Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Magic, Fantasy, and Allegory (Part Two)

What everybody really wants to know, when they pick up a fantasy/allegory book, is if they're condoning witchcraft by reading about magical animals and spells and wands and other such items of uncomfortable repute. While this post is not a comprehensive conclusion (more coming!) we'll be discussing today what the Bible says about witchcraft, in my present understanding of it. Again, I would remind my readers that their grace is appreciated, as I've never formulated articles on this issue before, and while this is my present opinions, it will mature and grow as I grow in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So here are some points to consider:

1. Witchcraft is a sin--

Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God.
-Deuteronomy 18:10-12

Without going into detail, it's safe to say that the Lord is warning his people against harboring  a person who endeavors to practice occult powers in rebellion to His sovereignty. In other words, they are trying to control events supernaturally, through their own powers, or what's worse, through demonic influence. For example, the White Witch of Narnia is exactly that--a witch. Her practices are detestable and thus go against everything Christianity stands for.

2. We can't excuse sin--
No matter how much sin is painted to look white, it's still just that--sin. God does not paint right and wrong in shades of gray. Black is black and white is white, and they should be called as such.

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
-Galatians 5:19-21

3. So obviously, we toss witches out the window--
Um, not quite. Otherwise we'd  have to toss out the account of Saul and the Witch of Endor in the Bible. And Baalam's sorcery, and all the demonic accounts in the Gospels, and anything else that hints at witchcraft. And since it's the inspired Word of God, of course we can't go cutting out pieces of it. The Best of all Books includes accounts of sorcery. But the question remains, since all writing is in imitation of God's Word, and He himself includes the sin of witchcraft, is it right for us as human authors to do so?

Good question.

What to do With Witchcraft

1. Is it portrayed as sin?
Everyone knows the White Witch and the winter-that-never-ends is evil. We're fighting against her; her acts raise the hair on our necks, and make us shake in our seats. We're cheering when Aslan jumps down and--well, never mind. The sad and scary fact is that witches do exist, and they who live like that will not inherit the kingdom of God. Therefore, sometimes it can be a biblical and effective part of literature, to show the sin of such acts--especially in America's culture, where undue fascination with such topics is all too rife. God included accounts of witchcraft to warn his people against it. Therefore, including witchcraft as a sin is not in itself the issue.

Read on.

2. Does the author go into unnecessary detail?
Notice that in the account of Saul and the Witch of Endor, God doesn't include how the witch called Samuel out of the ground. And in the account of Balaam, he doesn't give us a step-by-step manual on using the insides of animals for divination. The Never Inflammatory Version gives us more detail  in its text notes than the actual account. (Sorry. I love my NIV version, really.) The fact is, if we're learning more about witchcraft by the reading of the story than we otherwise would, then something's wrong.

3. Again, I ask "Is it portrayed as sin?"
I know I keep harping on this point, but I cannot stress too highly it's importance. With situational ethics abounding and morals being relative to the state of our emotions, we too often say "I'm not sure if it's okay or not." The "Good Witch of the North" and the "Wicked Witch of the West" are completely unbiblical. If the lady's good, she can't be a witch. Now I realize that authors may sometimes use a poorly chosen term, but it still doesn't excuse their responsibility. When you couple "good" and "witch" together, then it's like saying "innocent sin" or "clean wickedness". It's a moral impossibility, and goes against the law of God.

To summarize: including witchcraft itself in a book does not necessarily make the book bad. But witchcraft must be portrayed as sinful, and the book should not include unnecessary detail. We know that demonic powers exist. That's fine. But we don't need to know all their ins and outs.

Sorry folks, I know there's a lot more to this issue, and we'll be coming back to it. However, today's post, due to unforeseen circumstances, has to be cut a little shorter. Therefore, I leave you for now with this abbreviated second installment of "Magic, Fantasy, and Allegory". More thoughts coming next Tuesday, Lord willing, and I am interested to see your insights in the comment section. :)

And on Friday, I've got another book review which I think you'll all enjoy. ;)

Lady Bibliophile


  1. Dear Lady B,
    Wonderful post! You brought up some really good points. I always avoided this kind of question. I never made the connection witchcraft is in the Bible. Of course, we still have to be careful what kind of books we read .Good point!
    Love, Sister
    P.S. The Never Inflammatory Version? Hehehe!!! :D ;D

  2. Great job, Schuyler. I definitely agree. That's why I like the Narnia series so much--because they portray evil and good as just that, without mixing them. Well-said. :)

  3. The Never Inflammatory Version? What a good name for it. I also call it the Non-Alcoholic Version, because it has surgically removed from the Bible all the terms that might cause old maids of both sexes to shift uncomfortably in their pews when it's being read out. "Refuse" instead of "dung" for instance. I also doubt that 1 Kings 14:10 and similar verses have survived in the NIV with quite the same pungency of expression in the original.

    Ahem. And that is my anti-NIV rant for today.


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