Now, John...you make a statement like, "Magic and luck should NOT be in a Christian's vocabulary. Unfortunately, a lot of things shouldn't be, but they are."
Well, that's a pretty definite statement. It's not a matter of showing you up or trying to embarrass you at all =) But the statement certainly bears examination.
I see, as I often do, an odd dichotomy in the Bible when it comes to the discussion of "magic". The Bible on one hand condemns "sorcery" and "witchcraft", but on the other hand the priests and the Apostles cast lots or consulted mystical devices to determine the will of God, Joseph used a silver cup for scrying/diviniation, and Daniel interpreted dreams was appointed chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners. The Magi saw the birth of Christ foretold by studying the stars -- astrology.
What exactly does "sorcery" mean? Some would define it as, "a person saying magical words or performing magical rituals in order to harm or kill another person". If that's the case, then when Paul cursed Bar-Jesus (blinding him in Acts 13:6-12) or when Peter cursed Sapphira (Acts 5:9), were they engaging in acts of evil sorcery by bringing curses on those people? What about when Elisha called up two bears to kill 42 little children for calling him bald? Or the ritual in Numbers 5:12-31, where a priest concocts a magical drink -- a potion? -- to curse a woman who has committed adultery, even to cause an abortion if she is guilty. These curses seem very evil, but were they just doing the will of God?
Galatians 5:19-20 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
This is one of the verses that people refer to specifically forbidding "witchcraft". The word here in Greek is "pharmakos" which actually means "drugging" or "poisoning" (sounds like the passage in Numbers 5).
Another important passage is Deuteronomy 18:10-11 --
Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.
The original words in Hebrew are:
yid'oni -- Making contact with spirits (not of God) (channeling?)
sho'el 'ov -- Making contact with the dead (perhaps through a medium, like a seance)
qosem q'samim -- Foretelling the future by using lots or a similar system. This is interesting considering that, as we discussed before, the Apostles and the priests cast lots and used the Urim and Thummin.
m'onen -- Predicting the future by interpreting signs in nature. Does this include weather prediction by looking at moss on trees, the thickness of animal fur, or if the groundhog sees his shadow?
m'nachesh -- Enchanting (perhaps related to nachash, a snake). Although there are fringe Christian groups in the deep south of the United States that firmly believe they must handle poisonous snakes to prove their faith (based on a passage in Luke that scholars do not believe is even authentic).
chover chavar -- Casting spells -- presumably evil spells -- by magical knot tying.
m'khaseph -- evil sorcery; using spoken spells to harm other people.
doresh 'el hametim -- "One who asks the dead", probably via another method than sho'el 'ov
So contacting the dead seems to be right out. Although Jesus himself spoke to the dead and commanded them to rise. And Jesus told the parable of the beggar Lazarus and the rich man -- but in that case, they apparently both were already dead, so it must have been okay for them to talk to each other. =) And Jesus preached to the dead for the three days he was in the grave.
Evil spells or doing harm to others is definitely a no-no, and that's a no-brainer. But there are other things -- runes, tarot cards, scrying, palm reading, reading tea leaves, casting lots, astrology, dream interpretation, some kabbalistic practices like wearing a red string around one's left wrist to ward off the Evil Eye...that seem to either be condoned (at least sometimes) or not discussed at all in the scriptures.
|This message has been edited by kateothelamp on Feb 24, 2009 2:25 PM|