Published in Church and Life (1821) 25.8.2011 – 7.9.2011 No 13
Astrology in all its forms has always been condemned by the church as a work of the devil. This is one of the earliest and most constant teachings of the church. It is not surprising because when Jesus came into this world the whole religious culture of the pagan world was dominated by various beliefs in astrology, horoscopes, soothsaying and magic. The rulers of the day, especially kings and generals, usually asked advice from their consultants to the stars before they did anything important. Many decisions were put off until the so called stars “lined up”.
In the early church, the apostles, missionaries and preachers spread the word that there was only one God and that He was more powerful than any other force, real or imagined. It was very difficult for early Christian converts to follow their faith because they lived and worked in a predominately pagan and occult culture. Work and pay demanded that the bosses’ religion and culture be followed or respected. Some Christians were actually put to death for refusing to follow popular pagan practices of sacrifices and rituals.
Mind you, while it is not that bad today, we have to remember that we also live and work in increasingly pagan times and culture. Let us look at some of the teaching of early Christian leaders of the time on this topic.
St Gregory of Romesaid “man is not made for the stars in the heavens, but rather the stars for mankind”, “God did not create the planets and the stars with the intention that they should dominate mankind”. St Gregory of Nyssa added “if we are but instruments of heavenly rotations, then we do not have free will and if mankind loses freedom, it loses everything”.
Canon 36 of the Apostles says “members of the clergy must not be magicians or enchanters or astrologers or make what are called amulets”. St Augustinesaid “anyone who believes that our loving God would give power to stars in order to direct and govern our lives, offends God’s justice and love”. St John Chrysostom stated “The belief in stars is a foolish disbelief against God”. He also says that God is not “subjected to the stars’ power”; and “If we are directed by star power, then there is no such thing as good or evil”.
Justin blames the devil for circulating this deceitful teaching about stars amongst the Greeks, and the Egyptian sorcerers and all false prophets.
In the book of Daniel in the Bible, we read “no wise men, enchanters, magicians or astrologers can show the kind of wisdom he asks, but only God in heaven”.
I close with another teaching of the Church Fathers, “Do not pay attention to dreams or soothsayers, but be guided by trust in the all-powerful Grace of Jesus Christ”. I say “amen” to all that.
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