Is the concept of theurgy, with the definition below, used in bible or any Christian scripture?

the art or technique of compelling or persuading a god or beneficent or supernatural power to do or refrain from doing something

Any help is really appreciated.

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    I think we need some more detail and clarity on this. Are you talking about prayer ? Prayer is a means of 'persuasion', as it were. Jacob 'prevailed with God and he was called Ira-el. Prince with God. – Nigel J May 15 at 15:43
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    In the context of religion, the Question should be edited to use a better definition like the one in wikipedia: "the practice of rituals, sometimes seen as magical in nature, performed with the intention of invoking the action or evoking the presence of one or more deities, especially with the goal of achieving henosis (uniting with the divine) and perfecting oneself." It is therefore (in my opinion) borderline with mysticism that is usually too much mixed with neo-platonism, and thus not Biblical. – GratefulDisciple May 15 at 22:53
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    agreed, this definition is far from the actual ones outlined in Wikipedia. My view is that largely, this topic is asking if its Biblical to engage in Spiritualism as a means of self elevation in order to better know God. An example of how bad this idea was is found in 1 Samuel 28 – Adam May 15 at 23:46

And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. [Genesis 32:28 KJV]

I would suggest that prayer is a means of 'persuading' God. And this is one example.


the art or technique of compelling or persuading a god or beneficent or supernatural power to do or refrain from doing something

Would this count? Abraham here is trying to persuade God to avert His wrath from Sodom, convincing God to agree to more and more merciful terms:

Gen. 18:22-32
22Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD. 23And Abraham came near and said, "Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? 24Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? 25Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" 26So the LORD said, "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes." 27Then Abraham answered and said, "Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: 28Suppose there were five less than the fifty righteous; would You destroy all of the city for lack of five?" So He said, "If I find there forty-five, I will not destroy it." 29And he spoke to Him yet again and said, "Suppose there should be forty found there?" So He said, "I will not do it for the sake of forty." 30Then he said, "Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Suppose thirty should be found there?" So He said, "I will not do it if I find thirty there." 31And he said, "Indeed now, I have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: Suppose twenty should be found there?" So He said, "I will not destroy it for the sake of twenty." 32Then he said, "Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more: Suppose ten should be found there?" And He said, "I will not destroy it for the sake of ten."
(Holy Bible: New King James Version. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982.)

Here, God decides to end Hezekiah's life, but Hezekiah pleads with God to consider his loyalty, and so God rolls back His decision:

II Kings 20:1-6
1In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, "Thus says the LORD: 'Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.' " 2Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the LORD, saying, 3"Remember now, O LORD, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight." And Hezekiah wept bitterly. 4And it happened, before Isaiah had gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying, 5"Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, 'Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: "I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the LORD. 6And I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake, and for the sake of My servant David." ' "
(Holy Bible: New King James Version. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982.)
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    Holy smokes that is a beauteous Bible Quote technique, you mind writing up how you create those on the meta site. We've been asking for a one-box markdown format from StackExchange for a while, but it's been formally denied (after like 8 years of waiting) this is probably the best we'll ever get – Peter Turner May 16 at 3:02
  • @PeterTurner Sure, it would be my pleasure! Could you please direct me to where I need to go? – carsonfel May 16 at 5:17
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    @PeterTurner I edited my meta answer to include a template for producing the above Bible quote style. – GratefulDisciple May 16 at 17:39

Is the concept of theurgy used in bible or any Christian scripture?

The art or technique of compelling or persuading a god or beneficent or supernatural power to do or refrain from doing something - Theurgy

The concept in itself seems to be dealt with in the Sacred Scriptures, but not rather explicitly, but rather implicitly, since it constitutes an abomination in eyes of the Ancient Israelites and Christians.

For example, the wearing of amulets in not seen in a favourable light when taken into a relationship to Pagan gods.

But firstly, let us see what is theurgy in truth?

As regarding the Merriam-Webster definition used in the question; it is a modern condensed definition which they claim was first used in 1569! However its' origins came from the 4th century. It is by far an inaccurate definition of what theurgy truly is!

