Monday, November 06, 2006

The Christian Use of Tarot Cards

On Friday, I briefly mentioned Sally Coleman's use of tarot cards for spiritual mediation and was critical of the practice. Sally defends it here:

Meditating on the imagery helps me to make scriptural connections when talking to others using this resource, my own familiarity with the story behind and through the image helps to enable a more positive and relaxed encounter.

Although I consider the use of icons (as found in Eastern Orthodox and Catholic contexts) idolatrous, at least those images are directly Christian. Even though tarot cards may have been invented in the West and after substantial effort one can find Christian symbols within them (e.g. the Devil, Death, and the Garden of Eden), Scriptural teaching is clear that we are not to build idols, even in the fashion of our own God. And as Keith Taylor points out here:

So I now come back to the tarot card. It may have Christian imagery, they may look like Christian icons, but they are used for occultic practice. That are used for fortune telling. Tarot cards are right in line with ouija boards, wiccan rights and spells, chicken feet and blood and Voodoo. They are a tool for charlatans and soothsayers. Heck, Voodoo and Free Masonry are filled with Christian Imagery, but I'm not going to use that to spread the Gospel to pagan infadels either. As Bible believing Christians, we are to avoid such nonsense.

The Gospel doesn't need a crutch fabricated from new age occult religions to spread it's central theme. It stands on a firm foundation, the solid rock of Jesus Christ's blood and righteousness.

Agreed. There is a great danger is adopting symbols into our spiritual lives that are primarily used for non-Christian religious traditions. The evangelistic mandate means that we have to proclaim the gospel in the language of every people across the world. We should be able to understand New Age people (and I rejoice at Sally's active embrace of this particular group of lost people), but that does not mean that we should change the content of the gospel in order to satisfy other religions. As the Bible teaches "Do not cook a young goat in its' mothers milk." The spiritual disciplines of false religions are not our own.

Before you respond, be sure to read the comments where Sally provides further explanation of her views.


Sally said...

You say "The Gospel doesn't need a crutch fabricated from new age occult religions to spread it's central theme. It stands on a firm foundation, the solid rock of Jesus Christ's blood and righteousness."

No it does not- but I urge people not only to read the links I have provided but also to prayerfully consider reading both John Dranes books: "What is the New Age still saying to the Church?"

and "Do Christians know how to be Spiritual?"

Also Ross Clifford and Philip Johnsons " Jesus and the Gods of the New Age"

I will post a link to my own ministry web site with reports from the New Age Fair outreach, along with the story of my own journey to being involved in this work.

and finaly the must read is Drane Clifford and Johnsons "Beyond Prediction."

I ask people not to make knee jerk comments but to prayerfully consider what they are reading

Richard said...

I agree with you John. I'm not a fan of using images and over stressing icons, symbols, and rituals. It's one of the pet peeves I have with the Catholic faith and the like. I think the essence of our religion is important and too often we get caught up in these symbols and lose the real reason of our ministry on earth - to minister to the poor, downtrodden, and ostracized of society and sharing the Word of Christ to them. Remembering that we are all truly irreplaceable parts of the Body of Christ.

John said...

Good thoughts, Richard. Too often we treat people as disposable.

Sally said...

Interestingly Richard this is precicely why we go to these exhibitions- to reach those for whom a lot of hope is gone!

Anonymous said...

I think you can only make comments like this if you believe your point of view and study is the only right and valid one. I have studied tarot for over 20 years and I can say you make comments out of ignorance. Tarot was most likely invented by medieval Christians. You talk about how icons are bad yet this website is littered with other beautiful art, why is it ok to appreciate that?
Also, it is very closed minded in my point of view to say anyone who doesn't share your belief is lost. It isn't generous, sharing or compassionate to think that somehow your life experience, your family and cultural heritage is superior to all the other peoples family and cultural heritage. Jesus and God appears to people in many different ways, i is arrogant to think one has all the answers alone.

Andy said...

Re: Tarot cards. Thanks to you all for creating such an interesting link. I came across this site by chance.

The following represents my subjective feelings on the matter and I offer them to you with good heart.I do not mean to preach. My heart is still fairly fogged by fear and to this extent I guess my words will inevitably be a 'clanging bell' to some degree.Please be patient with me.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
(John 9:40-41)

For me everything is 'grist to the mill'.'Holy' for me means to feel whole. We can not become whole through creating boundaries within ourselves even if our boundaries themselves sometimes come from the Bible.

Blindly clinging to dogma (however sacred) is not the way forward for the thinking Christian.However having said that I also feel strongly that we should respect and reflect upon the Bible. We should take care not to 'throw the baby out with the dish water'.As we open up spiritually we will continue to understand the words of Christ at different levels and in different ways.

Only personal experience will take us forward.'Understanding' for me therefore means standing under the experience without clinging to it or pushing it away. We create our own boundaries and therefore only by changing ourselves,-through responding rather than reacting-, can we truly change our boundaries.

The kingdom of heaven lies within us in every timeless moment.Death is therefore just a concept. I do not know intellectually if Christ accepted reincarnation as a reality.(John 8:58),(John 9:1-3). The only way to 'know' is to 'understand' the process that is ultimately our very being.

There are many paths but only one summit.(Luke 13:24-30)(Matthew 22:32)(John 3:1-8).We will all probably understand these words of Christ depending upon our personal spiritual experience.We are all where we are and where we are is where we need to be.

I have used tarot cards in the past as a means of feeling insight when I have required clarity. More usually I used prayer.I never used tarot cards as a substitution for prayer.Both using tarot cards and prayer require faith and rely on the motive of the heart for results. This is important to understand.

In my daily meditation I am now beginning to be able to open up to my true nature.I am able to experience a state of heart/mind where insight naturally rises up from within me. (Luke 11:35,36).

I no longer use Tarot cards as these are a more indirect and relatively delusive medium for experiencing God's power.

Being is becoming.Becoming is being. A still flowing stream.

Christians should not fear Tarot cards.The cards have no power inherent in themselves.In my personal experience they can be used -as with anything else in existence- as a medium for the Holy Spirit to express itself in an imminent and unique manner within us.(John 10:34,38),(John 14:15-17)

Follow the two great commandments of Christ in all that you do and that will be enough.(Matthew 22:37-40)

For me Tarot cards have been another useful tool in the spiritual tool box.However I would like to add a warning. It could be said that too many tools might also serve to confuse.This is important to understand.

My advice is simply that prayer combined with silent meditation is a clearer and more direct way forward in the long run for the spiritual practitioner.

Tarot cards are of course not inherently evil nor indeed are the people who use them.The Sun casts no shadow. Love is the absence of fear. It is in other words our own boundaries that limit us.

I wish all of you the very best on the Christian path. Christ is certainly the way, the truth and the life. Forging a daily spiritual practice is crucial.

Please do not just sit on the gate presuming that you are already 'saved'.Go up the narrow path that Jesus speaks of.It is a path that will bring us much joy.

With love to you all. Andy.