Q. In Matthew, Chapter 2, weren’t the Magi who came to see Jesus astrologers? Does this mean astrology is okay? What was the star of Bethlehem?
The Magi were probably a Persian caste of wise men who were experts in mathematics, interpreting dreams, and the study of the stars. They were advisers to kings and rulers. Astronomy, which is the scientific study of the stars (and planets, though they were not called planets then), and astrology, which is the occult interpretation of the position and movement of the stars (and planets), were one and the same at that time. The physical study of the stars, astronomy, had not been defined or developed and was combined with astrology, a divinatory art. Therefore, the Magi were probably practicing a mixture of astronomy and astrology.
The passage does not give much information on the star that was seen by the Magi. Contemporary astronomers have tried to figure out if there was a particular astronomical event in the time period when it is believed Jesus was born that would account for an unusual or bright configuration, but so far nothing satisfactory has been proposed although some books have been written on it. Verse 9 of Matthew, chapter 2, states that the star “rested” or “stood” over the house where Jesus was. This does not indicate the normal behavior of a natural star or planet since no heavenly body that far away could actually stand over a specific area as small as a house. Some Bible scholars believe that the star was an unusually bright light, the Shekinah, — the light of the glory of God — the same light that was the pillar of fire for the Israelites in the desert and the fire seen by Moses in the burning bush. Why did the Magi believe this was a star? We are not told. Perhaps the light appeared as an unusual star to them just as God’s presence appeared as a pillar of fire in the wilderness. It is also possible that the star was a supernatural star created by God that He used to lead the Magi eventually to Christ.
The Magi went to Jerusalem, which is where a Jewish King would be reigning. They asked Herod, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” Herod’s chief priests and scribes indicated that the Jewish prophecy foretold the birth of a Ruler in Bethlehem. The Magi left for Bethlehem, and the text then says, “the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.” The star was apparently only for the Magi and led them directly to Christ after Herod was told of their mission. This was obviously a supernatural episode, involving a supernatural star or light.
In the context of passages before and after this, we see more supernatural events surrounding the birth of Jesus. The passage before the Magi story (Matthew chapter one, verses 18-25) tells about Mary’s conception by the Holy Spirit, and God’s angel visiting Joseph in a dream to confirm to him that Mary will give birth to Jesus, who “will save his people from their sins,” (chapter 1, verse 21). In the passage following the Magi’s visit to Jesus (chapter 2, verses 12-15), an angel warns the Magi in a dream not to return to Herod, and an angel again appears in Joseph’s dream, warning him of Herod’s plan to slay “the child” and telling him to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt. Thus, the account of the Magi and the unusual star rests solidly between accounts of other supernatural events, showing God’s hand in the birth of Jesus.
Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 9) and Bar-Jesus (Acts 13) were magicians, men who used powers and/or trickery to entertain and impress. The word “magician” is from “Magi” but the meaning is used more for the practice of occult arts for the display of power or for entertainment. There is no indication that astrology was used to find Jesus, although the Magi undoubtedly practiced the kind of astrology used then to counsel rulers. The Magi, who were royal advisers from a pagan culture, were the first people recorded to worship Jesus (verse 11).
Since God clearly condemns occult divination (astrology is a divinatory tool) in passages such as Deut. 18:10-12, and He condemns astrology in passages like Isaiah 47, there is no question that the use of astrology is always against God. God’s use of the Magi does not endorse astrology.
Q. What about Genesis 1:14, where God says the lights will be as signs? Isn’t this talking about astrological signs?
A. The word translated as “signs” in Genesis has nothing to do with the word used for astrological signs. The passage is talking about the creation of sun, moon, and stars as markers for time: “Let there be the lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for season, and for days and years.”
