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ACCURATE DESCRIPTIONS OF WICCA IN CHRISTIAN WEB SITES

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An overview of accurate portrayals of Wicca by Christian authors:

When this essay was originally written in 1996, there were many dozens of essays about Wicca located on Christian web sites. Unfortunately, almost all shared a number of problems:

bulletThey did not treat Wicca as a valid religious/spiritual path -- a serious group with a contribution to make to society.
bulletThey viewed Wicca as anti-Christian instead of non-Christian
bulletThey confused Wicca with two Hebrew and Greek words in the Bible which described evil sorcery or murderers in the original texts, but were often translated as "witchcraft" in English translations of the Bible.
bulletMost of the information in the articles were derived from other, often older, Christian sources, rather than from original Wiccan source material.

In addition, many of the Christian essays treated Wicca as a form of Satanism.

These were serious deficiencies, for two main reasons:

bulletBy misrepresenting Wicca, the authors inhibited the effectiveness of their fellow believers' promotion of the Great Commission -- converting the world to Christianity. By presenting an inaccurate vision of Wicca, Christians were ill prepared to evangelize Wiccans and other Neopagans. Their outreach was seriously handicapped.
bulletAlso by misrepresenting Wicca, the authors were increasingly viewed as sources of religious intolerance and inaccurate information. This lessened their credibility among the general public.

In 1996, shortly after this web site was founded, we were only able to find two essays on the Internet which described Wicca with reasonable accuracy:

bulletOne was by J.C. Taylor, an Eastern Orthodox Christian;
bulletThe other was by Philip Johnson, a Christian leader from Australia.

Both condemned their fellow Christians for inaccuracies and hatred in their treatment of Wiccans.

In recent years, many positive, accurate articles about Wicca have appeared on Christian web sites. A sampling appears below. Some of these essays may be a very useful resource which Wiccans can give to Christians in order to counter anti-Wiccan biases, misinformation and propaganda:

bulletConservative Christians may regard these articles as credible sources of information because they are written by one of their own.
bulletThey are mostly comprehensive and fair in their description of Wicca.

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J.C. Taylor:

Taylor, an Eastern Orthodox Christian, wrote an essay:  "A Christian speaks of Wicca and Witchcraft." He argues that Wiccans worship a Goddess and God which are aspects of an unknowable deity. Taylor equates the latter deity with "the unknown God" who Paul refers to in Acts 17:22-23. Paul, in turn, equates the unknown God with the Christian God. Thus, Taylor concludes that in worshiping the Goddess and God, Wiccans are really worshiping the Christian Trinity. He criticizes his fellow Christians for slandering an persecuting Wiccans. He wrote:

"Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, these people of Wicca have been terribly slandered by us. They have lost jobs, and homes, and places of business because we have assured others that they worship Satan, which they do not. We have persecuted them, and God will hold us accountable for this, you may be sure, for He has said, 'Assuredly I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' (Matthew 25:40) " 1

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Philip Johnson:

Phillip Johnson of the New Age Mission in Australia wrote an essay titled: "The Way of Wicca." 2 He wrote that Wiccans do not sacrifice human or animals. They deny the existence of Satan. They follow many different traditions; they follow "a very affirming spirituality that speaks to female sensitivities." Wiccans "draw on earth magic to facilitate healing from illnesses."  He feels that Wicca challenges Christianity to recognize the feminine content and the immanence of the Trinity. In studying Wicca, Christians can also be challenged in their attitudes towards the environment, sexism, celibacy, and healing. This is a positive and thought-provoking essay. Johnson writes that "Christians must strive not to bear false witness about Wiccans." He criticizes the Christian authors of many of the books about Wicca:

bullet"...there is often scant attention paid to primary sources. It is a basic principle of scholarship that one always goes to the original sources before commencing any interpretation."
bulletBefore writing about Wicca, "Christians need to meet personally with Wiccans to ascertain what they accept and practice, and then to read Wiccan literature"

Philip Johnson describes a number of theological topics where Wiccans and Christians differ: their concept of deity, the immanence and transcendence of deity, creation of the universe, sacred sites, sexuality and spirituality, healing, community of hope, and Christ as the fulfillment of Wicca.

