Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Biblical Support for Astrology?

I've been doing sermon prep today and have found a conundrum. One of the lectionary passages this week is from Matthew 2:

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him."

My secondary sources indicate that magi really cannot be faithfully rendered as "wise men", but that the Greek term truly refers to a diviner, astrologer, or magician.

Now only a fool believes in astrology, and the Biblical prohibition against witchcraft and divination is quite strong. That makes this passage difficult, as astrology guided the magi to Jesus. The magi are not condemned for occult activity, unlike Simon of Samaria, Elymas, and the sons of Sceva in the Book of Acts.

5 comments:

Allan R. Bevere said...

John:

Help me out here.... You point would be?

Mitch Lewis said...

John - I wrote about this in Looking to the Skies.

Among other things, I said, "The story of the magi is not a validation of the magi’s way of inquiring into the truth; rather, it is a proclamation that God wants to be known so much that he is willing to speak so that we can hear. That’s good news for all of us, because we ALL approach God from a position of ignorance and misunderstanding."

John said...

Allan, my point is that in this passage, occult activity is validated by God rather than condemned.

Mitch, I like your approach to the subject.

Allan R. Bevere said...

John:

Thanks! I got it when I read Mitch's post.

e. barrett said...

Mitch's post is excellent. I would just add one other thing - sometimes God does things that are totally unnecessary, but allow us to connect in some special way with him.

When Jesus healed the blind man, I'm pretty sure he didn't need spit or mud to do it. But for some reason that physical contact was important, and served a purpose.

I think the same is true in this case. Sometimes God has to meet us where we are, not where we will ultimately be.