Christianity and Witchcraft, a Historic Relationship.

On this site, I often, along with readers, compare the relationship between the good and the bad done around the world by those in the Christian faith.  The good is widely publicized.  The famous bad things, wars and invasions, are mostly known.  Not discussed as often has been the role of the faith in witchcraft.

I once visited a witchcraft museum in Salem, Massachusetts.  Among those leading the accusations of witchcraft were Christian ministers.

I read an article today about the role of the Pentacostal branch of the faith in Africa and its considerable involvement in witchcraft.  While mainline denominations have been working in Africa for a century, Pentacostalism fits the culture better than any other branch of the faith.  It is galloping across the continent.

In both historic Salem and contemporary Africa, money is involved.  In Salem, the victim’s assets were taken and sold.  Accusers divided up the money.  In Pentacostal churches of Africa, ministers charge families large sums for casting out demons that are the cause of witches.

Belief in witches must certainly be part of the cultural setting of where it appears.  It existed in ancient Europe and crossed the Atlantic to Salem.  Indigenous rural Africa retains ancient beliefs in spirits we cannot understand.

When Christianity shows up , a preoccupation with something called “the Devil”  fits well into cultures prewired for witchcraft.  It’s an easy transition from the literal “Devil” to being “possessed by demons”.

It becomes a religion of the broom and the cross.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/12/20/Angels_and_Demons_Africa_Malawi_witches_HIV#sthash.Gl0UppQC.Cphhd2e8.dpbs

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salem_witch_trials#Religious_context

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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54 Responses to Christianity and Witchcraft, a Historic Relationship.

  1. entech says:

    Angels and Demons, go together like a horse and carriage.
    You can’t have one without the other.

    I suppose if you can believe in miracles you can believe in anything.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      entech 1:35 I understand each Catholic Diocese has at least one preist trained to exorcise demons.

      I wonder if there is a self help video that begins, “It’s required in the faith you believe the Devil is real. Here’s how to keep the Devil from becoming demons.”

      They need this video in Africa.

  2. Henry says:

    Jon:“Christianity and Witchcraft, a Historic Relationship.”

    More broad, sweeping generalizations by Jon.

    • entech says:

      Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
      Exodus 22:18 KJV

      Sounds pretty historical to me.
      Context, context I hear you cry :)
      There doesn’t seem to be any it just pops up in the middle of things about the father accepting money instead of having his led astray daughter married to her seducer (could turn into a family enterprise) and the death penalty for bestiality, followed by the utter destruction of those who sacrifice to other Gods.
      The last could be a problem for Pentecostals in Malawi, for those torn between the old and the new.

      • entech says:

        I especialy likethis part from the link:
        The Bible speaks decisively and definitively on the subject of demon possession, witchcraft, astrology, sorcery, divination, enchantment, and wizardry. With a united and concerted voice, God’s Word condemns it and pronounces it false. People could be possessed by demons for a brief period of time in the first century. But this phenomenon has ceased. Those who wish to be Christians—those who wish to be pleasing to God—will give no credence to such claims today. No doubt, many of us like to break open that fortune cookie at the oriental restaurant
        Perhaps someone would like to tell their African cousins that they have it all wrong.

        I included the last sentence for fun, I once opened a fortune cookie and it had the whole group in fits of laughter, then the waiter and eventually all the staff. The cookie message said “your feet will tread the soil of many lands”, I was a merchant seaman at the time.

      • Henry says:

        entech:“Context, context I hear you cry”

        Yes. This discussion has been had before. Why don’t you pull other OT civil law out and apply it to your daily life?

        • entech says:

          Because I don’t think the OT is a relevant document. You are keen on making disparaging remarks about “The Atheist” but quite clearly you haven’t thought it through, a non-belief in your God automatically rules out any relevance for the word of God. Quotes are used as a way of saying something in words you may understand, or quite simply as retaliation for the foolish notion that somehow the quotes you make are devastating and living proof of all you think.
          Neither do you in reality, the OT is superseded by the NT. Practically the entire OT was discarded by Paul the Jewish apostate.

