The Occult – Part III

  • White Magic, also known as Witchcraft or Wicca, is one of the most popular areas of the Occult today.
  • Wicca is essentially a monistic/pantheistic worldview. Wiccans believe in one universal, impersonal force called “the One” or “the All” which permeates all things; and they believe that everything in the world is spiritually interconnected.
  • Wiccans believe that “the One” is represented by a host of pagan deities, but Wiccan worship is primarily directed towards the Mother Goddess (referred to as Diana, Isis, or Demeter) and her partner, the horned god, Pan. The worship of nature deities is also prominent in Wicca.
  • The primary rule of Wicca is known as the Wiccan Rede, it states, “Do what thou will, and harm none.” Wiccans often point to this “moral code” to attempt to justify their religion.
  • Wiccans practice casting spells in order to improve everyday life situations and to transform themselves personally. In contrast to Black Magic or Satanism, casting harmful spells or curses against others is forbidden in Wicca.
  • Wicca is a false religion based on selfish pursuits (“Do what though will”), the worship of creation rather than the Creator, and the practice of casting spells, which God forbids (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). God opposes Wicca because it sets up nature and the individual as idols of worship (Romans 1:25).

For more information on the influence of Wicca and the Occult today, please check out the documentary DVD, Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged, available in our online store.

The Occult – Part II

  • 1 Timothy 4: 1 states, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” We are seeing this today as never before, especially in regards to the world of the Occult.
  • Within the realm of the Occult there are three primary branches: Mantic, Magic, and Spiritism.
  • The term Mantic refers to divination or fortunetelling. Examples of this area of the Occult include practices like astrology, tarot cards, palmistry, numerology, etc. The Mantic practices of the Occult are forbidden by God in Deuteronomy 18:20-22 and Isaiah 47:13-15.
  • Within the area of Magic there are two schools: White Magic and Black Magic. White Magic refers to Witchcraft or Wicca. This school believes in one universal spiritual force that is basically good. Black Magic refers to Satanism. This school believes in two poles of power in the universe, God and Satan. We will discuss both of these areas of the Occult in more detail in future Fast Facts, but it is important to recognize that practicing Magic in any form is condemned in Scriptures like Deuteronomy 18:9-13.
  • Spiritism refers to the practice of contacting the dead or the spirit realm. Examples of this area of the Occult include practices like séances, consulting mediums, playing with the Ouija board, etc. God forbids the practice of contacting the dead in passages such as Leviticus 19:31 and Isaiah 8:19.

For more information on the world of the Occult, please check out the documentary DVD titled, Pop Culture Paganism: Vampires, Wicca, and the Occult, available in our online store.

The Occult – Part I

  • What is the Occult? The term Occult comes from the Latin term occultus, which refers to “hidden or secret things.” It refers specifically to the incursion of a fourth dimension, a spirit realm, into our three-dimensional world.
  • It is estimated that over 50 million people, including a growing rate of young adults and children, are dabbling in the occultic world.
  • Well-known, and even popular elements of the occult that we see today are: astrology, tarot cards, palm reading, Ouija boards, psychics, mediums and witchcraft, to simply name a few.
  • But when we look to the Bible, we see very clearly God’s condemnation for those who look to such false powers and wonders: Deuteronomy 18:9-14 reveals God’s distaste for those who look to those “who practice witchcraft, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or one who calls up the dead... You shall be blameless before the Lord your God.” See also, 2 Kings 21:1-6, 10-15.
  • The Bible says that it is the job of the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth and teach us all things in this life. God wants to be the Guide and Teacher of your life. The Bible says there is only one God—and only He knows all things about you—which include all of your past, present, and future.

For more information on the World of The Occult and how we as Christians can give an informed response to it, please check out the book, Fast Facts on False Teachings available in our online store.

