Thought provoking questions we have received, with our responses
This topic is continued from the previous essay
Interesting Emails discussed in this essay:
Should this site ban ads related to Wicca and the casting of spells?
Incoming Email: Is it part of the creation science belief to
believe in and support Wicca and spell casters? Is this something that is
supported in the Bible?
Our response: It is customary to capitalize the names of religions
and the word "Bible." So we have altered the incoming Email which left
both words in lower case.
To answer your first question: Creation science beliefs are typically held by
religious conservative. In North America, these are typically fundamentalist
and other evangelical Christians. The latter hold a wide range of beliefs among about Wiccans:
One minister from Texas preached a sermon a few years ago in which he
advocated that the government commit genocide by rounding up all Wiccans and
stoning them to death. As I recall, he got a sustained round of applause from
A Baptist pastor, also from Texas, also advocated genocide: he suggested
that the U.S. Army round up Wiccans and exterminate them by napalm.
A Wiccan was lynched by a mob of conservative Christians circa 1990
in the U.S.
But there is also a strong tradition within all wings Christianity in favor
of religious freedom and religious tolerance. Both involve letting others follow
the spiritual and religious path of their own choosing, without discrimination
or oppression -- even though you disagree with their beliefs. As far as spell
casting is concerned, this can be viewed as a form of prayer. A person casting a
spell to influence the weather and a Christian praying for rain are performing
essentially the same function. So, I would suggest that most American
Christians, including those who believe in creation science, support the U.S.
Bill of Rights, including the freedom of religious belief, religious speech, religious assembly and proselytizing. They
would support the right of Wiccans and spell casters to follow their religious
and magickal beliefs, even though they may disagree with them theologically.
I assume that you are objecting to the Wiccan and spell casting
banner ads that sometimes appear
on our web site. These ads are chosen and placed by Google
and are outside of our control. To remove ads that people want to place would be
censorship. That would conflict with our group's support for freedom of speech. Still, we recognize that some of our visitors will be offended by pictures of negligees that are described as "lust-worthy" and by gross pictures of toenails being destroyed by fungus growth.
Your second question asked whether Wicca and occult practices are supported
by the Bible. The answer is both yes and no. There are quite a few instances of black magic, divination and occult activities
described in the Bible in a positive or neutral light. They involved some of
the great leaders of the ancient Hebrews: Joseph, the high priests, Elisha, and
Daniel. In the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) Paul and Peter are
mentioned. However, certain occult practices are specifically forbidden in
the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). These include: making contact with spirits (not of
God); making contact with the dead; foretelling the future by using lots or
interpreting signs in nature; snake charming, magical knot tying, and spells
which harm other people. These categories do not include the type of spell
casting performed by the people who appear in banner ads on our site. They would probably
refuse to do spells that attempt to harm or even manipulate others.
There are many themes which run through the Bible. One is intolerance
of other religions. The book of Joshua describes religiously-motivated genocide
and many instances of mass murder of people who were part of a culture that
worshiped other Gods, including helpless newborns, infants, children, men, women
and old folks. On the other hand, the Bible also extensively promotes justice.
In modern times, justice is generally linked to fundamental human rights, such
as freedom of religion, assembly and speech. So I feel that a case can be made
that the Bible both supports and prohibits religious freedom.
Why people reject absolute truth:
Incoming Email: Many people reject absolute truth because they do not like the fact that some day they
might have to answer to a higher power -- God -- who has absolute standards.
To placate their
consciences, they believe that only relative truth exists. Therefore
they think that they are not accountable to a higher power.
Our response: This is a very common belief system. It is consistent with what
psychologists know is the almost infinite ability for humans to delude
themselves. We hear it mentioned a great deal by conservative Christians on the
web sites and radio programs that we have monitored. But it is deeply offensive
to Agnostics, Atheists, Humanists, and other non-theists. They have no belief in
God, for the simple reason that they see no evidence for the existence of a
deity. For them to believe in a deity would be intellectually dishonest. Most view the great world religions as having been created by very human
their best attempts to understand deity, humanity and the rest of the universe.
Because these are all purely human creations, their visions all differ.
If non-theists learned of a proof that God exists, then they would willingly accept
God's existence. But they can find no evidence of this, to date. So they develop their
personal ethical rules for behavior, independently of religious belief.
They are not trying to avoid consequences. After all, if they accept the
teachings of conservative Christians
and if it turns out that the only true religion is Islam, then they might well be
destined to eternal torture in the Islamic Hell. If they accept Islam, and it
turns out that the only true religion is conservative Christianity, then they might well end up forever
in the conservative Christian Hell. So, there is no foolproof way of avoiding someone's Hell.
