Is magic anti-christian

How much magic can the Christian faith take?


1 Press center Embargo: Program area: Event: Speaker:; 11:00 am Subject area 1: How can we believe? Workshop Weltanschauungen: Magic and Religion a Contradiction? Lademann-Priemer, Dr. Gabriele Document: EZW_1_232 Place: Dreifaltigkeitskirche, Bödekerstr. 35 Program page: 127 How much magic can the Christian faith tolerate? As a motto I would like to quote a sentence by Siegmund Freud: If you consider yourself to be a skeptic, you would do well to doubt your own skepticism from time to time 1; this also applies to the interpretation of what you mean by magic; here too, skepticism is indicated. Everyone has an idea in their head of what magic is. For some, magic is dangerous, anti-divine, a self-empowerment and an attempt to manipulate God or the gods, regardless of whether it is so-called black or white magic. Other explanatory models understand magic as pre-scientific, as an early form of science or learnable craft2, as a means of bringing about desired goals more or less violently, as a means of manipulation, even as a possibility of self-deification. The western concept of magic understands magic in its ideal form essentially as automatically effective. Much effort and justification has gone into maintaining this view over time. 3. For other people, however, magic has a great attraction, magical action, it seems to promise everything: power, energy, to shape life the way you want it yourself. Magic can be practiced either alone or in groups. Quote from E. Bauer, in: Witches in the Museum, Witches Today, Witches Worldwide, Messages from the Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg, New Series Bd. 34, W. Köpke / B. Schmelz (Ed ), Hamburg 2004, ibid. S cf. Evans-Pritchard, ibid. S SJ Tambiah, Magic, science, religion, and the scope of rationality, Cambridge 1990, reprint 1999, p. 7: Magical acts in their ideal forms are thought to have an intrinsic and automatic efficacy. This is one strand in the Western conception of magic, and a lot of sophistry and special pleading has gone into preserving this definition over time. The latest example can be found in the otherwise quite useful article Magic by A. Resch in the Lexicon of New Religious Groups, Scenes and Weltanschauungen H Baer (Ed), Freiburg Resch contrasts religion and magic in such a way that in religion the transcendent being acts in freedom on human life, while in magic the fulfillment of wishes is, as it were, forced. The article Magic III. Biblical in RGG 4th edition tries desperately to juxtapose biblical-religious thinking and magic and to record the difference, even if there is something else useful.

2 2 In one case as in the other, magic seems to be diametrically opposed to religion in general and to Christian faith, and to Christian theology in particular. A contradiction between religion and magic is found. Those Christians who reject magic refer to biblical passages, those people who practice magic reject Christianity in many cases here in Western Europe. Michael Dietmar Eschner from the Thelema Society puts it particularly pointedly: The magician is anti-Christian because he has the skills that Christianity ascribes only to their (sic) God. The magician is the Antichrist because he is the incarnation of God in man, the realization of deus est homo (God is man) or better homo est deo (sic) (man is God) .4 But what is actually magic, what is hidden behind this dazzling and very heavily loaded term? I. On magic in general There is no magic as a firmly outlined and precisely defined structure. There are just different approaches to a fuzzy concept. If you try to get closer, you will not be able to avoid repetitions entirely. At first just this much: Magic describes a relationship that is established with God or the gods and between people by means of contact pieces that do not mean anything in themselves, but are dependent on interpretive words and rituals. Ludwig Klages () describes the effect of magic as the power of images; In Klage's work, images are powers of the soul.5 This belief in images is required by the bodies that interact through the space in between, which is not simply an empty space, but is powerful.6 It is similar with the contact pieces with which people try to help to establish or maintain the connection with the absent, be they alive or dead. There are various objects that seem to contain something of the absent, pieces that are or were important to him or her, letters, pictures, photos, etc. Everyone knows that. The connection that is to be created here can be seen as magical describe. The pieces serve to keep memories alive, to comfort the absence, to transform the absent person. The objects themselves often have no special meaning, but are related to a person. This can be grasped with hands in ancestral belief, but it is still noticeable here, even if it is seldom admitted, and yet very lively. We find here in a variety of ways a form of everyday magic that is deeply human and that seems to protect against loss, sadness, loneliness. It is about images and ideas that work in the soul. In religious studies, the term magic is increasingly questionable because it is much too vague. As a rule, it does not apply to the thing one is talking about, which is why Zinser and others want to avoid it altogether.7 The word magic conceals completely different things, as I have already indicated M.D. Eschner, The secret sex-magic instructions of the animal 666, Holdenstedt 1993, p.12. L. Klages, The Spirit as Adversary of the Soul, Philosophy I, Bonn² 1981, S Ibid. P.981. C. Auffahrt et al. (Ed), Metzler-Lexikon Religion Vol. 2, Stuttgart 1999, sub voce magic.