The American Thanksgiving Holiday

  • The first American Thanksgiving was a feast celebrated by the Pilgrims at Plymouth (Massachusetts) in 1621. It was an expression of gratefulness for God’s faithfulness and provision.
  • President George Washington proclaimed the first national day of Thanksgiving on November 26, 1789, citing a need to acknowledge “the many and signal favours of Almighty God.”
  • In the early to mid-1800’s a woman named Sarah Josepha Hale undertook a nearly 40 year letter writing campaign urging politicians to create an official Thanksgiving holiday for the United States of America.
  • In 1863, in the midst of the Civil War and seeking to encourage national unity, President Abraham Lincoln made a Presidential proclamation declaring that the final Thursday of November would be a national holiday devoted to Thanksgiving.
  • On December 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a congressional resolution moving the national holiday of Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of November.

The Primary Characteristics of the Postmodern Worldview – Part VIII

  • The final characteristic of the Postmodern worldview that we will highlight in our Fast Facts series is how religious truth has moved from the rational to the mystical.
  • With the Postmodern shift away from objective truth and absolutes based on reason and Divine revelation, many in Postmodern culture have embraced a renewed mysticism: seeking mystical, supernatural experiences or encounters with the Divine.
  • Postmodernism has declared that religious truth is not discovered through the rational study of Divine revelation (the Bible), but is truly experienced through mystical, personal encounters with the spiritual realm.
  • This is why in recent years we’ve seen an explosion of interest in non-traditional religions, especially non-Western religions, which emphasize the interaction of men and women with the spiritual realm. Eastern philosophy, Yoga, Wicca, and many other New Age and Occult practices are exploding in popularity today, all offering humanity a unique spiritual experience or mystical encounter with the Divine.
  • This move from the rational to the mystical is even happening within the church today, as more and more churches are deemphasizing the role of Scripture and instead elevating various experiential forms of “worship”. For many churches today, Bible studies and sermons are devalued, and mystical practices like contemplative prayer, walking prayer labyrinths, and Yoga mediation are highlighted as means to providing congregants with a unique spiritual experience.
  • While spiritual experiences are not bad in and of themselves, when removed from a basis in God’s word, spiritual experiences have a tremendous ability to deceive and draw people away from the truth. This is why Christians are admonished to stand firm and hold fast to the Word of God (2 Thess. 2:15); for only God’s word gives us an objective basis by which we can judge whether or not a spiritual practice or experience is in line with His will for our lives.

For more information on many of the mystical, spiritual practices that are being elevated in our Postmodern culture today, please check out Dr. Carlson’s book Fast Facts on False Teachings, available in our online store.

The Primary Characteristics of the Postmodern Worldview – Part VII

  • In part six of these Fast Facts on the Postmodern worldview we highlighted the disorientation with reality that has been created by Postmodern thought, stemming from its rejection of absolute truth, meaning, and morality.
  • The seventh characteristic of Postmodernism is seen in how more and more people are turning to virtual reality to find a sense of meaning and identity and to fill the void in their lives that Postmodern thought inevitably creates.
  • What has essentially taken place with many in our culture is they have said, “If I have no inherent identity, meaning, or worth as an individual, I will create identity, meaning, and worth for myself.”
  • And so, in recent years we’ve seen a dramatic rise in interest and participation in social networking websites, blogs, podcasts, role-playing games, virtual worlds online, and reality television shows. And while these things are not bad in and of themselves, for many, they have become their primary means of attempting to create a sense of self-worth in a culture that denies any inherent self-worth.
  • The problem with virtual reality, however, is that it’s like every other false idol; it cannot fill the void in our lives. Only a relationship with our Creator God can give us the meaning, identity, and worth we all long for.

For more information on Postmodernism and the Christian response to it, please check out the Apologetics Study Bible for Students, available in our online store.

