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Six Christian White Magic Spells Worse Than Fantasy Magic

When Christians get distracted by fears of magic in fantasy, what Christian white magic “spells” do we cast in reality?

Recently a Facebook friend shared an example of Christian white magic in the real world.

You'll never guess what magic book it was.

You’ll never guess what magic book it was.

His family owned a “book of magic,” a fantasy novel. That wasn’t the dangerous magic. Instead, someone he knew became alarmed at the book. She effectively cast a spell against his family. She removed herself from their contaminated space and created a magic circle.

This phrasing is only mild hyperbole. But unfortunately, this is what many Christians do. We believe in magic, and even practice types of spells, all in an attempt to avoid bad magic.

Such spell-casting isn’t based only on fear of objects. If so, then if Christian 1 fears Christian 2 has an evil object, Christian 1 could ask Christian 2 about it. No—Christian 1 usually fears not just the object. He fears Christian 2 personally. So he doesn’t ask about the object. He doesn’t reason with the Christian who owns it. He just casts a “spell” and leaves fast.1

Deuteronomy 18:9-14 is usually cited to prove fantasy magic is evil. Instead, God directly warns God’s people to avoid the actual practice of divination and sorcery, in an attempt to protect ourselves from harm—that is, dark spiritual influence—or to divine the future:

“When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD. And because of these abominations the LORD your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God, for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do this.”2

Moses, speaking for God, goes on to say, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him [and not to the evil occult practices] you shall listen …”3 The point of this passage is not to point to “good” magic to defeat the evil magic. God points away from all personal occult practices. He is pointing to the coming Final Prophet who speaks for God—Jesus!

But Christians may forget about the Final Prophet and get distracted by pretend “dark magic” such as found in books and stories. So what kinds of actual spells do we often cast?

1. ‘Health and wealth’ prosperity spells

Christian white magicOf the many magic spells Christians try to cast, this one is probably the worst. It’s also the most developed magic system among professing Christians. Here’s a basic overview of it:

  1. God promises his children can get what they want with prayer and belief. (Source: personal anecdotes, spiritual talk, and Bible verses ripped screaming from context.)
  2. What a “king’s kid” should want is health and material wealth, all for God, of course. (Source: uniquely American and western notions of what counts as success.)
  3. So give to prosperity ministries to guarantee results. (Source: prosperity ministries.)

This is unadulterated magic. Its spellbooks have smiling faces on the covers. Its classes  are taught by charismatic TV personalities. Its consequences are dismal—thousands of people may think they are following real Christianity, but are enslaved to their own “faith” magic.

John Piper, in one of a few famous video versions, can say the rest so I don’t need to say it.

2. Magic circles, symbols, and verse spells

Christian white magic

A recent Babylon Bee satirical article spoofed the evangelical “magic circle” approach:

According to Family Christian, the Bubble™ is “a huge step forward in Christian protective technology” and is constructed of a “revolutionary” poly material that, while completely sealing the child from the outer environment, allows the child to breathe unhindered while the intelligent processor embedded in the skin of the Bubble™ works continuously to identify and block any visual or auditory stimuli its advanced algorithms translate as “secular.”4

Such a product like this might be nice, because then you could say it’s based on advanced science. But of course, advanced technology is often indistinguishable from magic. So some evangelicals try the equivalent of magic spells designed to purify people or even geographic spaces. We drift into believing that wholesome reading material, crosses, decorations, or even citations of Scripture can render ourselves, or the places in which we live, “clean.”

God gave Gideon advance assurance of His will via the fleece (Judges 6: 36-40). But did He tell others to seek the same?

God gave Gideon advance assurance of His will via the fleece (Judges 6: 36-40). But did He tell others to seek the same?

3. Personal guidance divination spells

All biblical Christians should believe the Holy Spirit is active in our daily lives. However, good Christians disagree on exactly how the Spirit directs our steps. Some Christians, often without intention, drift into assumptions that the Holy Spirit “whispers” to us or guides our choices in some hidden way, if only we would take the time and practice to listen to him.