This passage, in both the NIV and New Living Translation, states that the lights will be signs “to mark off the seasons, days, and years.” The word ‘signs’ is the Hebrew word ‘Owth‘ which can mean mark, token, pledge, standard, symbol, miraculous sign, and proof. In Gen. 1:14, it has been historically interpreted as meaning to ‘mark time.’ If one wants to use the word ‘signs’ as meaning a miraculous sign, look at the sun being darkened as one of the plagues of Egypt (Exodus 10:21-23; Jeremiah 32: 7, 8 refers to this). There are also the passages predicting that in the day of the Lord, or the return of Christ, the sun will be darkened, the moon will turn into blood, and the stars will fall (Isaiah 13:10, 34:4; Joel 2:10, 31, 3:15; Amos 5:20; 8:9 Matthew 24:29; Acts 2:20 [which quotes Joel]; Rev. 6:12, 13).
Since God clearly condemns divination (in Deut. 18:10-12 among many other passages) and astrology is a form of divination, and since God condemns astrology and other occult practices in Isaiah 47, it is evident that God is not giving humanity astrological signs in Genesis 1:14. To try to read that meaning into it would be to torture the text and strip it of any reasonable interpretation, especially in context. All scripture is interpreted in context of the passage, the book, and the whole Bible.
Q. What about the Gospel in the Stars that claims the gospel is given in the zodiac signs of Aries, Taurus, Gemini, etc.?
A. It should seem odd that the theory of Gospel in the Stars (GIS), first expounded in the 1800’s, would be something missed by orthodox, Biblical Christianity for almost 2,000 years. The reason is simply that there is no Biblical evidence for God giving the gospel through the astrological zodiac signs and, therefore, the Church did not have this teaching. There are other good reasons as well to reject GIS. First, the names of the zodiac are not universal. The names used in Western Astrology (which come from the Greeks and Romans) have not been used in all other systems. Chinese astrology and Native American astrology, for example, not only do not use the same terms, but have completely different systems of astrology. Secondly, the general revelation in nature does not give the gospel. General revelation reveals the existence of a Creator (Romans 1:18ff), but the gospel is given in special revelation through Jesus Christ and God’s word. The gospel is termed by God as a “secret” or a “mystery” before the coming of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 3: 8-12; 6:19; and Colossians 4:3) which means that it was not known specifically before the incarnation of Jesus.
There is erroneous data in some of the original information that the GIS is based on, and Biblical passages used for GIS are taken out of context and meaning is read into them. The fact that the Bible names constellations does not indicate there is a meaning in them. When Psalm 147:4 (a passage used to “prove” GIS) says that God counts the stars and calls them by name, it just means God knows all the stars since He created them! This is a praise of God as Creator of the seemingly endless array of stars in space. There are too many for us to count (or even see) yet God knows each one of them!
To read some articles about Gospel in the Stars, see
Book review of Perpetuated in Righteousness by Daniel Kilawa (Kilawa is a GIS proponent)
Excellent response addressing Gospel in the Stars by former astrologer Charles Strohmer
“The Gospel Message — Written in the Stars?” by Danny Faulkner
Q. If Daniel was made chief of the astrologers and wise men, doesn’t that mean he studied astrology and other occult subjects?
If one reads the first chapter of Daniel carefully, it does not indicate that Daniel studied occultism. After Daniel and his companions refused to eat the King’s food because it violated Jewish law (verse 8), they were secluded for 10 days and consumed only water and vegetables, after which they were examined. They were found to be healthier than the men who had eaten at the King’s table, and were allowed to continue their diet (verse 15). In verse 17, it says that God gave Daniel and his friends “knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” Note the word “all” used there. When the king interviewed them, they were found to be wiser than the wise men, and appointed to the King’s service. If they were given wisdom and understanding by God, why would they need knowledge of the occult, something God explicitly condemns? And if God gave them “wisdom,” one must assume that God would not consider anything he forbids as wisdom. Would God just make Daniel better at the occult than the other wise men? Of course not.
God gave them abilities far beyond those of the court’s wise men because He gave them wisdom and understanding that came from God. When Daniel interpreted the king’s first dream, he did so by God-given ability and wisdom after praying for help, not from occult divination (Chapter 2, verses 17-19, and 30). Furthermore, if Daniel and his companions refused to violate God’s law concerning food, and were willing to possibly risk their lives on this or the life of the king’s chief official (see verse 9), why would they give in to a study of astrology or other occult arts?