          • Henry says:

            The topic is Christianity and Witchcraft. You smugly provided OT scripture concerning witchcraft as relevant to the topic. Now, you are saying (and I agree) that the OT is superceded by the NT and said, “I don’t think the OT is a relevant document.” Therefore, your supplied OT scripture has no basis to the current topic. It is only another intellectually dishonest smear by you, “The Atheist”.

          • entech says:

            Of course, as always, you are correct. It is dishonest to associate the OT and the NT.
            The OT is a story of the Hebrews and their monotheism, the unique God, the God is one and indivisible God.
            The NT is about a different God, a God composed of three parts all one, all separate, a God invented by Pauline Christianity. The early Jesus movement was Hebrew and would probably have remained so if it had not had to adapt to its new target audience the pagan gentiles, it could have kept the same story.
            So, as the Christian religion developed God had to change to suit, retaining those parts of the old which were useful to give a historical perspective and provide a few dubious prophecies.
            So yes the OT supersedes the NT and the NG supersedes the OG.

            Actually I had no idea about the supersessionist theory of the replacement of Israel in Gods master plan for humanity until I saw it on this site.

            The topic is actually about the historical relationship between Christianity and witchcraft, which is a bit more far ranging than simply C and W. The context of my picking an OT verse was to take it as early as possible in keeping with the historical relationship theme. Quite honest as the view seems to be that when convenient use the OT but preferably defer to the NT, perhaps I should have used something from Galatians or Revelations. My error.

            My 2:33 am does however refer to a book, the hammer of the evildoer, which is 100 % Christian. Unless you are one of those that believe Catholicism does not count as Christianity?

            Sorry if this sounds a bit convoluted but the whole idea makes it hard to avoid terribly difficult to understand all the stuff about the relationship between God and Jesus or is it really God and himself or … . How the OT can still be used as reference even though superseded, bit like trying to understand how a car works using the manual for a superseded model. Too complicated for me, trying to work it out on paper and getting help from people like you, thank you.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            entech 1:41 “How the OT can still be used as reference even though superseded…”

            A great summary of the confusing way the OT is used arbitrarily and disgarded arbitrarily. It is supposed to refer to the same god, but now the argument seems to be those who worshipped it did not understand it. It confuses me as well.

          • Henry says:

            entech:“How the OT can still be used as reference even though superseded, bit like trying to understand how a car works using the manual for a superseded model.”

            A shadow of the good things to come. Not hard to understand at all. However, you reject, therefore, it is hard.

          • entech says:

            Henry you are right, all you need is faith. If you already believe it is easy to understand.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Henry 2:22 “More broad, sweeping generalizations by Jon.”

      Birds of a feather flock together. Where there’s smoke (the Devil), there’s fire (demons). Did you look at entech’s link?

      • Henry says:

        Jon:“Birds of a feather flock together.”

        Then give me the cases of witchcraft in the Red River Valley and the witch’s relationship with local churches. Let’s see the relationship you allege.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Henry 5:22 “Then give me the cases of witchcraft in the Red River Valley and the witch’s relationship with local churches. Let’s see the relationship you allege.”

          I did not allege a relationship between any local church and the local Wiccan group. What I know to be a fact is a local Catholic priest has received training in exorcism. I assume several local preachers every Sunday talk of a literal Devil.

          • Henry says:

            Jon:“I did not allege a relationship between any local church and the local Wiccan group.”

            Then why the sweeping generalization? You don’t know.

  3. Wanna B Sure says:

    reverse inculturation perhaps.

