Pathways chapter #14: Tarot

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 After perusing numbers of books on Tarot, we settled on Tarot for Beginners, by Meg Hayertz, published by Althea Press in 2018. The following is a brief summary of Meg Hayertz’s book.

Ms. Hayertz received her first tarot card reading in Portland, Oregon, at a psychic fair at the age of 19. And due to some issues in her life, she found that the reading helped calm her, which then resulted in wanting more.

 Kent reports: I recall a similar kind of fair in Berkeley some years back and another one in San Francisco later on. Though a Christian at the time, I was stunned if not overwhelmed by the spiritual power I witnessed. If it had not been for my Christianity, I might well have been attracted to that which is psychic.

 Still in the introduction, Hayertz says it is not enough that the cards shine a light on what goes on in a person’s heart and mind; this must be put into action. “I suggest we use the 78 archetypes of the tarot to empower ourselves to become more loving and free” (p. IX). And to this end, she dedicates her book.

The origin of the word Tarot goes back to the mid-15th century. In various parts of Europe games such as Italian tarocchini, French tarot, and Austrian Königrufen were popular, and the general term tarot attached itself to what became the present-day tarot. 

Part 1: Tarot Then & Now

The origins of the tarot are murky, but they are cards, 78 of them, divided between Major and Minor Arcana. The Minor Arcana are much like the standard deck of 52 cards but instead of spades, clubs, hearts, and diamonds, there are cups, pentacles, swords, and wands, but with four additional cards. The Major Arcana contain 22 cards, four of which are The Empress, The Hermit, The Fool, and the Devil. Each of the cards have several meanings that can be attached to them depending upon the reader.

The author states that when Napoleon brought back artifacts from Egypt to Europe, there grew an interest in divination. In 1887, A. E. Waite, a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, developed occult symbolic systems around divination and astrology, which in time became related to the tarot. He then asked an artist, Pamela Colman Smith, to create a deck of tarot cards using symbols that were known at the time. This deck was published by William Rider & Sons, of London, in 1910. 

The author claims that reading tarot cards can reveal one’s potential future, and rightly evaluate one’s present circumstances, help with making decisions, help one to understand life, plus develop self-knowledge, intuition, and creativity. 

Tarot is a form of divination, a magical technique, not scientific, for gaining knowledge about the unknown and the future. And as a form of divination, it is condemned in Deuteronomy 18, verses 9–12: 

[9] “When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. [10] There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer [11] or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, (ESV) 

Hayertz states that divination is a form of magic as well as most forms of meditation, “since a meditation practice can bring self-knowledge and spiritual knowledge from beyond our rational mind” (p. 7). She wants to dismiss the idea that there is a divide between the magical, or divine, and the ordinary, thus making tarot divination ordinary and common. 

In regard to the two major divisions of a tarot deck, the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana (Arcana means mystery), which come from Catholicism and Judaism, as well as Greek and Egyptian mythology, she notes the Major Arcana reflects Gnostic, Catholic, and Pagan imagery. There are also many spiritual traditions that have come to be associated with the cards, such as astrology, Kabbalah, numerology, and alchemy, as well as still more spiritual traditions that have found parallels and connections with the tarot, including crystal healing and Ayurveda (the traditional system of medicine in India) (p. 7). 

It is clear then that our author places tarot solidly amongst occultic practices.

Part 2 Tarot Mechanics 

Tarot card reading fits clearly into what is known in the occult world as divination. The cards are used to answer questions about the past, present, and future, and it is said that tarot is an opening into one’s spiritual self.

The first step for a person who wants to do tarot is to select a deck. Meg uses the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, otherwise known as RWS, but there are many others. And before making the first reading one must both purify and attune to the deck. Once readings begin, the deck must be cared for by keeping it clean and cleared of extraneous energy. 

Here in the process of purifying and attuning the deck reveals the occultic, New Age, divination, fortune telling nature of tarot. 

A deck can be purified by placing the deck on a “windowsill or outside during a full moon.” Or, one can bury the deck in salt for a few days, but in a plastic bag so that the salt does not touch the deck. 

Alternately, sage or a smudge stick can be burned while the deck is held in the smoke. Another way to purify the deck is to put the 78 cards in order, first the Fool (O) then on until the Word card (XXI), then observe through that suit all the way to the King of each suit. Once the deck is in order, it must be reshuffled. 

Attuning is the next step, and it means forming a connection with the deck—in other words, attuning to it. This means treating the deck with respect and trust. It takes a week to attune to the deck, gazing at the images on the cards to determine if there is any intuitive sensing—emotional, mental, or spiritual connections that come up. 

The deck must be cleansed regularly, as the deck can pick up unwanted energy from previous readings. There are two rituals that can be performed. One, shuffle the deck rhythmically and tap the deck on the table in order to release any extra energy. Two, fan the deck out in your hand, blow softly on the edges, and with the whole deck knock once on the top of the deck. 

It is this purifying and attuning process that brings the one selecting a tarot deck into a spiritual arena, and this is an evil arena. Indeed, this is the door opening to the demonic realm. This need not be a terrifying experience at all, but a change has occurred—a new and amazing ‘spiritual’ life and experience comes to life. And these supernatural experiences are real and not imagined. In fact, they can be quite exhilarating and captivating. 

There is a definite procedure to begin a reading; one needs to prepare a space and deck. Some tarot readers will create an altar where are placed the reader’s personal spiritual items. In any case, one needs to turn off phones, light a candle, play some music, and then invite the guidance of any higher power in. Be open then to any wisdom or insight that might be communicated in the reading of the cards. 

From six to ten minutes before beginning a reading for oneself, quietly focus the breathing and/or visualize a beam of light entering through the top of the head, which will fill the body with light. 

When one is in the right spiritual state of mind, one asks a question, but the tarot does not answer back with any direct answer. Instead, the reader, as he or she examines the cards, will relate ideas and events and reveal areas needing growth. The future is never spelled out in terms of certainty. 

On page 14 and 15, Meg Hayertz writes about Tarot Symbolism and states that symbols found on tarot cards come from a variety of sources. The version she is speaking to is the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, or RWS. 

The first is Christian mythology. Adam and Eve are depicted many times, and there is the Devil and the snake of Genesis chapter 3. There are images of a church, the pope, two monks, and more. 

The second is Egyptian mythology, or more accurately the European interpretation of Egyptian mythology. 

The third is source is from Kabbalah, a Judaist offshoot. 

Each sign of the zodiac is also found amongst the cards. 

Interpreting the cards takes practice, the author states. As we read through materials on tarot, it seems apparent that any counsel or direction from an intuitive framework could result in almost anything. (Toward the end of this chapter are some statements found on interpretation of the cards, mainly focused on intuition.) 

Our author claims there is both an intellectual and an intuitive side to determining what the cards are saying to the reader or to the one who is consulting the tarot reader. There is an opening of “your intuitive associations sparked by the cards.” Then, “note how your associations and intuitive messages match up with the meanings of the cards.” Third, note how the cards’ symbolism matches up with one’s experiences. Last, consider what actions one should then take. 

The author next moves on to which spiritual practices are connected with or are tied to tarot card reading. These are Astrology, Kabbalah, Numerology, Rosicrucianism, and Alchemy. (Our view is that there are many other spiritual/ occult practices that could be included here.) And each of these fit snuggly into and are recognized as occult practices. 

This association is an eye opener, as tarot is placed among very direct forms of the occult (pages 16 and 17). During long years of casting demons out of people, so many of them attracted demons into themselves by means of the occult. This is not child’s play nor adult play but is extremely serious. We are reminded of a most important verse at this point, 1 Peter 5:8, since this is what is going on in our world today with the wide open and public embracing of the occult arts, of which tarot is only one among many: 

Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 

In chapter 3 of part 1, the author begins to explain how one decides what the card spread means. One card, two cards, three cards, or more are pulled from the deck and spread out. Then the reader considers the meanings of the cards and how it all applies to him or herself, or to the one for whom the reading is being done. 

After examining this material, it is obvious to us that a reader could interpret the cards in many different ways. There is no concrete counsel, no clear solving of a dilemma, nor help with making a decision. It seems that a professional tarot card reader could bend the reading to just about anything, including flattering or messages that the “client” was clearly hoping for. There is obviously much room here for deception. 

Yet this is not the very worst outcome, which is giving oneself, however unwittingly, to an occult practice, which is animated and realized by demonic power. And the outcome of this is nothing less than judgment and an eternity in hell. Is it worth that? 

Chapter 4, part 1, is titled “Growing From the Tarot.” No comment is needed on part 2 of the book by Meg Hayertz, as it only presents each of the cards, the Major and Minor Arcana, and possible meanings for each. 

She begins this section by saying, “I use the cards to help my clients.” 

We completely believe her. Based on what we have encountered with psychics of many different persuasions, very few of them are aware of the evil nature of their work and do not care one way or the other. Either that, or they fear the loss of income, or are afraid of being tormented should they turn from their practices. 

Yes, Meg is probably sincere when she says for her clients that she wants to “unlock creative blocks, deepen their inspiration, and become more aware of issues and values that underlie their personal lives and creative work” (p. 62). 

To read tarot cards is simply to meditate on the cards “to see what feelings, associations, and narratives arise. Then, we match the experiences that arose during meditation to the definitions of the cards” (p. 63). 

Using only a broad-brush stroke to report on this process, it begins with “Connecting with our Intuition.” 

Intuition: this word can be so difficult to define, but after encountering it hundreds of times, it is apparent to us that it involves impressions that come to one while engaging in the process, and this process is usually meditation and focus of one’s breath or something else linked to gaining a state of so-called mindlessness. 

The term used here is “meditative inquiry into your inner life.” When this is achieved, then Meg says one is to “sit with what arises and open to it” (p. 64). Meg then concludes this part with, “This first step is noticing and illuminating our experience and connecting with our intuition.”  

We wonder, whatever in the world does that mean? 

The next step is to select a card or cards from the tarot deck, lay the card or cards down in front of you and meditate on these. One must look at the artwork, note the name of the card, like “The Emperor,” consider it’s also-known-as name, in this case the Grandfather, then note the keywords, in this case, Reliability, Fatherhood, and Responsibility, the element associated with it, here Fire, and astrological sign, here Aries, and then numerology, in this case 4. 

These clues or cues, which may be the right word here, are to be meditated upon. If there is more than one card spread out, then think about what might be at play between the cards. Then one can ask oneself questions such as, “Do the dynamics between the cards feel tense? Or, what are the relative ages of the figures in the cards? Or, are they facing each other? Or, what are the cards’ similarities and differences? 

The next major step is “Integrating intuition with conscious awareness.” Something is then stirring in one’s mind, and the goal here is coming to a place of understanding. And it is here when meditation is core so that the meaning of the cards comes into one’s awareness. 

We must say that the process described to grasp the message of the cards is very elusive, fanciful, lacking substance, and unrealistic. It could yield almost anything. 

Meg describes how it is that one integrates insight brought by the card reading into action. Mainly, this happens by reliance upon your intuitive sense. 

Finally, by means of meditation, envision yourself entering the card or spread. Ask a character therein, like The Emperor, if that is the card drawn for the deck, for guidance regarding action. Allow “the words or gift they offer you to intuitively come to you” (p. 68). If things are not clear, one should ask their intuition for assistance and illumination. 

Again, let the participant beware of invoking unintended spirits by “asking a character therein, like The Emperor, for guidance.” 

Closing thoughts 

Using words like intuition and meditation is deceitful. It should be evil spirit or demon instead of intuition. It should be connecting with the demonic rather than meditation. However lighthearted this tarot card reading business is presented, it is merely a cheap disguise for a course on how to become demon possessed. 

Excerpts from Wikipedia 

Intuition is the ability to acquire knowledge without recourse to conscious reasoning. Different fields use the word “intuition” in very different ways, including but not limited to: direct access to unconscious knowledge; unconscious cognition; inner sensing; inner insight to unconscious pattern-recognition; and the ability to understand something instinctively, without any need for conscious reasoning. July 9, 2022 

The word intuition comes from the Latin verb intueri, translated as “consider” or from the late middle English word intuit, “to contemplate.” July 2, 2022

Meghan Rose, a spiritual advisor and tarot reader, defines intuition as “the ability to understand something without rational or conscious reasoning.” So, in the context of tarot cards, the reader, who could be a professional or yourself if you’re reading your own cards, receives intuitive messages from the cards that they won’t be able to explain with logic. They just know. And because we all have intuitive superpowers, honing your intuitive tarot skills is totally possible with a bit of practice. 

The tarot (/ˈtæroʊ/, first known as trionfi and later as tarocchi or tarock) is a pack of playing cards, used from at least the mid-15th century in various parts of Europe to play games such as Italian tarocchini, French tarot and Austrian Königrufen, many of which are still played today. In the late 18th century, some tarot decks began to be used for divination via tarot card reading and cartomancy reading to custom decks developed for such occult purposes. 

Tarot card reading is a form of cartomancy whereby practitioners use tarot cards purportedly to gain insight into the past, present or future. They formulate a question, then draw cards to interpret them for this end. June 26, 2018 

Tarot cards are a form of divination, which literally means working with the divine, or your higher self, which is the ultimate purpose of tarot cards, just like yoga. June 26, 2018

Richard Rohr and the Enneagram

This chapter on the Enneagram is a summary of the book, Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret, by Don & Joy Veinot and Marcia Montenegro, published by MCOI Publishing LLC in 2022, followed by material from Wikipedia. 

The word Enneagram is pronounced like “any-a-gram.” The symbol for it is a geometric design that can be seen on a page or two ahead. I will not speak much to the meaning of the design but will leave that to Wikipedia. There are any number of websites that present the Enneagram in detail. 

The Enneagram has garnered a lot of attention in recent times. There are many who have found atheism unattractive and empty, agnosticism also empty, mainline Christianity unappealing, evangelical Christianity political and divisive, Pentecostal Christianity a bit too much, but the psychic and the occult spiritually interesting, even exciting. The Enneagram is not necessarily spiritual, but has strong spiritual, even, psychic connections. 

The Origins of the Enneagram 

As to the origins of Enneagram, and more will be presented about this, those who promote it say it is an ancient practice thousands of years old and only recently becoming popular and attractive. Some say it goes back to the Desert Fathers, Evagrius Ponticus, or Ramon Llull, but this is considered to be a fictional claim. It is likely that attention to the Enneagram began with George I. Gurdjieff (1866–1949), and his followers claimed he learned it from a secret Sufi brotherhood, but this idea is likely false, though he did have a drawing of a circle with lines drawn within it, like the modern-day Enneagrams but without numbers. 

P. D. Ouspensky (1878–1947) accepted Gurdjieff’s ideas, expanded on them, and the result was his “The Fourth Way.” 1 

1 See Don and Joy Veinot & Maria Montenegro’s book, Richard Rohr and The Enneagram Secret, pages 24–25. Also Gurdjieff’s work was  continued or adopted by Oscar Ichazo (1931–2020), who operated an occult-oriented school in Arica, Chile. Ichazo expanded on both Gurdjieff’s and Ouspensky’s work. 

Then more recently, Claudio Naranjo, a new age psychiatrist, learned the Enneagram from Ichazo, and it was he who added the personality types and this via automatic writing, which is experienced while in a trance. So who then is the real author of the writing? My position, based on many accounts from those who experienced automatic writing, is that it was a demonic spirit who “wrote” while they were in a trance state. And this is the whole of it: the Enneagram is essential from Satan, though it is far different from the obvious magical and mystical. 

Things went south however when Naranjo brought the Enneagram, as it was then, to Esalen, a kind of New Age think tank in Big Sur, California in the 1960s, and this is where the Enneagram developed into a pseudo-psychotherapeutic-psychic event, with the promise that it would uncover one’s true divine self. 

At Esalen was a Roman Catholic Jesuit priest named Bob Ochs (1930-2018) who learned the Enneagram from Naranjo. It was Ochs then who introduced it to the Roman Catholic Church where it was adopted by other Catholic priests. The Roman Catholic Church however, never endorsed it. 

