I can see the 60-year old church-goers already lighting their torches and brandishing their pitchforks. Good. They should be upset. But not at me. And not at Harry Potter, either.
“Magic is the use of rituals, symbols, actions, gestures, and language with the aim of exploiting supernatural forces.” Furthermore, White Magic is defined as “magic used for good or selfless purposes.”
“How could Christians be accused of practicing White Magic?”
I’m glad you asked. Or maybe I did. Doesn’t matter.
The key here is the phrase, “with the aim of exploiting supernatural forces.” Because the usage of “rituals, symbols, actions, gestures, and language” can mean prayer, the point here is that too many people blindly use prayer as a magic wand to coerce God into giving them what they want.
“Name it and claim it! Pray for that new vehicle you need, believe that God has given it to you, then receive it, and it will be yours! Hocus-pocus, give-me-a-Ford-Focus!”
Yeah, that’s witchcraft. And it needs to stop. Yesterday.
There’s one particular passage in Acts chapter 8 that’s perfect for this topic. It’s about a former magician named Simon who was converted after Philip preached the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. Simon believed on Jesus’ name, was baptized, and continued with Philip, who amazed Simon with the signs and great miracles God performed through him.
“Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’ But Peter said to him, ‘May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.’ And Simon answered, ‘Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.’” –Acts 8:18-24
The focus here should not be that he tried to “purchase” the Holy Spirit, but that he thought he could manipulate God. It was “the intent of (his) heart” that was wrong, and that intention to manipulate God was serious enough that the apostle said, essentially, “May you and your money die.”
That’s serious business. God doesn’t mess around.
Who are we to treat God like a magic 8-ball? “Shake and ask for answers to all of life’s questions!”
God is a PERSON, not an item to possess or a pet to command.
In Mathew 6:9-13, Jesus commands us, “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’”
Breaking this down. . . first we are told to offer selfless worship. Then comes the absolute elevation of God’s will above ours. Third comes the humble request that God would meet our basic physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. And finally, protection from the temptation to do evil.
Nowhere in Jesus’ teaching do we see anything even hinting at giving us the right to use God for our own means. In fact, Jesus’ prayer shows the exact opposite mentality. A spirit of humility and selfless abandon. Of worship and adherence to God’s will above all else. Even to the point of the abdication of many things we desire.
Nowhere do we see the right to be protected from pain, from suffering, from hardship, from financial difficulties, or even from sickness. In fact, Jesus tells us to expect these things as followers of Christ, and to take up our crosses willingly.
Prayer is the tool God uses to bring us close to him so that we can live under his headship, not the tool that we use to bring God under our domination.
And while we’re on the topic, it’s useful to note a separate but related pagan idea that has crept into modern “Christian” spirituality.
Many religions have often used objects in magic rituals, ascribing to them certain spiritual significance. In modern “Christian” spirituality, this has spawned the idea that objects, such as dreamcatchers and pentagrams, can invite demonic activity into your home or life—or maybe even invite holy protection.
But when we examine the Scriptures, we see that there is zero biblical basis for this, and, in fact, that it goes directly against Paul’s admonition in the New Testament that all things are pure to those whose hearts are pure.
“Wait, so you’re saying I can draw a star that isn’t satanic?”
“Wait, so you’re saying I can use cookie-monster vocals in my music for God’s glory?”
“Wait, so you’re saying I can read Harry Potter and not go to H-E-DOUBLE-HOCKEY-STICKS?”
“Wait, so you’re saying that statue of the Apostle Paul won’t protect me from the common cold?”
That’s exactly what I’m saying.
The Corinthians in the first century AD believed that meat sacrificed to idols contained dark spiritual ties.
However, Paul explained to them, “Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that ‘an idol has no real existence,’ and that ‘there is no God but one.’ For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. … We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.” –1 Corinthians 8:4-6, 8-9
The Bible says we’re safe to use or consume items that previously have been used by others for evil purposes. This includes fantasy literature, metal music, guns, and even imagery previously associated with evil things.
Our only caution (and it is a big one) is to not become a stumbling block to others.
So, for example, using a swastika would probably not be good. Not because we can’t use that shape for good purposes, but because the symbol’s usage has been so perverted that it can be very difficult to use it without causing others to stumble.
It’s important to remember that evil exists in the thoughts and intents of the heart, not in inanimate objects.
Pagan superstition, meaning ideas about the supernatural that are not based explicitly on the Scriptures, are dangerous and damaging to the body of Christ.
So how about we stop practicing White Magic? How about we stop letting pagan superstition pervert Christian theology and damage our freedom in Christ?
Far better, how about we study and know what God really says about us and the world we inhabit?