  4. H.P. Drifter says:

    Entec

    When you address the American Public here you must remember to dumb down everything you say. (Open Secret) They are as dumb as they get, if they don’t get their way they get mad. They need a preacher, pastor or priest to explain the bible to them every week. (their memories are that short) they are incapable of reading the bible for themselves and drawing their own conclusions. Those that can read the bible and understand it are in no position to influence anybody. Here if you don’t belong to the local church, the church members will screw with you any chance they get. We have been in so many wars ( where the best and the brightest have been killed ) that the gene pool of intelligent people get smaller every year.
    Witch craft is part and parcel of all the bad things the Christians have come up with (self serving assholes) The religious wars the inquisition are just the tip of the ice berg when it comes as to how the general public has been treated.
    We do have good people from all walks of life who are forced literally to work within the frame of the church to get any thing good at all. Sad but fact
    Use a credit union instead of a bank (non profit) organization.
    The voters of this country are the dumbest group of all, they have been electing self serving politicians as long I can remember.
    This whole country is smoke and mirrors period. The people that will BS you in the name of god runs into hundreds of millions

    H.P.D.

    • entech says:

      Drifter I think you exaggerate, from what I read it is only a minority that hold the more ludicrous and extreme beliefs. 46% is still a minority.

      • H.P. Drifter says:

        Sorry forgot to put in on a world wide bases. It should read something like hundred of millions frothing BS as we speak. Hard to tell who is rabid, those that die are replaced overnight, not necessary fatal BS disease. Only to sheeple

    • Henry says:

      HPV:“When you address the American Public here you must remember to dumb down everything you say……Witch craft is part and parcel of all the bad things the Christians have come up with[.]“

      Good point. Never end a sentence with a preposition.

  5. Matt noah says:

    Jon – I pray for you. Eternity is a long time.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Matt 1:23 “Jon–I pray for you. Eternity is a long time.”

      I enjoy having you stop in here whenever you can.

      I share a similar concern for you, Matt. People who spend important parts of their lives and spend considerable money seeking something that does not seem to exist are, so far as we know, wasted lives. I wish I could help. I would counsel such good people to spend their time, not in prayer, but in the intellectual pursuit of determining whether any of us has an eternity or not. So far there is no evidence we do.

  6. cody says:

    jon, i wonder if you are gonna “try” to rip on Mawlid un-Nabi. fyi (even though you know everything) it is not related to the scary Jesus or the Bible. science is nothing more than a consensus of tests with swollen heads coming together and compromising on “ideas” to give a statement to people or groups. These swollen heads will make adjustments and “tweaks” to the tests to get the results they want… free thinking is a flag in the wind…your arguments are weak “free thinkers”. weak. Don’t forget to rip on other religions! Don’t wanna be a discriminating “free thinker”.

    • H.P. Drifter says:

      Rambling of the weak mind, try to learn to think in the mean time. We will talk at point. DS

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      cody 4:18 “free thinking is a flag in the wind…your arguments are weak ‘free thinkers’. weak.”

      I have no idea which “arguments” you are referring to. But, if it is a generic complaint about my blogs and responses to comments, that is OK because the Department of Complaints here at Red River Freethinkers is always open.

      • CODY says:

        jon 7:37, makes me LOL… suddenly you dont know what your “arguments” are about again… and why must continue with the labels? (that’s a rhetorical question) is every comment that is disagreeing to yours a complaint? (another rhetorical question) Don’t forget, no discrimination!!!

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          CODY 8:01 “suddenly you dont know what your ‘arguments’ are about again”

          That is correct. I write about 30 blogs a month. There are about 75 comments posted every day with two or three arguments going on simoultaneously. When someone like you says in effect, “Your argument is stupid…”, you need to state what you are referring to. I apologize for being unable to read you mind.

          The blog title on you comment is Christianity and Witchcraft, a Historical Relationship. Perhaps you are complaining that they share a thread of history. Neither you nor I can change that. Anyway, if that historical thread is what you are complaining about, please say so.

          • CODY says:

            drifter said something abouts like “learning” something jon, how about “learning” organizational skills…that is correct. you suddenly forget arguments when you cant prove a point. Something you said earlier “used arbitrarily and disgarded arbitrarily”=free thinkers. and trying to rewrite “in effect” that i said “you are stupid”, when i did not say that, proves your lack of “arguing” ability. weak. I did not beg your pardon, its your lack of organization you should beg my pardon for. They do share a THREAD OF HISTORY and that’s what you free thinkers cling to for an ounce of something to argue about…just a thread is all you have to make a yourself feel erect.