3 3 First of all, a distinction must be made between black and white magic, between damaging magic and healing action. I would also like to outline three approaches. 1. In the Middle East, including in the Bible, harmful magic, black magic, is forbidden because it is illegitimate. The practitioner has empowered himself and is not called to do so. On the other hand, there is the ritual-symbolic action of those who exercise their office as prophet or priest, but also act in a sense that can be described as magical. These persons are called to their office. I'll get to the details later. We will clarify what this means in detail for the Christian faith. It looks similar in the traditional religions of Africa and America. The magic of the African medicine man or fortune teller does not mean here either that gods or ancestors could be forced to do anything, but rather it is based on the idea that they can be reached through certain rites and sacrifices and that they can turn back to people and their living families. Here, too, it is a matter of a ritual-symbolic act, in contrast to this is black magic, which is practiced by unskilled people for selfish reasons. Basically, it can be stated that white magic has a community-promoting aspect. Either it is practiced in a ritual in which the cultural-religious community is present or it brings the individual back into this community, whereas black magic is often practiced in secret and opposes the respective human-religious community. The fact that a white magician can also be feared because of his powers is shown by both African traditions and some stories from the Old Testament in which the Man of God bears dangerous traits. During his illness, Elijah announces death to King Ahaziah because he has a strange god consulted as an oracle. The king now sends his men to Elijah to fetch him. They address him as a man of God, and he answers their captain: If I am a man of God, fire will fall from heaven and devour you and your 50 men. And so it happens until an angel intervenes and tells Elijah that he need not fear the king, but should go (2 Kings 1). The danger is rooted in the matter itself, the reversal of blessings is a curse, of salvation it is ruin. In the ancient Orient, possible opponents who could cause damage were ritually magically repulsed. The reverse is also true, however: the other side of the curse is blessing, and corruption is salvation. 2. Then we find magic, magical action widespread in the early modern times, names like John Dee8, but also Isaak Newton and others stand for it. These people had no intention of replacing the Christian faith with anything else, even though they may have been controversial. They neither wanted to dethrone God nor perfect themselves to gods, but tried to grasp nature and its laws. The doctrine of the correspondence between microcosm and macrocosm, from above and below, plays a role here.9 8 There was an early discussion about John Dee whether he practiced black magic while he himself appealed to angelic language, cf. A true & faithful RELATION of what Passed for Many Years Between Dr John Dee and Some Spirits, London 1659, New York², expanded edition, ibid.

