Why Does the Bible Forbid Necromancy?

Why does the Bible expressly condemn divination? We have the example of King Saul attempting to contact Samuel (via the “witch” of Endor)-and we know what happened to him! Later Christian scripture denounces the occult generally, and forbids necromancy (the attempt to communicate with the spirits of the dead). My question is, why is this such a big no-no? God controls all things, and never once does the bible infer that the dead have any extraordinary power to see the future. So, if you are really determined to contact your late grand aunt Sarah, go ahead (although I believe the conversation is likely to extremely one-sided). Why should the almighty care a fig about your attempts to contact the netherworld?

Because the Bible says so!

Seriously, I don’t know. Anyone? It sounds silly to me.

Well, if we’re going to debate why the Bible forbids all the things it forbids, and which if any of those prohibitions are silly, this is going to be a looong thread.

As for this specific prohibition–I think it’s a question of seeking power and knowledge apart from God. It’s okay to call fire down from heaven if you do it in the name of God–Elijah pulled stunts like that all the time–but calling fire down from heaven (or seeking to foretell the future) in the name of some “baal” or your dear departed Aunt Sally is (in the Biblical view of things) a rebellion against the LORD.

The Bible is not always consistent as to whether or not “idols” have any power–in that second link (1 Kings 18:22-40), it’s clear that calling on them is futile, but elsewhere it’s implied that demons and what-not do have power, even if God can ultimately smite them when he pleases–the witch of Endor is able to summon up the spirit of Samuel (and in the New Testament there are various tales of demonic possession). Even when demons and idols are portrayed as mere statues and completely powerless, as in 1 Kings 18:22-40, God evidently has some sort of complex about this sort of thing (that whole “jealous God” business).

This prohibition, I should stress, is only on the Jewish people. As part of their covenant with G-d, the Jewish people are expected to not seek such supernatural help from any source other than G-d himself, through legitimate prophets, not by use of magical forces.

Non-Jews are, in the Bible, explicitly allowed to do so, as in the following verses, Deuteronomy 18:14-15.

The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the LORD your God has not permitted you to do so.
The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.

Perhaps God doesn’t like the competition?

I’m quite serious – it doesn’t make much sense to ask Great-Aunt Sarah what the winning lottery numbers will be unless you think she has some sort of power to predict / influence the future. And since the Judeo-Christian God is, by his own admission, a jealous god, he probably doesn’t want humans to ascribe superhuman abilities to anybody else when they ought to be praying to HIM. It’s not exactly idol worship, I suppose, but close enough to be questionable by the strict standards of the Old Testament.

I SWEAR MEBuckner’s replay wasn’t there when I started composing mine (walks off grumbling).

In the Orthodox Jewish view, Demons and sorcery do exist, and do have power, but that power is not independent of G-d, it is vested in them by G-d, as much as the radiation of heat is a power vested in the sun by G-d.

However, the Jewish people, having agreed to be G-d’s “chosen people,” are expected to not make use of intermediaries for supernatural power, but instead to turn to G-d directly (or to only make use of nature).

Chaim Mattis Keller

Hoping that an interesting parallel is not a hi-jack:

The “earlier” Synoptic Gospels, especially Mark, place a great deal of emphasis on Jesus’ power over “supernatural” beings, i.e, demons and spirits. (The later Gospels, written with a sophisticated Hellenic audience in mind, tended to soft-pedal this sort of “trashy” miracle)

Indeed, at one point, Mark reports that Jesus is accused of being some sort of “officer” in the demonic corps due to his ability to exorcise a demon at a word: he say “Bugger Off” and, lo, bugger off they did. No rituals, no incantations, simply “Begone!”

At another point, his disciples report that in a neighboring district, “white” magicians are using his Name to exorcise demons, and that the disciples had rebuked them as they were not Christians, and therefore had no right to do so. And The Boss said “Chill! Any one who seeks to do good is on our side, whether they profess Christianity or not.”

Then, the case of Simon Magnus. According to legend, a famous magician-healer of his time, offered to pay the disciples for the magical formulae that, presumably, Jesus was using for his miraculous results. Hence, the sin of trying to procure or use the power of Jesus for gain is known as simony.

Because the beings that come when you summon them are not Aunt Sally but demons, which should be avoided becasue they are evil.
Why do you Want to know the future anyway?

From the Catechism at http://www.christusrex.org/www1/CDHN/comm1.html#BEFORE

(emphasis mine)

Wha?? Even more evil than Aunt Sally was to begin with? :eek: Man, that demon must be one heck of a mean bitch!

Plus, it must be pretty annoying for the dead. I mean, you’re sitting there, in the afterlife, and then suddenly somebody summons you to earth to ask “Will I ever find true love?” That must be annoying. I know Samuel was pissed.