“Who Sups with the Devil?”
Part I

ALONG with the many other evils besetting the world in these Last days is the recent growth of interest in occultism, in forms both old and new. Books on astrology, demon worship, spiritism, witchcraft and many other aspects of the occult are eagerly bought by the public as fast as they come off the press. “Demons in the World Today,” “Adventures into the Psychic,” “Occult Sciences,” “I Talked with Spirits,” “Witchcraft,” and dozens of other such books find ready buyers and avid readers.

On phoning a local bookstore recently to inquire for one such title, the owner regretted to say the last copy had just been sold, but stated that she had many other similar books in stock. And so she had, providing ready proof of the burgeoning interest in things satanic.

Just what has generated this present-day obsession with these strange cults? History shows that man has long been intrigued by such things. And even today many of the isolated peoples of the world wear charms or look to various gods for protection and relief from the effects of plagues, famines, volcanoes, hurricanes and other uncontrollable forces of nature. Finding themselves adrift, so to speak, on a raging sea of circumstance, they reach out for some one or some thing to magically calm the storm, cure the disease, or banish the trouble.

But seemingly the world climate in these latter days has become especially favorable for cultivating widespread interest in the occult. Perhaps it is the frustrating effects of poverty, or the liberty supplied by a free-wheeling affluence; the productive soil of ignorance, or a supposed flight from superstition. Perhaps it is the wearing tension developed by a world constantly at war.

Deeply disturbed as they observe the futile efforts being made to extricate the world from the tangled web of troubles that age-long, universal selfishness has spun, and disillusioned with the inadequate explanations of politicians, churchianity, and philosophers, growing numbers of people are turning to the occult, seeking escape from harsh reality in that which is different, mysterious, and intriguing, and which will, perhaps and somehow, provide a haven of peace in a very troubled, mixed-up world. Particularly open to the appeal of the exotic are the young, who have their own special kinds of frustrations and shattered hopes and ideals. Psychiatrist Judd Marmor of Los Angeles has said, “In times of insecurity people turn to mystical explanations, including astrology, witches and demon possession.” The present-day search for the exotic is in reality the poisonous product of unsettled times, loose times, undisciplined times.

Specifically, what do these various inventions of the Devil offer? Well, Satan is very clever; and he holds out a mixed bag of enticements from which his intended victims may unwittingly take their pick, depending on the turn of mind of each. To some, the allurement is the acquisition of a sense of power, thus negating their personal frustrations and feelings of inadequacy. To others, the attraction might be the mystery, or the sensationalism. To some it would be the licentious practices often engaged in. To still others, it is a natural longing to communicate with their dead loved ones; where are they, what is their condition, are they truly dead, or do they live on? While to still others it appears to provide a form of escape from conditions and circumstances that seem just too difficult to cope with. Thus, through one or another of these wicked devices, Satan appeals to the superstitious mind, to misguided longings, or to depraved appetites.

Witches and Wizards

In general, occultism relates to belief in supernatural forces and their supposed power to predict or initiate future events, or to shield one from evil forces. Witchcraft fits that description. Many will be surprised, no doubt, by the definition of witchcraft by one of its practitioners, first, as being a religion; and second, by the explanation given as to the kind of religion it is, namely; a religion of freedom and enjoyment of the sensual appetites. So right at the outset we can see why occultism is an “abomination to the Lord.” Witchcraft is also defined as the ability to cast spells.

Strangely enough, there is considerable debate as to whether or not witchcraft really exists, with many of the learned taking positions on both sides of the question, and this in spite of the fact that the Old Testament records the existence of wizards and witches, and severely condemns the practice or patronage of witchcraft, as we shall see later on. Nonetheless, the subject has developed sufficiently widespread interest to have gained a place in the study programs of scores of colleges in this nation.