4 4 If, on the one hand, a distinction is made between magic and religion in Protestantism, especially in the Calvinist style, in others the discovery of the Hermetic Scriptures and the connection between magic and gnosis drives the joy of scientific discovery.10 If in one case magic is considered to be outdated, it has become in the other case put into service, but without those who operated it believing that they were acting against the Christian faith. 3. We also encounter what is commonly understood as magical action, namely the attempt to gain power and energy, to rule the universe and more. Magic is the bringing about of mental, spiritual and physical phenomena, which are called occult due to cosmic laws that are not yet known. By loosening and binding (lat. Solve et coagula) the practicing magician consciously places himself above the currently known and valid laws of nature. He acts on the basis of his higher knowledge and makes use of his own as well as that of others. He attains his own occult-magical abilities through years of strong centralization and training of his ego. He submits the alien forces to his trained will and controls them based on his understanding of higher divine laws and principles. For an initiated Magus there is no black or white magic, because he has recognized that both terms are relative and only represent emanations of one and the same elemental force. 11 The magus is his own master at the highest heights of human knowledge and stands above the influences and suggestions that make the inquiring human spirit unfree. 12 The use of so-called black magic could, however, earn the magician a negative reincarnation, but that is only his decision just as white magic is supposed to lead to a good reincarnation, but this is also due to the magician himself. We find the same thing with Eschner, who, following Crowley, uses Magick to discover the God-consciousness of man and whose ideology culminates in the sentence Deus est Homo! God is man. For Eschner this means that the new eon overcomes the boundary between God and man and that God is understood as a further stage in the evolution of the individual. Everyone living today is equipped with everything he needs to develop himself into a god. (Bold in the original) .13 Black and white magic are not distinguished from one another: Satanism knows no such separation. Magic is magic, whether it is used to help or to harm. The satanist as a magician should have the ability to decide what is right and then use the powers of magic to achieve his goals. 14 The religious relationship that characterizes magical action in other cultures is dissolved here, the magician appears as a kind of solipsist. This kind of magic is a manifestation of the modern belief in progress and feasibility. The one who sees himself as a magician ultimately makes use of his own powers through concentration and practice. There is no binding to a higher-level instance. In this sense, the worldview of Scientology also has magical traits, especially the operating thetan of level VIII (OT VIII), who is supposed to be master of matter, energy, space and time. Here is the religious anchoring of S. J. Tambiah, op. Cit., P.24ff. D. Morison, Practice of White and Black Magic, Bürstedt, Reprint 2001, p.7. Ibid. P.378. A. Crowley / M.D. Eschner, Liber Al vel Legis with comments, Bergen / Dumme 1993; P.18f. Anton Szandor LaVey, The Satanic Bible, German Berlin² 1999, p.53.

5 5 ritual symbolic action disappeared, what remains is a technology with magical features. But this already applies in the sense of the original, traditional magic as black magic, namely as an attempt to exercise control instead of healing. This area also includes modern voodoo practices, as practiced in our midst, sometimes even propagated. Suddenly the so-called Haitian Voodoo15 is attractive again, magic from Latin America and Africa enjoys great popularity, and basically other cultures are exploited imperialistically for their own goals. This area includes voodoo dolls, corresponding equipment and rituals, often self-made, which serve to expand the ego and thus represent a considerable market share. All of this serves only one's own wishes and goals, one's own power. If you interpret magic from this point of view, then magic and religion, sorcery and Christian beliefs contradict each other. But it is a one-sided concept of magic that says something about the modern world rather than the ritual or ritual-magical context that underlies a religious system. A new study on the New Age, on the other hand, takes into account the fact that witchcraft and thus magic make use of the forces of the Otherworld. Forces of the other world are bundled and channeled for a specific purpose. In doing magic, humans go beyond their everyday reality and experience personal autonomy16, which probably accounts for a large part of the attraction of magic. What is described here goes beyond the human powers of the magician, but nevertheless belongs within the scope of feasibility, even if some witches emphasize her white magic abilities. The white magic as a symbiosis of male and female deity, male and female power still serves its usability 17. The powers and energies are used to achieve certain goals. Black and white magic blur. Magic is an attempt to grasp and shape the world, nothing should be left to chance, one's own insignificance and being lost should be overcome. However, when the soul has vanished, the priest, who knows magical recipes, knows the nimbus of power to spread through magically shimmering jugglery '... And so bourgeois society abounds with sects, secret associations, lodges, Orders, conventicles, partly fanatical, partly sweet groups around a medicine man who, as master, adept, seer, saint, priest-king, celebrates blasphemous ordinations, in the admiring community of his disciples, lambs and witches, promoting nonsense, for himself but taking care of the business of his fame, which business, as everyone knows, is never neglected today. This mischief, a disgusting caricature of vital community formations, decomposes the arts, sciences, and literature with a contemptuous cult of personality and works rapidly to eradicate the scanty remnants of the independence of judgment that remain in the raging of the conflicts of interest here and there 18, so Klages In this admittedly polemical sentence, Klages laments the soullessness of modernity, which has fallen victim to feasibility and so ultimately to the human will, with life falling by the wayside. For Klages this also means that the cf. Papa Shanga, Praxis der Voodoo-Magie, Bürstadt o.j. Witches in the Museum, p.193. Introduction to White Magic, Susanne, the White Witch, AHA 2/05, pp. 40f. Klages, op. P. 1475, note 100.

