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Do Christians believe that people can tap into supernatural powers through the practice of witchcraft and the occult? I'm aware that there are passages in the Bible that prohibit messing around with the dark arts, but I'm not sure if these practices are prohibited because they would be a waste of time (i.e. they don't work) or because they are dangerous (i.e. they do work).

Do Christians believe in witchcraft and the occult? Yes? No? Why? Does the answer depend on the denomination? Are there denominations that believe in their existence and other denominations that don't?

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    There are numerous questions on the topic, such as How does Christianity view such persons etc ....
    – Nigel J
    Jul 17 at 5:13
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    as always, very thoughtful question Spirit Realm Investigator. I appreciate your interest in making people think about their beliefs...these curve balls are fantastic for building ones house upon the rock. Thank you and +1 from me!
    – Adam
    Jul 18 at 23:57
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    Anecdotally, I was practicing a form of Native American Shamanism. One day, cleansing a house that contained a room that the home owner would not go into because it "felt bad", I inadvertently let something in to me. Over the next few years I changed and my thoughts became dark indeed. Long story short; the Lord Jesus delivered me from this inhabitant. Ascribing power to anything other than the Lord is opening yourself up to dark power, IMHO. Aug 6 at 16:48
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Do Christians believe in witchcraft and the occult?

The vast majority of Christians would admit that both witchcraft and the occult exist in our day. However, Christians believe that it is immoral to practice these forms of ”dark magic” if it can be phrased as such. If Christians in the past have been known to lapse and fall into the delusional practices of such things.

Christians dabbling in such things as ouija boards are generally not aware at what great peril such practices could subject their souls to.

Christianity in general condemns such practices, including the use of mediums, magicians, and others who practice occult arts, up to and including Satanism. Why give ear to the Father of Lies.

My answer to this question (How does Christianity view such persons who are Xianpo(s)?) bares this out!

There are many who dabble in the occult, not truly realizing how dangerous it actually is. Many exorcists have mentioned how innocent victims of individuals who have been cursed by someone practicing witchcraft or Santería.

Santería, also known as Regla de Ocha, Regla Lucumí*’ or Lucumí, is an African diasporic religion that developed in Cuba during the late 19th century. It arose through a process of syncretism between the traditional Yoruba religion of West Africa, the Roman Catholic form of Christianity, and Spiritism. Santería is an initiatory tradition whose adherents are known as creyentes ("believers"). There is no central authority in control of Santería, which is organised through autonomous groups.

Santería is polytheistic and revolves around deities called oricha. Deriving their names and attributes from traditional Yoruba divinities, they are equated with Roman Catholic saints. Each human is believed to have a personal link to a particular oricha who influences their personality. Various myths are told about these oricha, who are regarded as subservient to Olodumare, a transcendent creator deity. Olodumare is believed to be the ultimate source of aché, a supernatural force permeating the universe that can be manipulated through ritual actions. Practitioners venerate the oricha at altars, either in the home or in the casa (temple), which is run by a santero (priest) or santera (priestess). Membership of the casa requires initiation. Offerings to the oricha include fruit, liquor, flowers and sacrificed animals. A central ritual is the toque de santo, in which practitioners drum, sing, and dance to encourage an oricha to possess one of their members and thus communicate with them. Several forms of divination are used, including Ifá, to decipher messages from the oricha. Offerings are also given to the spirits of the dead, with some practitioners identifying as spirit mediums. Healing rituals and the preparation of herbal remedies and talismans also play a prominent role.

Santería developed among Afro-Cuban communities following the Atlantic slave trade of the 16th to 19th centuries. It formed through the blending of the traditional religions brought to Cuba by enslaved West Africans, the majority of them Yoruba, and Roman Catholicism, the only religion legally permitted on the island by the Spanish colonial government. In urban areas of West Cuba, these traditions merged with Spiritist ideas to form the earliest casas during the late 19th century. After the Cuban War of Independence resulted in an independent republic in 1898, its new constitution enshrined freedom of religion. Santería nevertheless remained marginalized by Cuba's Roman Catholic, Euro-Cuban establishment, which typically viewed it as brujería (witchcraft). In the 1960s, growing emigration following the Cuban Revolution spread Santería abroad. The late 20th century saw growing links between Santería and related traditions in West Africa and the Americas, such as Haitian Vodou and Brazilian Candomblé. Since the late 20th century, some practitioners have emphasized a "Yorubization" process to remove Roman Catholic influences and create forms of Santería closer to traditional Yoruba religion.

