One would not expect occultism to gain a foothold in the Christian church, since the Bible forbids it in both the Old and New Testaments. Nevertheless, the church has been enticed as well as the world. Much that is now practiced in evangelical circles is the old shamanism (a universally adopted word for witchcraft and other occult practices) under new names.
Anthropologist Michael Harner, himself a practicing shaman, is one of the world’s leading authorities on shamanism. A number of the basic elements which he says have been at the heart of shamanism worldwide for thousands of years are widespread within the church: visualization, hypnosis, psychological counseling, Positive Thinking, Positive Confession, and Eastern meditation techniques. To what extent these involve the occult, and why, will be dealt with in the following pages. Multitudes of those who call themselves Christians are involved in the occult, many of them unwittingly.
The Bible provides a far more detailed list of occult practices than the quote from Webster’s dictionary at the beginning of this chapter. The Bible lists divination (tarot cards, Ouija boards, crystal balls, pendulums, etc.), observing times (astrology), enchantment (hypnosis), witchcraft, charming (another form of hypnosis), and wizardry or necromancy (communicating with the dead). The Bible forbids each of these occult practices.
The fact that some people are seemingly healed through occult powers or become successful through occult practices does not prove that the purpose behind them is to bless mankind. There must be some bait on the hook or no one would bite. Even if the intent is evil, one would expect some apparent good as a means of enticement. Mankind would hardly be drawn to something that was clearly and totally harmful.
In one’s enthusiasm for embracing mysterious phenomena, one dare not ignore the question of ultimate purpose. We will attempt to face this vital concern carefully and honestly.