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.