6 6 the formation of human communities as well as the possibilities of independent judgment are threatened and destroyed. For Ludwig Klages, the timeless will is the adversary of the soul and that means life itself. The expression of soullessness is the marketing of magical recipes. The narrowing of the concept of magic to that which is prohibited, unethical or disreputable, even supposed to serve the alleged self-deification, is based on a manifestation especially of Protestantism, in which magic and religion were interpreted as opposing Protestants emphasized the sovereignty of God and divine providence and Omnipotence.It was inevitable and logical that, because of the talk of God's sovereignty, Protestant theologians hammered in the distinction between religious acts as intercessory acts and magical acts as rituals for influencing and manipulating the divine. 19 Magic is also seen as a level of human development that has been overcome, as an attempt by man to take control of nature and fate or to defend himself against them, while religion was valued as a higher level. What supposedly takes place in the world of peoples should be reflected in the development of the individual and vice versa, so that to this day there is talk of the supposedly magical world of the child, with the practical behavior of both indigenous peoples and the other the children are left out of sight. It was not taken into account that such a level scheme basically leads to making religion itself superfluous. It too becomes a stage that will ultimately be overcome. Another view, however, emphasizes that magical acts are ritual acts, and ritual acts are publicly presented acts, the positive and creative meaning of which is misunderstood and whose convincing validity is misinterpreted when subjected to some kind of empirical evidence attributed to scientific activity will. Here magic and rite are seen together.20 II. The Biblical Findings I will first concentrate on the biblical findings with regard to sorcery. In the following presentation of Old Testament passages, I am mainly referring to my colleague Rüdiger Schmitt21, Old Testament scholar at the University of Munster, former sect representative and head of the child and youth protection campaign in Hamburg. The Bible, like the entire ancient Orient, knows a variety of terms for someone who practices sorcery, fortune-telling, oracle, astrology, healings, damaging spells, and more. We are in German of the different content of this Tambiah, aao, p. 18f: These Protestant propagandists emphasized the notion of God s sovereignty and of divine providence and omnipotence It was inevitable and logical given this formulation of God s sovereignty that Protestant theologians would hammer out the distinction between religious acts as primarily intercessionary in character, and magical acts as being coercive rituals ambitiously attempting to manipulate the divine. See also Metzler-Lexikon, sub voce Magie. G. Cunningham, Religion & Magic Approaches and Theories, Edinburgh 1999, p.68. Cunningham, quoting Tambiah: Magical acts are ritual acts, and ritual acts are in turn performative acts whose positive and creative meaning is missed and whose persuasive validity is misjudged if they are subjected to that kind of empirical verification associated with scientific activity. R. Schmitt, Magic in the Old Testament, habilitation thesis, Münster 2004.

7 7 Terms hardly consciously and read over them, if we take note of the corresponding sections in the Bible at all. What is meant by magic with the various refractions is by no means an attempt to manipulate God. What kind of god would that be who could be manipulated? There is allowed and forbidden sorcery. The forbidden sorcery is practiced by people who are not authorized to do so, but who have empowered themselves and who strive for selfish goals for themselves or others. Permitted magical action, if we want to stay with the term for the time being, is tied to an office or to a charismatic, i.e. person directly commissioned by God. A special case is the so-called Witch of Endor, who has an object of fortune telling, an ob, of which we do not know exactly what it actually is. This woman is not a witch, but a sorceress who is not reprimanded for her actions, but King Saul is guilty and is rejected by God. In the end he dies by his own hand.22 Moses, Elijah and Elisha offer examples of what might be called a magical intervention in natural events. However, they are acting on behalf of God, and what they do is to save Israel. With Moses it is about bringing about the possibility of passing through the Red Sea (Ex 14ff), with Elijah it is about stopping the rain. That is why his opponent, King Ahab, regards him as a magician of harm, the destroyer of Israel (1 Kings 18:17) .23 This clearly shows the ambiguity of those who regard some as a man of God, but others as Black magician is assessed. In connection with