What Jesus Would Say to a Wiccan

Revelation 2:6

October 31, 2010 | Brian Bill

I talked to a person a week ago who told me that she had a conversation with some people in the community about our sermon series.  One person said something like this: “I don’t think your pastor should be speaking on other religions. That’s really none of his business.”  I was happy to hear how they responded, “Actually it is his business because the Bible has a lot to say about this.”

Actually, I’ve done a lot of thinking about this and I think I do need to apologize…for not doing this series sooner!

Last week we tackled Islam because it’s almost always in the news and on our national and international radar.  Our topic today, “What God Would Say to a Wiccan” has some national significance as well.  Do you remember when a U.S. Senate candidate admitted that she had dabbled in witchcraft as a teenager?  Have you heard that thanks to the Pagan Pride Project, pagan symbols are now allowed on tombstones of our U.S. soldiers who are Wiccan?  Pastor Jeff passed along a story this week about some Wiccans in Cleveland who put a hex on LeBron James as he got ready to play his first game with the Miami Heat.  This is what they chanted live on a radio station: “Tie a knot against the king.  May he die without a ring.”

But my choice of this topic is closer to home because of the inroads of Wicca in our county, our community, in our schools and in our homes.  I came across a book title written by a youth pastor that shows how this belief has gone main stream among teens today.  One could make the case that this generation is the first to grow up with witchcraft as an accepted part of the culture.  His book is called: Generation Hex.  

In 2006, researcher George Barna came out with the top 12 most significant or surprising faith findings for that year.  Coming in second was this report: “Three out of every four teenagers have engaged in at least one type of psychic or witchcraft-related activity. Among the most common of those endeavors are using a Ouija board, reading books about witchcraft or Wicca, playing games involving sorcery or witchcraft…Conversely, during the past year fewer than three out of every ten churched teenagers had received any teaching from their church about elements of the supernatural.”

Our children must hear biblical truth from our church and from the church that meets in our homes

I repeat what I said last week. Parents and grandparents, this series is really important because our children and grandchildren are growing up in a totally tolerant and accepting postmodern atmosphere, with no regard for what is true or what is false.  In fact, we could say that our culture is tolerant of everything except for the exclusive truth claims of Christianity.  Our children must hear biblical truth from our church and from the church that meets in our homes.

And this topic is especially relevant for parents of older adolescents because the demographic group that is most attracted to Wicca is teenage girls.  Influenced by “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” “Wizards of Waverly Place,” and “Charmed,” along with an openness to Wicca spun by the Harry Potter franchise, many teens are experimenting with the occult.  There’s even a “Secret Spells Barbie.”  When I looked into it, this is what I found on the web: “Hey girls! There’s a new Barbie in town!  Wiccan Barbie!  Now you and Barbie can hold rituals and cast spells just like a real Witch!  Instructions are included for all the major Sabbats, casting a circle, love spells and more.  Form your own coven with your friends.”  An episode of the Simpson’s even dealt with this topic as Lisa considered joining a coven.  

Danny Aguirre, who runs a Christian hot line at the Spiritual Counterfeits Project, has noticed something, “In the last six months, I have received more inquiries about Wicca than any other religion in the 10 years I have worked here.” The demographics of the callers? “All teen-age girls,” says Aguirre.

Preliminary Points

I want to make three points right at the beginning.

1. It’s OK to write in your Bible.

Last week I made the argument that in witnessing to Muslims, we should be careful to not use a Bible that we’ve written in.  While that’s good advice when talking to a follower of Islam, it’s important to underline, jot down notes in the margin and anything else you can do to get the Word in your head, your heart and out into your hands as you live it out on a daily basis.  Friends, we need to know the truth of the Bible if we’re ever going to spot error.  I’m told that when bank tellers are trained to recognize counterfeit money, they simply are given genuine money and told to familiarize themselves with it.  That way, when a counterfeit bill shows up, they are quick to spot it.

2. I have no desire to create an unhealthy interest in the occult.

My goal is to show the supremacy of Christ in such a way that you will be motivated to commit your life in a much greater degree to the glory of God as you live out your purpose in this world.  The words of C.S. Lewis in “Screwtape Letters” should be kept in mind: “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils.  One is to disbelieve in their existence.  The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.  They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”

3. I will not be going on a witch hunt in the sermon, and I don’t want you to either. 

We should be embarrassed by how Christians in the past burned witches at the stake, including many young mothers and children.  Referred to as the “burning times,” we must be quick to apologize for this because as Christ followers we are called to be kind, polite and respectful.  When you meet a Wiccan your first responsibility is to love them as Jesus does and then do all in your strength to point them to the Savior.