          • entech says:

            Cody–Interesting typo in your last sentence @9:20, I think it does refer to your need to carry on as you do. :lol:

    • entech says:

      science is nothing more than a consensus of tests with swollen heads coming together and compromising on “ideas” to give a statement to people or groups. These swollen heads will make adjustments and “tweaks” to the tests to get the results they want…

      Pretty narrow definition of science, I think perhaps the sequence is inverted. A fairly broad consensus of ideas about a hypothesis will certainly lead to refinement and formulating tests of the hypothesis, the tests either give consistent results and predictions or the hypothesis is wrong.
      That a consensus opinion can be used as fact, is I agree quite wrong, the creeds of the early church were formulated by consensus. The churches that got and retained the most converts, were the most successful, were the ones that had the most input into the formulation of the creeds, The Trinitarian model was finally accepted as the correct one, that this model “won out” over some very strong competition should not mean that it should be taken as fact, in this we would agree.
      Swollen heads, yes there is quite a lot of ego involved in a lot of research and other scholastic endeavours, it is one of the factors that keep it mainly honest, to topple a generally accepted theory is a guarantee of success. Isaac Newton was one of the early giants of science (still called natural philosophy in his day) his mechanical theories were universally accepted as fact, even today they were all that was needed to put a man on the moon. Then along came a man called Einstein who demonstrated that the theories had a range of validity, that they failed at very high speeds and gravity could be explained differently. Of course Einstein had a couple of pet ideas that he tried to defend until a Belgian Jesuit Priest called Lemaître made him admit he was wrong about some things. This is the real nature of science, a continuous advancement, with more than a few setbacks along the way.

      Your definition of science does seem to refer accurately to one branch of science, creation science. That one definitely does a lot of tweaking and twerking to get the result they need. Read the answer in an old book and then leap about twist and twerk and “will make adjustments and “tweaks” to the tests to get the results they want”. Actually I think need would be a better description than want.

      • H.P. Drifter says:

        Entec

        Checked your weather nice day down under, colder than a witch’s tit here. Somewhere around -30 degrees Fahrenheit. Double windows and three foot walls does help, inside we have a Arab tent. Oriental rugs, wing back chairs. pillows, brass and crystal lamps, This is just the place to relax, home is where the Arab tent is, we can actually move it around the building, right now it’s in the living room, next door to the library. All pests here are frozen solid, except those on the blog. Helps keep the rift raft out of the neighborhood, keep up the good work.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          Drifter: “three foot walls”? Ours are nine feet. You must be a short fellar. Smilie face.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            My basement where I am sitting has a ceiling of only 6′ 10″. Lots of today’s basketball players would not fit here. No matter the low ceiling and heat ducts I had put in here, it’s still cold all winter. Right now the air temp is 63 F and I the floor must be below 60. I’m bundled up inside my house.

          • Henry says:

            I have the LJ heat system deployed along with the fireplace.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            I have heard heat pumps don’t work too well when it gets this cold. A couple years ago I put in a new high efficiency gas furnace, a non-electric requiring gas fireplace in the basement which makes the floors toasty warm on the 1st floor, and still have minimal heat even if the electricity goes out. In addition to that, when lounging around, I got tired of an afghan being big enough, so I bought a couple single bed size down comforters for the couch and lounge. Now I have more cover than I need. Then I have a cat to keep my privates warm. Also have goose down slippers. Eddie Bauer down sleeping bags in the trunks of both cars plus cans of Sterno in case we get stalled on the road.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          H.P.D. 2:43 A tent inside a house–sounds like a great system.

  7. H.P. Drifter says:

    Good Jon
    Sock it to them!

