Apologetics

Sally Quinn, Hexes, and the Truth about the Occult

Speaking about a true evaluation of things, I wish Sally Quinn had a true evaluation of things. I was reading USA Today, and the headline in huge, huge type was “Sally Quinn Has Cast 3 Hexes, and Worries They Worked.” She, of course, is a veteran journalist and founder of a website, ironically enough, called On Faith. She describes her lifelong belief in the occult, and worries that she once put hexes on people, and those hexes actually worked.

You read the article (it is in a question-and-answer format), and in response to questions, she pointed out that she has “psychic abilities.” She says, “My mother put hexes on two people,” and, boy, did they work; those people “died.” She said, “I saw her do it,” and then “when I was in my late 20s and early 30s, there were three people who hurt me in some way, or [hurt] somebody I loved, and so I decided to put a hex on them.” When she was asked, “How do you put a hex on someone?” She said, “There’s sort of a ritual. I light candles and music and fire and notes,” and she said, as a result, “one person died right away, another person got fired immediately and then died, and then the other one died right away.” Evidentially, two died instantaneously.

Quinn’s brother said to her, “You’ve really got to cut this out. This is bad karma,” and, “In some way, you have put out bad energy and it comes back at you threefold, and you’ve just have got to stop this.” When she heard that, she said, “I never did it again,” although she has been tempted. She says, “Believe me, since [Donald] Trump was elected, and since the election, I can’t tell you how many friends have asked me to put a hex on Donald Trump, and I won’t do it. I just said no. I don’t do that anymore.” In other words, she is not going to murder another person. It worked for her mother, did not have to use a knife, sword, didn’t have to use a gun. Just had to learn the ritual and use a hex.

The USA Today Q & A ends with her saying, “I…had this epiphany, which was that all of the things that I had believed in, all of the magic that I had believed in, was just as legitimate as organized religion, of Islam or of Judaism or of Catholicism, or of Protestantism. And it was just that it wasn’t organized in that way and that therefore didn’t have that respect….So I began to see that all religion was magic, and it is.” She also says, “I can’t understand that any God who was omniscient and all good could allow suffering, and that’s the big hurdle I have about a confessional God.”

I think it is important for us in light of Sally Quinn’s new book Finding Magic, it is instructive and incumbent upon us to discuss a couple of things. She does not believe in a confessional God because a confessional God would not allow suffering. What’s the Christian response? Secondly, she is involved in occult practices, or at least she was, and I think by looking at the title of her book (although I have not read it), she still is into the occult to some degree. She is just not killing people anymore with her hexes. It is a pretty disturbing thing, and we need to talk about the world of the occult as well. This is another example of why it is necessary for Christians to always be ready to give an answer, a reason for the hope that lies within them and do that with gentleness and respect.

Now, what Sally Quinn is into is the world of the occult. I thought that I would spend a few moments talking about the world of the occult because this is one of the core values of the Christian Research Institute: to counter cults and this occultist kind of behavior Quinn’s involved in.

It is kind of interesting, even in the article she was not going to divulge all the secrets, and that is quite common because the actual idea in the Latin (i.e. occultus) has inculcated in it this idea of hidden or secret. But, of course, now she has taken the world of the occult, and it is no longer in the closet. It has been glamorized. Think about this: you don’t like someone; you can kill them. You do not even have to go to court. This kind of sorcery or magic is an attempt by occultists to harness paranormal powers for private purposes. What they do is they use these ritualistic formulas — Quinn talks about “candles and music and fire and notes” but doesn’t want to elaborate beyond that — they use spells, incantations. What they are trying to do is harness what they perceive to be the natural and spiritual powers of the universe in order to satisfy their own desires. Someone hurts you, someone does not love you as they should, you feel jilted? Well, put a hex on them, and then they will pay. It is just a matter of learning how to harness this power.

What does God say about that? First of all, God lets us know that it is lame. There is no real inherent power here. It is mythological. It is not real. But, God warns the Israelites that these very practices would inevitably lead to their downfall (Deut. 18:9–13). Not only that, but He rebuked the Babylonians. He rebuked them because they supposed that they could bypass His power through their many sorceries and potent spells (Dan. 2:1–23; Isa. 14:1–23). That is the germ of the issue. It is seeking another power other than God. It is trying to supplant the one who created the universe and stamped His imprimatur upon us with a counterfeit. In doing this, they are believing in a kind of spiritism that is completely bankrupt. Ouija boards, the crystal ball, the idea of conjuring up the dead, all of this is something God spoke out against very, very strongly warning those who practice spiritism by saying, “I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists” (Lev. 20:6 NIV).

