The Truth about Witchcraft

Witchcraft is not only being currently revived in a new fashion, it has attained a level of respectability in many civilized nations of the world. “In the past two to three decades, America and much of Western Europe have seen a resurgence of paganism and witchcraft” writes Craig Hawkins in the Christian Research Journal. “Indeed, with increasing vigor, witchcraft is ‘coming out of the broom closet.'”

Since 2005, for instance, prisons in Britain now allow witches to practice their craft and celebrate their festivals behind bars. A 2011 report from the Dyfed-Powys Police in the UK revealed that over the last 5 years, there have been 26 reports of sightings of ghosts, 11 of witches and 2 of vampires and zombies in an area. A 2012 census in England suggests that “Wales is ‘the witch capital’ of the United Kingdom, revealing it is home to 83 self-described witches and 93 Satanists.”

This estimate is conservative, because Wales has been a home of witchcraft right from the pre-Roman days of the Celtic Druids. “I have been told that a coven of witches still meets in the Trelench area” says Dr Felix Aubel, a Church minister who has seen dozens of cases of witchcraft in the area. “Witchcraft has grown in a spiritual vacuum- the latest figures show the number of Christians in this country has dropped from 72 percent to 59 percent,” he added (Daily Mail, Jan. 2013).

Germany reportedly now turns to witchcraft for direction in its energy policies. In Poland, a group of witches (aged between 30-80) showed up publicly to be photographed, displaying their talisman – flowers, daggers and feathers during their “Women of Power” gathering in 2013. The summit was to affirm the return to the old religion of witchcraft. More staggering examples from other Western countries abound.

Any African who still thinks witchcraft is limited to Africa needs to get out of his bubble universe. A Google search on “witchcraft” will list out no less than 350,000 websites dedicated to it. A Barna Research once showed that 86% of children are regularly exposed to TV shows with witchcraft or supernatural themes. And don’t tell me these TV shows are not yielding results. In the US Chaplain’s Manual, the American Council of Witches wrote:

“Witches do not proselytize, but welcome inquiries from those who hear about the craft by either word-of-mouth or the media.”

Since witchcraft is being marketed more than any other time in history, we need to have a basic understanding of it. A dictionary defines witchcraft as the art or exercise of magical powers, the effect or influence of magical powers, or an alluring or seductive charm. Simply put, it’s the practice of dealing with evil spirits.

1Samuel 15:23: “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.” Witchcraft is an expression of man’s corrupt rebellious nature against God. It is man’s attempt to gain what he wants without submitting to the law of God. This is why witchcraft can also be called the universal religion of fallen humanity. In Galatians 5:20 (KJV) it is listed along with idolatry among “the works of the flesh.” Rebellion as a work of the flesh opens the door to the spirit of witchcraft.

The 3 main characteristics of witchcraft are: domination, manipulation and intimidation. Jezebel exemplified these in the Bible. When Naboth refused to give up his vineyard and Ahab the king withdrew into the inner chamber like a baby, she exerted a dominion spirit: “I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth.” First, she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, pressed her buttons and set her people in place to bear false witness against Naboth and had him killed. That is manipulation. That a single woman exerted so much domination over all the men of the city, the elders, the nobles and even the throne itself evinces witchcraft (1Kings 21:2-13).

After Elijah displayed God’s supremacy and destroyed the prophets of Baal, Jezebel sent a message to him, cursing herself in the name of her gods if she didn’t kill him. Elijah had to flee in terror and even began to pray for death – intimidation (2Kin 19:1-5). This is how witchcraft operates. It oppresses, controls and inflicts terror and destruction on people.

Witchcraft and whoredom (all forms of sexual promiscuity) walk hand in hand. Jezebel for example was described as a woman full of “whoredoms” whose “witchcrafts are so many” (2Kin. 9:22). Prophet Nahum spoke of Nineveh as “the multitude of the whoredoms of the well favoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms and families through her witchcrafts” (Nah. 3:4). Witchcraft exerts strong control over nations, cities, and families. Many Africans have had brushes with its operations.