Humanists and other non-theists will probably continue in their beliefs and base their moral code on
secular principles, unless God decides to reveal himself in some unmistakable
way. Judging on past
performance, this is unlikely to happen during their lifetime.
Is it OK for a newspaper to show a picture of two
This was not a question raised by one of our site's visitors. Rather it is a
question raised by the webmaster. It was triggered by a column of the ombudsman
of the Toronto Star on the editorial page of that newspaper for
The ombudsman asked whether it was ethical for The Star, one of
Toronto's leading newspapers, to publish a certain photograph of two women
without their consent. I recall seeing the picture when it was published. It
showed two young women who were obviously lesbians, deeply in love with each
other, and oblivious to their surroundings. They were attending the Gay Pride
parade in Toronto. The Star published their photograph even though the
photographer did not get their names, and did not get their permission to publish it.
The ombudsman defended the publishing of the photograph because it was taken
in a public place. They had every legal right to do so. But I wonder if it was
an ethical decision. Consider one scenario: The two women appeared to be of
college / university age and may well have been students who were dependent on
their parents for accommodation and/or financial support. If they were in the
closet, and were "outed" by the photograph, the repercussions on their
life/lives could have been quite severe. Their parents could have disowned them,
thrown them out of the house and/or terminated their financial support.
My feeling is that The Star had every legal right to publish the
photo. But, with the prevalence of homophobia in North American society, the
impact of this could have been severely negative to one or both women involved.
As it happens, one of the women had been "in the closet" and was "outed"
by the photo.
Was Irenaeus correct? Will God refuse to forgive a sin after one is saved?
Incoming Email: A young person, who was apparently "saved" earlier
in their life, has recently committed a sin. They are worried that they are "doomed
to Hell because God won't forgive...[ant] post-conversion sin. Please help me
interpret the following quote by Irenaeus, it makes me feel such great despair."
"Christ will not die again on behalf of those who now commit sin because
death shall no more have dominion over Him...we should beware, lest somehow,
after [we have attained] the knowledge of Christ, if we do things displeasing to
God, we [will] obtain no further forgiveness of sins, but rather be shut out
from His kingdom." Against Heresies," Book 4, Chapter 27, Section 2:
Our response: There were literally dozens of conflicting beliefs
circulating around the early Christian movement at the time of Irenaeus. In
fact, there were three different "denominations" within primitive Christianity:
The Jewish Christians who got essentially wiped out by the Roman Army when
Jerusalem was destroyed.
The Pauline Christians who followed the teachings of Paul. They
survived and became the early Catholic Church which eventually became the origin of over 20,000 Christian faith groups today.
The Gnostics who believed that Jesus was a spirit being who came to
earth give people special knowledge so that they could escape their
earthly bodies and attain Heaven. Some were adsorbed by other Christian groups; others were exterminated by
the Pauline Christians.
But even within Pauline Christianity, there were lots of conflicting views
expressed. Back in those days many people agreed with Irenaeus that the act of
being baptized wiped away one's sins. Thus, a lot of people put off baptism
until the last moment, when they were dying. Constantine the Great was one of these. There
were more conflicting beliefs about the nature of Jesus, God the Father and the
Holy Spirit than one can count on the fingers and toes. Gradually, over the
first few centuries of the church's history, these different beliefs got
straightened out at a series of church councils. In each case, one official
position was chosen by majority vote, or by political pressure, and the others
were declared heretical. One of the heresies was this belief by Irenaeus. The
church rejected his teaching on this matter.
Within the Roman Catholic Church, baptized members who commit a sin can have
them forgiven through a church sacrament of confession. Within Protestant
churches, saved individuals can have their sin forgiven by sincerely confessing
it to God. Even actions which one's denomination may consider great sins can be
forgiven this way. Of course, if murder, assault or some other crime is
involved, there are often additional legal consequences with secular
We can approach your concern in another way. If you have been saved, then you
are a child of God. God has some of the same feelings towards you as you have
(or may have in the future) towards your children. If you are a conservative
Christian, then you probably believe that there are only two destinations after
death: Heaven and Hell. Now: could you imagine your child doing something so bad
that you would send him or her to be eternally tortured in some kind of prison?
I am certain that you will feel that there is no crime so terrible that you
would abandon your own child in this way. By the same logic, could you imagine a
kind, loving God who would abandon you -- one of his own children -- for doing
Copyright © 2000 to 2014, by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2000-SEP-23
Latest update: 2014-OCT-01
Author: B.A. Robinson