Magic in Christian Fantasy

by Leandra Falconwing

Last year, someone asked me how “Christian fantasy” worked, wondering in particular how you could have a Christian story with magic in it. After all, the Bible is pretty clear on the fact that magic is wrong, isn’t it?

1st Samuel 15 says, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” The “works of the flesh” listed in Galatians includes witchcraft. Exodus 22 says, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” Deuteronomy 18 expands the list beyond witchcraft “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.”

So, yes. In the Bible, witchcraft is specifically labeled as a sin, and witches, enchanters, wizards, necromancers, and more are called abominations. The why may not be precisely spelled out, but I think it can be guessed at. The Deuteronomy passage above mentions “a consulter with familiar spirits.” 2nd Chronicles 33, in its list of the sins of Manasseh, includes using enchantments, witchcraft, and dealing with “a familiar spirit.” There’s a story in Acts that refers to a girl “ possessed with a spirit of divination,” a spirit that Paul orders out in the name of Jesus.

Magic therefore appears to have a spiritual source, a supernatural one. When it comes to the supernatural, there are two sides: God’s and the Devil’s. If magic came from God, it wouldn’t have been forbidden by the law, so it’s clear that the source of magic in our world is the Devil.

In our world. The vast majority of fantasy stories take place in a completely fictional world. So what if the source of magic is also different? Instead of a spiritual source, maybe it’s a world where all people or specific groups of people are simply born with the ability to do things we call magic. Instead of magic involving spiritual forces, it’s just part of how the natural, physical world works.

So a Christian story with magic is possible. Using natural magic instead of supernatural magic isn’t even the only possibility: all magic could be evil and only the villains use it, or maybe some of the heroes are given seemingly-magical abilities by God.

Whichever route you take, using magic in a specifically Christian story is still something to be careful about. Because magic is real in our world, and it’s dangerous and dark and you don’t want to confuse your message. So take the time to think the different aspects of what magic you use through, but don’t be afraid to use it.


Comments

Magic in Christian Fantasy — 10 Comments

  1. I and my wife studied the Book of Enoch recently, considered Holy Scripture by Ethiopian Christians and Ethiopian Jews. In any case, we could see why it has not been accepted as part of Biblical Canon with the majority of Jews or Christians worldwide. That being said, this book is still important–and maybe especially for writers of Fantasy and Horror–because it details _why_ we fell in the Garden. The reason? Because we accepted gifts of magic from Semjaza (Lucifer) and other gifts, all of which were considered unfinished by our Creator, and so worthless. So, maybe one of my points here is that _real_ magic, which means _wisdom_ anyway, proceeds from our God, and the kind of magic used by witches, druids, and other sorcerers worldwide is, after all, the magic we were tempted to accept, and did so, in the Garden. So, this means that there are two kinds of magic–godly, and selfish. When I write, these thoughts on magic are interwoven into my work. I was raised a Christian, but later fell into sorcery for many years, and the Lord was gracious and kind enough to me, seeing some kind of worth in me, to bring me home to Him nearly three years ago now, in June 2011, the day my wife was Baptized in Him.

  2. This is a good explanation of the difference. One thing that helps is that all of the made up systems that are called “magic” and even “witch craft” are not remotely like the actual magic.

    The main difference being that real witches know full well that they are using the aid of spirits, while made up “magic” sees the spells and the people that use them as the source of the power. In that sense they are more like side-show performers than real magic.

    “Instead of magic involving spiritual forces, it’s just part of how the natural, physical world works.”

    There are other possibilities in a fictional world as well: a world where there are other spiritual forces than only angels and devils, or a world where the human spirit can be invoked (which is possible on earth in a very limited way), or the spirits of animals, or the spirits of fictional beings. There could also be other divisions of a fictional world other than physical and spiritual.

    There are a lot of options in a fictional world.

  3. I can see your point, Mr. Lauser, and by it I am led into thinking on all of the other possibilities out there for saints after we are released from this mortal coil. None of us are in the position to say what is happening on and in other worlds, what kinds of beings live there, the abilities God has given them, etc. So, let us write fantasy as hope, then, for all of us.

  4. Oh! Actually I was referring to the blog post, sorry Scath Beorh!

    So the knowledge of good and evil was apparently knowledge of witchcraft? That seems to make sense with Satan’s description of it being: “ye shall be as god’s.” Similar to the “curious arts” that were forsaken by the Ephesians:

    Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.
    Acts 19:19

    One thing I have noticed is that a lot of things people associate with witchcraft actually have to do with invoking spiritual aid. Devils are angels, but fallen angels. That is probably why Moses and the Egyptian sorcerers both used wands (rods).

  5. Hmmm… well, I might not personally say that Moses’ staff or rod was a wand, but rather more like the shepherd’s rod or stave. But your point is well taken about the original sin we succumbed to in the Garden–the temptation to become little gods through ‘the curious arts.’ Witchcraft is a delicious fruit. I partook for several decades. It’s a ‘freeing’ feeling which I have heard many former Christians (of all denominations) say they have felt when they became either Wiccans or atheists. But that euphoria caused by rebellion against Love is short-lived, and then the darkness comes. I liken it to a sheep running away from the shepherd over a hill, out of sight, and feeling free for a few minutes until it is suddenly surrounded by hungry jackals.

  6. That is a telling description; it is good to hear what it is like from someone who has been there. Thank God you are back on the right side of the hill!

  7. Ireland, eh? I used to live in Ireland, Patrick, and most of my novels are set there.

    Love! the photo set of the baby blessing the other children!

  8. Yes, I agree that there are good people who have “abilities.”

    How about magic in math? Learning math through fun and magic? My son just read Jim West’s Libellus de Numeros. Search Goodreads for reviews.

  9. Wow so my world were theirs multiple kind of magic from dozens of different sources could actually work. Awesome.

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