In extreme cases, Christians fall into practicing a kind of “magic” in which they expect the Holy Spirit to communicate in feelings and external signs. But if we do this, are we not expecting the exact same kinds of divination “signs” that God disfavors in Deut. 18?

Scripture does not record the apostles receiving this kind of direct guidance for daily life decisions. Even if the Bible did say this, it does not teach or even imply that non-apostle believers can expect the same. The Bible is clear that all true Christians are Spirit-filled. In Romans 8: 9-11, the apostle Paul outlines a binary: either you are “in the flesh” or you are “in the Spirit … who dwells in you.” He leaves no category of Christians who are saved but not Spirit-powered.5

John Constantine (Matt Ryan)4. Sorcerous ‘spiritual warfare’ spells

This next quote isn’t from Constantine (the DC paranormal detective, not the emperor). Instead it’s from a Christian author of “spiritual warfare” training materials:

When I rent a room in a hotel, it is under my stewardship. I have no idea what occurred in that room before I rent it, so I renounce any previous use of the room that would not please my heavenly Father….Next, I commit the room and all that is in it to the Lord and command Satan and all his evil workers to leave the room in the name and by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. Finally, I ask for the Lord’s protection while I sleep.6

As Elliot Miller notes, “If [author Neil] Anderson cannot even stay in a hotel room without taking such magical and paranoid precautions, how much more superstitious can we expect his less mature and less stable followers to be?”7

This may be an extreme example. But many Christians have this image in the back of their mind. Once I did too: it’s the notion that we must perform certain prayers or rituals—magic spells—to cleanse a space of demons or Satanic influence.

Often I wonder if this notion is still around. After all, don’t most Christians commit the opposite error by failing to take Satan seriously? But then I saw this exact sort of anti-Satan magic performed in the recent Christian-made and –marketed movie War Room. Here, a woman “prays up” a miracle to keep her husband from cheating. Then she quite literally prays to the devil, ordering him to leave her family and her house because it’s “under new management.”8 That’s an especially bad example of “spiritual warfare” spell-casting.

5. Romance prosperity gospel spells

This is a particular favorite of mine, partly because I used to believe this way myself:

In a second TV program, a young couple takes a church stage. “Once upon a time, we wanted to write our own love story,” they say. “Now we know that only after we give ourselves to God, and let Him have control over our love lives, will He write you the most beautiful love story ever. And if you maintain not only biblical holiness but your ‘emotional purity’ — not even investing feelings before you know for sure this is that special person — God will clearly reveal who that person is and guide your actions.” […]

All of these are specific promises that God’s Word never gives.9

Evangelicals should burn our magic books that promise perfect or near-perfect relationship results if only (the magic words!) they would submit themselves to God and pray their way to a divine marriage. Perhaps because I’m in better “circles,” I no longer often hear these notions. But as this evangelical movie clip shows, these ideas are still around.

6. ‘If only’: prayer and program spells

For years Christians were told LGBT activists would enforce their new “moral majority” only in public and wouldn’t chase Christians into churches. Suddenly we’re hearing, in articles like this one, that LGBT activists do take their religion seriously. So in fact they will be chasing Christians into churches to punish this new sin. 10

In response, many Christians promote spells that start with the magic words if only, as in:

  1. If only Christians hadn’t compromised with worldly entertainment …
  2. If only Christians had not hidden from the culture and been better missionaries …
  3. If only Christians hadn’t only ever emphasized sexual sin (hint: that is not true) …
  4. If only Christians hadn’t blurred the lines between gospel ministry and politics …
  5. If only Christians would have prayed and followed the right programs …

… Then we wouldn’t today be losing our cultures to enemies of Christianity.

Sure, there’s a little truth here. Christians could have done better at many of these things. But we risk thinking like occult magicians if we assume yet another magical system like the prosperity gospel: that if only we said the right prayers, or followed the right program, then such-and-such negative consequences would not happen to us.

Conclusion

The fact is, God never establishes a magic system.

God never promised us that if we do X, we’ll achieve some reward—health or wealth, protection from evil influence, personal guidance, romance, or popularity in the world.

Instead He promises something better: Himself, with grace to meet every challenge.