There is no indication in the text that Daniel ever used the occult arts to give advice to or interpret for the king. In fact, all indications from the text are the opposite: Daniel used only wisdom and abilities given him by God. Only God could get someone who had no occult knowledge to be head of all the wise men! It shows God’s power and wisdom outshines what was supposed to be the best knowledge and wisdom at that time in that culture.
Q. What about the martial arts? Is it okay for a Christian to learn and practice them?
There is not a simple yes or no answer to this. First, one must consider the teacher and how it’s being taught. Question the teacher and ask what his spiritual beliefs are (not what his religion is), does he teach about the ‘chi’ energy in the class, and does he see the movements working due to the chi/life force? Does the teacher incorporate these views in the lessons? Does the teacher require meditation? If so, I would see this as very problematic. If the teacher is teaching only physical movements for protection and is not teaching about the chi, then that could be okay if you are comfortable with it. Secondly, one must consider the type of martial art you want to learn: There are ‘soft martial arts’ such as Tai Chi and Aikido that cannot be separated from the belief systems behind them. These are more spiritually based and would be problematic for the Christian. The hard martial arts such as judo, karate, and some others, might be okay if spiritual ideas are not incorporated and chi or qi is not presented as essential to the lessons. To understand about the chi or qi, see the CANA article on Yin and Yang and the article described below:
The Christian magazine, the CRI (Christian Research Institute) Journal, did a series of three articles on the martial arts. You can access these online by going to their site at www.equip.org and typing in “martial arts” in the Search box.
Q. There is nothing wrong with breaking rules and lying in the Harry Potter books because Harry is fighting evil. After all, many people lied during the Holocaust to save Jews who were being sent to the death camps.
Harry usually lies for his own pleasure (going to Hogsmeade) or to get out of trouble. He even lies to his friends Lupin and Hermione. He also cheats on the Triwizard Tournament. None of these lies are justified. Harry rarely is punished or suffers for his wrongdoing. For Harry and his friends, the ends justify the means. See the Harry Potter articles on this site where this is documented from the books.
Q. Why is it so wrong for Harry Potter to lie or disobey? After all, everyone has done this!
Yes, everyone has done this. But lying or doing something wrong, then regretting it or suffering the consequences for it is one thing, while lying or doing something wrong and getting away with it, or not regretting it, or not suffering the consequences, is a totally different thing. To have a hero in a children’s book who lies and does not deal with the consequences is a dangerous teaching for children. In fact, in the Harry Potter books, Harry is sometimes rewarded for lying, cheating, and disobedience. Sure, kids will love this ? they don’t want rules and would love to get away with wrongdoing with no punishment. Children might eat ice cream for supper, stay up all night, or wander the streets if not restrained. Does that make it okay? Having a boy who gets rewarded for doing something forbidden and dangerous as an example only encourages the idea that it’s okay to get away with doing wrong.
Q. If you are concerned about Harry Potter, then what about Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and other fairy tales?
None of these fairy tales, as told in today’s popular versions, endorse the study and practice of the occult. None of them depict heroes or heroines who consistently lie, act in mean-spirited ways, or seek revenge. None of them depict the central character studying occult arts.
Q. How are Tolkien and Lewis different from Harry Potter?
This answer cannot address all the differences, but will address some of the main ones involving the occult. The characters in Tolkien who have powers have them inherently; that is, they don’t learn them through occult study or methods. Also, these characters, such as Gandalf, are not human but are part of angelic type beings created by Tolkien. The use of these powers is not a central focus in either Tolkien or Lewis, and their central characters do not practice the occult. I see no parallels between the references to Gandalf’s powers and to the active and ongoing study of real occult practices present in Harry Potter. Harry is learning divination – including astrology, arithmancy (a type of numerology), spell casting, and potions. These things are not fictional nor are they fantasy; they exist today and information on how to learn and practice them is easy to find. Furthermore, there is a moral center in both Tolkien and Lewis that is lacking in Harry Potter. In Tolkien, in fact, one of the themes is the corruption of power as seen in the contact Bilbo and Frodo have with the Ring. Their desire to use the Ring’s power pulls them toward evil, and the Ring corrupts character; therefore, the central characters develop integrity and character in resisting the temptation of the Ring. In Harry Potter, we see Harry increasing his power through knowledge of spells and magick in order to fight Voldemort. In Tolkien, the heroes must resist the use of power; in Harry Potter, it is sought after and admired. Additionally, in HP, the power is tied into actual occultic practices, and the source of power for both Harry and Voldemort is the same.