All forms of witchcraft involves interaction and communion with demon spirits. All witches have demons that they work with. One of them wrote on a website: “In the years since then I have had time- and again had cause to call on the energy of the Dark One; She has never failed to give me strength and the will to fight. I will always praise and honor Her.”

Isaiah 8:12 says: “When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God?” The statement “who whisper and mutter” highlights another feature of witchcraft – the use of spells and curses. A spell or curse is achieved by sending out evil spirits to perform a given assignment. There are different types of spells: love spells, fertility spells, blinding spell, death spells, wealth spells etc. which can be used to control people, manipulate events, terrify and afflict.

Catch them Young!

In the last two decades, witchcraft has been primarily aimed at recruiting children and youths using entertainment and the printing press. This is because “the glory of the young is their strength” (Pro 20:29) and Satan wants that strength used for his own kingdom. The strategies used are:

1. Presenting “Good vs Bad” witches storylines.

This is used to brainwash viewers into thinking that witchcraft can be used for the good of mankind. This is the scenario in movies like Practical Magic, Charmed, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, the Harry Potter series, Legend of the Seeker, Merlin, Nanny McPhee, The Initiation of Sarah and many others.

As more youths and children are exposed to such movies, their perception of witchcraft changes. They begin to lust after the power to do what they want when they want it. They start to think and talk like witches until the door to witchcraft opens to them. Famous wizard, Oberon Zell Ravenheart, admits that his purpose for writing his book, Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard (2004) is “to catch the rising tide of youthful interest in benevolent magic… a trend reflected in the interest in Harry Potter…” (p i).

An ex-witch sheds light on the strategies involved in luring youths: “Offer new realms of mystery and excitement. Make witchcraft look less sinister. Make it look like natural, innocent adventure (Everyone is attracted by adventure and mystery). Cover up evil with appealing wrappings.”

2. Presenting skewed ideas about witches

The stereotypical imagery presented about witches as ugly hags with warts on their noses, wearing a peaked hat and flying on a broomstick or boiling newts in a pot – persists in many minds, whereas, Satan has gone ahead to create upgraded versions of witchcraft for our time which are being glamourised through the media and books.

For example, the cover of a book on witchcraft has an attractive female witch dressed in a fashionable, well-tailored business suit – as if she were walking down Madison Avenue in New York city. Now, when people meet a young, beautiful and intellectual witch, they realize they have been fed with lies about witches, so they let down their guards and become more susceptible to agree with the witch’s philosophy.

3. Presenting a distorted view of Christianity.

It loves to portray Christianity as a boring, wicked and legalistic jive. Witchcraft attracts people who have been deeply hurt, rejected or those rebelling against the existing social order and the liberal media panders to this prejudice. It portrays the God of the Bible as a cosmic killjoy; Christians as zombies or hypocrites and pastors as wild-eyed, paedophile cult leaders holding a bloody axe in one hand and a King James Bible in the other. This is a tactic used to seal people’s hearts to what Christians say. Witchcraft is aggressively opposed to true Christianity and the Bible.

Niki, a former witch, recalled her initiation, “I was required to bring a copy of the Bible which was burned as I renounced the Christian faith and baptism pledging a vow of fidelity to Satan and the coven.” After Keziah’s initiation in London, “We met regularly to praise Satan, Baal and Astarte and all other opponents of the God of the Bible” she said. “We hated Christians and tried hard of ways to destroy them for good.” [Source]

The word “witchcraft” or “witch” evokes different images to different people, depending on their culture or level of exposure. Actually, there are different forms of witchcraft but I broadly classify them into:

1. “White”/ Respectable witchcraft

This is the most visible form of witchcraft suited for the 21st century. It attracts scholars, youths, idealists and the elites. The most popular is Wicca and other Neo-Pagan movements. Wicca is a nature religion that worships the earth and sky, with an emphasis on a mother goddess and her consort, the horned god, and other deities. Wicca has a wide variety of “denominations.”

