Friday, March 24, 2017

Is Wicca compatible with the Bible? Does God approve of witchcraft?

(It may seem unusual to place the conclusion first, but this contains the most critical information, answers the questions in the article title, and many readers may not stick around until the end.) Wiccan beliefs (also those of Paganism and witchcraft) differ significantly from Christianity as described in the Bible in several key areas:
1.    Nature of God. Wiccans typically believe in one primary Goddess and a minor male horned God named Pan. The Bible specifically indicates there is one God and His Son Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 8:6, 1 Timothy 2:5) and God is separate from the creation (Colossians 1:16, Revelation 4:11).
2.    Human nature and sin. There really is no concept of sin in Wicca. The Bible is very clear that all people are sinners (Romans 3:10, 1 John 1:10, Ephesians 2:1).
3.    Salvation. Because there is no sin consciousness, there is no need for forgiveness or a savior, as the Bible clearly teaches (Romans 5:8, 1 Timothy 1:15, 1 Corinthians 15:3).
4.    Satan. The existence and role of Satan are diminished or non-existent in Wicca. The Bible mentions Satan as our enemy in numerous places (John 10:10, 1 Peter 5:8).

This may sound absurd at first, but Wiccans and witches would find much appealing in true Christianity. However, one must separate any perceived wrongs committed by the Christian church from the true God and His Son Jesus Christ. First, the God of the Bible is personal (John 17:21, Romans 8:38-39) and this can be appealing to those who have become accustomed to an impersonal spirituality. Second, the Bible is very affirming of women (Esther 9:29, Judges 4:4, Genesis 3:20, Galatians 3:28). Third, the Bible informs that God admonished humans to care for the earth (Genesis 2:15). Rather than a counterfeit (Colossians 2:8), God graciously offers real power (Acts 1:8, Luke 10:19) and His Spirit (Luke 11:13) in our lives.

What does the Bible say?
The Bible clearly condemns many of the practices of Wicca and witchcraft. But, many people (including this writer) ask, “Why?” Here are Old and New Testament references regarding this topic. In the next section is found an explanation concerning the reasons for God’s warning against these practices. Note here that the Lord does not merely condemn witchcraft in general, but mentions specific actions:
·         "There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)
·         “He (Manasseh) made his son pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and used divination, and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord provoking Him to anger. (2 Kings 21:6)
·         “You shall not … practice divination or soothsaying.” (Leviticus 19:26)
·         “Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them.” (Leviticus 19:31)
·         “As for the person who turns to mediums and to spiritists, to play the harlot after them, I will also set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.” (Leviticus 20:6)
·         “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Revelation 21:8)
·         “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions…” (Galatians 5:19-20)
·         “Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.” (Revelation 22:15)
·         Also see Acts 8:9-22, Isaiah 47:12-15, Acts 13:6-11, Exodus 22:18 and 1 Samuel 28.

Precisely what does the Bible mean by “sorcery”, “witchcraft”, or “divination”? The Greek word in Galatians 5:20, Revelation 9:21 and 18:23 translated as sorcery or magic arts is pharmakeia (Strong’s 5331).[1] According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary:
“pharmakeia “primarily signified ‘the use of medicine, drugs, spells’; then, ‘poisoning’; then, ‘sorcery’”.  Furthermore, “’sorcery’, the use of drugs, whether simple or potent, was generally accompanied by incantations and appeals to occult powers, with the provision of various charms, amulets, etc., professedly designed to keep the applicant or patient from the attention and power of demons, but actually to impress the applicant with the mysterious resources and powers of the sorcerer.”[2]
We can see that, even in the original Greek, the demonic and occult were part of sorcery.

But why?
So it’s not surprising that the God of the Bible disapproves of witchcraft - another in a list of “Thou shalt nots” forced on us by a judgmental, patriarchal God and hypocritical Christians, right? But, why does He disapprove of these practices? First, the simple fact that God warns against these should be reason enough. As a loving Father and our Creator, it makes sense to trust Him. Nonetheless, as inquisitive creatures, we want to know why. The primary reason is that witchcraft brings people into contact with demonic spirits which have rebelled against God and are actively working to destroy God’s greatest creation – us. The Apostle Paul states:
·         “in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons”. (1 Timothy 4:1)
·          “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
·         “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)
·         “even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14)
·         Jesus said, “The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy” us (John 10:10).

