Astrology: A Biblical Critique of an Occult Art Author:
Russ Wise Date:9/2/2004 12:30:45 PM
The topic of astrology has confused and misled many Christians in their attempt to connect spiritually with the universe and their understanding of God. Many individuals who take this path are not fully committed to Christ and they continue to seek ways to fill their spiritual void.
The problem in their doing so, is that astrology becomes the basis for their spirituality and their understanding of God. In essence, astrology becomes their avenue for discerning truth. Those who become involved in this magical art are often lured by their interest in knowing the unknown in their lives, something from their past or perhaps some future event. Astrology has become increasingly popular among those who desire a spiritual aspect to their lives without submitting themselves to a spiritual “force” beyond their control.
Many consider astrology to be a fun pastime that is benign in its effect. For them astrology is a parlor game. Having one’s palm read or their tarot cards discerned is a fancy, but not to be taken too seriously. However, there are others who take these arts quite seriously. They are the true believers.
These purveyors of the art have discovered a spirituality that does not condemn immorality. For them astrology is amoral. It does not judge one’s behavior or make demands on one’s lifestyle; it simply is a fact in their lives that they cannot escape. It becomes seductive in its ability to offer formerly unknown information to the practitioner.
Astrology allows the believer to live his life without moral judgments and absolute truths that demand adherence. Individuals are seeking answers to who am I? What is real? Where am I going and what is my purpose in life? Is there a God? Astrology offers the individual answers to all these questions and more. The answers, if on target, can be very seductive. Hypnotically so!
Astrology becomes spiritually addictive because it works in the mind of the believer. If there was no degree of accuracy in the astrologer’s delineations astrology would not be found to be of the slightest interest. The fact is, astrology works! The issue then becomes how.
The astrologer claims that his abilities are derived from his knowledge of the constellations and the alignment of the planets. However, his information, whether physical or spiritual, comes from another source. One former astrologist concludes that this source is not the planets or the constellations themselves but the gods behind them.
The perceived qualities of each planet according to Charles Strohmer, a former astrologist, are as follows. Jupiter’s nature is to be good-willed and represent financial success. Saturn is seen as being constricting, binding, even malefic. Venus is said to influence the higher attributes such as drama, the arts, and music. Mars is believed to affect athletic ability and to govern wars. Neptune is thought to be more psychic than physical. Pluto is believed to rule the “abode of the dead.” Each planet is assigned attribute(s) that denote personhood rather than their cosmic makeup such as atmosphere, soils, energies, and other properties. These qualities or attributes and other characteristics are in line with the deities assigned to these planets rather than the physical properties that were used in their makeup.
Charles Strohmer underscores this statement regarding astrology when he says; the system is not based on the physical properties of the planets but on the distinctives, attributes, and desperate limitations of each god in the closed circle of astrological polytheism.1 He continues by asserting that the “principles of astrological interpretation are clearly excerpted from ancient myths, updated, and have absolutely nothing to do with planets but with superstitions and imaginings related to mythical deities.” 2
Strohmer concludes that it is the gods (not planets) that influence our lives.3 He makes one further observation that is critical to our understanding of the nature of astrology. He states that, since these gods are indeed the source of astrological knowledge rather than the planets, and the gods are mythical, they are imaginary at best. Strohmer adds, it is mind-altering to realize now that there is no such thing, astrologically, as a planetary influence.4
In essence, Strohmer, as a former astrologist, identifies the information derived from astrology as being based not on the influence of the planets in one’s life, but rather on the gods who rule those planets. Astrology is not a benign art that utilizes planetary alignment (essentially nature) to chart one’s life but rather uses the pagan deities of mythology (in reality, the demonic world of the occult). Astrology, then, is merely the modern form of planetary worship practiced by the pagans of the pre-Christian era.
Worldviews are an important aspect of how one understands truth. We all have one! A worldview is simply how we view the world around us and how we interpret the information we discover. Essentially, our worldview is the grid by which we view the world – our philosophy of life.
Astrology represents a worldview as well. Its view is closely aligned with an occult understanding of reality. Astrologers tend to hold the following characteristics in common.
A pre-scientific view of the world. Astrology continues to accept the mistaken astronomical views of the ancient world. They have not kept up with the latest discoveries in astronomy regarding new stars or planets that would ultimately re-order their delineation.
A metaphysical relationship between mankind and the planets. Astrology assumes a magical connection between the two. When man is born (takes his first breath) he is at that moment imprinted by the heavenly pattern reflected in the cosmos. Therefore, he is cosmically influenced from that point onward and is essentially governed by the universe.