In the Bible, we see something very graphic in this regard. Sally Quinn really could not kill anybody with her hexes. That is delusional. God, however, has the power of life and death. You see in 1 Samuel 28, Saul — who was made the first king of Israel — turn from God to hexes, spiritualists, to the witch at Endor. As a result, he thinks that through a witch, he can get answers that he no longer wants to get from God. Remember, in the story, Samuel appears, and the witch is bewitched. She is absolutely terrified because she certainly was not expecting this. Samuel was raised from the dead not by an occult power, which would be impossible, but by God. That was done as a severe warning. You see that warning carried out in the life of Israel’s first king because with the warning came the result. Saul died (1 Sam. 31).

We should never turn to anyone but to the true and living God. The bottom line when it comes to spiritists is prostitution. When they are involved in that kind of prostitution, they end up cutting themselves off from all that is true, right, and good.

I was also very intrigued by Sally Quinn saying, “I can’t understand that any God who was omniscient and all good could allow suffering, and that’s the big hurdle I have about a confessional God.” This, of course, brings up one of the questions that is asked over and over again by those who disbelieve. That question is asked to those whom believe, and those who believe need to answer, and when they answer, they give a reason for the hope that lies within them, and hopefully they can do that with gentleness and with respect.

At first blush, when that question is asked — when you are asked the question about evil or suffering — there might seem to be as many responses as there are religions. In truth, there are only three: pantheism, philosophical naturalism, and theism.

Now pantheism, we get rid of the first two quickly; it denies the ultimate existence of good and evil. Why? Because in this view, God is all, and all is God.

What about philosophical naturalism? That is the worldview that undergirds evolutionism. Well, philosophical naturalism supposes that everything is a function of random material processes, and thus there can be no such things as good and evil in the ultimate sense.

Theism is the only possibility, and only Christian theism answers the question to suffering and evil in a satisfactory matter.

Let us boil this down to three things. First of all, freedom of choice. Christian theism acknowledges that God created the potential for evil when He created humans with freedom of choice. We choose to love or hate. We choose to do good or evil. The record of history bears eloquent testimony to the fact that humans of their own free will have actualized the reality of evil through their ungodly choices. God is not the author of evil. He created the potential for evil, but He did that by granting humans freedom of choice.

There is a second point. Without choice, love is meaningless. A lot of people do not like to hear this, but it is true. God is neither a cosmic rapist who forces His love on people nor a cosmic puppeteer who forces people to love Him. Instead, God, who is the personification of love, grants us freedom of choice. Without freedom, we would be little more than preprogrammed robots.

The final point I would like to bring out in this regard is the fact that God creating the potential for evil by granting us freedom of choice is ultimately going to lead to the best of all possible worlds. It is going to lead to a world in which there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain. Those who choose Christ will be redeemed from evil by His goodness and will forever be free from sin.

We live in a fallen, sin-cursed world, and many people suffer as a result of the sin not only of a cursed world but the sin of people. Lives are taken away by drunk drivers, by murderers. We should also recognize that the gravity that keeps us on the planet is the same gravity that enables fatal falls. In that, we realize that even natural disasters — we have just experienced in Houston, Texas, one of the worst devastations in the United States of America, hurricane Harvey and now hurricane Irma, looks like its sight’s set directly on Florida — and a lot of suffering can come out of that. In the midst of suffering, there has to be a word of encouragement. That word of encouragement is this: we look forward to a place, a universe, in which it no longer groans and travails but is liberated from its bondage to decay, as Paul puts it in Romans 8:18–25, and we too ourselves will be liberated. So we look forward to that which we do not yet have, and we expect it earnestly.

— Hank Hanegraaff

“When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not appointed such for you” (Deuteronomy 18:9-14, NKJV).

Apologetics

Astrology: A Proper Use or Flagrant Abuse of the Stars?

cri-blog-hanegraaff-hank-astrology-and-biblical-use-of-starsMy Christian friend and pastor occasionally posts his horoscope on Facebook. I was trying to remember biblical verses to support my concern that he was in error. Can you help me with that?

Scripture clearly condemns astrology as a practice that is detestable to the Lord in Deuteronomy 18:9-21. Isaiah goes so far as to say that the council of the astrologers and stargazers who make predictions month by month not only wore out the Babylonians but did not save them from their future ruin (Isa. 47:12-15).

