Posts Tagged ‘occult’

Annual Halloween Thoughts

October 29, 2014

How should a Christian respond to Halloween? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’ll start this by saying that I am offering this advice as a non-parent. What I am offering this advice as is someone highly familiar with Christianity and Christian doctrines, being a Christian most of my life and being an apologist for nearly the past fifteen years. I do write something like this most every year, but some matters are worth repeating.

So with Halloween coming up a lot of people wonder about how they should observe the day. I recently interviewed Marcia Montenegro who runs Christian Answers For The New Age. I agree with much of what she said about Halloween, but I would like to add in my own two bits.

First off, with the claim that Halloween is a pagan holiday, I am highly suspicious of that. I also think it sets up a dangerous precedent. If we say that something is pagan repeatedly, we will end up having people be suspicious that Christians stole everything from the pagans and then what happens when someone says “Hey. Ever heard of Mithras?” When I have seen claims of stealing form pagans, I have for the most part found them incredibly lacking.

Second, even if it was pagan, so what? Seriously. So what? Today we acknowledge this day by dressing up in costumes, pulling pranks on one another, and asking for candy. Do we really think pagan gods would think we are honoring them by doing this? Most likely, this would instead be seen as an insult. (An interesting discussion on this with a Wiccan and a Christian can be found on the Unbelievable? episode from October 25th, 2014.

The analogy I use is wedding rings. Let’s suppose you came to me and convinced me beyond a shadow of a doubt that wedding rings were pagan in origin. Will that change anything that I do? No. Not a bit. Why? Because I know why I wear my wedding ring. I did not wear it in honor of Zeus or Odin. I do not make a promise before Baal or Molech that I would love my wife and honor her. I made that covenant before God and man. That is what matters.

So thus, we need to look at our intentions. Why are we celebrating the day?

Since most of us are just celebrating it as a chance to dress up in costumes and get candy, I have no objection to it whatsoever. If you want to go to your church for a trunk or treat party, go right ahead. If you want to stay home, then this is my advice. Make sure that you get the best candy on the block. Let people know your house is the one to go to. Don’t just give out tracts. Kids won’t read them likely and will mark you down as a house to avoid.

Instead, let your house be the house everyone wants to go to and when they find out you’re a Christian, that will make them more likely to listen to what you have to say. Note that this is one day that children are coming to your house. Not only are children coming, many children are coming with their parents. This is a chance for you to let your light shine for them. Do you really want to have your lights out on your house when children and parents who need to hear the Gospel are coming right to your door?

Of course, if you think your community isn’t a safe one, a church outing could be a better idea and naturally, you will want to be with your children wherever they go and I have no problem with that. I also think Marcia’s advice on my show was excellent. Try to spend some time that day praying for people who are caught in the occult.

We are meant to go out and claim this world for Christ. That includes every day of the year. Halloween is a day God owns just like every other day and we need not be running in retreat. We have too often practiced a fear of anything that might have a whiff of pagan to it. We should consider that if historically Christians had avoided all contact with the pagans, then Christianity would have never got off the ground. The reason Christianity survived was it had no fear of engaging the pagans. Let us not have that same fear. Halloween belongs to God. Let’s celebrate it to His glory.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 10/25/2014: Marcia Montenegro

October 23, 2014

What’s coming up on this Saturday’s episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out.

First off, we unfortunately had to postpone the interview we had scheduled with Matthew Flannagan. Why? I came down with a virus and I was in no condition whatsoever to do an interview. Unfortunately, my wife was a recipient of my generosity and she is just now starting to get over it. So if you’re wondering why the latest episode didn’t upload on ITunes, that’s why.

Now I am in good enough health that I am ready to continue doing the show again and this Saturday, we’re doing a show in preparation for Halloween. As you can expect, there’s a lot going on around this time of year. Many Christians wonder if they should participate in Halloween. There is also supposed to come out this weekend the movie “Ouija.” Is this just a harmless children’s game or is there something more to it?

Years ago, Gary Habermas advised me to not study the occult for myself. It can be too powerful of a draw. Instead, I should save such discussions for those who have come out of it and know it from the inside-out. I am fortunate to be friends with one such person and am honored that this Saturday I get to welcome Marcia Montenegro to the Deeper Waters Podcast.

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Prior to trusting Christ, Marcia was involved for many years in Eastern and New Age beliefs, and was a licensed professional astrologer for 8 yrs. During that time, she also taught astrology, and was President of the Metropolitan Atlanta Astrological Society. Marcia has a Masters in Religion from Southern Evangelical Seminary, Charlotte, NC, and is a missionary with Fellowship International Mission. Through her ministry, Christian Answers for the New Age, she has spoken in 30 states and is a frequent guest on radio, and has published articles in several Christian publications, informing Christians about the New Age as well as reaching out to those who are part of it. Marcia is the mother of an adult son, and is the author of SpellBound: The Paranormal Seduction of Today’s Kids (Cook, 2006).