Someone may say, “That’s ridiculous. I’m not worshipping Satan or demons. Wiccans don’t even believe in them.” First, my disbelief has no bearing on their existence, one way or the other. But, think about it. If there is power in Wicca or witchcraft, from where does that power originate? If this power emanates from some mysterious force in the universe, where did that come from? On the other hand, if the power is derived from within the Pagan practitioner, what evidence does one have as a basis for that assertion? Evil spirits will attempt to deceive us into thinking we have access to some spiritual power other than the true God. God warns us about these things to protect us!

Barna survey
A survey conducted by The Barna Group found the following regarding practices and beliefs:
“Wicca is a faith system that has no central organization or theological belief system defined for all of its adherents. It may be best understood through its typical practices, which include performing magic and sorcery, casting spells and engaging in witchcraft. It is a ritualistic faith based on a loose set of pagan beliefs that are generally pantheistic in nature. Those who are involved commonly go through initiation rites for membership, teaching and leadership. Contrary to a widespread assumption, however, Wicca is not synonymous with Satan worship. Wiccans most frequently worship gods and goddesses that are found in nature. Wicca generally embraces the notions of karma and reincarnation, and promotes a laissez faire form of morality.”[3]

Somewhat unique characteristics of Wicca make it attractive to some people, particularly those who are younger and female:
·         the highly individualistic nature of the faith
·         sensitivity to nature and the environment
·         movies, television shows, and books that feature appealing characters
·         value placed upon personal experience rather than adherence to a strict ideology
·         the fascination with casting spells, performing magic
·         the growing determination of Americans to tolerate and accept worldviews, philosophies and religious practices that stray from those of the traditional or widely-recognized religions[4]

What is Wicca?
Is Wicca the same as witchcraft or Paganism? Is it a form of witchcraft? Can someone be a Christian and a Wiccan? This article is not a rant against witchcraft, but rather is intended to provide useful information about the God of the Bible to those involved in Wicca. Christians will also find information here concerning Wiccans with the hope that we can reach out with respect and love. First, we need to define some terms. Wicca is a form of witchcraft and oftentimes the two are synonymous, but clearly Wicca is not Satanism. In fact, most Wiccans (or modern witches) would deny Satan even exists, claiming he is an invention of the Christian religion. Wicca is a neo-pagan, nature-based religion which was popularized in 1954 by Gerald Gardner from Britain. The adherents, known as Wiccans, practice forms of witchcraft such as performing magic, sorcery, and casting spells.

“Wicca is a neo-pagan religion based on the pre-Christian traditions of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Its origins can be traced even further back to Paleolithic peoples who worshipped a Hunter God and a Fertility Goddess.”[5] Catherine Sanders, a writer who has experience with The Washington Times, The Weekly Standard, World, The McLaughlin Group, and others, spent a year researching Wicca and Pagan spirituality. She defined it as “Neo-Pagan witchcraft practiced as a spirituality or religion.”[6]

Many of those involved claim Wicca had its roots thousands of years ago, before Judaism and Christianity. Some aspects likely have been borrowed from ancient times; however, many current practices were developed by Gardner much more recently. Sanders informs:
“It was Gardner who, in the middle of the twentieth century, gathered together all of these themes and created what we know today as Wicca.”[7]
A paper was published by Gardner in Ripley’s Believe it or Not, which “disclosed that Garner took the magical resources he acquired in Asia and a selection of Western magical texts and created a new religion centered upon the worship of the Mother-Goddess.”[8]

What are the beliefs of Wicca?
Because Wicca is not a monolithic religion and has no single defining doctrine, particular core beliefs are difficult to specify. Having said that, here are some major - though not comprehensive - beliefs accepted by most Wiccans:
1.    Belief in the Mother Goddess. She may be referred to in various names, such as Aphrodite, Diana, Artemis, and Gaia mother Earth most efficiently combines goddess worship and environmentalism.
2.    Rites harmonizing with the rhythm of nature. These include eight seasonal festivals, known as Sabbats such as the Spring and Fall equinox, Summer and Winter solstice, and four additional.
3.    Practice of magic: casting spells, divination, clairvoyance, astral projection, and others.
4.    The Wiccan Rede, which states, “That ye harm none, do what ye will.”[9]