Despite the clear condemnation of Scripture, there are still those who maintain that there is a biblical precedent to use stars to chart the future. What they do is they mistakenly cite passages, for example the Magi (Matt. 2), but if you look at the context, it reveals that the star that the magi followed was not used to foretell the future but to forthtell the future. In other words, the star of Bethlehem did not prophesy the birth of Christ, it pronounced the birth of Christ.

One other point is that astrology has been debunked as a pseudo-scientific paradigm that based on the odd predilection that galaxies rather than genes determine inherited human characteristics. Not only so, astrology cannot account for the problem posed by mass tragedies and twins. For example, people with a wide variety of horoscopes all perished on 9/11 and twins born under the same sign of the Zodiac frequently end up with widely diverse futures.

Remember Daniel 2. Even King Nebuchadnezzar’s astrologers recognized the impotence of their craft. When Nebuchadnezzar asked them to remind him of his dream then interpret it? Well, they responded in terror saying no man on earth can do what the king asks. In other words, when Nebuchadnezzar—recognizing they were gaming him—put their lives on the carpet, they exclaimed the truth. They do not know the future nor could they tell the future. They could not as so much be able to tell the dream much less what it portended for the future.

I think what you have with astrology is the subverting of the natural use of the stars, which is of course ordained by God, for a superstitious use of the stars, which God clearly distains. Genesis 1:14-19 points to the natural use of the stars to separate the day from the night, to serve as signs, to mark seasons, days and years, to illuminate the earth. Of course, they can also rightly be used for all kinds of purposes ranging from navigation to natural revelation (Psa. 19:1-6). Therefore, sailors could use astronavigation to chart their course but we as Christians should not use astrology to chart our careers. This is something clearly spoken out against in the very first text that I cited from Deuteronomy 18.

—Hank Hanegraaff

Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you (Deut. 18:10-12, NIV).

For further reading, please access the following equip.org resources:

Matthew and the Magi: A Case for Astrology? (Gregory Rogers)

What is the Occult? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Witnessing to People in the Occult (Marcia Montenegro)

This blog adapted from the November 13, 2012 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Magic Charms Enchant Apostolic-Prophetic Movement

Pivec, Holly-Magic Charms Enchant Apostolic-Prophetic Movement

Article: JAA167 | Author: Holly Pivec

This article first appeared in the News Watch column of the Christian Research Journal, volume 30, number 4 (2007). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: http://www.equip.org

Kits to remove curses, cards to interpret dreams, and music to heal people have become popular products in the apostolic‐prophetic movement, also called the “New Apostolic Reformation.” The movement, which is fast growing in charismatic churches, has long been criticized for its promotion of modern “apostles” and “prophets” who claim to have great authority and to speak for God. It is now being criticized for selling products that—many Christians believe—have more in common with the magic charms used in occult practices than with Christianity.

Property Dedication Kit. One organization that sells these products is the Elijah List, based in Albany, Oregon, which is founded and run by “prophet” Steve Shultz. The Elijah List e‐mails daily newsletters that feature prophecies—and advertisements for products like these—to more than 130,000 subscribers, according to its Web site (www.elijahlist.com).

One of the Elijah List’s top‐selling products is the “Portals to Cleansing Property Dedication Kit”—sold for $12—which is supposed to remove curses from houses and properties. Created by Henry Malone, a professional “house cleanser” and founder of Vision Life Ministries in Irving, Texas, the kit contains anointing oil and wood stakes, with Scripture verses on them, to drive into the borders of a property.

“Use it and make the enemy flee!” Shultz promised his Elijah List readers in an advertisement for the kit, sent on October 16, 2006. Shultz personally vouched for the kit, saying he’s cleansed his own 20 acres of land three or four times and, each time, has seen “a noticeable change in the atmosphere and circumstances.” He said curses are the only explanation for “certain sicknesses, diseases, and even death that comes upon very anointed and pure‐hearted people.”

A companion book written by Malone—titled Portals to Cleansing: Taking Back Your Land from the Hands of the Enemy (Vision Life Publications, 2002)—is sold separately from the kit. It promises to teach readers the “keys to reclaiming [their] land, home, possessions and animals from the power of Satan and his demonic forces.” (See the book and kit at: www.elijahshopper.com.) The book recommends holding a communion ceremony at the center of a property—where family and friends gather inside a circle drawn on the ground with anointing oil—then burying the unused bread and juice or wine.

After following the book’s advice, Matthew Spencer posted a review on Amazon.com saying that his home had a new “peace” and “lightness of spirit.” Spencer said, “I no longer feel uneasy walking through the house in the dark. Honestly, it is a night and day difference.”

