Many Christians are wondering: can you be a Christian and believe in astrology?
In short, yes.
You can be a Christian and believe in quite a number of things like astrology, Tarot, crystals, etc.
But isn’t that pagan and against God? Doesn’t the Bible say things like divination and “sorcery” are forbidden?
There are definitely some verses to that effect. (See my post on what the Bible says about the Tarot.)
However, now we have two separate questions:
- Can you be a Christian and believe in astrology?
- Can you be a Christian who sees the Bible as literal and inerrant and believe in astrology?
I am less interested in answering (2), mostly because I do not think of the Bible as inerrant and 100% literally true. My Christianity is quite different from that, so I have little to say about it directly.
I have no interest in arguing anyone out of that view. I do not really think people truly believe such things on the basis of arguments anyway. It is much more deeply internalized than mere “rational argument.”
I am more interested in speaking to the person who has spiritual uncertainties, doubt, a sense for the deep mysteries of life, and a hunger for truth even if that truth is paradoxical or fuzzy.
And many such people are curious about the esoteric and occult fashions of the day e.g. tarot, astrology, witchcraft, etc. Many like myself dabble in identities as paradoxical as “Christian pagan” or “Christian occultist.” We are perhaps a rare bunch, but I know I am not alone.
Anyway, many people ask “Can you be a Christian and believe/do/think X, Y, or Z” but this is not a well-defined question, because there is such massive disagreement among self-proclaimed Christians about what it even means to “be a Christian.”
For example, my own father, a fundamentalist Southern Baptist, doesn’t believe that Catholics are Christians. Catholics would certainly disagree, and also thereby condemn every other sect of Christianity as not doing Christianity properly.
Very few Christians seem to be universalists who believe there are multiple paths to salvation. Why is that? Is it because of the imperialist zeal baked into the history of Christianity?
Why are Christians so likely to think they and their congregation have the sole grip on the deepest metaphysical mysteries of the universe, that they alone have been blessed with the Ultimate Knowledge of Reality?
It seems to me quite insane to believe that you alone have grasped the divine Truth accurately enough to define exactly what it means to be a Christian, right down to a prescribed set of doctrinal beliefs and ritual action.
Personally, I am not interested in the normative force underlying the question: “Can You Be a Christian and Believe in Astrology?”
This is because this question is rooted in a fear mindset. In the fear of “not being a Christian properly” and thereby presumably burning in hellfire for all eternity, or otherwise suffering from a negative judgment from the great Cosmic Cop.
It would take another essay to express to the extent to which I loathe the deeply immoral, inhuman doctrine of “damnation” and the usually associated penal theories of salvation, themselves products of a violent and patriarchal culture that did not properly integrate the radical ethical teachings of their own Christ.
When you deconstruct the concept of hell and the associated feelings of fear, you can really start having a proper, loving relationship with Divinity.
Anything else is emotional abuse.
Further questions: Can you be a Christian and take mushrooms? Can you be a Christian and study Zen Buddhism? Can you be a Christian and believe in magic? Believe in the divine feminine? In occult and esoteric philosophy?
I see no reason why not. Since there is no agreement among Christians as to what it means to be a Christian and we are free to whatever eclecticism we wish precisely insofar as that eclecticism leads us closer to God.
For whatever reason, this sort of do-it-yourself spirituality is not very popular among many Christians, who seem to be fearful of venturing out of prescribed social conventions and fear-monger about the dangers of “cherry-picking” which is said to be mere human pride.
What I think is more prideful is putting boundaries and limits on the ways in which we are “supposed” to experience the Divine.
In the utter beyondness of God’s transcendental mystery, are we really so full of hubris to think that God gave us our drives of curiosity, imagination, and open-mindedness only for them to be shut-down by rigid dogmas and orthodoxies?
I’ve always been allergic to group thought, always preferring to work things out myself, in my own way, only assenting to the truth once I had come to recognize its validity for myself.
I recognize that this might not be suitable for everyone. Perhaps for some people they find great comfort in the mass-consciousness of organized Christianity that is zealously focused around carving out creeds, statements of faith, doctrinal clarifications, theological exactness, etc., etc.
I know that sounds utterly condescending, but I am serious: I am only speaking as to what my own psychological dispositions are. I make no judgment that my own eclecticism is somehow ultimately better than someone who does find more solace in the traditions and doctrines of a religion.
Depth psychologists like Jung would argue that, either way, this is a compensation of the unconscious in some way.
Much of credalism, however, is political. Conquest through doctrine is a means of gaining power. This is why Christian apologetics often takes on war metaphors. “Attacking the enemies of Christianity,” “Defending the faith,” etc.
I want to empower anyone reading this to follow your own heart. Did God not give you a moral compass?
Is believing in astrology somehow antithetical to Christ’s message to love God with all your soul and love your neighbor as yourself?
Although I am not a gung-ho astrology person, I dabble in it a little and find it interesting as a spiritual-historical system.