Here follows a more complete understanding of the term in a religious context.

Theurgy (θεουργία, literally “divine work”) is best understood as a collaborative effort between human beings and the gods. The word was first used by the Chaldean Oracles in the second century CE and became fully elaborated in the ritual philosophy of the Neoplatonist Iamblichus (died c. 325 CE). Unlike the earlier system of Plotinus, which stressed the importance of contemplation (θεωρία) to attain mystical union (ἕνωσις) with the One, theurgic Neoplatonism also emphasizes ritual. Various ritual techniques serve to purify the vessel (ὑποδοχή) of the theurgist and enable his or her ascent (ἀναγωγή) to the divine source. Theurgic rituals utilize various divine sumbola (σύμβολα: symbols, tokens, passwords) and sunthemata (συνθήματα: tokens, signs, passwords, signatures), which consist of natural materials (stones, plants, incense, etc.), divine names, numerical constructs, and other ritual structures. A gradual process of ritual purification and ascent brings about the realization of the divinity within the individual (what Iamblichus calls “the One of the soul”). One way this can be understood is a shift in an individual’s perspective from the mortal to the divine. Therefore, the supposed body-soul “dualism” of Plato’s Phaedo and Phaedrus can be reconciled with the overall monistic system of the Timaeus (and of Neoplatonism in general). Matter is “connatural” (συμφυής) with Soul, Soul with Intellect, and Intellect with the One. Theurgic ritual is the complementary moment of reversion (ἐπιστροφή) to the demiurgic procession (πρόοδος), understood to be a continuous cyclical movement. By coming to understand the hidden structures of the universe, the theurgist participates (μετέχει) in its ongoing creation.

With this definition in mind, the following biblical references may be helpful:

  • And say, Thus says the Lord God: Woe to the women who sew magic bands upon all wrists, and make veils for the heads of persons of every stature, in the hunt for souls! Will you hunt down souls belonging to my people and keep your own souls alive? - Ezekiel 13:18
  • Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against your magic bands with which you hunt the souls like birds, and I will tear them from your arms, and I will let the souls whom you hunt go free, the souls like birds.” - Ezekiel 13:20
  • In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarves; the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets. - Isaiah 3:18-20
  • Moreover, Josiah put away the mediums and the necromancers and the household gods and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might establish the words of the law that were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord. - 2 Kings 23:24
  • Moreover, you took your sons and daughters whom you had borne to Me and sacrificed them to idols to be devoured. Were your harlotries so small a matter? You slaughtered My children and offered them up to idols by causing them to pass through the fire - Ezekiel 16:20-21
  • But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed. - Acts 8:9-13


The art or technique of compelling or persuading is the Wikipedia’s definition that I believe the OP is after, and that's the definition that I am using for this answer. "Crying out" is not compelling. "Art or technique" really implies magic/ritual, which "crying out" is definitely not.

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    This is the only answer that fits with (I think) the intent of the question. See my comment for suggestion to edit the question. – GratefulDisciple May 15 at 22:57
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    I think this is a very good answer. +1 from me – Adam May 15 at 23:48
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    @GratefulDisciple I don't see how it fits, as the claim that theurgy is abominable seems to rely on a different definition than the one in the Question. (It explicitly says "with the definition below). The one in the question seems to be about humans arguing with God, and that has much Scriptural evidence, by men who are considered righteous. Heck, they've not even quoted Moses arguing with God to save the Israelites. And then there's the unusual case of Jesus pleading with the Father before his trial and crucifixion--I would argue Jesus was doing so a Man, not as God. – trlkly May 16 at 3:32
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    @trlkly What Moses and Jesus did were "crying out" asking for God's intervention / reply, which is of course legitimate. But while the Q didn't provide the accurate definition of "theurgy" as used in religions, the Q provided enough hint ("the art or technique of compelling or persuading") that it's the wikipedia definition that the OP is after, and that's the definition that Ken's using for his answer. "Crying out" is not compelling. "art or technique" implies magic / ritual, which "crying out" is definitely not. – GratefulDisciple May 16 at 4:38

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