a commission or an office, Schmitt speaks of ritual symbolic action. We find this not only in the Bible and in the ancient Orient, but also largely in the traditional religions, but partly also in their modern variants or developments in other continents. The ritual-symbolic action is embedded in a cosmotheistic worldview (Assmann), i.e. in a world order that harmonizes and maintains the world of gods or God and man.24 In the concept of cosmotheistic knowledge, magic has a central function: cosmotheistic Knowledge is `magical knowledge, the knowledge of creation and in-going attitude, not of monitoring and punishing. It relates to heaven and earth, i.e. to the visible world, but to their hearts, i.e. to their secrets, their hidden meaning, their controlling connections.The world of God and man are inseparably connected, and this is where God is at work.26 It is closed emphasize that a rite, a ritual is always cultic action, i.e. an action whose point of reference is transcendent. In our parlance, ritual is also used separately from it. We speak of rituals when we mean greetings or certain behaviors that have nothing to do with a cult and transcendent powers, we speak of so-called everyday rituals. Strictly speaking, however, these are not rituals, but ceremonies; The greeting formula is not a greeting ritual, but a 22 Cf. G. Lademann-Priemer, The story of the witch by Endor in the context of the discussion about occultism, In: Identity and Dialogue Festschrift for Detlef Bendrath on his 60th birthday, Hamburg 1995, p , H.-Chr. Goßmann / G. Lademann-Priemer / J.Möller (Eds), there also the references. See H. J. Helle, Sociology of Religion, Development of Concepts of the Holy, Munich / Vienna 1997, p.152ff. 24 See Schmitt, op. Cit., Ibid., P. 49f. 26 Ibid., 104.

8 8 Welcome ceremony. Ritual and ceremonial should be kept apart for the sake of clarity in terms of content. A rite consists of a powerful word, a cultic act and a means, be it a sacrificial animal or a ritual material such as flour, water, cedarwood and bread. It all belongs together. The effectiveness of the ritual matter is based solely on divine instruction.27 Through the act and with the use of the means, the people are excused through priestly atonement rituals, healing, and even with Elijah and Elisha they are raised from the dead. The action does not force God to comply with the wishes of the people or the individual, but it is the other way round: God binds himself to the action and promises to keep his promise, but he remains free to take action. This also applies to the prophetic acts of signs. This can be made clear in Jer 19: 1, 2a, 10-11: Thus said the Lord to Jeremiah: Go and buy yourself a clay jar and take some of the elders and the priests with you. Then go out to the Ben-Hinnom Valley at the entrance of the Shard Gate. Then smash the jar in front of the eyes of the men who went with you. And say to them: Thus says the Lord of Zebaot: In the same way I will break this people and this city as one breaks earthenware so that it cannot be healed again. This is a magical, ritual-symbolic act that anticipates divine intervention and thus changes the situation. Coming disaster and divine decision are announced, but God remains free in his action, namely to let the disaster occur or not.28 A short word on the polemics against magical practices in the Old Testament: In Micah 5: 9-14 it says: And it will happen on that day, say the Lord, then I will cut off your horses from among you and I will destroy your chariots. Then I will exterminate the cities of your country and razor all your fortresses. Then I will eradicate the sorcery in your hand and the nn oracle givers (magic arts) 29 will no longer exist. Then I will eradicate your images of God and your mass levels from your midst and you will no longer worship the work of your hands ... This threat is about the lack of trust in God. The people have no safeguards, be they magical or military. It is deprived of all means that give it the illusion that it has options other than God alone. The fuses question the sovereignty of God. On that day God will perform a purification judgment and purify Israel to salvation.30 The Old Testament offers a wealth of stories, sayings, ritual instructions and descriptions on the subject of magic, ritual, and symbols. This cannot be dealt with in an almost exhaustive way, but shows a wealth of different traditions, perspectives, actions, which, however, revolve around the one topic that God is Lord and that man should trust him. A look at the New Testament shows that there too there are many similarities with riatual symbolic action, but also the polemics against mantic practices: Schmitt, op. Cit., P.181. Schmitt, op. Cit., P.141ff. The words that are used here for oracles (magic arts) are often used for illegitimate practices outside of Israel, see R. Kessler, Micha, HThKAT, Freiburg 1999, p.250f. Schmitt, op. S.