He concludes with a list of 11 primary Wiccan sources and five sources of "other views."

Johnson later devoted an entire section of his web site to the topic of "Wiccans and Christians: some mutual challenges." Unlike so many other Christian material on Wicca, he treats Wicca as a serious spiritual tradition and bases his writing on Neopagan source material. 7

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Spiritwatch Ministries:

Rafael Martinez, a Co-director of Spiritwatch Ministries has written what is perhaps the most accurate description of Wicca ever composed by a Christian. He describes its growth, and its establishment as a generally-recognized major religion. He explodes three of the most common misconceptions about Wicca:

bulletWicca is a form of Satanism; Wiccans worship the Judeo-Christian devil
bulletWiccans are evil.
bulletWicca is a mind-control cult.

On the negative side, he does express concern that Wicca will lure "thousands (if not millions) away from the One True God who created them to exalt false deities that seek their worship. Wiccans may not have any animosity towards Christianity or Christians, but their choice in embracing their religion, we feel, is still essentially serving Satan, even if acknowledgment of his reality is never given in pagan rituals." 8 These may sound like hars words. However, Martinez is simply following a common conservative Christian belief that all faith groups which do not lead people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as Lord and savior will doom those individuals to eternal torture in Hell. Thus, all faith groups other than those in the conservative wing of Protestantism are, in effect, serving Satan.

The essay describes many of the components of Wicca: its deity structure, magick, awareness of the cycles of nature, belief in reincarnation and karma, celebration of sabbats and esbats, and its rituals. He attributes the lure of Wicca to three factors: experiential, personal and pragmatic. He describes both solitary practitioners and covens.

He concludes with an appeal for an appropriate response by conservative Christians to Wicca: "As with the emergence of any religion that establishes a rival truth, Christians have many grave concerns with witchcraft that demand answers and response. We do not refer to the paranoiac and knee jerk demonization we have carefully qualified earlier in this article..." 8

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Watchman Fellowship:

The Watchman Fellowship Inc. has a reasonably accurate description of Wicca on their web site. They are a counter-cult group whose main function is to expose what they regard to be "cults." They are not referring here to dangerous, destructive, doomsday faith groups that have caused loss of life among their members. That is how the media commonly use the term. Rather, they generally define "cult" as any Christian group with beliefs different from those of historical, conservative Christianity. They refer to some older, well established faith groups, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), Christian Science, the Jehovah's Witnesses etc., as cults. When describing Wicca, they appear to use an alternative definition of "cult" -- any religion which differs from their own.

Their essay on Wicca is reasonably accurate, at least when compared to many other attempts by Christians to describe Wicca. 3 However, it has a few deficiencies:

bulletIt does not mention the core, defining behavioral beliefs of Wiccans, including the Wiccan Rede and the Threefold Law.
bulletIt does not mention that many, perhaps most, Wiccans are solitary practitioners, not members of covens.
bulletIt over-emphasizes the role of organized traditions within Wicca such as Gardnerian, Alexandrian, and Dianic traditions; they do not mention that many, perhaps most, Wiccans are currently eclectic and not align themselves with organized traditions.
bulletIt implies that Wicca and Witchcraft are synonyms. Although the former has a fairly well defined meaning, the latter has many different and often mutually exclusive definitions -- mostly negative. It has been used to refer to anyone from Satanists, African native healers, homicidal poisoners, etc. to Wiccans.
bulletThey quote Bible verses to show that Wicca is condemned. Actually, the Bible passages quoted refer to women using spoken curses to harm people, and murderers who use poison to commit homicide. These activities are unrelated to Wicca. In fact, all actions which harm others are forbidden to Wiccans by the Wiccan Rede.

A detailed assessment of the Watchman Fellowship's essay on Wicca is available.