  8. H.P. Drifter says:

    Several years ago the we bought an old building in the middle of no where. Little did I know that it would almost impossible to get people to work. The two of us ended up doing most of the work ourselves. The building started out as a garage of some kind over a hundred years, since then a dozen different business were here (once it was a factory to build sewing machines) I had a commercial building inspector come from the cities before actually making the deal, I was told the building was over built and very sturdy good foundation, no water in basement. 16″ rafters 14″ inches on center the rafters are 2″ or larger by 16″. The place was a mess, nothing really made sense, the commercial inspector told me there was no baring walls, so I gutted the whole building, reframed it on the inside with two by six’s
    Then insulated the hell out of the place, R 50 in the attic. Foam and fiberglass everywhere else. Then dry wall double in some places. We got the tent. A big round tent canvas and moved the tent around the building as we worked in different areas, So we had at least one clean area. We are almost done (what a nightmare) looks sharp now. Just us and the pack of dogs.

    • Henry says:

      HP:“Little did I know that it would almost impossible to get people to work.”

      Yep……but, why would that be?

      • H.P.Drifter says:

        So few people around here. Those that can work have jobs. Those that don’t want to work, do not, for whatever reason no clue. If I had to do it again I would go to Fargo or St Cloud and have three big companies bid the job.

        • Henry says:

          HP:“Those that don’t want to work, do not, for whatever reason no clue.”

          Ice fishing, quality time with kids, sledding, snowmobiling, relaxing, being neighborly and socializing. All of these are good things…..on their own dime.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      H.P.D. 4:47 Thank you for that fascinating story. I know the obstacle to making a long term home project like that work financially, practically so one doesn’t have to travel to work on it, is living in a place while you build (rebuild). I never thought about a tent inside while work is being done.

      Having had 16 years years (a Mayor) in the building code business (I could write a book about what I don’t like about building and fire codes), I’m wondering if you are subject inspection by either a city or county codes and/or fire codes?

      • H.P.Drifter says:

        Jon

        Where we are there are no building codes, except for electrical. I did everything to code anyway had a licensed plumber help me. I fire proofed everything. I live in one of those places, the policy is let it burn and contain, basically. I had a chat with the local fire people needed a letter to get the utilities to be remove old lines which were obviously dangerous. No letter, these people are completely useless. Ambulance service is probably ten times better.

        Got to say it is beautiful around here, all the dogs have nice coats (better than me) Looking outside right now a wonderful site, just don’t go through the double steel doors. I do have a nice warm place for the animals.

  9. Wolfy32 says:

    Well, this relates to an earlier blog last week. Pagan / wiccan rituals were deemed “witchcraft” and “sorcery”. And adopted as “Faith Healing” and “Casting out demons.” In addition to “Being slain in the spirit” and “speaking in toungues.”

    As well as having “Christian traditions” scheduled around pagan celebrations of the season (Winter solstice, spring solstice, etc)

    It almost sounds like a remake of pagan witchcraft, using different words. Christmas instead of winter solstice, Easter instead of Spring solstice, Casting out demons, faith healing and being slain in the spirit instead of spells or pagan rituals of spirit healing.

    Funny, how much of Christianity is a copy / conglomeration of predecessors, and to make sure no one got confused on what to practice, the foundational rituals were deemed evil witchcraft of the devil and blasphemy to christianity. Pagan symbols were also deemed ” evil” Funny how in our culture the pentagram is the symbol of the devil. Especially in horror movies and modern culture. Yet, the pentagram was actually just a symbol for merging of the elements of the earth. Earth, fire, water, wind, and spirit if I remember right. Very evil indeed!

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      I came across this from the New York Times. It illutrates the direct link parts of Christianity have with witchcraft. The story is about an all night prayer service in Africa that began with Paul in the book of Acts. Then, it went directly to shaking demons off one’s hands.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/29/opinion/sunday/when-demons-are-real.html?_r=0

      • Wolfy32 says:

        Why does that not surprise me. When I was a kid, WhiteSnake (the 80s hair band) came to Bismarck. There was a special prayer service for all the people that went to the concert to save them from their sin.

        What’s funny, one of my cousins, which, my uncle was also a pentecostal pastor…. Well, went to the concert… LOL.

        At the same time the church my uncle attended when he wasn’t pastoring, was praying for the same concert…. pretty ironic.

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