What’s the Christian Response to Witchcraft? // Ask an African Pastor

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Pastor Conrad Mbewe responds to the question “what’s the Christian response to witchcraft?” Should we fear these dark powers? Or is Christ stronger?

“One of the greatest challenges that we have as African Christians is that we are immediately related to the spiritual world. Especially with respect to the African Traditional Religions. The power base of that is often related to the witch doctor in his witchcraft.

What is Witchcraft – is there Real Power?

Now, I understand there has been an effort to avoid using the word witch doctor or witchcraft, and instead speak about the African medicine man. But that’s where the challenge really is. It’s because it’s such a mixture where we are coming from. Therefore, Christians find it difficult to know how to relate to this entire world. One of the questions is often this: Are these powers that are in witchcraft real? Or are they just imaginations that human beings seem to have? Is it mere deception? Like people who are playing magic or tricks? But beyond that, it is the dark side of things, the evil one: Satan, and his involvement. Evil spirits and demons and so on… So invariably you find that Christians wrestle with this issue. How are we to deal with it? What should be the Christian response to witchcraft?

Looking for Answers…

There is a lot of syncretism whereby even those who are genuine believers will none the less, perhaps at a birth – when they have a child – or round about marriage, or when they lose a loved one, will still want to understand what they should do. And often you find that witchcraft is indeed somewhere very close to them, and it is being suggested by other religious people.

Witchcraft in the Old Testament

How should believers relate to this? I think it’s crucial oft us to realise that this is nothing new. When you go through the Old Testament you find that one of the areas about which God was very adamant, with respect to the children of Israel, was that they were not to engage in witchcraft. In fact, if anybody was found genuinely guilty of it that person was to be stoned to death. That’s how hard the writings of the Old Testament go as far as witchcraft is concerned.

Witchcraft in the New Testament

In the New Testament we find similar examples. This time not so much with individuals being stoned to death. But clearly, the Bible speaking in terms of individuals being delivered from the acts of darkness. Witchcraft included.

it’s not just deception. It is real power. Dark power… but real power none the less

One of the examples we have is in Acts chapter 16 where we are told in verse 16: “As we were going to the place of payer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” (Acts 16, 16-17) In other words, she knew the truth. She knew who they were. “And this she kept doing for many days. Paul having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.”

We are clearly seeing here: 1. That it was a spirit, and it was an evil spirit that finally had to be cast out. 2. There were real, extraordinary powers, that this woman had. And consequently, it’s not just deception. It is real power. Dark power – quite OK – but real power none the less.

The Christian Response to Witchcraft

And so what should be the Christian response to witchcraft? 1. To have nothing to do with this. It’s part of the works of darkness. 2. To genuinely believe that because we are God’s children, God has ultimate power, even over these dark powers. So we need not be afraid of them. Absolutely no fear. We ought to know our God is absolutely sovereign.

Because we are God’s children, God has ultimate power, even over these dark powers. So we need not be afraid of them.

And then 3. We should share the Gospel, the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ, with individuals who are still in bondage to witchcraft. We should say to them “there is forgiveness and there is deliverance through the Lord Jesus Christ.” They should turn away from all that they have embraced in this dark world and come clean before Jesus. Trusting in his finished work.

I hope if you are one of those individuals, struggling with this whole area, you will bear those truths in mind, and consequently trust in Christ. Trust in the triune God and have no fear of witchcraft whatsoever.”