Now enters Richard Rohr, a Catholic priest, Franciscan Order, who wrote a book about the Enneagram, and in it he mentions Helen Palmer, a psychic/ intuitive who was involved with the Enneagram. 

Another Roman Catholic Jesuit Priest, Mitch Pacwa (1949- ), wrote the book, Catholics and the New Age: How Good People are Being Drawn into Jungian Psychology, the Enneagram and the Age of Aquarius, and he did this in order to make others aware of the spiritual danger of it all. 

In the years to come, two books would be written by students and followers of Richard Rohr. One by Ian Cron, an Episcopal priest and Suzanne Stabile, both of whom were mentored by Rohr. They authored The Road Back to You, published by InterVarsity Press in 2016. Two, Christopher Heuertz (1971- ) wrote the book The Sacred Enneagram, and this was published by Zondervan in 2017. Richard Rohr wrote the foreword for this book. 

It is a shame that two established Christian publishers, InterVarsity Press and Zondervan, would present these books to the Christian public. In 1973, Zondervan published my first book, A Manual of Demonology and the Occult, but Zondervan today is far different from the Zondervan of the 1970s. And InterVarsity, up to the publication of the Cron and Stabile book, disappointed a host of Christians. 

Richard Rohr, despite being a Catholic priest, denies the biblical doctrines about human beings, sin, creation, salvation, and of God. Rohr even says the Enneagram diagram is called “the face of God.”174 Pathways to Darkness The Enneagram is similar to numerology, astrology, and other forms of for- tune telling that rely on mystical, occultic forms of thinking. What is the Enneagram? It is said to be “sacred” by Christopher Heuertz and is able to give people their own unique spiritual path. It is said to be “The Road Back to You.” The supposition underlying the Enneagram is that people act as they do because they are living their “false self,” and the goal is to get people back to the “sacred” path – the road that leads to our true self, and the Enneagram is the way to this true self. (Figure 1 below) Above is the essential Enneagram, with its nine points. The numbers are treated differently by “spiritual directors.” Below is a chart explaining the nine points. Point 1 Reformer The Perfectionist The Need to be Perfect Point 2 Helper The Giver The Need to be Needed Point 3 Achiever The Performer The Need to Succeed Point 4 Individualist The Romantic The Need to be Special Point 5 Investigator The Observer The Need to Perceive Point 6 Loyalist The Loyal Sceptic The Need to be Sure Point 7 Enthusiast The Epicure The Need to Avoid Pain Point 8 Challenger The Protector The Need to be Against Point 9 Peacemaker The Mediator The Need to Avoid The person working with a “patient” will use the Enneagram by analyz- ing the numbers and combinations thereof to come up with how a person can experience a trnsformation of consciousness and thus get back toe their true self. And unhappily, some evangelical Christians are looking to the Enneagram for this.

2 Christopher L. Heuertz. The Sacred Enneagram (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017). 3 Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile. The Road back to You. An Emmeagram Journey to Self-Discovery (Downers Grove IL; InterVarsity Press. 22016)175 

This quote from Wikipedia, on July 22, 3-2022, 4:50pm, speaks to how a practitioner goes about it: 

As a typology, the Enneagram defines nine personality types (sometimes called “enneatypes”), which are represented by the points of a geometric figure called an enneagram, which indicate connections between the types. There are some different schools of thought among Enneagram teachers and their understandings are not always in agreement. 

Practitioners use various means to determine if a person is a point 1, 2, and so on, and then connect the various points, and a chart develops, which describes how it is that a person can come back to their true self, and these vary widely. And it all depends upon spiritual, mystical truths long hidden. 

My opinion, after a little more than 50 years in the pastorate, is that unknown numbers of people sitting in the pews of Christian churches, everything from moderate to evangelical to Pentecostal, have unwittingly and unknowingly experienced false conversion and are thus open to new spiritualities, something to fill in the dead, empty space inside. 

The authors, Don and Joy Veinot and Marcia Montenegro, note that those who promote and teach the Enneagram to Christians have a sincere desire to help them. But the real issue is directing others to the Enneagram really helpful? Or is it, in fact, dangerous? 

My opinion again is that the Enneagram opens a person up to a spirituality that is not at all biblical, that is not something revealed by our Creator, but is a turning to something entirely different. 

There is in fact another spirituality present in the universe and that is the kingdom of Satan, which presents a false spirituality, and at the same time, a very real spirituality. Indeed, the channelers, the mediums, the psychics, and much more, have tapped into a powerful and alluring reality. 

That which Emerges from Within 

Richard Rohr and many others identify with some form of Christianity and thus have a broad audience before them. Our authors point out that such was the case in 1st century Ephesus. Paul, in Acts 20:30, said “from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” And this is the case with the Enneagram. Rohr himself, perhaps the most significant presenter of the Enneagram, is a Franciscan priest in the Roman Catholic Church, who played a key role in introducing the Enneagram to Christian churches, including evangelical ones. 

The same can be said for many others, including InterVarsity Press, Zondervan, and others, publishing books that promote the Enneagram. 

Dating the Enneagram 

Some like to claim that the Enneagram pre-dated Christianity, some say it emerged out of Christianity. It is suggested it originated in Egypt, or that it was known prior to Homer and his Odyssey. Some point to a Evagrius of Pontus, 345-399 A.D. But the Veinots and Montenegro state it can be shown that the Enneagram did not exist prior to 1916, but that the “link between the symbol and the text can be fairly confidently dated as occurring for the first time in c. 1969.” 

That the Enneagram did not emerge out of any form of Christianity is quite clear. 

Christopher Heuertz writes, “Regardless of whether the Enneagram has its roots in Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, or Islam, we do know that it wasn’t until the early 1900s that an Eastern Orthodox man, G. I. Gurdjieff, introduced the modern form of the Enneagram to the Western World.” 

4 Christopher L. Heuertz. The Sacred Enneagram (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 2017), pg. 43, Kindle Edition. 

What Rohr Says about the origin of the Enneagram 

Richard Rohr teamed with Andreas Ebert, in 1990, to write the book Discovering the Enneagram: An Ancient Tool for a New Spiritual Journey. It was published by Crossroad Publishing Company, New York. In the preface to that book Rohr calls the Enneagram “a very ancient Christian tool for the discernment of spirits, for the struggle with our capital sin, our ‘False Self’ and the encounter with our ‘True Self’ in God.”5 

5 Page 71 in Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret.

Rohr is convinced that the Enneagram is another “sword of the Holy Spirit,” and so this has greatly impacted significant bodies of Christians and opened them up to working with Enneagram. 

It is well established that Rohr is panentheistic in his theological views, that is, one who believes that God is in all, or that Christ is actually in everything, even plants, animals, and every person regardless of what the people believe. Rohr does not hide the fact he is a panentheist, but he claims it, and that by working with the Enneagram, this can be realized. And a big part of that elucidation is that the only real sin is thinking we are separated from God: the truth is that everyone is in Christ, Christian or not. 

Necessarily then Rohr teaches that there is a difference between Jesus and The Christ, and he began saying this in 2009. There is the historical Jesus, which is the subject of the Gospels, but Paul speaks of the Christ. Jesus is the microcosm while Christ is the macrocosm. So then, Jesus is limited, he is born in time, while The Christ is eternal. 

Richard Rohr, besides being a panentheist is also a perennialist, meaning that there is one Divine Reality at the center of all religions. This means that no one needs any kind of salvation since all are “in Christ.” Indeed, all the world’s religions have the same truth and all that is needed is for people to realize this. And the Enneagram can move one toward this ultimate concept. 

A group of Catholic apologists called Catholic Answers says the following about Richard Rohr: 

The Christ whom Rohr preaches is not the authentic Jesus, and his related proclamation of the gospel is not the one that the Church has proclaimed and safeguarded for 2,000 years with the power of Holy Spirit. As a result, Rohr remains an unreliable and spiritually dangerous guide for Catholic and non-Catholic alike.6 

6 Tom Nash. “A Primer on Richard Rohr” Catholic Answers website; https:// www.catholic.com/qu/a-primer-on-richard-rohr.

Conclusionary statement 

The primary reason for the inclusion of this chapter on the Enneagram, featuring Richard Rohr, is due to his popularity in what may be called Progressive Christianity and which is now spreading into evangelical Christianity. 

It is not a simple thing to criticize, debunk, and accuse persons and organizations that are within the broad Christian family. Yet we find both Jesus and other writers of Scripture, mostly Paul, and other great followers of Jesus down through the ages, finding it necessary to stand against error. This entire book you are reading is engaged with this task, because so many well-meaning and loving people have fallen prey to strange belief systems— thus warnings must be sounded, and this out of love and concern. 

Before moving on to material found on Wikipedia, Richard Rohr is also hoping to connect with 12 Step Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. There is a spiritual dimension to these programs that is not truly Christian, but adopting what Rohr is offering will, in my opinion, spiral participants into a dangerous, albeit spiritual, dimension, even further from Biblical truth. 

Excerpts from Wikipedia 

Wikipedia, July 17, 2022 

The Enneagram of Personality, or simply the Enneagram (from the 178 

Greek words ἐννέα [ennéa, meaning “nine”] and γράμμα [grámma, meaning something “written” or “drawn”]), is a model of the human psyche which is principally understood and taught as a typology of nine interconnected personality types. 

Although the origins and history of many of the ideas and theories associated with the Enneagram of Personality are a matter of dispute, contemporary Enneagram theories are principally derived from the teachings of the Bolivian psycho-spiritual teacher Oscar Ichazo from the 1950s and the Chilean psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo from the 1970s. Naranjo’s theories were also influenced by some earlier teachings about personality by George Gurdjieff and the Fourth Way tradition. 

As a typology, the Enneagram defines nine personality types (sometimes called “enneatypes”), which are represented by the points of a geometric figure called an enneagram, which indicate connections between the types. There are some different schools of thought among Enneagram teachers and their understandings are not always in agreement. 

The Enneagram of Personality has been widely promoted in both business management and spirituality contexts through seminars, conferences, books, magazines, and DVDs. In business contexts it is generally used as a typology to gain insights into workplace interpersonal dynamics; in spirituality it is more commonly presented as a path to higher states of being, essence, and enlightenment. Both contexts say it can aid in self-awareness, self-understanding, and self-development. 

There has been limited formal psychometric analysis of the Enneagram, and the peer-reviewed research that has been done has not been widely accepted within the relevant academic communities. Though the Enneagram integrates concepts generally accepted in a theory of personality, it has been dismissed by some personality assessment experts as pseudoscience. 

The Enneagram has also received criticism from some religious perspectives. In 2000, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine produced a draft report on the origins of the Enneagram to aid bishops in their evaluation of its use in their dioceses. The report identified aspects of the intersection between the Enneagram and Roman Catholicism which, in their opinion, warranted scrutiny with potential areas of concern, stating, “While the enneagram system shares little with traditional Christian doctrine or spirituality, it also shares little with the methods and criteria of modern science… The burden of proof is on proponents of the enneagram to furnish scientific evidence for their claims.” Partly in response to some Jesuits and members of other religious orders teaching a Christian understanding of the Enneagram of Personality, a 2003 Vatican document called Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life. A Christian Reflection on the ‘New Age’ said that the 179 

Enneagram “when used as a means of spiritual growth introduces an ambiguity in the doctrine and the life of the Christian faith”. However, on July 1, 2022, Pope Francis expressed enthusiastic support for the work of Catholic Enneagram author Richard Rohr. 

To find out how the Enneagram works, go to the following website: 

It is a complex progress and too lengthy to be included here. 

Wikipedia, July 15, 2022 

Richard Rohr, OFM (born 1943) is an American Franciscan priest and writer on spirituality based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was ordained to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church in 1970. In 2011, PBS called him “one of the most popular spirituality authors and speakers in the world”. 

According to Douglas Groothuis, professor of philosophy at Denver Seminary, Rohr is basing his teachings on Eastern mysticism rather than biblical Christianity by preaching to find our “true self” instead of knowing a savior distinct from the self. Groothuis argues that Rohr’s fundamental claims about the “universal Christ” and Pantheistic worldview subvert the “biblical worldview with most egregious errors”, he adds, Rohr manipulates the scriptures to support his pantheistic or panentheistic worldviews, rather than monotheism i.e. creation and creator or God are different entities with infinite separation according to Christian theology, however Rohr contradicts this doctrine, states Groothuis. Groothuis further says that the writings of Rohr parallel New Age christologies which, he says, misread the biblical texts. Rohr’s reference to creation as the first incarnation of “the universal Christ” was highly criticized by Groothuis who argues that this contradicts the biblical doctrine. Groothuis says that Rohr distorts the gospel since his emanational metaphysics is based on perennial tradition. 

Erwin Lutzer, an evangelical pastor, has criticized Rohr for promoting universalism and a New Age spirituality which eschews specific doctrines and basic biblical teaching. Regarding Rohr’s book, The Divine Dance, Lutzer says the book “is not about the Trinity, but rather Rohr imaginatively uses Trinitarian language in order to give a backdrop to his own eclectic spiritual teaching”. 

William P. Young, a Christian author, has commented on Rohr’s ideas, saying that people who are frustrated with their churches might misread Rohr’s works as advocating a vague spirituality which is disconnected from the orthodox and scriptural understanding of Christ. According to Young, “The danger of universalism is nothing matters, especially Jesus”. He adds that “Some of Rohr’s followers can read it that way”. Furthermore, Rohr shares an incident where a group of local Catholics secretly recorded his sermons to have him excommunicated. They delivered the tapes to the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, then Archbishop of Cincinnati, who reviewed them and determined that they were within the bounds of the Church’s teachings. 

According to Rohr’s teachings, a person does not have to follow Jesus or practices of tenets of any formal religion to come by salvation, rather just have to “fall in love with the divine presence, under whatever name” which, he says, is welcomed by people who are disillusioned with the conservative churches which preaches that nonbelievers would go to Hell. The Perennial Tradition, or Perennial Philosophy, forms the basis of much of Rohr’s teaching; the essential message of his work focuses on the union of divine reality with all things and the human potential and longing for this union. Rohr and other 21st-century spiritual leaders explore the Perennial Tradition in the Center for Action and Contemplation’s issue of the publication Oneing

Influences on Rohr outside of Christian sources include Buddhism and Hinduism, Gandhi, Carl Jung, Spiral Dynamics, the Enneagram of Personality, and Integral Theory. 

If you, the reader, are interested in learning more technical details about the Enneagram of Personality, they are readily available on the internet at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enneagram_of_Personality

Pastoring Jesus People

 Chapter 43

The Church of the Open Door’s composition varied, but a substantial part of the membership was in the range of twenty to thirty-something with not much on either side of that. Coming on the heels of the free love counterculture, one could only expect that the Church of the Open Door would be impacted by the sex, drugs, and rock and roll mentality. Within a relatively short time, however, ordinary middle class folks filtered in. After all, we were the edgy, Spirit-filled, controversial new church with a band and everything.

There were a number of pastors leading the church, even some with a seminary education, such as Mike Riley, Roger Hoffman, Jim Smith, and others. (I was the only one who had been a pastor, but I was far from knowing what I was doing.) Beyond them were many more we considered to be “elders,” who were responsible for various aspects of the activities. Our monthly leadership meetings grew so large we had to rent banquet rooms in large restaurants to accommodate everyone.

It was a complicated operation. There were the Christian houses, the bookstores, the Bible studies in the schools, the Tuesday night Bible studies, the Sunday evening “body life” meetings, the evangelism efforts, and pastoral care. Throughout the seventies I kept up a regular schedule for the Marin Christian Counseling Center. In addition, Love in Action, the ex-gay ministry, was going gangbusters. 

After the Novato, San Francisco, Petaluma, and Pt. Reyes churches began, there were even more demands on my time. Each church had its problems, normal problems for sure, but they were time consuming and stressful. Our churches were developing their own particular styles of worship, traditions, and ministries. The leadership was 146 

largely theologically untrained, and none of them had much exposure to a congregation that was charismatic in orientation. 

