Article: Christianity And The Witch Hunt Era (7/12)May 2, 2007
* 1691: The Dutch theologian Balthasar Bekker published ‘Die Betooverde Wereld’, reprinted in English as ‘The World Bewitch’d’ (1695), an attack on beliefs in supernatural which was unparalleled in the 17th century.
On account of his denial of witches, demons, and the devil himself, Bekker was demoted from the ministry, and tried for blasphemy and teaching atheism. He found support among some Dutch regions (namely Amsterdam and the States of Holland), which kept his book in print and did not forbid him to teach.
In the preface, Bekker explains the fascinating process of personal Bible study by which he came to change entirely his beliefs regarding supernatural evil. Bekker’s rejection of the traditional beliefs of the church on this subject were not based on rationalist scepticism, but on their complete incompatibility with the Scriptures.
Bekker’s description of his gradual change of understanding displays no startling novelties of interpretation. On the contrary, his process of reasoning and his exposition of certain key passages matches that of the cautious Bible students who had preceded him, such as Reginald Scot, Johannes Weyer, Cornelius Loos, Samuel Harsnett, Thomas Ady, John Wagstaffe, John Webster, and Ludowick Muggleton.