In my preparation for this sermon I’ve had three different conversations with one Wiccan, and two conversations with this man and a woman who refers to herself as a high priestess.  I now consider them to be my friends.  I’ve read parts of three different books by Wiccan authors; and I’ve listened to a number of pagan podcasts and messages by Wiccans.  I’ve also listened to a number of sermons by pastors much brighter than me.  In addition, I’ve done a study of what Scripture teaches about witchcraft and Wicca. 

What’s a Wiccan?

Since 2001, the number of Wiccans has doubled every year.  While many studies say that Wicca is the fastest growing religion in our country right now, one Wiccan author says that, “Trying to find us, though, can sometimes be rather tricky.  And honestly, that’s part of the fun.”  In that sense, it’s hard to know which witch is which.  Sorry.  Slightly more than half of Americans say that have never heard of Wicca, so if you don’t have a clue, you will when we’re through.

The word “Wicca” can mean wisdom, or “to bend or shape energy” and is a generic term for modern and contemporary witchcraft with its roots in paganism and the fertility religions of Western Europe.  Often referred to as Witchcraft or the Craft, their worship centers around a male and female deity and rituals are practiced that revolve around the cycles of nature.  This modern revival of goddess worship can best be understood by defining some key terms.  I should say that most Wiccans wouldn’t use these terms but I find them to be helpful because it helps us see how Wicca contrasts with the Way of Jesus.

  • Reincarnation.  Many Wiccans believe that at death, the soul passes into “Summerland,” until the soul is re-birthed again into the physical world.  By the way, a Pew Research Poll found that 22% of Christians believe in Reincarnation.
  • Monism.  This means that all is one and one is all; a mystical oneness connects us to nature.
  • Animism.  This is the belief that inanimate objects possess a vital life force.
  • Pantheism.  Similar to animism; it’s the idea that everything is deity.
  • Panentheism.  Deity is within everything and everyone has the deity within them.
  • Polytheism.  Belief that there is more than one god and/or goddess.
  • Postmodernism.  This is the predominate worldview today in which one’s beliefs are determined by personal preference or feelings rather than whether it’s true or not.  All views are equally valid because truth is discovered by experience, not knowledge.  In this view, there are no absolutes and everything is relative.

What Does a Wiccan Believe?

The Wiccan ethic, or as they call it, the Wiccan “Rede” is this, “An’ if it harm none, do what ye will.”  I think we could agree with the first half of this statement for it sounds a bit like the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Basically, when you put the two parts together, as long as you don’t hurt anyone, you can do whatever you want.  Who wouldn’t want a religion like that?   That’s actually one reason why it’s becoming so popular.

While denying the existence of sin, Wiccans do believe in what they call the “Rule of Three,” which states that whatever you do, it will come back to you with triple force, whether you are giving off “positive energy” or “negative energy.” This would be similar to Karma.

It’s difficult to really determine the worldview of a Wiccan because it is so individualistic and there is no one spokesman for the faith or one authoritative book to consult.  Scott Cunningham, a Wiccan author writes: “There is not, and can never be, one ‘pure’ or ‘true’ or ‘genuine’ form of Wicca…it is a merging with the goddesses and gods, the universal energies that created all in existence.”  Adherents are encouraged to experiment with beliefs and behavior and to do whatever works for them.  Here’s a typical statement from a leading proponent when it comes to trying to pin down their beliefs: “It is not necessary that your ‘truth’ conform to anyone else’s.  Conversely, you cannot expect the world to conform to your truths, either.” We could say that they absolutely believe in no absolutes.  Their belief system is non-dogmatic and those who follow it are, for the most part, non-judgmental toward others who believe differently.  

While some Wiccans are part of a coven, or a congregation, many today are solitary practitioners.  Actually, one of my Wiccan friends told me that there are two other ways to practice:

  • In a duality.  When I asked what this meant, she quoted the words of Jesus (I’m sure that’s not what He meant): “Where two are more are gathered.”
  • In a grove.  This is where solitaries come together for specific reasons.

Wiccans often cast spells during ritual practices, many times inside a sacred circle that represents the elements of air, fire, water and earth, and the spirit which unites them all.  They also use what they call “sacramental tools,” which can include swords, chalices, wands, canes, amulets, stones and shields.

