This document reflects commonly held beliefs based on scripture which have been endorsed by the church's Commission on Doctrinal Purity and the Executive Presbytery.
Why should we as Christians oppose astrology and other mystic practices?
Though some advocates of astrology claim their practice is supported by the Bible, the Assemblies of God believes and teaches that God's Word strongly denounces astrology because of its association with the occult and demonic.
Astrology is not to be confused with astronomy, the science that studies the size, movement, and composition of celestial bodies. Astrology, a pseudo science, claims that stars and other heavenly bodies influence human personality and activity and that the position of celestial bodies at a given time can foretell future events in the lives of people.
Several times in the book of Daniel, astrologers are grouped with magicians, sorcerers, and other agents of the occult as being unable, through their special powers, to interpret the dream of the king of Babylon. But Daniel, whose "insight, intelligence and outstanding wisdom" came from the "most High God," gave the accurate interpretation (Daniel 5:14,18,26-28). The Bible specifically denounces astrology in other passages. Isaiah speaks derogatorily of "stargazers" or astrologers: "Let you astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you" (Isa. 47:13). Of course, they could not, for their inspiration was from another source than God. Several passages speak of bowing down or worshipping the sun, moon, and stars (Deut. 4:19, 17:2-5; 2 Kings 17:16, 21:3-6; Jer. 8:1,2; Zeph. 1:4-6; Acts 7:42). Though proponents of astrology today claim that they do not worship the heavenly bodies, but only study and draw conclusions from them, their disclaimer is hollow. Many passages of Scripture denounce occult practices that seek guidance or knowledge through sources other than the God of the Bible (e.g., Deut. 18:9-14 and Lev. 19:31, 20:6). The word from God is definitive: the practice of astrology and other mystic activity is wrong.
Some have suggested the Magi who sought the baby Jesus were possibly astrologers and have tried to justify astrology on the basis of the Greek word stoicheia in Galatians 4:3,9 and Colossians 2:8. However, the basic meaning of stoicheia refers to elements of learning, as we would say, 'the ABCs.' It is at least possible that in these passages Paul was warning against falling back into that ABCs of what the world calls religion.
The term magi was used by the ancient Persians and Babylonians for wise men and priests who did use astrology, but not in its modern form. However, it may be that these Magi were successors of the Chaldean wise men of which Daniel was once chief. They could have known the prophecy of the star given in Numbers 24:17.
"If these Wise Men were indeed astrologers, God must have overruled their usual ways of thinking, for God in the harshest of terms forbids His people from having anything to do with such defiling practices (Isaiah 47:13; Jeremiah 10:2; Deuteronomy 4:19; cf. Deuteronomy 18:8-14)."
Transcendental Meditation is another danger to be avoided. Along with New Age teaching, TM finds deity only within nature and humans. The subtlety of TM, however, is its promotion in the western world as a recreational and relaxation activity that promotes better physical and mental health. The origin and religious background of the teaching is conveniently hidden from unsuspecting participants.
The roots of TM can be traced to Hinduism with all its teachings about reality, God, man, and salvation (in the Vedas, the Hindu scriptures). TM denies the existence of a personal God, teaching instead the pantheistic premise that God is all and all is God. Man is viewed not as a sinner, but as a being capable of experiencing his own divinity. Transcendental Meditation claims that Christians or the followers of any religion may practice TM without any conflict with their primary beliefs. This claim is based not on the absence of religious content in TM, but rather on the Hindu teaching that Hinduism, with its many gods (both good and evil), can always accommodate one more. The special secret mantras given to each TM participant are described as harmless, meaningless words chosen for their hypnotic and soothing benefits. But in reality they are words taken from the Vedas and used traditionally to invoke the assistance of various Hindu deities. The advocates of TM claim to have a primary interest in the health and happiness of individuals. Yet the subtle deception of this claim is clear to anyone who determines to know the full tradition and practice of Transcendental Meditation. In stark contrast, the greatest "transcendental meditation" for the Christian believer is meditation on the truths of God’s Word (Psa. 1:2).
Counterfeits for the genuine work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian seem to be all around us. What about the horoscope that appears in most daily newspapers? And what about the psychics on television offering their seemingly uncanny information that only a person would know about himself. Some see these activities as innocent fun or recreation. Sadly, however, a casual curiosity has on occasion become a controlling obsession. A few surprising results cause one to wonder, "Is this coincidental–or could there be something to this?" Tragically, some have continued playing with that which God warns against, resulting in addictions or demonic oppression. Christians who dabble in such dangerous practices are not exempt from the entrapment. What begins as a subtle pastime soon pulls people away from God's Word as they become intrigued by an unbiblical source of knowledge.
Involvement in the many forms of mysticism grows out of a single motivation—a desire to move beyond the revelation of God's Word to sources of "enlightenment" that are contrary to the Bible's revealed truth. Inordinate curiosity begins the downward path. However, God's Word is totally adequate to provide both direction and inspiration for life. What supernatural guidance we cannot derive from the Bible and its Spirit-initiated revelation is out of bounds. It is blasphemy against God to turn away from His Word to seek forbidden knowledge and understanding through divination, magic, palm reading, astrology, tarot cards, crystal balls, Ouija boards, psychic knowledge, or any other practice that seeks to unravel divinely hidden mysteries.
Caution must be urged in any involvement in the martial arts or yoga. These activities, with varying ties to eastern religions, are often presented as wholesome physical exercises or otherwise healthy practices. Depending on the mental/spiritual orientation of the instructor or guide, there may be subtle or overt insertion of philosophies and ideas foreign to the Bible and Christian faith.
Sadly, the quest for meaning and purpose has drawn many people, including some professing Christians, into these human-centered philosophies and religions. We sometimes say too glibly that the Bible provides the answer to all of our problems. Yet the God of the Bible tells us in His Word that He is there to meet our every need. We can still claim the biblical promise, "My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19). That promise can be trusted with far greater certainty than the best that man or demon power can offer.
The above statement is based upon our common understanding of scriptural teaching.
All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise specified.