The other day I watched a video where Justin Flom, a well-known magician and believer in Jesus Christ, was responding to critics alleging that he was using demonic power to perform his magic tricks and illusions. At first, I thought this must be the case of a few off-the-wall critics. I was mistaken. Digging a little further, I found numerous websites, blog posts, and a bunch of YouTube videos – many with a staggering number of views – arguing quite strongly that magicians (including Christian magicians like Flom) were either intentionally or inadvertently consorting with demons to pull off their feats of trickery and illusion.
While this blog aims at a broad audience consisting of people of many faiths, I hope my readers will indulge me a bit as I address one of the controversies within the Christian faith specifically. I imagine that there are similar debates among practicing Jews and Muslims as well as perhaps adherents of other religions. But this is certainly a matter of controversy in the Christian community. Many Christians vociferously argue that magic is demonic and therefore a sin.
Is Magic Demonic?
The most dangerous and persistent lies have some truth mixed in. Let’s be clear that, over the course of human history, many magicians have indeed consorted with dark forces. Some have worshiped pagan gods. This was certainly the case with Pharaoh’s magicians in ancient Egypt (Genesis 41, Exodus 7-9). Some practitioners of magic have dabbled with or immersed themselves in the occult or in Satanism outright. One of today’s magicians (who I won’t name) openly boasts of engaging in satanic rituals and communicating with demons. When I saw the video on YouTube, I thought it was a joke. Nope. It was no joke. This guy really is a Satanist and calls himself a practitioner of “black magic.”
Other magicians, while not outright Satanists, are very much into tarot card readings, spirit guides, and all kinds of other deeply troublesome practices and beliefs. As but one example, an America’s Got Talent contestant from a couple seasons back spoke openly about his “spirit guide” named “Desmond.” Spirit guides are a fairly common element in New Age practice.
As a Christian, I encourage those who share my faith to stay away from any magician that, in any way, associates himself or herself with spirit guides, mediums, sorcery, the occult, demons, Satanism, and so forth. That’s what the Mosaic Law forbids (Deuteronomy 18:10-13) and what the Apostle Peter condemned when he confronted Simon the sorcerer in Samaria (Acts 8:14-25). But…
The vast majority of magicians today are not actual sorcerers. They are simply entertainers. There’s nothing sinister or supernatural going on when they work their “magic.” Their tricks and illusions, while impressive and often mind-boggling, are a combination of craftiness of design, misdirection, and technology. To argue that such a magician is a sorcerer is like saying Henry Cavill is really Superman.
Doubt me? There are countless books on magic available to read, many magic tricks for sale on eBay, and numerous videos on YouTube that reveal the secrets behind some of the most popular illusions and magic tricks. Check it out yourself. Anyone with the ability to think (at all) will quickly surmise from all those books, videos, and tricks for sale that “magic” today is, for the most part, harmless entertainment.
Magic is an Art Form and a Tool
Magic is an art form. It’s a tool – a tool used for entertainment. In fact, many magicians (like Justin Flom) use their magic skills to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How sad that so many Christians today, rather than appreciate the work of Christian magicians like Flom, instead condemn them as demonic charlatans. In so doing, they tear down their own, divide the Christian community, and make Christians everywhere look foolish.
Don’t be a knee-jerk critic who assumes the worst about people and sees a demon behind everything you don’t understand or which you find disconcerting. Instead, be discerning. Be informed. Yes, we should be careful when it comes to the world of magic. (Of course, that can be said about the realm of entertainment in general). There are indeed some magicians we should stay away from. But to assume all or most magicians today are either secret agents or dupes of Satan is grossly unfair and utterly ridiculous. It’s also morally irresponsible.
For more on this subject, I encourage you to watch the video “I am not a Demon” by Justin Flom and read “Should a Christian Do Magic?” courtesy of the Fellowship of Christian Magicians.