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Were the Salem Witch Trials biblical?

The Salem Witch Trials occurred in Essex, Suffolk, and Middlesex counties in the state of Massachusetts between 1692-1693. This series of tragic trials were held to determine whether certain individuals could be found guilty of witchcraft. During this gruesome time in American history, hundreds were arrested, 30 were found guilty of being witches, and 19 were hanged. Several of the condemned “witches” died in prison and one of them was crushed by stones. The Salem Witch Trials is one of those parts of history that brings a lot of shame to America and the Christian community.

Was the Bible used in the Salem Witch Trials?

The Bible does condemn witchcraft (Deuteronomy 18:9-12), and in the Old Testament, God told the Israelites, "You shall not permit a sorceress to live" (Exodus 22:18). The officials carrying out the Salem Witch Trials used these passages as well as Leviticus 20:27 to justify the execution of those they believed to be guilty of witchcraft.

There are several problems with this mentality. First of all, we are not under the Old Testament Law today. Jesus fulfilled the Law, so we are not under the Mosaic Law today. We are not under law, but under grace (Romans 6:14). The rules of Exodus 22:18 and Leviticus 20:27 were given to the theocratic nation of Israel—not the entire Church.

Think about the account of Paul in Acts 19:19 or Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8:9. Paul and the other apostles didn’t command for those who practiced witchcraft to be killed. Instead of ordering their deaths, Paul and the apostles told those who practiced witchcraft about Jesus’ great love. In response, the people confessed their sins, repented, and burned all their witchcraft books!

Secondly, just because those conducting the trials thought someone was a witch, that doesn’t mean they were actually a witch. The victims in this tragedy were being unfairly and falsely accused. Which, by the way, was against some other Old Testament commands (Exodus 20:16; Exodus 23:1), but I guess they didn't care about those ones!

In other words, the Salem Witch Trials were not biblical AT ALL.

Were the people who were convicted in the Salem Witch trials actually witches?

Most likely, those executed during the Salem Witch Trials were not actual witches. The false accusations brought against these victims were due to lies, jealousy, gossip, and slander. Ultimately, these trials were a matter of “he said-she said” statements.

Proponents of the Salem Witch Trials were not showing Christ’s love as they were clearly disobeying God and incorrectly using the Bible to justify their sin. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 stands as a formal charge against those who murdered those 19 innocent people.

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TL;DR

No, the Salem Witch Trials were not biblical. False accusations based on lies, gossip, jealousy, and slander led to the wrongful deaths of 19 people. Their accusers wrongly used Exodus 22:18 and Leviticus 20:27 to condemn those whom they believed to be witches. Believers today are not under Old Testament law but under grace (Romans 6:14). Even the apostle Paul is recorded speaking to people who practiced witchcraft, yet he chose to share the Gospel, encouraging them to repent (Acts 19:19; 8:9). Instead of accusing supposed “witches,” the residents of Massachusetts should have extended Jesus’ love and compassion (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

By: Vivian Bricker

Vivian loves learning, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She is dedicated to helping people learn more about Jesus and is ready to help in any way she can. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, cooking, drawing, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, you can find her soaking up the sunshine or going on an adventure.

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