A pragmatic view of life. The premise “if it works, it is good, if it is good, then it must be of God” is widely held as a truism in astrology. As long as it (astrology) works why question it? The astrologer does not have an inquiring mind at this level. Another question that begs to be answered is “if it works, what lies behind it, what is the source of its authenticity?” Simply because something works does not necessarily make it good, and likewise, because something appears to be “good” does not mean it is from God. Gas chambers worked in Nazi Germany but who would rightly claim they were God ordained.
An amoral view of life. Man decides what is right and wrong in his universe. There is no outer authority for morality. The impersonal universe does not require a moral response from mankind. Truth and morality are seen as being relative, not absolute.
A pantheistic view of life. Astrologers often accept pantheism as their ruling guide to understanding man’s relationship with God. Pantheists see mankind as a part of the divine. God is all and all is God. All mankind along with the universe is connected and seen as being one in essence. God is impersonal and therefore, unable to judge.
A belief in an evolving universe. Since the universe is God (All is God) the universe is continuing on its evolutionary journey as man continues his journey toward divinity. Reincarnation plays a central role in man’s journey toward divinity and man is ultimately reunited with this impersonal pantheistic god.
A polytheistic view of deity. As we noted earlier, man’s life is ruled by the gods who are symbolized by the planets. For example, “some believed the planets were the homes of the gods, or the bodies of the gods. Since the stars and planets were thought to be gods, people believed they were to be worshipped and given sacrifices.”5 It is important to note that some within the Christian community who naively practice astrology would not agree with the above. However, the foundations of astrology are well-documented and found to be pagan in origin.
The Problem of Biblical Astrology
A growing number of Christians have been influenced by astrology as they seek spiritual guidance. These “believers” are seduced by some of the same beliefs mentioned above. They tend to have a low view of Scripture and when Scripture is employed to discern truth it is misinterpreted or twisted to suit the astrologer’s worldview.
Astrologers often hold the following views regarding the Bible. It is not authoritative. It has been corrupted over the millennia and the teachings regarding reincarnation and other metaphysical beliefs held by the early Christians have been removed. Some believe the Bible was written in an astrological code and can only be deciphered by the true believers.
Others believe that the Bible can only be understood by the use of astrology. The passages in the Scripture that denigrate divination are to be held with suspicion and ignored since other passages are believed to be complimentary to astrology. The biblical teaching of astrology can only be truly understood by reading into the text what the writers really meant when they mentioned the stars and constellations.
Astrologers use several passages from the Bible to lend weight to their craft. However, a close examination of each shows a contradictory conclusion. Here are a few of the most noted passages used to support their claims.6
Genesis 1:14. “And God said, Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years.” Astrologers claim that the word signs indicate heavenly bodies, or planets, given by God as astrological signs. However, biblically, the word signs cannot refer to astrological signs because one would have to ignore the context of Genesis 1:14-19 where the word is defined as the separation of day from night, and to establish the seasons, days and years. These signs are the sun, the moon and the stars and are used to denote the passing of day into night.
Genesis 1:16. “God made two great lights – the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.” Astrologers claim that the word “govern” is used to indicate that the sun and the moon were to govern or “rule” over man, rather than to simply do what the text implies – to give light to a darkened globe, not the affairs of men. Verses 17 and 18 shed valuable light on the matter along with Psalm 136:9.
Genesis 37:9-11. “Then Joseph had another dream, and he told it to his brothers . . . the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me . . . his father rebuked him and said, ‘What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” Astrologers claim that the reference to the sun and moon and the eleven stars prove that Joseph believed in astrology. It is undeniable that the passage makes reference to these celestial bodies. However, Joseph’s father interpreted the dream correctly. They were destined to bow before Joseph and the dream symbolically used the sun, moon, and the stars to make the point.
Genesis 49:3-27. “Then Jacob summoned his sons, saying, gather around so that I may tell you what will befall you in later times.” Astrologers claim that Jacob is delivering his astrological predictions regarding his sons. They also believe that his twelve sons represent the zodiac. The astrologers are correct in their assessment that Jacob is delivering his predictions regarding his sons’ futures. However, Jacob is not using astrological charts to do so. He is offering his predictions based on their individual character – how each one honors their Lord in their respective lives. His assessment is not given by birth order as the astrologer might expect but according to the fruit of their character. The assumption that Jacob’s twelve sons represent the zodiac is simply arbitrary and unfounded.
