Volume. XXIII, No. 44
Sunday, 26 April 2009


Understanding the Incompatibility of Superstitions and Christianity


In 1995, when we were about to purchase our new home in Glen Osmond, I was advised by a good friend of mine that it was a very bad choice. The reason given was that because the house was built on a slope, our money would simply flow out of the back door. However, although we thought that this advice was quite irrational, we realised that our friend was genuinely concerned for our well being and believed that the advice given was good and sound. When we moved into the new house, more advice was forthcoming. This time, the advice came from yet another friend, who warned that we must not position any beds with the foot of the bed facing the bedroom door. The reason given was that this is how they carry a corpse out of a room, and so it was extremely bad luck and we might fall gravely ill if we did this. In the worst case we were told that we might die in our sleep! We lived in the Glen Osmond house for 6 years and we were happy, we did not fall seriously ill and money did not flow incessantly out of the back door.

Superstition defined

Superstition is defined in the 1828 edition of the Noah Webster dictionary as:

1. Excessive exactness or rigor in religious opinions or practice; extreme and unnecessary scruples in the observance of religious rites not commanded, or of points of minor importance; excess or extravagance in religion; the doing of things not required by God, or abstaining from things not forbidden; or the belief of what is absurd, or belief without evidence. Superstition has reference to god, to religion, or to beings superior to man.

2. False religion; false worship.

3. Rite or practice proceeding from excess of scruples in religion. In this sense, it admits of a plural.

4. Excessive nicety; scrupulous exactness.

5. Belief in the direct agency of superior powers in certain extraordinary or singular events, or in omens and prognostics.

The following is part of an entry for superstitions from the Encyclopaedia Britannica:

“Every religious system tends to accumulate superstitions as peripheral beliefs—a Christian, for example, may believe that in time of trouble he will be guided by the Bible if he opens it at random and reads the text that first strikes his eye. Often one person’s religion is another one’s superstition: Roman Catholic veneration of relics, images, and the saints is dismissed as superstitious to many Protestants; Christians regard many Hindu practices as superstitious; and adherents of all “higher” religions may consider the Australian Aborigine’s relation to his totem superstitious. Finally, all religious beliefs and practices may seem superstitious to the person without religion.

Superstitions that belong to the cultural tradition (in some cases inseparable from religious superstition) are enormous in their variety. Many persons, in nearly all times, have held, seriously or half-seriously, irrational beliefs concerning methods of warding off ill or bringing good, foretelling the future, and healing or preventing sickness or accident. A few specific folk traditions, such as belief in the evil eye or in the efficacy of amulets, have been found in most periods of history and in most parts of the world. Others may be limited to one country, region, or village, to one family, or to one social or vocational group.

Finally, people develop personal superstitions: a schoolboy writes a good examination paper with a certain pen, and from then on that pen is lucky; a horseplayer may be convinced that gray horses run well for him.

Superstition has been deeply influential in history. Even in so-called modern times, in a day when objective evidence is highly valued, there are few people who would not, if pressed, admit to cherishing secretly one or two irrational beliefs or superstitions.”

Superstitions can sometimes be quite silly

Some superstitions, especially those that have not originated from some other religious belief system, can be some silly inference that a particular event will take place because of the observation of some pattern of events. For example, strange and laughable rituals for changing one\'s luck at cards. A few accidental connections between a ritual and favourable consequences suffice to set up and maintain the behaviour in spite of many unreinforced instances. The bowler who has released a ball down the alley but continues to behave as if he were controlling it by twisting and turning his arm and shoulder is another case in point. These behaviours have, of course, no real effect upon one\'s luck or upon a ball halfway down an alley.

Christians should not succumb to superstitions

Lest we become superstitious people, let us as Christians rid ourselves of any superstitious beliefs because we believe in a God who is in total control of everything that happens (Dan 4:34-37). Luck can  therefore have any place in our lives. We place our trust in our heavenly Father and not on some superstitious beliefs that may have some cultural roots. Proverbs 29:25 says: “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.”  It is wrong to allow any superstitious beliefs guide us in our daily lives because these belief systems can become idols in our lives. If we believe that Friday the 13th is a day when we should not venture out of our house, then that places God below the evil powers of this day.

There are many reasons why Christians should not have any superstitious beliefs. Although some may originate from mores and advice from the previous generations, there is no justification for a Christian to carry on with this tradition and system of strange irrational beliefs (Jer 10:2).

Pauls warning of superstitions

The apostle Paul journeyed to Athens, which although had lost its commercial and political status, remained a centre for intellectual discourse and home to the Greek philosophers. In an open forum on Mars Hill, Paul remarked: “Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.” Acts 17:22b-23. Applying Paul’s observation to the present context, let us not take part in believing in such things as horoscopes (Deut 18:10,14) in which the month or year  we are born can determine our fate, if we are compatible with our spouses or who we may become.  Let us not be obsessed with what we should or not do on certain days of the year (2 Chro 33:6; Lev 19:26), for example good and bad luck activities during Chinese New Year, lest these beliefs become our unknown gods who slowly take control of our lives and beliefs. Our devotions should only be to our Heavenly father, our Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit. To let other beliefs creep into our lives will make them our idols. It is not a good testimony of our faith in the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God whom we believe is our Creator and who is always in control of His creation. Never seek worldly superstitions in enlightening any situation that we may find ourselves in but instead, “if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally” James 1:5

Dn David Yeo

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Thank you from Mrs Anne Clements

Dear Pastor, Session, Members and friends at Hope BPC Adelaide,

We are most grateful for your prayerful support and love gifts at the Homegoing of Pastor Peter Clements. The cheques have been signed over to the undertaker to help pay for the funeral expenses ad other gifts have enabled me to get our current bills paid and finances sorted out.