Marcia Montenegro, author of the book Spellbound: The Paranormal Seduction of Today’s Kids (Cook/Life Journey, 2006) and founder of the Web site “Christian Answers for the New Age,” however, said Christians don’t need to worry about curses since they aren’t emphasized in the Bible. Even if curses were a threat, though, she thinks the kit would be powerless against them.

“How is that going to remove curses?” said Montenegro, a former professional astrologer and occult practitioner who converted to Christianity. She told the Journal that the kit has more in common with an occult worldview, comparing the anointing oil and wood stakes to “amulets”—objects that occultists believe have powers to protect them from evil, disease, or other harm.

“[With the kit,] it’s like you’re engaging in the occult to protect yourself from [the occult],” Montenegro said, adding that occult practices are banned by the Bible in Deuteronomy 18:10–12. She believes that a biblical response to threats is prayer to God—which goes straight to the source of divine power—rather than relying on magic charms. “What happened to regular prayer?” she asked.

Amulets have a long history, according to Dr. Ron Rhodes, founder and president of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries in Frisco, Texas, and author of New Age Movement (Zondervan, 1995). The ancient Babylonians, for example, wore cylinders that were supposed to ward off evil spirits, Rhodes told the JOURNAL.

Today, New Agers wear crystals to ward off negative energies. The purpose of amulets—like all occult charms—is to harness and manipulate the power of a deity or the forces of nature, according to Rhodes. He sees this as the purpose behind the property dedication kit.

“It is definitely an example of paganism making its way into the church,” he said.

Third Heaven Vision Anointing Oil. Another top‐selling product for the Elijah List is “Third Heaven Vision Anointing Oil,” which is supposed to give visions of the heavenly realm. Sold by Tom Panich of Vancouver, Washington, it’s made with a base of virgin olive oil and six fragrances that are mentioned in the Bible: calamus, cassia, frankincense, myrrh, Rose of Sharon, and spikenard. A half‐ounce sells for $12.

Anointing oil often has been used by Christians on sick people—along with prayer—in accordance with a Scripture passage, James 5:14–15. Christians historically did not view the oil as having any special power, however; they saw its use simply as an act of faith in God. They also did not use the oil to induce visions or cleanse homes from evil, as it is used in the apostolic‐prophetic movement.

In this movement, different brands of oil are depicted as “anointed” and, therefore, as more powerful than other “non‐anointed” oils. For example, in the Elijah List’s first advertisement for Third Heaven Vision Anointing Oil, sent on March 22, 2004, Shultz said, “We’ve carried different anointing oils in the past. But I always try to carry anointing oil with true anointing on it. This oil fulfills that anointing ‘standard.’”

Panich—a graduate of Norvel Haye’s New Life Bible College in Cleveland, Tennessee—claims that, in 2003, God told him to make the oil. Panich said, later, he was in the shower one day when he was hit with “a lightning bolt of God’s Glory,” and the Holy Spirit gave him the name, “Third Heaven Vision.”

Panich said, “Every time I mix up a batch [of the oil], a strong anointing hits me and I shake vigorously…Also, on the occasions that I have put a full box (144 bottles) of the anointing oil in the hands of two separate strong intercessors, they have been hit by the power and anointing of the Lord, almost to the point of falling to the ground.”

Panich also recommends that the anointing oil be poured over the wood stakes from Malone’s property dedication kit, something Panich said he has tried. “After I drove the first stake into the ground, I felt the Presence of the Lord come across the yard, hit me, and then I almost fell over,” he wrote on the Elijah List (Oct. 16, 2006).

Such descriptions of anointing oil (as having magical power) concern Montenegro. She said that it’s one thing for Christians to use the oil symbolically, “but it’s another thing if you think that the oil itself is somehow going to magically protect you,” she said. “To think that an object in and of itself has power is [to think according to] an occult worldview.” Such a use of anointing oil reminds Montenegro of the New Age practice of burning sage to cleanse and bless houses, she said.

Dream Cards. The Elijah List also sells “Dream Cards,” created by Barbie Breathitt of “Breath of the Spirit Ministries,” based in North Richland Hills, Texas. The laminated cards contain common dream symbols—such as numbers, colors, and animals—and their interpretations. They are sold for $10 each or in sets of 6 and 12—for $50 and $96, respectively.

Breathitt’s Dream Cards are endorsed by Patricia King, the founder of Extreme Prophetic Television with Patricia King—a half‐hour program featuring well‐known “prophets” that airs on Canada’s Miracle Channel.

