Superstition in the Church: Christians at Risk

Cristina Rutkowski

Maybe you associate superstition with a rabbit’s foot. Or knocking on wood. Or with New Age numerical readings. But have you ever considered that Christianity could be superstitious? Not Christianity in and of itself, but your Christianity. Yes, your personal faith.

Is that too far-fetched?

In Scott Redd’s recent article on The Gospel Coalition, he presents us with some startling considerations. Not only do we, as humans, naturally lean towards superstitious behavior; Christians do as well:

“The human tendency toward superstition is strong. We can all lean toward spiritualizing objects, behaviors, and beliefs without a concern for the person and will of God. We love our superstitions and the talismans that seem to protect us from the things we fear most.”

If we see superstition in the context of our faith-tendencies, we’ll quickly realize that each of us are guilty in some way. Think of the instance you open up the Bible at random and it fits. Or the time on the clock you happen to notice time after time. Or the Bible verse numbers that seem to follow you. Or maybe even the morning ritual that seems to connect itself with a day of special blessing and grace.

It’s not the occurrences that are superstitious, or even the act of noticing them that presents a problem. We see all sorts of alignments and divine coincidences through the whole of Scripture, after all. We shouldn’t discredit (or even ignore) the incredible ways God has used to speak to people, offer signs of his presence, and create “divine coincidences” to draw attention to himself. The danger is not in the occurrences, but in our tendency to rely on them—using them to steer our path or build our confidence.

As human beings, we’re amazingly good at putting our confidence in the things that come from God rather than God himself. Redd points out that it’s a “false confidence” that has manifested itself throughout Biblical history (check out Isaiah 58, Jeremiah 7, and 1 Corinthians 11 for Redd’s examples) and it’s a false confidence that is no less real today:

“We can turn anything into pious superstition, even church attendance and participation. If I just show up Sunday morning or join the right ministry team, God will bless my life. Others might even join the church’s leadership, hoping that being a professional Christian will better ensure the blessings of God. None of these activities is bad. In fact, they’re quite excellent and beneficial—unless they’re approached as acts of pious superstition.”

Redd points out that even our “deep and precise theological knowledge” can serve as a talisman, “giving [us] false assurance while [we] avoid grappling with the living and personal God who requires real repentance and faith.”

So what do we do?

Redd brings it down to a daily life of trust. If we place our trust in the Lord, we won’t find ourselves discouraged when the “signs” that once appeared in abundance seem to vanish. If we trust that all blessing comes ultimately from his Son, we’ll be less prone to allow church attendance, theological knowledge, or faith rituals steer our relationship with him. If our trust is in God alone, we’ll be free to see the Lord’s supernatural alignments less as destiny-shapers and more as divine poetry—speaking of his great love and care for us in all the details of life. He is the God who speaks and leads, after all; through the work of his son, the touch of his Spirit, and the voice of his Word.

May our confidence always be in Him.

Article date: July 18, 2017

Image Credit: ©Thinkstock

Cristina Rutkowski is the editor of