Pastor Bryan Hodge joins Bone of Bones again this week in part two of our discussion on the biblical response to the seemingly unexplainable. In last week’s post, we discussed aliens, astral projection, and sleep paralysis “demons” (to name a few), and how we as Christians should think about and respond to these phenomenon.
Amber Frederick: This is a softball question, but can Christians be witches? I ask because there’s been a growing trend on TikTok (in both secular and evangelical circles) called WitchTok (haha, get it?), wherein professing witches get together to discuss all things witchcraft. There are literally people claiming to be both Christian and a witch.
Bryan Hodge: Much like the desire for knowledge through occultic means, witches desire power through occultic means which sometimes includes rebelliously acquired knowledge as well. It is the desire to be a god and control things that God has not granted to humans to control through the world that He gave them. Hence, witches have to tap into knowledge and powers given to them through spirits, again, human or otherwise. The Christian is to ask God to move things that are immoveable for him or her, not seek God’s power that has not been granted to them.
We must rely on God as the One who controls all things and not seek to circumvent a submissive relationship with Him through His Word because we want to direct our lives and the lives of others in contrary ways. The Scripture is clear that witchcraft is forbidden and that any witch is to be put to death because it is an abomination to God (no, we should not be putting witches to death today). God gives us the Holy Spirit to become like Him in His character and Who sometimes does miraculous things through us in order to exalt Jesus Christ as Lord and to save sinners, but witchcraft is carried out through demonic spirits and is therefore of the devil’s religion from which we are to keep ourselves.
AF: Another occult activity infiltrating the church is the use of Angel Boards to talk to angelic beings. This is another softball question, but seeing as it’s becoming a problem in some churches, why should Christians stay away from angel boards?
BH: I’ve only had a few encounters with people that I would consider truly possessed by demons. Most people you would think are possessed are just mentally ill or under the influence of drugs. But the few cases that I have experienced where I would consider it legitimate, always included someone playing around with a Ouija board. The Angel Board is just a variation of it. Again, it is an occultic means through which one seeks to access a spirit of some sort in order to get secret knowledge. Talking to the dead, demons, another god, etc. are all forbidden by God and are simply vehicles of opening up oneself to the demonic influences and possessions of the devil, and is a threat to the person and their community. It also carried with it, therefore, the death penalty in Scripture. Attempting to access God this way is also a rebellion, as it ignores the Scripture He has already given and sees it as insufficient, as though God forgot to tell us something we needed to know.
AF: Many people claim to have seen visions of Jesus. You hear this often in conversion stories of former Muslims. They saw a vision or had a dream about Jesus (seemingly without the gospel) and became a Christian. What are your thoughts on these claims? Can you become a Christian by having a dream or vision of Jesus?
BH: I have heard these stories as well. Of course, we know that Christ can appear to anyone in a vision to whom He wants to reveal Himself. He does so to Paul, Peter, Stephen, etc. The question is whether this is the norm. We know the norm is that those who come to Christ must do so through hearing the gospel and that this gospel needs a preacher. Humans are sent to do this job and it is not normal for Christ to do it. But has He done this? Yes, as the Scripture tells us. I would just want to know beyond this what gospel is preached, what religion develops from it, and if any other messages come along with it that are contrary to Scripture, etc. The Scripture, we know, has the message of God, and must always be used to judge any subsequent message claiming to be of Christ.
AF: Hallucinogenic drugs have been used for recreational and spiritual purposes since the dawn of time. And while many of these hallucinations are written off as the ravings of mad men, there seems to be a real spiritual component to it. Many of the gods in Hindu and Aztec/Mayan cultures were “discovered” while under the influence of drugs and many of these gods can only be accessed or communed with by taking certain drugs. Ayahuasca has risen in popularity recently and people who take it claim to see demons and even be possessed by them. Even drugs as seemingly harmless as Marijuana (you can name alcohol among these types of drugs, too) have been known to have a spiritual side-effect. So, can drugs cause demonic possession/oppression and do you believe people are actually accessing another realm or spiritual dimension when they partake of these drugs?