Marcia has now come out of the New Age movement and has devoted her life to helping others to come out of it. In fact, many times I have messaged her about something that sounds as if it was New Age to get her opinion on it. Unfortunately, much of this can also be found in the Christian church as many of the notions that are seen as popular today are actually quite occult in their mindset. (Consider the Word of Faith movement as an example of this.)

I hope you’ll be listening as you and your family prepare for Halloween just as ours is. You want your children to be fun and safe this time of year and you also should want to know about any dangers of the occult that you might not be aware of. Please be watching your podcast feed for the latest episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast featuring Marcia Montenegro.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Jesus Was a Mushroom…And Other Lies You Won’t Believe

February 3, 2014

What do I think of Holding’s book on conspiracies? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

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My ministry partner J.P. Holding recently sent me a copy of his latest E-Book on dealing with conspiracy theories. Like many of his recent E-Books, this is a quick read as I tend to only read the Kindle at night and managed to go through it in just a few nights.

The whole theme of the book is about conspiracies that are often believed today involving any number of topics such as Alexander Hislop or the masons and Jesuits or whether Pope Francis or Barack Obama are the antichrist.

The title refers to such an idea as an example with the agnostic John Allegro writing a book where Christianity was a cult group that was created due to the effects of a certain mushroom in the area on the minds of the people. It was such a bad book that Allegro wrote on the topic that fourteen scholars took out an ad against it.

From here, Holding goes on to discuss various beliefs of people who are big into conspiracies. Naturally, such people can be hard to reason with because as soon as you deny the claim that they are making, well that’s because you’re part of the conspiracy! This is quite evident to several of us who have had to deal with the claims of Zeitgeist. If we’re not part of the conspiracy directly, well we’re just horribly duped by it.

Many of these you will just find it hard to believe. How can anyone take any of these seriously? Alas, I don’t doubt that many do. Most of these I had frankly never heard of. It would indeed be a stretch many times to put the occult significance into many of the items mentioned as no one would really notice. How can you convince people of a message if no one can understand the message?

I say this as someone who regularly gets asked questions about so many items in the world. Is X occult? Is this pagan? Over and over. Nowadays, it’s come to the point that when someone asks me if something is demonic, my default position is no because I’ve heard a case for most everything being demonic.

Perhaps also that’s something different about this book. I wasn’t able to get into this one as much and it could be because I’ve heard claims of “Demonic” so many times that I just start to roll my eyes. There are some ways I would also like to see some changes in future editions.

First, I kept wanting there to be some different title for the people being addressed. I heard conspiracy buffs, conspiracy guys, conspiracy X regularly. Holding is quite good at finding an appropriate label and sticking it most of the time so I was hoping there was just one humorous term we could include over these people.

The second area that I would like to see change in is that at the start, we are told we will be shown how to find the answers to this. I think it would be quite helpful for Holding to describe how he as one skilled in the use of a library, went about doing his research. What questions should one ask when considering a conspiracy theory? What resources should one look to? What resources should one not look to? What should qualify as a standard of proof?

Still, this is an interesting read and most of the time you’ll be rolling your eyes thinking “These people really believe that?” The sad answer is “Yes.”

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 10/12/2013 Jeff Harshbarger

October 11, 2013

What’s coming up this Saturday on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Awhile back, a good evangelical friend of mine recommended that there is one area in apologetics that I do not need to study the other side in. That is in the area of the occult. Why? Because this is a dangerous area and the temptations are great. It is best to not put yourself at risk by studying such things. Instead, leave it to those who have done some study in the occult.

That’s why I am having Jeff Harshbarger of Refuge Ministries come on my show this Saturday to discuss this important topic. Jeff is an ex-satanist who came to Christ decades ago and has written a couple of books on the subject. He has also collected the testimony of several Christians who came out of the occult, including the famous Son of Sam.

Also, Jeff has been a personal friend to Allie and I helping us out in some issues. He is a student working in counseling now and has a heart for people who are still trapped in the occult and wanting to make sure that they get accurate information.

Part of this for Jeff has been outing those in the field who he thinks are “padding their resume” as it were by making up stories about events in the occult that are not accurate. We’ll likely talk about how important it is to get an honest look at the occult and how those of us who are not specialists in this field can learn to examine some claims.

With Halloween being this month, I’m also thankful to have someone like Jeff on who I consider to be very level-headed in this area. I have often made the claim that too often, Christians are seeing demons behind most every bush. Jeff knows about the reality of demons, but he also knows that they are not responsible for everything. I know this especially since he shared an article I wrote on this topic called “Demon-Haunted World.”

What are you to do also when you meet someone in the occult if you yourself have not studied the occult? We’ll talk about that. Generally, my stance has been to try to pass them on to Jeff, but perhaps you might not have a Jeff in your life or it might be a face to face encounter and there’s not someone out there to send them to immediately.

