26 Aug You can be superstitious too
The term “superstition” is from the Latin superstitio, which translates the Greek deisidaimonia. The word literally means “a standing over [in amazement]” and has come to denote any belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge, in the ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance, occurrence or proceeding. Something that is ‘ominous’ portends harm, hence the noun ‘omen’.
Superstitions then are customs or acts based on such beliefs, including irrational fear of what is unknown or mysterious, especially in connection with religion. Atheists and agnostics regard any religious belief as superstition. The King James Version translates the adjective ‘deisidaimonesterous’ in Acts 17:22 “superstitious” and the noun ‘deisidaimonias’ in Acts 25:19 “superstition”. Many English translations translate as ‘religious’. In the first text Paul confronts the Athenians as being especially superstitious. (http:// www.free-online-bible-study.org)
Superstition is based on the ignorant faith of an object having magical powers. Another word for superstition is ‘idolatry.’ (http:// www.gotquestions.org)
Dictionary meaning: An irrational belief that an object, action, or circumstance not logically related to a course of events influences its outcome.
What are superstitions? There are many types of superstitions in the world, ranging from the benign— such as not walking under a ladder—to the occult practices of astrology, black magic, divination, voodoo and sorcery. Scripture condemns those who practice astrology (Deuteronomy 4:19), magic, divination and sorcery (2 Kings 21:6, Isaiah 2:6).
Burning son or daughter as an offering, practising divination or telling fortunes or interpreting omens, or a sorcery or a charming or serving as a medium or a necromancy or inquiring of the dead (Deuteronomy 18:10-12) – are all prohibited in the Scriptures. These types of practices are extremely dangerous because they open the minds of the practitioners to the influence of the devil. Here below are the examples of such superstitious beliefs which Christians also succumb to believe:
- The ‘vaastu’ as a guide for floor plans of a house is a superstitious system,
- Cat crossing your way brings bad omen
- Thinking that giving or taking anything in the left hand as bad
- Not asking “where are you going?” while someone leaves, as its purpose will not be fulfilled.
- Considering particular timing called ‘Rahukaal’, as inauspicious for doing anything new or good
- Believing that cawing of crow or itching of right palm indicates arrival of guests,
- Believing that itching on the right palm (left for female) you get some money or favors,
- During house warming, the milk is heated in a vessel and allowed to overflow towards east direction,
- Sneezing some place makes you reach that place late
- The ‘evil eye’ also called the “envious eye” or the “invidious eye,” – a resentful person transmits a curse, wittingly or unwittingly, simply by looking at someone or something in envy.
Look at the following Scripture references which condemn superstations:
1 Timothy 4:7- Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; (ESV)
Deuteronomy 18:10-12 – There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone while starting to who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. (ESV)
Leviticus 19:31 – Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God. (ESV)
Christianity is not an irrational belief on any object, action or circumstance. We must remember that any such irrational beliefs which are not logically related to a course of events that influence its outcome are superstitious. But Christianity is a belief in a historical person, the Lord Jesus Christ. Belief in the person of Christ does not lead to fear but to worship; but superstitions primarily drive people to fear and so they are idolatrous. Christ is not a mystery but a Historical person.
Any religious person will have superstitious beliefs as pointed out by St. Paul in Acts 17:22; Christianity is not a religion. All religions are founded primarily based on fear of the created ones like nature, ferocious animals, natural calamities and spirits. The fear may be genuine; but the outcome of the fear need not lead anyone to worship the created ones. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). We need to recognize the creator who is behind the creation. Superstitions are normally associated with any of the created ones cited above and/or ascribed to some mysterious creatures. So they are threatening (ominous); moreover, they are not based on facts but they originate from the evil one.
There is a general tendency to view the other religious faiths as superstitious. No doubt that some Christians have given room for such notion. In fact, there are some Christian believers who out of ignorance of the word of God talk about mysterious experiences. These, they do out of fear for the unknown reasons, not based on the facts revealed in the Scriptures. They try to find Biblical support to their practices and beliefs, while they very much resemble non-Christian
practices. These dear ones forget that it is suffice to have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ to understand what happens to them and why they happen. They do believe in these superstitions to satisfy their emotional needs and to attract those who find fulfilment in their previous traditions. No true Christian will do this.
Yes, Christians too are inclined to superstitious beliefs. But the Scriptures do not support those beliefs. The Bible does not support the idea of things happening by chance, but everything is done within God’s sovereign control. Either God causes or allows everything in keeping with His divine power and foreknowledge (Acts 4:28; Ephesians 1:10).
T. Athma Soruban
The auther serves as UESI Networking Secretary based in Chennai with his wife Beulah and daughters, Dibrizah & Clarizah.