Some additional neo-Pagan primary tenets:
1.    All is one – Humans have no special place, are not made in God’s image, and are part of a pantheistic belief that all of nature is of the same value.
2.    You are divine – Wiccans believe they are gods or goddesses and possess divine power.
3.    Personal power is unlimited – there is no deity limiting their abilities
4.    Consciousness is altered through rite and ritual – for example, casting of spells taps into the power of the spirit world.[10]

Why do people turn to Wicca?
Sanders provides four primary reasons particularly describing why many Wiccans have turned away from the Christian Church:
1.    Concern for the earth. The church has not typically been strong on the issue of care for the environment. (Environmentalism is one of the two primary drawing points for those involved with Wicca.)
2.    Empowerment for women. (Feminism is the second primary drawing point for Wiccans.) Sanders states that a significant number of women who have left the church for witchcraft did so because they felt wounded and felt as if they had been treated as second-class citizens by the church.  
3.    Frustration with the consumer culture. This concerns the perceived political viewpoint of the so-called Christian Right.
4.    The draw of the supernatural. Many people today are spiritually hungry and this is where some turn to satisfy that hunger.

Deification of nature
The Wiccan belief system elevates nature to the status of deity. In fact, famous Wiccan Starhawk described Wicca as beginning more than 35,000 years ago when the “gifted shamans” believed in “the Mother Goddess, the birthgiver, who brings into existence all life …”[11]
In her research as a journalist, Sanders found that:
“Most practitioners worship, experience, or invoke the Mother Goddess. They call her male consort the Horned God. Both are believed to be imminent deities who manifest themselves in nature. For instance, the moon, with its monthly cycle of waxing and waning, is perceived to be female and is considered a symbol of the Mother Goddess. The earth itself is also a symbol of the Mother Goddess because it gives forth fruit, vegetation, and life that sustain and nurture us.”[12]  

As George Mather and Larry Nichols point out:
“Wiccans deify nature in such a way that both God and nature are identified as synonymous. Further, since divinity lies in nature and in the cosmos, it also resides within each person. Here it can be observed that wiccan thought closely parallels Hinduism and other Eastern paradigms.”[13]

While it is admirable to respect nature and care for the environment, the earth is a creation of the one true God (Genesis 1:1, Ephesians 3:9, Revelation 4:11) and was made for humans (Genesis 1:27-30).

How should Christians speak to Wiccans?
Some good advice was provided by a non-Christian, practicing Pagan on a popular witchcraft website: Below is a condensed version of some of the main points:
·         Don’t attack. Many Christians and their writings called Wicca “evil” and Wiccans “devil-worshippers”, warning those involved must repent or be doomed to hell.
·         Get your facts straight. To be successful in reaching Pagans, Christians need to have a proper understanding of what they actually believe.
·         Admit the dark side of Christianity, such as:  Destruction of other cultures by Christian missionaries, intolerance of other faiths, The Inquisition, and denigration of women. 
·         Treat Pagans as people first. We should not befriend a Pagan solely for the purpose of conversion, then cast him or her aside if they fail to convert.
·         Treat Pagans the way you would want to be treated if approached by someone of a different religion.[14]

[Biblical references are from the NASB version.]

[1]James Strong, The Strongest Strong’s (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 2001), p. 1651.
[2]W. E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, (Nashville, TN:  Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996), p. 587.
[3]The Barna Group, “Survey Reveals Americans’ Feelings About Wicca”, 01/26/09, <>
[5]Magic Wicca website, accessed 5 Apr 2009, <>
[6]Catherine Edwards Sanders, Wicca’s Charm, (Colorado Springs, CO:  WaterBrooke Press, 2005), p. 219.
[7]Sanders, p. 60.
[8]J. Gordon Melton, Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America (New York:  Garland, 1986), 212, cited in George A. Mather and Larry A. Nichols, Dictionary of Cults, Sects, Religions and the Occult, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1993), p. 315.
[9]Mather and Nichols, p. 315-316.
[10]Sanders, pp. 5-6.
[11]Starhawk, The Spiral Dance, (New York, NY:  HarperCollins Publishers, 1999), p. 27.
[12]Sanders, p. 10.
[13]Mather and Nichols, p. 317.

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