There are Alexandrian wiccans, Gardnerians, Dianic, Welsh, Druidic, Georgian, Nordic Wiccans, Church and School of Wicca, Algard, Covenant of the Goddess, Witches International Craft Association and many  eclectic traditions. Barbara Lee, a Wiccan high priestess, gave a fairly accurate description:

Wicca is a kind of religion, but it’s also a craft – it encompasses the practices and creation of magic. We practice sympathetic magic, using items like candles, crystals or herbs to create spells. We celebrate the cycle of the year [8 times in a year] … Wicca ritual is about celebrating the Earth, channeling positive energies and creating healing. There’s no dogma or written creed in Wicca: it;s very free and it allows for difference in experience, in practice and perception” (The Irish Times, October 1, 2011).

The Wicca religion was started by a British anthropologist, Gerald Gardner (1884-1964), and it boomed in England when the British Witchcraft Act was repealed in 1951. It is not an “old religion” as it purports to be. Today, there are different associations, centres, festivals, gatherings, media, books and shops all dedicated to disseminating “white” witchcraft. It attracts many because it adapts well to the humanistic and relativistic values of Western civilization; claims to be an “Old Path” offering ancient wisdom and denies the existence of Satan.

Wiccans and Neopagans claim to do only good magic to help people and the earth; allow a free morality (“do your own thing”); they approve of different expressions of sexuality (whether gay or lesbian), wild partying and dancing; they prohibit sacrifice of animals and uphold feminism and abortion.

A report by the National Public Radio noted that a growing number of teens in the West are setting up witchcraft altars in their bedrooms, offering prayers to the Goddess, and invoking the aid of spirits. “Wicca is believed to be one of the fastest growing religions among high school and college students. This form of witchcraft with its reference for the earth and nature, appeals to young environmentalists” says the report (Barbara Hagerty, Teens and Wicca, 2004).

Biblically, there is no such thing as “white” witchcraft or “white” demon worship. The pagan deities being invoked in Wiccan circles are the same demons being invoked in Satanism (Dt. 32:16-17, Ps. 106:36-38, 1Cor. 10:19-21). Doreen Valiente, a Wiccan high priestess, said: “The distinction between white and black magic has no validity” (An ABC of Witchcraft, St. Martins Press, 1973, 271). Wiccans claim to worship a benign goddess, but historically, goddess worship is drenched with evil and gore.

Even Anton LaVey wrote in his Satanic Bible that: “There is no difference between ‘White’ and ‘Black’ magic, except in the smug hypocrisy, guilt-ridden righteousness, and self-deceit of the ‘White’ magician himself” (p. 110). It matters not where Wiccans claim to be deriving their powers from, it’s certainly not coming from the Lord Jesus Christ: it’s from Satan.

2. Black / “Underground” witchcraft

This is more “underground” and secretive unlike “white” witchcraft. This form can be continental i.e adapted to a continent. In the West, it’s affiliated with vampire cults, hardcore or eclectic Satanism, and many  underground covens of witchcraft. “The major themes of initiation into Black Witchcraft are suffering, death and rebirth” says Niki, mentioned earlier. “This being true for me, I underwent a ritual which was symbolic of physically dying, and I was then symbolically reborn as a new person possessing new knowledge.”

Unlike the “white” witches, black witches readily acknowledge the existence of Satan and operate with more powerful demons. “Black witches and Satanists believe in the ultimate battle between good and evil, evil will triumph” wrote Doreen Irvine, in her autobiography, From Witchcraft to Christ. “They believe that Lucifer will one day conquer Christ and will retrieve what they call his rightful place… The more evil, the better, is the motto of the black witch and Satanist.

Black witches perform animal and human sacrifices frequently and initiates need not be literate. This has been the real face of witchcraft in many cultures of the world, thus it adapts to geographical locations and can identify with every ethnicity or culture. In Africa, South America and the East, witchcraft operates primarily from the spirit realm. In this case, the witches meet in their spiritual circle e.g trees, rock, rivers, houses or schools. They attend meetings in their spiritual bodies, sometimes shape-shifting into different animals.

This form of witchcraft is more intricate, because it is a vast empire that encompasses different calibres of people from all parts of the world. A person can also be a philanthropist, celebrity or clergy here on earth and be a hideous witch in the spirit realm.