In Germany, the number of people engaged in witchcraft is estimated in the thousands, and in America, too, witches are thought to run into high numbers. Witches believe they can actually alter the course of events, and if we are to believe their own testimony, they can do this for a very long time, for some witches claim to be many hundreds of years old by reason of succeeding reincarnations. Thus we come into direct conflict once more with the teachings of the Bible, wherein the doctrine of reincarnation finds no place; for the Bible teaches that the dead are truly dead.—Gen. 2:17; Eccl. 9:5; Rom. 6:23

Little is known as to the power that is possessed and exercised by the fallen angels, but from what the Bible tells us of the existence of these evil spirits, one would be well-advised to be slow to deny the power of witchcraft, operating through these evil agents. It is the hope of being able to employ these mystic powers that entices many to associate themselves with witchcraft, not realizing that they in turn may be dangerously lending themselves to manipulation by the Devil’s cohorts.

Satanism, the Devil’s Own Religion

According to “The Columbia Encyclopedia” (1950), Satanism is “the cult of Satan, or Satan worship, and is in part a survival of the ancient worship of demons and in part a revolt against Christianity or the Church.”

As its name implies, and as our definition confirms, Satan is the object of worship, rather than God. Indeed, its entire philosophy appears to be a studied perversion of all that Christianity stands for. It approves of serving self instead of God. It encourages the indulgence of the fallen nature with all its weaknesses of the flesh. Satan is exalted, the name of God and of his Christ are blasphemed. It acknowledges man’s imperfections, accepts them, and proceeds to construct a pattern of life around them. As with certain other of these strange cults, unrestrained immorality is no small factor in drawing adherents. In short, Satanism is hedonism in its most perverted form.

It is probably a surprise to many to have learned, as we noticed earlier, that witchcraft, which advocates freedom and enjoyment of sensual appetites, is held to be a “religion”; but to discover that at least one branch of Satanism which calls itself a church (the Church of Satan) is officially recognized as such by the Internal Revenue Service, and receives favorable income-tax treatment, has to be nothing less than shocking.

“The Science of the Stars”

One of the oldest forms of occultism is astrology, or “the science of the stars.” (Greek) This is a rather complicated process of divination based on the premise that the stars influence one’s life and affect the course of events, all depending on the time of one’s birth, the latitude and longitude of birthplace, and certain other factors.

Its devotees believe that one’s fate or destiny may be predicted from the relative positions of the sun, moon, stars and planets at the moment of birth, the claim being that the lives of earth’s inhabitants are directly influenced by these heavenly bodies. If this were indeed the case, it would amount virtually to predestination, wherein there would be no possibility of changing the course of one’s life, which, of course, is contrary to the teachings of the Scriptures.

Some astrologists have become rather famous and rich, and their predictions eagerly sought after. It is a well-known fact, however, and easily proven, that even the “best” of them make forecasts that fail to come to pass, and that they fail to predict outstanding events that do occur. None the less, America has thousands of practicing astrologers with literally millions of credulous followers, while almost two thousand newspapers carry daily columns on the subject.

Palmistry, the so-called ability to read character and fortune from the lines and lumps of the hand, is the hardy and prosperous offspring of astrology and, like its pro-genitor, it has a multitude of deluded devotees.

The Columbia Encyclopedia says, “Astrology today has perhaps numerically more adherents than ever before, though it is generally discredited in academic circles.” And long ago St. Augustine renounced his faith in astrology when he learned that the wealthy landowner of an estate and one of the landowner’s own slaves were born at the same time. And yet the deluded continue to pay their dues to the Devil!

Spiritism—and the Living Dead

In his book, “The Psychic World of Bishop Pike,” author Hans Holzer’s dedication reads, “In Memory of a Friend Who Lives On.” Bishop James Pike, of course, had died some time before the book was published. The idea that those who die continue to live on in another world, and that communication may be established with such “living dead,” is one of Spiritism’s basic tenets, and is tenaciously held by its adherents. Spiritism claims that these reincarnated beings can be reached by means of so-called mediums. One who has passed on, it is said, is not really dead; such a one has merely left his physical body, but his real self continues on and on, in a continual endeavor to gain a higher, and presumably more blissful, form of existence. In supposed support of the contention that the dead are really alive, Spiritists offer as proof the many contacts which are claimed to have been made with the dead.

