I hope you enjoyed the first Talking with Atheist. I did and I found it a useful way to think through the question. Thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts with me either in person or by leaving a comment. This is a chance to wrap up the discussion.
Recap: The original question FA asked was, "Is it a contradiction to celebrate the magi who were practitioners of astrology, while at the same time condemning the use of astrology elsewhere in scripture?"
In answering, we Christians, showed that we are willing to accept that God put a sign in the sky be it a special star, a super nova, a comet, or an angel. We also seemed to fall into one of three camps about the actual question:
1) Doesn't Matter: Some answers focused on other facts of the story without answering the original question. Either the question got lost or doesn't matter. The sense I got was that this isn't an important question, the story isn't about what these men did but that God was bringing people to encounter Jesus.
2) Weren't Astrologers so there is no contradiction: Translators often interpret the Greek word magoi as "astrologers" but not all do. It's hard to say. There isn't enough about the wise men to actually know for sure. I think they were. Sciences as we know them today didn't exist at this time. Watching the starts and predicting the future were all wrapped into one. Examples I can think of are how both the Egyptian Pharaohs and Babylonian Kings had magians and wise men about them to give them insight, propheys, and even interpret dreams and visions. It seems that the Magi were probably these time of "wise men."
3) God's Grace: God knew who and what these men were and used them any way. It could be that God was preparing the way for Gentiles to be included in Jesus' mission. It could be that God was reminding us that he can use anyone even "sinning astrologists." Maybe God was reminding us that all have sinned but all can have new life when they encounter Jesus. I think Robin's answer was mine only worded better, "...could it be that God, in His grace, sometimes reveals Himself even to people of false religions...perhaps because they are sincerely seeking truth, not just blindly believing? Could it be He does this even through their own religions? Ultimately it led them to Jesus."
That is the conclusion I have; do you have something to add? Did I miss an response? Would you like to make a counter argument? Leave a comment below and check back later this week for another fun "Talking With an Atheist" post.