9 9 Jesus appears as a miracle worker, whose actions have, as it were, magical features similar to the deeds of the men of God in the Old Testament. The story of the Transfiguration places him in the tradition of Moses and Elijah. After the Transfiguration, Jesus obtained money for the temple tax in a very unusual way: He had a fish caught and the coin was removed from its mouth (Mt 17:27) .31 The danger of the New Testament Man of God is also shown by the Cursing the fig tree (Mt 21: 19ff). With such miracles the evangelists represent the divinity of Jesus. The level of ritual symbolism is reached with the institution of the sacraments: the forgiveness of sins and the celebration of the Lord's Supper. When Jesus says to the sick man in Capernaum: Your sins have been forgiven, he is doing it for God, which causes some anger among the audience. The healing is nothing more than an accompanying sign of forgiveness. With the forgiveness of sins, Jesus anticipated the Last Judgment. It is similar with the commissioning of the apostles to forgive sins. When it says: Whichever you forgive the sins of whom they are forgiven, whichever you keep them, to whom they are kept, that is exactly what happens. The forgiveness of sins or its opposite is connected with a commission and anticipates the judgment of God. The reversal of the forgiveness of sins is reminiscent of the reversal of blessings and curses in the Old Testament. This also applies to church action, to confession and the forgiveness of sins; it takes place in the certainty and confidence that God is bound to this action, which is carried out by people who are called to do so. It is similar with the Lord's Supper. It links up and makes present the suffering and cross of Christ and at the same time anticipates the resurrection and the joyous meal in the kingdom of God. The elements bread and wine are in themselves neither holy nor do they indicate anything by themselves. The bottle of wine in the restaurant in the evening is no more an indication of the blood of Christ than the bread and butter on the breakfast table is an indication of his body. This only happens in the rite, but never outside of church activity. One has pieces of contact, namely bread and wine, which are meaningless in themselves, but are now interpreted as the flesh and blood of Christ. The rite creates a ritual reality that points beyond itself and anticipates the salutary future: Whoever eats this bread will live forever (Jn 6.51). That is ritual symbolism. The colored and one-sided, but widespread understanding of magic becomes particularly evident in the understanding of the Lord's Supper, namely: Magic works out of itself, ex opere operato. This formula is misunderstood as dynamistic action (Schmitt). However, it comes from the theological controversies of the Reformation era32 and is transferred within the framework of the discussion of magic into a context in which it is unsuitable. The Acts of the Apostles narrates a legitimate magical act, namely the lot oracle, with the help of which Matthias is elected as an apostle. As described in the Old Testament, this is a rite: two candidates are set up, there is prayer, the lot is cast (Act 1.23-26). But there is also in the Acts of the Apostles the polemic against illegitimate magic, namely sorcery, which is not done in the name of Jesus Christ, but serves to gain one's own power and influence and against the power of the spirit. 32 Originally it was also true of the Middle Ages that the power of the sacrament rests on the action of God (opus operatum). At the end of the Middle Ages the conviction spread that the correct ritual performance made the mass valid, which Luther opposed. In Bucer, however, it is again underlined that it is a matter of the work wrought by God, see A. Adam, Textbook of Dogmen History, Vol. 2, Gütersloh 1968, pp. 56, 163, 240, 329. This discussion shows the unsuitability of the formula for magical action.

