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Encyclopedia > Christian views on witchcraft

Christian views on witchcraft arise from scriptural, theological, and historical considerations. Witchcraft, in various historical, religious and mythical contexts, is the use of certain kinds of supernatural or magical powers. ...

Contents


Modern views

Most modern Christians do not believe that witchcraft genuinely works. Those Christians who do, generally believe that it derives its power from forces of evil. For example, some Christians believe that witches' powers were obtained from a pact with Satan. For some reason, the same views are generally held on supposed witchcraft that does not gain power from Satan. Others take a slightly more moderate view that witchcraft is a false religion very little different from other religions they view as false. These, however, often believe that Satan will use his power to make the witch's spells appear to work in order to deceive people. The important difference here is that this view does not claim that witches actually consciously enter into a pact with Satan, which makes it somewhat more reasonable, in light of the fact that actual practitioners of Wicca do not believe in Satan. With a few controversial exceptions such as Santería, the majority of Christians do not practice witchcraft. Most Christians hold that Santería, a syncretic hybrid of African animism and Christianity, is not Christianity at all. There are various forms of mysticism which claim Christian roots, some Christians do not see these as forms of Christianity either, and might call them forms of witchcraft or sorcery, but mysticism is generally well accepted by most Churches. The Roman Catholic church formally recognises many 'spiritual gifts' reported by some Christian mystics, such as visions and healing, which are referred to as charisms. Whether a particular vision is from God or from the devil is the subject of 'the discernment of spirits', itself a charism. Early Christian mystics include Saint Paul and Saint John. Christianity is a monotheistic religion centered on the life, teachings, and actions of Jesus, the Christ, as recounted in the New Testament. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... A Neopagan pentacle, which is a pentagram enclosed by a circle: a symbol used by many Wiccans. ... Lukumí, Regla de Ocha or Afro-Cuba, most widely known as Santeria, (Santería in Spanish) is a set of related religious systems that superficially seem to fuse Catholic beliefs with traditional Yorùbá beliefs. ... Syncretism is the attempt to reconcile disparate, even opposing, beliefs and to meld practices of various schools of thought. ... In religion, the term Animism is used in a number of ways. ... Mysticism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... Mysticism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... A charism is a power, generally of a spiritual nature, believed to be a freely given gift by the grace of God. ... An early portrait of the Apostle Paul. ... John the Apostle (יוחנן The LORD is merciful, Standard Hebrew Yoḥanan, Tiberian Hebrew Yôḥānān) was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. ...


Biblical references

There are several references to witchcraft in the Christian Bible, and the strong condemnations of such practices which we read there do not seem to be based so much upon the supposition of fraud as upon the "abomination" of the magic in itself. (See Deuteronomy 18:11-12; Exodus 22:18, "wizards thou shalt not suffer to live" - A.V. "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live".) The whole narrative of Saul's visit to the witch of En Dor (I Samuel 28) implies the reality of the witch's evocation of the shade of Samuel; and from Leviticus 20:27: "A man or woman in whom there is a pythonical or divining spirit, dying let them die: they shall stone them: Their blood be upon them", we should naturally infer that the divining spirit was not a mere imposter. The Bible (Hebrew תנ״ך tanakh, Greek η Βίβλος [hē biblos] ) (sometimes The Holy Bible, The Book, Good Book, Word of God, The Word, or Scripture), from Greek (τα) βίβλια, (ta) biblia, (the) books, is the classical name for the Hebrew Bible of Judaism or the combination of the Old Testament and New Testament of Christianity... Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Hebrew Bible. ... Exodus is the second book of the Torah (the Pentateuch) and also the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible), and the Christian Old Testament. ... The Books of Samuel, also referred to as [The Book of] Samuel (Hebrew: שְׁמוּאֵל), are (two) books in the Hebrew Bible (Judaisms Tanakh and originally written in Hebrew) and the Old Testament of Christianity. ... Leviticus is the third book of the Hebrew Bible, also the third book in the Torah (five books of Moses). ...