My pastoring skills were minimal, and I left that important work of visiting the sick, checking in with congregants, and lending an ear and a hand into their lives to the Christian house leaders, the Tuesday night Bible study teachers, and the Sunday evening Body Life leaders. My job, as I saw it, was to be a teacher of the Bible and a preacher of the Gospel. My organizational ability was marginal but passable. I spent most of my time studying, writing (during the seventies I wrote fifteen books, only five of which were published), and counseling. It was clear to everyone that I depended on others to do the bulk of the pastoral ministry. 

The Shepherding Movement, as I explained in detail in the previous chapter, posed the greatest difficulty I experienced in the 1970s. At first I was on board, an ardent fan, but as time wore on I saw the downsides of it and began to pull away. Most of the other leaders in our little church planting enterprise differed from me, and a tension developed that separated us. These differences meant that I became isolated from the kind of fellowship I needed. 

Fast Forward to the Present 

Now several decades removed, I must admit that the events of those days still cross my mind. The relationships with the other pastors and elders were mostly never mended, except in a superficial manner. By way of compensation or distraction, I decided to pursue a doctoral program at a Presbyterian seminary and thus began to distance myself from those who were connected with Golden Gate Seminary and the leaders of the churches of the Open Door. I did this deliberately, but the pain never went away, although it is now little more than an unpleasant memory. 

Surprisingly, now that these memoirs are being prepared and I have had reason to contact many of the old gang, relationships are being restored. Frankly, I would never have attempted any book about the JPM if it had not been for Katie. For years she has been after me to get my story out, and only last year did I agree to it. And I have to admit it has been painful; going over that history and the good and the bad of it has at times gotten to me emotionally. Nearing the end of the process now, I am glad it is all happening. Before me is the hope that what is presented here will help others in coming years to understand the light and dark sides of awakenings and revivals. 

One thing more seems to fit into this chapter and that has to do with the counsel Moishe Rosen had given me during the early years of the JPM. He advocated my pursuing higher academic degrees with a view to being a teacher in a Bible college or seminary. He also warned against beginning a church, thinking that would be a distraction from the kinds of ministry we were engaged in, ministries that were obviously bearing much fruit. Rosen’s vision was for a para-church ministry that focused on evangelism. And this vision was, of course, realized in Jews for Jesus. Moishe never intended to found a church. He felt that people who were reached through Jews for Jesus would find their way into churches as a matter of course. 

I did not necessarily ignore his counsel; it simply did not work out that way. To a considerable degree, after going through all that I have, I wish I could have been able to abide by it. Now, however, I’m ambivalent, because I still pastor a church and enjoy the work. Along with having the opportunity to preach and teach, I also get to do the writing I love so much. Perhaps it is that Miller Avenue Baptist Church is an anomaly and is far less stressful and disappointing than the years of Church of the Open Door in San Rafael. I may make some folks unhappy with what I have just written, but this is the truth.

Power Through Communion?

This is a critique of The Power of Communion: Accessing Miracles Through the Body & Blood of Jesus, by Beni Johnson with Bill Johnson, Destiny Image Publishers, 2019.

In 50-plus years of pastoral ministry, we have never viewed Communion, The Lord’s Supper, or Eucharist as a means to acquiring power. Nor have we ever read any Christian material that presents Communion as such. But here it is thus presented by Bill and Beni Johnson of the Bethel Church in Redding, California. 

We also note the word “accessing.” This term is often used by those who practice magic, in that by performing various rites and rituals, power is granted, protection is given, and knowledge is gained. In Scripture itself, when Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, as in Luke 22:14–23, He said, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). It is a remembering of what our Lord Jesus did for us on the cross. Indeed, our sin, and all of it, was laid upon the Suffering Servant of Israel—Jesus—Emmanuel. When we observe Communion, this is our focus: a remembering, not a seeking for power. 

Paul then spoke the very same thing in his first letter to the Corinthian church. Below is the passage, from 1 Corinthians 11:23–26. 

(23) For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, [24] and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” [25] In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” [26] For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 

The verses that follow then are of critical importance. Here is 1 Corinthians 11:27–30: 

27) Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. [28] Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. [29] For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. (30) That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 

The question must be asked then, are the Johnsons using Communion in an unworthy manner? If the elements are taken in order to access power, has not a barrier been broken down and instead of a “remembrance” Communion becomes a means of magic? 

Additional notes 

On pages 12 and 13 is the following: “On Sunday, April 9, 2017, our church body ended a corporate fast. My husband preached a wonderful sermon on the impact of Communion, and at the end of the service we took Communion as a congregation. We prayed together, applied the blood of Jesus to our families and communities, and celebrated what Jesus did for all mankind.” 

The words “applied the blood of Jesus to our families and communities” would fit perfectly into something a shaman or magician might say. Can an individual or group do something like this? Can they actually apply an event to others who are not present? Our answer can only be NO! This would be nothing more than magic. 

Then, on page 14, we find “pleading the blood of Jesus over their lives.” We might pray for others but to “plead” is something removed from Christian practice. 

On the same page we find, “declaring Heaven over their lives.” Sounds loving and caring, but it is still nothing more than magical. “Declaring heaven” sounds wonderful, but is it Biblical? Do we see examples of this in the New Testament? 

A dear friend of the Johnsons had a son who was struggling, and she declared one day, “I call him back from the powers of darkness” (p. 16). The idea is grand and loving, but is it a kind of magic? It is one thing to pray for a person to be safe spiritually, but to “call him back” implies that one had the power to do so. Only God has this prerogative and power. 

Then Communion becomes for Beni Johnson a “tool for intercession.” Here is a decided movement away from “remembrance” to something a magician would identify with (p. 17). And she goes on to say, “When I take Communion, I take it as a prophetic act, applying it to any situation that is weighing on my heart. A prophetic act is a Holy Spirit-inspired physical action that disrupts the atmosphere.” This is nothing more than magic, occult-focused magic. She continues, “In completing the prophetic act, we are releasing something into the atmosphere that helps the answer to our prayer to break through” (pp. 17–18). 

(Note: Beni Johnson will take Communion, alone often, and many times a day.)

Beni describes Communion as “A Weapon of Warfare” (p. 20). This sounds spiritual, but it is not Biblical in any sense. Taking Communion is a remembering of the work of Jesus on the cross; it is far from a weapon of warfare. 

In a later chapter Beni writes of a man who “felt like the Lord told him to start making declarations over the land” (p. 42). He then would walk around and declare the sovereignty of the Lord over the land and start “remitting” the sins of those present in his hearing. While this seems quite spiritual and empowering, it has no Biblical precedent or warrant. It is magical and to the point that he assumes the power of God to forgive sins. 

In the chapter titled “Sozo for all mankind,” Beni speaks of a time when her husband Bill was having some health problems, and part of her dealing with this was to take Communion for him (p. 51). While it purports to be loving and supportive, it has a strong taste of magic. She writes, “We knew that healing was ours because of the cross, and we applied it through Communion” (p. 53). So much of that which is magical has to do with power, and she sees accessing power by means of taking Communion. 

“When we take Communion and declare total health over our bodies, we are aligning ourselves up with what the body of Christ did for us” (p. 56). Here we find the word “align,” which is a word she frequently uses. By align she means agreeing with and acting out Biblical truths, which seems proper for some but is really doing something that supposedly causes the Holy Spirit to do something. In fact, we are able to declare healing over our bodies. Not sure how this “aligns” with Scripture. 

Now, Judy Franklin is introduced to the reader, and Beni says, “she is also highly anointed in taking people on heavenly encounters” (pp. 74–75). It is explained that Judy had known peace after actually experiencing being in heaven and was able to help others find the same. At a retreat, Judy “had us all lie on the floor, and she began to take us on a journey to Heaven. I was lying on the floor, my head underneath a chair, visualizing Jesus. Almost immediately, I went into a vision. In it, I saw my two grandmothers who had passed on. . . . It was so special for me to get to see them . . .” Beni continues this. 

This reminds me of the channelers, the psychic therapists, and also life coaches who do this very same thing. The Johnsons assume that anything supernatural must be from the Lord and perhaps do not realize that such practices and experiences are common in the occult/magical world. 

Beni treasured gifts of charms and pendants, which she strung together.

Her favorite was a compass which “spoke to me in a reassuring way about God’s presence in my life” (p. 77). 

Then Beni met Dr. Raymond Hilu. She had a friend who was her “health coach,” and who had “overcome stage four cancer through holistic means” (p. 83). This friend talked to her about Dr. Hilu who had a holistic clinic in Spain. (Make a Google search for Dr. Hilu, and you will find his short video.) As it turned out, her health coach went with Beni to Spain. Beni writes, “I truly believe that this daily alignment was a large part of my healing process” (p. 82). 

Concluding remarks 

Health and life coaches are everywhere today, along with the psychic therapists, channelers, and holistic healers, and here in this book essentially about Communion, we find a self-identified follower of Jesus embracing, even promoting, alternative, occult-oriented forms of healing. How many others are doing the very same as a result of the stamp of approval given out by Beni Johnson and a host of others? 

Most of us could use some form of healing; after all, the world we live in is toxic at minimum. And we know that our Lord Jesus heals us. I have had two concrete healings by the power of the Holy Spirit, these back in the Jesus People Days. Yes, normally we are not seeing the outpourings of our Healer as we did during times of awakening, but they still occur. For those who are in Christ, the one great cancer—our sin—is gone, and we are healed of the monster injury. 

We are all going to die of something, and as we age, our bodies break down little by little or even suddenly. And it is legitimate to seek our Lord for healing, but healed or not, we stay Biblical and do not turn to the holistic healers, the acupuncturists, the life coaches, channelers, and other practitioners of occult/ magical arts.

Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary And The Big Five

 Chapter 42

One hot day in August I served my last day with the United States Air Force and moved that same day into the seminary in Mill Valley, which became the Philpott family home for the next three years.

Many of my friends and acquaintances from my seminary days are mentioned in other parts of these memoirs—professors Clayton Harrop, Fred Fisher, Kyle Yates, and Francis DuBose—and there are a host of others. Dr. Graves, the president, watched over the seminary with a firm but graceful hand. 

There were a number of seminary students who became part of our ministry in San Francisco and Marin County. Among them were Terry Jenkins and Beverly Igo.

There were, however, the Big Five, as I have taken to calling them: Paul Bryant, Oliver Heath, Roger Hoffman, Mike Riley, and Bob Hymers. You can read more about each of them in the bios section of the book.

Paul and Ollie were involved very early, I recall in 1969. Both rock solid Christians with deep ties to Southern Baptists, they were bold risk takers, committed to Jesus, and capable of preaching, teaching the Bible, and doing direct personal evangelism—just what I needed. 

By the time they joined up, the number of converts in need of disciplining was growing. Our houses were expanding, and we needed leadership. This is what Paul and Ollie brought to our fledgling ministry. Both remain friends to this day, and they are still active in Gospel work.

Roger, Mike, and Bob were almost like a package. I got to know Roger and Mike when I returned to the seminary to do a Th.M. They were ready to go, actually wanting something unusual and different. Within a few weeks of meeting them, they introduced me to Bob Hymers, whose full name is actually Robert L. Hymers, Jr. He has too many doctoral degrees to list them here, and he is one of America’s great preachers. 

Bob was different from the rest of us, because he was a staunch fundamentalist and anti-charismatic to a degree. This was probably good for us, as it kept us from falling too deeply into some of the excesses that abounded at the time. 

All of the Big Five, except for Paul, are pastors of real churches to this day. What they brought to me was stability; they were people I could count on to head houses, pastor churches, preach, teach, and lead. They are all my friends today, though we have had our moments. You don’t need to know. 

I spent six years walking those seminary halls; wife Katie graduated with an MDiv. there; and son Vernon is a student now. But not for long. The seminary is moving to Ontario in Southern California in the summer of 2016, about the time this second edition of the Memoirs book is coming out. It is a wise move in my eyes, and I wish them well. You can bet I will be visiting from time to time. 

Students often have a love/hate relationship with a school, and I have been disappointed a time or two with GGBTS, but what a wonderful gift to have had the school and the many dedicated professors teaching right here in Marin. I will feel sad at having to say goodbye to John Shouse, Glenn Prescott, Rick Durst, Jeff Iorg and a number of others, but this is the reality. 

Conversion to Christ and the new birth are the great miracles indeed. Then discipleship, sanctification, and mentorship are all so necessary to the work of the Gospel ministry. The Big Five and the seminary will always have a large space in my heart.

God Dies, from The Preposterous God

 Chapter Nine 

The title of this chapter is overly sensational, and if taken literally, is error. Obviously, God does not die; He is the ultimate Living Presence. 

Still, God did die. Isaiah said it would be so as recorded in his chapter 53: 

Crushed for our iniquities 

a lamb that is led to the slaughter 

he was cut off out of the land of the living 

they made his grave with the wicked 

and with a rich man in his death 

King David had stated the same idea two hundred and fifty years earlier: “You lay me in the dust of death” (Psalm 22:15c). 

God had to die, since “sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:15b). Death must come, and death is not merely dying, it is eternal separation from God in hell. 

Hell may not be fire and brimstone with devils and pitch forks. Christians are divided on this point. I do not make any claim to understanding except that hell is eternal and under the domination of Satan. Whatever it is, it is not good. 

Islam teaches that God had sex with the virgin Mary and that Jesus was the product of that union. This is an attempt to supplant Christian doctrine by ignoring the witness of the writers of the New Testament. 

At the core of the mystery 

It was the Son of God, Jesus the Messiah, who died. God the Father did not have a child as humans do.2 However, consider the analogy that human fathers have human sons, and the son is no less human than the father. Does this help explain Jesus, the Son of God? Not completely, but it paints a picture of a reality we can understand. Of course, we are speaking of the Trinity here, so the analogy breaks down. Nothing we know of or ever will know of while on this planet will entirely explain this mystery. 

The mystery deepens: That which is not holy cannot be in the presence of the holy God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—yet the ultimate intention of the Godhead is that chosen, sinful humans will be with Him forever. What would be done? How could we live when the wages, the outcome of sin, is death? The answer is sin be forgiven—washed away and cleansed by means of the death of Jesus on the cross—otherwise, I would be forever separated from the presence of God.  

Abraham and Isaac 

In Genesis 22 is the story of the sacrifice of Isaac. Isaac was the son of Abraham and Sarah, through whom the nation to be, Israel, would issue. Surprisingly, God, who had made it miraculously possible for Sarah to give birth to Isaac, commanded Abraham to sacrifice that very of miracle, Isaac.3 As Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, God’s angel stopped him and pointed to a ram caught in a thicket. This animal served as a substitute. Isaac lived. 

This event, known as the Akedah, the binding of Isaac, may be viewed as a proto-gospel, since God provides a substitute sacrifice so that the nation, the people of God, might survive. 

Circumcision is a word used to symbolize forgiveness. Uncircumcision would refer to unforgiveness. 

God the Father gave the Son up to death, making Jesus the substitute. Only that which is holy could be a substitute. 

Theologians refer to this work of God as “Substitutionary Atonement,” a big term, but helpful, as it means that instead of the sinner dying, Jesus dies in that sinner’s place. This is the mystery. God does what no one else can do. Since our sin is against God, only God can put away sin. And He did that on the cross. Jesus literally died in the sinner’s place. 

Another look 

The writer of the Book of Hebrews, in chapter 2 verse 9, provides a distinctly Jewish view of the work of Jesus on the cross. 

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 

We have the required number of witnesses, over a thousand-year period of time, from King David in the tenth century BCE to the first century CE, stating the very same truth. The Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son God, God in the flesh, dies. 

Baptism 

In biblical baptism is a picture of what happens in the rebirthing miracle of God called conversion. To baptize is to plunge under water, to dunk, or to immerse. A person is laid back in the water, symbolizing death and burial, then is raised up again. It is not magical; no sin is washed away. Rather it is a physical re-enactment of salvation; it is storytelling. 