What if we reject His real promises and substitute our own? What if we blame other things as if they are the worst sources of occult magic—things like fantasy stories? Then we’re not being spiritual or biblical. We’re acting like practitioners of the occult. Dare I say it, we’re acting like the diviners and sorcerers God has promised will not inherit eternal life.

Thank God that Jesus, the Final Prophet, can save repentant spell-casters like us!

Note: Read the followup to this article, Christian White Magic: Q and A, part 1.

  1. In response, some fantasy-fan Christians might be tempted to try the same against critics.
  2. Deuteronomy 18:9-14.
  3. Deuteronomy 18:15.
  4. Family Christian Introduces New Protective Christian Bubble™ For Children, The Babylon Bee, Aug. 23, 2016.
  5. More discussion is outside this article’s scope. For more on this topic and to answer common proof texts, I recommend Greg Koukl’s series of articles, Does God Whisper? Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. (This paragraph is based on a similar one in the footnotes of my piece Three More Problems with Religious Rating Systems, July 1, 2016 at SpecFaith.)
  6. Neil T. Anderson, Helping Others Find Freedom in Christ (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1995), 110, quoted by Elliot Miller, The Bondage Maker: Examining The Message and Method of Neil T. Anderson. Part Three: Spiritual Warfare and the Seven “Steps to Freedom.”
  7. Elliot Miller, The Bondage Maker: Examining The Message and Method of Neil T. Anderson. Part Three: Spiritual Warfare and the Seven “Steps to Freedom.”.
  8. War Room | Say Goodnight Kevin, 18:30, video review, Feb. 15, 2016.
  9. E. Stephen Burnett, Rebuking the Romance Prosperity Gospel, Christ and Pop Culture, July 23, 2013.
  10. As Jake Meador points out, LGBTism defenders are being cowardly and passive-aggressive about this threat.
E. Stephen Burnett explores biblical truth and fantastic stories as editor in chief of Lorehaven Magazine and writer at Speculative Faith. He has also written for Christianity Today and Christ and Pop Culture. He and his wife, Lacy, live in the Austin area and serve as members of Southern Hills Baptist Church.
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notleia
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notleia

Kinda reminds me of this nice pastor’s wife I knew who probably had some undiagnosed anxiety issues because she posted about 5 million times on Facebook about children’s carseats, including pop quizzes(!?) of “what’s wrong with this carseat picture.” Her nice pastor’s kids also wore those amber teething necklaces, which I did not know was a thing that existed until then. And I don’t even know if that’s better or worse than if she coated her mom van in crucifixes and ichthuses (ichthi?) along with the “Baby on Board” sticker, buuuut if I didn’t have to see it spammed on my newsfeed…
In any case, superstitious behavior is about the want/need to control one’s environment — or at least gain the illusion of control. There’s talk about obsessive-compulsive disorder just being a more specific form of severe anxiety. So the glib moral of this comment is that everybody needs to go the heck to therapy to learn how to deal effectively with their anxieties.

Paul Lee
Member

That’s why people pray. True spirituality and superstitious shamanism have the same root, but the one is letting go in the face of the infinite and the other is crouching down in terror to refrain from looking into the unknowable. (And I’m talking about much more than the tired “real faith means you don’t know” verses “faith is trusting in something objective” argument, which really has nothing to do with anything.)

notleia
Guest
notleia

I’m a pragmatist at heart, so I think it’s great when people can use prayer to clear their worries. Except when that doesn’t work for some people, or when people misapply “lift it up to Jesus” into becoming “be in denial that there is a problem.” Can we agree that’s when people need to go the heck to therapy?

Paul Lee
Member

If you’re in to that.

But yeah, prayer as the magic cure-all is the bad kind of magic. Prayer as enacted expression of faith is the good kind of magic, I think. I actually empathize with the sentiment behind the Pentecostal guy blessing his hotel room before he goes to bed, as with tactile enacted symbolism like crossing yourself—even though those things can also become superstitious and shamanistic (and idolatrous, from that perspective).

HG Ferguson
Guest
HG Ferguson

“But yeah, prayer as the magic cure-all is the bad kind of magic. Prayer as enacted expression of faith is the good kind of magic”

This is the word of Rowling, not the Word of God.