The prohibitions of sorcery in the New Testament leave the same impression - (Galatians 5:20, compared with Revelation 21:8; 22:15; and Acts 8:9; 13:6). Supposing that the belief in witchcraft were an idle superstition, it would be strange that the suggestion should nowhere be made that the evil of these practices only lay in the pretending to the possession of powers which did not really exist. There is some debate, however, as to whether the word used in Galatians and Revelation, pharmakeia, is properly translated as "sorcery", as the word was commonly used to describe malicious use of drugs as in poisons, contraceptives, and abortifacients. Magic (also called magick to distinguish it from stage magic) is a supposed way of influencing the world through supernatural, mystical, or paranormal means. ... See New Covenant for the concept translated as New Testament in the KJV. The New Testament, sometimes called the Greek Testament or Greek Scriptures, and, in recent times, also New Covenant, is the name given to the part of the Christian Bible that was written after the birth of Jesus. ... The Epistle to Galatians is a book of the Bible New Testament. ... Visions John the Evangelist, as depicted in the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. ... The Acts of the Apostles (Greek Praxeis Apostolon) is a book of the Bible, which now stands fifth in the New Testament. ... A superstition is an irrational or invalid belief about the relation between certain actions (often behaviors) and other actions that is not true, such as fear of the number 13. ... The skull and crossbones symbol traditionally used to label a poisonous substance. ... An abortifacient is a substance that induces abortion. ...


Many people today, particularly theologically conservative Christians, assume that these texts refer to any and all people to whom the word witch has been applied. In this view, anyone considered a "witch" is seen as condemned by the Bible.


Medieval views

In the eleventh century, the Roman Catholic church took a sceptical position to claims of witchcraft, partly owing to the belief that the Canon Episcopi was written in a very early Council of Bishops. (10th century - 11th century - 12th century - other centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 11th century was that century which lasted from 1001 to 1100. ... The Roman Catholic Church (commonly known as the Catholic Church) is the Christian Church which is led by the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, currently Pope Benedict XVI. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that it is the one holy catholic and apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ. ... Pages from Burchard of Worms Decretum The Canon Episcopi is an important document in the history of witchcraft. ...


Since the late Middle Ages, Christians have used the term to refer to people who worshipped and consorted with Satan, the Devil, and/or other demonic forces. In the 13th century, by contrast, the Roman Catholic Church concluded that witchcraft, as such, simply did not exist. This usage was most famously applied in the Salem witch trials in colonial America. Some Christians still use the term in this medieval sense. The Malleus Maleficarum, a famous mediæval tract on witches, was often used as a source book for witch hunts. However, contrary to popular misconception, it was not blindly accepted all over Western Europe, as Reginald Scott's Discoverie of Witchcraft (a book debunking belief in witches and the "witchmongers" who believed in their existence) demonstrates. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Cover of the seventh Cologne edition of the Malleus Maleficarum, 1520 (from the University of Sydney Library). ...


Likewise, attitudes and ideas like those of the Malleus were a product of Western Europe and were not typical of Eastern Orthodox countries, although they had beliefs regarding witches. ...


Anti-"Witchmonger" interpretation

Some claim that the use of this phrase in the Bible referred to a specific religious practice: some adherents of near-east religions acted as "mediums", channeling messages from the dead or from a "familiar spirit". The words "witch" and "witchcraft" in the Bible are sometimes translated "necromancer" and "necromancy" for this reason. However, some well-respected lexicographers, including James Strong and Spiros Zodhiates, disagree. These scholars say that the Hebrew word kashaph, used in Exodus 22:18 and 5 other places in the Tanakh comes from a root meaning "to whisper". Strong therefore concludes that the word means "to whisper a spell, i.e. to inchant or practise magic". The view that this word referred to mediums rather than witches or sorcerers as the words are used today is also refuted by the fact that the Hebrew word owb is used in the condemnation of mediums elsewhere. See Leviticus 20:27. Look up medium in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Necromancy (Latin necromantia, Greek νεκρομαντία nekromantía) is a form of divination in which the practitioner seeks to raise the spirits of the dead in order to gain knowledge of future events from them, or to acquire special powers from such entities. ... James Strong refers to two different people: Dr. James Strong (1822-1894) was a Methodist biblical scholar and educator, and creator of the Strongs concordance. ... 11th century Targum Tanakh [תנ״ך] (also Tanach or Tenach) is an acronym that identifies the Hebrew Bible. ...


