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Cults and World Religions

The Occult

The world of the occult conjures visions of Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, Poltergeist, Stephen King’s novels, and an entire host of other movies and books. Unfortunately, the world of the occult is much more far reaching than the imagination of writers and movie directors.

At the same time, the world of the occult is hard to define and discuss, for depending upon one’s views, it covers a wide host of practices. Many of these are not religions, in and of themselves, but are “things” related to the world of Satan. An easy example might be palm readers. Another example is the infamous Ouija board. McDowell’s Table of Contents has twenty-three different chapter entries and two appendixes on his section on understanding the occult. 201 Time does not allow us to cover the area to this depth.

The word “occult” is from the Latin occultus. The word carries the idea of things hidden, secret, and mysterious. Further, it involves things which go beyond the comprehension of the five human senses, dealing with the supernatural presence of angelic or demonic forces. 202

Scripture testifies to the existence of the occult. Consider the demands to remove those who practice these religions from the land.

Deuteronomy 18:9-14
9 “When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. 10 “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 “or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 “For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you. 13 “You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. 14 “For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not appointed such for you.

There is much in the practice of the occult which is fake, but one must be careful not to dismiss the entire realm as fakery. Remember, that while much scholarly debate exists over the exact meaning of the episode, the witch of Endor brought forth some spirit which she or King Saul thought was the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 28:7-25).

The modern world has the same interest in the occult as did Saul. The Gospel has been secularized, curiosity magnified, and the occult glorified. It offers a certain kind of reality which appeals to the loneliness of man. Yet, we must remember that those practicing in the realm of the occult are in league with Satan. They are false prophets who seek to influence people and prevent those who are seeking to find God from discovering the true path.

The World of the Occult

The world of the Occult will read something like this:

In addition, we might add more specific religious groups such as Spiritism, Theosophy, Rosicrucianism, Swedenborgianism, Wicca, and the Church of Satan. We will look at these groups more closely as examples of the effects of looking to the evil spirits of the world. To combat this world of the occult, the Christian must understand that Christ has already defeated Satan and given this continuing power to defeat sin and the Devil to every believer. But, part of this understanding is the knowledge that Satan and the demons are real! Paul writes that we should not be ignorant of the ways of the Devil. 203 We need to learn about how Satan operates and then be ready to take the offensive to combat the damage the Devil tries to impose upon the world. This involves letting the world know about the power of Jesus Christ.

A Word About Halloween

The day witches honor above all others is October 31. This is believed to be the night on which Satan and his witches have their greatest power. This is, of course, All Hallows Eve or Halloween. The origin is believed to go back to the practices of the Druids, a time dated to around 2,000 B.C. (the general time of Abraham and Issac). The Druids or Celtics believed November 1 was the day of death, in honor of their god Samhain, the lord of death. November 1 was also the end of autumn and the beginning of winter.

The Druids believed that the spirits of the dead returned home for visits on All Hallow’s Eve. The living were expected to provide food for the spirits in order not to have terrible things occur – that is, if the spirits did not receive a treat, they would do some tricking to the living!

The name Halloween is a form of the designation “All Hallow’s Eve” and is the date set by the early church to honor all the saints. The church called the night “All Saints Eve.” Some church historians believe the original date of celebration of All Saints Eve to have been October 30, but this is primarily speculation. This is an example of the church taking on a pagan holiday and attempting to convert it to a Christian holiday in an effort to make the conversion of the pagans an easier process. While the original All Saints Eve was clearly not pagan, the old characteristics have crept into the practice. Today, Halloween is basically a secular holiday designed to sell candy and costumes. True witches, however, still celebrate the day as All Hallow’s Eve preserving the pagan practices of a form of Satan worship.

201. Josh McDowell & Don Stewart, Handbook of Today’s Religions, San Bernardino, CA: Campus Crusade for Christ, Here’s Life Publishers, Inc., 1983. It should be noted that two of the chapters are an introduction and one is a general conclusion.
202. McDowell, Handbook of Today’s Religions, 149.
203. 2 Corinthians 2:11: lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.




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