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

Download the Free Study Guide!

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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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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Massacre of Innocence (DVD)

Exposing The Occult Roots of Abortion

This presentation looks at the spiritual roots of abortion and exposes the myths surrounding child killing. Little known historical facts about abortion and how they relate to modern feminism are presented logically and accurately. Has been effective in converting many to a pro-life position.

Massacre of Innocence goes where no pro-life presentation has gone before in “tearing the lid off abortion” to reveal the spiritual realities we must battle if we will bring an end to this crime. The presentation is absorbing, fast-paced, informative and incredibly devastating to any attempt to justify abortion.

“… an extraordinary statement … a powerfully articulate presentation about what abortion really means, and why a great and moral nation like the United States must not allow the slaughter to continue.”
— Congressman Robert K. Dornan

Running time: 85 minutes

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

Special Two-Disc Set!

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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Martin Luther: Digitally Remastered 1953 Classic (DVD)

“Here I stand … I can do no other!”

With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.

The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.

Running time: 105 minutes

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Watch a clip from Martin Luther.

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