Today I want to say a few words about witchcraft, spiritualism, and the use of hallucinogenic drugs for spiritual awakening and or recreation (their use for PTSD and other trauma treatment is not what I’m specifically addressing). Today it is more and more common for people who have lost their trust in traditional Christianity to seek spiritual meaning and insights from other traditions and practices. Witchcraft or sorcery is one of those areas that is gaining practitioners.
For the sake of being clear I would like to define these practices by what they are claiming or trying to achieve. What I mean by sorcery or witchcraft (divination) then is the use of any of a number of methods of bridging to the spiritual world and seeking input or insight from spiritual beings by means of these bridges. Tarot cards, then, and hallucinogenic drugs, are two different ways of doing the same thing. And for me the key thing about witchcraft is that it seeks information or help from the spiritual world by initiating some kind of contact through sorcery practices.
The primary reason I want to say something is that as these practices start coming back into vogue I, and other Christians, are faced with a problem that is relatively new to us, namely the desire to be kind and pleasant with our neighbors while still honoring the clear Biblical prohibitions against witchcraft. So for the sake, again of clarity let’s look at a couple of biblical passages about witchcraft.
10 There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, 12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD. And because of these abominations the LORD your God is driving them out before you.
19 And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
To me this representative sampling makes the story very clear– witchcraft is prohibited for God’s people. God warns His people away from all the practices and trappings of sorcery and divination. Seeking the dead or other spirits is clearly contrasted with seeking God and His word. We are warned against the softly ambiguous and changeable results of divination and reminded of the enduring faithfulness of “the teaching and the testimony.”
I think you also get the sense that the information you may acquire is potentially misleading and dangerous, and the classical literature is full of accounts of this kind of experience when dealing with sorcery and divination as well. Whether it’s Coesus being lured to his death by an ambiguously misleading prophecy, or the cruel demands of the gods for human sacrifice as in the the Iliad where Agamemnon must sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia to appease an offended godess, the spiritual realm is not a place of life and light in the classical literature. Characters are at least as likely to suffer by consulting divination as benefit by it.
There’s even a sense in which the Biblical prohibitions reinforces in us something I think we instinctively know– that knowing the future doesn’t really make us better prepared for it, and that seeking and/or finding that information out even brings us more pain and danger than help and safety. And again I think we can see the contrast. God says “Trust me, I have your future in my hands and it will be good” and sorcery says “Find out your future, be like God knowing what is to come, then maybe you can prevent harm or avoid losses.” At this point I see how closely the promise of sorcery is more or less the same as that ancient script used by the serpent in the garden.
Which brings me back to my conclusion. I am a child of God and I trust Him. He says in His word that I need to not eat that fruit no matter how good it looks for giving wisdom. Trusting Him means obeying Him, and that is why I think Christians need to be polite but clear when it comes to sorcery. I trust my father more than my eyes, and I trust His precepts more than I ever need the “enlightenment” gotten by sorcery.