Practitioners of Santería are primarily found in Cuba's La Habana and Matanzas provinces, although communities exist across the island and abroad, especially among the Cuban diasporas of Mexico and the United States. The religion remains most common among working-class Afro-Cuban communities although is also practiced by individuals of other class and ethnic backgrounds. The number of initiates is estimated to be in the high hundreds of thousands. These initiates serve as diviners and healers for a much larger range of clients, making the precise numbers of those involved in Santería difficult to determine. Many of those involved also identify as practitioners of another religion, typically Roman Catholicism.

In my more leisure moments, I enjoy watching forensic movies. One of note, would be of interest here. In season 2, episode 2 of The First 48 entitled "House of Santeria" is a true eye opener on this subject matter.

Sergeant Carlos De Los Santos and his team tackle the murder of a doctor found hogtied in his house and learn that the key to the case may lie with the voodoo-like Santeria shrines found at the crime scene.

Let us not forget that there are still many souls out there that practice Haitian Vodou in one form or another.

The famous exorcist Fr. Gabriele Amorth attributed the number of exorcisms performed to his opinion that "People have lost the Faith, and superstition, magic, Satanism, or ouija boards have taken its place, which then open all the doors to the presence of demons.” He also stated that the hardest exorcisms involves the liberation of Devils from those who have been cursed by individuals practicing these dark arts, especially from Brazil and Africa! His books, An Exorcist Tells His Story and An Exorcist: More Stories are an eye opener and not for the faint hearted.

So yes, Christians believe in witchcraft and the occult! But they are not things to be dabbled in. Those who play with fire, will eventually get burned, so keep away from them!

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  • The vast majority of Christians would admit that both witchcraft and the occult exist in our day. - is there a source for this? This wouldn't surprise me about the worldwide christian population, but is it true for christians in the west as well? Europe, North America?
    – TKoL
    Aug 6 at 16:56
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Do Christians believe that people can tap into supernatural powers through the practice of witchcraft and the occult?

"Tap into" is, IMO, a dangerous phrasing. I, personally, believe that there are supernatural powers; not only God, of course, but also demons. I believe that demons do have limited powers in this world, and that they may at times use, or seem to use, these powers at the behest of humans. (I also believe they frequently choose not to do so in areas overrun with Methodological Naturalism, as this religion is highly effective at keeping people from God/Christ.)

The great danger here is believing that these powers can be "controlled". Satan desires to lead as many people away from Christ as possible, and if that can be accomplished by offering the illusion that such powers can be controlled, that strategy will be used. That illusion, however, can be shattered any time it becomes beneficial to God's enemies. Satan is not called "the father of lies" for nothing!

I'm aware that there are passages in the Bible that prohibit messing around with the dark arts, but I'm not sure if these practices are prohibited because they would be a waste of time (i.e. they don't work) or because they are dangerous (i.e. they do work).

While both might be reasons, the primary reason is that such behaviors are sinful and evil. Use of "magic" not only violates the first commandment, it is actively opposed to God's desires, and, when real, involves actively consorting with forces opposed to God. There's a reason they're called "dark arts". This article goes into more detail.

Do Christians believe in witchcraft and the occult? Yes? No? Why?

Wikipedia seems to have a decent article on the subject.

In my experience, it depends on the individual and, possibly, the organization. As mentioned, in the "enlightened" world, there seems to be little empirical evidence for "magic" and the supernatural. This seems to be as the enemy wants it! If there was clear, unequivocal evidence of the supernatural, people would have a harder time denying the clear evidence of Creation (n.b. Romans 1:20). Atheists are no less condemned than witches.