Writing to the congregation at Colossae, Paul explains the spiritual significance of baptism: 

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision4 of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debts that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14) 

The key phrase is “nailing it to the cross.” When Jesus was crucified, God the Father placed our sin upon God the Son. Jesus emptied Himself of the glory of deity and became flesh, born of the virgin. Jesus without sin Himself became the perfect sacrifice for our sin. Jesus is the substitute, our substitute. 

Paul made this truth clear to the congregation in Rome: 

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Romans 6:3-5) 

Baptism is not a ritual as much as it is a testimony and symbolic re-enactment of what God has done in Christ. 

God died that we might not. As Paul put it, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). 

This is unimaginable love from the Triune God for the prodigals.  A “prodigal” is one who has left his father and family to live a riotous and debauched life. See the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32. 

Both preposterous and wonderful! 

Wicca- Witches Among Us

This chapter is taken from the book written by Kent and Katie Philpott titled, The Soul Journey: How Shamanism, Santeria, Wicca, and Charisma are Connected. It was published by Earthen Vessel Publishing in 2014. 

The neo-pagan religion of Wicca is not coming to a town near you—it is already there! The Unites States government recognizes Wicca as a legitimate religion, and there are Wiccan chaplains in the military and in some state prisons.

Witchcraft, covens, magick, gods, goddesses, spells, curses, astral travel, fairies, elves, dead ancestors, animal guides, and much more exist in the “otherworld.” Is it nonsense, game playing, fantasy, a marketing gimmick, or is there some kind of reality behind it? Whatever the answer may be, Wicca is a growing phenomenon and not likely to recede any time soon.

In another chapter, we look at Santería, the West African religion that came to the New World due to the slave trade that flourished from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. The Yoruba tribe of West Africa worshipped deities called orishas. In the New World orisha worship commingled with the Roman Catholicism that was already present in the Hispanic Caribbean Islands. The new religion – really the old Yoruba religion of Africa – became known as Santería (loosely translated into English as “the saint thing”). While researching this transplanted religion, we noticed how much the Santerían world view paralleled that of Wicca. 

Note:

Since there is no official document that authoritatively speaks to the central dynamics and principles of Wicca, the following are statements to which most Wiccans seem to subscribe, as found in books written by participants and advocates and also by talking directly with Wiccan practitioners. As is often the case with all the subjects covered in this present book, not all Wiccans ascribe to all of the following descriptions. Out of necessity, they will be somewhat overlapping and even contradictory. 150 

PART I: Basic Facts about Wicca from its Proponents 

Wicca is a growing religious system, though there is no hierarchical Wicca Church as in Methodists or Baptists. The number of books on Wicca on the market is growing rapidly, and there are more than 6,000 Wicca-related websites on the Internet. There are Wiccan radio shows, Wiccan umbrella organizations, and state-certified Wiccan churches. 

No one knows the origins of witchcraft. Gerald Gardner, the person who more than any other is responsible for bringing the cult into the modern era, said: “My own theory is, that it is a Stone Age cult of the matriarchal times, when woman was the chief; at a later time, man’s god became dominant, but the woman’s cult, because of the magical secrets, continues as a distinct order.”1 

1 Gerald Gardner, Witchcraft Today, 43. (Note that Gardner’s theory of prehistoric matriarchy is well-disputed.) See a fuller discussion in Cynthia Eller, The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Won’t Give Women a Future (Boston: Beacon Press, 2001). 

Judy Harrow, in the foreword to the fiftieth anniversary edition of Witchcraft Today by Gerald Gardner, attributes a major change for Wicca with the 1979 publications of Margot Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon and Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance, wherein the emphasis is on the “joyous worship of Mother Earth.”2 

2 Judy Harrow, in Gerald Gardner’s Witchcraft Today, 2004 edition. 

A Wiccan is a person who is following the Wiccan religion/spiritual path and has either undergone a Wiccan initiation or has formally and ritually declared him- or herself Wiccan. 

Some Wiccans use the words “Wiccan” and “witch” interchangeably, but there are witches who do not consider themselves Wiccans. Wiccans are a subgroup of witches. Wiccans and witches are both subgroups of a larger group: pagans. Pagans are practitioners of earth-based religions. Most Wiccans and witches consider themselves pagan, but not all pagans are Wiccans or witches. 

Witchcraft is what Wiccans and witches do, and “Wicca” is the name of the religion itself. There are a number of groups that are Wiccan. Some of these are: Alexandrian, Celtic, Dianic, Dicordian, Eclectic,3 

3 Here is found a number of Wiccan traditions bound together, and no two groups may be identical. Individual witches, or solitaires, will develop their own practices, rites, and ceremonies. Gardnerian,4 

4 Gerald Gardner was instrumental in focusing modern Wicca. His The Gardnerian Book of Shadows describes the major ceremonies and rites of Wicca.Neo-Gardnerian, and Georgian. 

A solitaire is a witch who practices alone and is not in a coven. A coven can vary in size, but 13 is the number of persons who comfortably fit into the ritual circle. In it is the High Priestess, who is seen as the goddess incarnate and is the spiritual center of the coven. Also there may be a High Priest, who assists the high Priestess, and is seen as the god incarnate. 

Wicca is new but old at the same time. Its origins are shrouded in mystery, and many will say it began among rural Celts.5 

5 The Oxford Concise English Dictionary defines “Celt” as: “a member of a group of western European peoples, including the pre-Roman inhabitants of Britain and Gaul and their descendants, especially in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, Brittany, and the Isle of Man.” Magic – and magic is what Wicca is about – has been practiced since prior to recorded human history. Wiccans spell magic with a “k” – thus, “magick” is the word used. 

The Wiccan path is based on the earth rather than the heavens. 

A witch uses magick in his or her everyday life. 

There is no central church of Wicca, and no Wiccan bible or sacred document exists of any kind that details the beliefs, rules, and teachings of the religion. 

Wiccans are monotheistic.6 

6 The Wiccan concept of monotheism is not the same as that of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam, where the God of creation, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is the primary and single God. Their primary deity may be referred to as “The All,” “The Universe,” and “The One.” The Lord and Lady, or the god and goddess7 

7 Wiccans capitalize “Goddess” and “God” but we use the lower case, except for the Creator God of the universe.came from or out of “The All.” 

Wicca embraces reincarnation and karma, concepts carried to India in and around the tenth century B.C. and was absorbed into Hindu monistic thought. After a certain degree of westernization, it is for most Wiccans the idea that there is death and rebirth, a process that goes on until balance and perfection are reached. 

There is a male and female aspect of all people; thus there is a natural equality of the sexes. But these aspects are not in balance. A central goal of Wicca is to restore the proper balance. 

Wiccans strive for a balance between the male and the female, and when such a state is reached, reincarnations cease and the individual enters into their version of heaven called Summerland. 

“You learn Wicca by loving it,” is a common statement made by Wiccans. 

Wicca, with its focus on natural cycles and its emphasis on meditation and psychic abilities, provides many opportunities to touch the mysteries of the divine and the cosmos. 

Some Wiccans teach that Wicca is European Shamanism: the word shaman refers to a person who enters an altered state of consciousness in order to take a spiritual journey to retrieve information, heal, work magick, tell the future, or commune with the dead.8 

8 This particular concept – the altered state of consciousness – figures large in shamanism, Santería, and Wicca, along with a number of other religious or spiritual practices. Another word for the altered state of consciousness is “trance.” Trance is particularly important in Wicca. 

Wicca is a religion that many (but not all) witches practice. It is an earth-based religion that honors both the god, represented by the sun, and the goddess, represented by the moon. 

Wiccans are taught to be in tune with their psychic abilities. Magick circle, the sacred space of Wiccans, is said to be “between the worlds,” and Wiccans “travel” between the worlds to meet the gods, receive information, and heal. Wiccans often enter ecstatic or trance states in order to work magick or commune with the divine. 

Many Wiccans have life-altering experiences that lead them to the Wiccan path, and Wiccan groups often initiate new members in a symbolic death and rebirth ceremony meant to provide a mini-shamanic crisis and shift the initiate’s perspective.9 

9 The parallels to Christianity are perhaps deliberate but disingenuous. 

Wicca is a magickal system. As generally understood, there are two types of Wiccan magick. (1) There is every day magick. This might consist of spell work for things like finding a new job or protecting one’s home. (2) There is magick to manifest or make real the witch’s personal power and divinity. In essence, it is a working the witch’s will to find purpose in life and alignment with the higher self. 

PART II: Generalized Statements from Proponents of Wicca10 

10 There is a certain redundancy in these statements, since different branches of Wicca and Wiccan writers will describe the core ideas differently. It is necessary to present the overlapping in order to see the full range of Wiccan thought. 

“If you use your magickal11 

11 Magic is what magicians do on the stage, in film, on television; magick with a “k” is what Wiccans do. energies, they may just help you stay clear-headed and focused. Powers are a special blessing that we all have. Some witches believe that their powers come from the Goddess. Wherever they come from, just know that you have them. If you open your heart and mind, you can use your powers. And the more you work with them the better, the more powerful, you become.”12 

12 Zimmermann and Gleason, Wicca and Witchcraft, 6.153 

The abilities you have are natural and inborn, so there is no reason to be frightened of them. Soon you will come to rely on them. 

Note the similarity between these last two statements and those made by several other “spiritual path” proponents covered in this book. 

Nature is never good or evil, it just is. Wicca is often compared to Native American beliefs and traditions. Witches recognize that it is in our best interests to keep the earth healthy and vital. While many religions have a holy book, our book is the earth itself and all of her creatures. 

The Goddess and God will take notice [of your attention to them through rituals] and your spells will soar! 

“Wiccans believe that the Goddess is in everything and is not some force standing out there watching us. In the faith of Wicca, we believe in deity – the All. We divide that into a male and female spirituality, the God and Goddess, or Lord and Lady.”13 

13 Ibid.,p. 7. 

Wiccans also work with the demigods who are different, smaller aspects of the All. 

Witches are not anti-Christian, nor do they harbor negative feelings about other religions. Witches will, however, avoid “narrow Christians” and not allow one to be in their ranks. 

Wiccans deny Jesus is the Son of God but accept Him as an enlightened or holy man. 

“Wiccans believe in the morals that are common to most faiths. But Wiccans do not believe in the Christian concept of original sin. Wiccans live in the now. While some Wiccans believe in reincarnation, life is to be lived for what it is in the present so that we may learn from this lifetime on Earth. As Wiccans, we do not deny ourselves pleasure or put up with unnecessary pain. We believe that we all have a job to do, or a lesson to learn, or maybe a debt to pay from the last lifetime. Once we have succeeded in our mission, we must move on to the Summerland, where we can reflect and choose our mission in the next life. Or, perhaps choose not to reincarnate and rather work as spirit guides.”14 

14 Ibid., p. 11. 

Here is a claim that deceased humans can be the kind of spirit guides that so many spiritual paths hope to contact, thus welcoming the beings that are actually the “guides”—demons. 

While Wiccans do not believe there is a hell to punish sinners, they do believe there is a universal law, called karma.15 

15 Unlike the Hindu version of Karma and reincarnation, Wicca employs a watered down version of the two concepts, making them more acceptable to the Witches know that whatever 154 

energy or actions they send out, whether negative or positive, will come back to them threefold.16 

Western mindset. 

If you send out positive energies, you will get positive energies in return. 

The central principle of Wicca is the Wiccan Rede, “An it harm none, do what ye will.” 

Witches do believe in “God,” the pure energy of the All, of the god and goddess, most high. Witches do not believe in Satan. 

Wiccans believe that all spiritual paths lead to the same house – union with the divine. Perhaps, in our search for tolerance, harmony, peace, and freedom of spirit, by the end of this millennium all the major religions will have broken down and merged together into one gentle and magickal earth-centered faith. 

PART III: The Wiccan Deities 

In Wicca, the Divine or Deity is greater than creation, and yet it is creation. Deity or the Divine is immanent in all things, but it is also distant and beyond grasp. 

In Wiccan thought, the union of the goddess and god creates the universe. The goddess is the god’s mother and lover. In the mythos of most Wiccans, the goddess gives birth to the god, he matures, they make love and she becomes pregnant, he dies, and he is reborn of her again. The god’s existence is cyclical, like the grains. 

Communicating directly with the god and goddess is one of the greatest joys and responsibilities of a Wiccan. 

Many Wiccans have personal patron deities – in addition to the god and goddess – with whom they work frequently. 

Again, who or what are these “personal patron deities” or the “animal familiars” cited below but demons in disguise? 

The Celtic, Greek, Roman, Norse, and Egyptian gods are probably the most popular amongst Wiccans. 

In addition to the god and goddess, a Wiccan may be involved with any number of otherworldly entities. There are, in addition to the personal deities, the animal familiars,17 

16 There will be more on the Threefold Law further in this chapter. dead ancestors, gnomes, elves, and so on. It seems there are any number of spiritual entities, not all of the good kind, that hover around Wicca and are involved in casting the spells and conducting the rituals. 

17 A familiar spirit is one that masks itself as someone familiar to you – a deceased grandparent, for instance. The animal familiar will appear as a dog, cat, or other animal that one is familiar with.

There are two types of Wiccan animal familiars: disincarnate (spirits in animal form) and incarnate (spirits indwelling living pets or other animals). Disincarnate animal familiars or spirits serve as guides and helpers. Not all Wiccans work with animal spirits. In the accounts of the witch trials, there are stories of animal familiars, most of which were said by the witches’ accusers to be demons in animal form. Proponents of Wicca strongly believe the animal familiars are not demons. A Wiccan chooses the animal spirits to work with, but it is said that sometimes the animal familiar does the choosing. 

PART IV: The Wiccan Ritual 

A Wiccan ritual is a means of creating consecrated ground or sacred space in order to pay homage to deity. Ritual is also used to do magick and to work with the energy of the god and goddess. 

It is a good idea to do a small ritual every day to honor the Lord and Lady. 

Rituals can be performed for grounding, to connect with the goddess, to celebrate a sabbat, to honor one’s ancestors, or to perform magick. 

There are eight sabbats having to do with the earth and the positioning of the sun. These fall about six weeks apart. Four of them are known as solstices and equinoxes, and the mid-points between them are the cross quarters

Covens meet to perform rituals together regularly – for the thirteen esbats, or Wiccan moon rituals, and eight sabbats every year. Esbats have to do with the moon, especially full moons; the sabbats have to do with the sun. 

In the ritual, it is necessary to call down the quarters – the four directions of North, East, South, and West – and the Elemental powers of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Over these is spirit, which sits atop the pentacle. A pentacle is a pentagram, a five-pointed star, with a circle around it. 

A high priestess will “call down the moon” to give her power to do magick. She is then considered to be an incarnation of the goddess. 

The circle is drawn with an athane (a small, handmade dagger) to a diameter of nine feet. Another circle is drawn one foot outside that one and even another circle is drawn another one foot outside the second. 

Once the Powers have been called down or in they must be told or shown what they are to do. Often the Powers are “bound” with a rhyme. 

Doing magick takes serious and sincere preparation of the body, mind, and spirit on a daily basis and becomes time consuming, even controlling. 

A witch’s journal is called a Book of Shadows; a witch’s recipe book is called a grimoire. The grimoire can also contain lists of angels, spirits, and magickal properties of objects found in nature. Gerald Gardner’s Book of Shadows has become the standard for all grimoires.

PART V: Summon, Stir, Call, Invite, or Request 

Wiccans “summon” certain entities – the four elements, fairies, and the elementals, for example. The four elements are air, fire, water, and earth. The elementals are personifications of the four elements. The elemental associated with air is sylphs, fire is the salamander, water is undines or nymphs, and earth is gnomes. Other larger, more powerful entities are “stirred.” These are the Ancestors, dragons, and Watchtowers. One stirs them because they are sleeping and need to be awakened before they can attend the ritual. If one wants the god and goddess to attend one’s ritual, “call” them respectfully, and they will come. And one can call angels also. When one “invites” entities to one’s ritual, it is asking them to be present, but not to join inside the circle. These are the familiar entities. One can “request” the presence of any of the four winds and of one’s spirit guides. Also, one tells the entities asked to the ritual what they are to do. One can ask them to protect, observe, or help carry out one’s magick. 