Paul Lee
Member

No, Rowling’s magic is rather simplistic and seems to be based on dominance and deformation, or at any rate a pretty crude treatment on the archetypal idea of true names. I meant “magic” more in the sense of Lewis’s Deep Magic — the fundamental Meaning behind everything.

HG Ferguson
Guest
HG Ferguson

This world is not Narnia. God’s Word never calls prayer “magic.” Magic in this world is sin. God says so, abundantly. It is even one of the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21, the opposite of the Spirit and purposes of God. Maybe in Narnia you could call it that, but not here. We need to call things what they are according to the Word given to us, and not blur it with lies like “good” magic and “bad” magic. All magic is sin in this world, period.. Further, Lewis’ Deep Magic is also “written,” i.e., it stands for the Word of God. God’s Word written for Narnia. God does not call magic good or deep here, though reference is made to the deep things of Satan in Rev. 2:24. This one size fits all approach to magic, i,e., it’s all the same from Lewis to Rowling, is false because God never calls magic in His Word for this universe anything but toevah, abomination. So should we.

Sarah Bright
Guest
Sarah Bright

Well, I likebopinion just swift cross-making as well, just like that.

Travis Perry
Member

OK, E. Stephen, you are quite a bright guy and have some solid points to make here, but you go WAY over the top. Respectfully, you are not really correct about what magic IS (I see I will have to explain this myself in a blog post of my own at some point) and you overstate your case in several different ways to boot.

First off, it seems to me that you make magic straight into a quid pro quo kind of arrangement. If there is anything that binds God (or anything else, presumably) to do anything, then THAT is what you label as “magic” and it is bad. The only thing wrong with that absolutist view of quid pro quo being white magic is that God quite clearly made a number of very plain quid pro quo arrangements with human beings–like the promise to bless ancient Israel if they obeyed divine laws (see Deuteronomy 28 and forward). We see plenty of other examples of this in the history of Israel, some of them direct statements of God (another one I could throw out is in I Kings 9:6-9, where God promises to bless Solomon IF ONLY Solomon obeys).Others were rather strongly implied, like the quid pro quo related specifically to the length of Samson’s hair.

Over and over again (I haven’t counted how many times, but it’s more than a few) God has made quid pro quo arrangements with human beings according to Scripture. Yet these are NEVER called “magic” by the Bible. Is the “this for that” exchange part of magic systems? Yes. But the exchange can exist without being called magic by our source book, the Holy Bible. So you are unjustified in labeling any such exchanges as “white magic” based on the concept of exchange alone.

To avoid making this comment too long, let me say without fulling explaining that I think it IS possible for a Christian to engage in what is the equivalent of “white magic.” I would say that comes in pretty clearly when calling on God to do things that He never promised (which you excellently noted in your point 1), along with the use of certain repeated phrases and symbols of religion (as you observed your point 2).

So I would not dispute that you have something to talk about. However, a number of your examples have some serious problems tucked into them. To give a few examples:

On point #3, the Bible clearly DOES: 1) show people doing specific prayers for guidance–such as Gideon’s fleece 2) show dreams and visions being used to direct people–such as Joseph being told to take Mary as his wife, and DOES say 3) that the Holy Spirit “will guide you in all truth” (John 16:13). So people have a Scriptural justification for thinking God will provide specific guidance under specific circumstances.

Do I agree with how some people take this kind of thing, almost like a Ouija board? Certainly not. But the concept itself cannot be fairly labeled “white magic.” It exists in the Bible and is subject to a careful, reasoned examination. You really went overboard to claim that the whole idea is nothing but white magic, as you seemed to do.

And how about your side comment on point five about a woman “quite literally prays to the devil” in War Room? I haven’t seen the film, but addressing an evil spirit cannot be equated with praying to them. Or else Jesus prayed to Satan in the wilderness and to the demons called “Legion” that he allowed to enter a herd of pigs. Very bad form on your part to say that, old chap. You damage the valid things you have to say by throwing into the same mix things that are clearly invalid.

