Let’s talk about the occult – Theologically
Let’s talk about the occult – Theologically
Recently a student at a major Christian university wrote an article in the student newspaper defending the use of tarot cards – as non-demonic and compatible with Christianity.
The “reading” of tarot cards falls into the larger category of “the occult” and more specifically divination (predicting the future by paranormal means).
Three biblical passages stand out as opposing all forms of divination: Deuteronomy 18, Isaiah 8 and Acts 16. As anyone who can read the Bible knows, this last passage tells the story of a young woman who has been enslaved (human trafficking) by two men. . She was a fortune teller, used divination, and that because of a demon in her. The apostles freed her from this evil power and this “gift” to the chagrin of her masters.
Besides the scriptures, the Christian tradition has always strongly opposed divination by any means other than the prophecy of the Holy Spirit or special revelations of the Holy Spirit.
But let’s talk about the theology behind the traditional Biblical and Christian prohibitions on divination.
* Box: The opinions expressed here are mine (or those of the guest author); I am not speaking on behalf of any other person, group or organization; I also do not imply that the views expressed herein reflect those of any other person, group or organization, unless I specifically say so. Before commenting, read the entire post and the “Note to Commentators” at the end. *
Divination arises from the desire to know the future or to receive guidance on how to live one’s life from a power, force, or principle other than God. It is a manifestation of the fall: the desire to be like God. All evil and evil ultimately result from this desire to have a power that belongs only to God and to possess it for oneself independently of God. Underlying this is the fallen human thirst for security outside of God.
All occultism, whether divination or magic (the two main forms of occult practice), is also an opening to a demonic realm through which spiritually destructive forces can come. And a lot of people become obsessed with the occult; like pornography and drugs, the occult can become addictive.
Divination can also be personally harmful psychologically. I will tell my own story here.
When I was about eight, I snuck into a fortune teller’s tent at a carnival. I knew my parents would be appalled, but I couldn’t resist. I paid her fifty cents and she read my hands. The only thing I remember her saying was that in my 50s I was going to suffer from a very serious illness. Who would say that to an eight year old boy? Not a nice person. This prediction, which I considered to be more than a prediction, haunted me for decades. I feared my fiftieth.
All one has to do to see that tarot cards fall into an evil category is to examine the images they contain. But here my concern is why? Why would a Christian ever want to use tarot cards or defend their use? Why would an academic advisor to a Christian college newspaper allow the publication of an article defending tarot cards as innocent? Why wouldn’t there be an uproar on this campus and among its constituents about such a public defense of something universally condemned among Orthodox Christians as evil?
Are tarot cards bad? Are they demonic? Well, no… if we’re just talking about paper and ink. The evil lies in the imagery and use of tarot cards – the purpose for which they are used and their use by demonic powers and principalities to harm people and draw them into the realm of the occult that is, according to Christianity, a kingdom ruled and used by Satan.
Some people have suggested a gentle approach to the student author by simply trying to help them clarify their values by asking questions. While this gentle approach has its place, such as in a situation where the person uses tarot cards but does not publicly promote their use as innocent and even compatible with Christianity, a firmer approach also has its place, such as in a situation where a person publicly promotes the use of tarot cards (or anything else universally considered bad by Christians) within a Christian community.
Let’s take a hypothetical example. Suppose a student at a Christian university writes an article, published in the student newspaper, claiming that animated pornography is innocent and compatible with Christianity because it has no victims. I predict there would be an uproar over this and the answer would be more than a clarification of values.
My concern is that some Christians no longer truly believe in Satan or demons and do not believe that the occult is really dangerous, demonic, or sinful.
I wonder where the people who tolerate the promotion of tarot cards within a Christian community would draw the line? What if a student published an article promoting session attendance? Do not laugh. I have known students (and others) who have gone to psychics to contact loved ones and deceased friends. Each week I pass a “spiritual science” “church” where the pastor is a medium. It looks like any other church. Should we not caution brothers and sisters in Christ (and others) against such practices? If we shouldn’t, it may be because we don’t really believe in the reality of principalities and evil powers, or that the Bible’s prohibitions against divination are valid.
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