So…witches are on the rise. Sadly, this is not the beginning of a stand-up comedy routine, but a religious trend in the United States. According to this report, millennials are trading traditional religion for witchcraft and astrology. A majority of young adults consider astrology to be scientific, while the psychic services industry has grown two-percent in the last five years to be worth $2 billion annually. This sector includes astrology, tarot-card reading, aura reading, spell-casting, mediation, and other metaphysical tomfoolery. In some circles, you may be asked your sign before you’re asked your name. How are we to make sense of this trend?
We should recognize that when a culture ditches God, it doesn’t get no gods, but many gods. Humans are necessarily religious. We are hardwired to worship, created to connect with more than what our eyes can see. Faith, then, is inescapable. That is, we will have faith, and the only question is what the object of our faith will be. It turns out that the scientific revolution did not bring about an atheistic utopia where reason banished all belief in the supernatural. Rather, at least in some corners, it has ushered in a new era of pre-Christian animism. No one ever completely abandons the supernatural, and this for the same reason that no one ever abandons gravity. It is there, and you have to deal with it. But having rejected Christianity as the fairy tale religion of backwater America, the young sophisticates of Brooklyn are turning to the necromancy of backwater ancient China. Having declared prayer the ineffective pie-in-the-sky wish talk of Trump country, they have given their attention to séances and calling up the dead. They have traded Bibles for tarot cards, and pastors for mediums. Instead of submitting themselves to the One True God, they have given themselves over to the stars.
But why? Wasn’t the Enlightenment supposed to free us from such childish belief? Isn’t cold science supposed to provide us all our answers? Shouldn’t we be able to purchase meaning and purpose? Is there not a Black Friday sale on happiness?
The fact is that scientism, naturalism, and corporatism have starved our souls. Atheism and evolution cut people off from the source of wonder and mystery. They dammed the river and found the valley dry. As it happens, a lack of water makes people thirsty. Consider these statements from young astrological believers:
“For a generation that grew up in a world of big industry, environmental destruction, large and oppressive governments, and toxic social structures, all of which seem too big to change, this can be incredibly attractive.”—Melissa Jayne, owner of Brooklyn-based metaphysical boutique, Catland
“It’s very different from the way we usually work and live and date, where everything is hyper-mediated and rational,” she said. “There is a belief vacuum: we go from work to a bar to dinner and a date, with no semblance of meaning. Astrology is a way out of it, a way of putting yourself in the context of thousands of years of history and the universe.”—Banu Guler, founder of the astrology app, Co—Star.
Christians should lead the way in wonder. We can truly make sense of the universe, for we are united to the One who spoke it into existence. We have thousands of years of history and heritage, recorded for us in the Bible. And those Holy Scriptures tell of a world much more exhilarating than anything these millennial psychics could turn over on a tarot card: a spoken world, rebel angels, generational curses, cosmic battles, a worldwide flood, divine councils, gods leaving their natural stations to have sex with the daughters of man, giants, world wars, magician duels, a staff that turns into a snake, a parting of the sea, a sun that stands still, bones that take up life again, famine, feasts, evil kings, good kings, wise men, and fools. Then, it tells the story of the God who became a man so that men might live forever. He walked on water, made lame men walk, and gave sight to a blind man by spitting on dirt and rubbing the mud on his eyes. When this God-man was executed, the world went dark at noonday. But He walked out of His grave on the third day, and the world was reborn.
But instead of leading the way in wonder, we have made peace with the world. Instead of feeding the souls of men, we look around, see what the world is doing, and give it a baptized version of itself. That is how we ended up with 7-step self-help sermons, theistic evolution, Corporate Evangelicalism, churches built like warehouses, vapid worship songs, religious leaders as partisan shills, moralism, progressive Christianity, grape juice and stale crackers for communion, and anemic faith. While we righty emphasize the rationality and reasonableness of our doctrines, we would do well to also give ample attention to the mysterious, supernatural, and fantastical elements of our faith. We actually do believe God became a man, you know. Think about all that is entailed in that statement alone. For those looking to beef up their understanding of the unseen world, Michael Heiser’s Supernatural is a good place to start.
On the one hand, news of the rise of witchcraft and astrology is discouraging. It shows the extent of our cultural rot, as we have digressed centuries into animism. But Christians should take heart; the future is bright. Rebellion and false belief cannot stand forever. The Gospel has conquered barbarian and sorcery-filled lands before—including America in its earliest days— and it can do so again. For God has “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in [Christ]” (Col. 2:15). Therefore, when the stars of the Zodiac have all fallen from the sky, Jesus will still be sitting at the right hand of the Father with witchcraft and every other enemy under His feet.