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Was Biblical Law responsible for the Salem Witch Trials?

Did the Puritans put witches to death in Salem?

Read the complete article at:

http://www.forerunner.com/champion/X0018_Puritans_and_Witches.html

The Massachusetts Bay Colony was founded by the Puritans in the 1630s with Salem being one of its principle port towns. It had become evident by the 1670s, however, that most of the citizens of the colony were not Puritans (or born-again Christians in today’s vernacular). By the 1690s, when the Salem Witch hysteria took place, the Puritan era had pretty much waned. By this time, the Puritans were the minority.

The prevailing idea today is that it was the Puritans who killed witches in Salem. Actually, the situation was that some innocent people were accused of witchcraft by people who were not genuinely converted at all. The only real witchcraft going on was practiced by a servant of the town pastor! But because she confessed her sin and repented the townspeople, as a whole, forgave her. The resulting problem of the Salem witch trials was that you had superstitious, unconverted people using extra-biblical, unorthodox criteria by which to judge witches.

A pastor in Salem stirred up the original problem with irresponsible preaching and false accusations. But then he had to deflect guilt, because the witch hysteria was found to be emanating from his own household! The townspeople began accusing others and the hysteria spread. The civil court had plenty of nonsense to draw from, written mainly by Anglican pastors from England. These men argued that traditional, extra-biblical accounts of the occult were acceptable as information on the nature of the occult, and this side won the debate (with an enormous amount of bogus evidence).

It is untrue to say that the Puritans were responsible for the deaths of innocent people. In fact, the Salem witchcraft trials were stopped by a Puritan pastor from Beverly, Massachusetts. He charged that none of the evidence met biblical criteria. So it was a true minister of the gospel who stopped the state from executing witches in Salem. The minister who brought the charges was dismissed from his pastorate due to his role in the affair.

What should be our response to witchcraft today?

As Christians, we have two avenues of resistance to witchcraft: ecclesiastical and civil.

It is the role of the Church to oppose witchcraft with all our might, even to the point of publicly condemning certain witches (if they refuse to repent) through imprecatory prayer proclamations. Sorcery is condemned throughout the Bible [see Ex. 7:11; 8:7,18; Isa. 47:9,12]. Sanctions are imposed on sorcerers who refuse to repent [see Acts 13:6,8; Gal. 5:20; Rev. 9:21;18:23]. As the Church, our correct response is to condemn the practice of witchcraft and to preach salvation to those who would repent.

A more controversial issue is whether or not witchcraft should be made illegal by our civil government. My view is that since the civil government in our country is not a church-state ecclesiocracy, the state should not try witches. Our local community governments would be correct, however, in enforcing ordinances against private house meetings of religious groups in order to stop the undesirable effects of Wiccan rituals on the surrounding community, such as noise, parking violations, and so on.

Comments

Your comments are welcome!

“There are always those who try to stop the madness of mobs. They are the enlightened, the brave, the true heroes of their time. The philosopher Giordano Bruno, for instance, was burned at the stake for saying what St. Augustine said before — that witches were just sadly deluded women.” lil Arbel, “Witchcraft”

Posted by Eric Roberts on 04/26/2011 10:55 PM #

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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - How Should We Then Live? (DVD)

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After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.

Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.

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Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

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Just what is Calvinism?

Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?

This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.

Running Time: 257 minutes

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Freedom: The Model of Christian Liberty (DVD)

“Give me liberty or give me death!”

Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.

The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).

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God's Law and SocietyGod's Law and Society (DVD)

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God’s Law and Society powerfully presents a comprehensive worldview based upon the ethical system found in the Law of God.

Speakers include: R.J. Rushdoony, George Grant, Howard Phillips, R.C. Sproul Jr., Ken Gentry, Gary DeMar, Jay Grimstead, Steven Schlissel, Andrew Sandlin, Eric Holmberg, and more!

Sixteen Christian leaders and scholars answer some of the most common questions and misconceptions related to this volatile issue:

1. Are we under Law or under Grace?
2. Does the Old Testament Law apply today?
3. Can we legislate morality?
4. What are the biblical foundations of government?
5. Was America founded as a Christian nation?
6. What about the separation of Church and State?
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The Beast of Revelation IdentifiedThe Beast of Revelation: Identified (DVD)

Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?

Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!

Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.

Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)

Running Time: 145 minutes

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