In the search of the real supernatural I think a good look at hypnotism is needed.
Webster defines hypnosis:
“A trancelike state that resembles sleep but is induced by a person whose suggestions are readily accepted by the subject.”
Some people are mesmerized by hypnotism; some people are scared of it, while some are very skeptical. As always, with all things in this field, I fall into the third category. I have seen a few stage hypnotism acts, and in fact have been one of the people on stage squawking like a chicken or whatever else the hypnotist asked me to do. I have read books and watched videos on how to hypnotize people, and I can say without reservation, it’s all an illusion!
Skeptic and magician James Randi says about hypnotism that it is “An agreement between an operator and a subject to fantasize together.” Basically it is someone who can get others to do what they ask them to. In a stage setting the hypnotist is a party director, and people allow themselves to drop their inhibitions in the name of fun.
How hypnotism works is first people are pre-conditioned to do something or allow something to happen. “You’ll be in a very relaxed state and be able to imagine whatever I’m talking about.” This often happens without the hypnotist even having to say it because people expect that when going to see a show. Then people are “put under” or allow themselves to accept whatever is told them with a drone noise. This can be an actual sound, or can simply be the hypnotist speaking in a very melodic speech rhythm that allows people to relax. Finally, the hypnotist makes suggetions that people can choose to accept or decline. In a stage hypnotism setting there is a lot of pressure to accept every suggestion, for every suggestion accepted is encouraged by laughter from the audience and if too many suggestions are declined the person will be sent back to their seat.
So what do this have to do with Jesus? Often in the Christian church I have seen hypnotism tactics used, but credit given to the Holy Spirit. People falling over uncontrollably, people acting drunk, and people laughing uncontrollably. Now am I saying that anytime this happens it is simply hypnotism? NO! I have personally seen people do all of these things in a way that could have only been brought about by the Holy Spirit. (Often in a very un-showy way) But when I see people like Benny Hinn and the like making people fall over left and right I highly doubt it is by the Holy Spirit. In fact if you truly look into these types of assemblies, you can clearly see hypnotism taking place.
If you get to go up on stage you know that everyone who goes up there falls over. (or get’s “slain in the Spirit”) You are pre-conditioned that to have a full experience with God means you will fall down when the evangelist or faith healer touches you. They have catchers behind you communicating that it is ok to fall. The music during the whole assembly is very repetitive and drone like. Finally, when the evangelist touches or motions at you, wanting so desperately to experience God, you fall over. Did you truly meet God? I don’t know. But I can tell you that there were a lot of other factors (including adrenaline) at play.
If you are truly in search of the real supernatural don’t let these hypnotizing fakes fool you!