Riddle me this: what is the only acceptable form of Christian white magic?
Answer: God’s spell!
With this truth in mind, and I hope also with the true and saving Gospel of Jesus Christ in mind, let’s finish this series that fleshes out Six Christian Spells Worse than Fantasy Magic. We have one common Christian white magic spell left: unbiblical “spiritual warfare” spells.
4. How can you say that prayer and demon-challenging are ‘Christian white magic’? Jesus and the apostles did this all the time.
Several readers challenged my view that certain modes of anti-demon-warrior behavior or prayer count as Christian white magic. Before, I quoted from spiritual warfare author and teacher Neil Anderson. He claims demons can own physical territory or objects, and writes:
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.1
Anderson and some other authors/teachers act as a sort of evangelical Justice League Dark. In other words, standard Christian heroes handle regular matters such as preaching, local church organization, and counseling related to human sin. But the Evangelical League Dark goes where standard heroes fear to tread, into the paranormal realm of evil spiritual forces.
In this view, this is where the real battle lies—a battle far removed from ordinary spiritual actions, such as Bible teaching, prayer, local church fellowship, or discipling your children.
But this is a notion I do not see in Scriptures. Jesus indeed confronted demons. Sometimes the apostles do the same. But in their teachings and writings, the apostles do not emphasize their dealings with demons. Instead they value the non-paranormal aspects of Christianity: teaching, prayer, fellowship, pursuit of holiness, responsible practice of spiritual gifts, evangelism, being good citizens, living quiet lives and working with their hands.
This is why I found fault with the “praying against the devil” scene in the movie War Room. While the story is of course fiction, the scene’s intent is clearly to show that Christians really should “rebuke Satan” aloud in real life. Many Christian moviegoers will assume this practice is biblical. But Scripture never encourages this response to the devil. Even if we assume the devil is anywhere near, or involved with our struggles or situation, the Bible never gives an exorcism guide in the way some Christians seem to want. Instead, James says, as a side comment to his exhortations to “regular” Christian actions, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”2
Moreover, Scripture never encourages us to treat physical spaces or objects as if they could be “haunted” by demons. When Jesus cast out demons, he knew the person was under demonic influence. Even when the apostle Paul cast out a demon, he waited days before taking action against a stalker servant girl who wasn’t just unstable.3
Finally this view of demonic influence can affect peace between people. In some situations, a Christian may have a personal conflict with someone else. But instead of trying to work through reconciliation, the Christian might assume that other person is being influenced by demons. (If the person is actually being affected by trauma or else just ordinary human sin, the emphasis on demons can really sidetrack actual biblical reconciliation efforts.)4
That is not someone’s wrongful abuse of an otherwise healthful “Evangelical League Dark” approach to Christian spiritual growth. It is a mindset that fits exactly with this anti-biblical emphasis. It values supposedly biblical methods to defeat demons with spiritual prayers or other practices. And it devalues our need to confront personal sin in the light of Christ’s death and resurrection—the very spiritual warfare practices the apostles valued.
I can’t help but wonder if such an Evangelical League Dark emphasis can sidetrack some Christian fiction. Might this lead us to focus on angels, demons, and “spiritual” realities, rather than exploring the depths of humans where spiritual battles are actually fought?
Few to no readers of Six Christian Spells Worse than Fantasy Magic questioned my points about romance prosperity gospel “spells” and “if only” spells. So I’ll end here. Yet I do offer to interact with any further questions about any of the pieces in this Christian White Magic series. Thanks to all our SpecFaith readers for their grace-based challenges and discussion!
- 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.” ↩
- James 4:7. The rest of the passage does not emphasize overt “spiritual warfare” versus invisible spirits, but spiritual warfare in how we avoid the world’s temptations, act humble, submit to God’s commands, draw near to God, and more. ↩
- Acts 16: 16-18. ↩
- This paragraph has been edited for clarity. ↩