Witchcraft's New Face

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                The New Face of 21st Century Witchcraft                
(written for children by Michael Krigline, November 2001--revised 2003)

Text Box:

            As the 21st Century begins, maybe you are one of the many children worldwide who are showing new interest in a very old source of power: witchcraft. Some say it is all just harmless make-believe. Some are thrilled that kids are reading something—anything!—instead of just sitting in front of a TV or computer screen. Some say witchcraft is both real and good—contrary to the mistaken ideas of the past. Others say we are messing with something too dangerous to ignore. Since I have a son of my own (and because I teach kids too) I felt the need to write about this subject.

            Up front, I should admit that I have never read Goosebumps or the Harry Potter books. If these books have encouraged you to start reading--that's a good thing! I have heard that the books are well-written, and I understand that good wins over evil in these books. None of that really matters for the moment, for my comments are about the subject, not the packaging. I also admit that my thoughts are based on the Bible and therefore come from a worldview 180 degrees opposite to one that encourages children to fantasize about witchcraft (for good or evil). Only you can decide if the Bible's insights are worth listening to, but remember that this book has certainly proven to be a trustworthy guide to behavior for a LONG time!

            Because I haven't read the newest books or seen the latest movies, some would say I have no business commenting on the subject. But if I’m not allowed to write about witches, then a boy could never talk about things girls believe (since they view things differently), and a teacher could never talk about rainforests (having never really seen one). Saying such a thing is pretty silly. And besides, you don’t have to taste something to know not to step in it! If someone you trust says "don't step in that!" it should be enough! In this case, the "somebody I trust" is the Bible, which some people call the Word of God.

Do witches really exist, and can they do supernatural things?

            According to the Bible, the answer is yes. Whenever the Bible talks about witchcraft, it is talking about something real. Actually, people who use “witchcraft” are called different things, depending on which translation of the Bible you are reading: witches, diviners, sorcerers, fortune-tellers, psychics, spiritists, one who consults ghosts or familiar spirits, one who casts spells, serpent-charmers, wizards, mediums, soothsayers, and even “priests” for other gods.[1] But no matter what they are called, the Bible treats them like they are real and have real power.

            For example, 2 Chronicles 33:6 tells about one of Judah’s worst kings. His name was Manasseh and “he practiced magic and witchcraft and told the future by explaining signs and dreams.” 1 Samuel 28:11 tells about a witch (or medium) who actually called up the spirit of a dead prophet. And Pharaoh’s priests were able to turn sticks into snakes (Exodus 7:11). You can also read about what a sorcerer did in Acts 8:9. The Bible treats all these events like they really happened.

            Throughout history, people have seen “witches” do supernatural things. Marco Polo told of seeing Buddhists priests bend metal and move food across the room without using their hands (that is, by witchcraft). Today, such people can walk on burning-hot rocks or lay on sharp nails without getting hurt—this too is done by witchcraft. Some magicians also use witchcraft (though most western “magicians” do things by tricks or illusions, and not by witchcraft).

            The point is that witchcraft is real, and therefore witchcraft is not just “harmless fantasy”—no matter whether an author (or reader) believes in it or not!

Is it wrong to practice or fantasize about witchcraft?

            Again, according to the Bible, it is wrong. Along with lots of good advice for how to get the most out of life, the Bible also tells us some of the rules God gave us so we can avoid serious trouble (either in this life, or after this life is over). One rule is: “Do not practice fortune-telling or witchcraft” (Leviticus 19:26). Likewise, Deuteronomy 18:10-14 says: “Do not let your people practice fortune-telling or sorcery, or allow them to interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is an object of horror and disgust to the Lord… The people you are about to displace consult with sorcerers and fortune-tellers, but the Lord your God forbids you to do such things.” Even the New Testament (written after Jesus came), includes “doing witchcraft” or “participation in demonic activities” in a list of sinful things we should not do (Galatians 5:19-21). So, it is clear that the Bible says practicing witchcraft is wrong.

            As for just fantasizing instead of actually doing it… Well, Jesus seemed to think they were basically the same thing! (See Matthew 5:28) Similarly, 2 Corinthians 10:5 says we should take “every thought” captive when our thoughts/fantasies go astray. Furthermore, Ephesians 5:3-9 tells us that we shouldn’t even talk about things that are sinful or wrong, adding: “Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the terrible anger of God comes upon all those who disobey him. Don’t participate in the things these people do.”

WHY is it wrong to embrace or fantasize in witchcraft?