Some themes common to these categories include:

a) Witches organize themselves into covens – derived from the word “covenant.” There is an occult covenant, “astral number” or ties (supernatural control over one another’s spirit) that binds witches together. Unless these are broken, a renegade witch can be easily summoned back to the coven.

b) They have a priesthood or a leader that acts as a mouthpiece. Many covens are led by a high priest/priestess. Some belong to an order, some don’t.

c) They go on astral journeys for various assignments or meetings, especially at nights.

d) They all have physical or spiritual working tools e.g the athame (witch’s dagger), chalice or cauldron (pot), cords (red, white and blue), wand, sword, censer and the pentacle. Some have spiritual padlocks, pins mirrors, guns, brooms etc.

e) They are all have a commission or assignment within the coven. This is like a “job description.” Some are assigned to destroy churches while some are assigned to recruit.

f) Many witches have a “working name” or a “craft name.”

g) Most are often dedicated to specific deities or demons. But they generally invoke and work with directional spirits (north, east, west and south) and elemental spirits (air, water, earth and fire).

h) Many have certain animals they form a bond with (familiars) used for assignments such as spying or serving as bodyguards.

i) They offer blood sacrifices as part of their rituals. Cannibalism and vampirism give them demonic strength.

j) Many coven meetings are regulated by the moon. They monitor the phases of the moon. When the moon is waxing (crescent moon), they start their spells for the month. When the moon is full, these spells come to pass. This is also the time demons give them maximum powers. More dangerous spells are sent out during the waning moon.

k) Their powers are very limited. Their spells do fail; their demons get paralysed, and their evil works backfire. This usually happens when they operate against a true Christian who is abiding in Christ. As Christians, we need to:

Submit to the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. Accept His Lordship over your life and walk according to His Word. We can’t win against witchcraft while we walk in rebellion against God (2Cor. 10:6).

Obey the Word of God which forbids any involvement with witchcraft and other forms of the occult (Lev. 19:31, Deut. 18:1-3). These are not suggestions or opinions that are left up to compromise, they are commands that must be obeyed. We are not to be entertained by games, books, or movies that glorify witchcraft. We are to hate them as God hates them.

Walk in discernment. Witchcraft has infiltrated many sectors of the society and the church, and its goal is to control and destroy people. Beware of false churches, consulting false prophets and strange ‘societies’ you are invited to join. Learn to pray and walk in the Spirit and test what people teach with the Bible (Is. 8:20). The answer to witchcraft and all other forms of the occult, is the Gospel and the Power of Jesus Christ.

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Reflections on Calvinism

Calvinism (Reformed theology) wasn’t a very common viewpoint in my country. When I began to interact online with Christians from other countries, however, I met some groups of Christians who always acted like they’ve landed on a perfect theology. They appeared to be good at apologetics, but I observed they had a very low view of Christians outside their circle. They were Calvinists, as I later found out. It’s my understanding that, if a doctrine or theological view makes a group of Christians feel “superior” to other Christians, it ought to be diligently scrutinised. This made me research on Calvinism.

Calvinism is a theological system developed by the French Reformer, John Calvin (1509-1564). Calvin being an intelligent theologian, wrote Bible commentaries on many books of the Bible and expounded on some key Christian doctrines. His major four-volume work, The Institutes of the Christian Religion was the main source of the doctrines of Calvinism.

Though John Calvin has been unduly overrated by ardent Calvinists, the fact still remains that his work was influential on the Protestant movement, particularly in Geneva where he ruled. Calvinism is also called Reformed theology, which I argue, is a misnomer, because the Protestant Reformation started when Luther nailed his 95 thesis at the door of the church of Wittenburg. Calvin was 8 years old (and still a Catholic) then. Since there were also other Reformers, who in fact differed with Calvin on some issues, so the term “Reformation” can’t be rightly reserved for Calvin’s theological system alone.

Calvinism emphasizes God’s sovereignty – that God is providentially in control of all things that happens, including evil things. The “doctrines of Grace” (as they are called) can be summed up as Five Points with the acronyms: TULIP.

T – Total Depravity: that man’s fall has resulted in man’s total inability to choose God or do good.

U – Unconditional Election: that God has from eternity past chosen His elect whom He wants to save while leaving the rest (reprobates) to perish.

