Monthly Archives: January 2016

Superstitious Christianity

charles-spurgeon-scan“To prostrate reason before the throne of superstition is slavery indeed.”

-Charles Spurgeon

Social media has fostered the spread of Christian superstitions.  I am not saying that Christianity is superstitious.  I am saying that many Christians are superstitious.

A “Superstition” is “a belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge, in or of the ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance, occurrence, proceeding, or the like.”  It is also “any blindly accepted belief or notion.”

For a lot of Christians they treat Christianity like a superstition.  I have seen several Facebook posts from pages like “Herty Borngreat Music” that exemplify this superstitious Christianity.  One particular post featured a representation of Jesus and the message was “I will bless the hand that types ‘Amen.'”  Several people enthusiastically obeyed the command in hopes of being blessed.  This superstition treats Jesus like a genie to be summoned anytime someone types “Amen.”

superstition2

I find it funny that the hand that “type” this meme made a typographical error.  If Jesus were really speaking, would he make that mistake?

In doing research for this post, I came across a blog that concluded Christians are more superstitious than non-Christians.  He drew his conclusion from a false premise.  The reason Christians were more superstitious is because, he believed, that “suppression of critical thinking, and the encouragement to believe things without justification” is a “central Christian doctrine.”

He reached an incorrect conclusion (Christians are more superstitious than non-Christians) because his premise (Christianity discourages critical thinking) is false.  First of all, how can you quantify “more superstitious” anyway?  Is it calculated by the number of superstitious beliefs or by the severity of the superstition?  Although I agree that some (too many) Christians are superstitious, Christians do not hold a monopoly on A black cat, ladder, magpie and broken mirrorsuperstition.  How often have you heard someone say “This (bad thing) hasn’t happened, yet” and then followed that up with a “Knock on wood”?  Supposedly knocking on wood (or saying you’re knocking on wood) protects you from that bad thing happening.

What about avoiding the number 13, or black cats, or walking under ladders, or breaking mirrors, or having the groom see the bride before the wedding?  What about spilling the salt?  Ironically, bad things came to Harry Dunne, not after spilling the salt, but after taking a superstitious action to avoid the bad things from spilling the salt.

How about all those silly sports superstitions like not stepping on the chalk line on the baseball field when entering and exiting the playing field, or playoff beards in hockey?

Let us not forget the whole superstitious empire of Walt Disney.  His corporation has given us the superstitious sentiments of Jiminy Cricket that “When you wish a upon a star…Anything your heart desires will come to you” and the superstitious song of Cinderella “If you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.”  Disney preaches that “if you just believe, good things will happen to you.”  No, I don’t think Christians are more superstitious than non-Christians.

The author of the above-mentioned blog, however, is correct about one thing: a lot of Christians are superstitious.  Mostly, these superstitions are about protection from harm or for “claiming” blessings.  Some Christians are superstitious when it comes to the number 666.  Let some weak-minded Christians get $6.66 in change or a “666” on their license plate and watch them become apoplectic (not literally of course).  These silly Christians believe that accepting money or a license plate with three consecutive sixes brands them with the mark of the beast.  (However did Christians survive the year AD 666?)  Frankly, I was unaware the Beast had come and established his mark.  Perhaps I’ve been reading the wrong Facebook memes.

superstition4Silly Christian, 666 is simply the number that follows 665.  Even when the Anti-Christ establishes his mark, 666 will still just be a number.  Accepting $6.66 in change under the rule of the Anti-Christ will not subject you with the Anti-Christ’s mark.  You cannot inadvertently accept the mark. (Although, scripture says that in the last days you will not be able to buy or sell unless you have the mark, so if you were to get $6.66 in change under the rule of the Anti-Christ you will have already taken the mark.)

Another superstition Christians fall into is to avoid stating unpleasant truths.  Someone will cough and say “I think I’m getting sick.”  A superstitious Christian will then reply “Don’t claim that!  Claim that you are healthy.”  These superstitious Christians believe that by not saying “it,” “it” won’t happen.  Don’t say you’re sick, otherwise you’ll get sick.  These silly, foolish Christians are like ignorant children who place their hands over their eyes and think no one can see them.

Foolish Christian, there is no causal connection between saying you are getting sick and getting sick.  There is no causal connection between saying “Amen” and getting blessings.  In fact Elijah battled just such superstitions of the prophets of Baal.  In I Kings 18, Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel.  These superstitious priests cried out to Baal from morning till noon, dancing on the altar, cutting themselves with their swords.  Elijah mocked their superstitious efforts. “Maybe you should cry louder.  Perhaps your god is sleeping and needs to be awakened.  Maybe he is on a journey and needs to be summoned back home.”  The priests of Baal exhausted themselves, having failed to ignite the sacrifice with their superstitions.

Another superstitious Facebook post I’ve seen stated “God’s going to put you on somebody’s mind who’s in a position to restore what you lost.”  These Facebook memes often are meant to motivate us emotionally, but we are also called to use our minds.  If a Facebook post does not line up with scripture we should disregard it as a lie even if it makes us feel good.

“God’s going to put you on somebody’s mind who’s in a position to restore what you lost” sounds more like something you find in a fortune cookie than you find in scripture.  It feels good to think we will get back what we lost but God doesn’t operate through vague, anonymous posts. God said his Word will not return to him void.  The one posting this Facebook meme does not know the people reading it, yet he insists these anonymous people read it and accept as if it is God’s specific Word to them.  This approach to prophecy is like throwing stuff on the wall to see what sticks.  This is the stuff false prophets are made of.  At best this post is merely wishful thinking, at worst it is akin to a horoscope.superstition1

Christianity is not about God meeting our needs or making us comfortable.  It is about our redemption and then our obedience.  We are guaranteed this Christian life will bring us trouble and pain, but we trust in the One who is able to deliver us.  Constantly telling ourselves that God wants to make us happy and prosperous conditions us to believe in lies and doubt God when we face pain and suffering.  Reposting such Facebook memes are not spreading God’s word.  They may actually lead people astray.

Far from being a superstitious religion, Christianity is the antidote for superstition.  Scripture is filled with commands to use our minds to think.  “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2.  Jesus told us that we must love him with all our minds. Matthew 22:37.  Peter affirmed in 2 Peter 1:16 that “We did not follow cleverly contrived myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; instead, we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”  The apostles dealt in facts and evidence, not in mystical incantations or spells.  Christianity is not about saying the right things at the right time.  Christianity is about using our minds to follow the evidence to the truth.

Christianity is not about believing in something without the evidence.  Christianity is not a blind faith, where if we believe hard enough we can make something true.  No amount of wishful thinking can create truth. Too many Christians are like Lloyd Christmas, trying to create truth merely by using the right words.  “Cannot. Triple stamped it. No erasies. Touch blue make it true.”  No amount of confession or even sincerity will create truth.  Superstition, however, is an attempt to create truth.

Christianity, however, is about believing the truth, not creating it.  Truth either exists or it doesn’t.  It cannot be created through using the right words.  The Church needs to grow up from superstitions.  Too often Christians look like Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne, arguing over triple-stamping a double stamp, and touching blue to make it true.

Let us use our minds to proclaim truth with our words instead of using our words to create truth for our minds.

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