When I asked one of my new Wiccan friends for some reading recommendations, one of the books she suggested was “To Ride a Silver Broomstick” by Silver RavenWolf, perhaps the most widely published Wiccan author today.  In this book, she reprints the “13 Principles of Belief” that were adopted by the Council of American Witches in 1974.  Interestingly, because of disagreement and other infighting, this council disbanded later that same year.  These principles of belief still serve as an accepted standard, with some exceptions.  I’m not going to list all of them for the sake of time, but I’ll mention a few to give you the flavor.

#1.  They practice rites to attune themselves with the natural rhythm of life forces marked by the phases of the moon and eight “sabats” that are celebrated with the changing of the seasons.

#2.  Wiccans are very committed to the protection of the environment and seek to live in harmony with nature, referring to our planet as “mother earth.”  As Christ-followers we should embrace creation care while avoiding the worship of the world.  We must preserve our planet but never worship that which is created but instead worship God the Creator.

#3.  Wiccans believe in a depth of power that is not apparent to the average person.  This power is lying within everyone and in everything.  

#4.  Wiccans are into goddess worship, along with the worship of a god.  This understanding of the divine as feminine and masculine is at the heart of their belief.  One author says that the real initiation involves the “bond with the lord and the lady.”

#7.  The Wiccan Way believes in magick as a means of living within the world.  One popular proponent of Wicca says this: “…Every act can be a ritual, and that every moment we are alive is another chance to honor the divine within and around us.”

#10. Here’s how this one is stated: “Our only animosity toward Christianity, or toward any other religion or philosophy-of-life, is to the extent that its institutions have claimed to be ‘the only way’ and have sought to deny freedom to others and to suppress other ways of religious practice and belief.”  Wiccan author Scott Cunningham adds, “It’s the highest form of human vanity to assume that your religion is the only way to Deity.”

#12. Wiccans do not accept the concept of absolute evil, nor do they worship any entity known as Satan. They do not seek power through the suffering of others.

When I talked with my Wiccan friends about their faith, I identified an amalgamation of beliefs from many different traditions.  I heard Jewish terms, strains of Buddhism, New Age, Hinduism, Native American spiritual practices, Greek and Roman mythology, Egyptian religion, with a smattering of Christian symbols and rituals thrown in for good measure.  They even use the word “sacrament” to refer to a ritual called, “Cakes and Ale,” which seems to have been borrowed from the Christian understanding of communion (when I pointed this out, they told me that Christians borrowed it from them).  

They utilize the pentacle, which is the pentagram with a circle around it, the crescent moon, sticks, broom handles, herbs, candles, circles, and altars.  Sexual license is held in high regard, with no consequences or judgment for whatever behavior is chosen.  My two friends also talked about a “Pagan Pride Convention” that they go to each year up in Chicago.  Last year 700 people attended.

I’ve been asked what the purpose or point of Wicca is.  Here’s what Dianne Sylvan says: “The point of Wicca, the real mystery behind it all, is to remember the Divinity within ourselves and all things; to manifest our God and Goddess all the time, every day, every moment…to understand that we are the embodiment of the Divine love and nurture, and to express that love in the world; to walk as god and goddess…We don’t believe in our gods, we know them.  We are them.”

The Bible Way

Now that we’ve learned a bit about the “Wiccan Way,” it’s important for us to understand the Bible way.  Most people that are attracted to the occult are ill-informed about what the Bible teaches.  

I’ve been helped in my understanding of this by a pamphlet published by Focus on the Family called, The Hidden Traps of Wicca.  Here’s part of what it says: “One thing Wiccans have right is that there is a supernatural world that interacts constantly with the world we see, touch and smell. Unfortunately, they believe its okay for humans to interact with spirits and spiritual forces any way we choose…Many Wiccans say that Wicca is harmless and nature-loving — that it has nothing to do with evil, Satanism and dark forces.  But that is exactly what Satan wants them to believe!”  Check out 2 Corinthians 11:14-15: “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.  It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” 

In a world of “Wicca for Dummies” (yes, that’s the title of a real book), we have sanitized the occult and have taken something that should horrify us and made it harmless.  Friends, it’s imperative that we go back to the Word of God so that we say what God says about Wicca and witchcraft.  Jesus knew the Bible and quoted it all the time, especially when He was being tempted by Satan (see Luke 4:1-13).  I believe Jesus would use the Word of God and would say something like the following to a Wicca.  Last week we focused primarily on what Jesus declared about Himself in the Gospel of John.  Today I want us to literally walk through the Word, beginning in Genesis and ending in Revelation.

Wiccans are fond of saying their paganism predates Christianity.  In a very real sense that’s true.  I think it can be traced back to the Garden of Eden and was first voiced by Satan himself in his questioning of Eve in Genesis 3:4-5: “‘You will not surely die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’” Wicca appeals to the desire to be God, not submit to Him.   Again I quote from Scott Cunningham, “We don’t bow down to the deities; we work with them to create a better world.”

