Witchcraft in church
One of the most visited pages on this website is this one on witchcraft in the church. While I am not especially interested in the subject of witchcraft, I am becoming increasingly aware of its use in church settings and it goes a long way to explain things that occur that are difficult to explain otherwise. The human heart is "desperately wicked, who can know it?" says Jeremiah 17:9.
In this article I want to look specifically at the issue of manipulation and its use in the context of church and church ministry.
Witchcraft has a goal of domination, of achieving your goals at the expense of others. It uses two main, words-based, techniques - Manipulation and Intimidation.
Manipulation Using words and actions to bring about control. You will see this at work in a young child, even a baby, trying to assert its will over the mother.
Intimidation For those who have strength but little ability with words, intimidation is a weapon
What specifically triggered my attention was an article I found on the internet news about the trauma people experienced in leaving their faith.
“I had a major breakdown at the end of 2019. Religion was the cause and I’m struggling to find my identity at the moment,” he says. “I want to tell my family, but I just can’t because I know the effects it would have on me and them.
Losing my religion: facing the trauma of leaving a faith
“Saturday mornings when we went preaching door-to-door were an emotional rollercoaster of fear, anxiety and praise,” D’Souza says. “But I was indoctrinated to believe that I would live forever, in paradise, on Earth.”
Recovering from Religion is a self help community for people traumatised by their experiences with their religion. Today RfR has 252 members, with those who have been associated with Pentecostalism, the Anglican and Baptist churches and the Jehovah’s Witnesses dominating the group.
With trauma ranging from depression, fear, suicide, mental breakdown, marriage breakup and murder, this is no trivial matter for many.
The video below is the basis for understanding what is going on here. Derek Prince (at the one hour mark) looks at manipulation in practice in the church.
Appeals for money
using harrowing descriptions of poverty, war or disease to create an emotional empathy for victims in order to encourage people to give uses guilt
statements like "you will receive your healing if you make a large donation" exploits hope
threats that if you leave this church you will never prosper exploits fear
demands for unquestioning loyalty, if you disobey me you are disobeying God exploits trust
make a covenant that everyone signs to, if you fail you are a covenant breaker exploits reputation or honour
All of these types of statements are lies that distort the virtue, by creating a Satanic substitute that is enforced by manipulation.
An indication of a cult is where there is a demand for loyalty and a covenant. I remember visiting a church that was run along the lines of a multi-level network marketing operation where members were co-erced into tithing and introducing new members each week to keep the scheme growing. The pastor had once been a surgeon but obviously found this was more lucrative. I only went there once but met others that had left because they could not handle the pressure to perform.
using gift of tongues and interpretation to tell the pastor "from God" what he needed to do
controlling people by prayer, praying that someone will do what you want them to do
charismatic fortune telling, giving a flattering prophecy that appeals to someone's pride in order to get financial gain or spiritual authority
Ezekiel 12: 24
For there shall no longer be any false vision or flattering divination within the house of Israel.
Benny Hinn reaches out his hand
This is such a well known exploitation that there is no need to explain it except to add that, where a minister uses his authority to take advantage of those who are in his care, it is a gross breach of trust that has devastated people, churches and even whole organisations.
Proverbs 7 warns about the seductress who uses flattery and her charms to ensnare the unwise.
With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. 22 Right away he follows her, and goes like an ox to the slaughter, or bounds like a stag towards the trap until an arrow pierces its entrails. He is like a bird rushing into a snare, not knowing that it will cost him his life.
There are even websites that are created to list these events
It is often the case that the charismatic church leader is most vulnerable to a fall when at the height of their glory, as though the devil, or God, gives them a long leash, allowing their demise to be a costly one.
Witchcraft's ultimate goal is to hide the victory of Calvary from those within the church in order to make them ineffective.
Antidote to manipulation
open rebuke, exposure of wrongdoing
2 Corinthians 12: 9-12
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Proverbs 27: 5
Better is open rebuke than hidden love
Why highlight wrongdoing?
Luke 12:3 CEV
What you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops.
The church like every organisation likes to hide its evil behind a wall of silence. By exposing wrong openly and loudly:
- we make sure the victims are not blamed Ravi Zacharias accused victim of extortion
- the perpetrator is called to take ownership of their wrong Mark Driscoll refuses to acknowledge wrongs
- the perpetrator can repent and ask for forgiveness of those they have wronged Jack Hayford on restoration
- arbitration for restitution or compensation can be established
I may expand on this later with a look at the lives of King Saul, King David and his son Absalom as told in the wonderful short story book on brokeness 'A Tale of Three Kings' by Gene Edwards.