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  • Wicca (Witchcraft)

    By Bill Gordon

    Name: The name Wicca is the old English word for wizard. While in old English the term was a masculine noun, modern witches use the word to refer to both male and female followers of witchcraft. While some Wiccans proudly refer to themselves as witches, others do not use the term because of the negative connotations associated with the term.

    Nature: Wicca is an attempt to revive the pre-Christian nature and fertility religions of western Europe. It is a neo-pagan religion that believes in supernatural magick (see "Wiccan Practices below), worships a male and female deity, and practices rituals that revolve around the cycles of nature.

    Date of Beginning: While Wiccans often claim a historical connection with the ancient religions of the pre-Christian pagans, the movement actually started in the mid-twentieth century.

    Headquarters: Since Wicca is both antidogmatic and antiauthoritarian, it has no central leadership or organization. There is also no uniformity of doctrine. There is a wide variety of beliefs and practices found within Wicca, although there are some basic assumptions that are accepted by most Wiccan groups. There are many different Wiccan groups or denominations. Some are large with several thousand members, while others may consist of only a few people.

    Adherents: It is unknown how many are involved in Wicca. Most Wiccan groups do not report their membership numbers. However, evidence indicates that Wicca is one of the fastest growing occultic movements in North America. A conservative estimate for the number of Wiccans would be about 250,000. However, some Wiccan groups claim that there are as many as 5,000,000 people practicing their religion in North America. While both males and females of all ages practice Wicca, many Wiccans are teenage girls.

    Assumptions: Many of the beliefs of Wicca are also found in the New Age Movement. Wicca accepts an occultic understanding of reality. Wiccans worship a mother goddess and a male horned deity (her consort). Three major beliefs of Wicca are animism, pantheism, and polytheism.

    Wiccan Beliefs

    Animism is the belief that everything, even inanimate objects, have a soul or spirit. Wiccans believe that not only plants have a soul or spirit, but also the wind, the rain, and even rocks.

    Many witches believe that everything, animate and inanimate, is infused with and participates in the life force. As a result, the eath is one organism.

    In addition to holding to some form of animism, many Wiccans also adhere to pantheism. Pantheism is the belief that everything is divine. The term is derived from two Greek words: pan which means "all" and theos which means "god, God, deity." Pantheism understands deity as one with nature. Since everything is deity, they believe that humans are also divine.

    Some Wiccans adhere to panentheism rather than pantheism. Panentheism is the idea that deity is in everything. The two concepts are similar to one another. The difference is that pantheism teaches that everything is deity, while panentheism maintains that deity is within everything.

    Craig Hawkins1 explains Wiccan panentheism as follows: Panentheists postulate that God—or the Divinity—is in the world similar to the way a soul or mind is in a body. As the soul is in the body yet still transcends it, so the Divinity is in (or is manifested in) the world yet transcends it. Thus, all that exists is imbued with divinity, yet the Divinity transcends creation. Humans and the earth are viewed as a manifestation of the Goddess. (Witchcraft, pp. 34-35)

    Polytheism is the belief that there is more than one god. Wiccans give polytheism a very post modern interpretation with relativistic implications.

    As defined by many witches, however, polytheism is not merely the belief in multiple deities—but also the belief that there are a countless number of levels of meaning and reality. This belief allows not only for a multitude of gods, goddesses, and religions, but also for views of reality that would appear to be mutually exclusive. This polytheistic premise is expressed in beliefs such as, "there is no one way or right religion for all," and "there is no one truth." (Witchcraft, p. 35)

    Biblical Response:

    The beliefs of Wicca and other neo-pagan groups are contrary to the Christian Scriptures. The biblical doctrine of creation emphasizes the transcendence of God and His separateness from what He has created. The first verse in the Bible states "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen.1:1, NASB). The implication of this passage is that in the beginning God created that which was not God.

    Not only does the Bible proclaim the separateness of God from His creation, but it also teaches the distinctiveness of God's creations from one another. Each of God's creations were unique and different from His other creations. They were made "after their kind."

    "Then God said, 'Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind'; and it was so. God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good" (Gen. 1:24-25, NASB).

    Not only does God transcend the universe that He created, but there is only one God. There is no plurality of deities as taught by Wicca. The Bible teaches this truth in many places.

    "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one" (Deut. 6:4, NASB)!

    "You are my witnesses," declares the Lord, "and my servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me" (Isa. 43:10, NASB).

    "This is what the Lord says-Israel's King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God" (Isa. 44:6, NIV).

    "For this is what the Lord says-he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited-he says: 'I am the Lord, and there is no other'" (Isa. 45:18, NIV).

    Wiccan Practices

    Wiccans claim to be able to perform occultic magick. Wiccans and other neo-pagans often add the letter k to the word magic in order to differentiate their spell casting from sleight–of hand–magic. Wiccan keep their spells in what they refer to as a book of shadows. This book is also often called a Grimoire. It is a collection of Wiccan rituals and magickal spells and is used as a reference book.

    While some occultic groups do sacrifice animals, this is very rare among groups calling themselves Wiccans. Some Wiccans do, however, practice a form of channeling where they allow themselves to be possessed by another entity. This entity may be thought of as the Goddess, the force that permeates the universe, or something else. Not all Wiccans practice channeling.

    Sex is understood by many Wiccans as a source of magickal power. While some use sex magick in their group rituals, most Wiccans avoid this kind of ritual sex. Many more Wiccans use nudity in group rituals rather than practice sexual magick with their coven. This practice is sometimes referred to as skyclad. Wiccans who worship in the nude sometimes claim that this allows the magickal energy to function without hindrance. However, the majority of Wiccans prefer to use robes rather than worship skyclad.

    In addition to casting spells, many Wiccans also practice various forms of divination. Some of the more popular forms of divination they employ are astrology, numerology, palmistry, runes, and tarot cards.

    Biblical Response:

    The Bible warns against all forms of occultic activity. The Scripture indicates that those who engage in such activities are detestable to God.

    "When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God. The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so" (Deut. 18:9-14, NIV).

    Those who do not turn from the sin of witchcraft and place their faith in Christ as their Lord and Savior will one day experience the wrath and judgment of God.

    "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal. 5:19-21, NIV).

    Sharing the Good News of Salvation with Wiccans

    Christians should be bold in sharing the good news of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus with Wiccans. "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline" (2 Tim. 1:7, NIV). We are to balance our boldness with a spirit of love and self-discipline.

    The general principles for witnessing to Wiccans are found in 1 Peter 3:15: "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" (1 Pet. 3:15, NIV).

    Balance boldness in sharing the gospel with gentleness. You can be bold without being overly aggressive. Also, treat Wiccans with respect. Nothing will end a witnessing opportunity faster than being disrespectful to a Wiccan. Finally, when you share the gospel with your Wiccan friends trust the Holy Spirit to convict them of their need for salvation that comes only through faith in Jesus Christ.

    Bill Gordon is on staff at the North American Mission Board, SBC.

    1Craig S. Hawkins, Witchcraft: Exploring the World of Wicca (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996), 33.

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