Numbers 24:7. “A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.” Astrologers believe that the reference to a star coming out of Jacob is an indication that astrology was observed in the days of Moses. In this passage the use of the star references the coming of a person, that person being the Messiah who comes from the lineage of Jacob; a Messiah who will be a ruler as indicated by the reference to the scepter.
These Scriptures represent some of the passages astrologers use to support their belief that their practices are recognized in the Bible. Astrologers attempt to reinterpret a number of other passages as well (see endnote six).
Astrology and Occultism
Divination has long been a key element in the occult world. Astrology as a tool for divination has been used by wiccans and magicians for millennia. Doreen Valiente supports this observation in her book, An ABC of Witchcraft. She notes “Astrology, the study of the influence of the stars and planets upon life on this earth, is another of the fundamentals of magic. It is studied by witch and magician alike.”7
Raymond Buckland further adds to Valiente’s statement in his text, Complete Book of Witchcraft, in his lesson on Divination. He quotes Webster’s dictionary definition of divination: the art of foretelling future events, or discovering things secret or obscure, by the aid of superior beings (the gods?). He references several forms of divination including tarot, scrying, saxon wands (similar to I Ching), cheiromancy (palmistry), tea-leaf reading, numerology, and astrology. He concludes that “astrology is perhaps one of the most popular of the occult sciences.”8 Buckland says that divination is a useful tool and has a definite place in the Craft. He adds, we create our own reality. Nothing is predetermined; nothing has to be. If the individual desires a different outcome, it is within her or his power to bring that about.9
Another astrologer, Walter Mercado, a Puerto Rican who now lives in Miami, says that “nobody has the last word. The stars can indicate certain things to you, but the one who determines your truth is you. I say you can defeat the stars.”10 Mercado seems to agree with Buckland that we have the power within ourselves to create our personal reality. This power is central to occultic teaching throughout time. These men also indicate that truth is to be discovered within oneself and not in a presumably outdated text such as the Scripture.
The above examples merely reflect a sampling of the evidence regarding an occult foundation for astrology. The Christian must be vigilant in his spiritual quest lest he fall into deception and becomes seduced by demons.
Astrology usurps the rightful place of the Scripture in the life of the Christian. It attempts to give direction and guidance to the individual and ultimately deliver him into occult bondage. The Bible is clear on the subject. Astrology, as a form of divination, is an abomination to God. The astrologer would have us believe the Bible endorses astrology as an art that offers mankind an understanding of his true self, an opportunity to create his or her own reality to suit his or her personal spiritual goals. The following Scriptures indicate otherwise.
Leviticus 18:21. “Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.”
Leviticus 20:1-6. “Any Israelite or any alien living in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech must be put to death . . . I will set my face against that man and I will cut him off from his people . . . I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute himself by following them . . .”
Deuteronomy 4:19. “And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon, and the stars – all the heavenly array – do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven.”
Deuteronomy 17:2-5. “If a man or woman living among you . . . is found doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God in violation of his covenant, and contrary to my command has worshiped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars of the sky, and this has been brought to your attention . . . take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death.”
Deuteronomy 18:9-11. “When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination (astrology as noted earlier) or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.”
2 Kings 17:16. “They forsook all the commands of the Lord their God and made for themselves two idols cast in the shape of calves, and an Asherah pole. They bowed down to all the starry hosts, and they worshiped Baal.”
2 Kings 21:3-6. “He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he also erected altars to Baal and made an Asherah pole, as Ahab king of Israel had done. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. He built altars in the temple of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem I will put my Name.” In both courts of the temple of the Lord, he built altars to the starry hosts. He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking him to anger.”
2 Kings 23:4-5. “The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest . . . to remove from the temple of the Lord all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the KidronValley and took the ashes to Bethel. He did away with the pagan priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense . . . – those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and moon, to the constellations and to all the starry hosts.”
2 Kings 23:24. “Furthermore, Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem. This he did to fulfill the requirements of the law . . .”
Isaiah 47:13, 14. “You are wearied with your many counsels; Let now the astrologers, Those who prophesy by the stars, Those who predict by the moons, Stand up and save you from what will come upon you. Behold, they have become like stubble, Fire burns them; They cannot deliver themselves from the power of the flame . . .”
Jeremiah 7:18. “The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes of bread for the Queen of Heaven. They pour drink offerings to other gods to provoke me to anger.”
