Catherine Brekus says ministers – and faith itself – could tip people either way.
The clergy played a crucial role both in whipping up the frenzy around witchcraft, but also trying to ameliorate it.
So in Christianity, the belief is that there are not two equal separate powers. God is in charge of everything. There is a devil, but the devil is not equal in power to God – it’s not a Manichean system. So ministers would often point out that if there were afflictions happening in the community, that God was ultimately in control. That God was allowing this suffering to happen, but that God ultimately was overseeing people, and that God would respond to suffering. So ministers were able to use the promises of Christianity to calm people down and to say, “God is in control. God sees your suffering. God will respond to your suffering. You may not be able to see in this moment what God is doing to help you, but God is always present, and the devil is never ultimately in control. God is always supreme.”