Letters - 1925 Testing the Supernatural in The Dawn

The following letter from M. E. Barber was printed in D. M. Panton’s magazine The Dawn in 1925, Vol II, No. 2 on page 62-67.

“Testing the Supernatural”

Dear Sir,

Your valuable article on “Testing the Supernatural” in the May Dawn has interested us deeply. Here in China demon powers are manifesting themselves in new ways; and even in the Churches there have been cases of evil spirits pretending to be Jesus Christ.

One case may be of interest. Last autumn, near Amoy, in a preacher’s house one night, a voice was heard in the ceiling and a light appeared. The voice professed to be that of the former preacher who had lived in that house, and had died there twenty years ago. It soon became known all over the country-side that the old pastor was speaking from the roof of his former dwelling, to any who would go and hear, and crowds flocked day by day. The utterances were extraordinary:—full of Scripture; exhortations to live a holy life were frequent; and people of evil character dare not go, because no sooner were they seated, than the voice would address them by name, and ask them to repent of their sins. In most cases, sins known only to the person and the spirit addressing them were revealed. There is a well known man in Amoy, a Chinese physician trained in America, and a real Christian. His fees were very high; and to his amazement, when he went to the house, the spirit called on him to repent of the sin of covetousness, and commanded him to reduce his fees. So great was the effect on him that he now treat poor patients for nothing and is in many ways a transformed character.

A brother who preaches the Gospel in Amoy district came to see me and asked me if I did not believe that this spirit was really the voice of God. He said, “No one in Amoy, scarcely, doubts it; though a few missionaries perhaps may be a little skeptical.” I told him about testing the spirits, and advised him to use the test of 1 John 4:2. The spirit never becomes visible, but often a brilliant light is seen hovering over the house.

Ultimately the test was put by a worker we know and trust. After putting the test, there was silence for about half an hour; and then the voice said, “Read 1 Corinthians 13:13.” As you say in the article, the “not confessing” is sufficient proof of the origin of the manifestation. Many Chinese Christians have been utterly deceived; they well know the supernaturalism of heathenism, but it has never entered their heads that a demon could manifest himself in a Christian church, use Scriptural terms, exhort to goodness instead of evil, and press the reading of the Bible.

I am, etc.,
Pagoda Anchorage
Fukien, China

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