Leviticus 19:26, 31: “…Do not practice divination or sorcery…Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them.  I am the Lord your God.” 

Deuteronomy 18:10-12: “Let no one be found among you 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…” 

In 1 Samuel 28, King Saul does the forbidden and consults a witch, or medium, in order to speak with someone who is dead.  

1 Kings 18 describes the showdown on Mount Carmel between the prophet Elijah and the prophets who believed in all sorts of pagan gods.  Elijah challenged the people to choose sides in verse 21 and stop straddling the fence: “How long will you waver between two opinions?  If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”   This is a great example of the exclusivity of the God of the Bible.  After God showed up when the pagan god of fire couldn’t get a spark going, verse 39 says, “The Lord—He is God!  The Lord—He is God!”

2 Kings 9:22: “‘How can there be peace,’ Jehu replied, ‘as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother Jezebel abound?’” By the way, as you read the Old Testament, you’ll come across something called “Asherah Poles.”  These were used in goddess worship, and much like Wicca rituals, this pole or tree stump was set up under the shade of a green tree.  This type of goddess worship was a constant stumbling block to God’s people in the Old Testament.

In 2 Chronicles 33:6, we see that King Manasseh was involved in some practices that made God upset when he, “practiced sorcery, divination and witchcraft, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking him to anger.”

In Micah 5:12-13 God says: “I will destroy your witchcraft and you will no longer cast spells.  I will destroy your carved images and your sacred stones from among you; you will no longer bow down to the work of your hands.”

In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus made it clear that the way to heaven is extremely restrictive: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” 

A new study released by the Pew Forum finds most Americans don’t believe that there’s only way to heaven.  This quote really troubled me: “57 percent of evangelical church attendees said they believe many religions can lead to eternal life…”  As believers in Jesus we must teach what Jesus himself taught.  He is the only way to heaven and His claims are very exclusive in the sense that there is no other way except through Him. The exclusivity of Immanuel is emphatic.

How does this mesh in a pluralistic society like ours that values variety and excludes exclusive truth claims?  It’s helpful to remember that the world of the biblical authors was filled with paganism and pluralism as well. In the midst of all this doctrinal diversity, the Bible makes some rather startling claims that run counter-cultural to the mantra of religious tolerance. 

The Bible makes it clear that every individual is either in the kingdom of the Son or in the kingdom of Satan, in the realm of darkness or in the light, forgiven or unforgiven, saved or lost, twice-born or once-born, on the road to heaven or on the highway to hell

While some have tried to say that it’s possible to be a Wiccan and a Christian, Jesus said this in Matthew 12:30: “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.”  The Bible makes it clear that every individual is either in the kingdom of the Son or in the kingdom of Satan, in the realm of darkness or in the light, forgiven or unforgiven, saved or lost, twice-born or once-born, on the road to heaven or on the highway to hell.  That means that even though Wiccans would say that they are not worshipping Satan, their whole belief system is authored by Satan and god and goddess worship is in reality an offering to the devil himself.

Let’s revisit what Jesus declared about Himself in John 14:6: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  Let me come back to #10 in the Wicca Principles of Belief.  Wiccans are very open to all avenues of religion except for the exclusivity of Jesus: “Our only animosity toward Christianity, or toward any other religion or philosophy-of-life, is to the extent that its institutions have claimed to be the ‘only way’…”

These passages are extremely exclusive and overwhelmingly clear: Jesus is the only way to heaven. His statements of divine authority are incompatible with the homogenizing views of religious pluralists. The claims of Christ are outrageous but they happen to be what G.K. Chesterton called “the wild truth.”   Flannery O’Connor has said: “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.”

Peter boldly states in Acts 4:12: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” 

In Acts 13:6-12, we’re introduced to a magician named Elymas who opposed Barnabas and Saul as they were preaching and he also tried to turn people from the faith.  Check out what the Apostle Paul said in verses 10-11: “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right!  You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?  Now the hand of the Lord is against you.  You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun.”

In Acts 19:19-20 we read of those in Ephesus, a center for witchraft, who practiced the occult and then became Christ followers.  This reminds me of what I did with my Black Sabbath albums after I got saved: “A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly.  When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.  In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.”

