Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I'm a Wiccan. What do you think?

The thing that keeps me going back to Christianity is two fold. One, the firm conviction that Jesus really did rise from the dead. I think the historical evidence for this is fairly difficult to refute, from eyewitness testimonies to physical evidence like the shroud of turin, to the fact that there was no evidence to the contrary, that is, no corpse of Christ which could be presented to say "no he didn't", even though there were a lot of people denying it even at that time. And the testimonies are written in a very historical form, shortly after the events. They do not have the mythic elements you would expect if someone were making this up.

The other reason is because of the teaching authority. I do not believe that people could guess at spiritual truths with any hope of accuracy. I think the only way we could be right is if God revealed Himself to us, and ensured that we could not go wrong. The reason there are so many religions in the world is precisely because there are so many people attempting to guess at truth. But in order for God to reveal the truth, there would first have to be a god who cares about us enough to do so. Interestingly, only the monotheistic religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) even claim to have been revealed. Everyone else- Hindus, Native Spritualists, Wicca, etc- are just guessing.

That said, it would be pretty ignorant to declare Christianity true and all others false without demonstrating that it is. But if I could convincingly demonstrate that Christianity were true and nothing else was, I would be a remarkably gifted man. I don't think I can do that to most peoples satisfaction, even my own. But I have convinced myself that it is the most likely thing to be true, and have thus chosen to believe it.

So starting from the basis of Christianity being true, there are many things about Wicca that I think are not only wrong, but dangerous. For one, Wicca does not appear to have any real moral base, asside from "an it harm none, do what ye will". This sounds great, but it begs the question when it comes to issues like abortion, just war, divorce, pornography, self indulgence, accumulation of wealth, infidelity etc. It does not define the sanctity of life or love or sex, or our social obligations to one another. I think there is a higher morality. There is objective good and objective evil, not just 'positive and negative'.

Secondly, Christianity affirms that there is one God, and we should worship no others. The majority of Wiccans worship at least 2 gods, niether of which can easily be said to be the one God that Christians worship. The problem is that if Christianity is real, and there is only one God that we must worship, but Wiccans worship 'gods' who are not figments of their imagination, then who are the gods? In the Old Testament, idols were either just madeup, or they were demons. This belief was still held in the New Testament and early church. In fact, the Greek god Pan, with goat legs and horns, became the image for Satan. I notice that though most Wiccans would not like to say that they worship Satan, as they do not really believe in an evil being like Satan, they do worship a horned God, someimes called Pan. As for Goddess worship, this was considered a very dangerous cult in the Old Testament. So what if Christianity is true, but so is Wicca? The implication is that Wiccans are worshiping demons, and not the true God.

The last thing is the use of magick. Fortune telling, contacting the dead, etc, were expressly forbidden in the Old Testament. There is actually a witch in the OT, called the witch of Endor, who contacts the dead. In the New Testament there is a magician, known to history as Simon Magus, who could also be said to be a witch, as it does not appear that he was merely an illusionist. Simon, when he saw the power that the apostles had in the name of the Holy Spirit, attempted to purchase the power. He did not understand that you cannot purchase the Holy Spirit, and as a result to this day the purchase of holy or blessed objects is known as the sin of simony.

Anyway, Christianity does not say that magic does not exist, but that it is forbidden. There is power, but God has not granted us the authority to use it. A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Kenya with Renewal Ministries on a mission. The leader of our group, Peter Thompson, had previosuly been on a mission where he prayed for a woman who had gone to a witch doctor who had done magic on her. The woman had remarkable demonic manifestations. You can see his testimony here

There are countless other stories where demons get involved because people get involved in occult practices. (I think it is interesting that in the Salem Witch trials, which I by no means condone, the girls who started it all had been involved in fortune telling, and suddenly began manifesting demonic activity, which triggered the whole thing).

The question I think you need to ask is this. Did Jesus really rise from the dead? If so, what does that imply about his teaching? If he is God, and God has forbidden the worship of other gods and the use of magic, then do we dare to do what he has forbidden?


  1. My first thought is COOL!

    But my second thought is what is it that you actually believe? And why? I've met one person who claims to be a Wiccan witch before -- though I've never got into much discussion about it with her. What I like about these beliefs is they reclaim some of the anglo-saxon ancestral practises that were eradicated by Christianity. In many cases, these beliefs are much more earth-centered and peaceful.

    But much of these beliefs are not evidence-based. So again I'd ask what is it that you actually believe? And, if you care if those beliefs are true, what evidence do you have that they are true?

  2. Ok, now to tackle Peter's can of worms...

    I agree with Peter (although let's be honest it was really Paul's idea) that "traditional" Christianity hinges on the historicity of the resurrection.

    As the late Carl Sagan put it, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence". Note as well that the burden of proof is on the shoulders of the one making the extraordinary claim. I don't have to prove the resurrection didn't happen; Peter has to prove it did.

    Is his evidence sufficient? Not even close.

    We have no eyewitness testimonies to the reported event; the gospels were written in 70 CE at the earliest and any basic lesson in biblical criticism will tell you they are not eyewitness accounts. In fact, the earliest manuscripts of Mark (on which all others gospels were probably based) does not even include the resurrection accounts -- it ends with at 16:8.

    No mythic events in the resurrection narratives? What about Matthew's zombie apocalypse!?! Despite Peter’s assertions the resurrection narratives contain no mythical elements, if the zombie apocalypse of Matthew 27:52-53 wherein “the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many” doesn’t count as mythic I don’t know what does. It is beyond belief that NO contemporary historians wrote about something as important as legions of zombies wondering the streets of Jerusalem!!!

    And once you admit that maybe, just maybe, Matthew wasn’t writing history here, you have to ask is any of it history? The rest of Peter's arguments fall into the classical error that apologists have been making since the 19th century. Peter is arguing against 19th century rationalists that have been rotting in their graves for 200 years. No person who has studied the gospels critically believes these are historical or eyewitness accounts. The irony here is that these biblical criticism classes can be found in Catholic colleges taught by Catholic priests. The high-ups know this stuff.

    So when Peters says, a la Tom Cruise, “SHOW ME THE BODY!” he myswell argue that the jubilant attitude of the Munchkins clearly indicates that the killing of the wicked witch by Dorothy was a historical fact. You’re using elements of a story to prove that a story is historical!

    Ok, a few more points…

    The Shroud of Turin is dated to the 14th century.

    “to the fact that there was no evidence to the contrary”

    Well there must be an invisible pink unicorn in my garage then too because you have no evidence to the contrary! Remember who has the burden of proof.

    “even though there were a lot of people denying it even at that time”
    Ya, who exactly? Where’s your evidence for this?

    Wow, that took a lot of energy just to deal with the first paragraph. More later...