Examples of Occultism in Our World and the Church

By: Dave Hunt; ©2000
Dave Hunt explains that new age beliefs may be more wide-spread than you might think. How can you recognize what is happening. Mr. Hunt gives examples from our modern society..

Examples of Occultism in Our World and in the Church

(from Occult Invasion, Harvest House, 1998)

Occultism in Our Modern World Remains Unchanged

Occult practices abound today in every culture around the world. On the roof garden of a fashionable Istanbul hotel, wealthy businessmen (who also regularly pray in Islam’s time-honored way) consult a spiritualist at their monthly meeting, while at home their wives “read” the coffee grounds left in their breakfast cups. Both practices are forbidden by Islam. In Romania, former top Communist officials who in Iron Curtain days had Indian yogis brought into the country as part of a circus to be secretly consulted can now practice oc­cultism openly. In Beverly Hills, an attorney and his college professor guest and their wives rest their fingers lightly on an empty, overturned wineglass after dinner and watch expect­antly as it is impelled across the table by some unseen power to provide amazing answers to their earliest questions. In New York, driven by the same compulsion, a successful Wall Street trader consults his astrologer to determine when to buy or sell.

In Kenya, after ritual dancing and drumbeating, a Luo tribe witch doctor, with the ap­proval of the United Nations World Health Organization, listens as ancestral spirits speak through patients in deep trance. At the same time, on Long Island, an Episcopal priest and several of his parishioners hold a seance to communicate with dead relatives in order to seek advice from those who had little wisdom upon earth but have somehow become all-knowing since reaching the “other side.” In the steamy town of Recife in northern Brazil, Orisha gods and goddesses, imported from Nigeria and Dahomey, and now called by the names of Catholic saints, take violent “possession” of participants in a macumba ceremony.

Meanwhile, at faraway Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Ph.D. candidate in solid state electronics with an open I Ching book on his lap solemnly drops 12 yarrow sticks and studies the resultant pattern. He is seeking guidance for a major decision in his life. Nearby at Harvard, a chemistry professor meditates beneath a mail-order pyramid. And deep in the Amazon jungle, natives drinking yage prepared from the banisteria caapi vine slip into an altered state of consciousness and begin to describe events taking place in a distant village. The gods, proven to be accurate the next day when a visitor comes from that village, have thus gained the confidence of their followers and thereafter can speak convincingly about the “next life.”

In Tibet, lamas exercise ancient secret practices now forbidden by the Chinese Com­munists: spirit mediums transmit the messages of gods, demons, and the dead, while the naljorpa feast on corpses of the enlightened in order to increase their own psychic powers, or engage dead bodies in a mystic dance climaxed by sexual intercourse with the demoni­cally animated corpses. On the Island of Hawaii, a kahuna engages in a secret huna ritual to gain control over “life energy” for a wealthy client who carefully keeps his connection with native religion hidden from his business associates and pays the kahuna to put curses on his enemies. And in Hollywood, California, in an occult book-store, a pair of teenage girls, whose parents take them each Sunday to fundamentalist Christian churches, browse among the parentally forbidden witchcraft volumes, eager to discover for themselves the promised powers they became intrigued with through a recent PG-rated movie.

A Legitimate Concern

W. Brugh Joy is a medical-doctor-turned-Eastern guru. Although he has had enough experience in the occult to be well aware of its dangers, he remains an avid believer and participant in occultism. Nevertheless, he issues this rather alarming warning:

Tapping these energies is fire, and the consequences… can be psychosis, aggravation of neuroses, acceleration of disease processes and suicide.[1]

Such somber pronouncements are rarely heard from those who entice multitudes into occult involvement by trumpeting its benefits. One reads Phil Jackson’s book, Sacred Hoops, without finding even a hint that there might be dangers hidden within the native spirituality which he touts so highly. His very involvement, on the other hand, serves as a powerful endorsement of what he preaches to his team and readers.