L – Limited Atonement: that Christ died for only the elects and not for the whole world.

I – Irresistible Grace: that those whom God has called (i.e the elect) cannot resist His grace, but must always respond.

P – Perseverance of the Saints: that the elects of God will always persevere and never fall away.

Now, it’s not my intention to debate on the 5 points of Calvinism here. From experience, most Calvinists are very quick to cut off contact with anyone that questions their doctrines. The command to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” is not familiar to many of them (Eph. 4:3). I find such attitudes to be unreasonable and immature. There is no harm in Believers discussing and laying out their disagreements. And the fact that one disagrees with Calvinism does not mean one is an “anti-Calvinist.”

I don’t have a problem with theological systems, but I question them when they are being used as criteria of true Christianity, such that adherents are more busy defending a that theology than the Gospel of Christ. I have fine Calvinist friends and mentors, and I believe a number of them are true Christians. But there are some alarming claims leading Calvinist authors have make. For example:

“Calvinism stands today as the great citadel of historic orthodoxy” (Singer G. John Calvin: His Roots and Fruits, 28)

“[Calvinism is] firmly based…upon the Word of God” (Seaton W. The Five Points of Calvinism, 17)

“[Calvinism] is the only system which is true to the Word of God.” (Kenneth and Crampton, Calvinism, Hyper Calvinism and Arminianism, iv)

If these are true, that means unless you are a Calvinist, you are outside the sphere of historic orthodoxy and you are opposed to God’s Word. Interestingly, Calvinists also admit that their system is not easy to understand. R. C Sproul in his foreword to The Five Dilemmas of Calvinism wrote:

“Calvinism is certainly no easy system to master. But in addition to being difficult to understand, Calvinism is often the subject of grave misunderstanding…”

On one hand, we are told that Calvinism is “firmly based upon the Word of God” and on the other, we are told that it’s not an “easy system to master” and is quite “difficult to understand.” That is inconsistent. The Word of God is not difficult to understand or learn. A “young man” can understand the Bible and thereby “cleanse his ways” (Ps. 119:9). The entrance of God’s Word “giveth light and understanding unto the simple” (vs 130). Timothy, as a child learnt the Scriptures at home from his mother and grandmother (2Tim. 1:5). So, if Calvinism is difficult to understand or master, the logical conclusion is that it’s not firmly based on God’s Word as claimed.

Charles Spurgeon in his Defence of Calvinism said: “unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel and nothing else.”

Arthur Constance in The Sovereignty of Grace (p. 302) wrote: “Calvinism is the Gospel and to teach Calvinism is in fact to preach the Gospel.”

Allan Sell: “[Calvinism is] the sum and substance of what is represented in Scripture as done for the salvation of sinners by the three Persons of the Trinity” (The Great Debate, 1982, 4)

The implications of these assertions are:

1. Since Calvinism is the Gospel and it contains the sum and substance of what is represented in Scripture, that means for 1500 years until John Calvin came on the scene, there was no Gospel and no sinners saved. That’s tragic, except that Calvinism is a theological system and it’s Scripturally unacceptable to make a philosophical theological system the equivalent of the Biblical Gospel that saves.

2. If Calvinism is the Gospel and yet it’s so “difficult to understand,” that implies that the Gospel is complicated and difficult – only intellectuals can comprehend it – and thereby be saved. A system that is so esoteric for ordinary Christians can’t be based on God’s Word. If the Gospel can only be grasped by the elites, where does that leave the common people?

A Calvinist author bragged: “Among the past and present advocates of this doctrine are to be found some of the world’s greatest and wisest men.” (The Reformed Faith, 1). Does this mean unless one is a Calvinist, one can’t be part of the greatest and wisest? Sounds like a magnetic system for arrogant minds to me. If God “has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise…and the weak things of the world to confound” the mighty, then we don’t have to be an intellectual to understand the Gospel (Rom. 1:27) The disciples of Jesus were simple men and women – fishermen, tax collectors and housewives – yet they understood the Gospel and could teach it clearly to others.