At its core, astrology is based on the esoteric philosophy of “correspondence,” which is that like things correspond to like things.
According to the theory, let’s say the Moon has a certain spiritual “power,” then a silver gemstone would thereby “correspond” to the analogical silver in the Moon, and thereby gain a partial inheritance of that same power.
Another classic correspondence is the association of feminity with the Moon because of the temporal correspondence between the moon cycle and menstrual cycles. This is the essence of correspondence as an esoteric philosophy.
The analogical degrees of correspondence are both precise and fuzzy along a spectrum of similarity. As you can see, the various correspondences of reality, relating to both the physical world of sensations and the inner world of introspection, offer a dizzying combinatorial complexity of possible correspondences.
And where does this contradict the message of Christ? Could not have God chosen to put signs of Herself into the stars and planets? To paint the cosmos with hidden symbols and meanings?
I consider this, not as a matter of philosophical argument or theological apologetics. Rather it is a poetic decision to see the world this way. It is a matter of personality and disposition. It is not about Truth with a capital “T” for me.
The question I care about is: does this bring beauty and depth to my experience? Does it make my soul sing? Does it heighten the aesthetic experience of my consciousness? And most importantly: does it bring me closer to spiritual reality, and thus to God?
If God is anything, She is a Mystery. Many people don’t take the theologians seriously when they tell us: it is not possible to have any knowledge of God in terms of ascribing properties to Her, including the property of being a person, of being a being, of being an entity, of having the property of existence at all.
We have no access to God. She is an utterly black void of darkness. She is an epistemic black hole out of which no conscious knowledge can ever emerge.
How arrogant we must be then to close off any possibility to Her, to say that “we know better” than God if She wanted, of her free choice, to build a world where astrology is true.
Does she not have that power? And if that were the case, would it not thereby be appropriate to praise the beauty of such a system, of linking the poetry of the starry sky to the poetry of our souls?
I feel there is nothing in astrology that prevents us from getting closer to God. Is astrology some kind of proof for the Christian God? Obviously not. And many people believe in astrology without believing in the Christian God (though they might believe in Her perhaps only within the context of a polytheistic system where the Christian God is but one god among many.)
Regardless, the key point is that there is no conceptual paradox in believing that astrology is true and that Christianity is true.
This is especially so once we loosen the grip modern fundamentalist literalism has had on our metaphysical imagination.
I think analytic philosophy and fundamentalist religion share a common desire for reality to be decomposable into neat and orderly propositional truths that are either 100% true or 100% false.
I am convinced that is a wrong attitude and a misleading philosophical path. Such foolish thinking gives rise to a kind of Western metaphysical arrogance that consists essentially in a kind of neurosis, an obsessive compulsion to decompose reality into atomic bits and then proclaim that one’s model of the decomposed bits accounts for all possible truth.
It’s pure insanity!
Reality will never show the truth depth and color of her hidden dimensions so readily to the likes of our finite human mind.
Yes, we can put a robot on Mars, but we are still just human, that is, a species of ape, a mammal, a creature of the Earth, and utterly finite and mortal, limited by the constraints of our own consciousness, unable to be conscious of what we are not conscious of, unable to see reality as it is in-itself, independent of the millions of unconscious (and conscious) assumptions we bring forth in the act of hermeneutic encounter.
So before you go about regimenting and prescribing your own finite interpretation of God’s Nature and Will as the “Objective Truth” we must all assent to, consider the possibility that nobody owns what it means to “be a Christian.”
Not the Catholic Church. Not the Pope. Not what this human says, or what that human says. Not what this text (written by a human) says, or what this other text (also written by a human) says.
We must not be afraid of thinking for ourselves. For if you believe something simply because that is “what you are supposed to believe” if you want to be in “good standing” with the gatekeepers of orthodoxy, how can that really be expected to lead to spiritual flourishing?
It would appear, in such a case, that your theological belief is compelled via the fear of social censure, and less that it is compelled on the basis of an overwhelming assent to its truth via profound spiritual understanding.
The former leads to organized religion in its most banal form: going through the motions, saying the right things but nevertheless feeling a distinct lack of God’s presence, unable to wake up from spiritual slumber.
But loosened from the grip of “right belief” we come to focus on “right experience,” which cannot be translated into the true vs false, right vs wrong moralism of propositional and doctrinal religion.
We stop caring about whether we “believe the right things” and instead focus on living in accordance with the teachings of Christ, which are fundamentally ethical and behavioral in nature, concerned not with what we believe, but how we orient ourselves to others, including God Herself.
So, if someone were to ask me: Can you be a Christian and believe in astrology? I would ask in return: Would believing that God’s Creation corresponds to the heavenly sky prevent you from loving Her Creation any less, as you also love yourself? Would it stop you from loving God with all your heart? Would it stop you from living up to the ethical idealism of Christ, for living a radical life of poverty and giving everything to the community?
If you know the answer to those questions, then you will be all set.