A Shrink Thinks

What is wrong with magic?

What is wrong with magic?
Alan Thomas
Alan Thomas Professor and Consultant in Psychiatry. Elder at Newcastle Reformed Evangelical Church.
27 June, 2023 4 min read

Is it wrong to enjoy the Harry Potter books and films? Or the feats of Gandalf and others in the Lord of the Rings trilogy? Many Christians read and enthuse about such books and enjoy the films. Is this wrong? After all, they are full of magic, aren’t they?

Magic, under various names such as witchcraft, sorcery, necromancy, and so on, is strongly and repeatedly condemned in the Bible (see for example Leviticus 19:26,31; 20:1-6; Deuteronomy 18:9-12; 2 Kings 17:17; 2 Chronicles 33:6; Isaiah 8:19; Nahum 3:6).

There is consistent condemnation, in spite of the fact that magic was often used for good, to heal someone or enable safe childbirth or a bountiful harvest. So what exactly was wrong with magic in Bible times? Why was it so strongly condemned?

In ancient societies magic involved the use of words (incantations or spells) and/or deeds (rituals) to achieve an end which might be good (such as the healing of someone) or evil (such as harming someone with injury or sickness by a curse). The key is that magic was believed to achieve these ends automatically; success was inevitable if the correct procedure was followed.

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