By Reverend Mark Hunnemann
Gnostic/occult.motifs were already present in the age of the Apostles. Early church tradition traces the rise of Gnosticism to Simon Magus, briefly mentioned in Acts 8:9-24. Remember he attempted to purchase the Holy Spirit. Peter was not pleased and it seems from the text that Simon repented, at least superficially. Later tradition says that Simon went to Rome and started a gnostic group, and competed with Peter for converts...he actually arrived in Rome before Peter did according to tradition.Justin Martyr, an early Christian apologist, stated that Simon was teaching that he was the Messiah--God! I don't do this often but I want to include here an extended quote from Harold Brown's 'Heresies'..
"Simon and his followers are charged by their Christian opponents with practicing magic(k) and occult arts. This was natural enough; to the extent that they were impressed by his ability to work apparent miracles, the early Christians had no choice but to attribute them to the power of evil. MANY OTHER GNOSTIC FIGURES WERE ACCUSED OF NECROMANCY,A NOT UNLIKELY CHARGE IN VIEW OF
THEIR EMPHASIS ON THEIR ACCESS TO HIDDEN, OCCULT, KNOWLEDGE AND POWER.
Simon's system involved a number of points that will also characterize later heretical movements: 1.a syncretistic blending of biblical ideas with themes drawn from other, pagan, Near Eastern sources;2.a dualistic interpretation of the material world as hopelessly estranged, by nature, from the purely spiritual Father;3. the teaching that a personal Savior has appeared on earth; 4.a rejection of the Jewish Scriptures as fraudulent or malicious;5.an interest in not only secret lore, but in magic and the occult.The fact that Gnosticism, like certain later movements, ties rejection of the Hebrew Old Testament to fresh superstitions and an interest in the occult helps us to see the cardinal importance of the Old Testament for Christian orthodoxy.
The major doctrines of Christianity are indeed drawn from the New Testament, and superficially it might appear as though the Old Testament is of interest cheifly as background. As a matter of fact, however, it is the Old Testament that guarantees the rootedness of Christ, His Person, and His work in real history. Whenever the Old Testament is ignored or reduced to mere Jewish religious thought, Christians readily fall prey to various mythologies and occults. With the loss of confidence in the reliability in the Old Testament, brought about by, among other things, nineteenth-century liberal Bible criticism, some nominally Christian leaders developed an enthusiasm for pagan mythology...(Pg. 51)"
There is a confluence of forces that has caused the occult in general, and necromancy in particular, to explode. But according to Dr Brown (now deceased), a loss of confidence in the reliability of the Old Testament has been high on the list of causes.If he is correct, and I think he is, then we have a serious problem on our hands. Of those you reading this, how many of you have taken an Old Testament course which basically undercut the reliability of the Old Testament? Many of you, I am sure. When I was in college, it broke my heart to see the vicious spiritual wounds being inflicted in these classes, and the high number of student casualties. Students in these classes, as with the teaching of macro-evolution, were not made aware of brilliant scholars who differed with their professors anti-supernaturalistic presuppositions.Hence, we were made to believe that any thinking person MUST believe in macro-evolution and that the Old Testament was a mythical book which was riddled with errors and contradictions. Tragic....
The Old Testament is not full of myths, errors or contradictions. It is God's inerrant Word which is on a collision with the worldview which has become dominant today. The infinite/personal God created the heavens and earth....the biblical God is eternal, not energy. It is in the Old Testament where we have the most explicit denunciations of occultism...psychics/mediums, and necromancy.The biblical worldview is stated clearly in the Old Testament, especially in the first three chapters of Genesis. In fact, every major New Testament motif can be found in germinal form in Genesis 1-3.
In high school, and especially college/university, both the content and teaching methodology is uniformly anti-Christian. Not to mention graduate school, where even bible believing Christians are falling prey to the monolithic consensus amongst the faculty to develop methodologies foreign to the bible.And so we have seminary trained folks going on paranormal investigations and attempting to do what the bible abominates--attempting to speak to the dead. This is a call to re-capture a high view of the Old Testament, and to read it. Due to the darkening spiritual landscape, we MUST humble ourselves before God's revelation in the Old Testament--without it, we are historically rootless. May I close with a practical suggestion? Many Christians get fired up about reading the bible but give up after a few months, due to a lack of a reading plan.For the last 40 years, I have followed this plan on a daily basis. This has enabled me to read every word of the bible nearly 40 times. Here is a plan that has worked well for me...
Day one-read Genesis 1, and Matthew 1
Day two-read Genesis 2, and Matthew 2...and so on. If you wish to read through the bible quicker, just read 2-3 chapters instead.
I feel strongly about reading from BOTH testaments during each devotional, for this reason. It is absolutely amazing to see the unity of the bible over 1,500 years. (from Moses to NT)Very often what you read in the Old Testament, you will come across again in your New Testament reading....extremely enriching!! Reading from both enables you to see the continuities and dis-continuities between the OT and NT. Leviticus is usually the book that most Christians give up on. But that is unfortunate, because reading about the various OT sacrifices in Leviticus, illumines the many faceted nature of sacrificial death of Christ.And it helps to drive home the necessity of Christ's once, for all sacrifice.
Reading the bible is for nothing if we do not apply it. First, ask what does the bible passage teach...especially about God? (not what you get out of it), then ask how it applies to your relationship with God (how you think, act, feel) and your life circumstances. Much more could be said, but I will stop there....
"Seeing Ghosts through God's Eyes" (also in a Kindle edition)...please consider purchasing my book which uses science, logic, and the bible to analyze the true source of power behind paranormal activity.