These last few weeks, there has been lots of banter in Chicago and Boston about curses. Both baseball teams are said to suffer from curses that prevent them from winning a World Series. Most of this is done in a light-hearted way, but once in a while, CT online has gotten the impression that some people really believe in human curses. Recognizing that, in fact, there are curses in the Bible, we decided we better talk with theologian J.I. Packer to give us some perspective. Maybe it will help console Cubs fans today, and for years to come.
We joke that the Cubs are cursed, but as Christians there are instances where we see curses. What does the Bible say about it?
When God curses, it's bad news because he's the sovereign Lord. He's declaring that trouble is coming, and when it comes, it's to be interpreted as retribution for whatever it was that prompted the curse. When man curses, it's ill will. It's the opposite of blessing people. It's expressing the wish that disaster will come. The motivation is something personal. Since we are not lords of providence, human curses don't have to be more than empty words, they don't actually change the dynamics of what will happen.
Superstitious religion in all its shapes and forms believes there are shamans, witch doctors, who can put a hex on people, and you're ruined. There's nothing you can do to stop it. It is important that whenever we meet ideas like that we negate them in the strongest possible way. They're not true, and human nature is attracted to superstition, the same as it is repelled by the gospel. The reason for the difference in attitude is that the heart of the fallen human is suffering from the wanna-be-God syndrome, ...1
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