The world has diluted astrology so much that many Christians forget that it actually has its roots in an occult practice of fortune telling. While some people look to the stars to get advice, the scripture may make some Christians think twice about relying on the practice. Astrology began as a form of fortune telling, which the Bible considers an occult, and at times, a useless practice.
For many astrologists, it is a belief that the positions of certain celestial entities have an impact on our lives. For other astrologists, there is a belief that there are gods in those celestial bodies that impact our lives. The Bible does warn against worshipping other Gods, though few Christians support the idea that the stars and planets are actually representations of other Gods. However, the Bible does state that occult practices are wrong and that we should not seek out fortune tellers, mediums, and practitioners of occult practices.
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While most of the predictions we see in the paper are fairly benign guesses, there is still concern among some Christian groups about astrology. The main concern is when Christians look to astrology for advice over God. If Christians look to astrology first, then they are taking their eyes and trust away from God. Yet most Christians only glance at a horoscope to laugh at the generalized predictions, feeling no need to delve further into occult practices or divining the future.
The Bible states that the stars, along with the sun and moon, were created to give light to the Earth. God is the one who gives Christians advice. However, the stars can be quite useful, as in the case of the wise men needing to find the baby Jesus, in providing the location. In this case, God used the star to light the way. The newly founded city of Alexandria, where the later Hellenic culture flourished was a centre for all astrologers and practitioners of the occult arts.
From time to time books appeared here, professing to have had their origin in the early days of Egytian civilization, which contained the secret knowledge pertaining to astrological and mystical subjects. These writings seems to meet the aspirations of ordinary men for the ideal, but all they offered was a chaotic mass of theories concerning astrology and divination, and the less they were understood they more they were applauded. In the Renaissance these pseudo-scientific works of antiquity were eagerly studied. It suffices here to mention the books of Nechopso-Petosiris which were believed by the neo-Platonists to be most the ancient Egyptian authority on astrology but which, probably were written in Alexandria about B.
About this same time, in all probability, Manetho, an Egyptian priest and traveller mentioned by Ptolemy, wrote on astrology. In order to meet the exigencies which arose, each degree of the heavens in late Egyptian astrology was assigned to some special human activity and some one disease.
Besides this, the "heavenly spheres", which play so important a part in the history of astronomy , were increased to 54, and even a higher number, and from astrological calculations made from the complicated movements of these spheres the fate both of men and nations was predicted. Thus arose in late classic times the sphoera barbarica foreign sphere which in the Middle Ages also had a controlling influence over astrology.
It was to be expected that the sober-minded, practical Romans would soon be dissatisfied with the mystical and enigmatical doctrines of Alexandrian astrology. Cato uttered warnings against the mischievous activity of the Chaldeans who had entered Italy along with Greek culture. In the year B.
It is only necessary to recall the greatest man of ancient Rome , Julius Caesar. Cicero, who in his younger days had busied with astrology, protested vigorously, but without success, against it in his work "De Divinatione".
Can Christians Believe In Astrology?
The Emperor Augustus , on the other hand, believed in astrology and protected it. The first Roman work on astrology was dedicated to him; it was the "Astronomica" written about 45 B. In five books this poem gives an outline of the astrology of the zodiac and constellations. The fifth book is devoted to the sphoera barbarica.
It is a curious fact that the poem does not take up the astrology of the planets. In spite of repeated attempts to suppress it, as in the reigns of Claudius and Vespasian , astrology maintained itself in the Roman Empire as one of the leading forms of culture. The lower the Romans sank in religion and morals the more astrology became entwined with all action and belief.
Under Tiberius and Nero the two astrologers named Thrasyllus who were father and son held high political positions. The most distinguished astronomer of antiquity, Claudius Ptolemaeus, was also a zealous astrologer. His "Opus Quadripartitum, seu de apotelesmatibus et judiciis astrorum, libri IV" is one of the chief treatises on astrology of earlier times and is a detailed account of astrological teachings.
This work occupied in astrology as important a position as that which the same author's Megale Euntaxis also called "Almagest" , held in the science of astronomy before the appearance of the Copernican theory. It is a striking fact that Ptolemy sought, in the second book of the "Opus Quadripartitum" to bring the psychical and bodily differences of the various nations into relation with the physical conditions of their native lands, and to make these conditions, in their turn, depend on the positions of the stars.