Our concern will be to discover the source and ultimate fruit of occult powers. Unfortu­nately, the mere display of seemingly miraculous powers is sufficient to cause many people to follow wherever it seems to lead them, as though anything “super-natural” must of ne­cessity be benevolent. It should be clear, however, that evil is very real. Nor is there any reason to believe that evil, so prominent in the natural realm, would not be just as likely to exist in the paranormal.

We will therefore be examining evidence for the reality of these powers, as well as facing some serious and important questions about them. Are they from God or from Sa­tan? Does either God or Satan, or both, actually exist? Or is there simply one universal Force embodying “dark” and “light” sides? Do occult powers and experiences lead ulti­mately to good or evil, to blessing or destruction? Is it possible to be sure of the source and final disposition of occult powers? If so how?

Logic Recoils and Begs an Explanation

That someone as well-educated, intelligent, and sophisticated as Phil Jackson (coach of the world champion Chicago Bulls basketball team), along with many team members, believes so strongly in native American spirituality, Zen Buddhism, and other occult powers (as do millions of others equally educated and sophisticated) would seem to negate the idea that such things can be written off as mere superstition. Something convincing is going on—but which of the many explanations being offered is true?

That numerous celebrities and even scientists endorse the existence of psychic pow­ers, however, is no excuse for naivete. Logic recoils at Jackson’s suggestion that a “bear claw necklace” really possesses occult powers implanted by a medicine man. Common sense aIso looks askance at Jackson’s claim that such powers could be conveyed to be­holders. Is it enough just to “behold”? And what of those who “behold” unintentionally or out of historical or anthropological curiosity but with no desire to imbibe spiritual “benefit” from such totems and fetishes?

There can be no doubt that in our day a belief persists in much that modern skeptics have long ridiculed as old wives’ tales and childish superstitions. This is true even among some of the world’s leading scholars and intellects. Belief and participation in the occult is literally exploding. That fact cries out for a legitimate and definitive explanation—an expla­nation which we will carefully pursue.

Entering a Forbidden Realm

One would not expect occultism to gain a foothold in the Christian church, since the Bible forbids it in both the Old and New Testaments. Nevertheless, the church has been enticed as well as the world. Much that is now practiced in evangelical circles is the old shamanism (a universally adopted word for witchcraft and other occult practices) under new names.

Anthropologist Michael Harner, himself a practicing shaman, is one of the world’s leading authorities on shamanism. A number of the basic elements which he says have been at the heart of shamanism worldwide for thousands of years are widespread within the church: visualization, hypnosis, psychological counseling, Positive Thinking, Positive Confession, and Eastern meditation techniques.[2] To what extent these involve the occult, and why will be dealt with in [later articles]. Multitudes of those who call themselves Christians are involved in the occult, many of them unwittingly.

The Bible provides a far more detailed list of occult practices than the quote from Webster’s dictionary [we provided in an earlier article]. The Bible lists divination (tarot cards, Ouija boards, crystal balls, pendulums, etc.), observing times (astrology), enchant­ment (hypnosis), witchcraft, charming (another form of hypnosis), consulting with “familiar spirits” (mediumship, seances, channeling), and wizardry or necromancy (communicating with the dead). The Bible forbids each of these occult practices.

The fact that some people are seemingly healed through occult powers or become successful through occult practices does not prove that the purpose behind them is to bless mankind. There must be some bait on the hook or no one would bite. Even if the intent is evil, one would expect some apparent good as a means of enticement. Mankind would hardly be drawn to something that was clearly and totally harmful.

In one’s enthusiasm for embracing mysterious phenomena, one dare not ignore the question of ultimate purpose. We will attempt to face this vital concern carefully and hon­estly [in future articles].


  1. W. Brugh Joy, Joy’s Way (J.P.Tarcher, 1979), pp. 8-9.
  2. Harner, Shaman, p. 136

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