It is my view, as a former Literature major and as one who has read and written stories and poems since quite a young age, that the literary quality of both Tolkien and Lewis far surpass Rowling. In fact, the differences are so great, I find it difficult to even compare them.
For a more detailed look at a comparison between Harry Potter, C. S. Lewis’ Narnia series, and Tolkien’s books, see Harry Potter, Narnia, and The Lord of the Rings: What You Need to Know About Fantasy Books, Movies and Games by Richard Abanes, available from Amazon, Christian Book Distributors and other book outlets.
OCCULT AND NEW AGE
Q. Are there differences between the occult and the New Age? If so, what are they?
First, a disclaimer: There is no authority or authoritative source to define the New Age or the occult, and even those involved will disagree with each other. My answer to this question is based on my experiences in the New Age and in some occult practices, on my reading, on discussion with others who have been involved in or studied these areas, and on the feedback I receive from my website. I have modified my statements on these two areas over time, and have tried to keep current with both categories.
The New Age and the occult are related and have much in common, yet also have some distinct differences. The New Age can be seen as a network of various beliefs that sometimes entails certain practices, whereas the occult is perhaps better described as a spectrum of practices attached to various beliefs. Both are related to some Gnostic ideas about seeking and gaining wisdom in order to empower one’s self or one’s spiritual journey. Both usually share a belief in an energy or force that binds everyone and everything together (this view is not common to all occult beliefs). In the New Age, this energy or force is often seen as being God.
The New Age is more oriented to transcendence and the evolvement of the soul/ spirit on a continual journey, usually through reincarnation. The New Age seems to emphasize the spiritual above the material, while the occult tends to divinize the material. Eastern beliefs from Buddhism and Hinduism play a major role in New Age thinking. In the occult, the focus is more on the present, and on harmony with nature and/or the environment. Forces or energies are seen as natural in the occult. The New Age and the occult both emphasize that one can access this energy for healing or for psychic powers, but the occult also tends to use specific rituals to access this force more than the New Age. Both the occult and the New Age may advocate the practice of spirit contact, visualization techniques, Eastern meditation, psychic powers, and various forms of divination (astrology, palmistry, numerology, etc.). However, some areas, such as ritual and ceremonial magick, are specialized areas of the occult.
Of course, both the New Age and the occult overlap into areas where the distinction between the two becomes blurred or irrelevant.
For more information, see CANA articles on the New Age and the Occult.
Q. What about all the people who were killed in the name of God?
Accusations of killing or other injustice done in the name of God, such as the Crusades, the Inquisition, witch-burnings, etc., are often based on misconceptions of Christianity and distorted facts. First of all, what people did in these cases in the name of God does not mean that God endorsed it. Secondly, many of the people who committed these acts may have claimed to be acting for Christ and without actually being Christian at all. There are many nominal Christians (Christians in name only) and cultural Christians (people who identify with Christianity as part of their culture or heritage) who have not trusted Christ as Lord of their lives. Thirdly, there is misinformation about some of these historical events, many of which were part of political power plays and which only used Christianity as an excuse for certain actions. If anyone looks into the Crusades, for example, one can see there were many complex political and historical factors at work, and that these played a part of the larger picture of tensions between the Eastern and the Western cultures at that time. What was done in the name of Christ does not mean Christ endorsed it. Fourth, one needs to consider the historical evidence for slaughter done in the name of non-Christian gods or by non-Christians. Three of the biggest mass murderers in the 20th century, Stalin, Hitler, and Pol Pot, were not Christians.
