[26]   Supernatural: Fortune Telling & Occultism

Background:

·       An International Witches Meetup Day is organized every month for witches in over 600 cities in the world. In one meetup in 2004, almost 30,000 self-professed witches signed up to participate.

117.     Are supernatural phenomena real or imaginary?

a.   Reality:

(1)  The Bible describes supernatural phenomena as real (Ex 7-11; 2Ti 3:8; Da 1:20).

(2)  Satan and his “principalities” are at work in the world today (Jn 8:44; 1Ti 4:1-2; Eph 6:12).

(3)  But Christ has repulsed the demonic kingdom and broken its power (Col 2:15).

b.   Occultism:

(1)  “Occult” means “hidden”. Occultism is a religion which sees itself as a revival of ancient paganism and of hidden knowledge about the nature and workings of the world.

(2)  There are 2 main categories of occult practice or involvement in occult powers:

(a)  Divination: attempt to foretell future events through interpretation of signs
(b)  Spiritism: attempt to contact superhuman spirits; witchcraft (the practice of supernatural magic and spells) is a form of spiritism

c.   Performing magicians: Most of them use deceptions in their performance and are not involved with the occult. However, it is also possible that some magical tricks involve evil spirits.

d.   Proper Christian attitude:

(1)  Understand Satanic powers yet not fascinated by it.

·         The NT shows no interest in demonology. We don’t know how the demonic world works and we don’t need to know. We should counteract “demonomania” (too much interest in demons) and “demonophilia” (seeing demons all over the place, blaming Satan for anything bad).

(2)  Resist demonic powers and avoid any involvement (Jas 4:7).

118.    Are the prediction of the future credible? Can Christians participate in those activities?

a.   Main varieties of divination:

o        (1)           Astrology: foretelling events on earth by interpreting relative positions of heavenly bodies; forbidden by Mosaic Law (Dt 18:10-14).

(2)  Cartomancy:

o        It involves forecasting by laying of cards; similar to other kinds using different mediums; some are purely guesses based on deduction; some psychics may actually be accurate.

(3)  Palmistry: foretelling through interpreting lines and shape of a person’s palms.

b.   Most of the practices of divinations are false claims and falsifications (Jer 29:8-9; Zec 10:2) although they may sometimes be accurate. They are forbidden by the Mosaic Law.

c.   The future is in God’s hands and is normally hidden. Because the hidden future is God’s prerogative (Dt 29:29). Christians should never involve in divination.

119.    What are the different kinds of spiritism? Why should Christians avoid those activities?

a.   Spiritism is the attempt to contact superhuman spirits. These are almost always unclean spirits (Lk 11:18), including Satan and his fallen angels (Mt 25:41). These spirits can produce deceptive miracles (2Th 2:9). See examples of Simon Magus (Ac 8:9), Elymas (Ac 13:8), and woman in Ac 16:16. The origin of spirits can be tested (1Jn 4:1-3). [Contacts with angels from God are possible but God does not normally work through such contacts.]

b.   Main varieties of spiritism:

(1)  Necromancy (channelling): attempting to communicate with the dead through a person or a medium. This is forbidden (Lev 20:6). It actually involved evil spirits.

(2)  Ouiji Board: calling evil spirits to answer inquiries. It may be sold as a game but it is actually equivalent to necromancy.

(3)  Magic and witchcraft: accomplishing acts beyond human powers. Those acts were not achieved with supernatural powers of the witches and wizards but rather by superhuman evil spirits.

c.   Christians must not voluntarily communicate with superhuman spirits. This will expose themselves to demonic influence or even demonic domination and risk great personal danger. Spiritism involves practices that are abominable to God (Ex 22:18; Rev 21:8; 22:15)

120.    What is the nature of demonic possession? Can Christians be possessed by demons? Can Christians practise exorcism?

a.   Demonic possession: domination of a person by evil spirits, showing abnormal behaviour.

b.   Demonic possession of Christians:

·         A true Christians (with the indwelling Holy Spirit) cannot be totally “possessed” by evil spirits as evil spirits could not peacefully co-exist with the Holy Spirit.

·         However, it is possible that the body and the outer areas of personality can be infested or oppressed. This can occur if a Christian is voluntarily involved in the occult, but only temporarily.

c.   Exorcism (deliverance ministry against demonic possession):

·         Christians are cautioned against amateurish attempts of exorcism. At least 2 devout persons of great piety, spiritual strength, and moral courage should be involved.

·         Exorcism is done with the power of Christ (Ac 16:16-18). Persons involved must be armed with prayer (Mk 9:29), preferably corporate prayer.

·         During exorcism, demons should not be talked to or argued with, but only rejecting, refusing and scorning them with the name of Jesus Christ. After exorcism, the affected person must submit to Christ and cultivate a spiritual life (Jas 4:7).

121.    Can Christians read fictions about spiritism like the Harry Potter books?

a.   Reality: the Potter books are popular and many children are reading them. The books have caused a controversy in many churches and there is no unified opinion among Christians.

b.   Reasons for opposing the books:

(1)  The books may desensitize us to witchcraft.

(2)  The books do not acknowledge any supernatural powers or moral authority.

(3)  The books contain too much violent acts.

(4)  The books encourage disobedience to authority.

c.   Reasons for supporting the books:

(1)  The books encourage courage, loyalty, and a willingness to sacrifice for one another.

(2)  The magic in the books is only literary witchcraft, not occultism.

(3)  The books can open up the appreciation for other fantasy books or even to the gospel.

d.   Analysis of the argument:

·         The description of the witchcraft and other supernatural phenomena in the Potter books are not much different from Lord of the Rings, the Narnia Chronicles, Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins.

·         Children love the Potter books because of their legitimate needs, such as a sense of control or empowerment, knowledge that they can face fear and conquer it, love in loving families.

·         Arguments against the books are also valid and should be considered when making a judgment.

e.   Conclusion:

·         This is a disputable matter. Each Christian can make their own decision on whether or not to read the books. It is advisable to allow only those children aged 10 and older to read the books.