Is magic “real”? I mean, can people really perform magical acts?
If a person believes the Bible (and that is the defining point in discussing a Christian Worldview from my perspective), then the answer has to be, Yes.
Let me name three examples. First, in Egypt when Moses confronted Pharaoh with the first miraculous acts God empowered him with, “Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts.” (Exodus 7:11 NASB)
In the next example, King Saul went to a woman who was a medium: “Conjure up for me, please, and bring up for me whom I shall name to you.” He named Samuel and she brought him up: “Then Samuel said to Saul, ‘Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?'” (I Samuel 28:8, 15 NASB)
A third example is in the New Testament. “Now there was a certain man named Simon, who formerly was practicing magic in the city, and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great; and they all, from smallest to greatest, were giving attention to him, saying, ‘This man is what is called the Great Power of God.’ And they were giving him attention because he had for a long time astonished them with his magic arts.” (Acts 8:9-11 NASB).
These examples seem to identify actual power, not fraud or deception. And there are others—powers demon-possessed people had—the man who was so strong chains couldn’t hold him, the girl who foretold the future.
Magic, therefore, is real, but what, exactly is it?
Are we talking about sorcery and witchcraft? Demon possession? Astrology (such as that which the Magi—the magicians from the East—used to find the baby Jesus)? How about all the divination the people of Israel did, using the Urim and the Thummim or casting lots to figure out what God wanted them to do?
I have to tell you honestly, the subject confounds me, but here’s what I believe. Supernatural beings have supernatural power. That’s it.
Not profound, is it. Oh, one more important point. No supernatural power is greater than God or His Sovereignty.
But that is only part of the picture. The Supreme Supernatural Being also has “natural” power.
Think about it. Who hung the stars in space? Who sees that it all continues to work? It’s not as if God established a set of natural laws that has gotten away from Him, that He no longer can control. Gravity exists because God created it and maintains it. As He did and does, photosynthesis. And the Pythagorean theorem, or the second law of thermodynamics. Or the law of sin and death.
OK, that last one is a spiritual law, but the point is, God rules it all, and in the ruling can suspend or countermand the rules. He can stop the sun for a day or even make it—or the earth—go backwards. He can raise the dead or come to earth as Incarnate God. He can walk on water. Change water to wine. Predict the presence of a coin in a fish’s mouth. Multiply chunks of bread. And forgive sinners. Nothing, nothing is beyond His power.
So how does this fit with magic? Part of the inexplicable is that God has allowed His enemies some measure of power (magic), and He chooses to let evil ripen before He puts an eternal end to it.
Meanwhile, Mankind—he of such little power—longs for the day of triumph, or dreads the day of disaster, even as a war rages in his soul.
Fantasy shows the longing, the dreading, the raging, with the admission that the enemy does have power, just not omnipotence.
This post is re-published from A Christian Worldview of Fiction, May, 2006, in a series on fantasy.