Entities: 

Air, Fire, Water, Earth and Spirit have dragons from the Elemental Realm. 

Guardians of the Watchtowers: some witches are afraid of them and won’t use them in ritual. 

Fairies: flower fairies, mermaids, mermen, little people, sprites, and pixies. These can appear as miniature humans, or they can take the form of an elf. They are summoned. You’ll know that the fairies have arrived when the flames of your candles start to dance around. They are extremely mischievous. To discourage fairies from taking up permanent residence in your home, hang iron pots around the house. Because iron renders fairies powerless and incapable of magick, they will flee from this metal and leave you in peace. 

Elementals: Sylphs, salamanders, undines, and gnomes. 

Tree spirits: from the realm of Fairy. 

The Lord and the Lady: around us all the time. So, too, are all the many varieties of angels. The ancestors also dwell in the Realm of Spirit, but they are sleeping. 

Angels: divided into three levels: One, seraphim, cherubim, and thrones. Two, dominions, virtues, and powers. Three, principalities, archangels, angel messengers, and guardian angels. 

Ancestors: figures from the past who have great wisdom and knowledge. They have lived in the times of Egypt, Rome, or Greece, like Socrates. An ancestor might even be an actual ancestor like a grandparent. 

Spirit Guides: like guardian angels, are assigned to us at birth, and we can have as many as seven. Sometimes a spirit guide is a soul that does not need to be reincarnated. Often spirit guides come to us in our dreams. If you meditate regularly, you may start being able to see them.

Spirit animals: (disincarnate) may be summoned. 

Familiars: individual animals that are inhabited by spirit (incarnate). They can help with magick. Familiars have more dignity than regular pets because they are able to communicate with you telepathically. 

PART VI: Basic Wiccan Principles and Ethics 

Much of Wiccan practice can be divided into two categories – eclectic and traditional. 

Eclectic: This is where Wiccans compile their practices from a variety of sources. 

Traditional: Wiccans here use a system of practices that have been handed down to them and have a certain level of consistency, though the lines will sometimes blur. Some of the traditions are: Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Feri, 1734, Celtic and/or Celtic Reconstructionist, Minoan, Seax Wicca, Asatru, Church of All Worlds, Covenant of the Goddess, New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn, Central Valley Wicca, Blue Star, Dianic Wicca, and Reclaiming. 

To save time and space, no elaboration will be made here on these traditions, since that is not germane to our purpose. 

Key General Principles 

Wiccan Principle 1: Deity becomes a polarity. Many Wiccans believe that there is a single great divine force, which they call spirit, the All, the Divine, or just Deity. 

Wiccan Principle 2: Deity is immanent, meaning that deity is inherent or present in all people and things. This is close to the definition of animism, which is that everything has a consciousness of its own but different in that there is a sacred force that infuses everything, and that force is deity or a part of deity.18 

Wiccan Principle 3: The Earth is divine. Wiccans believe that the earth is a manifestation of deity, and may be called Gaia.19 

18 The distinction between ancient animism and Wicca’s concept of the force or energy in all appears to be but a quibble. Therefore, many Wiccans believe that a significant part of their spiritual path is taking care of the earth.20 

19 Gaia, in Wicca, is a female deity that can be involved in magick and ritual. Gaia theory, the concept of an earth, indeed a universe, that regulates itself in unknown ways, is not a part of Wicca but rather is a scientific theory. 

20 Wiccans tend to think that Christians, who believe in a heaven, are not living in the “here and now” and take little interest in the environment. 

Wiccan Principle 4: Psychic power or psychic abilities help Wiccans with many things, like honing their intuition, divination (reading astrological charts or tarot cards, for example), and sensing things that science cannot yet explain, like the spirits of the dead or the presence of the gods with people. 

Wiccan Principle 5: The use and practice of magick – the idea that everything is infused with the divine and thus the divine can cause change to occur in conformance with the will of the magickian. Further, it is the concept that all things contain some divine energy, which can be tapped into in order to affect change. 

Wiccan Principle 6: Reincarnation. Wiccans have at least three different positions on this. (1) Some believe that our souls are reborn into new bodies. (2) The human essence “recycles” after the body dies and becomes cosmic energy. (3) All humans share one soul, and this soul experiences the many possibilities of life by inhabiting all of our bodies at the same time. 

Wiccan Principle 7: Sex is sacred, sexuality is then considered a gift from the gods, and gay sex is as good as any other form of sex, except that none are to be harmed in the practice of sacred sex. 

Key ethical principles 

Wicca is not Satanic or anti-Christian. Wiccans do not believe in Satan. Satan is part of the Christian religion, and Satanism is a Christian heresy. 

Wiccans do not try to convert others to Wicca. 

Wicca is not dualistic, as in a good god fighting with a bad god. Wicca does not see God and Satan as opposite partners, or two parts of a whole. 

Wiccans can honor more than one religion. 

Wicca is not a way to get power over others, not only about magick, not an excuse to wear edgy clothes, nor is it a mask for sexual abuse. 

Witches should never attack, but they can use their magick to defend themselves. 

Do no harm. Everything else is fair game. 

“Black magic” – magick is like electricity. It is neither good nor bad. It just is. If you intend to harm, you are doing negative magick. If you intend the greatest good for all, then you are working positive magick. .

PART VII: The Threefold Law 

Many, but not all, Wiccans subscribe to the Threefold Law. This law teaches that whatever you put out into the world or universe will come back to you three times. And this may be good or bad. 

This concept is based on the principle of “like attracts like.” The goal, therefore, is to put out positive energy and not negative energy. It is not necessarily dealing with good or bad behavior, since that would begin to evolve into rule-setting and then performance of that which was good and avoidance of that which was bad. . . . 

PART VIII: Summerland 

Summerland beckons. It is not heaven, and it is not hell. Some witches believe it is where spirits go after death to rest and reflect in the company of the god and goddess, and to decide how they are going to reincarnate. Each soul chooses who it will be and what lesson it will learn in its new lifetime. Once it is reincarnated, it does not remember what its lesson is, but must find out by living through all the experiences of its new life. If a soul does not wish or need to reincarnate right away, it may become a spirit guide. Ultimately, each spirit, after it has learned all it needs to learn and taught what it needs to teach, is reunited with the All. In each lifetime, the spirit advances toward this ultimate goal. . . . 

Again, this whole concept of deceased humans becoming spirit guides is the perfect setup for accepting the presence of demonic spirits. 

PART IX: What is Energy in relation to Deity, and what is Visualization? 

For some Wiccans, “energy” and deity are the same thing. Some Wiccans refer to energy and deity as the “life force.” Others see deity as sentient, thus having consciousness and the capacity to experience things as humans do with their senses. Still others think that energy emanates from deity, or that it comes from the goddess. 

Others will say that energy is power, and that of three types: personal power, divine power, and earth power. 

“Visualization” is the creating of a picture in the mind’s eye of what it is the magickian wants to happen. Once visualization occurs, energy follows thought. If you can see something in your mind, then you can affect it or make it happen. 

PART X: Trance and Pathworking 

Trance is integral to the religious or spiritual practices discussed in this book and is the centerpiece of each of them, no more so than with Wiccan practice. It is at this point that we present Ioan M. Lewis’ work on trance and ASC. 

Ioan M. Lewis is a Fellow at the British Academy and Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the London School of Economics, UK and author of “The Social Roots and Meaning of Trance and Possession” in the Oxford Handbook of The Sociology of Religion, edited by Peter B. Clarke and published by Oxford Press in 2009. 

The opening sentence in the Oxford Handbook on Lewis’ contribution is: “Altered States of Consciousness’ (ASC) is an umbrella term, applied to psychological and sociological phenomena regularly encountered in the study of trance, possession, and shamanism – all of which have significant if problematic links with music.”21 

“Music” – a surprise? No, since in Santería there is the bembe with the bata drumming, shamanism with much the same, Wicca and the mood music, then charisma with the beat of the drum and the bass guitar. Not really a strange connection. 

There is more beyond the music. Dancing of a certain kind goes with much of the music and is present in all four of the spiritual practices above. The impact of music, dancing, singing, chanting, and other stimulants is such that even the chemical make-up of the brain can be altered. Below is a paragraph from Lewis that summarizes his thesis: 

Such personal, psychological experiences may, of course, be shared and mutually intensified as in spirit cult séances, evangelical religious services, pop concerts, political rallies, football crowds, etc. The discovery of natural euphoriates (endorphins) in the bloodstream in the early 1970s provided a plausible chemical explanation of trance, and linked it with the effect of psychotropic drugs, thus giving a novel and unexpected meaning to Marx’s famous definition of religion as “the opiate of the people”–more accessible and less mysterious than he ever imagined. 22 

21 Oxford Handbook, 375. 

Lewis condenses entering into the trance to two processes: sensory deprivation and sensory overloading. Deprivation is by means of trauma, stress, illness, isolation, fasting, and submission to physical pain. Overloading is by means of “musical and other sonic bombardment (especially monotonous drumming), strobe lighting effects, the ingestion of hallucinogenic drugs, and more mundane procedures like over-breathing and even strenuous exercise.”23 

22 Ibid., 378. 

This semi-scientific explanation of the induction of a trance state may be, in our estimation, somewhat limited but is nevertheless sufficient. The shaman 

23 Ibid.161 

and Wiccan understand that the ultimate purpose for the trance is to have a spirit or other ethereal entity enter the body of the person entranced. This possession marks the real initiation for the person entering into the priesthood of Santería, authenticates a person as a true shaman, and demonstrates the authority of the witch. In charisma the sudden change in behavior or appearance of the “anointed one” signals that a “prophet” or “prophetess” is present to heal or utter a “thus saith the Lord.” It is the trance that makes the difference. As Lewis puts it, “Trance is cross-culturally the most conclusive public demonstration that a human being has been seized by a spirit.”24 

There can be a sexual component to the trance state. Lewis points out that St. Teresa of Avila “recorded that in her transports of mystical feeling she had achieved ‘spiritual marriage’ with Christ. Her most sublime experiences she described as unfolding in three stages: ‘union’, ‘rapture’, and the climatic ‘wound of love’.”25 

24 Ibid., 383. In a parallel way shamans will consider they are “bound in marriage” to the orisha, god or goddess, that has mounted them at their initiations. Lewis points out the “pervasiveness of eroticism in describing the relations between humans and spirits.”26 

25 Ibid., 382. In other research we have received testimony from persons who experienced sexually-oriented trances in which spirit beings, especially animal helpers, actually have sexual intercourse with those they possess. 

Lewis concludes and reconnects with his opening theme by stating, “In this sensual perspective, although the precise modalities of music and trance seem still imprecisely defined, music is nevertheless evidently the food of love.”27 

26 Ibid., 386. 

If music, what then of dance? In Judy Harrow’s section in the back of Gardner’s Witchcraft Today, she quotes Doreen Valiente, one of Gardner’s High Priestesses: 

Dancing has a very important magical effect upon people. . . . A group of people dancing in harmony together are on one mind, and this is essential to magical work. Their mood can be excited or calmed by varying the pace of the dance. In fact, a state of light hypnosis can be induced by magical forms of dancing; or people can achieve a state of ecstasy, which in its original form is ex-statis, “being outside oneself.”28 

27 Ibid. 

Harrow goes on to say that since Gardner’s time dance has increased in popularity; indeed, a new movement “called Sacred Circle Dance, which uses 

28 Gardner, Witchcraft Today, 178.

rhythmic bodily movement to alter consciousness…” is widely practiced.29 

Dr. Margaret Murray, former assistant professor in Egyptology at University College, London, who wrote the Witchcraft entry for the 1929 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica and is one of the early proponents of paganism, also noted the role of music and dance in pagan worship: 

All the movements are rhythmic, and the accompaniment is a chant or performed by percussion instruments by which the rhythm is strongly marked. The rhythmic movements, the rhythmic sounds, and the sympathy of numbers all engaged in the same actions, induce a feeling of exhilaration, which can increase to a form of intoxication. This stage is often regarded by the worshippers as a special divine favour, denoting the actual advent of the Deity into the body of the worshipper.30 

29 Ibid., 179. 

Pathworking depends upon the trance state. Trance states can be reached by any number of ways. Attempts at centering, balancing, grounding, relaxing, focusing on a single object, letting the mind wander, emptying the mind of all – these are some of the mechanisms commonly used to enter into trance. Drugs can be used, and extreme experiences such as in a sweat lodge, reduction of oxygen coming into the brain, and other esoteric practices can be employed. 

Once in the trance state, the pathworking can begin. Along the path, helpful guides may be encountered whom the entranced individual can ask for information. Likewise, one’s inner self (supposedly the personification of the subconscious) may be encountered. Or an animal or human spirit that is associated with a sacred site may be found. Also, pathworking can be used to meet with, talk to, and get information from the dead. 

The advice given to one doing pathwork is to be polite to any being encountered, be they human spirits, gods, fairies, elves, animal spirits, ghosts, folklore characters, or other entities. Wiccans deny that there is any danger in being in a trance but do assert that a person in the trance state is more vulnerable to “ambient”31 

30 Gardner, Witchcraft Today, 15-16. energies, because the conscious mind, which would normally trigger you to tune out unwanted energy, sounds, or other distractions, is on a little vacation when you are in trance. 

PART XI: Gerald Gardner and Wicca 

In Gerald Gardner’s, The Gardnerian Book of Shadows, is described the “Eightfold 

31 Ambient here means energies, specifically supernatural entities, that might happen to be nearby and might not be friendly, might even be nasty. Wiccans would not describe these as being evil. 

Path or Ways,”32 which reveals Wiccan dependence on the trance state. 

One of the most respected Wiccans, a co-founder of Reclaiming, is Starhawk, who writes, “Witchcraft is a shamanistic religion, and the spiritual value that is placed on ecstasy is a high one. It is the source of union, healing, creative inspiration, and communion with divine.”33 

32 Gerald Gardner, The Gardnerian Book of Shadows, Forgotten Books, 2005, 65. Gardner was born in 1884 and died in 1964. His craft name was Scire. The Eightfold Path is a way to lead a person to the “center” and to leave one’s body by means of a trance, or altered state of consciousness, or by what Michael Harner would call the Shamanic State of Consciousness, SSC. 

Path 1: Meditation or concentration 

Path 2: Trance states, clairvoyance, projection of the Astral 

Path 3: Drugs, Wine, Incense 

Path 4: Dance, Performing Rites with a purpose 

Path 5: Chants, Spells, etc. 

Path 6: Blood control (Cords etc), Breath control 

Path 7: Scourge 

Path 8: The Great Rite 

The first six paths are fairly plain as to their nature; however, number 7 and 8 require some explanation. 

The Scourge is a magickal tool used to direct spiritual entities and is used inside the circle. It is a whip or flail and can be used to flagellate members of the coven, especially in initiation rites. Symbolically it stands for suffering and sacrifice that one is willing to endure. 

The Great Rite is a form of sex magick that may include ritual sexual intercourse, either actual or in symbol. Usually, the high priestess and priest act out the Great Rite. In the northern hemisphere the Great Rite appears around May 1 at the festival of Beltane, and around November 1 in the southern hemisphere. 

PART XII: Divination 

Wiccans rely on various forms of divination to work their craft. Astrology and numerology are two chief forms of determining the future and making decisions. 

Divination is deemed useful in making day-to-day decisions. Besides the aforementioned practices, the pendulum, runes, and tarot cards are commonly used. 

33 Starhawk, in Gay Religion, from the essay by Mary Jo Neitz entitled “Queering the Dragonfest: Changing Sexualities in a Post-Patriarchal Religion,” edited by S. Thumma and E. R. Gray, Altamira Press, 2005, 272. 