For refutations of many myths about Christianity which, however, do not deny that there was some wrongdoing by those professing Christianity, see (please do a search):
Christianity on Trial: Arguments Against Anti-Religious Bigotry
by Vincent Carroll and David Shiflett
6 Modern Myths About Christianity and Western Christianity
by Philip J. Sampson
The bottom line is that murder and cruelty come from the evil that is in the hearts of men. Man is not naturally or inherently good, but instead is inherently selfish. Selfishness can be subverted and transformed into cruelty, then justified by a relative morality.
Q. What about where it says in the Bible, “Judge not?”
I often wonder if those who bring this up have ever actually looked at this passage (Matthew 7:1). The words, “judge not,” are only the beginning of a sentence and are not a whole sentence. This sentence actually says, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” In other words, it’s saying here that we should realize we will all be judged! The passage is also telling us not to judge hypocritically: “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with what measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” Keep in mind that the Bible was not written in verses and chapters; verses and chapters were added centuries later for convenience of finding passages (and sometimes the division of chapters and verses was poorly done). Therefore, when one reads the Bible, it is best to ignore verses and chapters as much as possible. This passage (verse 1 through 5) is clearly to rebuke hypocrites, those who judge others while practicing the same thing themselves.
We are never told in God’s word to judge a person’s heart and motives, since that is only up to God, but we are to judge actions and teachings. We are told by Jesus to beware of false teachers, for example (Matthew 7:15), and that many false Christs (Matthew 24:5, 23-24;) will come. We judge the teachings by the principles of the Bible because God’s words are true and established forever (Psalm 119:105, 130, 140; Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 5:18, 24:35; Mark 13:31); God’s words are life-giving (Deuteronomy 8:3; Psalm 119:93; Matthew 4:4; John 6:63, 17:17); and God’s word judges us (Jeremiah 23:29-32; Hebrews 4:12).
Q. Should a Christian practice yoga? Is there such a thing as Christian Yoga?
Yoga is so much a part of Hindu belief and worship (it is a form of worship imo) that I advise Christians to not do yoga.
The poses themselves are often depictions of Hindu deities, and the hand positions mimic the positions of the hands of statues of Hindu gods. The purpose of yoga is not physical and it is not to relax; it is to prepare the student for more advanced meditative states and also to lead them to the realization that their true self is divine (the “Atman”). The goal is to dis-identify with the body and self as your real identity.
Many yoga classes do not use the Eastern terms when teaching yoga, but disguise these with other terms that sound innocuous, such as “breathing techniques” for pranayama; “energy points” for chakras; “center” for meditation; “poses” for asanas, etc.
It is not as if there are not other forms of exercise. And yoga is not really exercise anyway – it is a spiritual practice with a spiritual purpose. In fact, many Hindu yoga masters and teachers are upset that yoga in the U.S. is being taught as a non-spiritual practice. This is not surprising, since yoga was introduced in North America by Hindus, who planned to use yoga as a vehicle for introducing Hinduism.
“Christian yoga” is an oxymoron. If one removes the true aspects of yoga to make it into something acceptable to Christians, then the breathing techniques and asanas need to be removed, which means there is then no yoga at all. Just as there is no Christian Ouija boards and no Christian astrology, so there is no Christian yoga that is truly yoga or truly Christian.
Now that yoga has been successfully marketed as an “exercise” and way to be healthy, yoga is associated with youth, health, fitness, and beauty. It is the perfect Trojan Horse.
MEDITATION AND HYPNOSIS
Q. What is Biblical Meditation and is it different from other types of meditation?
The word meditation is a word with many meanings for many people, so it’s important to understand what is meant by anyone using this word.
Meditation traditionally has had the meaning of thinking deeply, pondering, or active reflection or contemplation. This is what is meant by this word in the Old Testament. The word translated as meditation in several verses in the Psalms means to meditate in the sense of reflecting upon. In fact, the New Living Translation uses the word thought for meditation in several of these passages, such as in Ps. 19:14: “May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you.” Biblical meditation and thinking are very close; meditation is not separate from thought. We are to seek to understand God’s word with our minds, not to empty the mind, or to bypass the mind, for a supposed merging with God. We cannot do biblical meditation without thinking or pondering.