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Loren Wilkinson:

He wrote an essay in 1999 on Neopaganism for Christianity Today -- the leading periodical among Evangelical Christians. The essay forms part of an upcoming book: Circles and the Cross. As of 2001-JUN, the book has not been published. He has clearly researched his essay carefully, and consulted primary sources extensively.  Some inaccuracies and biases crept into his essay:

bulletWilkinson discussed the origin of the name of the religion. "(Wicca comes from witch and means one who works with natural forces by shaping or bending them. Thus, the word is closely related to wicker, not wicked.)" Actually, there is a debate among Wiccans whether "Wicca" originates from that source, or whether it originally came from a root which meant "wise one."
bulletHe notes that a popular Christian response to Wicca as to "affirm the sincerity of neopagan spirituality." He calls this "wrong," because it is consistent with religious pluralism. Religious bigotry and intolerance is minimized in a multi-faith culture such as our own if we can at least affirm the sincerity of other religions and spiritual paths, even though we cannot accept them as truth.
bulletHe inserts snide and judgmental comments about Wicca and Wiccans in his essay. For example:
bullet"Interest in paganism is not limited to the West Coast, where some religious flakiness is expected."
bullet"...neopaganism, like all religions, is a dead end unless it leads to a knowledge of God through Jesus.
bullet"Christians need to see how the neopagan thirst for spirituality and the sacred can be filled—not from the stagnant pools of our own inwardness, but from the water of life that only Jesus gives."
bulletWilkinson is concerned about the Wiccan circle: "...the 'magic circle' in neopaganism is always for the purpose of using power." He overlooks the major themes of Wiccan circle work: reaching a state of harmony with nature, and using whatever power is generated within the circle by ritual for positive ends, primarily healing.
bulletHe deals extensively with one Pagan concept which views oneself and God as one: "...the self, [as] the ultimate divinity..." He implies that this is the Pagan view of deity. In fact, Neopagans have many contrasting views of deity. Some are quite close to the Christian belief of a deity which is both transcendent and  immanent.

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Lutheran Theological Journal: 2002-DEC:

This is an excellent article on Neopaganism. Unlike almost all Christian essays on Neopaganism, Wicca, and related topics, this article is actually based on primary source material written by Neopagans themselves. The article advocates serious dialogue, which the author believes requires "that one exercise a hermeneutic of respect in the attempt to understand another faith. St Paul obviously spent time with the Athenians, reading their poets and watching people at worship before daring to address them....Only in this way can Christians begin to dialogue with pagans....We need to put aside fifteen hundred years of offhanded dismissal and listen to pagans as having something intellectually serious and spiritually viable to say. This does not mean agreeing with them but having enough respect to listen and learn." 6

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References:

  1. J.C. Taylor, "A Christian speaks of Wicca and Witchcraft," at http://www.wicca.com/
  2. Phillip Johnson, "The Way of Wicca," New Age Mission, at http://www.shootthemessenger.com.au/
  3. "Witchcraft / Wicca," The Watchman Fellowship at: http://www.watchman.org/
  4. Loren Wilkinson, "The Bewitching Charms of Neopaganism: The movement rejects Christianity, but we may discover surprising openings for the gospel," at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/
  5. The Killing of Witches: A Chronicle of the Burning Times is a list of names of women and men killed because they were suspected of being witches (12th Century to 1997 CE). They, along with victims whose names are unknown, total over 265,000. See: http://www.primenet.com/
  6. "Neopaganism: Is dialogue possible?," Lutheran Theological Journal, 2002-DEC-01. Online at YellowBrix.com. See: http://yellowbrix.com/
  7. Philip Johnson, "Wiccans and Christians: some mutual challenges," at:  http://jesus.com.au/library/wicca/index.php
  8. Rafael Martinez, "Out Of The Broom Closet - Witchcraft Today (Part 1 of 2)," Spiritwatch Ministries, at: http://www.spiritwatch.org/

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Copyright © 1998 to 2004 incl., by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Extracted from chr_int.htm on 2001-JUN-18
Latest update: 2004-JUL-25
Author: B.A. Robinson

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