The Roman astrologers wrote their manuals in imitation of Ptolemy, but with the addition of mystic phantasies and predictions. After the death for Marcus Aurelius , the Chaldeans were always important personages at the imperial court.
As late as the time of Constantine the Great the imperial notary Julius Firmius Maternus, who later became a Christian , wrote on "Mathematics, or the power and the influence of the stars" eight books which were the chief authority in astrology until the Renaissance. With the overthrow of the old Roman Empire and the victory of Christianity , astrology lost its importance in the centres of Christian civilization in the West.
The last known astrologer of the old world was Johannes Laurentius sometimes called Lydus of Philadelphia in Lydia, who lived A. Astrology under Christianity From the start the Christian Church strongly opposed the false teachings of astrology. The Fathers energetically demanded the expulsion of the Chaldeans who did so much harm to the State and the citizens by employing a fantastic mysticism to play upon the ineradicable impulses of the common people, keeping their heathen conceptions alive and fostering a soul-perplexing cult which, with its fatalistic tendencies created difficulties in the discernment of right and wrong and weakened the moral foundations of all human conduct.
There was no room in the early Christian Church for followers of this pseudo-science.
The noted mathematician Aguila Ponticus was expelled from the Christian communion about the year , on account of his astrological heresies. The early Christians of Rome , therefore, regarded the astrological as their bitterest and, unfortunately, their too powerful enemies; and the astrologers probably did their part in stirring up the cruel persecutions of the Christians.
As Christianity spread, the astrologers lost their influence and reputation, and gradually sank to the position of mere quacks. The conversion of Constantine the Great put an end to the importance of this so-called science , which for five hundred years had ruled the public life of Rome. In Constantine issued an edict threatening all Chaldeans, Magi , and their followers with death. Astrology now disappeared for centuries from the Christian parts of Western Europe. Only the Arabic schools of learning, especially those in Spain after the Moors had conquered the Iberian peninsula, accepted this dubious inheritance from the wisdom of classic times, and among Arabs it became incentive to pure Astronomical research.
Arabian and Jewish scholars were the representatives of astrology in the Middle Ages , while both Church and State in Christian countries rejected and persecuted this false doctrine and its heathen tendencies. Unfortunately, at the same time the development of astronomy was checked, excepting so far as it was needed to establish certain necessary astronomic principles and to calculate the date of Easter.
Astrology under Christianity
Yet early Christian legend distinguished between astronomy and astrology by ascribing the introduction of the former to the good angels and to Abraham, while the latter was ascribed to Cham. In particular, St. Once more the East prepared a second period of prosperity for astrology. The Jews , very soon after they were driven into Western Europe , busied themselves with astrological questions, being stimulated thereto by Talmud. Jewish scholars had, moreover, a knowledge of the most important works of classic times on astrology and they became the teachers of the Arabs.
These latter, after the rapid spread of Mohammedanism in Western Asia and North Africa, and their defeat in Western Europe by Charles Martel , began to develop a civilization of their own. The mystical books which appeared in Jewish literature after the time of the Talmud, that is, the books called the "Sefer Zohar" and the "Sefer Yezirah" Book of Creation , are full of rules of divination dealing especially with astrological meanings and calculations. The high reputation of the Talmud and Cabbala among the Jews in the Middle Ages explains their fondness for astrological speculations; but at a very early date , it should be noted, they distinguished between astronomy , "the science of reading the stars", and astrology, "the science of divination".
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Caliph Al-Mansur, the builder of Bagdad , was, like his son, the famous Harun-al-Rashid, a promoter of learning. He was the first caliph to call Jewish scholars around him in order to develop the study of the mathematical sciences , especially astronomy , in his empire. In the year the learned Jew Jacob ben Tarik founded at Bagdad a school for the study of astronomy and astrology which soon had a high reputation; among those trained here was Alchindi Alkendi , a noted astronomer. It was one of Alchindi's pupils, Abumassar Abu Mashar , from Bath in Chorassan, born about the year , whom the Middle Ages regarded as of greatest of Arabian astrologers.