3. What is the Gospel? Apostle Paul defined it as: “how Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day” (1Cor. 15:3-4). Nowhere in the New Testament is TULIP taught as the Gospel.
At no point did the apostles present the “doctrines of Grace” to unbelievers (Acts 2:6-11, 3:13-15, 18-21, 26, 4:8-12 etc) When the Philippian jailer asked how he can be saved, Paul didn’t say “do you believe in the five points of Calvinism.” No, he said “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:16).

Greek scholar, E. W Vine defined the Gospel as: “The good tidings of the Kingdom of God and of salvation through Christ, to be received by faith, on the basis of His expiatory death, His burial, resurrection, and ascension e.g Acts 15:17, 20:24, 1Peter 4:17” (An Expository Dictionary of N.T. Words “Gospel”).

The Gospel is based on Christ and Him alone – not Calvin’s schema of heavily philosophical theology. The Reformers stood for sola Christus (Christ alone). None of them ever cried “Sola TULIP!” We are saved by Christ alone, not by a 4-step law or a 5-point doctrine. It is inconsistent for us to hold on to Sola Scriptura and then allow someone to redefine the Gospel which has been clearly defined by Scripture.

4. If Calvinism is the Gospel, that means the major segments of the church and whole denominations like the Methodists, Lutherans, majority of Anglicans, Free Will Baptists, most Pentecostals and many other Bible believers who are non-Calvinists are non-Christians or vile heretics. Unfortunately, many Calvinists have this intolerable view.

A staunch Calvinist friend posted this on Facebook:
Look we cannot have unity with everybody and denomination who claims to be Christians and claim to be the true church of our Lord and Savior. To do so means the body of Christ contains Mormons, Roman Catholics, Coptics, Eastern Orthodox and most who belong to the Pentecostal and Charismatic churches, S[eventh] D[ay] A[dventists] as well as most Protestant, denominational and non-denominational churches.”

This is the typical “we vs them” mentality I observed in Calvinism. If everybody (and denominations) that believes in “our Lord and Saviour” as the only basis of salvation are Christians as we are, why can’t we have unity with them? Of course, Mormons, Catholics, SDAs and Eastern Orthodoxy hold on to a false Christ and a false gospel and can’t be part of Christ’s body, but to read out most Pentecostals, Charismatics and most Protestants including denominational and non-denominational believers out of the body of Christ, is to me, the acme of bigotry. That is a fanatical, cult-like spirit (which ironically marks the cults he placed on the same boat as non-Calvinists). I wonder what his criteria of true Christianity really are. If most of the Bible believing Christians at all times and all through history are “out” by the Calvinist definition, where then are the real Christians?

During Christ’s earthly ministry. The apostles said to Him: “we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbid him because he followeth not with us” (Lk. 9:49). They asked him to shut up just because he wasn’t part of their “little group,” even though he was calling the same Jesus they were calling. Talk about a sectarian spirit! But Jesus corrected them: “he that is not against us is for us” (v 50).

It matters little to me what denomination (or theological system) a person adheres to, if he believes in salvation by Christ by grace and through faith alone; if he/she believes in the Bible as final authority, he is my brother or sister in Christ. Paul asked: “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1Cor. 1:13) I need to ask, was Calvin crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Calvin? Is Christ divided? Then why do Calvinists deem other believers in Christ as “heretics” because they do not hold to the 5 points of Calvinism?

5. Calvinism introduces a staggering complexity that undercuts the simplicity of the Christian faith. It has an affinity for labels. You can be a 5-point Calvinists or a 4-pointer. Then there are Neo-Calvinists, Crypto-Calvinists, Hyper-Calvinists or Moderate Calvinists. Under this sub-division, there are those who hold to infralapsarianism or supralapsarianism. Then you have cessasionist Calvinists, continuationist Calvinists or dispensational Calvinists. Under this you still have the pre-millenial, post-tribulational or Amillenial Calvinists. (And these in-groups also point fingers at one another too!) Why all these labels? Can’t we just simply be Bible believing Christians?

Calvinism is not the Gospel. It never has been. Many Calvinists are going to be surprised when we get to heaven and find that there are many there who were outside their mold. The weightier issue is to be truly saved and have a real relationship with God.