However, due to the influx of Eastern religions and variations thereof in Western culture, the word meditation can also refer to derivatives of Eastern meditation, which have infiltrated this culture through the New Age movement. Eastern forms of meditation have become so widespread, in fact, that we find them not only in spiritually oriented groups, but forming the foundation of relaxation techniques in sports, business seminars, schools, and in many health related areas; as well as being presented in churches as a form of prayer. The word meditation is not always used, however. Words such as centering, contemplative prayer, relaxing, de-stressing, mindfulness and others are used instead. Many people do not realize that these techniques incorporate forms of Eastern meditation, usually from Buddhism. Or if they do know this, they think it is a good thing.
Because of this Eastern religious influence, the word meditation referring to Eastern meditation is often used interchangeably with the Biblical word for meditation. Thus, people are misled into believing they are one and the same. However, the differences between these two forms of meditation are so vast as to render them completely at odds with each other.
Eastern forms of meditation found in the West (including most of the stress reduction and centering techniques) involve most of the following: sitting in a certain position, closing the eyes, practicing a breathing technique (usually observing or counting the breaths), trying to go beyond thoughts or thinking (there are several techniques to bring this about), and repeating a word or phrase (a mantra). These practices come from both Hinduism and Buddhism (of course, Buddhism came from Hinduism, so there is overlap).
The reason it is important in the Eastern spiritual view to go beyond thinking, is because Eastern beliefs hold that the mind is part of the material world and is therefore a barrier to spiritual understanding and the grasping of ultimate reality. It is not so much a matter of emptying the mind as it is a matter of transcending the mind or transcending thoughts. The techniques to attain this transcendence are actually used in hypnosis; thus, Eastern meditation is often a form of self-induced hypnosis. The resulting state of mind is one in which the person usually feels peaceful, part of a larger whole or oneness, and close to God (if the person believes in a god), and may even feel their body is dissolving or that they are leaving their body. But these are just consequences of the meditation technique; they actually have no foundation in reality because peace and/or God cannot be known via a manmade technique.
These Eastern forms of meditation have infiltrated the church and are being called prayer or meditation, contemplative prayer, or centering prayer. People are even advised to choose certain words from the Bible as a mantra, though the word mantra is not generally used. Instead, one may be told to choose a sacred phrase or sacred word to repeat. These techniques do not resemble the prayer that is modeled for us in the Bible, however. Biblical prayer involves actively petitioning, thanking, and praising God. “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2 NASB).
Christian prayer should be taught as it is modeled in the Bible, particularly in the New Testament. Some key passages include: Matthew 5:43-45 (pray for our enemies); Matthew 6:6 (pray without showing off); Matthew 6:9-13 (often called the Lord’s Prayer, which is the model for praise, petition, and thanks); Matthew 7:6 (do not pray with vain repetitions); Matthew 9:38 (pray for God to send workers into His harvest); Matthew 21:22 and James 1:6 (pray in faith); Luke 18:1-8 (pray/petition without losing heart); ask in the name of Christ (John 16:23-24); 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (pray without ceasing – not mindlessly, but having an attitude of prayer and being in the Lord in all things); and James 5:14-16 (pray for the sick). Our prayers are to make use of words and thought.
The goal of Eastern meditation is to know an ultimate reality (in Hinduism and New Age, it is to realize one’s true nature is divine; in Buddhism, it is to realize that there is no self or to realize the Buddha nature of all things); the goal of Biblical meditation is to know and love God through reading and contemplating (with an active mind) His word. One is non-thinking; the other is thinking. One is to know ultimate reality; the other is learning about God who has revealed Himself. One is established on techniques; the other is based on the Biblical pattern and uses our God-given minds to read and study His word.
Q. Are there any stress lowering apps for Christians that are not connected with the New Age?
Any app for stress reduction would involve the same tactics as done in the New Age because techniques to lower stress on apps that I know of are based on hypnotic techniques.