We thank God for these “extra 6 years” for the children to grow up and Peter to continue ministering in Cootamundra. Indeed he continued serving the Lord till he had no more breath!

We have wonderful memories of our times at Hope and at Church camps. We are enclosing a DVD of the Service which was conducted by 2 men Peter had mentored in the ministry. The Gospel was proclaimed, saints were encouraged and exalted and sinners called to examine themselves before a Holy God. PTL.

Our love and prayers, Anne Clements, Joy, Grace, James, Ruth, Naomi and Andrew.


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

Announcements

Rev Dr Timothy Tow, founder of Bible Presbyterian Church & FEBC, Singapore, went home to the Lord on Monday, 20 April, at 5:45pm. Deepest sympathy to Mrs Ivy Tow & family, Mrs Lehia Paauwe & family. Ps Weng represented our church at the funeral held on Thursday, 23 April.

Kitchen Rosters - Team Leader: Sis Lydia Fan.

Anyone seeking Baptism, Reaffirmation or Transfer of Membership on 31 May, please inform Pastor Weng or Elder Michael D. Lee by today, & their testimonies handed in by next Lord’s Day.

Old church videos to be archived into DVDs. If you have any church videos or DVDs please pass them to Dn Edwin D’Mello.

Overdue Bible Conference fees - please pay your fees to Dn Edwin D’Mello.

Helpers needed to organize VBS. Helpers’ meeting on 17 May.

 

Looking Ahead

Baptism, Reaffirmation, Transfer of Membership & The Lord’s Supper, 31 May 2009 

23rd Anniversary Thanksgiving Service, 28 June. Speaker: Pastor Ki.

VBS 6-10 July, Speaker: Bro Hai Seng Lim

 

Praise & Thanksgiving

Journey mercies: Ps Weng (S’pore/Adl); Bro Elton Law (Adl); Dn David (Adl) & Sis Giok Yeo & Audrey (Adl/Los Angeles); Bro Simon & Sis Demelza Ting & Hannah; Sisters Joyce Gong (Melb/Adl); Judy Li (Syd), Corinne Teng (France) & all others who have arrived safely.

Church activities: AFG Bible Study; BBK Class; Ladies’ Fellowship Share & Prayer; Men’s Fellowship Breakfast Meeting; Session Meeting; Shorter Catechism Class; Wed Prayer Meeting & Bible Study; YAF Bible Study; Working Bees.

Much needed rain over the past 4 days.

 

Prayer Items

Health & God’s healing - Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren; Rev John & Mrs Christine McKenzie; Rev Stephen Khoo, Rev Timothy Tow, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Tommy Brooks, Colin Creaser, S Dhamarlingam, Makoto Kobayashi, Richard Pearson, Winston Selvanayagam, & Hans Ziegelmann; Mr Swee Liang Ng, Mr Yeom; Grandpa Ki; Auntie Oei; Sisters Mabella Booth, Lai Kheng Cheong, Nita Chong, Annie D’Mello, Myung Ki, Alice Lee’s father, Choon Fong Lee (Evangel BPC - KL); Fiona Paauwe; Dianne, & Sarah Pearson; Aranka Rejtoe, Susan Veradi, Irena Kurek-Braden; Mrs Win Hooper; & others in affliction.

Missions - Cambodia (Bro Surish’s family & ministry in Vientiane & Siam Pang), Pastors & believers in Laos, Pakistan & India; Kuching Ministry (Teo family).

Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Pr H S Lim

Pastor & Sis Ki - ministry in USA; future ministry in New Life BPC, London; UK visa application.

Journey mercies:  Corinne Teng (Adl) & all others who are travelling.

Pastor Weng: family & ministry in Hope BPC.

Job - Bro Cong Pham; Sisters Marion Chan, Tabitha Heah, Judy Li & Corinne Teng.

Sister BPCs in Australia: Unity in doctrine & fellowship.

God’s guidance & care: Mrs Anne Clements & family; Sisters Kathleen Creaser & Margaret Hooper.

Bro Max Opaskiatikul serving the Lord in MV Doulos

Special Prayers for healing, recovery & strength: Bro Len & Sis Margaret Pearson, & Sis Sally Teng.

Comfort & God’s care - Mrs Ivy Tow; Rev & Mrs Edward Paauwe; Rev Dr & Mrs Jeffery Khoo.

Bro Richie Hornung’s mission work in Cebu, Philippines.

Drought to end & more rain.

Job security during this recession.

 

 

© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063