The Primary Characteristics of the Postmodern Worldview – Part VI

  • The sixth characteristic of Postmodernism is the inevitable disorientation with reality that is created as a result of embracing this worldview.
  • Because Postmodernism has created a culture which declares there is no absolute truth, there is no absolute meaning or purpose to life, there is no absolute morality—the obvious question becomes, “Then what?”
  • And what we’re experiencing in our world today, particularly in Western cultures where Postmodernism has made its biggest impact, is that society is becoming increasingly characterized by a vacuum of truth, identity, meaning, and moral certitude; and we see a growing disillusionment among people.
  • In the next two Fast Facts we’ll discuss some of the flawed ways in which people today are attempting to cope with this disorientation with reality that Postmodern thought has created.
  • Ultimately, though, as believers we know that truth, hope, meaning, and moral certitude can only be found in a relationship with our Creator; and that comes through the saving grace of Jesus Christ alone.

For more information on responding to the challenges of Postmodernism, please check out Jason Carlson’s CD series titled, Answering the Postmodern Challenge, available in our online store.

The Primary Characteristics of the Postmodern Worldview – Part V

  • The fifth characteristic of the Postmodern worldview is its elevation of uncritical tolerance as the highest virtue in society.
  • Because of the Postmodern belief that there is no objective truth and truth is relative, Postmodern culture declares that nobody has the right to criticize or condemn another person’s beliefs or lifestyle. We must be uncritically tolerant of all people.
  • Within Postmodern thought, this uncritical tolerance is especially demanded in the areas of gender, race, sexual orientation, and religion; and if you do not uncritically accept someone in each of these four areas, you are given the label of “intolerant”.
  • Of course, the areas of gender and race are intrinsic to who we are as human beings and part of our nature as being created in the image of God. However, the areas of sexual orientation and religion have been wrongly elevated by Postmodern thought to a status demanding uncritical tolerance.
  • The uncritical tolerance of Postmodernism has created a situation where society today has become morally relativistic. Virtually anything goes when it comes to areas such as sexual activity, religious views, etc.
  • Ironically, while Postmodernism elevates uncritical tolerance as the highest virtue in society, there is one group of people that Postmodernism simply cannot tolerate; and they are Christians who hold to a biblical worldview and its affirmation of absolute truth and God-given moral norms.

For more information on the Postmodern worldview and how we as Christians can give an informed response to it, please check out the Apologetics Study Bible for Students, available in our online store.

The Primary Characteristics of the Postmodern Worldview – Part IV

  • The fourth characteristic of Postmodern thought is its deconstruction of traditional worldviews, especially Western worldviews that have historically held a position of prominence. Christianity would be the chief example of one such worldview.
  • Postmodernism declares that traditional, Western worldviews led to violence and oppression; and because of this, Postmodern thought teaches that traditional worldviews must be overturned and in their place we must highlight and give preference to historically marginalized peoples and cultures.
  • This is why in contemporary, Postmodern culture we see a growing fascination with indigenous 3rd world cultures, religions, and non-traditional forms of spirituality.
  • When it comes to the Postmodernist’s critical deconstruction of Christianity, the Postmodern position generally fails to recognize the positive contributions the Christian worldview has made, while elevating extreme examples of abuse and injustice that have been committed in the name of Christianity, even though these actions have no connection to true, biblical Christianity whatsoever.

For more information on the Postmodern worldview and how we as Christians can give an informed response to it, please check out the Apologetics Study Bible for Students, available in our online store.

The Primary Characteristics of the Postmodern Worldview – Part III

  • Another key characteristic of the Postmodern worldview is its “attitude of suspicion” towards those in authority. This characteristic stems from Postmodernism’s reaction to abuses of power by those in positions of authority during the Modern era of the 16th-20th centuries.
  • Within the Postmodern worldview there is a general assumption that those in authority have some agenda that they are trying to force on others. This gives rise to a tendency to disbelieve.
  • This attitude of suspicion is most obvious in the areas of politics and religion, where the Postmodern mind is extremely skeptical.
  • Next week we will highlight the consequence of this Postmodern attitude of suspicion- its deconstruction of traditional worldviews.

For more information on Postmodernism’s influence on the Church today, please check out the documentary DVD titled, The Submerging Church, available in our online store.