There are many normal ways to reduce stress: reading the Bible, prayer, taking a walk, a hot bath, listening to nice music, exercise, participating in a hobby, playing with pets, watching a good comedy, etc, all of which have been shown to reduce stress as much as any New Age method. I think the New Age methods and the meditation apps are very temporary measures anyway and do more damage than good. Why? Because
* People become dependent on them
* They can alter one’s worldview
* They lead to self-absorption
* They lead one away from God and/or to a false god
* They don’t give true rest or peace but a false sense of peace or false sense of closeness to God that can lead to further deception
* They can affect some people in negative ways emotionally or mentally
An app for stress-reduction is based on a technique usually derived from non-Christian spiritual principles.
For more information see other Q&A here on meditation and hypnosis, as well as CANA articles on Meditation and Mindfulness.
Q. Is Hypnosis okay?
Hypnotists perform on stage and increasingly now, in schools. Many people also consult hypnotherapists to stop smoking or get rid of some other bad habit. Hypnotherapy is used in counseling sessions. Even if the results seem harmless or good, there is much more to hypnosis than meets the eye.
A hypnotic state, even a very mild one, is a state where critical thinking and judgment are suspended. Therefore, the person in such a state has their mind open to whatever influences want to come in, from the suggestions of the therapist or counselor to the spiritual realm. The mind in this state is very receptive and malleable. No matter the intent of the hypnotist or hypnotherapist, the hypnotist or therapist is not in total control.
The hypnotic state is the same as the altered states one goes into in Eastern meditation and in occult “centering.” This state is very desired in the occult because occult practitioners (psychics, tarot card readers, mediums, etc.) know that in this state they are more sensitive and receptive to their supposed sources of information and the guidance of their “guides” or other disembodied beings (i.e., fallen angels, though of course, they do not see it this way). All of the popular mediums go into this kind of state to “hear” from the dead and recommend it to others as a way to contact their “guides.”
The hypnotic state is the state one is put in or goes into in order to meet their “guides.” This is how I was introduced to my spirit guide. When I practiced astrology, I would naturally fall into this state during the reading (consultation for the client). It is like having your mind in neutral, open to external or alien guidance that is not from God.
The hypnotic state is not normal, natural, or healthy.
There have been incidents of people becoming depressed, suicidal, or having psychotic breaks or nightmares as a result of having been hypnotized. Hypnosis affects the mind, often in a negative manner. It can alter a person’s psyche and, over time (as in Eastern meditation), their worldview.
What about emails asking me to forward something to 10 friends? These emails usually tell me that if I do this, I will have good luck and if I don’t forward the email, something bad will happen to me.
These types of emails are reminiscent of the old chain letters which asked that you send copies of a letter to so many friends and you would receive good luck in return. Dire warnings were given about tragedy ahead if you did not send the letter on.
The idea of luck goes back to the belief in pagan gods and the efforts people made to placate them and thereby earn the favor of the gods. “Maybe the gods will smile on me” some would think as they tried various things to get good fortune from these gods. Conversely, one would try to avoid doing anything to offend the gods and bring bad fortune on one’s head.
Believing in luck is like relying on the vagaries of what are called chance and fate. Perhaps if you do x, y, or z, this will be your lucky day and fate will smile on you. But chance and fate are impersonal; there is no intelligence or will in them. In fact, chance and fate are based on beliefs that some kind of force exists which you can manipulate through your actions.
Or you might carry a good-luck charm. Reliance on a charm means that you think the charm will attract good fortune (chance) to you. Keeping or wearing a charm for luck is a belief from witchcraft than an object can attract beneficial forces in the universe to you or that the object can protect you from bad fortune. Forwarding an email to bring good luck is the same idea: it is using the act of forwarding the email as a charm that will supposedly attract good circumstances into your life.
One should stop and think about this. How does forwarding an email bring good luck? Who is watching to see if you forward the email and who will pass on this luck and how will they give you this good fortune? Who will punish you if you don’t forward the email and why? Would God go along with this? No God worthy of believing would stoop to such shenanigans.
