Saturday, December 5, 2009

Top 10 Stupidest Things Christians Do - Part 9

-9 The Influence of Witchcraft In the Church - What? The church does not engage in witchcraft! Well, some Christians do.

Human beings are designed to engage the supernatural realms. Some of it's just not God! Even 33% of atheists believe in the paranormal and prayer.

Martin Luther taught that witchcraft was a sin because the 2nd commandment says, "you shall have no other God before me." With that in mind, and before we look at the scriptures, here is brief list of practices and topics that I found in the Google search "christian witchcraft."

- Divination, Fortune Telling, Horoscopes, Tarot Cards, Psychics and Ouija Boards

- Fantasy characters such as Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia, Disney, Santa and the Easter Bunny

- Holidays that take place on pagan holidays such as Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Valentines Day

- White and Black Witchcraft, Wicca and Liberal Christians only casting loving spells (I really found that!)

- Satanism

- Repetitive prayers and mantras

- Positive Thinking - you thinking good thoughts, random acts of kindness.

- Study of the temperaments and other psychological practices

- Eastern Religions and their practices

- Santeria, Skull Worship, cannibalism, shrunken heads and various Indian traditions

The Bible definitively condemns the practice of witchcraft. Deuteronomy 18:10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD.

Exodus 22:18 Do not allow a sorceress to live. Some who practiced near-east religions acted as "mediums", channeling messages from the dead or from a "familiar spirit". This would include things like ghosts, seances, demons inhabiting homes, and other tangible items such as crystals and dream catchers.

Saul rightly consulted prophets (supernatural hearing from God) as king of Israel and sinned when he consulted the witch Endor (supernatural hearing from the demonic) 1 Samuel 28.

The difference is the source!

The church (Catholic, Pentecostal, Charismatic and some independent denominations) maintain their own supernatural arsenal sometimes called charism (plural: charismata). The word comes from the Greek, charis - grace. It's a reflection of God's grace and power. These are described in 1 Corinthians 12, 13 and 14, Ephesians 4 and Romans 12.

The gifts of the spirit are from God, however; they can be duplicated by demons. I once ministered in a church full of false tongues. I have also ministered in hundreds of churches with the real deal. These are the type of spiritual phenomena that Paul said need to be spiritually discerned. The same is true of prophecy, healing and other types of miracles. If you don't know God, it is doubtful you'll recognize His handy work.

As we contrast the above list to the second commandment and the verse from Deuteronomy , we can easily weed out a number of practices.

Off the list are all types of spells, divination, psychic readings horoscopes and the like. We'll call that the occult. Also off the list are non-Christian religions - eastern, western, Indian, New Age, and Wicca. HERE is a related blog by Tony C Today.

That leaves us with holidays, fantasy characters, and psychological practice. Regarding psychology, there is some very good stuff out there, but use your discernment. Good psychology simply observes healthy godly behavior. I'd stay away from Jung, Freud, and some of the pop stuff. Remember, we can't make this stuff our god or we risk sinning against Him.

I am going to state my opinion when it comes to stuff like Harry Potter. If it looks like sin (witchcraft), it is likely to cause sin.

I am big fan of the imagination, and therefore artistic and creative writing is on the good list. God gives talents and creative thoughts. Like everything else, we must keep the truth in perspective, and enjoy that which is created by artists. Certainly I am not talking about profane images, and other types of art that will cause us to sin.

With such a tremendous saturation of video games, entertainment, movies, online activities and a barrage of other media that runs 24/7, we need to find ways to keep our Christian life in balance. A steady diet of non-Christian books, music, media and games, is not going to develop godly character!

When it comes to holidays - as Christians we must careful of the appearance of evil. If it looks like we are sinning, or we are doing things that cause others to sin, we're in trouble. The Christian calendar has been primarily established by the Roman Catholic church. Holidays were meant to "compete" with secular celebrations. It is not what I would have done personally, however; tradition is not harmful unless it keeps us from God.

There is a realm between sin and holiness that I like to call Not Sin, Not God - Read About It HERE. It is possible to know which activities that are not strictly forbidden by scripture, are permissible.

Paul said this:
Romans 14:20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

Enjoy that which is legal, refrain that which is not, and keep your mouth shut about what is neither.


photogr said...

When all else fails, follow the instructions in the Scriptures.

Anonymous said...

While I understand the caution fellow Christians have towards Harry Potter, I'm confused over the extremity of this aversion.

Why, for example, is there not such a similar distrust towards Star Wars, which propagates a Eastern-like philosophy of an impersonal Force that flows in and out of everything...much like the Hindu concept of Brahman or the Dao.

Sure, witchcraft is dangerous activity, but the witchcraft portrayed in Harry Potter is nonsensical fantasy as Green Lantern's ring.
I believe that most kids with strong Christian upbringing will know truth from fantasy and can enjoy Harry Potter harmlessly.

However, I do believe there is another element of Harry Potter that is concerning apart from the witchcraft: the world view of the characters.
Each story features the heroes breaking rules and undermining authority to defeat evil.

This is the real message I fear Harry Potter is sending kids: all authority is evil, all rules have to be broken for the sake of self-empowerment.

the Steadfast Tin soldier said...

I admire your courage including CS Lewis's Narnia, along with Harry Potter. Lewis is a big Christian hero, while JK Rowling not so much. Yet, both works include magic.

Mister Solo, I agree with you as well, in that Potter is clearly a work of fiction. I have a disagreement in your conclusion: that the Potter tales are anarchic. In my reading, the whole of the series is devoting to authority and the established order. Harry and his friends do not lightly violate the order. The books clearly establish that the ruling order use their influence to commit gross acts of excess.

Jesus Christ's personal acts can also be seen as a micro mission to point out to corruption of the current Jewish leadership (per Potter). The larger message would be the Paulist message that Christ is not just for Hebrews, but for all.

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