.

    “The next time I attended the temple, I remembered the advice that the temple sealer gave me. During that session, I spoke to angels. I thanked the person whose name I carried for allowing me, as flawed as I am, to represent her in this sacred work. I told her I loved her and that I hoped she would accept this wonderful gift of the endowment. I repeated her name with every gesture and uttered word, saying, “This is for you.””

    2. Claims to actually receive communication from the dead as a result of contacting them:
    “And in return, I felt more awake and more filled with love and light than I had in the temple since I first received my endowment. In return, I felt six simple words whispered to me—words I had heard before when my Savior spoke them directly to me. Only this time, they didn’t capture my relationship with my Redeemer. Instead, they captured my relationship with one of my glorious, eternal sister [sic]. In truth, they capture my relationship with all of our Heavenly Parents’ children: “I know you. You know me.”

    3. Claiming that you need other people for salvation and that you actually become a savior of someone else by doing the temple endowment for the dead:
    “We’ve known each other for longer than any of us can fathom, and we will all be family for a long time yet. While we might forget about that in the world, treating each other as strangers, acquaintances, or even enemies, in the temple we gain a glimpse into our true, shared, divine nature. In the temple, we come to realize that we all at times must act as saviors and in turn have the humility to be saved because it is only with each other that we can inherit eternal life. In fact, it is only because of each other that eternal life will be worth living.”
    (Matthew Eklund on Facebook, see https://www.facebook.com/matthew.eklund.14/posts/3012729945407937)

    So here is my question for our Mormon Friends: If a form of necromancy doesn’t occur in Mormon Temples via the practice of proxy baptism for the dead, then how do you explain the clear necromancy contained in this LDS Living article?

    I look forward to hearing your responses to this question.


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