As of the last post, the general consensus seems to be: ‘Mmmmmmm I’m not sure, but I’m still interested.’ Believe me, I know. That was me a year ago. The wariness is real. On the bright side, I didn’t get pitchforked, which is a good boost to carry on to part three!
I bet the first thing that comes to mind is a horoscope. Some kind of fortune-telling sketchiness, whether it’s in a newspaper or pops up on your Instagram feed. Astrology, in our modern minds, is associated with divination – groundless, generally speaking. ‘Oh, you’re an Aquarius therefore if you were a tea, you’d be English Breakfast!’ or, ‘If you’re a Libra, today is a Good Day to Pluck Your Eyebrows.’ But here’s the thing – until the 16th century, astrology was just as respected and valid as astronomy. Why? Because it wasn’t the ‘astrology’ we know of today.
NOTE: Most of my notes on ‘astrology’ here are derived from Hillsdale University’s EXCELLENT lecture (and my favorite lecture in history), ‘C S Lewis on Medieval Cosmology.’ It’s the seventh lecture in their series on C. S. Lewis and I HIGHLY recommend the full lecture series to anyone. So if you want to have someone far more professional than I am, discussing someone far more intelligent than I am while covering the same subject matter, head on over and give it a listen!
Okay, back to the 16th century. For most of history, astrology (I’m going to call it Original Astrology, or OGA for short, because I know how hard it is to separate the conception of something from a different idea) was considered completely Biblical and valid by everyone, Christians included.
Professor of Apologetics Michael Ward says, “Astronomy and astrology weren’t really distinguishable until the Copernican revolution. And no Christian theologian before that time denied the general theory of planetary influences, or the significance of constellations. The planets obviously weren’t to be worshiped, and their influences were not to be regarded as determinative – overruling your free will and your responsibility before God; and the lucrative and politically undesirable practice of ‘astrologically grounded predictions’ was also to be avoided, but within these parameters the Christian church was quite content to sanction what we would now call Astrology. After all the Bible itself appeared to support the belief that there were seven planets, and that they possessed influences. The author of the book of Judges in the old Testament, for instance, chapter five verse twenty, records –
‘They fought from heaven, the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.’”
He continues in the Cosmology lecture, “The author of the book of Job as translated in the King James version of the Bible, mentions the ‘sweet influences of Pliedes.’ (Job 38:31)….And throughout the Bible the stars are seen as signs; most notably at Bethlehem of course, signifying the birth of Christ, in Matthew’s gospel, and sometimes as a celestial court or angelic choir. Christ Himself is shown in the book of Revelation holding the seven stars – that is, the seven wandering stars, the planets – in His right hand. A vision which Austin Farrer, Lewis’s close friend and an expert in apocalyptic imagery, understood to be a portrayal of Christ’s lordship over time. For it’s after these seven planets that the weekdays are named.”
And yet modern Christianity has very little to say on this subject. It seems to think of it hardly at all, if ever, and I think that’s a great sorrow, and a great loss to us. In shunning ‘astrology’ as it is now known, we have also shunned OGA – which could be called a study of God’s heavenly workmanship. After all, it’s commonly known that a full moon affects people. If the moon has enough energy to draw the tides of our ocean, and if we ourselves are energetic beings, it’s downright irrational to claim the heavens have no affect on us whatsoever. Can the stars predict the future? I don’t know, but I DO know that predicting the future isn’t something God wants us to do. He says that multiple times in multiple ways. That’s for Him to know and us to find out, as it were.
But in shunning a word with bad connotations, we’ve also shunned a huge part of His glory and majesty as everyday knowledge. We’ve reduced the Heavens to mere ‘space’ with no intent or purpose other than to ‘be there’ and keep us hot or cold. We’ve removed the glory and majesty, the sheer magic, out of the whole idea and in doing so, we’ve lost something that Christianity accepted as important and part of daily life until the sixteenth century. And I believe we are the poorer for it.
The modern church has thrown the baby out with the bathwater in big, big ways – ways that affect how we perceive reality, how we live, and – most detrimental of all – how we know God – the Heavenly Father and the Morning Star.
And that baby-bathwater scenario is what I’m passionate to change, and what I hope to keep discussing through the rest of this series. Thank you all for sticking with me and listening to some ideas that probably sound crazy – I’m LOVING your IG messages and emails! If you have any questions, I can absolutely do my best to answer them!