“So many believers are having significant dreams but do not always understand the significance of the symbols within them,” King said. “Barbie Breathitt has done a marvelous job of preparing dream cards as a tremendous tool to help this process.”

Besides dream interpretations, one of the cards lists colors and musical keys that are supposed to bring healing to specific body parts. The use of music and colors for healing is also promoted in occult circles, as on New York psychic Ellie Crystal’s Web site (http://www.crystalinks.com/colors.html).

Rhodes said that dream cards that are similar to Breathitt’s are common in New Age stores: “The idea that it [dream interpretation] is penetrating the Christian church is kind of scary,” he said, adding that this represents a growing acceptance of mysticism among Christians.

Rhodes admits that the Bible records times when God’s people, like Daniel, interpreted dreams. He says that in those cases, however, they always made it clear that God gave them the interpretations, not dream cards.

Montenegro, who knew dream interpreters before she became a Christian, said that the assignment of meanings to symbols is subjective. “Who’s going to say what represents what? You can make anything be a symbol for anything,” she said, adding that the people she knew couldn’t agree on the meanings of symbols.

Besides being a waste of time, dream interpretation can encourage egotism, according to Montenegro. “If you start focusing so heavily on your dreams and think everything has a meaning, it leads to self‐ absorption,” she said.

Prophetic Worship CDs. Another growing industry is “prophetic” worship CDs—combinations of music, teachings, and prophecies that are supposed to bring healing, visions, and supernatural encounters just by listening to them. Many of the CDs are recorded in live settings, where the musicians and “prophets” perform spontaneously, without preparation. They, allegedly, are taken over by the Holy Spirit—composing music and lyrics that come from the “throne room of God.”

One of these CDs, sold by the Elijah List for $15, is called Invitation to Intimacy. It was recorded by James W. Goll, the cofounder of Encounters Network in Tulsa, Oklahoma, while he was “caught up into another realm,” according to the advertisement. The CD contains over an hour of “prophetic, spontaneous worship and teaching with keyboard and instrumentation in the background.”

Divine encounters are offered by Ryan Wyatt’s CD, titled The Overshadowing. Wyatt—founder of Abiding Glory Ministries in Seymour, Tennessee—urges his listeners to “sit back and relax as you are taken into the Open Heavens and experience Visions of God! Rest under the wing of God as He overshadows and saturates you with His thick, weighty, intoxicating presence!”

CDs that offer physical healing include one by “prophetic revivalist” Matt Sorger of Seldon, New York, titled Healing in His Wings. The advertisement says the CD combines instrumental music and many other “heavenly sounds, healing scriptures, spontaneous healing prayers and prophetic song.” It claims to be a “powerful combination of both the biblical healing word and the manifest healing presence of Christ.” Another CD by Canadian “prophet” Todd Bentley, titled The Voice of Healing, promises to “bring the transferable, tangible healing anointing and atmosphere to your home, hospital room, or healing service.”

The concept of music or teaching that is composed directly by the Holy Spirit alarms Rhodes. “That whole idea assumes a direct pipeline to God,” he said, adding that if someone claims to receive revelation from God, then it needs to be perfectly consistent with the Bible. “But oftentimes it’s not,” he said.

Rhodes also objects to the idea that an anointing can be transferred through a CD, saying, “There is definitely a pagan connection there—a transference of anointing or power or energy.”

Rhodes said that New Agers also have released music they claimed was inspired by the Holy Spirit, but they redefined the Holy Spirit in non‐Christians terms—as a nonpersonal force rather than as one of the three Persons of the Godhead. In the same way, people in the church sometimes redefine the Holy Spirit, Rhodes added. “Just because someone is talking about the Holy Spirit doesn’t mean it’s the Holy Spirit you and I know from the Bible,” he said.

Hocus Focus. Rhodes suspects that many of the people who sell dream cards, prophetic music, and similar products are motivated by a love of money—something the Bible warns against in places such as 1 Timothy 6:10. “People are capitalizing on, and ripping off, gullible people,” he said.

Rhodes believes the biggest danger for Christians, however, is not being conned out of cash, but being deceived by a magical worldview that diverts their focus. “Their attention is being taken off of God and put onto objects and potions,” he said.

Holly Pivec holds an M.A. in Christian apologetics from Biola University and is the managing editor of Biola Connections. She has a blog at spiritoferror.wordpress.com, which examines the apostolic and prophetic movement.