And of course, how should Christians handle the presence of the occult in their own lives? Should we be scared of the possibility of being possessed by a demon? Do we need to fear any powers of those who might be in the occult? Are these powers even real? We’ll talk about all of these!

This is an important topic and I hope that you’ll be listening in to the show to hear what Jeff has to say on the matter. The show time is from 3-5 PM EST. The link can be found here. Call in number with a question is 714-242-5180.

I hope you’ll join us!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Demon-Haunted World?

August 9, 2013

How is a Christian supposed to reply to the demonic? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

One of my good friends is Jeff Harshbarger, who wrote two books on the occult which include personal testimony of his involvement with demonic powers and how he came out and is now a Christian. He is now the head of his own ministry, Refuge Ministries, where he uses counseling to help people get out of the occult.

But here’s something I really like about Jeff. He’s someone who admits the reality of demons, but he’s not someone who sees demons every where and despite having personal experience in the past with demons, he warns Christians to not spend too much time thinking about demons and not to worry about them.

Now keep in mind in all of this, I am indeed affirming that yes, I do believe demonic activity is real. I’ve heard too many accounts from people who I know to be intelligent and reliable that are firsthand accounts that I cannot deny that it has happened. I also have of course, as a Christian, biblical testimony to the fact.

Yet we must approach this realistically. As C.S. Lewis said in the Screwtape Letters “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.”

I have written plenty of times about my problems with a materialist view of reality, so if you’re on that side, this blog is not written to argue against you. This blog is written to deal with the problem that Jeff sees as well, and that’s Christians having too much of a fascination with demonic activity.

In fact, these Christians in having this can often take a view of Scripture that I consider to be occult. Scripture is treated as if it was a magic book and if you say this passage, you will ward off any demons that are in your presence. Now do I deny that there is power in the truth of Scripture? Not at all. What I have a problem with is its careless usage without a proper understanding of what is going on in a text of Scripture.

For instance, how many times have I seen a Christian use the passage about “My word will not return to me void.” When saying it, these Christians take it to mean that if you cite a passage of Scripture, it will be used and it will come back with results. I don’t think this is a Christian view of Scripture but an occult one.

For one thing, the passage is about the pronouncements of God Himself and what He’s saying is “If I make a statement, you can be sure that I will deliver on it.” It does not mean that we are the ones who can always deliver on His statements. God is not obligated to do our bidding. We are obligated to do His.

Furthermore, we often see people misuse Scripture, such as the devil in the temptation of Jesus, groups like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, and of course groups like the Word of Faith community that think faith is a force whereby they can shape reality.

When we have this fixation on the occult, it will not keep us away from it, but will in fact draw us into it. Up and coming apologists. I make this warning to you. There are many areas in apologetics I try to at least have a basic knowledge of. This is not one of them! I have been warned by those much greater in the field than I and much more skilled NOT to even touch this stuff. In fact, they themselves don’t do it because the occult has such a drawing power. That’s why I leave it to people like Jeff.

We will also have undue fear in our lives of anything that could seem to be “occult” when we have this focus. I have interest in many activities that I’m sure a lot of Christians with this kind of fixation look at as occult. I play the Final Fantasy games regularly. (In fact, one of the songs played at our wedding was from Final Fantasy) I have every Harry Potter movie that there is and I’ve read all the books. I make it a point to know the difference between fantasy and reality.

Here’s something more important. I make it a point to know Scripture even better. It is in knowing the true God that I am supposed to be drawn to Him more and more. It can be good and helpful to have a good angelology and that includes knowing something about demons and any student of Scripture should know something about them, but that is as a metaphysical topic and not an occult topic and is not meant to be a fixation.

When we live in fear of everything around us and constant worry about the occult, we also have the sad condition of making ourselves look ridiculous to the world around us. Most of the world around us already thinks we’re crazy. We don’t really need to do anything to add to that.

Also, our culture has a fixation on end times. Most readers of this blog know that my view in end times is that of orthodox Preterism, but I’m happily married to a dispensationalist and I have several good friends who are dispensationalists.

If you want to be one, be one, but this is a problem I often warn against for dispensationalists. Make your fixation be Christ. Some are unfortunately so caught up in knowing the identity of antichrist that they do not pay as much attention to the identity of Christ, the one who they are to stake their whole identity in.

Now in all of this, there is no saying that Christians should be reckless, but do not let your Christian walk be defined by paranoia of anything that could have a negative reputation. Take the time to examine each issue and be settled in your own mind. If you disagree with your brother, feel free to make a case, but listen to his case back on why he doesn’t have a problem with what he does. It could be you’re wrong. It could be he is. Follow the admonition of Paul. Let each be convinced in his own mind.

And overall, remember to focus on God and His revelation in Christ. Christians are not to live their lives in fear, and that includes fear of the demons.

In Christ,
Nick Peters