            The best reason is that God says not to! He is a lot smarter than we are, and He knows what is best for us. Remember when your Dad said not to touch the fire or put your finger in the electric outlet? When you asked “why,” he probably didn’t explain thermodynamics or the properties of electricity to you! He probably said: “Because I said so!” There was a complicated explanation, but the simple truth was that it would hurt you—and your Dad didn’t want you to get hurt! Neither does God the Father! He really wants what is best for you.

            Of course there are also other reasons. For one thing, God doesn’t want you to get hooked up with what is evil. According to the Bible there really is an unseen world of powerful beings who want to destroy people (Revelation 12:7-9, John 10:10). They hate God, and hate people because they remind them of God (and the love of God which they chose to reject). These evil beings are described as “fallen angels” who can dress up like “angels of light” (Revelation 12:7-9; 2 Corinthians 11:14). That means they attract you by looking beautiful or harmless, and then once they have you hooked they can jerk you around like a bull with a ring in its nose. In the end, they drag your soul to hell—and that is the main thing God has done SO MUCH to keep from happening![2] The Bible contains a lot of “good news,” but it is also very clear about the horrible end in store for the devil, those who reject Jesus as Lord, and those who “cause little ones to stumble” (Revelation 20; 2 Peter 2; Matt 18:6-14).

Text Box:              Another reason for not messing around with witchcraft or other forms of evil is similar to vaccination. Do you remember that “ouchie” shot that kept you from getting the measles? That nasty thing actually had a little bit of “measles” in it! That’s right, the doctor gave you a little measles, and then your body came up with a way to fight it off—AND thereby could fight off the “real measles” if they ever came your way. Likewise, when you don’t take antibiotics for as long as the doctor says, the germs in your body can learn to fight similar antibiotics off so the same pills can’t help you next time. This is just the way we are made.

            Our spirits can work that way too. When you mess around with fantasies about witches or other supernatural forces, your “spirit” can develop a “cure” for this nasty thing. Unfortunately, when God (who also operates in the supernatural realm) tries to get in to help you with some problem, your deadened spirit resists Him too. Our spirits and bodies are similar in many ways!

            This “vaccination” effect is a favorite tool of the unseen enemies of your soul! After all, if they can’t trick you into believing a lie (like “white magic is good” or “there is no devil”), then maybe they can at least keep you from believing the Truth (i.e, that Jesus loves you and wants the best for you!).

            The “vaccination” effect is also why “a little religion” is often a bad thing! You have to jump in with BOTH feet, or as Jesus put it: “with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” Anything less, and you are just asking for trouble. (Mark 12:29-31; Acts 19:13-16)

            Besides, why would you want to mess around with something God says to leave alone, when He offers you something better?! Witchcraft uses the power of a fallen angel, but the Holy Spirit can put the power of God to work for you! Those who learn how to hear and follow God’s voice inside their hearts can see miracles happen that would make a witch green with envy (Acts 8:9-23). The Holy Spirit can answer your prayers to heal people, provide for someone’s needs, and even raise the dead! (Acts 3; 2 Kings 4:1-7; Acts 9:36-43) Witchcraft is no match for the power of the Living God! (1 Kings 18:20-39)

Opps! I’ve already become “hooked” on this stuff! How do I get free?

            The Bible says: “resist the devil and he must flee;” and “greater is He who is in me than he that is in the world” (James 4:7; 1 John 4:4). In other words, if Jesus is living in me, He is greater than any devil or evil power. Then, if I just stand up and remember what God’s Word (the Bible) says, I can beat back the evil—and it will always go away! Of course, this only works if Jesus is living inside you!

            How do you get Jesus to live inside you? You can think of this as A-B-C. (see Romans 10:9-10)

            A) Admit that you are a sinner. That’s not hard to do, because sin is simply everything in us and everything we do that is not perfect.[3] Are you perfect? No. Then you are a sinner. God already knows this and He loves you anyway! Let Him know you know it too, and move on to the next step!

            B) Believe that Jesus Christ died and rose again to pay for your sins. Like the wind, you can’t see Him, but you know He’s there by the effect He has on others. For 2000 years Jesus has forgiven others, and then helped them lead thankful lives by doing good things for others, living in peace when everything around them is crazy, and showing others how to find the same peace and purpose for living. Easter is the key. On the cross, Jesus paid for your sins. Then He rose again, and now He lives on so you can have a day-to-day relationship with Him.

            C) Confess Jesus as Lord. “Confess” means to say something out loud to others. “Lord” means “boss.” So tell a Christian friend that you have asked Jesus to be your boss (you can tell a pastor if you don’t have a Christian friend). Jesus is the best boss you could ever know—and walking with Him will give you the power to say NO to evil and YES to what is good.

