Ask Your Preacher
Does the Bible condemn alchemy?
Alchemy is defined by most encyclopedias as a mixture between science and religion. The science part of alchemy involves working with various metals and other inorganic substances in order to create new substances (like turning copper to gold) – this has absolutely nothing to do with religion and is often referred to as ‘practical alchemy’… which is a tad ironic because there isn’t anything practical about trying to turn copper to gold!
However, alchemy also involved a philosophical and religious desire to find a way to cheat death and create an elixir that would allow you to live forever. Several of the early alchemists are recorded as viewing alchemy as a spiritual discipline. This aspect of alchemy is immoral – and there is a decent argument that the two sides (practical and spiritual alchemy) are inextricably tied together. The Bible says that there is only one true path to eternal life – Jesus Christ (Jhn 14:6). Anything else is of the devil.
Can a demon enter the spirit of a saved christian?
Demons no longer have the power to possess people, but even when they did, they couldn’t possess just any soul. Jesus bound the demons and prevented them from ever again possessing people (read “Exhorting The Exorcist” for details). Furthermore, Jesus taught that a demon needed an “empty home” to possess. If someone filled their lives with good behavior and godly faith, there was no room for a demon to take over. This is what Jesus taught in Matt 12:43-45. Demons never had the power to take over the life of a faithful individual.
Is it wrong for Christian parents to lie to their children about Santa Claus and the Easter bunny, etc.?
The Truth Hurts
Dear The Truth Hurts,
It is always wrong to lie; the question is whether telling your kids about Santa Claus is lying or not. Many christians have many different views on this. Some christians tell their children that Santa is imaginary because they feel that is honest. Other christians allow their children to believe in Santa and simply don’t dissuade them from the notion until they ask point-blank. No matter what, christians must in good conscience do what they believe is honest. Lying is always wrong (Rev 21:8). The debate isn’t over whether or not lying is a sin; the debate is over whether or not allowing your children to believe in something imaginary counts as being deceptive. Each must do what they believe is faithful and right… it would not be good to be too dogmatic on this point.
Is it in the Bible that if you get tattoos on your body and body piercings you’re condemned to hell?
Pierced To The Heart
Dear Pierced To The Heart,
Tattoos were 100% sinful in the Old Testament – in the New Testament they are sinful some of the time. The Old Testament strictly forbade tattoos (Lev 19:28). God was so adamant about it because cutting your flesh and tattooing were common practices of pagan cultures (1 Kgs 18:26-28). Tattooing was a religious practice closely tied to Baal and other idols.
In the New Testament, we are given no specific command against tattoos. It is valuable, however, to see that for a very long time tattoos have had a negative connotation. As a christian, there are many things that we can do but should think carefully about beforehand. Just because I can do something, doesn’t mean it is a good idea (1 Cor 10:23). Tattoos are permanent, and the decision to get one shouldn’t be taken lightly.
In American culture, tattoos can give a negative impression – especially if the tattoo is large or in a highly visible area. Some things to consider:
- Tattoos are a deterrent for some employers. Are you willing to get passed over in a job application?
- People will automatically form judgments about you based upon their first impression of a tattoo. Are you comfortable with being thought of in reference to whatever the image is?
- You must also consider what effects it will have long-term. Will you still want Tweety Bird on your shoulder when you are in the nursing home?
- Are you ready to explain to your three-year-old why you have song lyrics on your bicep? Are you okay with your children wanting tattoos themselves?
- Many tattoos change their shape, size, and even location with weight loss and gain. Are you ready for that “cute” bellybutton butterfly to become a condor when you get pregnant?
- Many tattoos are of things that exude evil focus on evil, violence, or nudity. Demonic symbolism, nude pictures, bad words, etc. are to be avoided at all costs.
We must always consider our influence and how it will affect others. God tells us to be wise and seek wisdom in our decisions (Pr 8:33). Whatever decision an individual makes, I recommend seeking outside counsel before getting something as permanent as a tattoo (Pr 11:14). It is not wrong for a christian to get a tattoo, but it certainly isn’t a decision to make lightly.
Sometimes, in the margins of my Bible (King James), there will be another Scripture listed next to some of the verses in the text. Are these cross-referenced verses supposed to be comparing verses from different books of the Bible? Even if they reference New Testament verses with Old Testament verses? Have there ever been cross-referenced verses to non-canon books?
Cross-references identify commonalities between different parts of the Bible—chains of similar themes, words, events, or people. Depending on the particular company that produces the Bible you are using, your copy may have a lot of cross-references; it may have very few. Cross-references can be helpful study tools, but they aren’t part of the original Bible; they are just helpful tools put in by the printing companies to further your studies. As far as referencing apocryphal books, some Catholic Bible printers do reference non-canon books because they are of use to those who practice Catholicism… but most Bible printing companies do not.