And I don’t get your point 6 at all, Looking back at the past with regret, even with an (incorrect) assurance that all would have been different “if only” we did things differently has absolutely NONE of the characteristics of any kind of magic I know. Magic tries to manipulate the future–not the past.

More fundamentally, more to your real point, OK, I get it. You are sick of Christians being immature about their understanding of God, you are tired of them leveling simplistic accusations onto fantasy magic as being in league with the devil (as if reading Harry Potter guarantees the top of your skull has been ripped off and ten demons have jumped into your brain). So you’re striking back. It’s as if you’re shouting, “Oh yeah, you say fantasy magic is bad–but what you do is even worse!”

Fantasy magic, if that’s all it remains, as fantasy, is of course harmless. But certain serious people maintain there is a connection between love of fantasy magic (well not just the magic–fantasy fiction as a whole) and the practice of actual magic in real live human beings living among us (I’m one who would say so, by the way). In fact, we could even speculate that some Christian “white magic” concepts are actually influenced by the other kind of magic–the real occult–though Christians don’t know so for the most part, naturally.

But if we can say for sake of argument (it’s an argument I really believe, mind you, but please play along for argument’s sake) that fantasy magic at least sometimes leads to human beings actually practicing the occult, on what basis can you say that what you rather sloppily labeled “white magic spells” is actually worse? (sorry to call your usage of “white magic” sloppy, but it’s an honest assessment, because you included examples that DO belong in the category along with ones that don’t belong in the slightest)

To frame this issue in other terms, is it worse to have a false concept about the true God or to worship the limitless pantheons of false gods? Well, clearly both are bad. Neither desirable. But you’d be awfully hard-pressed to show that wrong ideas about the true God are actually WORSE than total devotion to false gods. In fact, I think I could show a number of passages that point in the other direction–which would imply Christian “white magic” is NOT in fact worse that the devoted practice of the occult, which can be inspired by fantasy magic in the opinion of some people (including me).

So again, in what sense is the “white magic” you cite actually worse? In that it’s more common among Christians? Christians are more susceptible to it? But they are unaware of the potential hazards? OK, in that sense I could agree that Christians could potentially get into a sort of false doctrine that includes practices that are for all purposes magic-based. They almost certainly probably go there much more easily than straight into witchcraft. Yeah, it that sense it is worse, as in, “more likely to happen.”

In the same sense car crashes are worse than airplane crashes. Because they happen a lot more often. But dude, if your airplane DOES crash, as rare an event as that may be, the results are often MUCH worse than airplane crashes. Catastrophic in a way an individual car crash cannot be. So even if it’s a much less common event, serious people don’t usually treat airplanes as if they’re totally safe. They take some reasonable precautions. Because IF things go bad, they can go very bad.

Likewise, no matter how sick you are of Christian craziness and irrationality pointed at fantasy magic, it is my opinion that you ought to acknowledge some people have legitimate reasons to be concerned about the role of magic and other aspects of fantasy literature. And maybe it’s a bit over the top to launch an attack on all forms of “quid pro quo” thinking among Christians as the equivalent of the actual occult. Because I don’t believe that’s a fair assessment.

Audie Thacker
Member

–First off, it seems to me that you make magic straight into a quid pro quo kind of arrangement. If there is anything that binds God (or anything else, presumably) to do anything, then THAT is what you label as “magic” and it is bad. The only thing wrong with that absolutist view of quid pro quo being white magic is that God quite clearly made a number of very plain quid pro quo arrangements with human beings–like the promise to bless ancient Israel if they obeyed divine laws (see Deuteronomy 28 and forward). We see plenty of other examples of this in the history of Israel, some of them direct statements of God (another one I could throw out is in I Kings 9:6-9, where God promises to bless Solomon IF ONLY Solomon obeys).Others were rather strongly implied, like the quid pro quo related specifically to the length of Samson’s hair.

Perhaps so, but this also brings up the change between people under the law and those who have believed the gospel. Yes, under the law, there is a promise of blessing if one can perfectly obey the law. Perhaps it should go without saying, but none of us have perfectly obeyed the law. That is why the quid pro quo way of dealing with God is rather iffy, we don’t have a quid with which to bargain with. As the Bible states, all of the things we might think are works of righteousness are as filthy rags. There is no bargaining with God, there is no commanding God to do this or that, there are no words or phrases that we can repeat or rituals that we can perform in order to somehow make God more willing to do this or that.

