Magic in fiction

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook recently:

I know this will create some lively discussion, but I want to get Christians thinking.

Exodus 22:18, Deuteronomy 18:10, 2 Kings 17:17, Isaiah 47:9, Micah 5:12, Malachi 3:5, Galatians 5:20, Revelation 21:8, Revelation 22:15

These are a few of the verses I found with only a few minutes search through the Scriptures. All of them clearly condemn witchcraft and sorcery.

So can someone please explain to me *Biblically* why Christians allow themselves to glorify fiction with “good wizards”?

I won’t accept the argument that my conscience is different, and that yours doesn’t condemn you, so you’re okay. In the classic conscience argument, Paul states that the food in question was intrinsically fine. So those people understanding that had a conscience set free.

Such is not the case here, a wizard is not intrinsically moral, or good or pure…

We are commanded to abstain from every form of evil! And to meditate on praise-worthy things. So I also will not accept the argument that it is just fiction.

She has a blog here; you should check it out!

I’m of the opinion that the magic portrayed in the Lord of the Rings is fundamentally different than that found in Harry Potter, but it isn’t immediately obvious without in-depth knowledge of the source material — particularly Tolkien’s creation story found in the Silmarillion.

The wizards in LOTR aren’t wizards in the traditional sense (male witches), and the magic they use isn’t in fact magic at all. Gandalf, Saruman and the other three wizards are Maiar — Middle Earth’s analogue for angels. They were sent into the world to aid in the defeat of Sauron (himself a fallen angel) during his rise to power on earth. The “magical” acts they perform are actually displays of heavenly power, such as the angels in Sodom used to blind the men outside of Lot’s house.

Aside from the wizards, the only other users of magic are beings who are explicitly defined as evil – Sauron in LOTR, and Morgoth, Sauron’s teacher and former master in the Silmarillion. Morgoth is Middle Earth’s analogue for Satan, and much of the Silmarillion deals with his rebellion against Heaven and corruption of other angels. Their powers are described over and over again as being impure, fell and unholy.

In summary, the magic in the Lord of the Rings is magic in name only. It is a term applied by the peoples of the world to describe something they don’t understand. While Tolkein’s books aren’t a blow-by-blow allegory in the sense that the Chronicles of Narnia are, they are based heavily on biblical themes.

Now, on to Harry Potter…

The magic in the Harry Potter series is heavily influenced by the Occult, to the point of wholesale borrowing at times. The broomsticks that Harry and the other wizards fly on are crafted with mandrake roots, once believed to be possessed by demons and used to call on the Devil. References are made to the Hand of Glory, the dried and picked hand of a hanged murderer, the Philosopher’s Stone, an element used in alchemy, and demonic possession. I could go on, but this is getting absurdly long.

Magic in Harry Potter is established as being available to anyone as long as the correct procedure is carried out, whether that be spells, runes, or alchemical mixtures. Although Harry and his friends are portrayed as the good guys, the magic they use is the same as that which the “bad guys” use, and ultimately derived by demonic means.

There you have it. I’ve done a lot of research (and soul-searching) about this in the past, because I wanted to own an opinion on the matter. It seems to get brought up a lot, and you can only get so far on “Because my parents said so”. :o)

  • Jake, I think you’re brilliant. If that means anything. And your argument, as far as I can tell, is amazing. The whole background in the Silmarillion is something that so few people actually have even heard of, but it’s one of the best aspects of LotR in my opinion- I  love that foundation. And it’s ever so different from Harry Potter.