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I recently came across this:

Gal 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Gal 5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Gal 5:21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Would Christianity have me believe in [the existence of] witchcraft, too!?

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This needs better wording. Perhaps 'What does witchcraft, mean in context here, and how does that meaning translate to us today?' –  aceinthehole Jun 24 '13 at 18:25
    
@aceinthehole My question isn't so much, "what does that meaning translate to us today." It's more, "what did they mean by this back then." I want to know, does Galatians expect me to believe in witchcraft. There are some good answers below... –  user1477388 Jun 24 '13 at 18:34
    
@user1477388: In order to ask about "witchcraft" by quoting Gal. 5:20, you'll need to determine if that's the correct meaning of the word. blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/… You'll need to do more than just read the above link. The context in Gal. 5:20 doesn't really help since it's just a list of prohibtied things. It doesn't really help understand what the word actually means in that context. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Jun 24 '13 at 19:56
    
Wiccans certainly believe in witchcraft, and practice it. Whether their beliefs are true or not isn't on-topic, of course, but Scripture speaks about seers, divination, oracles, and followers of other things that Wiccans and other pagan religions believe. Whether such things are real doesn't matter. Scripture warns about following any false teaching... Amy teaching contrary to Scriptures, even cunningly devised fables. –  David Stratton Jun 24 '13 at 22:56
    
how about 'What does witchcraft mean in its original context, what would the Galatians in the first century, and Paul have meant by this term'. –  aceinthehole Jun 24 '13 at 23:02
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3 Answers 3

It wouldn't have you believe in witchcraft it would just have you avoid it.

Whether you believe in it or not is entirely separate from it existing, see this wiki about Ouija boards.

So you don't have to believe that Ouija boards work, I personally don't. However, even though I don't believe they work, I still don't associate with those types of things.

Incidentally this is related to How to test the spirits and identify false preachers.

The power of satan is real, just see the story of Moses in Exodus:

7:22 And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened,

Which is why we have tests to know the power of the Lord from the power of the devil.

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You have to remember that the worldview of the NT and HB are very different than our own. The use of magic in the Greco-Roman world was more akin to a "Science" than religion. It was a very technical trade that required precision and attention to detail. I'll let you decide whether or not it was actually effectual, I generally don't.

We have gobs of magical texts from all over the Greco-Roman world. The basic purpose of magic was to forceably manipulate the cosmic order by way of incantations or ritual. Magic was a way for people without real power influence their daily lives and combat the powers (whether real or only perceived) which oppressed them. As such, public officials often were the "victims" of magical spells and frequently felt the need to practice counter-magic to remain safe.

It also makes for a fun story.

In other words, you have to think about what is being forbidden; the passage doesn't make any claims about whether magic is effectual (though I suspect many people assumed it was), rather it is about Christians trying to manipulate cosmic forces for their benefit---a job that should be only God's. The so-called Witch of En Dor text actually provides a rather nice negative example in the person of Saul. Because Yahweh stopped speaking to Saul in dreams, he sought a way to circumvent God's silence, by trying to contact Samuel through a medium.

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Gal 5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

Strong's G5331

φαρμακεία

pharmakeia

far-mak-i'-ah

From G5332; medication (“pharmacy”), that is, (by extension) magic (literal or figurative): - sorcery, witchcraft.

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

Deu 18:10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,

1Sa 28:7 Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.

Act 16:16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:

Yes the Bible would have you believe that there are people assocated with wicked spirits who might be classified as witches or warlocks. Its very rare. There are those who are commonly called witches in First Samuel and Acts. I did leave off Balem and Simon both warlocks. No witchcraft in Gal 5:20 refers mostly to drug abuse as it is the word from which we get pharmacy its secondary meaning is magical witchcraft.

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Magic in the ancient world was more akin to a 'science' than religion---that's why we adopted the word for medicine. –  jackweinbender Jun 24 '13 at 20:24
    
@jackweinbender not according to the Bible –  caseyr547 Jun 24 '13 at 20:32
    
I'm not talking about the Bible, I'm talking about how people actually viewed magic in the ancient world. –  jackweinbender Jun 24 '13 at 20:36
    
@jackweinbender i believe the Bible gives us an accurate view on what witcraft actually is and how it was used and viewed –  caseyr547 Jun 24 '13 at 20:42
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