Ask Your Preacher
I have a very interesting question, and I'm hoping you can help. I know the Bible says you shouldn't mess with spirits, and fortune telling is sinful. However, what if someone didn't ask for this gift? I know it says no one knows the future but God, but what if He gave a gift to someone, and they were using it for good? And what about Ouija boards? I've always been taught they are of the devil. One last thing, I'm from the south, and I've heard a lot about conjurers. In fact, as a child, my grandfather visited one to get a growth removed, and it worked. This woman was a christian and claimed it was a gift from God and not sinful. Is this sinful and of the devil? I am, by the way, very superstitious; however, I do believe the Bible is clear on the boundaries that should not be crossed. Sorry for being so lengthy, but I believe there's a lot of people asking the same things.
Dear Magically Minded,
The dictionary defines ‘superstition’ as ‘a widely held but unjustified belief in supernatural causation leading to certain consequences of an action or event, or a practice based on such a belief’. Superstition means that you are placing trust in the supernatural power of a rabbit’s foot, not walking under ladders, four-leaf clovers, Ouija boards, etc. This is always wrong. We are supposed to place our trust in God (Ps 56:11), and God has clearly said that He doesn’t give people the gifts of fortune telling; all these things are of the devil. Even if a conjurer removed your grandfather’s growth, being a conjurer is still sinful. There are lots of sinful things that have short-term benefits… but long-term consequences.
Superstition is a mild and socially acceptable form of witchcraft or divining. There is no difference between trusting in a lucky coin and trusting in the astrological tables. Astrology and horoscopes are wrong (Deut 4:19, 2 Kgs 23:5); witchcraft and magical arts are wrong (Acts 19:19). Superstition falls into the same category as those practices.
Is it correct to use the word ‘church’ in place of ‘ekklesia’?
A Little Wordy
Dear A Little Wordy,
‘Ekklesia’ is a Greek word, and ‘church’ is an English word. It isn’t wrong to translate the Bible from its original Greek into other languages. In fact, Jesus quoted from a Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint (the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew). The word ‘ekklesia’ means ‘the called out’ and refers to a group that is called together for a specific purpose. In modern English, we use words like ‘church’ and ‘assembly’ to express the same definition. The church of Christ is a group of people who have heard and heeded the call of Jesus Christ.
In heaven, are there animals?
Pets In Mind
Dear Pets In Mind,
If you’re wondering whether or not animals go to heaven when they die, the answer is ‘no’. Animals have spirits, and humans have spirits, but humans were also made in the image of God (Gen 1:26). Our spirit is eternal and will go up to be with the Father, and animal spirits are temporary and will return to the dust of the earth (Eccl 3:21). God made our spirit of a different caliber than He made those of the animals.
However, if you are wondering whether there will be creatures in heaven for us to enjoy just like there is animal life on this planet that brings us joy and wonder… the only way to find the answer to that question is to make sure to go to heaven and see it for yourself.
I was recently reading Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, specifically the chapters involving the first few hundred years of Christian history. I attend a local autonomous congregation whose structure seems entirely different than the hierarchical structure of the church described in the book. They use terms like the bishop’s “see” which, when I looked up the definition, is the official seat of a bishop. The bishop's seat is the earliest symbol of a bishop's authority. During periods of Roman persecution, they list bishops of Rome and other cities and mention their successors. They also describe bishops as being “appointed” and “governing the church”. The book states that a man named Ignatius was appointed to the bishopric of Antioch next after Peter in succession. (The same term “bishopric” in Acts 1:20 KJV describes the office of Judas). The book also alludes to a hierarchy amongst the clergy (bishops, presbyters and deacons). In over a dozen historical examples of Roman persecution, it is the bishop of Rome (singular) that seems to be targeted for execution. All of this hierarchical structure pre-dated Constantine and future state involvement in the Christian Church by up to hundreds of years. Our local congregation just has a few elders, who say they are equals, and take turns leading worship and preaching a message. Why such a difference in church structure?
Dear History Student,
The reason you see the difference is because Foxe’s Book of Martyrs covers all those who called themselves christians while the Bible specifically only follows the pattern for the church laid down by God. Paul warned that the church would quickly be attacked by false teachers (2 Pet 2:1), and as early as the end of the first century, we see the seven churches of Asia being exhorted and rebuked by Jesus to hold to the truth in Revelation 2 and 3. Paul told the church at Ephesus that wolves would arise from amongst their eldership to try and devour the church (Acts 20:28-31). Your congregation is right to stick to the Bible pattern – after all, the Bible is the book that we are saved by (Rom 1:16).
What would you tell a high school-age school student about Ouija boards and why it is wrong to use one? The student is not a christian. I am one of his teachers.
Teaching The Truth
Dear Teaching The Truth,
The Bible says that we should always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within us (1 Pet 3:15). If this student asks you what you think of Ouija boards, all you have to do is say that you don’t use them because your faith is in the Bible, not superstition. The Bible has evidence that proves it is trustworthy; the Ouija board doesn’t. Our goal is always to direct people to the Bible. It isn’t about proving the Ouija board is wrong (although it is!); it is about showing people that the Bible is right. If someone learns to embrace God’s Word, they will naturally begin to repel that which is wrong. After all, there is only room for one master (Matt 6:24).