BH: This is similar to the questions concerning dreams and astral projection. Drugs have the ability to move one into a trance-like state that puts one into a greater connection to the unseen realm. I actually think this is the greatest danger of drugs and alcohol, greater than even doing some sin because we lack restraint in that state (even though that is a great danger). Hence, Christians are commanded to stay away from anything that would put them in this type of drunken state. This is why Paul contrasts being drunk with being controlled by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). The contrast is being under the influence of the Holy Spirit versus a state where we can be under the influence of the demonic. As you’ve stated, many false religions were created under the influence of drunkenness and drugs.
AF: This last question (questions) is about music. I grew up hearing that Satan was the head of music in heaven before his fall — that in fact his body was composed of musical instruments. Is Satan described as such anywhere in scripture? Secondly, because of this belief, many believe that Satan is still in charge of music, which is why the music industry is so wicked, with musicians supposedly selling their soul to Satan for fame. Can one “sell their soul” to Satan? As Christians what should we be cautious of when we listen to secular music?
BH: Well, we all know that he plays a fiddle and often looks for a soul to steal, especially when he’s in Georgia. In all seriousness, traditionally, Ezekiel 28:13 in some texts reads something like “the workmanship of your timbrels and pipe instruments were prepared for you on the day you were created.” From this, people who take Ezekiel 28 as a reference, either literally or typologically, of the devil and his fall understand him to have been in charge of these instruments and that even his body is composed of instruments.
This text is difficult to translate in Hebrew and the manuscripts do not all agree here. I personally don’t think Ezekiel 28 is about the devil at all, but is rather about the King of Tyre, and the imagery being used is more of Adam than the devil. But, there is a lot of disagreement on this. Either way, however, it would be quite a stretch to say that secular music is evil for that reason. It may be evil for other reasons but it does not logically follow from that idea. First, if the devil was in charge of all music and he was corrupted, then wouldn’t all music be evil now? Second, the secular music industry is evil because it sings of evil things and gives no glory to God when it sings of good things. So, it doesn’t need the devil in charge to do any harm. If one wants to argue that Satan is in charge of everything evil, then I guess we could say that, but he doesn’t need to have been in charge of music in heaven for that to be true.
As for the question as to whether the devil can possess one through music or sell their soul to the devil by the music they listen to, I would say that people have already sold their souls to the devil through the Fall. They already belong to him. He doesn’t need to buy them again. We are all Faust. What I would say to Christians is to evaluate music and see what can be redeemed and what must be thrown away. Christians who mindlessly listen to music without realizing that music is teaching them to think and live a particular way, arousing certain desires and applications of those desires within them that are contrary to God, inciting them toward violence (or moving one’s spirit to a violent mood), or is simply keeping one’s mind on superficial or alternatives to living in the presence of God, are involved in the devil’s anti-sanctification program.
We should think twice about what we listen to, but this is also true of what we watch, what conversations we choose to engage in, and what we think about, etc. I wouldn’t exclude music but I wouldn’t limit the devil’s influence to it alone either.
Wow! Does anyone else feel like a burden has been lifted off of them? The weight of these (until now) unanswered questions have plagued my mind, and at times filled me with fear. It’s comforting to know that God has revealed to us through the Bible, everything we need to know to live holy, righteous, and victorious Christians lives. We don’t need to (and should not) delve into unseen realms–realms we were never meant to roam.
Even more comforting is the fact that our great enemy, the Devil and his minions, cower before the throne of God. Ghosts, ghouls, goblins, and things that go bump in the night are no match for He who rules both day and night…our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Until next time, salutations and selah.
Bryan C. Hodge is an Elder at Trinity Reformed Church in Las Vegas. He holds a B.A. in Biblical Theology from Moody Bible Institute and an M.A. in Old Testament and Semitic Languages from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. At this same school, he also received Candidacy for an M.A. in New Testament, and achieved Candidacy for the ThM in New Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary.
A husband and father of nine children, when he’s not at the pulpit teaching, defending the faith, and affirming Christ through what has been historically maintained as Orthodox Christianity, he’s doing the exact same thing on his blog Theological Sushi: Theology Served Raw.