Galatians 5:19-20: “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft…”

1 Timothy 4:1 reminds us that we shouldn’t be surprised that many are being drawn away to the occult: “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”

When Jesus spoke to the seven churches in the Book of Revelation, He called out one church for harboring a group called the Nicolaitans while he complimented the church at Ephesus for hating their practices.  The Nicolaitans had worked out a compromise with pagan beliefs and believed that they should have spiritual liberty to practice idolatry and immorality. The early church father Iranaeus said that they, “Lead lives of unrestrained indulgence.”  Revelation 2:6: “But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”  Notice that they hated their practices, not the people themselves.  Revelation 2:15 shows that the church at Pergamum put up with their practices, even in the church: “Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.”  

Revelation 22:15 speaks of those who are in heaven as those on the “inside” while unbelievers are left out: “Outside are the dogs [that means our dog Charlie’s not going to make it], those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”

What Can We Do?

Why is that some believe that the church and Christians are not providing what people are looking for?  What can we do about that?  Here are nine ways to live out the way.

  1. Grow and let your kids see God changing you.  If we believe the truth of Romans 1:16, we should exhibit it on a regular basis: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…”
  2. Pray with your kids and expect answers.
  3. Show the purpose of living a Christ-centered life.
  4. Reach out to the lonely.  One study I read said that 30% of those attracted to Wicca were lonely.
  5. Care for the environment.
  6. Take advantage of Christian community and encourage your kids to do the same.  Join a small group and encourage your students to do the same.  Our student ministry is now meeting in small groups on Sunday nights.
  7. Pay attention to the message of media and entertainment’s value system.  In other words, watch what you watch and what video games you play.  Check out www.pluggedinonline.com for a Christian perspective on movies, music, video games and other entertainment options.
  8. Be the church.
  9. Stay away from Wicca.  You may think that your pastor is paranoid but this is not harmless stuff or a fairy tale.  Yes, I am warning you about Wicca.  There is a real live battle for souls going on today.  

Witnessing to a Wiccan

When I was talking to my Wiccan friends, the man told me that he has never met a true Christian.  I told him that I was a true Christian and he told me that he doesn’t know that yet.  After I met with him again on Wednesday I asked him if he had now met a true Christian.  He said he still wasn’t sure.  I guess I have some work to do.  The woman Wiccan told me that she had only met one true Christian in her life (and she wasn’t referring to me either).  That’s sad, isn’t it?  What’s really sad is that both of them grew up in evangelical churches and one graduated from a Christian school.

I’m really challenged by what 1 Peter 2:12 says: “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”  Here are some suggestions for witnessing to a Wiccan:

  1. Don’t become accusatory, judgmental or argumentative.
  2. Don’t misrepresent their beliefs.
  3. Show genuine love.
  4. Put on your spiritual armor.
  5. Focus on a relationship with Jesus, not religion or rituals.

The Bible says that all people without Christ are pagans.  Check out 1 Corinthians 12:2: “You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.”  The Bible also says that we are made for another place, that the desire to connect with God is how we’ve been designed.  We do have a God-created sense of the spiritual realm because God has made us that way.  Check out Ecclesiastes 3:11: “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men.”  

I chose today to preach this sermon on Wicca because it’s Halloween.  Halloween is a high holiday for Wiccans where they believe that the “veil” between the natural world and the spirit world is at its “thinnest.”  It’s where the veil lifts and spirits come to visit. 

I am so glad that Jesus Christ, God’s one and only Son, tore the veil forever between us and God.  The Bible says that when He died, the temple curtain that kept people from the Holy of Holies was split in two, from top to bottom (see Matthew 27:51).  We now have full access to Him and can approach Him at any time, on any day, through the shed blood of Jesus.

On Monday my wife and I went out for lunch.  She ordered a salad but I was hungry so I ordered a big meal.  I knew it was going to be a bit pricey because of all that I ordered but I did it anyway.  When we were finished the waitress come up to us and said that someone had paid for our lunch.  This was definitely a surprise and was a huge gift to us (I bet he wondered why I ate so much when he saw the bill!).  I was reminded that this is a bit like God’s grace.  We all have a “sin bill” that is huge.  In fact, it’s so big that we can’t begin to pay it off.  But when Jesus died, he said, “It is finished,” meaning the debt has been fully paid.  No rituals needed.  No circles to be drawn.  No spells to be cast.  

What would Jesus say to a Wiccan?  I think He would say something like this.  “I love you and there’s nothing you can do to ever change that.  I am the way and the truth and the life and I invite you to follow Me alone.  I died in your place, paying the full price for your sins.  Confess your sins.  Repent of the way you’ve been living and receive me into your life.”

You can do that right now.  You can move from blindness to sight, from death to life, from being lost to being found.  All you need to do is give your life to the Lord Jesus Christ and let your lifesong sing.

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?