Whatever side one takes in the above controversy, one must acknowledge that interpreting "verses" in isolation is hermeneutically suspect. Verse divisions were added to the Bible in the middle ages, and the idea that verses were in any way units of meaning is a modern innovation.


The context of Exodus 22:18, as part of the laying forth of the Law of Moses makes it clear that its purpose to keep the religion of Yahweh's people distinct in its practices from those of the surrounding peoples. If an activity was part of the religion of a neighboring tribe, this in itself, rather than its own intrinsic evil, was sufficient to secure condemnation; condemnation meaning, of course, the necessity of death for the "offender". Torah, (תורה) is a Hebrew word meaning teaching, instruction, or especially law. It primarily refers to the first section of the Tanakh–the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, or the Five Books of Moses, but can also be used in the general sense to also include both the Written... The Tetragrammaton in Phoenician (1100 BC to 300 CE), Aramaic (10th Century BC to 0) and modern Hebrew scripts. ...


While a biblical "witch" has much in common with a modern spiritist, some argue that modern "witches" (usually practitioners of Wicca), are completely unrelated to the "witches" condemned in the Bible. It should be noted, however, that practitioners of Wicca do not accept the Bible as authoritative anyway. It should also be noted that Strong's definition of the word as including anyone who casts spells certainly includes those who practice Wicca. Spiritism is a religious and philosophic doctrine established in France in the mid 19th Century by Allan Kardec. ... A Neopagan pentacle, which is a pentagram enclosed by a circle: a symbol used by many Wiccans. ...


Further discussion of people accused of being witches, and of those who claim to be witches, may be found in the articles witchcraft and witchhunt. Witchcraft, in various historical, religious and mythical contexts, is the use of certain kinds of supernatural or magical powers. ... A witch-hunt is a search for suspected witches; it is a type of moral panic. ...


See also

The term Voodoo (Vodun in Benin; also Vodou or other phonetically equivalent spellings in Haiti; Vudu in the Dominican Republic) is applied to the branches of a West African ancestor-based religious tradition with primary roots among the Fon-Ewe peoples of West Africa, in the country now known as... Cover of the seventh Cologne edition of the Malleus Maleficarum, 1520 (from the University of Sydney Library). ...

English translations of Exodus 22:18

  • King James Version: "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."
  • New King James Version: "You shall not permit a sorceress to live."
  • English Standard Version: "You shall not permit a sorceress to live."
  • New International Version: "Do not allow a sorceress to live."
  • New American Standard Bible: "You shall not allow a sorceress to live."
  • Amplified Bible: "You shall not allow a woman to live who practices sorcery."
  • New Living Translation: "A sorceress must not be allowed to live."
  • Contemporary English Version: "Death is the punishment for witchcraft."
  • American Standard Version: "Thou shalt not suffer a sorceress to live."
  • Young's Literal Translation: "A witch thou dost not keep alive."
  • Septuagint, English translation by Sir Lancelot Brenton: "Ye shall not save the lives of sorcerers."
  • New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures: "You must not preserve a sorceress alive."

  Results from FactBites:
 
Christian views on witchcraft - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1201 words)
Christian views on witchcraft arise from scriptural, theological, and historical considerations.
There are several references to witchcraft in the Christian Bible, and the strong condemnations of such practices which we read there do not seem to be based so much upon the supposition of fraud as upon the "abomination" of the magic in itself.
Supposing that the belief in witchcraft were an idle superstition, it would be strange that the suggestion should nowhere be made that the evil of these practices only lay in the pretending to the possession of powers which did not really exist.
Wikinfo | Witchcraft (1261 words)
European Christians in the medieval era, some conservative Christians today, Neopagans and many African religions (past and present) believe that witchcraft can produce effects that are beyond the natural powers of man. In other words, they believe that witchcraft is genuine magic.
In the Bible references to witchcraft are frequent, and the strong condemnations of such practices which we read there do not seem to be based so much upon the supposition of fraud as upon the "abomination" of the magic in itself.
But in witchcraft, as commonly understood, there is involved the idea of a diabolical pact or at least an appeal to the intervention of the spirits of evil.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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