Another of Spiritism’s tenets holds that God is not a person, but rather a central, all-pervading force, being somewhat akin in this concept to some of the ancient eastern religions.

Of course, the corollary to the belief that the dead are still alive is the thought that there is therefore no need of a Redeemer, or of a ransom, or of a resurrection of the dead. Again, this is directly contrary to the teachings of the Scriptures, which affirm that the dead are truly dead, and that the only hope of future life rests in a resurrection of the dead, by reason of the atoning blood of Jesus.—Eccl. 9:5,6; Ps. 146:4; Job 14:21; Acts 4:2,12

However, beyond the admitted trickery employed by many so-called mediums, there is undeniably some sort of contact made with the spirit world; not with humans who have died,—for these are in the sleep of death, awaiting the resurrection;—but with evil spirits fraudulently claiming to speak for the dead.

On the surface, Spiritism appears in some respects similar to Christianity. And this can be its danger! But one does not have to scratch too deeply, or too long, to discover it is quite anti-Christian.

“There Be Gods Many”

There are many other religions, philosophies, or systems of thought, some of which have come on the scene in relatively recent years, all aggressively seeking new disciples, and many meeting with considerable success. There is, for instance, the Association for Research and Enlightenment, Inc. (A.R.E. for short), which is described as “a system of metaphysical [supernatural] thought.” It promotes belief in “the reality of extra-sensory perception, the importance of dreams, the logic of reincarnation,” and then concludes, almost unbelievably, in urging “a deeper understanding of the Bible”!

The promoter of this concept, one Edger Cayce, claimed to be able to prophecy the future, despite the fact that, first of all, Jehovah God alone possesses such foreknowledge; and second, that many of his own predictions of great natural calamities never came to pass. A.R.E. further denies the Bible by teaching the doctrine of reincarnation, thus also eliminating the need for a Redeemer.

Then there is the Black Muslim movement, neither Christian nor Islamic, and violently racist. Its largely youthful membership probably numbers a few score thousands, but the movement exerts considerable (but not constructive) influence, and is therefore not to be dismissed too lightly.

Finally, we will touch but lightly on an ancient form of divination that has come from the Chinese known as I Ching. Basically, it is a means of telling fortunes by way of tossing coins and drawing pictures. But its adherents place great store by it; and any cult which can lay claim to followers, many of them young, in the hundreds of thousands, cannot be dismissed out of hand, particularly when we uncover its philosophy.

Simply put, the theme of I Ching seems to be, don’t struggle with life; make no effort to lift yourself, and deny no appetite; just float effortlessly along in the stream. Such a philosophy can be dangerously appealing in a world such as that in which we live today, especially to the young. The Christian ethic, conversely, urges one to strive daily to improve one’s character, to confront with Christian fortitude the difficulties which inevitably come to all, and to look to the Lord for guidance and succor.

Admittedly, the foregoing discussion presents but the barest sampling of a few of the many cults that are even now attracting increasing numbers of followers. But perhaps enough substance has been presented to alert the unwary from trifling with them.

While these cults differ in certain aspects of belief and practice, yet in some respects there are similarities; and without doubt they are alike in that they are all of the Devil. The worship of Satan in place of God; the reincarnation, no-death, no-need-of-a-Redeemer theories; the advocacy and practice of gross immoralities; the lying claims of ability to communicate with the dead, and to predict the future—all are satanically inspired to delude and to degrade; and all are directly opposed to the teachings of God’s Holy Word. In their less dangerous forms they appeal merely to ignorance or superstition; while at their worst, they aim to exploit man’s basest appetites, and to draw him from the worship and service of the true and righteous God of the Bible.

In next month’s concluding article we will discuss more particularly the scriptural testimony on the subject.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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