October 27, 2008

Witchcraft in Africa

Since our culture celebrates Halloween this week, I thought it would be good to briefly focus on the reality of witchcraft. Too often we think of witches on brooms, classic Disney movies, or Harry Potter. We may also consider the Salem witch trials or the rise of Wicca in the western world. But I am not referring to any of these things. If we want to understand the very real presence of witchcraft, we need to turn to Africa.

Witchcraft is an ever-present reality in Africa. Witches are generally an integral part of African Traditional Religions, acting as intermediaries between people, the living-dead, and the Supreme God. Even today, with the growth of Christianity and Islam throughout the continent, witchcraft beliefs and practices remain strong.

Africa Bible CommentaryIn the Africa Bible Commentary, Nigerian church leader and scholar Samuel Waje Kunhiyop writes:

Belief in witchcraft is approaching epidemic proportions in Africa. While it is easy to understand how nominal Christians can cling to this deep-seated belief, it is disturbing that it is widespread among Christians too. Christian rituals are sometimes seen as little more than a form of protection against witchcraft. Thus mothers 'cover' the beds of their children with the blood of Jesus to ward off witches and evil spirits before putting them to bed. It is also 'poured' on roads to ward off the witches who cause accidents.

The Bible does not support the doctrines of demons, evil spirits and witchcraft that derive from traditional beliefs, but many professing Christians are unaware of what the Bible teaches on this subject. One reason for this is the tendency to interpret the Bible in terms of established opinions and beliefs. Church leaders and missionaries have also tended to dismiss witchcraft as mere superstition, rather than developing an adequate understanding of it rooted in the doctrine of evil. There is an urgent need for the culturally postulated reality of witchcraft to be addressed pastorally with seriousness, sensitivity and respect (374).
The church of Jesus Christ needs to take witchcraft seriously. Syncretism (the mixing of different religious beliefs) is a serious problem in Africa. Christians go to church on Sundays and then to the witchdoctor during the week. Even pastors corrupt God's revealed truth by combining it with witchcraft.

Christians in Africa need to see how our faith relates to all of life. As Kunhiyop says, witchcraft must be addressed. To counter this challenge, I have been researching witchcraft in Africa. You can see my reviews of Free Indeed From Sorcery Bondage and Who Are The Living-Dead? as well as the book notice for Unveiling Witchcraft.

Lord willing, through our ministry many Africans will be set free from the bondage of witchcraft through the gospel of Jesus Christ!