When St. Paul preached in Ephesus, many pagans converted. Ephesians were famous for their witchcraft.
We get an idea of the impact St. Paul had when we read in the Acts of the Apostles: “Some believers came forward to admit in detail how they had used spells. A number of them, who had practiced magic, collected their books and made a bonfire of them in public. The value was calculated to be 50,000 silver pieces.”
A bonfire! We’re not talking about a couple dozen books containing instructions on how to practice witchcraft. We’re talking about of mountain of books!
In the early Church, anyone becoming a Christian had to proclaim on the day of baptism: “I believe in God the Father, Creator of heaven and earth. I believe in God the Son, Jesus Christ, who redeemed us by dying on the cross and rising from the dead. I believe in God the Holy Spirit.”
However, that was not enough. No double allegiance was allowed. That person also had to say: “I renounce Satan. I renounce all his evil works. I renounce all his empty promises.” It is necessary to insist that a Christian cannot lead a double life.
You have not understood the Gospel if you go to church on Sunday and then later during the week you visit a witchdoctor to ‘curse’ your enemy.
Africa has millions of Christians who believe in Jesus and fill churches every Sunday. But the culture is not Christian. We have a lot of work to do before African culture becomes a culture that remains truly African while also becoming truly Christian.
One step towards this goal is to make it clear that Christians need to be more like those Ephesians who burned all their books on witchcraft. Given modern habits, this means that no Christian will ever consult a website looking for ways to do magic spells or curse an enemy.
Please forgive me if what I am saying is so obvious and undeniable that it sounds like I am insulting you. Perhaps you protest: “What makes you assume that I would even think of doing such horrible things?” However, I can tell you, without the slightest hesitation, this is still a problem for some Christians—and not just here in Africa but also in other places.
As St John wrote to the first Christians: “It is not because you are ignorant of the truth that I am writing to you but rather because you know it already, and know that no lie can come from the truth.”