PART XIII: Skyclad 

“Skyclad” means naked. Doing ritual, the coven may be Skyclad. The nine foot in diameter circle accommodates thirteen people, often six couples and a high priestess. (This arrangement may vary.) The concept is that within each person is power and energy that are necessary to work magick, and clothes inhibit the radiating outward of the power and energy. So, naked magick works best. 

Wicca is greatly concerned with power. Gardner wrote, “Witches are taught and believe that the power resides within their bodies which they can release in various ways, the simplest being dancing round in a circle, singing or shouting, to induce a frenzy; this power they believe exudes from their bodies, clothes impeding its release.”34 

The circle is also there to retain the power of the witches as opposed to the magicians or sorcerers circle which is intended to keep “evil” forces out. 

Gerald Gardner was asked, “Why do you say that witches work naked?” His answer was, “I can only say: Because they do.”35 

34 Gardner, Witchcraft Today, 20. And they do so for the above reason, at least that is the general spin. If it is other than that, if these people are not aroused by naked flesh, then they are indeed on a higher plane than most normal people. 

PART XIV: The power and pull of Wicca 

However contradictory this might now seem, there are credible reasons why Wicca would be attractive. For instance, Gerald Gardner stated, “I have known many atheists who have entered the Cult and said, ‘It is so lovely to find a religion in which you can believe.’”36 

35 Ibid., 19. Writing in the 1950s he said that Wicca (Gardner usually spelled Wicca “Wica”) preserved for the Age of Aquarius reincarnation and karma, which he noted was widely embraced in the ancient world but had suffered a retreat when the Church grew in dominance.37 

36 Gardner, The Meaning of Witchcraft, 242. He actually predicted a phenomenon that is generally understood and acknowledged, when he wrote, 

But we are today upon the threshold of a new Age. Call it the Aquarian Age, the Age of Horus, or what you will. The great, clean wind of a new Cosmic Power is blowing upon the world from the depths of space. Already it has blown away many of the cobwebs of the past. Much prudery and false modesty, for instance, has gone by the board.38 

37 Ibid., 239. 

38 Ibid., 238.165 

Some Responses 

In the twenty-first century Wicca is more than alive and well in mainlining an interest in magickal rites and soul journeying. Following are some of the ways it has made inroads into or ridden on the coattails of modern culture to attract adherents: 

(1) Children of nearly every culture grow up learning stories about the fantastic and the imaginary – elves, fairies, Santa Claus figures, ghosts, the deity myths of Greece and Rome – all packaged so attractively for children. Three generations have now been immersed in the delightful world of Disney characters, thus opening their minds to all things magickal. 

(2) Wicca and other neo-pagan practices allow for children to remain childlike in the imagination, at least in light of the pain and burden of living life in a chaotic world. 

(3) The lure for power, which is ubiquitous in humans, is a driving motivation. Magic (or magick) and all the vast array of that which falls under the category of the occult, provides a mechanism into that spooky yet enticing world. Witches claim that the source of their power is unknown, although they have learned to control it and use it in such a way that none are harmed. 

(4) Satan is real, and he is able to perform miracles. The materialist will make a direct paradigm shift toward the spiritual when demonic tricks are played out in real time and space. 

(5) Wicca is different, edgy, exciting, sexy, and cool. It is the perfect stage for acting the spiritual rebel against the dominant religions. Combining all these elements gives Wicca an allure along with a barely masked sexual element. Who can resist? There but for the grace of God. . . 

(6) Satan desires that people, God’s creatures made in His image, worship him. The whole point of the “Temptation in the Wilderness” (see Matthew chapter 4) was an enticement acted out by Satan to have Jesus bow down and worship him. Though our aim is not to offend Wiccans, it seems obvious that Wicca is another indirect means by Satan to redirect worshippers from God to himself. Behind the Lord, the Lady, the goddess, and the god lurks the chief demon, whether this is claimed, admitted, or even known by Wiccan proponents. 

(7) Wicca is a dress-up activity, a masquerade ball, or a stimulating game. The thrill of maintaining the secrecy, if not the conspiracy, is a real draw. Secret societies at one time were the rage, and in Wicca the game is back. 

(8) Wicca gives meaning to those in search of it. It is not an overstatement to say that women dominate Wicca and most other forms of witchcraft. Meaning and power go together well. Meaning attaches itself to the maxim to harm none but rather do good and especially for the “self.” Power over people,

events, and circumstances through magick is power nonetheless – a significant enticement. 

PART XV: A Question or Two 

Proponents of Wicca commonly boast about its ancientness as compared to Christianity, for instance. The implication is that older is better. Is old really better than something newer? Is a much older car better than a newer one? Not usually. The old Copernican model of the universe is not as reliable as newer ones. We could go on, but it is a disingenuous argument that older is better. Wicca is indeed old, because it is based on animism, the basis for shamanism, then infused with magical concepts. But how does this give Wicca credibility? 

Another question, as mentioned previously, has to do with why Wiccans love to say they do not believe in Satan. Wiccans will sometimes admit that there are evil forces about, which they of course know how to isolate and avoid. For the most part, such evil forces, energies, and beings are left unexplained. 

Wiccans are not Satanists like the followers of Anton LaVey, author of the Satanic Bible, with whom Kent interacted during his years as a preacher in the Haight-Ashbury in the late 1960s. In our thinking, there are differences, although more cosmetic than actual. Just who are the helper spirits, the supposed souls of the dead, the fairies, elves, and animal spirits, really? Might they just be minions of Satan? It is not a good idea to play fast and loose with the dark sides, assuming they can be whisked away with a sleight of hand. 

PART XVI: Wicca viewed from a Christian’s Perspective 

Is Wicca real? With all its fairies, elves, gnomes, ghosts, and far more, is it a game of make believe? Do Wiccans really believe in what they are doing? Do they actually think they are talking to dead ancestors and communicating with gods and goddesses? Or is it something else or something more? Do Wiccans themselves understand what they are involved with? 

The world view held by Wiccans is that energy, live energy, is everywhere, in everything, and can be manipulated by spells and rituals. If Wiccans are right, is science wrong when it sees energy not as spiritual or personal, but as something that can be empirically measured and observed? 

Is there something unknown or at least unrecognized behind Wicca? Wiccans become quite upset when accused of being in league with the devil, whose existence Wiccans vehemently deny. Yet, how do they know they are not? 

One issue generally ignored by Wiccans is, what is the basis of their authority? They have no sacred book, no actual central authoritative doctrine, no revelation, and no vision. What they rely on are myths, fairy tales, and ancient concepts from a wide variety of cultures. If all Wiccan deities, gods, and goddesses were added up, the final total would be quite large. Wiccan beliefs are indeed an uncritical epistemic patchwork of myths and bizarre behavior. 

Is it make-believe? A child’s game not discarded? A form of rebellion against the teachings of the Bible? A demonic deception? It seems that Wicca is all of these at once. 

From a Christian’s perspective, Wicca embraces what the Scripture condemns. In the Torah, Deuteronomy 18:10-12, is a listing of “pagan” practices that were ubiquitous in the ancient world and which the people of Israel were to reject as false: 

There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a wizard or a necromancer, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD. 

No, Wiccans do not burn sons or daughters or anyone else as offerings to appease idols, but the rest of it must be seen as routine in their world. 

A witch might say, “So what? I prefer to worship and practice my religion any way I want.” And I would heartily agree. It might be prudent to examine what else is involved, however. 

This is not to say that Wiccans do not really communicate with spirits, angels, gods, and goddesses. They do, but these entities/deities are not what they present themselves to be. The short and quick answer is that they are unclean or demonic spirits in disguise. 

There could not be more disparate world views than Wicca and Christianity or biblically faithful Judaism, for that matter. Wiccans pretend to value Christianity, but they actually hate it and fear it. They know that if the Bible is correct, then they have fallen into gross deception. Not only are they worshipping false gods, but they are fully engaged with and possessed by demons whose leader is Satan himself. Whatever is gained in Wicca, the unsuspected loss is far too disturbing to contemplate. This is not child’s play; life and death is determined here, and not of the physical kind. 

Wiccans may become trapped by the very religion they practice. It promises freedom and power, but in time it proves to give neither and turns dark. Inside Wiccans will likely be voices that shout at them to ignore the Christians. The reason for this is that Jesus Christ is the One who has power and authority over demons who masquerade themselves as gods, goddesses, spirit guides, and so on. A cosmic spiritual battle is underway here, and ultimately the real and true God will prevail. It is only a matter of time. 

For Wiccans who read this, please see it as an attempt to speak a word of reality to you, and we hope this statement will not be seen as patronizing. Please apply critical analysis to the religion to which you have committed yourself.

 Chapter 41

Shepherding Movement — Ft. Lauderdale Five

Perhaps more devastating specifically to the JPM than The Family (Children of God or COG), Jim Jones, or any number of other strange teachings and groups, was the Shepherding Movement, because it directly affected our church life. 

The Fort Lauderdale Five—Bob Mumford, Charles Simpson, Derek Prince, Don Basham, and Ern Baxter—were all respected teachers in the early years of the JPM. They formed an umbrella type of ministry that seemed to them to be a necessity, given the chaotic and confused nature of the JPM. These five leaders began to accumulate churches and ministries under their authority and over which they became overseers, “shepherds.” Certain accountability could then be built into the process. It seemed almost a natural kind of progression, a helpful ministry, one borne out of caring, and I think it was just that at first. 

One of their publications coming out of Fort Lauderdale was New Wine, a magazine with articles that really spoke to young charismatics across the country. In addition to the magazine was a steady stream of cassette tapes and books that communicated new and exciting teachings about the fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the last days. We in Marin became faithful readers and listeners of this material, and it became very influential to our Christian thinking.

Across the country, Jesus People leaders, with their ministries and churches, “submitted” themselves to one of the five shepherds and would then become “under-shepherds.” I considered doing the same myself for all of the Open Door churches, because the work was often beyond me and left me wondering what to do next. Here was where my characteristic independent streak rescued me from submitting to one of the five. There was something that bothered me and caused  me to rebel against the Shepherding Movement, and my stance was misunderstood by many of those who served with me in leadership. 

The Attractions 

Many struggling pastors and leaders considered it desirable, even a Godsend, to be accountable to Bob Mumford or one of the other shepherds. And for local JPM leaders, here was a chance for no-bodies like we were to be aligned with big-named and respected Christian spearheads. The identification with men like Bob Mumford was a big attraction. I, too, traveled long distances to hear him and be in his presence. It was a bit like idol or celebrity worship, thus it would be from pride that someone in Podunk could say they were submitted to Bob, or Charles, or Ern, or Derek, or Don. 

Additionally, it was thought, though not explicitly stated, that this arrangement of coming under the authority of the Five was what God was doing in the Last Days. The Last Days, a frequent subject of sermons and teachings, was on our minds. For many of the Jesus People who came out of the Catholic Church, it was comforting to think they still had a bishop or an archbishop, if not an actual pope. 

The Detractions 

My view was that local leadership was a more Biblical model of church structure, despite the troubles it involved. Additionally, it did not seem quite right to be part of a very large organization whose leaders demanded that certain policies be carried out, one of which involved money. The tithe was mandatory, and to determine the amount that should be given, they required submission of financial statements for examination. It was the measure of control they wielded to which I primarily objected. It might have seemed proper to many, but not to me. 

The Battle—Go or Stay 

The matter of being in or out was finally made clear in 1975. One of our pastors, a former seminary student who had taken over the remains of several Christian houses, a bookstore, and our church in San Francisco, announced he was now submitted to Bob Mumford, was leaving our fellowship of churches, and was retaining the Christian bookstore. The battle lines were drawn. 

In response, I asked for a meeting with the Church of the Open Door in San Francisco, now under Bob Mumford. One evening, we met at one of the Christian houses in the City. I invited Bob Hymers to come up from Los Angeles and also Bob Burns, who had earlier been the pastor of the church in San Francisco. It so happened that David Hoyt was in Marin on a visit, and the four of us intended to make our case before the departing church. 

The meeting was packed wall to wall. One by one, the four of us made a presentation of what we knew and thought about the Shepherding Movement. I specifically spoke about our labor in developing the Taraval Street bookstore and the other means by which the ministry had been built over the years. Dr. Hymers, Bob Burns, and David Hoyt also made impassioned pleas for the people to reconsider and remain in fellowship with the other churches in our little network. 

There was little response from the listeners, most of whom I knew quite well and a number of whom I had baptized. They sat politely silent and voiced very few questions or remarks. A few days later I received a letter informing me that the San Francisco church had unanimously voted to be under the shepherding of Mumford. One thing was granted to us, the return of the Christian bookstore that Bob Burns and I had worked so hard to establish, using thousands of dollars from the San Rafael church and bookstore to build it. 

At that point I wrote a pamphlet about the movement and pointed out that the “Five” liked to “wine and dine” pastors and others, in order to get them to submit. This little booklet was printed by many groups over the next several years and was particularly used in Great Britain, where the Shepherding Movement was starting to make inroads. 

From Solution to Problem 

The Shepherding Movement was the source of a great deal of grief for me and continues to impact me in subtle ways to this day. It fractured alliances and friendships and seemed to me to have been one reason the JPM ended, in our region at minimum, but to some extent throughout the entire nation. 

The Shepherding Movement eventually imploded somewhere in the late 1970s or early 1980s. In my view, and from what I heard from some of those who had seen the devastation, the problem looked like the following: A leader of a church full of Jesus People, who has no real experience as a pastor, finds the job to be overwhelming. Out of desperation, this new pastor submits to one of the Fort Lauderdale Five. Changes come down the pipeline, which are not easily implemented. The congregation is divided up with “under-shepherds” appointed over small groupings of them. Now hours and hours of listening to tapes, mostly from Bob Mumford, and more controls and new revelations are placed upon the congregation. The arrangement is not sustainable on several levels, and the whole thing breaks down. 

The mighty Five were falling; pride had set in, and it had become a power game. Surely, the churches and ministries that needed guidance continued to need guidance, and thus more and more control from the top down. What appeared to be a solution became a problem. 

Acknowledging the errors 

One Saturday when I was exiting San Quentin prison after a baseball game, I ran into Bob Mumford at the East Gate. We recognized each other and stood still for a moment, both wondering what to say. It was the first time we had seen one another for a couple of decades; now we were face to face. 

Bob reached his hand through the iron gate and grabbed mine. We spoke for a few minutes, and before I left, he handed me his card and invited me to his office. Within a week I called and made an appointment. We had a wonderful time of reconciliation. Bob was very open about the errors of the Shepherding Movement and did ask for forgiveness, which I was heartened to extend. 

Looking back, I do not blame anyone; what the Five did I likely would have attempted myself had I the opportunity. Concerning the pastor who had submitted himself to Bob and left our small association of churches, I might have done the same if I had been in his shoes. The Five were godly men and perfectly positioned to mentor and guide. They must have been appalled at what they saw happening to the Jesus People, especially when the dark sides became apparent. 

A lesson learned. 

The Ouija Board

What is the draw? 

Atheism has been on the rise for at least the two most recent generations. Church attendance is radically declining—52% of self-identified Christians do not attend a brick-and-mortar church—so churches are closing, but pop spiritualism focused on the self, called “self-care” or the “wellness movement,” is on the rise. 

Yes, it is the great “awokening,” but comparatively empty as movements go. So, what’s the draw? Shunning the old-time religions is part of the fun, especially that Christian one. Getting hold of ethereal energies is another; but again, only if it has nothing to do with any “organized” religion. Out with you! 

The trouble with this thinking is that there is something innately spiritual about us, some kind of knowledge of and longing for something more. We refuse to go to a church to find it, and our device screens take us only so far. So, where is it happening? 

The move back to the occult, what Tara Isabella Burton calls Contemporary Occultism, could very possibly be it. (We suggest getting her book, Strange Rites.