Yet it is those kinds of things that are becoming very popular. Often those practices are attached to very good things. I could point out the use of 24-7 prayer rooms. Prayer is a very good thing, we should pray, and we should pray always, but when a single Bible verse that says “Pray without ceasing” is used as justification for these 24-7 prayer rooms, we might rightly ask how the biblical author could have meant such a thing when there is no hint of such practices being done way back when. Along with that, there are claims such as: If we continue to do these 24-7 prayers for X amount time, plus X plus X plus X more if need be, then God will eventually do all kinds of things like send what we consider to be revival, people will get saved in the streets as they walk by the prayer room, demons will flee from the city, people will get healed and delivered and Christians will get all kinds of wealth and power, and so on.

So, I think that looking at how so many in the church relate to God in a way that almost exclusively involves “If I/we will do X, then God will do Y” types of thinking, is not unfairly likened to magic.

Michael Blaylock
Member

The prosperity gospel is just sad, and the video makes it even sadder than I realized, so I’m glad you included it. And I agree that the promise of “perfect relationships” is actually the sale of a time bomb once the couple realizes even Christians struggle at this. You make some good points there.
However, I will echo an earlier comment that some of these go too far in my opinion. For example, I don’t understand how spiritual warfare can be equated with magic when Jesus himself spoke to and commanded demons and even Satan. If he drove out demonic forces, should we as his followers not do the same? As when Jesus sent out the 72? (Luke 10:17).
As for number 3, Jesus himself said the Holy Spirit was a guide and Romans 8:26 says The Spirit intercedes for us. To me, that sounds like a good and even normal part of Christian life, not some silly spell someone made up.
The way I understand it, magic is anything supernatural that isn’t God. God alone is our source, but he is indeed supernatural, and he does give promises and tells us to expect supernatural results because that way he gets the glory–meaning it’s something humans can’t do themselves. We must never twist these, like the prosperity gospel as you mentioned, but I think invoking the power of God is something God himself wants us to do. Such is my understanding.

Pam Halter
Member

wow – there’s a lot of words here. I’ve read them all and before I had a cup of coffee. Ha! I think humans can overthink just about anything. I know this because I do it all the time. But I also think it can make for good conversation if we don’t resort to name calling or hating. And I think we’re pretty good at not doing that here at Speculative Faith. Thanks for that.

I watched the John Piper video. Good stuff. Reminds me of when I was begging for God to heal my daughter of her uncontrolled seizures, about 12 years ago. And when I was too exhausted to continue to beg, I shut up. And I felt God’s answer. It may as well have been audible, it was so loud in my mind.

“I am able to heal your daughter. But if I choose not to, will you will love Me?”

That was as life changing to my faith as Saul being knocked from his horse on the road to Damascus. And I’ve been operating on that ever since. White magic? I don’t think so.

“Yes, Lord. I love you no matter what You do or choose not to do.”

Today, my Anna still has uncontrolled seizures. And I still love the Lord my God.

Sarah Bright
Guest
Sarah Bright

God may-he heal soon . You have passed the test of faith.

Alan Loewen
Guest

I found another one. A number of Christians are getting tattoos and when I ask them why, their answer is couched in terms that make the tattoo sound like a protective charm or amulet.

Sarah Bright
Guest
Sarah Bright

You cannot bend a whole-cross tattoo? : )

Khai
Guest
Khai

As someone who has read Neil Anderson’s books including Bondage Breaker and Freedom From Fear, and spoken with a therapist trained by him, I KNOW these instructions are not “magic” or “incantations” at all. I don’t have to be a Christian to get that.

Most people who think Neil Anderson’s Christian counselor teachings amount to “white magic” have never had to deal with the things he addresses in those books – for those who have, it’s common sense. Be careful not to dissuade people who could use the help, from guidance that is good for them, just because you don’t understand.