10 10 is directed, which is to be acquired with money. (Act.8). Just as the legitimacy of magic is determined in the Old Testament by whether God remains Lord of action, so in the New by the rule of Christ. Ritual symbolism or, if we will, ritual magic is based on the confidence that God will bind himself to the rite and be visualized in it so that guilt can be forgiven and the Lord's Supper effective. So it is with the blessing which, in the words of the Old Testament, is placed on the people. Even the blessing is not a pious decoration, but the solemn declaration of the presence of God, which accompanies the believer in his everyday life. This action, however, is neither timeless nor subject to human will; man remains a recipient, even if he is called to carry out the ritual. Yet it is not under his power. However, the difficulty of conversions and their consequences also shows in the ritual-magical or, better, the ritual-symbolic action and context. The life stories of those who were subjected to a voodoo ritual in West Africa or who participated voluntarily and now want to live as Christians offer examples of this. The previous ritual and its involvement cannot simply be wiped away, but it is a long and painful path if you want to and can go it. Dealing with people from other cultures makes the difficulties of working across cultures painfully noticeable, unless both sides share the same belief and are convinced of the effectiveness of the other side's rituals. Often we are shown our own helplessness. These reports and experiences also make the community aspect clear in our environment. I will indicate a successful and a failed experience: I remember the story of an African pastor from KwaZulu / Natal, the son of a medicine man. I know the family and everyone involved very well personally. In view of a serious illness in his daughter, the pastor has managed to forego traditional Zulu medicine, even though the European doctors were no longer able to help. Although he feared risking his daughter's life, he did not want to use traditional means against his father's advice. On this way he was supported by the whole congregation, people who were singing and praying in the rectory day in and day out. The key figure in the church was a woman from the Women's Aid who had dreamed of the pastor's inner misery and conflict. In the end, the girl got over the disease. 33 Two ritual-symbolic systems meet in which visions, prayers and ritual behavior play a role. On the one hand, the two systems contradict each other, but on the other hand they fit together like the two sides of the coin. The person in the middle, being drawn to both sides inwardly and outwardly, runs a considerable risk of being crushed. In this case, the risk is the daughter's life. However, the two ritual realities appear in the same cultural context and therefore the Christian rite could take effect. On the other hand, jumping into another cultural context is very difficult, which is why we often have no way of helping people who come to us from West Africa or other countries and seek our help against their ritual-symbolic or magical ties. I am thinking in particular of a young girl who came to Hamburg from Nigeria and wanted to live as a Christian. It came from a familial and social very much 33 See G. Lademann-Priemer, The religious change in the example of family stories, 45-58, ibid. P. 53 ff, in: G. Lademann-Priemer (Hrsg), traditional religion and Christian Faith Contradiction and Change / Traditional Religion and Christian Faith Cultural Clash and Cultural Change-, Festschrift for Hans-Jürgen Becken for his 70th birthday, Ammersbek 1996.

11 11 difficult environment and was forcibly initiated into a West African cult by her stepmother as a child. She wanted to get rid of this cultic involvement because she suffered from bad conscience, nightmares, and insomnia, but no ritual could be found that would have been suitable for a solution. I was able to understand and understand in terms of content and inwardness what plagues the girl after everything that had happened, but it was completely clear that help was urgently needed, but could not be found among whites, including white Christians, because they know them ritual ties of the cult itself. What separates has a stronger effect than what connects. Something similar can happen if a Christian has for some reason entered another ritual system and now feels that he has put his Christian identity at risk. If a Christian ritual, baptism, confession or Lord's Supper is to be opposed to this, then both the person who does it and the person who receives it must believe in the ritual-symbolic effectiveness of what they are doing and be certain that Christ is behind it. There is no automatic effect. Conclusion In the context of my remarks, it should be emphasized that there is no religion and the Christian faith without magic, because there is no religion without its ritual symbolism. On the whole, however, I consider the term magic useless because it is far too fuzzy. Not only in the Bible, but also in the German language, there are enough words for magic, occultism, harmful magic, ritual symbolism, doctrine of correspondences, etc. It would be helpful for the sake of clarity to say exactly what you want to express, especially magic always smacks of the unauthorized, the term is consequently already understood as a condemnation. What we secretly call magic degenerates into business and feasibility when the original connection between the world of God and the world of man is broken because it no longer seems to make sense. Then the person is almost forced to take fate into their own hands. However, in every religion, including the Christian one, there are set pieces that can apparently be used for this purpose. The biblical evidence shows that it is not about the question of magic or not, but about the rulership of God or Jesus Christ. The Bible is part of the history of religion, so the relationship to ritual symbolism and curses and blessings in the Middle East is also reflected in it. However, it turns against the mixing with Near Eastern cults and against the illegitimate exercise of power by those who claim for themselves what belongs to God. The reference to the religious history of the Middle East does not mean to level the Bible and its message, but it shows that it is also a part of history, because we see the word of God only in the word of man and as part of human history, including the Have religious history. That is part of the belief in the incarnation. This way of looking at things opens up the possibility of checking everything and keeping what is good, as Paul says (1 Thessalonians 5:21).