Should Christians Understand the Occult?

Should Christians understand the occult? Yes.

Now before you get all upset, recognize the question I asked. “Knowing about” and “practicing” the occult are two entirely different things. Understanding doesn’t require participation. Scripture is pretty clear Christians should NOT be messing around holding séances or working magic spells. Having clarified that, there are three really good reasons why every Christian should be familiar with the occult.

First, our enemy is spiritual.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  (Ephesians 6:12)

In The Art of War Sun Tzu advises, “know your enemy.” And the best way to know our enemy is to understand his tactics. Armies study their opponent’s tactics.

They say “it takes a thief to catch a thief” but what they mean is to catch a thief you need to think like one. To prevent and solve crimes policemen study the methods of criminals.

Satan uses the occult to ensnare and bewilder his victims in a web of lies and misdirection. The only way they’ll escape is if we can expose the web of errors in which they’re trapped, and to do that we have to understand the occult and its inherent fallacies and contradictions.

Second, the world in which we live is steeped in the occult.

Occult ideas and practices dominate popular culture. The best selling books of all time (Harry Potter) involve teenage wizards, magic use and a secret occult world behind the scenes hidden from Muggle eyes. The whole appeal of the occult for thousands of years has been than it is a secret world behind the scenes hidden from the eyes of the uninitiated.

“The Force” in the epic Star Wars movies is entirely based on occult concepts. And to paraphrase George Lucas, in popular culture the occult is just like the Force. Occult concepts surround us and permeate popular culture. They bind the galaxy together, being found in video games, movies, graphic novels and books. You see shows about Ghost Hunters on the SyFy Channel, the Gnostic Gospels on National Geographic and UFOs on the History Channel. Everything these days seems to reek of the occult, even many things that do not themselves appear on the surface to have anything to do with it such as UFOs. If we are willfully ignorant of the occult, how can we combat its influence?

Third, if you want to reach others you have to relate to them where they are.

If we’re ignorant of things the occultists understand, why should they trust what we say about other things? Every fisherman knows if you want to catch fish, you have to drop your net where the fish are. Look at what the Apostle Paul did in his time:

Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. (Acts 17:16-17)

Note that when Paul saw a society wholly given up to the occult, in order to reach the people he went to where they were. He talked with the Jews in their synagogues because he was a Jew. He talked with those he met in the markets when he was shopping. And when it came to the philosophers, he went up to Mars Hill (the Aeropagus) where they hung out and discussed philosophy and the occult.

Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoics, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? others said, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) (Acts 17:18-21)

When Paul talked about Jesus with the Greek philosophers and occultists he started by talking about their ideas (which he understood) and then demonstrated how those relate to Christ.

Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. (Acts 17:22-23)

And in this Paul was successful. Verse 34 mentions as converts Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, a philosopher and a female, both from different walks of life who were only reached because Paul went to where they were, on Mars Hill and in the marketplace.

Why should Christians understand the occult?

If you want to recognize the enemy, you need to understand his tactics and that means understanding the occult.

If you want to avoid being influenced by the occult in popular culture you need to understand occult teachings so you can recognize them.

If you want to reach occultists you need to understand the occult.

To understand the occult from a Believer’s viewpoint you need to read my books and this blog.

Some examples of my books:

The Bible - Dead Letter or Message from Your Creator? Evidence for the veracity of the Scriptures.

Revolutionary Discipleship

Has the Church’s misguided efforts to market itself to non-Christians doomed it to irrelevance? Is it time for a new Reformation?  Spiritual Embezzlement Made Easy

Why do Ghosts Wear Clothes? A Christian paranormal investigation.