We live in Marin County, California, and it is reported to be the least Christian county in America. There are multitudes more atheists, Wiccans, Buddhists, and shamans than Christians here. After all, our church’s town of Mill Valley is said to be at a major vortex of spirit power—Mt. Tamalpais. Tomorrow we begin a television program series where the guest is the area’s chief spokesperson for shamanism. We will discuss and spar. After that, we hope for a Buddhist, then a Wiccan witch who is up for the challenge. 

Frankly, the most interesting of the above groups is the Wiccan witches. They are knowingly in touch with the supernatural, and they love it. However, you can bet they will not acknowledge being in cahoots with the devil, having probably renamed it as some lord or master in nature. 

These groups usually have rituals and elements identified as “sacred” or“divine” to help with focusing the mind and the attention on the ceremony. It may be candles, burning sage, drumming, ingesting some psychotropic substance, chanting, meditating, or dancing in swirling rotation for long periods. 

For the uninitiated who are just looking for an interesting pastime (at first) to play at with friends, there is the Ouija board. It has a peculiar allure, and it is quite strong. Picture this: guys and gals, a hookah with good stuff in it, some pills with mind expanding capacity, and up all night. All good? Sounds innocent! Someone brings out the board, and all gather about for a fun game. What could go wrong? 

The pros insist it is nothing more than a mind game, called “the ideomotor effect, where your brain may unconsciously create images and memories when you ask the board questions. Your body responds to your brain without you consciously ‘telling’ it to do so, causing the muscles in your hands and arms to move the pointer to the answers that you — again, unconsciously — may want to receive.” 

The scientific researchers are sure that the idea of anything supernatural or spiritual is a folk tale or worse, a hoax perpetrated on the young and naïve. That’s what they say. 

But what is happening here? An acquaintance of ours, gathered in a group the other night around a Ouija Board, reported that two demons introduced themselves via the board: one was identified as a good demon, but another was a bad demon. They all decided to listen to the good demon but ignore the bad one. They don’t know that demons love to lie to humans. Oh, and forget the ideomotor effect, because the planchette continued to move and spell out words when all the participants had removed their hands! 

No matter, who cares. There is no God. Let the Bible thumpers jump up and down. This is for real. 

Kent reports: 

When I was a kid, some neighborhood friends and I fooled around with a Ouija Board. Lots of kids were doing it, as it was popular then. I think my mother got it for us and showed us how to use it. Strange, now that I think of it. 

There we were in the living room beside the fireplace on a wintry afternoon, on our knees, around this strange square with the alphabet, numbers 0 to 9, and some other odd figures and shapes. There was a small heart-shaped object made out of wood (in other countries the planchette, as it is sometimes called, is made of glass or plastic), and we put a finger on it and were wildly amazed as it moved about the board and answered questions we asked of it. Strange also that we would ask a game board questions. 

How shocked we were when the answers we received made sense and even seemed like the right answers. We were excited and scared all at the same time. At first, we played with the board every time we got a chance. However, a few things happened that caused us to back away from it—the answers were too right, weirdly right. That was the last time I saw a Ouija board, and I did not think much about them, until I read Robert Anderson’s book, The Ghosts of Iceland. Dr. Anderson, an anthropologist, studied spiritism in Iceland. His book covers material about elves, trolls, spirits of the dead, mediums, shamans, and other occult activities and practices, including the Ouija board, used by mediums and fortune tellers. Iceland has a reputation for having a highly occult-oriented population. 

History of the Ouija Board 

Wikipedia reports that the Ouija board was introduced to the Western world by Elijah Bond in 1890 as a harmless parlor game and not related to the occult. But then, during WWI, an American spiritualist named Pearl Curran used it for fortune telling. 

Ouija believers feel it has supernatural or paranormal powers, while others, not so spiritualist in orientation, think it operates through the phenomenon called “ideomotor effect,” described previously. Of course, this does not explain how several people who touch the pointer at the same time all subconsciously want the same response from the board. 

Other Wikipedia sources link the Ouija Board to China, around AD 1100, when it was used for automatic writing. The planchette would move to different letters, each would be written down, and thus a message would appear that was supposed to be from spirits of the dead. Apparently, a Ouija type board was also used in ancient India, Greece, Rome, and in medieval Europe. 

Is there something to it? 

The 1973 film, The Exorcist, tells what is thought to be the true story of a teenage girl (actually based on a true account of a boy) becoming possessed by a demon. The film links the possession to the girl’s involvement with a Ouija Board. This was only one of twenty-five films Wikipedia lists as having something to do with the Ouija Board. Is there a reality embedded here in the plots of those films? 

Our research and experience say, yes there is. 

Remember Satan does not play fair, and his devices do not have labels containing full disclosure of the dangers involved. The devil’s religion is the occult, magic, fortune telling, mediumship, séances, and straight-up Satanic worship. The Ouija Board is perfectly targeted to a youthful audience, but at its core, it is aimed at making contact with something ethereal and ghostlike—supposed spirits of the dead. Children playing with it do not think they are trying to contact the dead, but they gather around a tool used for fortune telling and a means of contacting spirits—right where the devil wants young, impressionable minds. Remember, he does not play fair. 

The Apostle Paul makes this very clear when he says of those to whom the gospel is veiled, “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4). We have seen the reality of this passage many times. A person once delivered from blinding evil spirits will so often quickly grasp the truth of Jesus Christ. 

Ideomotor effect? Maybe. “Does Diane like me?” the boy asks. The boy wants the board to say yes, and it does. Wow. Let’s ask another question. Deeper and deeper, it goes, and then strange things begin to happen—weird things, scary things. And it begins to follow the “players” around until they are seeing and hearing things. Is there something in it? Yes! 

Right or wrong? 

An ancient book, the Bible, has several passages that are chilling, all the way to the bone. 

You shall not interpret omens or tell fortunes (Leviticus 19:26). 

Do not turn to mediums or wizards, do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the LORD your God (Leviticus 19:26). 

If a person turns to mediums and wizards, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people (Leviticus 20:6). 

And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them . . . (Deuteronomy 4:19). 

There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a wizard or a necromancer, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). 

For clarification purposes “sorcerer” means magician, and “necromancer” is a person, like a medium, who communicates with or gets messages from the supposed dead. 

Likely, the admonition about sacrificing and burning sons and daughters will seem strange to us now, but in that era it was not unusual. 

The practices listed in Leviticus and Deuteronomy are the rituals, the religious tools of Satan and his demons, and their aim is to indwell or possess the practitioners of those rituals and tools.

Jesus Cast Out Demons 

In the Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, there are six instances in which Jesus encountered demonized persons. They are: 

  1. The man with an unclean spirit at a synagogue in Capernaum—Mark 1:21–28 and Luke 4:31–37. 
  2. The blind and dumb demoniac—Matthew 12:22-29; Mark 3:22–27; and Luke 11:14–22. 
  3. The Gerasene demoniac—Matthew 8:28–34; Mark 5:1–20; and Luke 8:26–39. 
  4. The Syrophoenician woman’s daughter—Matthew 15:21–28; and Mark 7:24–30. 
  5. The Epileptic boy—Matthew 17:14–21; Mark 9:14–29; and Luke 9:37–43a. 
  6. The woman with a spirit of infirmity—Luke 13:10–17. 

An angel of light? 

The occult is very enticing and attractive. Paul says of Satan: 

“And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So, it is no surprise if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds” (2 Corinthians 11:14–15). 

This is quite frightening, that what looks so innocent, even good, can be so evil! It has long been known that the devil gives power and knowledge to those who follow him, at least until the knot is so tightly tied that Satan can take the blinders off and terrorize at will. And the only escape is the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our experience has been that Satan gives wormy gifts—sexual fun, power over others, knowledge, and sometimes even material gain—anything to entice. 

The old tale of the Faustian tradeoff rings true. In exchange for his soul, meaning his entire being, Faust receives the devil’s gifts. Faust will likely die miserably, because Satan always reneges, and now all he will have are endless darkness and fire. Yes, both at once. 

And somewhat related is Paul’s warning to the Ephesian Church. He urged the Ephesians: 

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:11–12) 

Okay, now what?

For many years, mostly in the 1960s and 1970s, many of us involved in that great moving of the Holy Spirit called the Jesus People Movement, routinely conducted a ministry we called “deliverance ministry,” which essentially was casting out of demons. We testify to participating hundreds of times in casting out thousands of demons, many of which originally gained entry into the individual via occult activities. 

To be direct and clear: Only Jesus casts out demons. Shamans and other occultic practitioners may manipulate or move bad spirits around, even claiming to expel them, but this is a sham. Nothing really happens besides the possible exchange of money, so buyer beware! After the demons have “lain low” for a time, they will be right back at their tormenting. 

Though nearly all the major world religions know about the devil and evil, only Jesus casts them out, and more than that, He gives His disciples authority over them to also cast them out. Here are some key biblical passages explaining this: 

Luke 9:1 And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases. 

“The twelve” were the apostles whom Jesus had specially called. But in the next passage, it is not the “twelve” who cast out demons but seventy-two other people. 

Luke 10:17-20 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” 

1 John 3:8 The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 

Part of Jesus’ ministry was to defeat Satan, which He did through His atoning death on the cross, His resurrection, and ascension back to heaven. Jesus is victor over sin, death, and Satan. Those who contact spirits of the dead are falsely comforted when they contact what they think are spirits of the dead. The so-called spirits of the dead are really demons that imitate departed loved ones. 

Yet it is so enticing and appears to be proof of the supernatural, right here and now. At first there is exhilaration, but the excitement eventually fades and becomes, rather, a great burden. 

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Demons are most easily cast out when a person submits to God and resists Satan. No one needs to fear Satan, for his power is severely limited. While he may appear fearsome and dreadfully powerful and full of secret knowledge, he trembles at the power and authority of Jesus Christ, even when His very human disciples show up for the simple ministry of casting out demons. 

In Acts 16:16–24 is the story of Paul while in the Greek city of Philippi, where he crossed the path of a slave girl whose owners were using her to tell fortunes. She recognized, or her demons did, that Paul and his companions were “servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation” (Acts 16:17). She kept yelling this out, until Paul became annoyed, so he turned and pointed to the girl and said, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” Luke, the author of Acts, relates, “And it came out that very hour” (Acts 16:18). 

Paul cast the demon out, and the slave girl could no longer make money for her owners by fortune telling, since the demon that actually did the telling was now gone. As a result, the owners were angry with Paul and stirred up trouble against him. 

Perhaps most people’s involvement with the Ouija Board turns out to be harmless, but if yours is otherwise, know that you can find help and relief in Jesus. And to be clear—in Jesus alone. Yes, there are exorcists who claim that their “magic incantations” are effective, but it is a false claim and fakery, since the devil does not cast the devil out. 

In Christ alone is our help and hope. Submit to him, resist the devil, and that enemy of God will flee. 

Where it Leads 

Little by little the power behind the Ouija board takes hold: 

It’s fun at first, even enticing. 

Next comes empowering. It seems to give real answers—to the rate of about 65% accuracy according to some studies. 

Next comes captivating. 

Then controlling. 

Dependency sets in, being fearful not to trust the guidance. 

Can’t go out the door unless the board is consulted. 

The bottom line: The demonic spirits have one goal: possess those they snare. 

But you are not the real enemy; the Creator God is. 

Because you are made in His image, you are the target. 

Did you not know that Jesus said Satan is a liar, an accuser, a murderer from the beginning? (See John 8:44)147 

How is one freed from the unseen spirits? 

One, throw out the board. 

Two, repent of the sin. 

Three, ask for forgiveness. 

Four, command the demons to come out. 

Excerpts from Wikipedia 

Wikipedia, July 3, 2022 

The ouija, also known as a spirit board or talking board, is a flat board marked with the letters of the alphabet, the numbers 0–9, the words “yes”, “no”, occasionally “hello” and “goodbye”, along with various symbols and graphics. It uses a planchette (small heart-shaped piece of wood or plastic) as a movable indicator to spell out messages during a séance. Participants place their fingers on the planchette, and it is moved about the board to spell out words. “Ouija” is a trademark of Hasbro but is often used generically to refer to any talking board. 

Spiritualists in the United States believed that the dead were able to contact the living and reportedly used a talking board very similar to a modern Ouija board at their camps in the U.S. state of Ohio in 1886 to ostensibly enable faster communication with spirits. Following its commercial introduction by businessman Elijah Bond on 1 July 1890, the Ouija board was regarded as an innocent parlor game unrelated to the occult, until American spiritualist Pearl Curran popularized its use as a divining tool during World War I. 

Paranormal and supernatural beliefs associated with Ouija have been criticized by the scientific community and are characterized as pseudoscience. The action of the board can be most easily explained by unconscious movements of those controlling the pointer, a psychophysiological phenomenon known as the ideomotor effect. 

Mainstream Christian denominations, including Catholicism, have “warned against using Ouija boards”, holding that they can lead to demonic possession. Occultists, on the other hand, are divided on the issue, with some saying that it can be a tool for positive transformation; others reiterated the warnings of many Christians and caution “inexperienced users” against it. 

Talking boards 

As a part of the spiritualist movement, mediums began to employ various means for communication with the dead. Following the American Civil War in the United States, mediums did significant business in allegedly allowing survivors to contact lost relatives. The Ouija itself was created and named in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1890, but the use of talking boards was so common by 1886 that news reported the phenomenon taking over the spiritualists’ camps in Ohio. 

Commercial parlor game 

Businessman Elijah Bond had the idea to patent a planchette sold with a board on which the alphabet was printed, much like the previously existing talking boards. Bond filed on 28 May 1890 for patent protection and thus is credited with the invention of the Ouija board. Issue date on the patent was 10 February 1891. He received U.S. Patent 446,054. Bond was an attorney and was an inventor of other objects in addition to this device. 

An employee of Elijah Bond, William Fuld, took over the talking board production. In 1901, Fuld started production of his own boards under the name “Ouija”. Charles Kennard, founder of Kennard Novelty Company which manufactured Fuld’s talking boards and where Fuld had worked as a varnisher, claimed he learned the name “Ouija” from using the board and that it was an ancient Egyptian word meaning “good luck”. When Fuld took over production of the boards, he popularized the more widely accepted etymology: that the name came from a combination of the French and German words for “yes”. 

The Fuld name became synonymous with the Ouija board, as Fuld reinvented its history, claiming that he himself had invented it. The strange talk about the boards from Fuld’s competitors flooded the market, and all these boards enjoyed a heyday from the 1920s.

