WHICH WITCH IS WHICH
As we have been following the development of spiritual warfare from the book of Acts on we have seen the tendency to take the focus on Jesus’ power as given to all who follow Him and putting it on special people, rituals or objects. Some of these spiritual superstitions started losing their power as civilization moved out of the dark ages and into a time of awakening (1300-1500 AD). Many changes in and out of the church started taking root. However, the mere rebirth of the naturalistic approach did not signal the end of spiritual warfare, which actually continued to be the prevailing school of thought concerning man’s maladies for several centuries to come. Indeed, the greatest excesses in the area of spiritual warfare were yet to come.
Prior to the fifteenth century there were two types of demonizing recognized: willing and unwilling. The former referred to the practice of witchcraft, as the participants willingly subjected themselves to temporary demonizing. The latter referred to cases in which the subjects were unwillingly demonized, which was thought to be some sort of divine punishment for sins. However, in the course of time this distinction was dropped so that all cases of demonizing were regarded as being willing, the consequence of practicing witchcraft. All subjects of demonizing were now regarded as witches.
By the latter part of the fifteenth century, Europe had sustained several natural disasters, such as storms, floods, and pestilences (the Black Plague, etc.). In reaction, society seized upon the idea that it was witches who had caused these disasters. Before long, witches were also accused of causing the personal problems of individuals. Therefore, to purge the world of this civil menace, Pope Innocent VIII passed legislation in 1484 A.D. to eradicate witchcraft. This launched the witch hunts which soon became the joint effort of Catholics, Protestants, and secularists. These hunts were to last about two centuries. It has been estimated that several hundred thousand people perished in these hunts, many of whom were first tortured. While there must have been some true demonic activity involved in all this witchcraft, most of what happened was an overreaction which took many innocent lives.
This is an example of how far man can drift from the truth when he doesn’t stay rooted in God’s Word as the one and only infallible authority for us today. When current philosophies and man’s ideas and opinions are allowed to overrule the Bible you know error will come. God’s Word is not just history or something from the past. It is still God’s true guideline for us today. It is His command to be learned and obeyed.