What, you ask, do Christians say about ghosts and spirits? Obviously, there would be a variety of answers to this rather large question, depending on which Christians you talk to and what exactly you mean by “spirits”.

It seems there are at least three important issues here: (1) Does the soul of a person who has died remain conscious after the death of the body? (2) Can such a soul “appear” or otherwise make itself known to the living? (3) Do demons (fallen angels) sometimes deceive people into thinking they’ve encountered the “ghost” of a dead friend or relative?

The vast majority of Christians would answer the first question in the affirmative, though a minority contend that the soul “falls asleep” and does not wake again until the General Resurrection, when it is reunited with its body.

As for issues two and three, the Orthodox Church teaches that the soul of a person who has died remains in the vicinity of its body for several days (symbolically, three) after death before embarking on its postmortem journey. Could it manifest itself in some way during this period? There’s no reason to think it couldn’t—with God’s leave, of course.

But the Orthodox would immediately add that one must beware of demonic deception in such a case, for the “principalities and powers of the air” (Ephesians 6:12) are said to have the ability to create illusions and thus to capitalize on the weaknesses of people who become too caught up in looking for supernatural, or rather preternatural, phenomena.