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Should a Christian do Magic or Conjuring?

Does the Bible forbid magic? Is it right for a Christian to be involved in sleight of hand and illusion? 

When the Bible uses the term "magic" (e.g. Isa. 47:12), "sorcery" (Deuteronomy 18:10), or “spells” (Mic. 5:12), it is clearly dealing with man's involvement in the supernatural, often with the collaboration of evil spirits. Biblical prohibitions make it clear that God does not want man to dabble with the devil. Today's manifestations of these forbidden activities are such things as consulting mediums, spiritualists, the occult, & voodoo. Christians have no business being involved with these, since they could open the door to demonic influence, and certainly rely on a world view that is not biblical. No Christian magician or family stage show entertainer is in any way involved in the use of supernatural powers. 

Confusion rises from the fact that certain words have two meanings. "Magic" has a meaning which is similar to witchcraft or sorcery, the idea that humans control supernatural agencies or the forces of nature (sometimes called “black magic” or “magick”). The word magic also refers to a modern entertainment medium, the art of producing illusions as entertainment by sleight of hand and deceptive devices. Obviously the Bible, as it forbids involvement in magic, is talking about the first of these meanings and not the second. 

Some Christians assume that anything they cannot themselves understand and explain must be supernatural. Often Christians see negative effects as being produced by demons, and positive events as being a miracle of God. Sometimes, Christian’s see a magic trick, and assume satanic spiritual forces at work. As if Satan would be involved in a silk hanky disappearing from one hand and appearing in another. The truth is that there is great room for morally neutral events to be used either for good or for evil, but the bible is clear, God alone “does great wonders” (Ps. 136:4). 

Should a Christian to use deception in presenting the Truth? The reality is that a Christian magician uses deception much like an actor on stage. Consider an actor in a play. What is being presented can be described as a deception. An actor can play the part of a husband married to a woman that is not his wife in reality. Is the purpose to deceive, or to entertain and communicate a message? Magic certainly involves deception, but like the deception of a play, it is a deception that is clear to the audience and engaged in willingly with the goal of entertaining and sharing about Jesus. The Gospel magician honestly acknowledges trickery for entertainment and teaching purposes, and the audience willingly follows along choosing to suspend their disbelief so they will be entertained and grasp the heart of the message. 

After all is said and done, no magical entertainers actually have supernatural powers. And no solid Christian entertainer would ever present themselves in this fashion. If the total presentation is an accurate representation of Biblical truth, the audience will be impressed with the message, and not dazzled by the possibility of humans doing superhuman feats. 

Paul expressed it best: I “became all things to all men so that by all possible means, I might save some” (1Cor. 9:22). Paul changed his presentation to present truth best to each particular audience. Churches today use a variety of means to reach a variety of people. They use preaching, comedy, special events, movies, bowling, and on occasion… a magic show, all for the purpose of reaching some. Not everyone will be attracted to each event, but each event has a unified purpose, to help all come to know the Lord. 

Also, consider Jesus' own use of visual aids. As he passed vineyards, he referred to branches and vines (John 15), He often used object lessons. In a similar way, sleight of hand and illusion provide a way of presenting some very powerful spiritual messages in a visual way, like an object lesson. For instance, when a dark handkerchief (representing sin), is transformed into white silk, it makes a very striking illustration of the change God makes in a person's life when he trusts Christ. Magic tricks have power to gain and maintain attention, and ultimately, to present Truth. When sleight of hand and illusion are used to present biblical Truth, it can powerfully impact people and Truth does not return void (Isa. 55:11). 

Let me make several practical suggestions about your own attitude toward "Gospel magic". 
1 - Enjoy "magic" presentations as entertainment. Don't worry about being fooled. You don't need to understand how every trick is done in order for it to be alright. 
2 - Pray for the Christian magician. He wants to present Gospel truths in an effective way, without violating God’s Word. 
3 - Seek God's heart. Ask God to help you understand what attitude is right to have toward forms of ministry with which you do not wholeheartedly connect. Realize that the same gifts and skills may not be best for everyone, but God can bless each and use them all for His glory. 

If you continue to have reservations, work them out. Talk to your local pastor or possibly a Christian Illusionist. They will be happy to discuss these ideas with you! Thanks for being open to consider some new ideas.