Blessing and Cursing

Pagans live under unremitting fear of curses and threats from unseen and malicious spiritual causes and effects. They have techniques for creating curses and others for breaking them. They have practitioners of cursing and curse-breaking. In addition they have the greater fear that the sinister spirit beings have their own processes for handing down afflictions to their human victims. This thinking is the result of having a pagan worldview.

As with other teachings we have examined, there is a “Christian” version of pagan curse breaking. One of these is based on the idea of “generational” curses that are lifted out of Biblical context and used to explain various maladies and difficulties that Christians may experience.27 The faulty logic behind it suggests that since God warned Old Testament Israel that He would “visit the iniquities of the fathers to the third and fourth generation,” and that Deuteronomy chapter 28 lists the sort of bad outcomes that would be visited upon Israel for being unfaithful to the covenant, therefore one can examine symptoms and outcomes and assume that he is cursed because of the unknown sins of unknown ancestors.

Logically, this creates a belief system in which everyone would be convinced they must be cursed. Derek Prince, whose book teaches that Christians are under curses they must discover, explains:

Conversely, any one of the four generations preceding us, by having committed these sins, could be the cause of a curse over us in our generation. Each of us has two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and sixteen great-great-grandparents. This makes a total of thirty persons, any one of whom might be the cause of a curse over our lives. How many of us would be in a position to guarantee that none of our thirty immediate ancestors was ever involved in any form of idolatry or the occult?28

The answer, of course, is no one. This belief creates a need for a class of people capable of gaining secret information (about which ancestral sin is causing which curse) and devising a process to break the curse. Once again, pagan thinking has come into the church and created the perceived need for a class of shamans and associated shaman training. For them, the contents of the Bible cannot directly provide the necessary information (which sins and curses) and neither can general revelation. So they are back fishing for answers in the sea of the spirits like their pagan ancestors.

What is missed by these teachings and teachers is that in the Bible, blessing and cursing are relational, not symptomatic. A person who is in right, covenant relationship with God is blessed, even if he finds himself in unpleasant circumstances. A person in rebellion to God is cursed even if life is going very well for him. For example, included in the list of persons who “gained approval through their faith” are ones who were mocked, beaten, sawn in two, destitute, afflicted and had other horrible things happen to them (Hebrews 11:35-39). But popular books on the topic of blessing and cursing have Christians looking at the symptoms of their own lives to determine if they are cursed.

Derek Prince lists the following as symptoms of curses: “mental and/or emotional breakdown, repeated or chronic sickness (especially if hereditary), barrenness, a tendency to miscarry . . . breakdown of marriage and family alienation, continuing financial insufficiency, being accident prone, and a history of suicides and unnatural or untimely deaths.”29 If any of these things existed in the four generations of your ancestors or in your life, Prince suggests that you are cursed, even if you are a Christian. Obviously everyone would have to consider themselves cursed.

This teaching is clearly unbiblical. For example, Prince claims that people who have “financial insufficiency” are cursed. But here is what Jesus said: “And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God'” (Luke 6:20). Citizens of the kingdom are blessed even if they are poor.

Prince gets his ideas from applying the curses of Deuteronomy 28 to Christians, suggesting they first determine whether or not they have any of those negative outcomes. If so, they may be under a curse. He says that the presence of one or two of those is not conclusive that a curse is at work. Each person must seek supernatural information in order to determine if they are cursed.30 But that puts us back into the need for extra-biblical revelations which makes us have to again behave like pagans.

There is a logical fallacy going on here as well. It goes like this: If a creature is a normal cat, it has four legs. Fido has four legs; therefore Fido is a cat. But that is a fallacy called “asserting the consequent” in an “if/then” logical formulation. There is more than one possible cause for having four legs. To apply this to curses found in Deuteronomy 28: If Israelites in covenant with God break that covenant and go after other gods, then these curses will come upon them (Deuteronomy 28:16-68). Suzie exhibits several of the symptoms listed in those 52 verses, therefore Suzie us under a curse. That reasoning contains two fallacies: 1) Suzie is not an Israelite under the old covenant; 2) the fallacy of asserting the consequent has been committed. There could be other reasons for her being in one of the many conditions listed in those verses besides being cursed for breaking covenant.

So objectively examining symptoms is not sufficient for diagnosing curses. That means we cannot know by either special revelation (the words of the Bible) or general revelation (examining physical symptoms) whether or not a curse is in operation. That means we are back to a need for a shaman. Again we have invited paganism into the church and believe that what is clearly revealed in scripture is not sufficient to deliver us from curses.

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