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  • I believe that demons do have limited powers in this world, and that they may at times use, or seem to use, these powers at the behest of humans. (I also believe they frequently choose not to do so in areas overrun with Methodological Naturalism, as this religion is highly effective at keeping people from God/Christ.) - may I know what are the bases of these two beliefs? Is there any evidence of more frequent demonic activity in places where Methodological Naturalism is not the norm? If so, it'd be great if you could reference that evidence in your answer, even if it's just testimonial. Jul 18 at 16:24
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator, see Ken's answer, for starters; occult practices are much more common in e.g. Africa, Cuba and so forth. Compare that to North America and Europe where belief in the supernatural is uncommon and Methodological Naturalism is most certainly ascendant.
    – Matthew
    Jul 18 at 16:36
  • I'm not talking about whether occult practices are more common in those places (that's evidently true) -- what I'm talking about is whether demonic activity is more common. They are not, technically speaking, the same thing (although I understand that they are supposed to be correlated, in theory). Do you happen to be aware of evidence of more frequent demonic activity per se in those places? In other words, what counts as evidence of undeniable demonic activity in a certain place? Jul 18 at 16:49
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    @SpiritRealmInvestigator, most of what I "know" is anecdotal / hearsay (could not cite sources), but you might look into rates of reports of "paranormal" activity, and also rates at which exorcisms are performed. (Point of clarification... "for the record", as I think we're already on the same page: I'm speaking of "overtly supernatural" activity, not e.g. influencing social beliefs, even though the latter may also be subject to demonic manipulation.)
    – Matthew
    Jul 18 at 17:06
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Witchcraft has always been forbidden in Christianity as well as in Judaism and Islam.

Deuteronomy 18:10–12

No one shall be found among you who makes a son or daughter pass through fire, who practices divination, or is a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or one that casts spells, or who consults ghosts or spirits, or who seeks oracles from the dead. For whoever does these things is abhorrent to the Lord

Nevertheless, such practice occurred even inside the religious context; words like hocus pocus fidibus (hoc est opus fidibus, this is the work of the faithful) or abacadabra (Allahhu akbar, God is Great) are remains of this misuse of faith and the Name of God in the past.

Witchcraft and processes against "witches" were particularly popular in the 14th to 17th century (practised until the 19th century) in Europe coming out of the belief that witchcraft exists but also as a way to officially murder people who had not broken any law but disturbed the mighty or to get their property.

Luther and Calvin took part in favour of the prosecution of witchcraft as the Catholic Church.

Theological opposition arose in the 16th century, stating that witchcraft does not exist. Andreas Praetorius was the first Theologian who succeeded to abolish processes and condemns of women and men accused of witchcraft.

Nowadays, it is common teaching of all denominations that witchcraft does not exist. Churches of all denominations opt for vindication of the victims and apologise for their past errors.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/germany-church-witch-burning-b1778213.html?amp

https://www.luther2017.de/wiki/hexen/kai-lehmann-martin-luther-glaubte-fest-an-hexen/index.html

https://www.reformiert-info.de/Calvin_und_die_Hexenverfolgung-11240-0-37-5.html

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    ”Nowadays, it is common teaching of all denominations that witchcraft does not exist.“ I would like to disagree with this statement. Witchcraft and Satanism to a smaller degree are very much in vogue within a very limited minority of the population. Africa see its usage more than in the West. It exists even in China! Would missionaries agree with you?
    – Ken Graham
    Jul 17 at 16:03
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    My own experience of the past fifty years is that most of Christendom recognises that demonic activity is as real today as it was when Jesus cast out demons in Galilee and Judaea. And cast out seven demons from Mary Magdalene. Dabbling with the occult and with witchcraft is an extremely dangerous pastime for that very reason. Yes, it is very real. And greatly to be shunned and fled from. Down-voted -1 as factually inaccurate.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 17 at 20:15
  • It is a view of the official churches based in Europe (Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican).
    – Jeschu
    Jul 18 at 5:59
  • If you believe that, then it must be explicitly sourced out! I am not talking about the vindication of victims but rather the non existence of witchcraft, etc.
    – Ken Graham
    Jul 18 at 13:51

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