Jeremiah 8:1, 2. “At that time, declares the Lord, the bones of the kings and officials of Judah, the bones of the priests and prophets, and the bones of the people of Jerusalem will be removed from their graves. They will be exposed to the sun and the moon and all the stars of the heavens, which they have loved and served and which they have followed and consulted and worshiped. They will not be gathered up and buried, but will be like refuse lying on the ground.”
Jeremiah 19:13. “The houses in Jerusalem and those of the kings of Judah will be defiled like this place, Topheth – all the houses where they burned incense on the roofs to all the starry hosts and poured out drink offerings to other gods.”
Zephaniah 1:4-6. “I will stretch out my hand against Judah and against all who live in Jerusalem. I will cut off from this place every remnant of Baal, the names of the pagan and the idolatrous priests – those who bow down on the housetops to worship the starry hosts, those who bow down and swear by the Lord and who also swear by Molech, those who turn back from following the Lord and neither seek the Lord nor inquire of him.”
Acts . “But God turned away and gave them over to the worship of the heavenly bodies.”
1 Corinthians 10:20. “No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.”
The above Scriptures clearly reject the use of astrology and other forms of divination by God’s people. God not only cleanses his kingdom of all divinatory influence, he outright condemns those who practice its art. These Scriptures clearly state the fact that God does not allow any justification for those who would bow down and worship another. He condemns those who practice such idolatry to stoning at the gates of the city.
“Therefore God gave them up in agreement with their inner cravings to such impurity as dishonored their own bodies, since they altered God’s truth into falsehood, and revered and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God abandoned them to shameful passions . . . Just as they did not care to acknowledge God any more, so God gave them over to subverted tendencies, to practice what is not decent, until they are full of every sort of wickedness, immorality, depravity and greed; full of envy, murder, quarreling, deceit, and malice.”11
The Scripture also calls each of us to place our faith in Jesus Christ rather than the created universe. The book of Colossians reminds the individual to “see to it that no one takes you captive through vain philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of man, according to the elemental principles of the universe, rather than according to Christ.”12 We are to remain vigilant and guard our hearts, for from the heart flows the living water of life.
Astrology offers us every opportunity to turn away from our Creator. We are seduced by other gods that come to us from the heavenlies as we seek to divine our future. Astrology claims to offer us hope, but it can only deliver our souls to be burned. It claims to decode the mysteries of the cosmos, yet the Creator has done so in his Word. Astrology utilizes occultic devices to inform the novice; the Lord offers the believer the Scriptures for instruction and a relationship to cement his future.
The astrologer offers his charts to enlighten the disciple; the Lord breathed his Word into man’s heart to bring understanding. Astrology attempts to displace the true God of the universe with the false gods of the ancients. The Christian stands as the only sentinel to call forth the deception of astrology in another’s life. We must stand and rightly speak God’s truth into each soul and thereby become a missionary of hope, rather than a deceiver of the starry hosts and demonic spirits.
Charles R. Strohmer, What Your Horoscope Doesn’t Tell You (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1988), p. 20. (For a full understanding of the qualities of each planet see Strohmer p. 20 and Raymond Buckland p. 129.)
Ibid., p. 20-21.
Ibid., p. 21
Ibid., p. 12.
John Ankerberg and John Weldon, Astrology: Do the Heavens Rule Our Destiny? (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1989), p. 44. Reference the following Scriptures: Leviticus 18:21, 20:1-6.
Ibid., p. 121-132. For an overview of the passages often used by astrologers to support their position see Astrology: Do the Heavens Rule Our Destiny. The authors offer a well reasoned rebuttal to each argument given in defense of astrology.
Doreen Valiente, An ABC of Witchcraft Past & Present (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1973), p.40.
Raymond Buckland, Complete Book of Witchcraft (St. Paul, Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications, 1986), p. 125
Ibid., p. 111
Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas, 12/12/1999), p. 10F
Romans 1:24-26a, 28-29.
Recommended For Further Study:
Charles R. Strohmer, What Your Horoscope Doesn’t Tell You.
John Ankerberg & John Weldon, Astrology: Do the Heavens Rule Our Destiny?
Astrology has been a source for deception in the Christian church for centuries. Some in the faith have accepted a form of Christianized astrology. It, too, is a deception and a radical shift away from biblical teaching. Astrologers attempt to align their divination with Scripture. It cannot be done in good faith when the Scripture is taken in its fullness. As an apologist my desire is for you, the reader, to have in your hand the information needed to make an intelligent decision regarding your faith and your spiritual welfare.