Through the years, I have learned quite a few magic tricks. Some with cards or coins, and some with just household props. I enjoy amazing my grandchildren, and seeing the look on their faces when that coin ‘disappears’. I also enjoy watching magicians on TV. Sometimes they’ll have a magician on America’s Got Talent, and I’m always amazed at what they can do. A question that sometimes arises – is this kind of deception unchristian?
In ancient times the city of Ephesus had a reputation for magic. In fact, a ‘collection of spells’ from Ephesus fetched high prices. William Shakespeare wrote in Comedy of Errors (Act 1, scene 2) of Ephesus, “They say this town is full of cozenage, as nimble jugglers, they deceive the eye, dark working sorcerers that change the mind, soul killing witches that destroy the body, disgusting cheaters, prating mountebanks, and many such like liberties of sin.” Paul wrote to his close friend Timothy, who was in Ephesus, “While evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (II Timothy 3: 13) Magic was forbidden by Jewish religious law, but there were a lot of Jewish magicians. They were highly respected because it was believed they had a better relationship with God. In fact, they were so popular that many pagan magicians claimed to be Jews. When they saw all the great things the Apostle Paul did, they tried to duplicate it. These Jewish practitioners latched on to the name of Jesus to use as an incantation. Some of these Jews would try to drive out evil spirits. “…They would say, ‘in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.’” (Acts 19: 13)
“One day the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?’ Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.” (Acts 19: 15-16)
So, for me, the answer to the question is magic unchristian, it depends on what you mean by magic. If a person is using ‘magic’ to contact or effect the spirit world, then I think that person is dabbling in something way over their head and extremely dangerous. This would include things like tarot cards, horoscopes, and some of the board ‘games’ out there. If you have this kind of material in your home, I would encourage you to get rid of it. NOW. Even innocent tricks that the magician claims are accomplished by supernatural means can be dangerous. But, on the other side is magic tricks. The audience knows the coin didn’t really disappear, but it is an illusion performed by a skilled magician. In fact, I have found that most tricks have a simple explanation and you might be disappointed if you discovered just how easy it was accomplished. So I say, go ahead and take your grandchild’s nose, which is really your own thumb, or produce that card that should have been ‘impossible’ to find. And, for those of us who are watching the trick, don’t look under the curtain, just enjoy the illusion.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, Dan is a graduate of Otterbein College (now University). He graduated with a degree in education. From time to time Dan still substitute teaches. His interest in history led him to investigate the historical accuracy of the Bible. This, in turn, led to a full investigation of Apologetics.