Deliverance Temple

The Solid Rock is what we called the house on Wilson Street in
Novato. It was perhaps the most active and important of all the
Christian houses, and its founder was Mark Buckley, later joined
by his wife, Kristina Kenner, after their marriage.
Mark grew up in a northern suburb of San Rafael called Terra
Linda. (From the years 1968 onward, to 1975, Mark was my closest partner in
ministry. He met Kristina at a Bible study I held on Tuesday nights on Greenfield
Ave. in San Rafael. In my mind’s eye I can see Mark seated right next to Martin, later
Moishe, Rosen in the front room of the Greenfield house, otherwise known as Zion’s
Inn. Currently Mark is senior pastor of a large church in Phoenix, Arizona.) There were eight Buckley kids, four boys and four girls, and
everyone in town knew them. Mark was the first of the family to
become a Christian. His conversion took place somewhere in Oregon
through the testimony of people from the Manifested Sons of God, a
group I considered cultic, but they did tell Mark about Jesus.
Mark and his brothers, John, Robert, and Barry, were star athletes
at the high school, playing mostly football. They were all handsome
young men and gifted in many ways. Mark got into the hippie thing,
and his salvation saved him not only from sin but also from what
could have been a devastated life. Instead, he was instrumental in the
conversion of two of his brothers and one or two sisters, as well as
his mother.
Mark was a very skilled carpenter and developed a work crew to
provide income and learn a trade for new Christians living in some
of the houses. He was very energetic, strong, and optimistic, and he
taught a number of young men how to work with their hands. A treasure
I still have is a hammer Mark gave me in probably 1969, when
he hired me to put redwood shingles on the side of a house he was remodeling, in Ross or San Anselmo. During those years I was either
working as a janitor or as a painter.
It was not long before Mark moved out of his childhood home and
became the leader of Solid Rock. If I were to attempt to relay here all
the events of note that occurred in and around that house, it would be
too long a chapter. But there is one story, maybe two, I will recount.
In the back yard of Solid Rock was a large, unfinished, two-story
building. The ground floor was meant to be a three-car garage, and the
upstairs—well, we never really found out about that, but we used one
of the rooms for casting out demons. We called it Deliverance Temple,
from the Lord’s Prayer, “Deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13).
A little background would be helpful now. I graduated from Golden
Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in 1968 with an M.Div. degree;
my diploma may say 1969. An M.Div. used to be a B.D. (Bachelors of
Divinity). A three to four year program, it is the basic seminary course
of study. My ministry in the Haight with the hippies occupied me for
some time, but in 1971, I went back for another masters program, this
time a Th.M., or Masters in Theology, a two to three year program. (Earlier, in 1969, I began volunteering at San Quentin State Prison, located
in Marin. For over three years, I worked under the auspices of the Garden Chapel
(Protestant). I taught New Testament in the School of Theology and later facilitated
a Yoke Fellows group. This volunteer time ended with the George Jackson shoot-out
in 1972. I returned in 1985 to work with a new chaplain, Earl Smith, and for about
twelve years did cell-to-cell ministry. In 1997 I was asked to coach the baseball
team, first the Pirates, then the Giants, which I did until 2012. By my calculation, I
volunteered for thirty years there. I have a treasured photo of Joyful Noise playing
music at the prison chapel in 1971, at just about the conclusion of the band’s ministry.
It is on the cover of this book.)
After the class work and the seminars, I began work on my thesis.
Because of the constant encountering of persons involved in the
occult during my years on the street, I had a desire and need to know
more about it. Already I had moved away from my earlier college
days’ concepts that the demonic was merely poor and outdated primitive
psychology. By 1972, I knew better, but I did not know as much
as I needed to.
By that time, I was already doing deliverance ministry, and my
teacher, via tapes and books, was Don Basham, one of the Fort Lauderdale
Five, about which I will have more to say later. Casting out
demons was a necessary ministry, since so many of the ex-hippies had been involved in or initiated into occult rituals or eastern religious
practices where they had literally invited various deities (so-called)
to guide them, or had experienced trances or altered states of consciousness
through mind-altering drugs like LSD. It was not something
that was going to go away; this ministry, in fact, was requiring
more and more time.
A Manual of Demonology and the Occult was the title of the thesis.
For more than a year I spent every possible spare moment working
on the manual in the old library at the seminary. My major professor,
Dr. Richard Cunningham, signed off on each chapter, and I entered
the oral phase of the project with confidence. But I was harshly shot
down. My favorite New Testament and Greek teacher, Dr. Clayton
Harrop, who long after remained my friend, had the task of telling me
my thesis failed. Disappointed, but not ready to give up, I submitted
a new proposal for a thesis, which took me four months to prepare.
When, however, I gave it to Dr. Cunningham, he decided to tell me
the truth. He reminded me that Golden Gate was a Southern Baptist
institution and that they would never allow a tongues speaker to be
awarded a high academic degree. (Moishe Rosen, who thought I should become a seminary professor rather than a pastor, advised me to sue the seminary to get my degree. My thinking was that I should have known better in the first place. The seminary had the right to do
as it pleased, but perhaps I should have been informed early on about their view
of my tongue speaking. My wife Katie graduated with an MDiv degree in 2009, son
Vernon is a student there now, and currently I am mentoring one student from the
seminary, one of many over the years. It is a fine school.)
The thesis, I reasoned, was yet worth something, so I called
Zondervan Publishing House in Grand Rapids and spoke to Bob
DeVries, the man who wanted to publish Two Brothers in Haight. He
asked me to send him the manuscript. To make a long story short, the
thesis was published in 1973. A second edition came out in 1976; it
was even published in Swedish. It sold like crazy and is actually still
available; a pirated version can be bought at Amazon.
The publication of that book, however, opened a floodgate of people
who wanted demons cast out of them. Many showed up on a regular
basis, some even arriving at my front door in Terra Linda with
no baggage, no money, and desperate. At one point there were twenty-
six people trained to do casting out of demons—thirteen teams of
two, just to cope with the volume of requests.

Back now to Deliverance Temple. Once a week I drove up to

Novato to join Mark and cast demons out of people. Mostly, I never

knew who the people were, never saw them before, and usually never

saw them again. They simply showed up, and Mark or someone else

did the scheduling. And this went on for a long period of time.

Two Stories

Now the first of two stories: After an article covering the casting

out of demons somehow got into Time magazine, I received a call

from Nancy, a young reporter from the magazine, who asked if she

could come to a session where demons were cast out; she wanted to

do a follow-up story. She lived nearby in Greenbrae, so it wasn’t going

to be a big deal for her to show up. I agreed and scheduled a time for

her to witness the “activities.”

It was a stormy Thursday night in mid-winter when I picked Nancy

up and headed for Novato and Deliverance Temple. Mark, Nancy,

and I, along with the first person scheduled for deliverance, passed

though the house, walked into the back yard, entered the unfinished

garage, and ascended the stairs to the second floor. Mark led the way

with his flashlight to where he had arranged four chairs underneath

the single light bulb, our sole source of light and warmth. Nancy was

seated to my right, Mark sat across from me, and the subject, a young

man about my age whom I will call Bill, sat quietly on the metal chair

to my left.

We talked a while with Bill, discussing details about how he might

have gotten demons. Then the praying started, with Mark and I taking

turns commanding any demons in Bill to come out in the name of

Jesus. There was nothing about him, either his behavior or his past,

that indicated that there were or should be any demons present in

Bill. But, as we had found out many times before, one really never

knows, so we did not easily give up.

It was a miserable night in Deliverance Temple, really cold, and we

wore winter coats. Nancy sat quietly watching and making an entry

or two in the notebook she had on her lap. Despite the cold, Mark and

I began to sweat, not so much with the effort put forth, but due to a

certain embarrassment that came over us. Here we were, sitting in a

weird dark unfinished room with only studs along the walls, no real

ceiling, only a roof far above us in the darkness, with the wind and

rain howling outside. We were Jesus freaks, and Nancy was a reporter

for Time magazine; no doubt she thought we were fools, at best, but

more she probably thought we were deluded and crazed cultists.

Mark and I stole glances at each other. Bill sat still and peaceful,

not saying a word or even twitching. No demons were showing up.

Nancy squirmed a little as the time rolled on. Maybe an hour passed.

Suddenly, without warning, Bill literally flew backward, straight

back and up. If there had been a ceiling he would have crashed into

it. He hit the wall behind him and slid down to the floor between the

studs. Nancy had fear on her face; she had just seen something that

was physically impossible. Mark and I were relieved.

We walked over to Bill, picked him up and escorted him back to

the center of the room and his chair. We started again, knowing now

there were indeed demons in him. After a few minutes it happened

again; Bill flew through the air the same way as before. This time

Mark and I pulled our chairs over to him and proceeded, with Bill sitting

on the floor, to cast out several demons. We continued until there

were no longer any demonic manifestations.

Next and last was a young woman, about Nancy’s age, and this

time it was different, typical really. We talked some, prayed some, and

then started to command the demons to come out, based on the power

and authority of Jesus. Several demons were cast out, and we spent

some more time talking, essentially a counseling session intended to

be encouraging and helpful. That was the end of it.

The reporter had little to say on the way home. I asked her to let me

know when the magazine with the deliverance story came out. Weeks

went by before the edition appeared. I read every word but found

nothing about what happened at Deliverance Temple. I called her and

asked why not. She said she submitted the story and described accurately

what had happened, but an editor found it unbelievable and

deleted that part entirely. I never heard from Nancy again, but I will

always remember that strange night at Solid Rock.

One more story: Joyful Noise had been invited by a large Presbyterian

Church in Walnut Creek to minister to their youth group. The

pastor, whom I will call Joe, and I got along well, and I added him

to my newsletter list. Perhaps a year went by before I received a

phone call from him. He wanted to bring his daughter, aged fifteen,

over for prayer. Sue, not her real name, had been acting strangely, and

Joe thought it was of a demonic nature and described some strange

things going on. Once I heard this report, I agreed with him, and he

and his wife, Sue’s mother, brought Sue over for deliverance.

Mark, Sue, and I spent many weeks, six or maybe seven, two hours

minimum at a time, hoping to cast some demons out of the teenager.

She sat quietly and at rest time after time, week after week. Mark and

I decided that she did not have demons, which I called and told Joe. He

did not agree and pleaded for just one more time. Joe was one of the

finest men I had ever met, and the whole family was just as precious

as could be. I agreed to another attempt.

Once again Mark and I trooped out to Deliverance Temple with

Sue and made every effort, did all we could do. As always there was

nothing but simple prayer and asking God to cast out demons. Nothing

again, and I dreaded walking back into Solid Rock with Sue to face

her parents. Since this was to be the family’s last visit to Novato, Joe

wanted to have communion. We stood in a circle in the kitchen area.

Joe served us with the bread first, and then he began to pass the cup

around. As it reached Sue and she raised it to her lips, she collapsed to

the floor, and the cup and its contents went flying. Mark and I looked

at each other and bent over Sue, and just as quickly and easily as anything

I had ever seen, we cast out a whole bunch of demons. Finally

she was exhausted; we raised her up to her feet, there was some charismatic

type of praise, and off the family went.

It was not over, however. Joe called a week later and told me they

found out how the demons had gotten into Sue. There had been a mission

trip to Haiti, and on the return trip they brought home with them

a girl Sue’s age, whom Sue had befriended in Haiti. Sue confessed that

she and the Haitian girl had been playing around with Voodoo spells

late at night when everyone went to bed. Weird things had started to

happen, and both girls were scared to say anything about it.

I agreed to have the Haitian girl come over, too. This time, it was

fairly quickly done. Indeed, demons were present and were cast out.

Some years ago now, maybe fifteen, Sue showed up just before the

morning service at Miller Avenue. I was called out to the front porch

of the building and there was Sue, her husband, and two little kids.

She wanted to simply say thanks for what had happened many years

ago at Deliverance Temple.

Chapter 7 The Creator is One in Three and Three in One

The Creator God is a Trinity, which is extraordinarily difficult to explain, and though I have attempted to do so many times, I doubt I have ever done it well. 

“Three in one—or—one in three” is little more than a formula, but it expresses what is revealed about the nature of God as found in Scripture. 

In the Hebrew Bible we find evidence for the triune God. In Genesis 1:1-2 we find a significant piece of the puzzle: 

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 

The Hebrew word for Spirit of God in the passage above is ruach and can mean wind, breath, or spirit. Dozens of times in the Hebrew Bible ruach refers to Spirit, the Spirit of God. 

In Isaiah 48:16 and 63:10 we find the Spirit differentiated from God yet yet the Spirit is also deity. Here is Isaiah 63:10: “But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit.” 

So far we have discovered two parts of the Trinity. It is not much of a stretch to acknowledge that the Creator is God. A bit of a stretch to add the “Spirit” as God also, still you have two gods then. The real trouble comes with Jesus. If He is God, then do we have three gods? How could this be expressed? 

As for a third part of the Trinity, the Son, we find evidence in Psalm 2:7: “I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” This Psalm speaks of Christ, the Messiah, and it clearly distinguishes between the Father and the Christ. 

In Psalm 110:1 we have, “The LORD says to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’” The mystery found here is cleared up by seeing God as a Trinity. 

Already cited is Isaiah 9:6, but because of its direct evidence for the deity of the Messiah, here is the passage again: 

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting father, Prince of Peace.  

Isaiah is referring to Immanuel, meaning “God with us,” from his chapter 7 verse 14, the one born of the virgin. Note the titles, “Mighty God” and “Everlasting Father,” in Isaiah 9:6, which are used for God alone. 

In the Greek Bible there is evidence aplenty for the deity of the Son, Jesus the Messiah, and thus, the Trinity. In Matthew 28:19-20 we find the three-part formula in the words of Jesus. 

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing then in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. 

It has been argued that such an advanced statement of the Trinity could not have been original with Matthew but has to have been borrowed from a later period. Yet the manuscript evidence shows otherwise. There is only one textual variant in the above passage and that has to do with the use of amen” following “age,” is some old manuscripts. That is it. Codices Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, Bezae, many old Latin translations, the Vulgate, Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, Georgian, Ethiopic translations—these support the usual reading without a final amen

It is this formula, originated by Jesus Himself, that firmly establishes the doctrine of the Trinity. The Creator alone is not the God of the Bible. The Son alone is not the God of the Bible. The Spirit alone is not the God of the Bible. God is Father (Creator), Son, and Holy Spirit. To leave one out is to miss the mark in defining who God is. It is as one of the ancient creeds puts it: The Three of the Trinity are co-equal, co-eternal, of one will, and of one substance. 

Let us look a little further in the Greek Bible. 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). 

The use of the English word “was” is misleading. It is a verb of being, and is a grammatical structure known as subject nominative, and could as well be translated, “In the beginning was and is the Word, and the Word was and is with God, and the Word was and is God.” The sentence could also be expressed as, “The Word was and is in the beginning, the God was and is with the Word, and God was and is the Word.” 

This Word then, logos in the Greek, refers to God. The Apostle John makes this clear: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). John continues in verses 17 and 18 to make it clear who the Word is: 

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

Paul’s testimony 

To prevent this chapter from becoming a tome, only two additional passages will be presented, both from the pen of Paul who in his pre-Christian life denied the deity and messiahship of Jesus vehemently. On a journey to attack Christians in Damascus of Syria, Jesus revealed Himself to Paul. No longer would Paul misunderstand. The original account of Paul’s conversion is in Acts 9:1-19. 

First of all, we examine what is referred to as the “kenosis” of Christ, kenosis meaning self-emptying. 

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8) 

Then to the Colossian congregation, Paul has a different way of presenting Jesus’ deity. 

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-20) 

Paul, trained as a rabbi by the renowned Gamaliel, knew that if Jesus was in fact the Messiah of Israel, and knowing that the religious party he belonged to, the Pharisees, had a major hand in putting Jesus to death, then his zeal was in error. 

Over the course of time Paul both studied the Hebrew Bible and learned of Jesus’ life and ministry, preparing him to write the passages presented above. 

One last piece now, and this from John 20:24-29. The main characters are Jesus and one of the apostles, Thomas by name. The scene probably takes place in the Upper Room, that place where Jesus celebrated with His disciples what we call now the Lord’s Supper. 

The first time Jesus appeared, after His resurrection, to His disciples, Thomas was absent. Later, those who had seen the risen Christ told Thomas about it, but he refused to accept their story except he see Jesus alive as well. He said, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe” (John 20:25b).  

Eight days later, gathered again in the same place, this time Thomas was present. Suddenly Jesus was right there and gave them the traditional greeting, “Peace be with you.” Then turning to Thomas, Jesus invited him to touch the wounds on His body. Jesus said, “Do not disbelieve, but believe.” (verse 27) 

Thomas then said, “My Lord and my God.” Jesus’ response, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (verse 29) 

For so many the most preposterous thing about Christianity has to do with the Trinity. Think of it, one yet three, three yet one. It makes no sense at all. Even when Christians believe the truth of it, we still we have a certain amount of cognitive dissonance. And this is only natural since the Trinity is ultra supernatural. 

There came a time for me when I stopped fighting myself about it. Okay, I am a Christian and this is what Christians have always believed, so what is the trouble? 

There is nothing in my experience that helps me accept the concept of the Trinity. It continues to be an absurd doctrine. Where I found help was in realizing that I am not the judge of God. I must, will, let God be God though I don’t understand. And why should all that is God be rational to one such as I am, a limited, sinful, ignorant, and arrogant person of rather low I.Q. 

I am among those Jesus referred to in John 20:29: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”