Many Christians, including many parents, are practicing “white magic” whenever they fear and shun objects, symbols, and Things more than they fear Jesus Christ and hate inner sin.
Just this morning I saw this mystical perspective on display yet again.
With Halloween on the way, it’s time to explore this topic again (more on this next month). And yes, calling parents’ fears and reactions “white magic” seems harsh. But I’ve come close to this before, and novelist Mike Duran provided further helpful reflections.1 And I don’t know what else to call it when parents repeat these beliefs:
- The Devil can own objects, symbols, visual motifs, and Things, and use these things to “get to” your innocent children and to you.
- Therefore to protect yourself you must fear these objects, shun them, and perform spiritual measures (including rule-following and verse recitations) to stay safe.
Folks, this is too close to the kind of divination God condemned in Deuteronomy 18.2
So what brought this back to my attention? A concerned parent being fearful on Facebook.
Plugged In takes a step
Yesterday PluggedIn.org posted part 2 of an excellent interview with hip-hop artist Lecrae.
If you don’t know Lecrae, he happens to be successful breakout hip-artist and a Christian with a very biblical view of art, culture, and vocation. You can see that expressed here:
“I believe the reason why the church typically doesn’t engage culture is because we are scared of it. … We’re scared it’s going to somehow jump on us and corrupt us. We’re scared it’s going to somehow mess up our good thing. So we consistently move further and further away from the corruption, further and further away from the crime, further and further away from the postmodernity, further and further away from the relativism and secular humanism, and we want to go to a safe place with people just like you. We want to be comfortable.”
So I like it that Plugged In is interviewing Lecrae. Often Plugged In is seen as one of those websites that evangelical parents use to “outsource” discernment to staff rather than to help them explore popular culture.3
I also like it that Plugged In is trying something a little different with their “Movie Nights” feature. To me it appears the writers are exploring a radical concept of treating teens like junior adults rather than innocent children who need to have bad words screened for them:
This whole issue of good movies/bad movies has been a point of tension for me ever since I began working for Plugged In—and, really, I think it’s a paradox that Plugged In has always dealt with. After all, most movies aren’t altogether good or bad. Most fall somewhere in between.
[…] Our Movie Nights are never to be treated as a seal of approval. We’ve said that for years. And I personally like that, because I think that sometimes more content-laden movies—particularly popular ones—deserve a Movie Night treatment more than the squeaky-clean ones.
[…] In essence, we want to help jumpstart conversation in the world you actually live in, not the world in which we’d ideally like you to be.
It’s a small step, at least for Christians who years ago started hollering about how we need to stop creating our own often-delusional popular cultures and shine light into the actual world. But Christians with conservative backgrounds, let’s not be trolls. We can empathize.
Plugged In steps too far?
But if Plugged In hopes to encourage parents to think beyond inspection of a film’s outward appearance — so they can be sure the film is “safe” for Message delivery — they face a long hard journey. Many parents still hold the views or the default posture of one commentator. This concerned dad saw Plugged In’s image of Lecrae with a triangle over his eye and said:
Perhaps he should not portray the Illuminati pyramid with the all-seeing eye emphasized. This is exactly the type of Luciferian propaganda used by the secular musicians.
Please don’t just laugh (as some commentators did). This father is genuinely concerned that Plugged In’s graphic designer intentionally used an “evil” symbol, or at best was ignorant of the “secret knowledge” that this symbol is used to transmit evil intentions on behalf of a “Luciferian” secret society or “the Illuminati.”4
In response you can laugh (perhaps if you’re one of Them: a member of the evil society or an ignorant compromiser). Or you can issue a challenge to someone like that. This is what I did. I think it’s the only way to combat such beliefs: to say that they’re the mystics, they’re the ones who are attempting “white magic” contra Deut. 18 and contra Colossians 2:20-23.
BG, I challenge you to prove from the sufficient Scripture alone that certain symbols, visual motifs, etc. are intrinsically evil and to be feared.
By accident, you’re actually advocating a “white magic” approach to evil — as if avoiding certain sights, sounds, and presumably objects will keep out sin. The apostle Paul challenges such notions in Colossians 2. Jesus Christ the Savior of His people, who made a public spectacle of demonic powers (Col. 2:15), warns against such attempts to act as if the evil is “out there” in the world or things we bring from the world into ourselves, rather than our own sinful hearts (Mark 7). Here you have slandered Plugged In and its graphic designer(s) in a way that has not shown Christlike love for them.56
If Plugged In’s writers or other Christians aim to “jumpstart conversation [using popular culture] in the world you actually live in, not the world in which we’d ideally like you to be,” then what will we do when people react like this? Ignore them? That’s not loving. Laugh at them? It’s hard to avoid this, but that’s also limited and/or not loving. Challenge them? Yes, I think we should. We must challenge Christians, starting with ourselves, to reject such “white magic” notions about the world. We must see that actual sin-corruption comes not from evil objects, symbols, or Things, but from our own hearts (Mark 7). And we must find the solution not in worthless and pagan worldly rules (Col. 2), but in our holy loving Savior.
- See “‘Clean Fiction’ as White Magic,” Mike Duran. ↩
- See “Winners Don’t Do Witchcraft,” E. Stephen Burnett at Speculative Faith, Oct. 31, 2013. ↩
- E.g., many parents want to fetch trained “ministry” staff to provide a tally of cusswords, violence and Messages. This supports the view that art is a containment Vehicle for entertainment or Messages, rather than an expression of man’s imitation of the Creator that reflects truths, beauties, lies and ugliness in messy mixtures. ↩
- If you believe that sort of thing, please note that my argument here works even if such secret evil groups actually exist. ↩
- Comment at Plugged In’s Facebook page, E. Stephen Burnett, Sept. 26, 2014. That last part is especially revealing, for the original commentator is not only expressing fear about the Plugged In designer’s accidental “sin” but accusing them as if it’s a sin for which they must be “held accountable” and ashamed! So in that case, what is the actual offense that could be happening here? ↩
- Sept. 29 edit: Some readers are unable to find the original conversation at Plugged In’s Facebook page. As of this writing, readers can find the conversation by clicking this link and then expanding comments after the comment by BG Sawyer. I’ve also provided a screencap of the whole conversation here. ↩