Charismatic Christianity, Occultism, and Greek Philosophy – John Boruff

2,000 years ago in Palestine a Man named Jesus of Nazareth walked the earth. He was a Prophet, Miracle Worker, Spiritual Teacher, Healer, and a Deliverance Minister. Today we know of Him only as “the Son of God,” and it is true that He is. But do you realize what kind of a life He lived? He was a Charismatic Jew, filled with the Spirit of God, and endowed with the spiritual gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12-14. Christians are called to live as He lived, and love as He loved, but also to work greater miracles than He did because He has gone to the Father (John 14:12). Our Lord was prophetic, and so were his apostles and disciples–and all who followed their teachings closely in the early days of the church. The scribes and Pharisees, who were probably more influenced by the Hellenism and rationalism of Greek philosophers like Philo who were mixing Judaism with Greek philosophy–they actually condemned Jesus as a magician, as well as His apostles (Matt. 10:25). But why the quick accusation of occultism and magic? Although Jesus was misunderstood, and His apostles misunderstood–why is it that their spiritual gifts and miraculous powers were construed as sorcery and magic by the Pharisees? Why?

I will tell you why. Because they didn’t believe in Jesus. YES, OF COURSE. But there’s more to it than that! If the Pharisees simply “didn’t believe in Jesus”, then they could have just said that He was a fraud working magic tricks and fake miracles. But this they did not do. Rather, because they could not deny that Jesus and the apostles had supernatural powers–they could only resort to one other explanation: MAGIC! There were three powerful forces in the time of Jesus: (1) Greek rationalism, which came from the philosophers in Athens, Greece, and had spread throughout the whole Roman Empire. (2) Occultism, which has always existed since time immemorial, as the supernatural powers of witchcraft have come forth from idolatry and the worship of false gods. (3) Jewish prophecy, which since the time of Malachi (430 B.C.), was thought by most of the Jews to have become extinct. The Jewish rabbis were the expositors of the Scriptures, much like Southern Baptist pastors today, and taught that the spiritual gifts had ceased with Malachi. So, when Jesus and the apostles come on the scene prophesying and performing miracles, the Jewish rabbis had one of three worldviews to interpret Jesus: (1) From the rationalist’s point of view, Jesus was insane and was pretending to do miracles. (2) From the occultist’s point of view, Jesus was a powerful Jewish magician that worshiped Beelzebub, the god of the Philistines. (3) From the Jewish prophetic point of view, Jesus was the Messiah prophesied by the Old Testament prophets–and He was sent to pass on His spiritual power to Christians. This third group eventually became the early Christian view.

The Jewish rabbis didn’t believe in Jesus, except for Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. So, because they didn’t believe, and they realized He was working real miracles–they branded Him as demonic, because He didn’t agree with their theology. So, JESUS WAS BRANDED AS A MAGICIAN. But why in the world? Jesus did not cast any spells, or fly on a broom, used no magic charms or potions, and was never caught worshiping Beelzebub (the devil). But this was the Pharisaic interpretation…Because Jesus cast out demons, but did not agree with the theology of the Pharisees, they ASSUMED that He worshiped Beelzebub, and was using magic power to cast out demons: “When the Pharisees heard this, they said, ‘It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons’” (Matt. 12:24). John Gill comments:

They could not deny the miracle, or that it was one; but to deprive Him of the glory of it, and even reproach Him for it, and to bring Him into contempt with the people, they not only speak of Him in a scornful manner, “this” sorry man, “this” vile fellow; but ascribe the miracle He wrought to familiarity with the devil, to diabolical influence and skill in magic art: they pretended he was in confederacy with Satan, and was carrying on His interest: and therefore, that He might gain credit and reputation, the prince of devils suffered the inferior ones to remove at His word: and of these their ancestors, the Jews have learnt to fix this vile imputation, and blasphemous piece of slander upon Christ; who, they say, brought enchantments, or witchcrafts, out of Egypt, in the cuttings of His flesh, whereby He performed the things he did. Concerning Beelzebub, here called “the prince of devils”; it being a prevailing notion among the Jews, that there is one devil who is the head of all the rest, and who is by them sometimes called Asmodeus: they say, when Solomon sinned against the Lord, he sent to him, “Asmodeus the king of the devils”, and drove him from his throne, and so elsewhere: and sometimes Samael, who is styled Samael the prince, “the king of devils”; and the angel Samael, the wicked, “the head of all the Satans”, or devils: and we often read of, “the prince of Hell”; by whom the same is meant, as here, by Beelzebub; for if anyone devil is more wicked, odious, and execrable than the rest, the chief of them may be thought to be so; for which reason he is here mentioned.”

There are Christians today who are just like the Pharisees. Todd Bentley worked miracles, he wasn’t morally perfect, but he worked real miracles. Yet, how many “Bible-believers” called him demonic? Or worse, occultic? This happens all the time. You have these Pharisee-like Baptists and Presbyterian Christians who claim to believe the Bible more than anyone, but whenever a Christian heals somebody, casts out a demon, or works a miracle–then he is either an insane fanatic or a demon-possessed sorcerer? WHAT THE HECK! Where is their FAITH!!!!? They don’t believe in the Bible at all! If they did, then they would believe in the power of God. But Jesus once spoke to men like this: “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God” (Matt. 22:29). Personally, I feel like most Protestants, and non-Charismatic Christians, are more influenced by GREEK RATIONALISM and the ENLIGHTENMENT than they are by the FAITH of the APOSTLES. Take a Presbyterian, Reformed, or Baptist preacher for example. Examine him very very closely. Listen to how he talks, the choice of words, and the way he carries himself. HE IS A FLAMING RATIONALIST! He has more in common with the philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle than he does with the prophets Elijah, Elisha, and John the Baptist! MY LORD AND GOD! WHEN ARE PEOPLE GOING TO WAKE UP TO THIS!? Baptist churches are nothing more than philosophy groups that try to make sense out of the Bible with their American culture and their college educated REASON. Miracles, faith, and the POWER OF GOD have nothing to do with their lives. And they are dead for it. Too bad they scorn every Christian prophet and miracle worker as a danged MAGICIAN–just like the deceived Pharisees did, and ended up crucifying Jesus over it!