Tim W Brown
Guest
Tim W Brown

A certain (large) portion of these tendencies I admit to having dabbled with from time to time; a turning point in my thinking began when I pondered the experience of the earliest Christians, and even of Christ Himself. Completely dedicating their lives to God, not a single one of them received prosperity or immunity (other than perhaps the occasional snakebite). In fact, many were executed as criminals; certainly not a single one of the Apostles achieved prosperity or material wealth. And they were certainly among the most inspired and dedicated believers ever.

And as if to drive the point home, not only were most of the Apostles, as well as many of their followers, executed in a variety of horrible ways (is there a nice way to be executed?), but they counted it as a great honor and joy to be made martyrs.

While I can’t condemn anyone for desiring wealth and power – they are certainly nice things to have, and I am myself definitely guilty of a distorted love of comfort – I have become convinced that any view which equates material wealth, worldly power, or personal pleasure with the blessings of God is a spiritually dangerous way of looking at things. To paraphrase Galatians, the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, not wealth, status, power, romance and financial stability.

K DouPonce
Guest

Well said Stephen!
And the Piper video is spot on.

Teddi Deppner
Guest

I admire your passion to help the Body of Christ avoid heresy, Stephen. I admire your sincerity and intelligence. I disagree very much on the blanket statements and judgments you make regarding how the Bible portrays God and His relationship with His people.

I don’t think there’s a single concept in the Bible that hasn’t been stretched out of proportion in both directions of extreme. Anything the Bible says can be and has been taken the wrong way. But we err when we dogmatically denounce things that God clearly told His people to do.

He TOLD us to ask Him for what we need, to expect Him to give us good gifts, and that He has plans to give us MORE than we ask or imagine. It says He gives GENEROUSLY. He TOLD us to have faith and that our faith would (miraculously, if not magically) please Him and make things happen (“woman, your faith has healed you…”). He TOLD us that if we doubt, we shouldn’t expect to get what we ask for. He TOLD us that we’ll reap what we sow, especially if we don’t grow weary in sowing good seed. He outlines spiritual financial principles (in the old and new testaments) that make it clear that the generous man will reap big financial, physical rewards.

Yes, some people misunderstand these principles and treat them like you can control God by demanding He fulfill His Word the way YOU want Him to. Yes, some Christian operate under something no better than superstition that they think is “faith”. Yes, some people’s faith is shattered because they expect the wrong things and forget that we live in a very broken world where bad things happen to good people — even people of faith. Yes, some preachers make a whole business out of teaching things in a skewed way.

But the way you wrote this article, you come across as saying that you don’t believe the Word of God is living and active and never returns to Him void, you don’t believe in its power, you don’t believe that God’s Spirit communicates directly to believers (a la the early church leaders saying, “It seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us…”), and anyone who believes that faith makes a difference in the world is believing in a bunch of hocus pocus.

Is that the way you intended it? And if not, why did you write it that way?

Jill
Guest

Most of these don’t sound like magic to me. 1. Tribalism. 2. Greed. 3. Using faith to justify inaction. 4. I actually do believe in an unseen spiritual reality, so this one doesn’t bother me particularly, even though it’s a bit extreme. 5. More tribalism/attempt to create tribal marriage practices after society eradicated them. 6. Guilt over complacency, which leads to all manner of “what did we do wrong” thinking. How is any of this magic?

notleia
Guest
notleia

I read it as “magic” in the sense of “superstition” or “magical thinking” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_thinking).

Darrick Dean
Guest

Very insightful look into the problem of “white magic” in Christianity. That’s a good way to put it, too. I remember years ago, during the “Prayer of Jabez” fad, saying, “the saying of this prayer over and over for good luck sounds like a magic spell.” Of course, we do that with the “Our Father” as well, even though that isn’t quite what Jesus intended (Hank Hanegraff’s “The Prayer of Jesus” is a great antidote to that problem).

I don’t know how much grip the “health and wealth” and similar movements currently have in the Christian world – but all are signs of dire need for strong and intellectual leadership in the church that isn’t afraid to challenge people.

Sarah Bright
Guest
Sarah Bright

It’snot true. “Plan I have for you ” means a perfect husband, the kind you have described. Stop believing in worse plams then