Only the true God knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). There is no such thing as “luck” or a force you can manipulate, although fallen angels, eager to make you interested in anything that takes away from God, may respond to such manipulations to get you to believe you are in charge. God allows things in our life, both good and bad, for His purposes. If one has trusted in Christ, then that person is being conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29) and God will allow conditions in the person’s life to bring this about, whether good or bad. Christians are told that God disciplines those whom He loves (Hebrews 12:7-10; Revelation 3:19) and also blesses them (John 20:29; Galatians 3:14; Ephesians 1:3). When you are trusting in God through faith in Jesus Christ, then you should have no fear of what might happen (2 Timothy 1:7; Romans 8:15); instead you are relying on the Lord for His provision and for what He determines is best from an eternal perspective.
If you have not believed in Christ, believing in luck is not going to bring good things nor protect from bad things. This is like building your hopes on sand. Jesus said that when the rains and wind come, a house built on sand will fall down, whereas the house build on rock will stand (Matthew 7:24-29). Jesus is the rock (1 Corinthians 10:4), the bread of life (John 6:35), and the one who paid the penalty for sins on the cross. It is by God’s grace that we can repent, be forgiven for our sins, and have eternal life through faith in Christ (Matthew 26:28; Mark 1:15; Luke 5:24, 24:47; John 8:24, 14:6; Acts 3: 19, 4:12, 10:43, 20:21, 26:18; Romans 3:25; 1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 1:4; Colossians 1:13, 14; Hebrews 2:17, 9:28, 10:12; 1 Peter 2:24, 3:18).
True peace results from faith in Jesus, and brings assurance that God is watching out for us and working in our lives for the best, no matter what circumstances we see around us. Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful,” John 14:27.
“Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins,” Acts 10:43.
Is it okay to use a power bracelet? Do they work?
Power bracelets that claim to heal, “balance energy,” bring calmness, or bring clarity are sold in many places, and are abundant on the Internet. The idea that power can come from an object is an occult idea rooted in animism, the belief that spirits or powers reside in objects.
There is nothing in the Bible that teaches to use objects for healing. Some people refer to the handkerchiefs of Paul that healed people. However, this was a unique situation based on Paul being an apostle and the healing being a sign (miracle) to indicate the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to both believers and pagans.
Furthermore, the Bible states that the power was clearly from God; Acts 19:11, 12: “God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out”. The handkerchiefs or aprons themselves had no power; the power was from God.
Moreover, we should not use narrative as prescriptive unless other Bible passages indicate it is. That is, we cannot say that because God used Paul’s handkerchief 2,000 years ago, we can accept any claim that comes along that an object has healing (or other) power, or that such power is from God.
There is no medical basis for any of the effects from these types of power bracelets, whether they are New Age, occult, or Eastern. Some of the pain alleviation may come from the placebo effect, which accounts for about 1/3 of all effects of “feeling better” in healing. Other “healing” may be occultic; that is, demonic. There are many cases of people feeling better when in actuality, they are not better nor are they cured.
A relevant passage for this is Deuteronomy 13:1-3 where God states that the criteria for a prophet whose dreams or prophecies come true is whether or not he calls you to follow other gods. In other words, the dream or prophecy may come true — something may work or seem to work — but if it is attributed to an impersonal force or power rooted in a non-Christian religion, or honors a god other than the biblical God, then it is to be rejected. The person who decides to access this power or accept it is essentially honoring that false belief and power.
Furthermore, a person may open themselves to demonic influences when using an object that is connected to occult or New Age beliefs. This is not because there are demons residing in the object itself, but because the person is open to the idea that the power coming from or through the object may heal them. This means they are agreeing with the influence or power for which the object is the medium. The so-called power in these cases is actually the influence and presence of demons.
“Suppose there are prophets among you or those who dream dreams about the future, and they promise you signs or miracles, and the predicted signs or miracles occur. If they then say, ‘Come, let us worship other gods’ — gods you have not known before — do not listen to them. The Lord your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul.” Deut. 13:1-3 NLT