But why all this talk about Christians being mistaken as MAGICIANS? It sounds like the most absurd thing in the world. What does a Pentecostal healer like Oral Roberts have to do with a pagan wizard like Harry Potter? NOTHING! But church people that don’t really have a supernatural worldview are unable to discern divine power from demonic power, and so–out of a suspicious attitude–they just lump it all together, and miss out on experiencing the miraculous power of God in their lives. Resorting back to a HUMANISTIC MORAL PHILOSOPHY OF CHRISTIANITY, devoid of miracles, and only accepting of the “fruit of the Spirit” (after all, they say, it is superior to miracles). But this is a cop-out for their uncertainty and confusion about the role of prophecy and miracles in the Christian life. Worse still, they continue to condemn Charismatics as MAGICIANS? WHY!!! They are deceived. But they think WE’RE the deceived ones!

I SPIT ON THIS HUMANISTIC CHRISTIANITY. It is the deadest, most lifeless thing in the world. It is scientific, rationalistic, intellectual, theological, Bible scholarly, “I have lots of Bible knowledge” prideful, and full of judgmental and legalistic behavior. And, worst of all, it RESISTS THE MIRACULOUS POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

IS THERE A REMEDY? Yes, I believe there is. It is called SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT. And it comes from (1) Bible knowledge, but also a knowledge of two other things: (2) True Charismatic Christianity that sees visions and works miracles, and (3) Occultism, New Age, and witchcraft of all kinds. I guarantee you, that if you know about these three things, then you will be able to discern the power of God from the power of the devil. And you will not fall into the rationalistic trap of condemning all Charismatic Christians as demonic magicians! So, where do you start? Well, any Christian needs to study the topic of the occult with great caution. Sometimes you might hear the devil speaking to you when you study about it. But simply, in Jesus’ Name, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (Jas. 4:7). I recommend that you only read Christian books about the occult, because demons can use pro-occult books against you in a legalistic way, and make you sick. Recently, I have been reading Clifford Wilson and John Weldon’s Occult Shock & Psychic Forces: A Biblical View (1980). It is an Evangelical Christian book about witchcraft and the occult, which totals up to 482 pages. It’s like a small encyclopedia about occult topics. On the other hand, if you don’t know anything about true Charismatic Christianity (i.e., dreams, visions, prophecies, and healings)–then I will recommend that you read Jack Deere’s Surprised by the Voice of God (1996) and John Wimber’s Power Healing (1987).

If you read these three books, then you will realize that Charismatic Christianity and New Age occultism and witchcraft are completely different religions with completely different gods. But I will admit this: I WOULD DARE SAY THAT CHARISMATIC CHRISTIANITY HAS MORE IN COMMON WITH THE OCCULT THAN IT DOES WITH GREEK RATIONALISM AND PHILOSOPHY. And by that, I only mean to say that occultists and Charismatics both have a SUPERNATURAL WORLDVIEW. But they have differences in their approach to the supernatural. However, the Baptist, who is more influenced by theologians like Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin, who in turn, were influenced by church fathers like Augustine, and Greek philosophers–are essentially RATIONALISTS who rely on REASON and dry common sense. In their hearts, they laugh at the supernatural. And if they leave the church, they are likely to become agnostics, skeptics, evolutionists, or atheists–so close are they to pure rationalism. IGNORANCE AND DARKNESS!

As I was reading Chapter 15 of Wilson and Weldon’s Occult Shock, I realized that there are COMPARATIVE DIFFERENCES between Charismatic Christianity and occultism in general. Hopefully, this can help everyone to discern a little bit better:

Charismatic Christianity New Age Occultism
Prophetic Healer Psychic Healer
Discerning of Spirits Psychic Diagnosis
Prophetic Ecstasy Achieved with Soaking or Worship Music Psychic Ecstasy Achieved with New Age Music
The Name of Jesus Magic Words
The Power of God Chi Force
The Laying on of Hands Psychometry
Prophetic Development through Contemplative Prayer (Soaking) Psychic Development through Yoga
Angels Fairies
Spirit, Soul, and Body Chakras
Ecstasy Achieved through Contemplative Prayer Ecstasy Achieved through Hypnosis
Holy Water (or Anointing Oil) Filled with the Power of the Holy Spirit Magic Potions (Homeopathy) Filled with Chi Force (Demons)

About John and Rebekah Boruff

John Boruff is a Philosophy and Religion graduate of UNC Pembroke. In his free time, he street preaches, blogs about the Christian life, and has interests in evangelism and prophetic ministry. He is currently in the process of writing, and has posted his e-book "How to Experience God" on this site. John and his wife Rebekah have been married for 5 years, and are happy to be walking with Jesus together. They have a beautiful 4 year-old daughter named Mary Elizabeth; and live near Raleigh, North Carolina.
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