So what CAN I read now?

            In general, avoid stuff that makes you think evil things are good. There are some great books (even fantasy books) that paint evil as evil. The best-known series is probably “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis. Mr. Lewis was a Christian (he is no longer living on Earth!), and Narnia’s “hero” is a lion who is a lot like Jesus. I love these books, and I’m sure you will, too. You can also find cool books from Frank Perretti and other modern authors. Books about detectives (e.g., Encyclopedia Brown and Sherlock Holmes) who use their brains instead of “magic” to solve mysteries are also fun to read.

            They also say that “truth is stranger than fiction” so why not read biographies about real people who changed the world? They might inspire you to become someone great, too! After all, they ate the same food, breathed the same air, and probably did it without all the modern advantages you are going to have available! (They also did it without a magic broom!)

            Oh, and don’t forget the Bible! It will tell you more about how God wants you to live. After all, He designed you—He knows what makes you tick and knows how to make your life all it CAN be! The Bible is also full of true stories about folks as evil as Satan himself, and as awesome as Jesus. You can learn from the mistakes of the bad guys, and learn how to walk in the footsteps of the heroes! The Bible is the best-loved and most read book in history—find out why!

A final thought (from St. Paul, not me!)

            I can’t think of a better way to close this than with the words of the Apostle Paul. He was one of the greatest men in the Bible, and we can learn a lot by walking in his footsteps.[4]  I don’t know about you, but I’ll take “the God of peace” over some witch any day

            “And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9

Notes: text © 2001 Michael Krigline, all rights reserved. Permission granted to print/copy for personal use. This article was written with young readers in mind. Illustrations were taken or adapted from software programs on my computer (Macromedia Freehand and/or MS Word?) or are in the public domain to the best of my knowledge.

[1] The Bible verses quoted here come from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) 1996.

[2] Some people believe a “loving God” would never send anyone to hell. They forget that a “loving God” came to earth on Christmas, took all of our sins onto Himself at Easter, died a horrible death on the cross, and even came back from the dead to tell us He had paid our debt so that we WOULDN’T have to go to hell! What more could He do? So if you go to hell, friend, don’t blame Jesus! You are paddling your own canoe!

[3] The Greek word for sin means to “miss the target,” not “to break the law.” Jesus set the “target” as perfection. (“For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard,” Rom 3:23; see also Matthew 5:48)

[4] You can read about how Paul upstaged a sorcerer in Acts 13:6-12!

Another opinion (about the second Harry Potter movie): comments from Dr. Ted Baehr, Publisher of MOVIEGUIDE®

"HARRY POTTER is certainly a spiritual movie, but it is not a movie that conforms to a Christian or Jewish theology....  HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS has not divorced itself from the nominalism (or virtual unreality of all that exists) that is so abhorrent to believing Jews and Christians. The Judeo-Christian tradition believes in real pain, real suffering and the real need for a real savior, though Jews and Christians differ on who that savior is. In HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS, witches and warlocks can create substantial things (food, spells, monsters) out of nothing. The world is not real, but merely a great thought, and the key to manipulating that nominalistic reality is merely saying the right words in the right way at the right time. Thus, those with superior, or Gnostic knowledge, become the wizards or witches who can manipulate reality. In effect, they can become as gods. This, of course, is abhorrent to Judaism and Christianity, just as the opposite extreme – that everything is material and doesn’t matter – is abhorrent.

"The best thing that could happen is for parents and children to decide that there are better ways to spend their time. If they like fantasy, try the first episode of THE LORD OF THE RINGS, which does cohere to a Christian worldview.

"MOVIE CONTENT: Occult worldview with a great number of occult images, some rebellion awarded, breaking the rules awarded, witchcraft, enchantments, and pagan nominalism, as well as some moral messages and Christian, redemptive elements and symbols; four obscenities and one light profanity; action violence such as flying car crashes into things and people inside are knocked around, flying broomsticks with hard ball crashing into things and almost knocking people in the head, fights with giant snake and spiders, people are petrified, blood on walls, and creatures knocked around; no sex; no nudity; magic potions used for transforming people and knocking people out; and, evil plot exposed, racism and slavery rebuked, breaking rules rewarded, moral relativism taught, and children lie."

Dr. Baehr's comments used to be posted at http://www.christiannewstoday.com/CNTNews68.html; LINK DIDN'T WORK Feb 06

For more information about Christianity, check out www.ccci.org/whoisjesus/interactive-journey

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